Dell XPS laptop with MOTU 896 interface running Steinberg Cubase 4; KRK Rokit 5 monitors, Blue Kiwi mic, Universal Audio 6176 preamp/compressor, TC-Helicon VoiceLive vocal processor, Line 6 POD 2.0 and POD X3 Live guitar processors, Taylor 614ce acoustic guitar, Ibanez RG series electric guitar, Yamaha bass, Roland Fantom-X6 keyboard workstation, Monster and Planet Waves cables.
Production Notes & Credits:
“Only Angels” is a male vocal rock song. Nick wore all of the hats on the project, except for the drum tracks, which were flown in by StudioPros.com.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: Very nicely done, for the most part. Nick has written a quality song and with a few exceptions, the recording follows suit. The track intros with a slow keyboard swell, followed by Nick’s Taylor 614 acoustic guitar. Two things jumped out at us fairly quickly at this point. Number one: May we all agree that it’s time to retire the ubiquitous slow keyboard intro swell? Like the revered old warhorse that it is, let us hoist its jersey to the rafters and call it a career shall we?
Number two: we have had a great deal of experience with Taylor guitars and have found them to be some of the most effortless and satisfying of instruments to both play and record. That said, Nick does not seem to be getting the most out of his instrument here. Rather than the full rich tone that one would expect from a Taylor/Blue Kiwi/UA 6176 signal chain, we hear a rather small, “plastic” and heavily compressed sound that has failed to benefit from its top shelf origins. We also found the bass guitar to be lacking in volume through our monitors.
Fortunately, the other sound sources fare better. Nick’s lead vocal is a fine performance/recording and well represented in the mix to boot. Ditto the harmony vocals. Finally, the drums supplied by the nice folks at StudioPros.com here exhibit fine tones and a convincing arrangement, supporting the track very well.
Suggestions: As we have said many times in this article through the years, no single piece of recording gear, be it box or plug-in, has caused as much havoc to submitters’ recordings as the compressor. Its misuse and overuse are the stuff of legend in these parts, and sadly Nick’s acoustic guitar tone is the latest to join the scrap heap. How it is possible to not hear the pumping that is sooo obvious on the guitar?
And even more puzzling is the decision to use it to that degree in the first place. Was the guitar performance so uneven that only a massive amount of compression would smooth it out? If so, we would suggest that Nick go back and re-track the guitar using a more distant mic placement. If it still is uneven, then how about trying two compression passes at gentler ratios to tame the wild beast? Last but not least, there have been many fine articles pertaining to compression in the pages of Recording through the years. They are a great resource, Nick... just sayin’.
Summary: Master the compression and you’re on your way.
Contact: Nick Moison, NIXLIX@aol.com.