I have always regarded So as a staple on sound engineering and have been a kid at the candy store with all of your previous (and straightforward) answers on the topic. Thanks!
I just wanted to bother you a little more about that:
One of the sounds that has, and keeps, on surprising me everytime I listen to the album is the very natural, realistic and crisp high hat sounds.
I realize that it comes (obviously) from the incredibly talented drummers involved and their groovy playing's riding of the track, but I wanted to know what was your approach to capturing the high hats, and the concept on the mix and sound... It seems to me that you chose to pan them mostly center, many times they are the only totally natural sounding instrument on the mix and I perceive a great difference in layer than the overheads... I understand that those are artistic decisions, but I would nonetheless be very grateful to read your thoughts on the subject for that album, and how you generally regard the subject on high hat tracks now.
if memory serves me, I think I remember the liner notes saying that the the high hats on "Red Rain" were an overdub by Stewart Copeland. As a fan, I remember thinking "someone has finally hired Stewart Copeland specifically for his mastery of the high hat!" Any Police fan will tell you that he brought new life to that particular part of the drum kit. To hire him specifically for it was a stroke of genius!
I came into the So record a month after it started (Dave Bascombe who worked with Tears For Fears had done the initial tracking). Because I ended being there for almost 10 months, songs changed dramatically as Peter's and Dan's production evolved. Decisions were made based on the instrumentation during the basic tracks. Then again some of that information was replaced by later sessions and overdubs.
To all of us, the high hats had some much fantastic movement and "sex" associated with them. As the tracks became more and more layered , I tried to get them to sit in a very specific place, almost dancing above the kit. I did infact pan them to the left, maybe at a 9 o clock position, sometimes wider. With Red Rain for instance, we panned the two performances on opposite sides to give a greater sense of motion.
With most of the tracks, careful attention was given to their position and then their eq.
There is also a significant amout of percusion and drum programming added so it was important to be able to separate and blend the parts. For drum tracking I used a Nuemann KM 84 and or AKG 451. The overheads were U87's, sometimes AKG 414's.
The record path was very direct, throught the SSL console with minimal eq. We spent more time trying different cymbal combinations and that in conjunction with the talent of Jerry, Manu and Stewart, it was hard to go wrong.