Saturday, November 11, 2006

Day 2 London Singing

Andy hardly slept again, but boy was he in good voice! It just shows you (but thank goodness he now has the weekend off to rest and recover) sometimes that feeling must come out anyway. He did an OUTSTANDING interpretation of one song, and a great version of another too. I am very excited. I was just too tired to do an vocal editing, but will get to it over the weekend.

London Sessions - some technical musings

I had many backups of the Falmouth sessions. I brought 2 versions with me, Vince had 2 versions and I had a DVD backup and spare hard drive sent over by UPS. The night before the first Vocal Session I had transferred the Audio and songs from Falmouth (on an Avastor drive) onto one of the Internal Drives of my dual 2.7 G5.

We have used a large number of Reaktor synths, and I have always had AutoSave on, so the Ensembles have saved in the relevant song folder. Nevertheless because I have now got the Project folders on a different drive, when I open each song none of the Reaktors play, until I manually load in an ensemble. Once I do that all other relevant ensembles for that song are loaded automatically. It is a pity that they are not loaded by default, but still it IS workable, and all soft synths are playing as expected.

Another major production tool for me has been my Virus TI (even Vince has been having fun with that one) and that has also been a little erratic loading up the correct sounds, even though it worked great in Falmouth and on my G5 before I went to Falmouth. If the song is saved without the Virus loading correctly, then the next time the song is opened the Virus does not load any correct sounds, and you have to go back to an earlier song and re-import the sounds. Workable, but irritating! Great sounds they are though.

On Thursday I called Anne at Mute to check if my backups and SE Reflexion filter had arrived from the USA, and she sent them over, together with an SSL Duende that M had organised for me. I will be mixing this record "in the box". I really like the "recallability" of this style of mixing (just to be able to get a bit of distance from the song and then work on it for half an hour if necessary - great!) and I have had some great results with it. I sub mix to stems of course and then I combine these stems in the TotalMix of my RME Fireface. This gives me a deep and large sound.

I have been working with the Powercore for a long time, and the Waves APA44M, and recently have added the UAD-1 and the LiquidMix to my setup. These 3 pieces are all working very well together. My challenge now is to add the Duende to this setup. I got the Duende working really easily on its own - and it brought a smile to my face to hear that "SSL sound" that I know so well (from the 80s onwards). Very characteristic and enjoyable at extreme EQ and compression settings.

Anyway I have tried 2 different PCI cards to add extra Firewire busses to my system to cope with all this and both seem to have their issues. In fact Belkin tell me that the F5U508 I bought from the Applestore will not work with my system, and I should get an F5U504, so I will try that next week. The F5U508 kind of works, (and supplies power to the Liquid Mix) but I have to keep replugging things to keep them recognised.

Both the F5U508 and the Sonnet Allegro card prevent the LiquidMix working on the Mac Firewire buss. Focusrite tell me the solution is to put the LiquidMix on the PCI card Firewire buss, and it kind of works with the F5U508. I must get some longer Firewire 400-800 cables to see if I can get it to function better with the Sonnet. (but there is no buss power on the Sonnet I believe)

I am anticipating using an Intel machine as a Node, and to this end I have also bought a PRO/1000 Gigabit Ethernet from Small Tree so that I can easily run the APA as well, but at the moment this is not working either. Small Tree are being VERY helpful. It may be that there is sufficient bandwidth on the built in Gigabit ethernet to run the APA and a Node for Logic. I already have a high speed NetGear hub to try this too.

And so it goes on......

Back in London

The first thing we did was try to recover from our jet lag. Not too make too much of a fuss about it, but it is nearly a week now and I have woken up in the middle of the night and I sit here typing when I "should" be sound asleep. Funnily enough I thought I was completely over the jet lag, but I stayed up late last night experimenting with different combinations of the equipment (more about that later) and I guess it has thrown me off. Andy has had it even worse, poor love......

I had planned to try to find a cheap space to work to record and edit vocals - somewhere with a pleasant vibe and daylight and a reasonable acoustic, for convenience, in North London where Andy and I live. I was not looking for fancy equipment (we have everything we need), and I thought it would be easy to find the right space. I had meetings on Monday and Tuesday with owners of a couple of spaces and they were just not suitable. MJ, out A&R co-ordinator at the record company was also active trying to find a space, but somehow it seemed impossible to get something appropriate at the budget I had in mind. Then I spoke to some friends who had an empty apartment in Hampstead, and realised straight away that it would be fabulous - comfortable, high ceilings, broadband wi-fi, big table. The only issue was that it is a residential area, and so Andy and I made a plan to be finished with singing every day around about 18:30. Obviously I can carry on editing vocals after that when necessary. We aim to start everyday at 13:00 or 14:00, giving us time in the morning to get to the gym, Pilates, Alexander Lesson etc etc. So I set up there on Wednesday, and on Thursday Andy came down for his first session.

He was very tired, having been unable to get to sleep almost throughout the night, until 07:00 in fact.(and he arrived a couple of hours later than we had planned, but this was the first day and I have plenty to do anyway, listening through to the tracks and starting to enhance and organise them for the mixing). That was funny I told him because at 07:00 I was in the "studio" finalising the setup, before I went to my Pilates class. However Andy was motivated and determined about singing, and after a cup of tea and a warm up we tackled the first song. The lyrics are still getting tweaked, and the network printer didn't work with Andy's laptop so he hand wrote the alterations he wanted to make and we were off. After an excellent session on this song (in spite of the fact that I still feel the music is not REALLY working for this tune - we put it back to more of the demo vibe after out A&R meeting Andy reminded me, but it ain't working yet!) we took a small break for Bengal Spice Tea.

We were now using Andy's mic (a Neumann TLM 103) and this combined with the sound of the room, gave us a vibrant and crisp vocal sound. My trusty 6176 with Monster cable was already in place. The SE Reflexion Filter had not arrived yet, so there was a little bit of extra room sound on the vocal, but not at all unpleasant.

And then on to the second song: I was impressed because I had not realised that Andy woud be tackling a second song, but that is a nice precedent for the session - 2 songs a day! We had done a great deal of preparation work in Falmouth on vocals (working every night on 1, then 2 tracks a night) and that is really paying off now. We have a clear vision of what we want to achieve, and that is, of course, invaluable. I finished the session by editing the first song whilst Andy snoozed on the couch.