PC (dual core 2 GHz with 2 GB RAM) with Korg K49 and Behringer BCF2000 USB controllers, Digidesign Digi 003 with Pro Tools 7.4 LE and stock plug-ins. Mics: Sennheiser 609 (x3)on toms, Shure SM91 on kick, RØDE NT-3 (x2) as overheads, Shure SM57 (x3) on snare and guitar amp, Neumman U 87 on room and vocals. M-Audio Octane multichannel preamp/Digi front end, Brent Averill 1073 mic preamp for vocals and room. Fender Stratocaster American Standard, Fender Deville 4x10 combo, Virtual Sound Jekyll And Hyde overdrive/distortion, Line 6 DL4 delay, Musicmaster bass (unknown model), Ampeg SVT amp and cabinet, Yamaha Tour drums. The studio is acoustically treated with bass traps, diffusers and absorbers from Auralex Acoustics.
Production Notes & Credits:
“Abre Los Ojos” is a male vocal rock song. Juan Pablo Ibarra Harfush and Paco Piestch composed the tune and handled all of the programming and instruments, with the exception of the bass and drums, which were played by Koky Esquerra and Tacho Escoboza respectively. The recording/mixing and mastering fell to the more than able hands of Juan Pablo. The project was realized in Orange Studio in Guadelajara, Mexico.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Over the years we have spent a good deal of time discussing “size and dimension” as it pertains to recording, and this month’s Spotlight offers up a veritable clinic on how to go about it.
Right off the bat we were impressed by the enormous soundscape that was presented with “Abre Los Ojos”. This home studio recording easily matches some of the best commercial releases in tone, depth, arrangement and performance. Couple that with a very competitive mastering volume, free of overcompression/limiting, and what’s not to like?
So how did the Poetas Del Exilio pull off such an exemplary effort? Well, let’s take a closer look. Using Pro Tools 7.4 through a Digi 003 system, the band began by laying down MIDI drums and bass utilizing the Xpand! virtual sound module and other stock Pro Tools plug-ins. The guitars were laid down next, followed by the vocals, which certainly benefited from the Neumann U 87/ Brent Averill 1073 mic and preamp combination!
The next stage involved replacing the MIDI rhythm section with actual instruments. The miking on the Yamaha Tour drums involved a Shure SM91/SM57 combination for the kick and snare, along with Sennheiser 609s on the toms, and a pair of RØDE NT-3s for the overheads. Last up was the bass, a Musicmaster through an Ampeg SVT amplifier.
As we stated earlier, Juan did a superb job in all areas of this recording, starting with the tracking. The individual instruments were captured free of distortion or artifact, and importance of that cannot be underestimated here. Most of you have by now heard the expression “garbage in and garbage out”, which for our purposes means that it is often very difficult, time-consuming, and sometimes downright impossible to correct a sound source that was improperly tracked. As an example, many of our submissions suffer from improper use of compression during the tracking stage. Unfortunately, there is little short of re-tracking or replacement that can be done about it, and you know what? Re-tracking and replacement is usually accompanied by remixing and remastering. In other words, difficult, time-consuming, etc.!
Juan’s mix also excels in several other areas that often plague many of you out there in home/project studio land. Too often the concept of size in a mix is confused with the amount of processing, particularly reverb, that is applied to the individual sound sources. A cavernous reverb does not, we repeat, not make a mix sound huge. Instead it often leads to a “swimmy” unfocused sound. That, and competing frequencies, are two of the more common errors that so often appear in mixes.
Fortunately, none of that shows up in”Abre Los Ojos”. Instead, listen to the way the instruments are structured in the mix. The distorted guitars are panned wide and contrast beautifully with the delayed “clean” electric. Gotta love the sound of air being pushed out of those speakers! The drums have an ideal blend of close miking and room ambience and the bass is just so strong and simple. We also love how the arrangement breathes during the verses when the track breaks down to a U2 inspired vibe, only to rise again like a Phoenix during the chorus.
Finally, in the age of the loudness wars, Juan has achieved professional results without the artifacts that we hear more and more on projects coming out of even the most respected mastering houses.
Summary: A gift from our friends to the south—gracias!
Contact Juan Pablo Ibarra Harfush/Poetas Del Exilio, firstname.lastname@example.org.