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the new "The National" Album "Boxer"
Old 27th August 2007
Gear Head
PKatis's Avatar

Ampex AM10 preamp

That's it!

I hadn't used it in a couple years. You know how some times you just forget about a piece of gear. But I broke it out the other day... And what do you know? It worked GREAT for an overdriven vocal.

I start a record with a band called TOKYO POLICE CLUB in a couple of weeks. I have a feeling that thing may see some action again...
Old 27th August 2007
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by PKatis View Post
Hi, again.

The distortion on the vocals on Interpol's TOTBL isn't really an effect. Paul hated the sound of his vocals being totally clean. So the overdrive you hear is actually the preamp overdriving when he sings loudly. He didn't care that I couldn't UN-distort it later. He needed that energy to get into it. The vocals on that record are WAY more distorted than you might think...but not on the quiet parts so it's not obvious. Everything was recorded to 24 track 2" (my old Studer A-80 MarkII/Ampex 499/30ips).

At that time, I didn't really own many fancy mics. Some of the vocals on the album were sung into a high quality condenser, but most were sung through a hand-held Sennheiser 421 into an Ampex AM10 solid state pre. It's a strange(4 into 1 mixer-type/1960s?), rather thin sounding preamp but overdrives very nicely.

To be honest, I don't remember what type of compressor I used, but I only owned two good compressors at the time: a silver-face 1176 and a TubeTech CL1B.

All the reverb on that record was either an Alesis Microverb or an SPX-90. Yes, it's true...I didn't have my plate or springs or anything special at that point.

I have piles of cool gear now, but TOTBL was recorded and mixed with a pretty minimal amount of gear. My preamps in my board (a Neotek IIIc) were used for all the drums and basics and then a pair of old Telefunken V76s were used for the guitar overdubbing.

So I guess my point is that if the music is cool, even crappy reverbs sound cool...
Man this is great , This is what its all about .
a good progression of doing a good job with what you have and meeting good talent .

The rewards are getting more tools to play with and keeping the " whatever works attitude " right in your back pocket .
Old 27th August 2007
Lives for gear

`Im curious about your hybrid scenario .
Have you used any other multi track analog besides the studer 24 ?
Ampex 16 2 " ? or the like ?
Old 28th August 2007
Gear Nut

T P club

Those guys rock.

just kick snr and hi hat right?

great young band... i thought they were awesome live.

You are gonna have a blast!

Still can't believe that was an spx 90 on NYC and Leif Erikson.

Old 28th August 2007
Gear Nut

Ok... i've been listening

Stop me if i am asking to many questions!

But I am really curious about how one goes about choosing vox sounds for different tunes...

On antics... i hear a few diff vox sounds... songs like TAKE YOU ON A CRUISE seem to be recorded cleanly with a 251... whereas songs like NEXT EXIT and A TIME TO BE SO SMALL feel more distorted... in fact, many of the songs on Antics feel like they have a different vocal sound from the next...

EVIL seems to have a few diff vox sounds in it... Clear and big in the beginning then at times it sounds like a low fi vox is being mixed in on top of it ("denial, hey who's on trial")... or perhaps a different recording/take?

is this how you go to tape or is it FX?

Old 29th August 2007
Gear Head
PKatis's Avatar

You have been listening...

Hi, Jason.

Most of what you say you're hearing is spot on. The vocals on ANTICS alternate between a Neumann U47(not a 251...Paul hated the brightness of it) and the good old hand-held 421. Wow, I've actually forgotten what preamps were used! I think we bounced around a lot. We weren't precious at all with the recording chain.

I try not to always do things the same way, but there are two combinations that I simply can't argue with:

1. My Neumann U47 with a Telefunken V76 preamp (tube)
2. My Telefunken elam 251 with a Telefunken V276 preamp (solid state)

If I mix these combinations, they're simply inferior. I can't explain why???

I'm pretty sure the compressor used on almost all the ANTICS vocals was the Chandler TG1(God bless Wade!). Anyone who's mind isn't blown by this piece of gear must hear music differently than I do. In my opinion, it's one of the most amazing things EVER invented (I've never heard an original EMI comp).

On some songs on ANTICS, the lead is the 47 and the double is the overdriven 421 or vice versa. On some lines, we may have prefered the double to the it sounds a little odd when they momentarily change places. Some times it's kind of random...some times it's not.

Looking forward to seeing the INTERPOL boys at their Madison Square Garden show next month.'s kind of a mind-blower. The first time I saw them was at Brownies...
Old 29th August 2007
Gear Nut

forgive me if you didn't do the strings on Boxer (I only have a promo copy so it doesn't say how much was recorded where) but I really love the string sounds on the album, and I was wondering if you could possibly shed any light on how you recorded them.

Thanks so much for sharing all of this info with us
Old 30th August 2007
Gear Head
PKatis's Avatar

Boxer strings...

All the strings on Boxer (as best as I can recall) are played by only two people: Padma (the sixth member of the band who also wrote most of the arrangements) on viola and violin and a guest player named Ha Yang Kim on cello. So we had to stack a lot of takes. Some takes were recorded with three mics (a RCA 44 ribbon mic a few feet away/ a U47 in omni about 6-8 feet away/ and a elam251 in omni about 20 feet away). Compression only on the distant mic. But with all the stacking of tracks, most passes were just one mic. In fact, most of the time it was the very distant mic that worked best in the mix.

Most of the string sounds were very full and rich, but that's not what you hear on the record. To make the strings fit sonically and stylistically, I really, really, really thinned and crapped them out. Some tracks were severely high-passed, and some were even AmpFarmed. The strings on "Racing Like A Pro" a basically destroyed by a plug-in on the string bus called Vinyl...absolutely no high end or low end, but that's what makes them so haunting. Generally not loads of reverb. If you only knew how much cool stuff got left off the album...oh well...that's the way it goes...
Old 30th August 2007
Gear Nut


Thanks for your thoughtful reply!

This exchange has been really cool for me...

Old 19th November 2007
Gear Nut

how did it go?

Mr. Katis!

Any new lessons learned while recording the last record for TPC?

I've been messing around with an am-10(got one on ebay) and more outboard verb... still haven't found anything as lush as what you have on NYC... do you remember any specifics as to what settings you were using for that song?

Were going into Henson studio D to record some drums for my band in a few weeks... I'm psyched!

Hope you are well!

Old 3rd December 2008
Gear Head
Wild Sky's Avatar

Hi! I originally posted this reply in another thread, so here goes:

I have to add that "Boxer", the new album by The National is also amazing!
I really like Ada.... and Start A War....

The acoustic guitar sound is SO organic it must be USDA approved!

Would you be so kind as to tell us what was the recording chain for the acoustics?

Did you bring the tapes to mastering or digital files?

Thank you VERY much, M. Katis!
Old 3 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Hi Peter, about 10 years late here but if you’re still’d you get that drum sound on Bloodbuzz Ohio?
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