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Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?
Old 6th August 2013
  #1
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frans's Avatar
Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?

Is this the right corner of the forum for this?
Stranger Cole will record at my place, starting next week. So far, tracking will be most of the band live, probably overdubbing vocals and horns. Anyone curious about the details, should I do a little studio diary with photos?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stranger_Cole
Old 6th August 2013
  #2
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Jazz Noise's Avatar
Whatever they're comfortable with. I'll read it, anyway.

Congrats, btw heh
Old 7th August 2013
  #3
The Mixer-frans Diaries (hope it's a better session than that!)?!
Old 7th August 2013
  #4
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Yeah, P-Monkey, hopefully! I'll take photos, scribble down some settings, let's see what happens. All in all I think it's going to be old school, with the band in the room without headphones - eq and compression happening before it hits the A/D.
Old 23rd August 2013
  #5
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23 hours of tracking for 8 songs, everyone together in the room, headphones on one ear only for the scratch vocals, final vocals overdubbed. Monday I'll going to be on holidays but when I get back I will put up a few pix. If I got it right he hasn't been recording in 20 years! Whoa.
Old 20th September 2013
  #6
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Sorry for the delay, I got so much work to do that you got to have patience with me - the details will follow. In the meantime all of you lot can get crazy over what the mystery thing in the picture could be. All, yeah, I mean you both.
Attached Thumbnails
Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-mysterything.jpg  
Old 20th September 2013
  #7
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Jazz Noise's Avatar
Looks like a microphone to me!
Old 20th September 2013
  #8
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Nope.
Old 5th October 2013
  #9
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This is how I did it. As I'm not omniscient some things will be incomplete or simply wrong. Feel free to disagree who things should be done.

Two Sennheiser MD441 as overheads. Why didn't I use SDC? Too wide pickup. The 441 have a narrower focus and sound smoother than condensers. I don't want the overheads to sound thin and 75% of the drumsound will be from these. Anybody got an idea which SDC or other condensers do the job like them, tell me. Audix D1 for peeking over the rim of the snare, under the hihat. Just for a little more snap or sidestick action. Maybe some dub echos. Kickdrum AKG D20 (= big brother of the D12) from 1957 or so. Still working up to specs, knock on wood. In the photo you can see the little "gobo" that went between the overhead mic and the hihat. We tried three hihats, still too much treble, so the gobo "shadows" the treble. All sound with a wavelength more than the diameter of my tabletennis gobo (wrapped in Molton, to avoid reflections) will go "through" it, so no worries the hihat's still there, kids. When I put up soundbites you can hear the difference, it's not too big, but enough for us.

Fender Twin: Heil PR 20, because it has body, no nasty high-mid peak (the Twin's got enough high mids, thank you), solid rejection left and right. Is nearly deaf on the back - thumbs up, Bob Heil!!!
The makeshift gobo between drums and Twin was for the drummer, who didn't want to hear that much treble from the Twin. Wrapped in blankets+angled, so the gobo didn't reflect sound back to the side of the PR20.

Fender Deluxe: Sennheiser MD441, because of it's focused forward pattern, precision, super sweet rear pickup which I use here to include a little of the Twin's sound, where it's rear is pointing at: automatic ambience for the other guitar. As the guitars get panned rather left/right, this will work.

Bass: BoHansenD.I. As much as I like a good mic in front of a good bass amp versus a D.I., it's pointless here, because one sounds like the other. Don't like Hartke amps, but it does it's job fine, providing the room with some boom.

Organ: goes to a Palmer guitar splitter, the upper half into a Hohner leslie, which has two Superlux SM57 clones on it in a rough 90 degree angle. off topic: As I helped Superlux with it's european distribution I got a crate full of their mics. They made U87 clones that were really, really good. They don't make them anymore, too expensive. A shame.) The leslie craps out below a certain note, because the volume of the Hohner speaker is too little, so we go for a direct out in mono and cheat with a plugin on that one. If we had a bigger leslie, we wouldn't need to. Bah.

The keyboard gets double BoHansen D.I. love and is split to a Vox AC30 clone for monitoring. The amp is standing behind the organist, at ear level, so it doesn't need to be that loud and everybody in the room can hear it all the same.

Horns get two Beyerdynamic M260 - the one with the lowcut. Some don't like this lowcut, I love it. Reasonable rejection left and right, smooth on axis, up close but not boomy. Blast shield to protect the ribbons a bit more. One was refurbished by Stewart from xaudia.com and if you're in Europe, his ribbon mic service is top notch.

The goal is to have the sounds and levels in the room as you want the record. The band HEARS the record while it's playing. Dynamics and interaction as good as can be. Later, when I've put up some raw tracks you will hear that there's still not that much spill in the mics, so I put up a room mic: Electro Voice RE38, said to be the same capsule then the RE20, but a filter network and short body. Wide and even pickup pattern, smooth and controlled rear pickup. Everyone together in a room is ALL about the rear and side pickup patterns of microphones. Get you sounds and balance right and you don't have much work to get a mix. Yeah, I'm just lazy. Besides, it's crazy fast. Want to record cheap? Everyone in the room, third take, done. The band wore headphones just because of the scratch vocal tracks, the horn players were allowed to cheat and got a little of their instruments, too. No other things in the headphones and apart from the open headphones they had one ear uncovered to hear the room.
We could have used the scratch vocals 50%, but went for overdubs to try a few things. There will be a few more overdubs, backing vocals and maybe a little percussion, we'll see, not too much.
Most important: everyone had fun... even when they look in the pics as if I'd conducted the band with a submachinegun.
Attached Thumbnails
Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-steadytones.jpg   Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-steadytones2.jpg   Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-setup.jpg  
Old 5th October 2013
  #10
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View from where the singer was.
Attached Thumbnails
Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-stranger_view.jpg  
Old 5th October 2013
  #11
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The mystery thing: a little gobo between overhead and hihat. Seen from behind the overhead MD441.
Attached Thumbnails
Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-overheadgobo.jpg  
Old 5th October 2013
  #12
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Quality cables throughout, preamps went like this:
overheads: tube prototype made from Neumann parts - didn't make it into production because it would have been insanely expensive. Eats some peaks, no need for compression because the preamp does that job for free.
snare+kick: Handcraftedlabs affinity 2a: from clean to buttery compression if you want it to. No need to buy two channels of compression, because of how the pre works. Tried a purple action on the snare, didn't feel it was the right thing, so going into the Manley mid eq for some boost at 500 Hz and 4kHz. Kick went to the dbx 242 (which is the best Orban EQ Bob ever did;-) and it can do crazy things. Here it does just a little: lowcut the signal under 30Hz, dip 2 db at 160.
Audix D1 is a bit of an unlikely choice for snare, I admit. The treble of that mic sounds a bit D12-ish, but it's very short and easy to position. If it were a 'rock' snare sound I would try other mics, like the usual suspects.

Horns went to a JLM 99v dual. Discrete preamps with two 99v opamps, running on +/- 24 volts, LOTS of juice. Less overall feedback equals sweeter overdrive. Here they work calm and clean. Pikatron output iron because german broadcast stuff rocks.

Guitars into JLM single opamp 99v, because I built them for less gain. Did I mention I love JLM gear?

Scratch vocals in the Manley, because Stranger Cole is a star :-) gainstaging makes for smoothed out peaks and the RNC provides some low-threshold leveling. By the way I don't run my signals in/out unbalanced to the RNC, I'm old school and I got a debalance/balance unit from Canford because I believe in electrical engineering ;-) and proper termination of inputs/outputs.

The D.I. from the Bass went to an Eisen Audio Neve-like pre, loaded with JLM input iron, Purple audio opamps and Carnhill output iron. Do I care if it "is" sounding like a Neve? Whatever. I think it's good, discussion end.

The room mic, leslie mics and keyboard D.I. went to an Onyx 800R, which sounds okay as long as you don't turn the input up beyond 15 o'clock.

More on vocal overdubs later.
Attached Thumbnails
Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-horns.jpg  
Old 4th November 2013
  #13
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Vocal overdubs: CAD vsm tube mic, tried a few others, liked this one best - you can gainstage it easy. Preamp was the Handcrafted Labs affinity 2a, because it doubles as compressor, if the gainstaging is right. Popshield, 2 or at most three takes and done. Stranger doesn't sing really loud or overly dynamic, did ride the input of the preamp. Split the output of the preamp and fed some slapback delay from an old Ibanez rackunit to make his foldback in the headphones sweeter. The Ibanez sounds ...old and broken and a bit like a mangled tape. We also got a Space Echo but as we didn't need to do anything just the Space Echo can do, we got by fine without it. I also like the stock Logic "tape echo" plugin, it doesn't sound bad when you make it feedback a lot.
Attached Thumbnails
Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-strangercolecadvsm.jpg   Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-headphonedelay.jpg   Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-siderack2.jpg  
Old 4th November 2013
  #14
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Oh, the rubber bands on the CAD mic aren't exactly stock.
Here's another detail - split the organ signal, one line went to the leslie cab (mid-high), the other through a few broadcast transformers, to remove DC offset, to bandpass them a little, etc.etc. the DIY thing shown is about as big as a cigar box and has four transformers which can split, do line isolation, balance, or just look funky and important if nobody exactly knows what it does and why it's there. Here a line went to the A/D to have a seperate signal to treat it like the leslie cab low half. We'd prefered to mic the leslie for lowend, but it didn't do the job well, too little volume in the cab for that.
Attached Thumbnails
Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-lineisounit.jpg  
Old 4th November 2013
  #15
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Sounds like a great session!
Old 11th November 2013
  #16
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Wednesday will see Doreen Shaffer of Skatalites fame come to my place - I never knew I was big in the 'scene'. There will be some rehearsals for the upcoming tour and, who knows, maybe there will be new recordings...?
Old 11th November 2013
  #17
Stranger Cole, Doreen Shaffer - as a fan, i'm very impressed!
Parabéns! Glückwünsche!
Old 11th November 2013
  #18
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Awww... no need to be too impressed, senor! Apart from doing a good job (as all the other people that do a good job) I guess it's right place, right time. I'm not special or something.
Old 16th December 2014
  #19
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So being a daytime cartoonist, i promised Stranger Cole he'd get a portrait done - here it is. Errrm - due to obscure band-internal things the sessions haven't been released so far. I think they turned out well, so if you want to tell the band they should release the first proper Stranger Cole recordings in more than 10 years, ask them.
https://www.bandpage.com/steadytones
https://www.facebook.com/steadytones?fref=ts
Attached Thumbnails
Stranger Cole at my place - anyone wants to know more?-strangercole_fransstummer.jpg  
Old 8th August 2018
  #20
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Finally the LP will be released on a spanish label this fall or so. I'll drop a note when details are out.
(edit) here's the label where it will be released this october/november:
News - Liquidator Music

and regarding post #16 - a single with Doreen Shaffer that was recorded in the sessions mentioned above has been out for a while.
Doreen Shaffer - Liquidator Music

Last edited by frans; 29th August 2018 at 08:29 AM..
Old 16th January 2019
  #21
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