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Old 7th September 2002

Hi everybody

Just a little report from the road.

I'm now settled into an old villa in Oswego, NY for pre-production on my next project. The building contains an ex dentist office and that's where we set up. I'm sitting in the receptionist area and the band is playing in the waiting room. It's a great athmosphere. The rooms have a lot of real wood paneling and it sounds pretty cool. I'm using 3 mics on the drums (2 MXR 67s on OH, AKG D112 on the kick), and an AKG C4000 for the electric gtr, hooked up to the MOTU 896 and then into Digital Performer on the TI Powerbook. The vocals and acoustic guitar go through a PA and I'm using the aux outs for a send to the 896. Bass is DI from his amp head. When the band is playing I'm listening through Bose noise cancelling headphones (works great) and after it's in the computer we listen to the 896 hooked up to the PA and make our edits right there. In the evening I take the computer to the hotel and do some more homework. A long way from the old dictaphone set up in the middle of the rehearsal room.

We're working our way through about 2 songs a day. The band sent me a tape, recorded with a boom box in their rehearsal room (sounds a lot like some of the new music on the radio grggt ) and I did my home work and butchered it all up. Now we are going over the new arrangements and are putting all the pieces together, keeping a big ear on parts for the surround speakers. Can't wait to record this one for real in October.

How do you guys do pre-pro? Do you travel to where the band lives or do they come to you? Do you use a (demo) studio or is a rehearsal room preferred to keep the cost down.
Old 7th September 2002
Lives for gear

Re: Pre-production

Originally posted by mwagener
...We're working our way through about 2 songs a day. The band sent me a tape, recorded with a boom box in their rehearsal room (sounds a lot like some of the new music on the radio grggt ) and I did my home work and butchered it all up. Now we are going over the new arrangements and are putting all the pieces together, keeping a big ear on parts for the surround speakers. Can't wait to record this one for real in October...
Hi Michael,

Who needs a studio? If they're getting that "radio sound" from a boombox, why not just that? Oh, I forgot, you guys are doing a surround project. 2 boomboxes? heh

you ARE having fun, aren't you?

Old 7th September 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

pre-production? whats that?

usually just a couple beers
Old 7th September 2002
Gear Maniac

Been not in the best of health as of late, yet I do try to give my all for preproduction, epecially for the gigs that the band is entrusting me in every way shape and form to get their sound as a band onto an optical disc - I guess that's when they call me "producer" or whatever.

I'm in the middle of 3 projects right now, and preproduction is an intersting topic as I'm doing alot of it right now (yet my recording setup is probbably closer to michael's with some nice mics and outboard )

Band # 1:

I met this band two days ago, a friend was going to set them up in a small hole in the wall bar/music club/coffee bar that they could get for free - he has a digi-001 and a few nice mics -yet not too much for pre's or monitors or the **** needed to make it all go down in the end. I basically ended up getting introduced to the band at 11 AM yesterday, was listening to live clips by noon, on the phone with the guitarist at 2 PM, and at their show an hour away that night at 10 PM - 1 AM where we proceeded to have a few drinks (water for me, I'm on antibiotics - ordering water in an "ale house" is about one of the worst feeling I've ever had) - and we started to discuss recording, as I left around 2:30 AM with two tentative studio days booked for the band to nail out their album, now a day later have 2 and a half days booked and ready to rock - yet did I mention it's 9 days away? Producing an album that is tracked in 2 days flat, no overdubs or punches - 10 days after meeting (or hearing of ) the band for the 1st time.

These guys are a jazz-rock jam band genre type that conist of jazz/solo/funk guitar, breakbeat drummer, and upright bassist that vibes thru some ampeg lovin. As for "preproduction" with this band, when I went to see them play - I asked them to "think like you are recording while you play tonight, and I will listen as if takes are going down and let you know how I think you did afterwards" - long story short the band rocked and their interaction and pocket and groove was awesome, much better than their ok live clips that were done months ago (they've only been together 8 months).

The band wants to record full out live as if they are presenting their live feel and energy and DYNAMIC to the listener - yet in as high of a fidelity as they can achieve, while maintaining a live sound. They wanted to record a live gig - yet I can't afford to book Steve Remote (Remoteness / Aurasonic - Enter Aura Sonic Location Recording) on this sucka so I convinced them I could find the cheapest big room I could find on short notice, set them up in a semi circle, fill the room with pretty lights and candles - set the mood for getting sounds, and using no phones or anything ( or any cellphones even allowed in the building) - mabye just minimal makeshift gobos to isolate the close mics on the kit from the amps and vice versa (still letting semi distant mics and stereo pair capture the band as a whole and the full bleed of everyone).

The band as of now has alot of gigs to play between now and the 1st day of tracking, the 15th - so I told them to pretend like they are playing their 1-disc live studio album, and try to record it off the board if they could just to listen back and see if they were content with it. I am hoping to meet one day before the 15th to get a ****ty recording of a few songs just to get a better strategy for micing this kit up (the drummer moves his pocket all over the kit, yet it's worth the extra work!)

Anyways, for tracking I have two 10+ hour days booked, and I am moving my racks into the studio the night before they get there at 10am - so that I can set up my gear and monitors, and patch in - and also start to set the vibe for what is a rather big yet untreated 50's ammunition factory as the live room.

Day 1's plan is to set them up, move them around to the best spots in the room, tune the room the best I can using the couches there as makeshift bass-traps to kill some problems in the corners of the room - and use most of day-one getting sounds, and laying down short cuts to get them warmed up and a versataille enough of a tracking selection down that I know will work for the mix they need. They don't want too be over recorded, so I'm killing the urge to mic everything up and down by only bringing a DP3 rig that can handle 16 tracks of 24/48k at once, yet it should be more than sufficient.

As for gear, I plan to try to rent a few things, yet for mics we should have on-hand:

- pair of schoeps cmc6/mk4v's (matched)
- pair of neumann tlm-170s (matched)
- pair of neumann km-140s (matched)
- pair of neumann km-184s (matched)
- pair of AKG 480s w/61s (matched)
- pair of some new ADK mics (matched)
- Neumann U87ai
- 4 x 421s
- AKG d-12e
- various other dynamics, yet really just need to rent a royer and/or AEA 44

mic pre's and outboard

- 4 channels API 312
- 4 channels telefunken v-276
- 2 channels Averil 1272 (on lend)
- true audio / neumann precision 8 ch.
- 2 channels grace design Lunatec-V2
- 2 channels Apogee mini-me

- purple audio mc-76
- UA la-2a re-issue
- RNCs
- possibly renting a few neve-alikes w/ EQ such as X-81s

anyways - I'm up in the middle of the night tossin cookies and was thinking about this stuff as I was praying to the porcelean gods, so this forum really is good "therapy" for being sick while not being able to get the production of 3 bands out of your head! - wanted to say a quick thanks you all out there, real people who are so much more talented than you show, (so rare in my parts). See now it's the medication doing the sappy talking, dang it.

As for band's two and three - I will save those for another posting day, it's 6 AM and I'm up sick, band # 2 is my session tomorrow that's another jazz/r&B live thing thats 40-50 mins worth of disc length being tracked tomorrow and tomorrow only, and did I mention it's 6 AM - I'm sick as ****, and we start at 10 AM - , and I still love this **** - thank god I dropped out of college!

Band three I recorded with for about 8 days, starting with drums to a click - then bass - then guitars and keys. The guys are newer to studio work and then ended up scrapping all that material, and are essentaily back in preproduction for 3-5 weeks. they are now cutting songs down, changing intros/outros, solos, and all those things they perhaps weren't thinking about as much as we all could have been before we started tracking. Just goes to show that PreProduction can and will be just as important as the studio, room, band and or dare I say gear?

Anyways - that's enough out of me, I've been really bogged down planning out these albums on top of being booked heavy and being sick - if anyone has any personal opinions about the sessions, I'm all ears and would love to hear some other perspectives as I don't have much energy for extra thinking as of late...and thanks michael for starting the thread that if I started probbably nobody would really get into

and also - it's all about that there's that no I am in team stuff that Mr. T used to talk about " I pitty the fool who think he can pro-duce that band without doin his damn homework"
Old 7th September 2002
Get well soon Jay!

pre prod, for 3 tunes

Meet at my studio - get gig / get a feel for the tracks THEY like
Get CDR of all tunes recorded - pick best out IMHO
EARPLUG TIME! - Meet at rehersals to pick best songs IMHO from ones on CDR & 'new ones" / unrecorded tunes.
Arangement rehersals.. 8 hours in total?...
Ready to record.

I cant 'hear everything' in a rehersal studio - (those Bose cans sound interesting!) so somethings like bass parts DO have to get sorted out in the studio.

I do no recording at all in pre prod.. but it sounds like a good idea one day...

Old 7th September 2002
Gear Maniac

Originally posted by Jules

I do no recording at all in pre prod.. but it sounds like a good idea one day...

One day after you score a few more hits - you can bring in that old neve or API - and turn that PT rig into the "preproduction studio"

being serious now - it might actually be a better alternative than selling it for such a loss in 2-3 years when ProTools MD, VD, ADD - or whatever next comes out...
Old 7th September 2002
Hey this is about pre prod!grudge

Mooooooaaaaaaannnnnnn! (upgrade stress moaning!) Whimper....

Ashley, a 002 and a laptop would be a cool setup for a PT pre prod rig..

Old 7th September 2002
Gear Maniac

Originally posted by Jules
a 002 and a laptop would be a cool setup for a PT pre prod rig..

Do that kinda **** all the time - yet I rock a G3 500mhz with 640-MB ram and some hot-swap firewire drives....

little skb shallow mini rack and a backpack with laptop, drive, and mics - and you walk in their like you aint nobody but a bad mo-fo

the funny part is when you lay down something decent for "scratch" pre-production, and the band or band's friends like it enough that they want to keep a copy, yet you don't really want your no-cares scratch **** getting out there in the hands of others...

did I mention it's 8:00 AM, ive been up all night - half a bottle of pepto bismol has me ok now and keeping it down - and my "willy show" will be honking the horn in my driveway in an hour! Also, I have to track on his monitors, some Yorkvilles driven off some haffler - I can't wait to here how me working shot like this on monitors I dont know translates once I bring it back to my room....can you say worries? let me insert the icon that does ->
Old 7th September 2002
Wow!Good luck man! Think how well you are goingto sleep tonight when it's all over!
Old 7th September 2002
Gear Maniac

all I can think of thru all this, as I now pack my hard-drive and digital camera - pictures will come I promise..

anyways, all I can think of is that even though Mixerman's saga is an interesting read at times, and he does have to deal with some supreme "cottons" - I think that alof of us on low budgets deal with **** that the big LA session just can't touch with a cattle prod...

besides, I sure as hell ain't getting a point to mix this thing, and even if I did it would be worth a party favor!

sorry - just my craziness of being up all night talking, plus in being sick up all night - I hooked up my old pioneer consumer shelf system, put the master unti / cd player down away from my station - and sat the speakers on my monitor bridge between my 1031a's and my Tivoli Audio Model two's (3" radio speakers"

this is so phat - I with a remote I can switch between the cheesy DSP EQs like "hall, live, movie, disco, rock, etc" - between the genelec's the radio speakers and this system - I finally am starting to become confident of my working towards translation, even though my room is far from great for monitor acoustics, we give and take...

My "willy show" just called and offed up a "fattie" thinking it might make the belly better - who knows, he's the producer - I should listen to him anyways
Old 7th September 2002
Capitol Studios Paris
jon's Avatar

Good luck, Jay...and great topic, Michael.

Pre-prod is really important with a rock often makes or breaks the recording down the road in the studio.

I use two pairs of wonderful molded linear ear -15dB, the other -25dB.

With those in, a notebook, and a Roland Dr. Beat or other tempo box in hand, I place my chair literally right in front of the bass drum, with the bass cab right behind me. If there's a good PA with sub, I mic the bass drum and send it there as well to anchor the band.

Bass drum / bass guitar patterns are often THE most neglected arrangment thing by bands before going into the studio...the band often don't really hear the bass drum well enough during normal rehearsals to realize that it's not together with the bass or working the way it could.

A big thing for me is figuring out the right tempo for the make sure that's the tempo they perform it later on in the studio. 2 bpm faster or slower can change the feel a lot. I don't want to even think about how many times a recording has been trashed because it was recorded at the wrong tempo, usually too fast (studio excitement a la "we nailed it" and no one checked the tempo, or they 'overruled' the tempo warning...and a few days later when objectivity sets in, it sounds wrong).

Pre-prod is a really fun and cool gig. Hope it's going well, Michael.

Old 8th September 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

Pre Production is VERY necessary for any kind of music, any type of project which calls itself professional. It is very much part of a professional environment.

Right now pre production for me is attending Orchestra rehearsals at the Opera, having meetings about deadlines / schedules / who does what by when....

Parties involved are Opera management for schedule / production .... Radio for audio recording .... Television for filming .... video editing company for editing and format transfers .... me .... for editing and format transferring audio .... synchronising to video and DVD authoring. It is my first big DVD authoring job.

Although I don't realy record or mix or edit .... I only get the final music versions on CD rom .... I make a point of following rehearsals and recording and filming as much as possible. I feel like I need to know every step from scratch .... stay in touch with people on the different levels along the way to make sure I get the right material delivered in the right format. A lot of people doing a lot of different things for the same DVD project. I get to puzzle the pieces together and add some sound effects on the menu stuff.

Not a regular recording job but also a lot of fun and very interesting and educational.
Old 8th September 2002
Jay, I hope you're feeling better by now.

Pre-pro is going well. We got 7 songs (out of 14 total) worked out in the ruff stages, meaning we have the basic form of the songs and drums and bass down. The lead vocal melodies are pretty much set, we even got some of the harmonies worked out. We still have to finalize the guitar layers etc.. Tomorrow is off from rehearsal and I'm going to work on the 7 ruff songs in my hotel and make CDs for everybody of the stuff we have so far. In the afternoon we get an additional drumset in (Gretsch) and we are going to try different heads on the two different kits.

The band is in great spirits (and I don't mean alcohol) and they like most of the changes I made, the creative juices are flowing. The guys are really cool and all the discussions are down to musical things, not ego stuff. All in all we're having a great time.

The more I'm working in that old villa, the more I want one to put my studio in. The old rooms with the heavy wood sound great and the walls are almost thick enough for isolation. The plumbing leaves a little bit to be desired. Hmm, gotta think about that some more.

Pictures coming up (if I can figure out how to do this from here)
Old 8th September 2002
hope this works:

Let me know if you can read this. If not, maybe somebody can give me a pointer on how to upload pictures to aol.
Old 8th September 2002
Lives for gear
drundall's Avatar

Earplugs, a notebook (the paper kind) and a ghettoblaster in a smelly rehearsal room. Occasionally I get to work in a small 2" studio but usually it's the method above.
Old 8th September 2002
Gear Maniac

ok - back from the dead

been up for 49 or so hours straight (minues a few 20 minute naps during breaks today). Anyways made it thru and actually got half a pretty good album recorded in the one day...

For kick we went with an older sm**** inside, sent to an averill 1272, to a la-2a, and also a d-12e that went into a API.

pic should appear below... will give the run down tomorrow or so
Old 8th September 2002
Gear Maniac

Old 8th September 2002
Lives for gear
davemc's Avatar

How I try to do pre-prod.
Is get the whole band in the studio record down all there tracks live, (actually the same setup as the real CD recording).
This gives them a feel for the studio and me if they have not worked with me before.
Just rough takes unless they totaly loose it.
Then we go through the songs arrangements
Try getting a flat mix of the songs sound wise.
Then try different snares, amps, guitars on different versions on the same song.

Give them all the versions of the songs to take home and see if they like the sounds and arrangements at home before we record for real.
great in theory, in practice once mix time comes they want a different sound altogether grggt
Old 8th September 2002
Originally posted by davemc

great in theory, in practice once mix time comes they want a different sound altogether grggt
I try to avoid this like the plague tut When I work on a record, I build a picture of the whole album (sound, overall style) in my head very early in the process, before pre-production, and I try to synchronize that vision with the bands vision of their album. The sounds and arrangements that I go for are largely based on that vision and once we actually start recording it would be very hard to change the direction of the album. It has happened to me before, (on the only Country-ish kinda record I attempted) that the artist and I completely agreed on a direction for his album and we followed that direction all the way through the mix. It sounded great, but he then changed his mind (after mastering!!!) and wanted the album to sound completely different. We would have had to record most of the stuff over with a different approach, different instruments etc. He ended up stiffing me for the bill (six figures) and disappeared. No more Country music for me...(unless Mrs. Twain calls)

Earplugs, a notebook (the paper kind) and a ghettoblaster in a smelly rehearsal room. Occasionally I get to work in a small 2" studio but usually it's the method above.
That's cool, as long as pre-production is beeing done (even if it's in a freight container heh), it's soooo important. It's also a great time to get to know the bandmembers before going into the studio and find out what makes them tick, could be important later when getting stuck on a part. I kinda like to become the extra bandmember for the time of the project, just with an extra vote.
Old 8th September 2002
Lives for gear
Henchman's Avatar
I will sit down with the singer and gyuitar player on acoustic. And have them start playing the songs. Thwe songs that jump out as having good melodies etc. will be the ones I pick.
Then, I will get a recordign of the chosen songs, acoustically, and listen to them to and try and think about what the vibe of the song is. The rest is easy.
Old 9th September 2002
Lives for gear
davemc's Avatar

Yeah I know Michael, I do a lot of young bands.
When you originally do pre prod they are happy with the sound and such. A lot of players use my amps as there are cheap. Most use the studio drum kit.
So over all they are happy that they sound better then they normally do live.
We A/B it with some CD's they bring and always a band will say we do not want to sound exactly like this one or that etc.
Come mix down they want to change sounds drastically, normally by whats new on radio..

I normally let bands have the final say on their product, as it is their product. Lately it has been a pain in the ass as many bands have no idea what they want there sound to be. I have one band going around with guitars up, vocals down, then drums up etc. They have mixed 13 songs on 10-11 mix sessions, although the original bass/guitar tone playing is the problem but they do not want to redo.

I never liked the studio mentality that I will give every band the same studio sound as I do many styles.
It really is just a problem with young bands who cannot afford good gear, and as such have problems getting tone out of what they have. So they then have no real sound, any better quality amp/drum kits sounds better but is not actually there sound as they have not fine tuned it.
Old 9th September 2002
...yeah, and how about: " We want the VanHalen gtr sound, the AC/DC snare, Metallica's kick, Lemmy's bass, and Cher's vocal sound heh, but we don't want to sound like anybody else

I always like when the band has worked out their own personal sound for their instruments, makes for a very individual record.
Old 13th September 2002
9/13 update

today is September 13th and we're still alive, even though we are rehearsing 4 miles from a nuclear powerplant

We successfully worked our way through the basic drum/bass/rgtr arrangements for all 14 songs and we are now working on details to get all the instruments locked. I'm going back to Nashville on the 18th and the band keeps rehearsing the songs for another two weeks. Then they get a break before they drive down to WireWorld for some real fun.

Talking about real fun: We've been rehearsing with a Yamaha kit, which sounds really good (even with the 3 mics) and the drummer just bought a Gretsch kit with the most amazing sounding kick drum I've ever heard (22" 18" deep, closed front head, no blanket). That also means, when we get to the studio we have 3 complete kits to pick from (including my Pearl Masters Series studio kit). The sizes of the drums are the same on all three kits, except my kick is a 24 and his are 22s, but with that Gretsch kick there is absolutely no contest. So we are going to get 4 or 5 different kind of heads for a specific drum (probably the 12" tom) to try out different combinations. Luckily we have all the time in the world to mess around with sounds on this project. I'll report my findings after we get the sounds, maybe I post some MP3s, if I can ever figure out how to do this.

Overall, this one week of pre-production has saved us tons of (expensive) studio time and everybody is in a great mood and anxious to get started. If you guys are interested, I can post some pre-pro pictures when I'm back on my computer and the cable modem next week.
Old 16th September 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

Re: 9/13 update

Originally posted by mwagener
If you guys are interested, I can post some pre-pro pictures when I'm back on my computer and the cable modem next week.

looking foreward to see them ....

Old 16th September 2002
Old 20th September 2002
OK, I'm back in Nashville. Pre-production went very well. Here are a few pictures of our setup:

This was originally the front desk when this was still a dentist's office. I guess they had to have happy colors around. I turned it into a control room and set up my Powerbook and a MOTU 896. The drums were recorded with 3 mics (2 MXL 67 on overheads and a AKG D112 on the kick, see next picture) Keep in mind this was not about getting great sounds, just an editable work recording for arranging the songs.

Old 20th September 2002
Here is the first drumkit we used (an old beat up Yamaha, but sounded very good). You can see the two MXL mics over the middle toms (the boom arms were too short to cross the mics) and the D112 in the kick. The guitar amp had an AKG C4000 slightly to the right of the speaker center. Bass was DI direct out of his amp. The vocals and acoustic gtr went into a little PA mixer and I took an aux send and a monitor send to get them into the 896. I also had a feed from the drummers drum machine, which he used for click.

Old 20th September 2002
... and finally, this is the new Gretsch kit the drummer bought. The kick has a solid front head and no blanket inside and it sounds amazing. Obviously there was NO attack with the D112 sitting in front of the kick, just big fat bottom. In the studio I'm going to use the little speaker contraption about where the D112 is in the picture and put a Shure SM91 inside. The best part is that old Slingerland snare, man it sounds great. Between the drummers stuff and my stuff at WireWorld we have 9 different snares, but I'm willing to bet a six-pack that the Slingerland is going to be used on at least 80% of the songs.

Hope I didn't bore you guys too much.

Old 20th September 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

very cool.
Old 20th September 2002
Lives for gear
drundall's Avatar

Dude, who threw a chair through your control room window?!!

I hate it when that happens...
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