We put down a 7″ by The PutBacks with a special guest vocalist who shall remain nameless (for now). This was the very first session I had done with my 8 track installed at The Aviary, where it now resides.
The MCI desk has plenty of channels and a routing matrix to assign multiple channels to another strip. The way we patched in the reel to reel allowed us to pull up about 12 mics each on their own channel and then we could assign one or several mics to each tape channel and use the faders to get a precise balance. We then brought up the 8 tape channels on another 8 channel strips and monitored off those.
We spent a good bit of time finding some drum sounds. We had several mics that we placed, each with a different sound. We were going for a sound that used only 1-2 mics to capture the vibe of the kit we wanted, but depending on the song we chose different combinations of mics to put to tape.
Finding the right place for this STC ribbon mic took some time. It’s quite far from the kit, and we had 3 amps in the same room, so spill was inevitable. Being a figure-8 mic, it is also picking up from the rear. However, more important was the picture of the kit we were able to get. It took much listening and moving to find a place where we got a really good crack out of the snare, not too much hats, and a punchy (but light-weight) kick. It’s a great sound for a funk 45 let me tell you! But you have to hunt for it. And consider what else in the room you’re picking up at the same time.
We also put a 57 mic on the snare, but since the tom was free-standing, we had plenty of room to get in above the kick, away from the hats. However, this 57 isn’t really a snare mic, it’s an overall picture of the kit, with lots of kick and snare. The kick has a much more single note tone and less of a plosive punch here, and there’s no single right way to point the mic – we were aiming for a full snare sound with some snap in it, a nice kick and then other skins (floor/rack tom). Cymbals are there too, but because they’re so much further away and kind of in the dead part of the polar pattern, they’re much less present. They also have a nice light tingy sound, since the odd harmonics tend to radiate horizontally from cymbals, but we’re down below that plane.
I’m a fan of Stav’s technique of using pink noise (or just amp buzz) to compare the tone of what the mic is picking up. This is especially useful if you’ve done a test recording and find something lacking or too present in the tone. Rather than add EQ, running noise through the amp and moving the mic can really help get you a better tone and solid sound without adding EQ (which introduces an inherent phase-smear).