Spectral Cube PC, Digi 002 with Pro Tools LE, Apogee Rosetta 200 AD/DA, four Vintech X73i channel strips, Avalon VT-737sp, Amek stereo channel strip, Empirical Labs Fatso Jr. and Distressor, Drawmer 1968 ME, Focusrite Red 4, Alesis Masterlink; Event TR8 monitors.
Drums tracked through Digi 192 interface; AKG D112 (kick), Shure SM57 on snare (top and bottom) and 3 on toms and 2 on guitar cabs, RØDE NT5 pair drum o/h, AKG C414B room mic for drums, Neumann TLM103 on vocals; drums signal flow (all through Digi 192): kick and snare top > Vitech X73i > EL Fatso Jr. > 192, snare bottom Vintech X73i > 192, toms (3) > Focusrite Red 4 > 192, O?H > Amek chanel strip > 192, room mics > Avalon > Distressor (squashed into oblivion) > 192.
Guitars: homemade solid body, modified Gibson SG > Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier head loaded with AL34s > Mesa Boogie Armored Rectifier 4x12 cab, guitar > Maxon compressor > Carl Martin Delayla XL (for solo) > AMP, amp/mics > 2 Vintech X73is > Drawmer 1968 ME > Rosetta 200. Bass tracked DI > X73i > Drawmer 1968 ME > Rosetta 200. Doubled bass track, processed one with Ampeg Vass amp modeler; Vocals > X73ik > 1968ME > Rosetta 200.
Production Notes & Credits:
“Tattoos” is a male vocal rock song, Mike did it all with the exception of the drums, which were played by Danny Figueroa.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: This one is a mystery, folks. Not only did Mike use some world-class gear on his recording, but he also submitted one of the most detailed descriptions of the entire tracking, mixing and mastering process that we have ever seen at Reader’s Tapes. We’re talkin’ NASA level detail!
If his notes are accurate, this recording received more love than a newborn babe, so what gives with the thin overall sound? Mike and Danny are obviously talented guys, and no beginning recordist would have been able to handle the amount of TLC that is outlined in Mike’s notes, but still, something isn’t right.
After mulling this around a bit and checking against several commercial releases in this genre, we can only surmise that 1) there is a problem with Mike’s monitors or room acoustics, or 2) in an effort to present a flawless, clean and precise track, Mike scrubbed the Rock and Roll right out of his tune. Can we hear each sound source with clarity? You betcha. Vocals sit well? Yep. But where is the muscle?
Suggestions: We suggest that Mike run right out and find a Foo Fighters or Green Day CD and A/B it with “Tattoos”. If they sound the same to him in terms of low-end presence and midrange punch, then something is wrong with either the monitors or the room, or both.
If, on the other hand, Mike’s mix sounds thin against these examples, then we suggest that he do a remix using them as sonic guidelines. Get that kick drum some thud to go with the click, tuck the lead vocal back into the mix and find some growl for the bass. You have the gear, talent, and most of all the work ethic to turn “Tattoos” into a fine recording.
Summary: Long Live Rock!
Contact: Mike Congilosi, myspace.com/gottalovemikey, sonicbids.com/sunkenmoonproductions, myspace.com/mykierocks.
POSTSCRIPT: When Mike read my review of his track, he was brave enough not only to take a serious second listen to his beloved song but to try and improve it based on my suggestions. The result was a remix that made it to our top-level SPOTLIGHT newsletter in July 2008. You can find the improved version there, and compare it with this original version!