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, February 17, 2012

The Rock & Roll Keeps on Going

It's been nearly four weeks since I posted on here and what a wild ride it has been. I finished up my work on the Capitol install on the 4th of this month, not even two weeks ago, and it feels like a year has gone by. The last few days I was there, the wall between Studios A and B was opened up (they are able to do that for larger sessions) and they carpeted the entire area. It was strange to see carpet in a live room that big with two control rooms, but it was all a part of setting up for the first big session with the new console. The artist was Paul McCartney and it was a live broadcast. I stayed far away from all of it... but I heard there were two film crews -nearly a hundred people making it all happen. By Friday they changed over the room again for a Grammy event and this week more wiring and testing was underway.
That's Studio B's window viewed from A's liveroom
Andre Rice and James Goforth
Taking a late night break with Chandler Harrod in Studio C
Art Kelm was deeply involved in the project and I have to say I had a great time working with him. I had known his name for a about twenty years, hadn't met him until the start of the install and I have so much respect for him. Here is a link to an interesting interview with him for Mix magazine http://mixonline.com/studios/design/mix-interview-arthur-kelm/. It was tough work and we were all happy that Andre Rice joined us for a couple of weeks. I'm proud to have been a part of it.

After I finished up at Capitol, I took a couple of days off and last Wednesday, I was lucky enough to go with Slash, Brent and Trevor to a private Van Halen show. It was their dress rehearsal with the big stage... the whole production, at the Forum. The band was amazing -I've never heard Eddie Van Halen play that well, the sound was great and there were musicians everywhere. If the roof at the Forum had caved in... the entire rock guitar player community would have been taken out. It was a very special treat after spending seven straight weeks on the install.

Here at Barefoot, things are quieting down as Slash and the band have left and cartage took away all their gear. I'm going to miss those guys, it was serious fun to spend time with them everyday and watch and listen to the record come together. They are serious, hardworking musicians and the record is going to make a lot of fans very happy. The rehearsals and the recording process were filmed and short episodes will be released online each week until the album comes out (May 22nd). He released the cover art for the record http://slashonline.com/ and had mentioned that he wanted a pin up girl in there somewhere. I am a pin up fanatic, so I brought in some of my books of pin up art for inspiration. Of course, the Bettie Page life size cut out was in the live room with the band the whole time and is in a lot of the documentary footage as well as in the Mativision shoot that happened here last week.



While Dre and I were at Capitol, Roger and Ken Miller were at Dolby, working on an install with Audrey Wiechman. We still had to keep on top of Greg Wells' console at the time and it was a little hard to try to balance my schedule, but now I'm focusing on it and Roger and Dre have been here with me. I have been putting components into PC boards, Dre has been building the power supplies, Roger is building the frame and Ken Miller, although safely away at home in Mammoth, is doing the woodwork.

Larry had finished all the circuit design work on the rackmount EQ/mic pre units, but he was side tracked for several weeks doing custom designs for Wells' console. I'll get into the specifics of that in another post, but long story short... Larry is back on the rackmount units to wrap up the circuit layouts. They will come out soon, I promise. If you look back at older posts, you can add up the amount of times I said that we were getting close... now we have a bunch of parts here. But these have to be right.

I got side tracked for a day... Eric came into the shop at about ten at night on Tuesday and said that in order to do these mixes, we were going to have to figure out a way to be able to send and return to any of his effects (an EMT plate, the chamber, spring reverb, tape echos and a bunch of digital stuff) without taking up so much of the console. The solution was to get another patchbay in there that is fully normalled, tie all the ins and outs of the time based stuff to the ins and outs of a dedicated 16 channel converter. Now all the reverbs can be mixed in the box and brought back to the console on a pair of channels instead of 24 of them and so many of the delays are digital anyways. It is a permanent solution.

David Bock has a new blog about microphones http://macromicrophone.blogspot.com/2012/02/grohl-works-mic.html, so be sure to check that out. I mentioned before that Eric owns the only two Bock Audio Ellfet 7 mics, the original prototype and a second one that David got together for him right before the bulk of recording on Slash's record started. These are fet mics that put fet47s to shame. Eric was so impressed with the prototype, he had to have it and both of them were used extensively on the sessions.
Bock Audio Ellfet 7s in stereo
There are some pretty exciting things brewing here, but I can't talk about them now, but I'll say that 2012 is already pretty amazing and I'll post news when I can.

Roger turned 45 on Wednesday, so we had cake here, then Saturday is Cian's birthday and his whole family is coming over for one serious Irish party.

Rock & Roll,
MW