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sE mics and the ‘We Are Together’ project for the South African Agape Orphanage

July 24, 2008

When Ludwig Bouwer, owner and engineer at One Big Room Studios in South Africa, and the Soweto Gospel Choir were asked to get involved with the Agape Orphanage Project, sE were only too happy to help them out…

The choirs at One Big Room

After playing keyboards and bass in various bands Ludwig Bouwer converted his love of music and technology into a career, becoming the owner and engineer at One Big Room Studios in Pretoria, South Africa. Nothing could prepare him for his biggest challenge, though, when the producer and two-time Grammy winner Robin Hogarth called him up and asked him to help out with the ‘We Are Together’ project, a recording and film about a choir at the Agape Orphanage. Suddenly he had to assemble 20 top-notch singers – including members of that choir and of the Soweto Gospel Choir – in his studio, and record them!

“The SGC (Soweto Gospel Choir) and the children from the orphanage had trouble getting together for one song, ‘Thina Sonke’, in the studio allocated to the bulk of the project,” says Bouwer. “Robin wanted to know if I was willing and crazy enough to squeeze 20 top-notch performers into my live room, and I said yes!”

“Then I realized that I didn’t have enough microphones to handle the choir and lead singers. I figured I needed seven similar mics, with figure of 8 patterns. The choir is split into four voices, and there were three lead singers on top of that. Incidentally, SGC record everything live with no overdubs – that’s how good they are! The hunt for gear ‘favours’ was on. I knew that sE mics are excellent, having heard them before in other studios, so my first port of call was Turnkey Music, in Johannesburg. I managed to get hold of the owner, Peter Tuerk, who immediately offered “as many sE mics” as we needed. Shortly after that, Paul Martin arrived at my studio with four sE Electronics Z5600aII’s and three sE Electronics Z5600 MKI’s, including three heavy-duty stands.”

Ludwig at the controls!

 “The mics sounded beautiful,” Ludwig continues. “With almost no tweaking, the choir sounded great. I found the mics to have a lovely top-end, clear but in no way harsh. The low-end response was also great, especially considering that the choir was not exactly standing on top of the mics. With very little noise floor the mics are very quiet – great for dynamic vocal work and good side-cancellation in figure-of-eight mode, it was easy to get good levels out of the mics. Overall, the sE Z5600a’s sounded like really, really good tube mics – which is exactly what they are!”

“The mics were just ‘set and forget’. As long as you have some idea of what you want to pickup and what should be excluded, the mics just go to work… it was actually almost too easy to get a good sound. I did not own any sE gear at the time, but now I know the mics are just so excellent, every engineer should have some.”

The recording ended up being perfect for the project which has since received great reviews for its moving story about the children of the orphanage attempting to raise funds for the facility. Meanwhile Ludwig’s own band The Lemmings (www.thelemmings.co.za) are touring the States from September (“with sE mics, no doubt!”) and he has just finished a wonderful acoustic/alternative project for Namibian singer Andra (www.andra.co.za).

View the sE Z5600A II at Dolphin

Other sE Electronics Microphones

More about the We Are Together project at http://wearetogether.org/

More about Ludwig’s studio at http://www.onebigroom.co.za

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