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“With any acoustic instrument that you record, you have some kind of ambience happening. Any electric instrument, when it’s direct, doesn’t have any ambience at all. So for me the challenge is not to try to simulate the acoustic sound, but to simulate some of the aspects of an acoustic sound.”- bassist Michael Manring

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Current Tape Reviews

 
Artist Name:
Kris McDaniel
  Title:
Ukeo
 
Date Posted:
May 2014
 
Genre:
Folk
Equipment Used:

Apple iMac running Apple Logic Pro 8 and iZotope Ozone 5 mastering software; Audio-Technica AT2020 mic, Shure SM57 and SM58 mics, AKG K240 MkII headphones. Sonic Reality virtual drum kit samples played by (and with) Roland TD-6 electronic drums. Yamaha FH110 acoustic guitar, Crafter mandolin, cheap ukes, and miscellaneous hand percussion.

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Production Notes & Credits:

"Ukeo" is a male vocal folk song, one-man-banded at Kris' home studio. As Kris put it in his submission, "I did everything. Hopefully not too poorly."

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 2
Recording: Kris has delivered quite an exotic and ambitious track here, full of possibilities but needing a bit of polishing. Starting from the ground up, we found the drum programming and playing to be rather inconsistent, with several timing issues throughout the length of the song leading the aggressive bass guitar to be out of sync with the drums in a few areas.

The remaining sound sources were a mixed bag. We dug the flute sound in the intro of the track (presumably from the EXS24 sample player inside Logic Pro 8, although we can't be sure). We also felt that Kris did a nice job presenting his lead vocal, up front and free of artifact. On the down side, the mandolin had a very "bitey" sound through both our monitors and our Grado Labs headphones. Kris' AKG K240 MkII phones are fine old monitor cans, but they need a good headphone amplifier to speak with clarity, and we don't see anything of that nature in his equipment list (he didn't list what he was using for an interface to Logic), nor do we see any studio monitors here. So maybe he wasn't hearing what he needed to...?

Suggestions: We often search for a "template," an existing song or album that we can offer folks to provide a clear path to not only fixing the trouble areas of their submissions, but also as a guide towards their future recordings. Though it is rare to find one that custom-fits, in Kris' case we strongly urge him to find/download a copy of Seals and Crofts' magnificent 1971 release Year of Sunday. Prior to the duo becoming soft rock icons, they released a record that is incredibly close in nature to what Kris is doing here.

In the meantime, we suggest that Kris spend some quality time working with his drums and a click track. It is quite common for non-drummers to struggle when attempting complicated arrangements, and we feel that simplifying the parts here would allow for more focus on the timing issues.

As for the mandolin, they are tricky instruments indeed, although the AT2020 should provide good results. As with all sound sources, mic placement/distance is critical. Also, remember that the mando definitely demands correct management of the mids and upper midrange frequencies, either during tracking or mixdown... and preferably both!

Summary: Grab that record and study!

Contact: Kris McDaniel, endurantism@gmail.com
About: Marty Peters

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