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Phil Ramone - 1970s Vocal Production Techniques Ribbon Microphones
Old 1 week ago
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Phil Ramone - 1970s Vocal Production Techniques

I've never heard a lead vocal sound that's better than Billy Joel on "Just the Way You Are," produced by Phil Ramone. Great talent, live session, yes, I know...but we can't discount the gear, either.

Clearly the reverb is a stereo EMT 140. Any idea what mic, preamp, EQ, compressor? Sounds like a dynamic microphone...not very "hi-fi"...but damn it fits so perfectly in the mix.

Also would be interested to hear about any of Ramone's vocal productions on Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years, et cetera.
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Clearly the reverb is a stereo EMT 140. Any idea what mic, preamp, EQ, compressor? Sounds like a dynamic microphone...not very "hi-fi"...but damn it fits so perfectly in the mix.
I think most if not all of that album was done at A&R 48th St. I went through a stretch about 10 years later when I worked in that room several times, and it was supposedly basically the same. 80 Series in-line Neve, Studer Multi and 2-tracks. The mic was supposedly one of the small Beyerdynamic cardioid ribbons, dunno which specific model. Don't know about the pre, either. But using outboard pres was pretty unheard of at the time, and that Neve was packed with 1073's, and Phil was known to be thrifty, so I'm guessing 1073.
Old 1 week ago
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The vocal microphone was a Beyer M160
Old 1 week ago
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Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I think most if not all of that album was done at A&R 48th St. I went through a stretch about 10 years later when I worked in that room several times, and it was supposedly basically the same. 80 Series in-line Neve, Studer Multi and 2-tracks. The mic was supposedly one of the small Beyerdynamic cardioid ribbons, dunno which specific model. Don't know about the pre, either. But using outboard pres was pretty unheard of at the time, and that Neve was packed with 1073's, and Phil was known to be thrifty, so I'm guessing 1073.
Great info...thanks. Yeah, I'm guessing the pre was either 1073 or 1084...or the console version of the 1084...31102 I think it's called. Beyerdynamic ribbon...wow, will have to look that up.

I'm guessing the machine was a Studier A80, which is a killer-sounding machine IMO.

Wonder what compressor and if they used a different EQ. Fairchild on comp?
Old 1 week ago
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Originally Posted by lucasanything View Post
The vocal microphone was a Beyer M160
Not an M 260?
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Not an M 260?
Yeah, I read a quote somewhere from Phil Ramone himself saying he used an M160 on Billy Joel.

Paul Simon's was a U87.

The one I've always wondered about is Dylan on Blood on the Tracks. The songs they recorded at A&R knock me out. If anyone has any info on what mics were used for that session, please share
Old 1 week ago
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From a Mix magazine article :

Most of Scheiner’s work with Steely Dan was done at A&R Studios in New York City... they had a Neve 8068 and Studer tape machines. There were a couple of Pultec EQP-1As, four Fairchilds and... “All the reverb was from chambers that Phil (Ramone) had tuned and a delay on all of them that Phil insisted on."
Old 1 week ago
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Old 1 week ago
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Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Not much about the vocal, but here's a cool thread about the drums
Ever notice that on the verses of "Only the Good Die Young," he puts the kick on 2 and 4?
Old 1 week ago
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The reverb is nice. The arrangement is great, just a perfect sized hole for the vocal. That's the biggest thing I hear... everything is overproduced these days and the vocal is always smashed on top instead of part of the song.
Old 1 week ago
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Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Ever notice that on the verses of "Only the Good Die Young," he puts the kick on 2 and 4?
From memory, I thought he wa playing 4 on the floor, but I'm wrong.

He's playing brushes on that song.
Old 1 week ago
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The most important part of the vocal sound was Billy Joel. Using the exact same signal path on another singer is unlikely to get you a similar sound.
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
The most important part of the vocal sound was Billy Joel.
Agreed. But it's pretty common to use small cardioids on singing piano players. Big cardioid LDC's generally aren't great at shutting out the back and sides.

(Not addressing you as much as the community at large).
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Agreed. But it's pretty common to use small cardioids on singing piano players. Big cardioid LDC's generally aren't great at shutting out the back and sides.

(Not addressing you as much as the community at large).
Nothing rejects better than a ribbon. I wonder if that was his reason for choosing the 160 here, which honestly I've never considered for using on vocals. It was originally introduced to me for use on guitars, long before the 121 was an option. I came to love it for my room mics on drums, a la When the Levee Breaks.
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Nothing rejects better than a ribbon.
I know that Fig 8 microphones typically have better rejection, and ribbons are typically Fig 8. But is there something about ribbon technology itself that has superior rejection, even when using the same polar pattern as a condenser or dynamic?
Old 1 week ago
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Originally Posted by lucasanything View Post
I know that Fig 8 microphones typically have better rejection, and ribbons are typically Fig 8. But is there something about ribbon technology itself that has superior rejection, even when using the same polar pattern as a condenser or dynamic?
Yes. It's physics. 90˚ off axis on a ribbon is true null. The ribbon can only move on a single axis, which is backward and forward. It cannot move side to side. It's the backwards and forwards motion in the magnetic gape which creates a current.

Condensors and moving coil dynamic mics (a ribbon is a dynamic mic) operate on different principles, but the diaphragm to which the coil is attached on a moving coil dynamic will still vibrate with the off axis sound press, where a ribbon mostly will not.

Condensor mics have a metal coated diaphragm which is charged and a backplate which is charged. The air gap in between acts like a capacitor, and the diaphragm moving closer and further from the backplate with sound pressure changes the capacitance. It alters an existing current, rather than creating its own current, like a dynamic does. That diaphragm is also susceptible to off axis sound pressure.

Figure 8 on a condenser happens because of cancellation between the two diaphragms. One side is 180˚ out of phase to the other. If you're 90˚ off axis, but sides are getting the same signal, but one is out of phase, and they are canceling. But that cancellation is never perfect, and the ribbon's physical rejection of the off axis sound pressure usually will do a better job of rejection.
Old 1 week ago
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Let’s not forget Ramone was the master at creating the space for the artist to perform at their best.

That includes the choice of room, people in the room, equipment used and the way he catered to their creative needs...
Old 1 week ago
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Regarding the ribbon mic, remember the m160 is not a figure 8. It’s hypercardiod, which is unusual for a ribbon. That may explain why he chose it for the vocal as well.
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philter View Post
That's the biggest thing I hear... everything is overproduced these days and the vocal is always smashed on top instead of part of the song.
THANK YOU..i was doing country pop mixes and the targets were mixes by chuck ainley ..chuck is a great engineer but i was blown away and disappointed that the vocals sat APART from the music..it was disconcerting to listen to..i mixed my song the same way and the client is still very happy with it but i wasn't i'm from the school of the vocal sits above the fray and "answer" gtr and pno parts etc in the holes ride up in the hole to what vox level was before and after it making the vocal sit in the music
Old 1 week ago
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phil had a great philosophy.. we were bs'g at the studio and he goes..i put it up i turn a few knobs if i gotta turn too much i just get another piece of gear..LOL

it was in reference to all the pages on a 480 larc as compared to a plate or a chamber and a tape delay..everyone liked to mix at A&R because their plates were torqued and matched very well.. we tried to do the best with torque and still the eq's on the plates were diff when trying to match ours so it was a physical and an electrical exercise
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
... everyone liked to mix at A&R because their plates were torqued and matched very well.. we tried to do the best with torque and still the eq's on the plates were diff when trying to match ours so it was a physical and an electrical exercise
Yup. Theirs matched nicely, and Howard Schwartz had a good pair. Seems like everywhere else (including where I was on staff) they'd just put two pickups on each plate and that would be your "stereo." Still good, but not the same.
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