8-tracks originally recorded on Roland VS-880 in “shelf basement” (12’ W x 16’ L x 6’ H) in Salt Lake City, Utah over 2 days. 2 rhythm guitar, 2 drums, 1 fill guitar, 1 harmonica, 1 bass, 1 vocal recorded using AKG C3000 mic and ART TPS II preamp on all instruments, amp cabinet and vocals. Drum mic’ed with only AKG C3000 mics—one up high (6’, the maximum height of the basement ceiling) and one low off-axis on the kick drum. Transferred S/PDIF 2-tracks at a time to Pro Tools LE 8.0 for mixing and archiving. Pro Tools 8.0 w/003 Rack running on 3-year old 3 GHz PC with 4 GB RAM. Various plug-ins by Digidesign (1-Band EQ; also Long Delay, D-Verb, both on separate buss), Massey Plug-ins (LT2007 Mastering Limiter, VT3 EQ and De-Esser), iZotope Ozone 4 on stereo master buss.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: Quite a labor of love this one is. Literally recorded in a basement to a modest Roland VS-880 and then transferred two tracks at a time into Pro Tools, Rex and the band have delivered a pretty fine track with some basic gear and an extra measure of T.L.C. We applaud all concerned for finding a unified ambience (be it basement or otherwise) and sticking with it. Too often lately it seems that folks are unsure of themselves in this area, and as a result their mixes lack continuity. Perhaps the fact that this is a band recording, rather than a “one man band” affair, helps explain the reasoning here. Nevertheless, we like it!
As for the rest of the tune, the vocals are well seated in the mix and are void of any compression/limiter nasties. We found the hypercompressed lead guitar a bit of an odd call at first—very ’70s Dynacomp—but hey, it worked for Lowell George, so who are we to quibble?
Where we can take exception is with the cymbals, and to a lesser degree, the bass. While the drum kit as a whole is well recorded and well balanced, the cymbals are excessively loud and lack a natural decay. Part of the reason may be the 6’ ceiling height in the basement, but it still strikes us the wrong way. Was a gate applied to the cymbals, fellas? Regarding the bass, again, the fact that it was an acoustic upright may explain some of it’s shy nature, but we would still love to hear more of it in the mix.
Suggestions: Let us reiterate, we really like “You Don’t Know the Pain” and the effort that was put into it by Rex and the band. The performances are more than solid and the vibe is as well. As for our minor dislikes, well, they really are fairly minor. Recording drums in less than ideal environments is always challenging, and most basements are less than ideal!
Given that, it seems as if the decision to make perhaps the most difficult sound source, i.e. the cymbals, also your loudest one seems a bit unwise. To that end, we would suggest that the first order of business be to experiment with the decay time of the cymbals. If the natural decay time is abrupt due to the ceiling height limitations, perhaps reamping the overheads in a larger space would allow you to increase the time of the delay. Once this is accomplished, feel free to knock back their volune a few dB. As for the bass, we love the upright, and so will others if you give it a bit more volume.
Finally, Rex failed to supply us with any info regarding his mix position, but if it too is in the basement, some acoustic treatment may be in order to assure a more accurate result.
Summary: In this case pain is good.
Contact: Rex Strother, firstname.lastname@example.org