Posts Tagged ‘Avalon’

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Artist Profile: Pendulum, studio to live.

December 23, 2008

pendulum

Pendulum are an Australian drum and bass group originally from Perth, Australia. In 2003, they relocated to the United Kingdom.

Pendulum’s second album, ‘In Silico’ (Ear Storm/Atlantic, 2008), has little in common with its predecessor ‘Hold Your Colour’. Dense, industrial and precise, the intention is to retain the uncompromising aspect of drum ‘n’ bass while making a heavy rock record. To this end and to avoid getting caught up in concerns of quality, Swire mocks up demos using Commodore 64 and Nintendo emulators, and low-end synthesizer sounds. Then, taking their live musicians — who are also part of the Pendulum performance experience — to various studios, the band records acoustic drums, guitars, bass and vocals.

“We set up drums outside of the drum kit and put mics on them to record the resonance,” Swire recounts, referencing Led Zeppelin more than a few times. “We built a mountain out of snare drums and put a mic in the middle. We had the mic to record the drums around [Kodish, the drummer’s] neck, or we chucked the mic behind him. The less mics we used in the mix, the more it sounded like that old drum sound we were trying to get.”

For every track, the band recorded the kick, snare, cymbals and toms separately at different volumes. From that, they created sample packs to load in Native Instruments Kontakt. They then laid out the sounds on a keyboard sampler, so if something didn’t sound right, Swire would play the part himself and then switch back to the sampled drums, as heard on “Different.” Once they had the drum sounds assembled, they’d dissect them, rearrange like breakbeats and combine them with the hits Swire created using an Alesis Andromeda synth or HR-16 drum machine.

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Mixing goes down in groups — one for each type of drum sound — with the normal and sampled drums coming in together. That way, they have the heaviness of the sampled drums and the largeness of the acoustic drums, which is best heard on “Showdown.”

That type of recording is also applied to the guitars, where a separate microphone records just the sound of the pick. Using a Shure SM57 on phase amplifiers, the guitars go through Avalon VT-737sp or API 3124 preamps. And the guys use Beat Detective in Pro Tools to break everything into separate hits so changes can be made, with the ability to go back to the way the instrument was originally played.

For vocals, Swire uses a Brauner VMA mic and the API 3124, starting with a clean sound and ending up dirty. “The cool thing is it’s got two capsules,” he says. “One sounds like a warm, vintage Neumann U 47; the other sounds like the original traditional, accurate, ultraclear Brauner VM1. The top end is amazing. It affects vocal performances because you can hear everything you’re doing and you’re working to that.”

Balancing technology with live, Pendulum treats In Silico as a drum ‘n’ bass record. Comparing their material to heavier sounds, such as Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” if they feel what they are doing has no value, they go back to find out what is wrong. To make this work, Pendulum concentrates on the mix, relying on Tube-Tech CM 1A and SMC 2B compressors, two Empirical Labs Distressors and Roll Music Super Stereo compressor, plus a great deal of freeware from db audioware and Sinus. Being Steinberg Nuendo-based, they also depend heavily on plug-ins from Sony/Sonnox Oxford and Waves — particularly the Waves C1 Comp-SC compressor with sidechain compression.

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“Because our sound has always been so focused on tight and heavy, the concern we had was making things more live might lose an element of that,” Swire says. “We wanted the sound to be raw, but we didn’t want the playing to sound sloppy. If you’re going to be making this sort of music, you have to combine the writing and technical. No one is as interested in getting the sound in your head as you are. As long as you’re willing to sit there and get it, it’s going to be okay.”

Shure SM57

The Shure SM57 unidirectional dynamic microphone is exceptional for musical instrument pickup or for vocals. With its bright, clean sound and carefully contoured presence rise, the SM57 is ideal for live sound reinforcement and recording. It has an extremely effective cardioid pickup pattern which isolates the main sound source while minimizing background noise. In the studio, it is excellent…

Native Instruments Kontakt 3 CROSSGRADE

The Native Instruments Kontakt 3 Virtual Instrument Software: Sampler. The ultimate software sampler for serious musicians and producers. Now in its third incarnation, Native Instruments KONTAKT 3 builds on its reputation as the industry standard for professional sampling. The outstanding audio engine – combined with KONTAKT 3’s state-of-the-art modular architecture – provides unlimited sonic potential for your music. Universal file…

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Alesis SR-18 Professional Drum Machine

PORTABLE PRO-GRADE DRUMS FOR MOBILE MUSICIANS.

Alesis knows drums. The legendary SR-16 ignited the drum-machine market in 1990 and has remained a classic ever since. The SR-18 is designed to meet the demands of today’s musicians.

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Waves Platinum Native Bundle

Platinum is an extraordinary collection of signal processing tools. From dynamics, equalization, and reverb to pitch correction, spatial imaging, and beyond, Platinum is ideal for tracking, mixing, mastering, and sound design. With a total of 33 essential processors now including Waves Tune LT, L3 Ultramaximizer™, L3-LL Ultramaximizer, and IR-L Convolution Reverb as well as all the plug-ins found in…

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Source:
http://remixmag.com/artists/electronic/remix_pendulum/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pendulum_(band)

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Mark Ronson talks production, equipment and Tom Cruise

November 5, 2008

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Mark Ronson is currently one of England’s biggest music exports, having won an English Brit Award and being a three-time Grammy award winning music producer and artist .




His second album, Version focused on the British music scene, with covers of songs by the likes of Radiohead, Maxïmo Park, The Smiths, The Zutons and Kaiser Chiefs. The album includes three top ten hits and won Ronson a BRIT Award for Best Male Artist 2008. He is the first person to win a BRIT award who does not sing on the actual recording.


Ronson’s heritage comes from being a superstar Dj seemingly to some of the music/fashion industries biggest names, P Diddy and Tommy Hilfiger to name a few.


To be more exact, it’s been about six months since Ronson has spun in Manhattan — the borough that made him famous for his selector skills. But one fulfilling evening doesn’t override his feeling of burnout. “I don’t enjoy [DJing] five nights a week — playing new hip-hop and stuff — because it doesn’t really get me that excited anymore,” he laments.


Some 14 years in the booth can do that to you. Ronson still gets his fill by spinning recent hip-hop hits, electro, rock and remixes of his own records — primarily at the renowned YOYO parties in London and for his weekly Internet show “Authentic Shit” on East Village Radio. Those couple gigs aside, he’s no longer keen on being the celebrity DJ that he became in the late-’90s by entertaining the rich and famous. As fun as it was rocking parties for Tommy Hilfiger and Diddy, it wasn’t enough creatively.
By 2000, Ronson found a new outlet with a piece of equipment he was already familiar with as a hip-hop head: the MPC. His first notable production work was heard on vocalist Nikka Costa’s album, Everybody Got Their Something (Virgin, 2001), and two years later on his solo debut, Here Comes the Fuzz (Elektra, 2003). This anything-goes party album featured everyone from Sean Paul to Saigon and saw Ronson translate his kinetic turntable magic onto wax.


Since cutting back on spinning in clubs in early 2006, Ronson has never been busier on the production front. Christina Aguilera, Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse have all reached out to Ronson recently for his soulful backdrops. Ronson has also produced Liverpool’s own Candie Payne’s “One More Chance (Ronson mix)” in 2007.


 


During a little downtime from his work for others, the producer recorded his surprising new sophomore album, “Version” (Allido/RCA, 2007) — a record that was never supposed to happen.


The album was been well received by critics. In May 2007 it was awarded the title Album of the Month by the British dance music magazine Mixmag. On June 23, the DJ made the cover of the Guardian newspaper’s Guide magazine, alongside the singer Lily Allen.


In June 2007, Ronson signed DC hip hop artist Wale to Allido Records. In late 2007, he focused on production, working with Daniel Merriweather on his debut album, and recording again with Amy Winehouse and Robbie Williams.



Mark is the epitome of a modern day DJ who has advanced into the production realm. His work for other artists and producing covers’ is arguably what he is now most known for.


 


Ronson has only one request regarding working conditions when making music here: “It just has to be quiet in the studio,” he says humbly. That’s not much to ask, and as you’ll soon find out, Ronson is rather easy to work with.


But before he welcomes others into the studio, this soul purveyor sits at his Akai MPC3000 LE developing drum patterns. While the drums were the first instrument Ronson picked up as a kid, he admits to not being able to play them all that well. Thus he prefers recording the MPC pads to develop a track and then adds live percussion later. “The beats all come from the MPC, and then depending on what I think the song should start with — a keyboard, the guitar, a bass line — that determines what I should put on top,” he explains. “I just find a beat that I like on the MPC and then lay it into Pro Tools and then just add all the live instrumentation on top of that.”


Sticking to his old-school sensibilities, Ronson often draws from his collection of vintage keys: a Roland RS-101 Strings synth, a Wurlitzer electric piano, a Hohner Clavinet D6 and Yamaha grand piano, to name a few. “The only new thing that I use is a Nord Electro because I don’t have a hammer board, and it has a pretty good sound.”


Even with vocals, Ronson likes to take it back as heard on “Valerie” with Amy Winehouse. Here, using an old RCA DX77 ribbon mic through a Neve mic pre, the soul singer’s Motown-esque tone simply pops.


Soon after recording a handful of tracks with the aforementioned gear, Columbia UK picked up his new album (via Allido), and all of a sudden, there was a budget. With the dough came a world of possibilities. After working with funk/soul band The Dap-Kings on Winehouse’s Back to Black [Republic, 2007] album, Ronson called upon the horn players from the Brooklyn group to help blow out the covers on Version. He also hired large string sections — a move he never thought he could pull off.


“After working on Amy Winehouse’s record, that was sort of my first experience producing and arranging by myself in front of a band and going in front of a string section — something that maybe I would have been a little bit intimated to do before. So once I had the learning block of getting over that working on Amy’s record, that’s when I was able to have the confidence, and that’s when we brought that into my own record.”


 



Ronson worked with Tom Elmhirst, who mixed a quarter of the tracks on “Version” having already mixed Back to Black (Winehouse), Elmhirst was already familiar with Ronson’s robust funk/soul sound that relied so much on horns and big-band arrangements. “[Version] was very much a continuation of what we’d done on Amy’s record, which was that thing of having people play but make it sound contemporary as well,” Elmhirst explains. “On the mix side, I was really keen for it to kick. So a lot of times with The Dap-Kings, I’d be blowing up the sounds to make them heavier with samples to make it kick as well.”


As a veteran who’s worked with Moby, Bush, Goldfrapp and dozens of others, Elmhirst takes a purist’s approach to mixing. Working behind a Neve VR72, he likes the physical aspect of the console. “I enjoy the mixing side of it rather than just pushing a mouse up and down the whole time,” he says. “But it’s pretty conventional — Pro Tools|HD, and I managed to get it all out of 48 outputs.”


With his love of reggae, Elmhirst used acquired techniques to slip in a little Caribbean flavor on Version. “On a lot of the horns I’ll put a delay on them, but what you have to do with horns sometimes so they can come through clean and [with] that old, almost Motown sound — sometimes you need to distress them a bit so it’s extremely broad frequency-wise,” Elmhirst explains. “So I’ll put shelves on them, I’ll put Lo-Fi on them — anything to sort of crunch ‘em up and put ‘em into place. And the way the [horns] were tracked, they weren’t played individually — they were played as a group, so you’ve got a nice blend.”


 


MARK RONSON’S
ALLIDO HEADQUARTERS
Computer, DAW, recording hardware
Apple Mac G5
Digidesign Pro Tools|HD system
Studer 16-track tape machine


Sampler, turntables, DJ mixer
Akai MPC3000 LE sampler
Rane TTM 57SL mixer
(2) Technics SL1200 turntables


Console
Neve VR72


Synths, software, plug-ins, instruments, amps
Ampeg Jet guitar amp
Clavia Nord Electro organ/piano
Crumar Roady electric piano
Digidesign ChannelStrip, Lo-Fi plug-ins
DW drum kit
Fender Jazz Bass, Rhodes electric piano, Twin guitar amp
Gibson Les Paul guitar, acoustic guitar
Hohner Clavinet D6
Line 6 Amp Farm plug-in
Rhodes Mark I Stage Piano
Roland A-90 Controller, RS-101 Strings
Wurlitzer electric piano
Yamaha grand piano


Mic, mic preamps, EQs, compressor
(2) Avalon Vt-737sp preamp/ compressor/EQ
Brent Averill 1073 preamp
Manley Reference Gold mic, VoxBox compressor/de-esser/EQ
RCA DX77 mic
Universal Audio 1176 preamp


Monitors
Genelec 1030As