Out of the Box - EMusician

Out of the Box

Learn the details on how to record the various elements on Gomez''s How We Operate
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Bushby: "For the bass drums I used a Shure SM91 and an AKG D12, both at the front. The SM91 actually goes inside of the bass drum, it sits on the padding in there. This gives you a lot of top end coming from the sound of the drum skin. Sometimes that can be a bit overpowering, so I'll EQ that. I'll blend these two microphones together on one track. I also have an [Yamaha] NS10 speaker next to the bass drum, used as a microphone, which I'll record on a separate track to have a bit more control over it, because it can give you a very big thud.

"I had a Shure SM57 on top of the snare, as usual, and I like to have an AKG414 underneath, with a -10dB pad on it. I double-miked each of the toms, with a 421 on top and an SM57 underneath the rack toms and a Neumann Fet47 underneath the floor toms. For overheads we ended up using the Sony C48, placed as wide out as possible. [Drummer] Olly [Peacock] has a funny little crash cymbal about the same size as the hi-hat, and he used this on quite a few tracks. It was a bit quiet, so I used a spot mic on that. Spot mics on cymbals or the hi-hat could be anything, AKG 414 or AKG C451.

"I'll also have a Neumann U47 about two feet away from the drum kit, just above the level of the snare, and this gives a really nice overall kit sound. It just seems to make it sound like a drum kit. I'll also use a few room mics as well, in the case of Gomez a couple of Neumann M50's, sometimes a couple of U87's. I also try to have microphones in weird places, so I'll put an [Shure] SM58 over the drummer's head, or something in the far corner, and I'll put that on a separate track, so if it works I can use it, and if not I'll delete it. This is pretty much my standard set-up for recording drums. Almost everything went through the API desk at RAK, but for some room mics I used my Neve 33114 mic pre/EQ or the pair of Focusrite 115's they have at RAK."


Norton: "I like to have three tracks of bass, recorded via an Avalon DI, my [Tech-21] SansAmp, and from a speaker cabinet. We'll then mix whatever combination sounds good for the song."

Bushby: "The cabinet was recorded with a Neumann U47 and an SE Electronics Z-5600A. We'd normally set the SansAmp for quite a toppy sound, so if we need more clarity, we could blend in a bit more of that."

Electric Guitars

Bushby: "I'll always put an [Shure] SM57 right on the speaker, and other microphones depend on the sound we want. I really like the [Neumann] FET 47, I'll put a pad on it because things can get a bit too loud for it. We also used the Royer 122 and SE Electronics ribbon mics, and I'll put up an ambient mic, which I'll record to a separate track. Generally, the electric guitars were not compressed, the boys used plenty of pedals as it was."

Acoustic Guitars

Bushby: "For acoustic guitars I used the M50, which sounds really nice, or the Neumann valve U47. I place these in front of the 12th fret, about 6 inches away. Sometimes I'll try to move the mics around, but generally if it's a nice guitar played by someone who can play well, that works best. I also had a matched pair of SE Electronics SE3's and I used that a few times to get a stereo acoustic guitar sound, placing them about 6 inches apart, one in front of the 12th fret, the other towards the sound hole. I generally don't like compressing acoustic guitars, because they can sound a bit tight, but if I do I'll use a stereo ADL compressor. The guitars all went through the API desk."


Norton: "We spent quite a while experimenting and finding the mics that worked best on the different members of the band. We used the M50 a lot for Tom [Gray], and Adrian also used quite a few SE Electronics. They're medium-priced mics that are really good. Adrian used the SE Electronics Titan on Ian's vocals; it suited his voice. With Ben [Ottewell] we again used the M50 as well as an old dynamic Beyer mic that sounded great when he was rocking out. Ben has such a powerful voice that when you stick an M50 on him it can easily overload. So condensers are great for him. Some of the vocals went through Universal Audio 6176 pre-amps and an 1176 compressor/EQ."

Bushby: "Guide vocals were recorded live with the band using SM57 or SM58's. I think that the old Beyer was originally used as a talkback. I don't even know what model it was, it's that old, but it looked a bit like the old Shure Unidyne B. We kept the vocal chain away from the desk, because we knew that we would be moving rooms and wanted to be able to retain the same signal chain. Ian's vocals came through my Neve 33114 mic pre/EQ and Chiswick Reach valve stereo compressor, which is a really nice invisible compressor. You can put loads of compression on and you don't really hear it. I put the Distressor at the end of the chain, just to tidy up any peaks. I also used it on Ben's voice. For Tom I used the Urei 176N mic pre and compressor."

Odds and Ends

Bushby: "I used an M50 for the banjo, and a 414 for the ukulele. I compressed both a little bit with an 1176 and both went through the API desk. Tom [Gray] had an Akai S3000 sampler, and also played a Fender Rhodes and a little old Hammond-like keyboard with a speaker in front of where your knees are. The Rhodes was recorded via the DI, and if we needed a more amp-like sound, we simply used Line 6's Amp Farm plug-in. The acoustic piano was recorded with a couple of [AKG] 414 mic's for a nice open sound, but I also really like the sound of an SM58 right in the piano's sound hole. If you open the lid you see four sound holes where the strings are connected, and I normally put the mic in the 3rd hole. The hammer dulcimer in 'Charley Patton Songs' was recorded using a pair of SE3 mic's."