Nate Oberman(2)

It reads like a what’s what of good home training: starting at The Record Plant in LA, moving over to Silent Sounds, cutting his teeth with engineer Gary Wright, and then touring and recording for and with George Clinton. All before the history-changing meeting with a producer named Nomad who was working on a project for Marvin Gaye III. Who?
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Nate, natch, who after his two years with Clinton decided to look up his buddy Nomad, who then got Oberman a gig working as a full-time engineer for Snoop Dogg. That was in 2003, and just in time for Oberman to get to record, engineer, and mix tracks for Snoop Dogg’s R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece.

SIGNAL PATH

Coming from a background using 45 mics to record George Clinton, Oberman found recording vox for Snoop Dogg to be a much more simple process: just one of three different mics, going through an Avalon pre-amp straight into Pro Tools HD.

“We used a Sony 800G hairdryer mic—which is a pretty popular mic, an AKG C12 and a Røde K2 Tube Mic,” explains Oberman. “Snoop likes the Sony 800G a lot, so we used that on most of the tracks. But we used the C12 and the K2 on the rest of them.”

The three mics used are all kind of similar in characteristics. “They are all very bright, in-your-face mics, and Snoop’s got a very mellow smooth sound,” he says. “Because those mics are very clear, you can get right up on them. So they make Snoop’s vocal tracks sound very full and rich.”

The vocals were brought into Pro Tools through an Avalon 747 SP mic preamp. “He’s got that same Avalon preamp at every studio he owns, so naturally that’s the main preamp that we used for this record,” says Oberman. “We brought that signal into Pro Tools through a Pro Tools 192 I/O. We use the Pro Tools HD 192 A-to-D converters at all of Snoop’s studios.”

The vox for R&G were recorded in dry, dead, non-reflective rooms and no special surfaces were brought in to add elements to the vocal tone. “I like Snoop’s voice really dry and in-your-face and how that cuts through. Especially with hiphop and with the beat being so loud. He’s really gotta be right there in the mix.”

MIC POSITION

Typically Snoop does one lead track, plus three other ad lib tracks. “He never doubles, which I like because it’s not so stacked sounding,” says Oberman. “But he’ll do three other tracks and we’ll stereo pan them left, right, and center, and turn them down so they’re underneath the lead.

For the recordings, Oberman positioned the mics very close to where Snoop would be singing. “And I put the popper stopper really close to the mic so that he could get even closer to it. Since Snoop doesn’t really yell or get too dynamic with his vocals, we can let him get right up on the mic.”

PROCESSING

When it came to processing Snoop’s vox, Oberman relied primarily on Waves plug-ins, deployed inside of Pro Tools. “I’ve found that the Waves Renaissance compressor and EQs create a really cool combo that Snoop loves for his vocal tracks,” he says. “For reverb we use the LexiVerb. But we don’t use that many effects for his vocals — just a little reverb, and delay on certain words.”

And it doesn’t take long to record the Dogg either. “Snoop’s a total pro when it comes to vocal tracks,” says Oberman. “He writes his lyrics in 30 minutes. He comes into record the vocals and wraps in 10 minutes and then we’re done. One of the amazing things about working with Snoop is that he’s so good. He might punch in once if even that — and it’s very rare when he does punch in.”

TRACK NOTES

“Snoop is constantly recording songs,” says Oberman. “Then every couple years, he’ll go through, pick the best stuff, and put out an album.” The first song worked on for the current release was “Can I Get a Flicc Witchu/Every Dogg Has His Day (Interlude)” with Bootsy Collins. But the main bulk of R&G was recorded in the last six months before the record was released.