Most difficult instrument to record?

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Artist Name:
Michael Mahoney / Sole Prerogative
Still Waiting
Date Posted:
May 2010
Rock and Pop
Equipment Used:

HP Pavillion a1730n PC with Presonus FireStudio Project running Cakewalk SONAR Producer Edition and Truepianos Amber Module plug-in; Mics: Sterling Audio ST55, Samson C03, three Shure SM57, AKG D112; Samson Resolv 65A Monitors; Pearl Drums, Fender American P-Bass, Fender 210 Bass Amp, Gibson SG Standard, B-52 AT-212 guitar amp, VOX Tonelab LE, Casio PX330 Piano (used as MIDI controller).

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Production Notes & Credits:

“Still Waiting” is a male vocal rock song. Michael handled the recording, mixing and mastering along with the guitar and backing vocals. Brian Breitsch is listed as the primary songwriter as well as the lead vocalist and piano player. Nathan Breitsch played bass and added backing vocals and Evan Breitsch rounded things out on drums.

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 2
Recording: Michael tells us that he has only been recording for a little over a year, and that “Still Waiting” was recorded in an “acoustically probably not so great basement” and mixed in an untreated computer room. Well Michael, you’d be surprised at just how many other folks are making music in practically the same type of settings these days!

Be that as it may, let’s take a look at what the guys have brought to the table. Starting out with a spirited piano-and-drum combination, the track quickly builds to include all of the individual players. The result? Well, it’s kind of a mixed bag, actually...

We liked the piano, the guitars, and the backing vocals pretty well. Less successful to our ears were the lack of bass guitar presence, the out-of-balance cymbals, and some rather distracting distortion on the drums, particularly during the more aggressive tom fills. We also question the placement of the lead vocal in the mix. While we’re as up for mystery as the next guy, the words are pretty hard to gather in, especially given the high motor that the song is running at.

Suggestions: Let’s start out by backtracking a bit. Given the relative newbie status of Michael as a recordist, along with the less-than-ideal tracking setting, we would have to say that overall, he and the band have done a pretty darn good job here.

That said, it is obvious from his cover letter that Michael is eager to improve his skills and serious enough about it to accept some advice. Given that, we would like to impart the following, starting with the bass guitar: Michael told us that he consciously rolled off some low end from his overall mix during the “mastering” stage of the project. At the risk of opening a Pandora’s box, let’s just say that successful mastering requires an extremely developed skill set, and attempting it with limited experience in an untreated room is “tough sledding” as they say up in our neck of the woods.

We would encourage Michael to replace some of that low-end information as a way to beef up his bass and drums. While we are unsure of the nature of the drum distortion, hopefully it happened during mixing and not during tracking. If so, a readjustment of the console’s gain structure during the remix may be in order.

Regarding the cymbals, while they are clear enough, we suggest that Michael reduce the volume of the hi-hat for better balance. Lastly, although vocals are perhaps the most difficult part of a good mix, we would encourage Michael to practice getting them to sit and speak (too much “Dog Whisperer” lately) legibly in his mix. If after gaining this knowledge and experience, he chooses to tuck his vocals à la R.E.M., well that’s his “sole prerogative”...

Summary: A solid freshman effort.

Contact: Michael Mahoney/Sole Prerogative,

About: Marty Peters

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