Mac Pro with Apogee Ensemble interface running Logic 9. Preamps: Avalon 737sp, SSL Alpha Channel, Focusrite Octopre. Microphones: Neumann U 87 and TLM 193, Blue Bluebird, two Oktava MK 012, Sennheiser MD421, four Shure SM57s. Monitors: Adam A7, Avant Electronics Mixcubes.
Production Notes & Credits:
"Life of Sorrow" is a male vocal rock song with a country influence. The song was written by Cole Spohr and Mark Lightcap and performed by Bad Daddy!. Individual credits are: Cole Spohr on lead vocal and acoustic guitar; Mark Lightcap on acoustic guitar, background vocals, and percussion programing; Bruce Marelich on electric guitar and background vocals; George Newcom on drums; Jerrad Benedict on electric bass; and Vera Bridges on background vocals. The song was produced and engineered by Mark in the Bad Daddy Studio.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: Mark explains, "The studio consists of a small acoustically treated control room with a laminate floor. Acoustic instruments and vocals are recorded in here. Electric guitar and bass are recorded in the adjoining bedroom. Amps are faced toward the end of the bed (toward a corner of the room) and are miked with an SM57 (mono) slightly angled at the front grill, and a Neumann U87 and Octava MK12 (XY stereo)." Mark further tells us that he and the band are relative newcomers to the recording game and invites some honest, constructive criticism. Well, Mark, ask and ye shall receive!
Let us begin by saying that there are a thousand guys in Nashville right now that would give about anything to have Cole's singing voice. The raspy, world weary baritone is perfectly matched with the Neumann U 87 microphone used here. We have long discussed the importance of the marriage between the singer and the specific mic in this column, and this is a great example of it!
As for the remaining sound sources, our main issue is with the drums. While the bass guitar is presented with a full round tone, the drums have a thin, distant, beatbox quality to them that results in a disconnected feel for the all-important rhythm bed. We also noticed some timing fluctuations that shine even more of a light on the drums.
Our other area of concern is with the distorted electric guitar. While the tone would be right in the pocket for a heavy rock/metal tune, here it seems out of place, particularly against Cole's vocal style. Lastly, we dig the percussion at the intro, but its volume exceeds that of the drum kit, making the song feel top-heavy and out of balance.
Suggestions: We appreciate Mark's candor regarding his relative lack of experience. As we've said in these pages numerous times: "You don't know what you don't know, ya know?!". Mark has the tools in place to capture some great drum sounds... SM57 on the snare, Oktavas for the overheads, and the Neumann for the kick. What he lacks is the sheer number of hours that is required in order to experiment and hopefully master these tools into a sound that is as quality as the one he achieved with Cole's vocals. We encourage Mark and all of you loyal readers to roll up your sleeves and dig into the many fine "how to" articles that Recording brings you each month on all aspects of our passion, including how to get great drum and electric guitar sounds. Short answer: there is nothing wrong with this setup that practice and education can't fix.
Summary: Class is in session!
Contact: Mark Lightcap, firstname.lastname@example.org.