Me in Studio B

Me in Studio B
If you were googling Undertone Audio and found my blog here, well...welcome! You should visit the official website, undertoneaudio.com, but here you can follow my adventures as the crew and I build these mixing consoles, EQs and other oddities. Some, most or all of my work wouldn't be very interesting to a lot of people, but for recording junkies who get excited about vintage German tube mics, cool, eccentric compressors, studio history and some of the fun ins and outs of studio life, this could be for you. Hey, make it your home page and impress chicks! I can be reached at mw@undertoneaudio.com

Friday, October 21, 2011

Surely You're Joking, Mr.Valentine

Eric wanted to move the console in Studio A toward the back of the room about six inches. It was easier than I thought it would be, as I was bracing for the worst. He wanted the mix position to be more relevant to the main monitors and it made an improvement. He will stop at nothing in his pursuit of a new level of sonic integrity. I've said it before, the tinkering must never stop...

Slash and his band were in for one week for what began as experimental test sessions to come up with the best way to record everything. There were minimal mics on the drums (four total with two of them in MS in front of the kit) and Slash doesn't like headphones, so he played in an iso booth while listening to a monitor. The bass cabinet was in the Studio B tracking room, in addition there was another bass amp in the machine room. The band plays live together and it all goes to 2 inch analog tape. No computer, no spending countless hours editing, just straight up rock & roll recorded the way it used to be done. Three songs were tracked and they are the start of the new album. Myles Kennedy left to go on tour with Alter Bridge, so the band packed up, but will return later on to continue. Eric finished mixing the first of those three songs yesterday.

I've been bouncing between Bock Audio, Capitol and Barefoot. Last week I made major changes for the 24 channel console's patchbays, packed it up and Tim and I brought it home to Barefoot for a couple of weeks. We have been working out where to bring it next, but until it goes out again, it is set up in Studio B's tracking room, which can function as a demonstration room and it can also serve as "Studio C" as Matt and Cian started to run into some scheduling conflicts for time in Studio B.

I'll get into another round of work with Jon for his live rig, Greg went over what he needs next and today Tim and I knocked out a modification to each channel of the Studio B console (improves fader resolution). Roger might make all of the knobs for the UnFairchild compressors from scratch at home, so he was over on Wednesday, going over that with Eric. Larry was in, doing some analysis on the UTA mic pre yesterday and Seymour Duncan came by.

AES is happening now in New York and it just wasn't possible to get out there, but We'll be back in San Francisco next year. Almost every day seems like an AES show. On a side note, Pacific Radio moved to a new location in Hollywood and I feel like someone moved my food bowl.

OK, I have to go downstairs to get my clothes out of the dryer and fold shirts.

Cheers!
MW

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Fate of the Capitol Records Building

This is interesting, it's a segment from the show, "Life After People"



It makes me want to store stuff in the echo chambers so when the aliens land after we are gone, they will find my secrets.

MW

Saturday, October 8, 2011

These Amps go to 11.5!

So here I am at Capitol working alone again on a Saturday night, taking a break to write a blog post. I should get out more often, working nights and weekends isn't conducive to being social. Well, I love my work, so I'd rather be in a studio than going out to a club, maybe I'm just getting too old. I'm making changes to the patchbays for the 24 channel console. We are planning on getting it out of here next week, so I wanted to get on the patchbays now. It's very quiet here, it generally is at night and on Saturdays. Greg and I went over what to start working on next for his gear, Jon's live rig is going to keep me busy for a long time and Capitol Studios had me put together several transfer cables (XLR to DB25) this week.

A few days ago Larry Jasper finished all of the designs for the rackmount units and turned in the schematics to Eric. That means that everything can move more quickly, but we have a few issues to sort out, for example, we want to play around with different kinds of transistors (different brands and stock) and we have to make sure all parts are ROHS compliant, or we won't be able to send anything to Europe. Eric needs to finalize the faceplate layout, we need to get all of the rest of the parts ordered and the Fairchild clone is undergoing some rework. I'm looking so forward to the day when I can post that EQs and compressors are ready to sell and boxed up, that will be soon, but we're trying to make things perfect.

I spent some time with David and Sean at Bock Audio building 251 head assemblies (capsules, switches and headgrilles) and I'll be back with them next week. At Barefoot we have been putting new tie line panels together, we made some custom guitar cables and Roger built a special stomp box that Larry designed. All of this has been to prepare the studio for one week of recording. These are test sessions for the next album project that will resume in December or January. Everything will go to analog tape with minimal mics. Everything, including rhythm guitars will be tracked live as a band.
Roger working on panel wiring, just seconds away from losing his temper
The sessions for the next week are to determine what mics to use, where to place the drums, which amps to use, etc. That meant an amp cabinet shoot out, which I missed -two Marshall cabs, a Hiwatt and an Orange... the Marshalls won. The cabs are in the downstairs lounge, there are bass amps in the machine room, one huge Ampeg cab in the Studio B tracking room and another marshall cab in the front hallway. There is no escape from the volume in that building right now. The Studio B control room is the quietest, but it's just a little chaotic over there right now.

Eric finished mixing Nightmare and the Cat last week and he mastered it before going into the insane set up for these sessions. After these test sessions are done and mixed, Eric will be focusing on UTA. I think Cian comes back this week as well, he has been recording a band in a cabin in the middle of nowhere for the past couple of weeks. Roger is focusing his energy on his own company, THG knobs and I'm trying to juggle the work load in front of me. On a side note, a couple of weeks ago, one of my clients bought eight laser tag guns and Roger, Brett Rausch, some of the Capitol crew and I had a laser war... that was probably the most fun I've had in a very long time.

I'll close with this, someone showed this to me yesterday and it is crazy. Last year while performing in Milan, some nut case tried to attack Slash on stage. The guy almost got him, but watch as Junior, Slash's body guard, chases him and tackles him off the stage. Slash did get hit from behind during his "Sweet Child of Mine" solo and the Les Paul got banged into a wedge monitor, breaking off the B string tuning peg. He tried to continue, but after a few bars needed a guitar change.



Time to get back to work!

Rock & Roll,
MW