Archive for the ‘Audio Production’ Category

First time working with Jagertees, a jazz pop/rock band from Athens. 

Here is a mini-diary of the recordings:

Preparation:

The guys sent me a rehearsal of their song in order for me to get the general direction and vibe. I instantly decided that the final mix should give the impression that the whole band is playing together, in the same room.

First day: Drums!

The drummer of this band is a brilliant and a creative musician. I set up a Yamaha Stage Custom drum set and really took my time to tune it to perfection. The snare on this recording is a Mapex Black Panther 13′ snare tuned low, in order to get rid of its aggressive rock character. Rack toms were tuned pretty high, while the floor tom pretty low, in order to maintain the low end of the drum kit. Two Overhead mics and two Room mics in ORTF position, and there you have it: a great overall drum sound even without enabling the spot mics. This guy practically “mixed himself” as he had steady dynamics and a great laid-back groove that allowed me to turn off (and forget) about the metronome during the rest of the recordings.

Second Day: Guitars and Bass

These guys can really play, so we only did a couple of hours to finish the other instruments. The general sonic direction was decided from the very beginning, but I kept a DI signal to reamp later. Most of the layers are one take, including the main and outro solo. I also suggested adding an Ebow during the acoustic bridge which worked really nice with the track.

Third Day: Vocals

Vocal tracking was once again an easy task for Jagertees, so I mainly concentrated on the feeling, expression and dynamics. I chose my trustworthy AKG condenser mic, directly into the Golden Age PRE73. A bit of improvisation on the bridge and…Done!

Editing and Reamping:

Editing on this track was kept to a minimum, due to the quality of the takes. So, only basic editing, mainly to remove unwanted noise and headphone leakage.

Reamping was done on my Bugera 333XL, with 2 microphones perfectly in phase with each other. I even added some reverb on the way in, to give more body to the guitar sound. Lead guitars were treated with a Maxon OD808, a great addition to the sound.

Mixing:

My biggest doubt was how “much” should I mix? Mainly because it is supposed to sound natural but not messy. So I decided to make a lot of small and subtle moves, instead of major and bold ones.

EQing with multiband compression is a great way to have an ear-pleasing mix and a natural result so there are MANY instances of multiband compression on this session. A bit of compression on the room mics, but nothing fancy, the source was great to begin with, so this made my life easier.

FX-wise I had mainly 3 buses with 3 different types of verb to choose from and a basic filtered delay.

Mastering:

It’s always tough to master your own mixes, isn’t it? So, once again, I introduced my mastering chain early on and mixed through it. Some multiband compression, a bit broadband compression, a tiny bit of EQ and a limiter, made the track to sound the way it is.

It’s always a pleasure to work with skilled and dedicated musicians and this track is the proof that mixing begins from the musicianship and creativity.

Produced, Mixed and Mastered: January 2018

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Here is my first production for 2018. This track came to me on a basic format, so all I had was just an acoustic guitar, a basic drumbeat idea and vocals.

The real challenge for me was to give a vintage twist to the song without making it sound old-fashioned or outdated. So, the recipe was simple: 80s, almost disco feel to the drums, slap back delay on many elements, a heavily saturated bass guitar played with a pick, compressed vocals with (you guessed it!) slap back delay and various filters.

After listening to bands like Last Shadow Puppets, I also decided to add a Tarantino-style guitar and some backing vocals to compliment each chorus. A tambourine was also recorded, to add more groove to the whole song.

This is one of those times that I used multi band compression instead of just lazy EQing. This is a great way to achieve instrument separation without making everything sound small.

Recorded, mixed and mastered: December 2017-January 2018

This is a very interesting project, as it comes from an artist with a classical background.

In other words, the original composition was just a score written for some basic instruments, like the bass and the violin. The real challenge for me was to turn that “lifeless” score into a vivid, finished song.

The main work began with the drums, and then came the bass, the guitar and all the other instruments (vocals, violin etc).

I recorded a tambourine to compliment the snare hits and also added a bendir as a MIDI instrument.

Another challenge for this particular mix was to get rid of the rock philosophy! No punchy drums, no subtle saturation on bass, just a clean approach with lots of reverb and gentle sounds. Doing that, without ending up with a dull result was something I had in mind from the very beginning.

Once again a great project! Produced, Mixed and Mastered during late 2017.

This one is very special for me, as Angelos is my beloved brother and a great guitar player.

We discussed many things about this series of videos and we managed to record a bunch of them with great success.

The challenge for me was to combine audio with video in order to have both an eye and an ear pleasing result. Everything was recorded real time (one take).

Audio wise: I used two small diaphragm condenser microphones in a placement known as the ORTF recording method. Problem was that the center of the audio image seemed to suffer a little bit, so I placed another condenser mic (a large diaphragm this time) between those two. The result was REALLY nice, the audio image was fully covered and only minor EQ tweaks were needed to make it sound the way I wanted. Careful compression, a touch of reverb and..done!

Video wise: I have done various projects that required video editing, bit I have little to no experience when it comes to video shooting. I used DSLR cameras (initially one, but on some videos there are two) and tried to make the lighting as interesting as possible. Of course, there is ground to be covered on this aspect but I am still learning and enjoying it.

Recorded during Autumn of 2017.

This song was featured on Metal Hammer’s GREEK MASTERS OF PUPPETS: 30th Year Anniversary Tribute Album”.

George, our drummer from Revolted Masses, played the drums while members from Chronosphere, Rotting Christ and Exarsis also participated.

This one was brought to me for mixing/mastering with a REALLY strict deadline. I believe I recorded the drums AND mixed the whole thing in just a couple of days. 100% natural drums (no triggers) and ampsims were used, mainly because of time limitations.

Recorded and mixed in January 2016.

Here is a really interesting song, that was brought to me after the loss of a close friend of the artist. This tragic event is the inspiration behind this piece of music.

The intro solo was recorded one-take at my studio with a cool-sounding Fender guitar. Acoustic guitars were also recorded for the outro and as a layer on the main section of the song. Everything else was brought to me already recorded, so I just reamped and mixed the whole thing in 1-2 days.

First time using Slate drums here, blended with my own samples of course.

Really went crazy with reamping here, 2 spot mics and 2 room mics. Didn’t phase align everything, instead I decided to use some out-of-phase mics to favor the vibe of the guitar sound.

Some cool things as well, for example I added white noise every time the snare is hit (it is pretty audible now that I told you, isn’t it?) Went for an out-of-the-box direction here, combining elements from other genres, like electro. The weird sound layer towards the end is a sample of a female exhaling. I twisted the sound through multiple delays and automated parameters, which added a cool effect to the song.

A great song, for a great cause. Recorded, Mixed and Mastered during April 2017.

Well, I’ve noticed this blog is packed with metal releases, so why not adding another one?
I do work on various other genres, I swear, it’s just that more and more metal bands trust what I do and contact me to produce/mix their work.

Anyway…What do we have here? A unique blend of black metal with heavy metal elements from this one-man band called Deisidaemonia.

Behind all this hides a great musician, Mr. Spathas.
Does the name ring a bell?
Exactly!
The genes have something to do with this, as this is one of the finest examples of cool-sounding extreme music with TONS of musicality in it. Like Father, Like Son.

Let’s get to the technical stuff. All instruments were recorded from scratch, except from the bass, which was brought to me as a DI signal. Guitar was a Gibson flying-V, while a different guitar was used for clean and leads, can’t really remember which one.
Vocals were really interesting to record: Initially I set-up my nice AKG condenser mic, carefully calculating the height, the distance, creating a nice headphone mix for the singer, getting a good balance….
Great sound…but this music demands energy, and this set-up wouldn’t work for the performance I had in mind.. So after a few takes, there was a change of plans: A single hand-held Shure SM57, CRANKED monitors in the room and a f@ck-headphones approach. This setup worked WONDERS. As a result, most of the vocals are continuous takes without any editing (well, maybe only the audio bleeding from the cranked monitors!)

Many details were added to complete the mix, acoustic guitars, synths, gang vocals and various audio samples.

Mixing wise, black metal is a genre that demands character. So, treble-sounding guitars, big and distorted bass sound, reverb on almost every element and sample replacement, nothing out of the ordinary here. This is what I call a “carefully unpolished” mix. Tons of experimentation as well, weird reamping techniques based on the room and not-your-ordinary-EQ on the ENGL amp.

Really proud for the final outcome. I believe I spent more time asking about Mr. Spathas Sr than actually recording, but I could really listen to Deisidaemonia all day. Good times!

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered during 2015.