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Korn Untouchables
Old 11th March 2013
Blast9's Avatar
Korn Untouchables

Hell Michael,

Welcome to the GS community!

One of my favourite Metal albums is Untouchables by Korn. Very modern sonics, and quite atypical for the genre.

Would love to know more about the recording of vocals and the guitars, and how much of what we're hearing was printed before the mix stage

What I particularly like is:

Ambience on the heavy guitars,

The warmth and thickness of the guitars

The distinctive vocal effects.

I also like the way Andy Wallace put emphasis on the vocals - kinda like a pop record.
Old 14th March 2013
Michael Beinhorn
fexurbis's Avatar


Thanks for the welcome and your kind words regarding Untouchables. I'm also glad the guitars and vocals stood out for you- a lot of work went into recording them.

The record may sound atypical of the genre because there was no emphasis on making a record that could be defined by a specific genre. When I met with Korn to discuss making this record, one of them stated they wanted to make their "Dark Side of the Moon". To me, that recording was a highly expressive, highly nuanced and immaculately recorded artistic statement. It was simply a matter of applying similar values to the Korn project. With this in mind, I envisioned the record as being more orchestral.

I wanted the record to be heavy, extremely dynamic, very expressive, detailed and overpowering. I wanted to record at 96kHz which was a relatively new format- Pro Tools was still using 48kHz as its highest sample rate. Frank Filipetti and I decided to use the Euphonix R1 system to record with Lavry converters and eventually, Nuendo for all our editing, since the R1 editing functions were very clunky and rudimentary.*

As for the guitars- we primarily used their Ibanez 7-string guitars. They used Mesa Triple Rectifiers and I introduced them to Diezel amps- we wound up combining one of each with a pair of Marshall cabs- I think a slant and a straight. We experimented with the space around the amps- pretty sure we used a bit of carpetting in front of them.

We used SM57's, RCA BK5's, AT 4047's (there may have been a few variants here amd there) and went into Neve 1058's- possibly a pair of Helios Olympic modules. Everything was bussed to single tracks and some eq added at the console (SSL 9k).*

As we started layering, I began to notice that the guitars had created more of an orchestral effect and reminded me more of a vast, Satanic pipe organ, instead of electric guitars. We more or less, had created a very unique orchestral effect with heavily amplified electric instruments. Any ambience you hear is a result of the way everything blends- we recorded the guitars with no room mics. I think we kept the layers pretty tight- generally one per side- sometimes a pair.

For vocals, the idea was to get Jonathan to fit and hold his own against a really intense wall of sound. I had consistently used Neve 1073's, but Frank Filipetti suggested we try a Tube Tech MP1A. We did a shoot out with every pre in the room and subsequently, I never went back to Neve's again. After the MP1A, we had a Rev D 1176 LN, then a Massenburg 8200 and, I'm pretty sure an inline1081 from the console at Village Recorder. Later, we added a DBX160SL on the back end of that chain because it seemed to add nice presence and top end.

We did a big mic shoot out and settled on 2- an M49 that Barbra Streisand apparently rented when she recorded in LA AT 4047. We were really surprised that it came down to these two, drastically different mics. Jonathan made the final decision when he announced that he refused to sing through a microphone that was neither old, attractive or expensive.
Old 14th March 2013
Here for the gear

The drums sound huge deep and massive on Untouchables, very different than any previous Korn productions.

Could you explain how you approched things during recording and mixing to get such a fat, superdefined yet organic drumsound ?
Old 14th March 2013
Gear Head

We're the guitars tracked dry with pedals possibly run later, or did they run all of their own fx?

What was the cheapest piece of gear used in mix?

How did you find it mixing a bass and layers of 7strings that were probably drop tuned, or were they?
Old 14th March 2013
Gear Head

Oops, reposting.
Old 14th March 2013
Gear Nut

Hi Michael

I´m a fan of your work and when Untouchables was released i was very impressed with that album (for me the last really good Korn record IMHO)

I have two questions relative to guitar sound on this record:

Do you remember what speakers you used on the Marshall cabinets?

And now speaking in general about your method recording 4x12 cabinets, do you elevate them from the floor? What role plays the placement of the cabinet?

Thank you so much for share your thoughts and you knowledge.

Sorry for my English

Old 14th March 2013
Michael Beinhorn
fexurbis's Avatar


Thanks a lot for the kind words about those drums.

I pretty much just wanted to get a stunning drum sound for this record. Once again- great room, great drums, great equipment, great engineer.... We used my 1057's on the kit and the 9k pre's on the metals (cymbals, etc). We also had a 12k watt sub array for the kit (kick, snare, toms). We tried a Drumkat which fired samples into the subs when the kick was hit, but there was too much flamming.

We set up and got sounds with the tech for several days. I would estimate there wasn't one square inch of the drum kit that wasn't mic'ed. At the end of three days, we got what we felt was a cavernous drum sound.

The minute David sat down at the kit, our enthusiasm vanished. Unlike his tech, David choked the heads every time he hit a drums. We basically had to start from scratch with eq's an in some cases, mic placements and choices. It was a really drastic switch from drummer to drummer but in the end, it worked.

The recording translated really well from the 9k SSL to Neve 8048 at Village. Because we'd recorded at 96 kHz, we had a wonderful transient response and when that hit the Neve, it drove the desk in a way I'd never heard before. A massive amount of lovely harmonic distortion.
Old 14th March 2013
Michael Beinhorn
fexurbis's Avatar


The guitars were tracked with all their effects- nothing was added in mix that I know of. We had a lot of fun processing guitars- a few went through my synths.

I can only assume the cheapest thing used in the mix might have been a Lexicon PCM 41 (or 42) since Andy likes (liked?) those. I don't think there was much outside of the console in the way of processing apart from delays. All the cheap stuff was used in the recording.

The bass and guitars are indeed drop tuned- a whole step down from standard. It wasn't that difficult to navigate- the instrument sounds were so different from one another they could easily occupy the same stereo field and be discernibly discreet.

Of course, I had to finagle a bit in order to do this. One thing was to actually add midrange to the bass guitar- something I don't think Fieldy ever forgave me for. He actually had some decent bass parts and I wanted them to be audible instead of a clacking sound.
Old 14th March 2013
Michael Beinhorn
fexurbis's Avatar


I appreciate your kind words about my work. As for the Marshall cabs- they were probably 75 watts and we rented them in town. I seem to recall us putting the cabs on chairs- which is not something I'll always do. Generally, I prefer to couple sound sources to a larger mass- ie- the floor, but this can change depending on the room, the project and the artist. I try to take this into account and to experiment as much as possible.

Obviously, the intangibles-room, player, etc play a major role in this. Even with close mics on a guitar cabinet, anything that changes in the immediate area around it will influence how it sounds and responds.
Old 14th March 2013
Blast9's Avatar
Thanks you Michael - that's really fascinating about the "ambience" created by guitar recording layering process!
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