Sep 2018 - Studio Top 10, Credential Sound: Pt. 24...
Thanks to everyone who picked up some merch this month. It helps a lot in the drive to get some funds together for another release. You can see everything we’ve got at unquietnights.com/store. I’m going to focus on a recording gear question from Twitter in this update…
TOP 10 - Studio Equipment
A question from @Spokeman on Twitter recently.
“Is there a list of your equipment, recording technique....etc. somewhere?”.
I promised him I would make a Top 10 list in this blog of studio equipment and plugins which have been the most important to the Unquiet Nights sound thus far over the first two albums. HERE GOES…….
10. BOSS Compression Sustainer CS-3
As a rule I normally compress the DI signal of Bass guitars before going into the desk. I could’ve easily chosen the Carl Martin Compressor/Limiter which I use often, but I think the BOSS CS-3 has gotten more use for this purpose. Some people use high end rack mounted compressors obviously, but I got used to dealing with what the CS-3 did to the signal and have pretty much stuck with it ever since for Bass guitars, and often on clean guitar DI’s.
9. SPL Transient Designer
This is the rack mounted hardware version of the SPL transient designer, but they also have an equally effective software plugin of the same name. I rarely use it at the end of an FX chain to play with dynamics. I use WAVES Smack Attack now for that. I use the SPL near the start of my chain for clean guitars in order to ring out even more sustain before hitting the delay & compressor. Huge usage over both the first two albums.
8. BOSS Blues Driver BD-2
This is the only item in the list that I don’t actually own. There was one in Manor Park Studios when we were recording overdubs on “More Than These Eyes” and “Love Leave Your Mark on Me” for the “Postcards….” album.
“More Than These Eyes” is one of the best sounding tracks we’ve done from a guitar point of view. It starts off with a high pitched clean guitar, but the chunkier lower pitched riff joining in is the Blues Driver with the gain jacked up high through the Vox AC-30 in Manor Park. Great result. Listen to it on Spotify if you don’t believe me, or again if you do. =)
7. AVID BF76 Peak Limiter
I often use brutal compression & peak limiting when recording guitar parts, not as a corrective measure, because by then the battle is usually lost, but as a musical device in it’s own right. I want to allow the softest possible touch of the string to sound full and sustained. The AVID BF76 peak limiter plugin is normally the culprit for this, with other favourites being Focusrite Midnite and Waves DBX compressors. I usually blend the compressed channel in parallel with the DI signal in order to balance attack and sustain on a guitar part. Nothing worse than a polite compressor which doesn’t grab the quieter parts of the signal hard enough.
6. MARSHALL Jackhammer JH-1
The Marshall Jackhammer is normally my go to distortion for live gigs. Whenever I’m not able to use my own Blackstar amp in some situations, normally when we’ve flown to a gig or something, I’ll need the Jackhammer pedal close at hand to dial up a familiar valve-y creamy tone to work with. A lot of times without a decent sound check this pedal has rescued a dire situation. It’s small, easy to power and heavily constructed so it’s perfect for every situation.
In more recent times I’ve also got the Blackstar HT Dual which produces similar results, but is much bigger and isn’t powered by the normal 9V power supplies.
5. TOONTRACK Mellotoon
Everyone who knows me is aware that I go on, and on, and on about Genesis for hours at a time if given the chance. Owning a real Mellotron would be ridiculous in terms of space, transit and the cost of it, so I have a few software alternatives.
Probably my favourite is the Toontrack Mellotoon expansion for EzKeys.
I guess the most obvious place you can hear it on our stuff is to create the sound textures on “George Best City”. I remember being on a particularly intense Genesis trip around the time that was recorded, and obviously it ended up being one of our more successful things.
For that alone Mellotoon makes it in a No.5 on this list.
4. BLACKSTAR HT Delay
I use Delay a lot more than Reverb when building sounds, and the Blackstar HT Delay pedal is particularly useful. The parameters you can play with result in huge variation over which type of tail you want on the delay. Normally I run two delays into compression, maybe the HT first and a plugin delay after that for a different time signature. Anyway if you can pick up one of these it will serve you well for all your delay needs.
3. WAVES Brauer Motion
What I love about Waves Brauer Motion is that firstly it provides you all the subtle wide panning effects, but also you can basically use it like Sound Toys Tremolator which I might otherwise have chosen. If you select 16ths or 32nds and then use the mix dial to blend enough in to get a stuttering effect, you can get something like I did to the synth line at the start of “Someone’s Gotta Hold”.
Something that changed a lot from the first album to the “Postcards….” album was that there’s more sense of space. Brauer Motion was definitely an important part of getting that. Some songs on the first album could’ve benefited from the same idea back then.
2. CARL MARTIN Hot Drive ‘n Boost
Another overdrive I love is the Carl Martin Hot Drive ‘n Boost. This is one I use in the studio on guitar parts when I’m recording the DI signal too. I’ll blend the first signal coming from the DI in with the Carl Martin in parallel to add a crunchy edge to the guitar part without losing the clarity of the DI too much. This is done without any amp simulation normally. I got into doing this so much that loads of times the parallel Carl Martin track has ended up fuzzing up the edges of other instrument tracks and vocals to make them bite more and sit comfortably against other sounds.
1. SOUNDTOYS Decapitator
Among all the harmonic distortion plugins I’ve used, and there have been many, the one I use the most is Decapitator by Sound Toys. I didn’t have it on the first album, but during the second album Neal at Manor Park got used to me suggesting that everything get decapitated as the solution. The most important dial is “MIX” which is what allows you to keep the definition of the original signal blended into the face-melting warmth.
Credential Sound: Part 24
The work continues on the building of Credential Sound itself. The outside of the building is all plastered & painted with Sandtex now pretty much. Inside the woodwork is progressing quickly too, we’re using spruce tongue & groove for the drum room and insulating between that and the block wall with more mineral wool. If you put your hand on the block wall it’s pretty freezing even with the cavity of polyurethane foam in between, but touch the wood paneling after more rock wool brings the temperature up a lot, so that should help the instruments too as well as be more comfortable for playing in there. Progress.