Some recent thoughts on mic shootouts from the (alleged) mind of Jim:
“One procedure we find very useful in the recording process is microphone selection. Choosing the best microphone for a particular application can be a valuable contribution to the sound quality and effectiveness of any recording. Different microphones each have their own strengths and weaknesses. With so many different types, brands, and technologies available, mic selection can be a daunting and even confusing process. To help clarify the right selection, we will sometimes “shootout” microphones when starting with a new client or when looking for a unique vibe on a particular sound.
In these pictures, you can see how we ran a mic shootout on vocals with Danny Langfield from the band Pinball Hustlers using (ordered from brick wall to door) a modern tube-based condenser Mojave MA-300, the universal classic Neumann U-87, a revolutionary new condenser design by Audio-Technica the AT5047, and of course the grandfather of high-quality tube mics, a vintage Neumann U-47 (circa 1952).
We look for a) what the singer feels the best performing on and b) which microphone’s characteristics bring out the most desirable qualities in a singer’s voice. For example, are we looking for more high frequency clarity? Richer lower frequencies? Better control over the mid range?
We have found there are some straightforward techniques we can use to help streamline the process:
Be patient. If you try to hurry through this, you will either skew your results or sometimes even fail to get useful results of any kind.
Level the playing field. In trying to track a similar or even identical performance on different mics, spend the time to match the recording levels carefully. Sometimes a mic that sounds “better” was actually just “louder”. This is an easy way to deceive your ears.
Choose preamps that are the most transparent and “colorless”.
Match the mic preamp. When I do this, I make sure to use identical preamps for each mic. This requires, of course, that you have a sufficient number of identical mic preamps, like you can see below:
(For those curious- we ended up choosing the vintage Neumann U-47)“
Morrisound is thrilled to welcome back a talented engineer who Tom and Jim have personally trained in the art and science of audio engineering- BJ Ramone. BJ comes to Morrisound with 15+ years of professional experience in the live, touring, and studio fields. We are thrilled to have his unique expertise in recording, mixing, song production, and sound design join our studio’s offerings!
BJ was apprenticed to not only his father, the legendary Phil Ramone, but also to Eric Schilling and several members of the METAlliance crew, including Frank Filipetti, Elliot Scheiner, and Al Schmidt. He has spent his career working across dozens of major recording studios, live tours, and award shows, such as the Grammy’s, Latin Grammy’s, Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize Ceremony. His portfolio extends across a diverse range of musical genres, spanning artists such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Ray Charles, Chicago, Dionne Warwick, George Michael, Rod Stewart, Plies, Savatage, Iced Earth, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Welcome back to Morrisound BJ- we can’t wait to see what awesome new projects you help create!!
Greetings Morrisound family, we hope this finds you safe and happy, despite the challenging times our music industry- and the world as a whole- has been facing. Throughout the mayhem, Morrisound has been brewing up some exciting changes to our recording facility, technology initiatives, staffing, and service offerings while our engineers have been working tirelessly to keep our recording, mixing, and mastering sessions running as smoothly and safely as possible.
We are very happy to announce that Taylor Ramone has officially joined Morrisound as our new Studio Manager. Many of you are already familiar with Taylor as she has filled in for many years as an assistant engineer and a part of our technical staff; “I’m so excited to add my skill sets in videography, electrical engineering, session vocals, and entrepreneurship into the company’s repertoire full time. I am beyond pumped for what is coming next for the whole Morrisound community!”
Be sure to keep tuned to our blog and social media as we roll out a series of updates over the next few weeks; there are a lot of exciting new offerings that the Morrisound staff can’t wait to work with you on!
I want to reach out to the artists and musicians that I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with over the 40 years since Jim and I started Morrisound Recording. Those of you who have been working with me in the last few years are aware that I’ve been struggling with an inner ear condition called Meniere’s Disease. I have 2 different doctors that have been working to save my hearing in what’s becoming a losing battle, including the use of an experimental drug (that actually worked great for a while!). My hearing has degraded to the point that I can no longer predictably work for artists that depend on me to make the decisions that help to bring their creations to life. As a result, I will be changing my role at Morrisound. My passion for being a part of this process has not diminished in the least. Should some breakthrough occur that helps recover my hearing I will be back in the studio in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, that’s a very unlikely event at this point. As a result, I will be stepping away from the recording side of the studio effective immediately. One of my roles at Morrisound has always been managing the business. I’ll be spending more time behind an office desk now that I’ll be moving away from the recording desk.
There have been so many amazing people and projects I’ve had the joy to work with that I cannot list them here. The Gold and Platinum awards and Grammy nominations for some of the projects I’ve worked on have been causes for celebration along the way, but the real fuel for my passion has the been the trust so many artists have placed in me to join them in their musical journey and allow me to be an intimate part of that creation. For those that I’ve worked with, my hope is that I was able to contribute to that journey to make it not just a successful realization of your vision, but an experience that you have treasured the way I have.
I’ve been culling through photos that some of you have sent me over the years, like the ones here. I’d love to have more of them (and not just Facebook copies). I’d like to be able to put them all together somehow. If you have some that you don’t mind sending me I’d love to see them – firstname.lastname@example.org.
How many of you have held a reel of 2” tape in your hands (or had one dropped on your toes)? They were heavy (about 11 ½ lbs), and expensive. They used to cost about $200 for enough 24 track tape to record about 16 ½ minutes of audio at 30 inches per second (ips). 33 minutes if you recorded at the noisier 15 ips. It wasn’t unusual for an album-length project to use thousands of dollars worth of 2” tape.
Storing them took a lot of space and care to prevent them from becoming unplayable after a few years. If you wanted to make copies of the tapes for safekeeping it was expensive. Making safety copies added thousands to the budget. The right time to make safety copies was at the end of the recording – when the budget had already been spent. In most cases that meant that the multi-track tapes were never copied. Instead, you hoped that nothing went wrong with the tapes and that the record label knew how to take care of them. It turns out that isn’t always the case, as this article highlights: