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, November 25, 2011

We're Busy Doing Stuff & Things

That's one of our sayings, "Doing stuff & things." It's just a silly expression that means we're accomplishing something. When we order parts, send emails and make phone calls... we're doing stuff and things and I've made the mistake of writing that down as the description of what I was doing on the clock, so when it came time to invoice, I didn't remember what I was doing that day. Keeping track of what I'm doing has changed from something I do for my invoices to something I have to do to stay on top of my work load. I don't know how may times I've thought, "Did I order more of those transistors last year?" or "Where did I put those panels... they're not upstairs" so now I keep a detailed diary of my work. I had wanted to start doing that and I started just recently, this is going to help me so much as the amount of work on my plate is about to get heavy...

Big news, we sold a console. Greg Wells is our first buyer and we are custom building a board from scratch for him with new features that Barefoot doesn't even have yet. We are all excited and Greg started a thread on Gearslutz to announce it http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/666135-undertone-audio-console.html. I plan on documenting the build and posting as we go. The first step is ordering parts, particularly the stuff that is custom made for us that takes awhile, then some waiting begins. We are shooting for three months from start to finish, but I think we can beat that.

Undertone is my first priority, but here is more big news... I'm on the crew at Capitol, installing a Neve 88R in Studio A for a month to six weeks. That begins next week with powering down the room and tearing the Neve VR out of there. I have to wrap up some 251 production at Bock Audio next week and finish some stuff for Jon Brion and Greg Koller, then I'll be at Capitol almost constantly, while keeping on top of Greg Wells' console, the building of two UTA 12 channel "side cars" and doing everything I can to keep Barefoot Recording and the rackmount EQs on track. I'm going to be extremely busy doing stuff and things, but I'm not married, no kids and I don't know what to do with a day off anyway. Fortunately, Barefoot and Capitol are neighbors and I live nearby.

The Roger Fearing booblehead arrived. It spent a few days in Studio A at Barefoot and now it's on top of the Neve 8068 at Capitol (Studio B).
He looks so enlightened
And here is the picture that the people who made the bobblehead had to work from:

Slash's new live CD and DVD, "Made in Stoke" came out. Eric and Cian mixed that earlier this year in stereo for the CD and 5.1 for the DVD. It was interesting to see/hear the Studio A console being used for a 5.1 mix and it was that project that Jeff Turzo had customized six of his Overstayer compressors to be linked for the final output busses. You can buy it online, also, Rolling Stone has it streaming on their website http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/full-album-stream-slash-made-in-stoke-24-7-11-20111110.

The little 24 channel console is still across town in another studio where it is being used along side an SSL for the mixing of a record that is going to sound great... more info later.

As we are going to be juggling heavy schedules (In addition to everything going on with me, Eric is tracking a record), I'm so grateful that we have such an amazing crew at Barefoot/UTA -Daniel Balbas just joined us last week, Tim O'Sullivan came on board earlier this year and the people at Capitol are fantastic. I'm so looking forward to working with John Musgrave in Studio A, he is a great guy, we are going to have some good times. It's all a lot of work, but it's a labor of love and I'm the luckiest guy to be a part of all of this.

Happy Holidays,
MW

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Everything Seems to be Happening at the Same Time

Oh man, it has been a busy few weeks. Amazing things are happening, but unfortunately, I can't talk about the biggest things right now, but I'll make announcements as I'm able to. We have had a lot going on to say the least and it all seems to be happening at the same time. I have to say, Slash has called Barefoot Studios, "The Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of Recording." It is seriously a place where one can have an idea for a gadget and before too long, we have a working prototype.

It's been awhile since I posted on here, so I want to try to get it caught up...

We had the 24 channel console set up in the Studio B tracking room for a couple of weeks, then last weekend we took it to a studio in the valley where it is being put through the paces by a very good engineer.
UTA next to a heavily modified SSL 4000E
UTA, SSL and Neve
That console is little, but still big enough to not fit into a lot of people's studios; I don't know how many engineers have said they would love to spend time with it, but just didn't have the room. We have talked in the past about building smaller, 12 channel sidecars with no base (legs, wheels, etc.) so we started that process last week, going over what to order and when. It is going to be much easier to get these into people's hands. We get visitors in the studio to check out the big consoles, but that isn't convenient for everyone, so it's nice to be able to bring it to them and once the rack mount EQs are done, all of this will be easier for everyone.

Speaking of rackmount EQs... we built prototypes of the power boards and Larry has been testing those. The last step before production is the circuit board layout, that is almost finished... so we will be able to make a formal announcement soon. Fortunately, we don't have to go through all of this each time we build a batch of EQs, just this time... so once this is up and running, we will be able to keep the units going in the background constantly. The Unfairchild compressors may very well be ready to go out the door before the EQs. A couple of friends of ours are putting together a wood enclosure sample for the compressors this weekend and Roger is doing amazing work on the knobs (remember, he has his own business designing and building beautiful knobs for guitars).

The first three songs for the Slash record are amazing, Eric has said that one in particular is one of the best mixes to come off the console... seriously, it is one of the most amazing things I have ever heard, great song, great production. Slash has an endorsement with Monster energy drinks and the guys in the band drink that stuff almost constantly, so there is a dedicated Monster refrigerator stocked up at all times.
I want to see Roger drink all of it at once, then I'll call an ambulance
They will be back soon to resume recording. Meanwhile, Matt has been busy in Studio B, Cian has been mixing a couple of projects and we had some filming here this weekend. Eric and I went up the street to Mixfest, where Eric was a guest speaker for a live Q&A http://www.pensadosplace.tv/mixfest/. I am a fan of the show, so it was a treat to meet Dave, Herb and Drew and I ran into a few other familiar faces at the event. I meant to work yesterday, but between that and the filming at the studio, I got very little done. I did see Chris Baseford there last night, so we went out to eat with Will Thompson (Pensado's Place producer) at Fabiolus... good times.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that we moved the Studio A console about six inches toward the back of the room. The patchbay moved with the console, but when there was finally time to get in the room after the mixing was done (about two weeks ago), I disconnected everything and rerouted the wiring to and from the bay. Roger and I got the bay into it's final position and he spent the afternoon putting the back panels on the Studio B console.

I've been at Bock Audio with David and Sean working on 251s and 507s. Mics are flying out of that shop non stop and David brought over the prototype of his new fet mic, the Ellfet7. It has the same elliptical capsule as the 507 and Eric loved it so much, he bought the prototype and ordered another one. We did shootouts and the Ellfet7 won every time. It is an amazing mic and it will be used extensively on the new Slash record.

The Jon Brion crew at Capitol are unstoppable as usual. Now they are recording with Best Coast http://www.bestcoast.us/, super cool band. There is a huge amount of work to do on Jon's live rig and I've started in on the next round of work on the patchbays and racks for their arsenal of gear.
Studio B at Capitol... blanket and pillow, please
Bret Rausch with Neve 8068 and EMI TGI
I hadn't worn a Halloween costume since I was a kid, but this year I did something special... I dressed up as Alan Yoshida, the mastering engineer, and I went to Capitol for some laughs. I ran into Alan himself and he was a good sport about it. I think next year I'll dress up as Bret Rausch.
Would the real Alan Yoshida please stand up
I had mentioned a long time ago that I wanted to design a Roger Fearing paper cut out doll, but soon we will have something much better... believe it or not, a Roger Fearing bobblehead. It should be here within the next couple of weeks and when it arrives, it should spend some time at Capitol, then it will probably sit in Studio A. You will be able to order one, but they are silly expensive... so don't bother unless you are obsessed enough with Roger.

I'll keep the posts coming as we will have exciting news to post in the coming weeks.

Cheers,
MW