torstai 13. helmikuuta 2014

Kekkonen elää! #5 Nuria - "The great escape" live at Studio Kekkonen

To celebrate Valentine's day (or perhaps by coincidence), our fifth Kekkonen elää! session is here! Brought to you by Soundtools and Luomustudio.

Kekkonen elää! #5

Nuria: The great escape

Our guest this time around Nuria may not be a household name (yet!), but the trio only released their debut album "Winter's end" on Rockadillo / Zen Master Records in late 2013. The recordings began already back in 2007 and after a somewhat extended period of waiting for the right moment to finish it, Mikko entered the picture, mixed the album and helped the band shop for a label, which resulted in Nuria and Rockadillo finding each other!

It's a great track and we're proud to present it! Enjoy!

Performed by Nuria
Written by Nuria

Recorded by Mikko Raita & Julius Mauranen
Mixed by Mikko Raita
Video by Luomustudio
In association with Soundtools


This was the first time we've recorded drums in the lounge and although the drummer Pekka Saarikorpi's dynamics on "The great escape" are on the soft end of the scale, it's not the most straightforward setup to have next to a finger-picked acoustic guitar and vocals (Markus Kahila) and a cello (Tuukka Helminen), so there was an element of challenge! (We kinda like that, though.)

The drums setup was the following: AKG D112 and C414 XLS on the bass drum, C

414 on the top and a Sennheiser MD421 on the bottom of the (very large) low tom. We had an Audio-Technica 

AT4047 on the Djembe / "snare drum”. 

Another 4047 was on the top, and a Sennheiser MD441 on the bottom on the mounted hand Cajon (the inverted pyramid-like wooden thing!). Our Neumann 

CMV 563’s were as overheads and were recorded through a Knif V804 preamp

 and into ProTools through RME ADI-8 DS converters. The other drum channels went through the customised MS Audiotron Multimix desk.

On the acoustic guitar we first tried the Neumann U48 in figure eight, but the leakage from the drums was overbearing. We ended up using a an Audio-Technica ATM350cw clip-on mic attached to the body with some gaffer tape (the mic is inteded to clip onto a tom, sax, violin or similar, but it worked like a charm!) and as a safety we recorded the piezo DI from the guitar. The AT was recorded through a Knif V804 as well. The song usually features a delay pedal on the guitar, but we opted to use a delay plug-in in the monitoring instead, to have better control over the delay.

On the cello we ended up setting up both an Audio-Techica AT4081 and our trusty U48 in figure of eight (freed from acoustic guitar duty) as alternatives, as well as 2 DI lines, pre effects and post Tuukka’s Line6 POD used for octave and delay effects. The mics were positioned with the null facing towards the drumkit to minimise leakage.

Markus' vocals were recorded with the trusty Shure SM7B through the remaining Knif channel.

There was a pair of ambience mics too, surprisingly very useable and useful Behringer ECM-8000 omni mics (their only real downside is the noise floor, but it rarely becomes a problem when there's a drumkit around).

The hand cajon setup.

Cello - AT 4081, Neumann U48 and two DI feeds.

Markus, ATM350 and the elegant gaffer tape solution.

As you can see the ambience mics in the back point upwards. Just to leave a little mystique.

The drums setup.

ABOUT THE MIXING OF "The great escape" (from Mikko)

In the beginning, "The great escape" looked like quite a difficult mix to pull off due to the fact that the drumset was right beside the cello and especially the softly picked acoustic guitar - but that was to be expected when we decided to do it as a true one room live take.

To begin with, I again imported in my trusty master section and effects, opting for summing amp crucnh via my Vintagedesign SU1 summing unit, as well as enabling Pro Tools’ own HEAT processing on a moderate bright setting. 

I started with the easy part, mixing the drums. Pekka’s drumset sounded beatiful in the room and very little needed to be done to the tracks except for balances and basic EQ. I started off by adding some parallel compression via my trusty Knif Vari-Mu as well as a tiny hint of parallel bite from a EMI TG12143 plugin limiter. Then I proceeded to slightly tidy up the low end and midrange on the tracks. The bass drum was very resonant so I cut a little 90Hz out of it, as well as clearing some low mids from the second bass drum setup as a low tom. For the snare drum- like djembe I ended up boosting the lows to have some more body and adding a hint of my beloved EMT 140 plate. The overheads got a tiny midrange dip and some high end boost from the Softube Trident A-range. The only thing that needed more processing was the small and relatively quiet hand Cajon played in the verses. I ended up muting the track completely in the loud sections and added a liberal low end boost to the bottom mic to make it sound slightly larger. It also got some EMT Plate. I added a modicum of the omni ambiences flat to the mix and the drum sound was done - keep in mind, that we did have quite a bit of drum ambience in the other mics as well!

The cello sounded very good but it indeed contained quite a bit of drum spill, though not bad sounding due to the quality mics used in figure of eight. We were undecided between the ribbon and the U48 during recording and ended up keeping both which was just as well, as I ended up using both mics muting them in sections. I found that the AT ribbon had slightly less bleed so I used it in the loud intro and verses where Tuukka was playing a bass line in combination of some line sound. But in the bowed chorus I found the U48 to have a more pleasing top end so I switched over to that. Tuukka also had some effects on in the song. In the intro and first verse I used the post FX line where he had a +1/-1 octaver sound, but in the later stages where he used just a delay I switched to the clean DI and recreated the delay as a stereo version.

 The cello received moderate EQ and some group compression via a Softube Summit TLA-100A plugin. I also added some plate and Reverb One to the cello for a similar sound as what I used on the album version of the song. The delay used was a Soundtoys Echoboy, automated to be used only in the parts Tuukka had his own delay on.

The acoustic guitar sound was very quiet and even though we managed to capture quite a bit of it due to the drastic taped-on goosenec hypercardioid, I ended up using roughly 50% line signal in the loud parts, but automated the mic up in the intro and choruses when leakage permitted. It was also EQ:d and compressed liberally with a Massey CT5 and Softube Summit TLA-100A. For the song’s signature delay I again used an Echoboy.

The vocal was relatively bleed-free and sounded very nice already. I used some Waves RDeEsser as well as mild EQing and HOFA IQ-EQ dynamic EQing to clear it up a little as well as compressing it with a Softube FET compressor. I added some EMT plate and Softube’s TSAR-1 for reverb, as well as quite a bit of Echoboy delay fed into the TSAR, automated from section to section.

After a bit of volume rides I sent a reference mix to the band. They were very pleased and in the end I only went back to do a very minor recall, taking just a hint of the vocal delay off in the choruses and lowering the djembe “snare drum” a bit. The whole mix took surprisingly little time in the end, not so difficult after all!

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