On a cold day in West Bend . . .

Studio H - The Radtke "Hog Barn"On a cold December day in 2004, we started laying down the rhythm tracks for what has becomeGeorge "da Prez" layin' down tracks our most ambitious recording project to date. We now have 15 German Christmas songs recorded with as many as 17 instrumental and 11 vocal tracks on each song. We used a variety of microphones for the project, including Shure SM62, SM57, and SM58, all of which are uni-directional dynamic mics. We used the SM62 (following picture) for almost all the woodwind tracks, and some strings as well. Most tracks were recorded in stereo, with one side being the near-field sound and the other side being the far-field sound. Far-field ambience sound was recorded with an omnidirectional condenser mic at the far end of the studio, up near the ceiling.


Edie on RecorderAll tracks except some narration voiceovers were recorded in Studio H, the Radtke Hog Barn (Thanks, George & Kim!). This decades-old stone building has produced an ambience that is surprisingly close to an old-world church. A FireWire Digitizer was used to write digital audio directly to the hard drive, so each step of the process remained in the digital domain. We wound up with nearly 60 channels recorded for some songs, which goes way beyond what can be done with tape. This pretty much maxed out our computing processor power, so we had to install a larger hard drive early in the project.


Mark on upright bassOne instrument that didn't get an ambience track was the upright bass. It was actually recorded with a Crown PZM (pressure zone microphone) sitting on the floor just beneath the tail piece, which produced a warm resonant sound. Vocals were recorded with a Beyer variable-pattern condenser mic that was made available for the project by special arrangement. Thanks Dick!


Chuck on MandolinAlthough there is plenty of space in the room, we recorded each voice and instrument one at a time, working in headphones. This was necessary to maintain complete isolation between channels, which in turn gave us much needed flexibility during mix down. Because we play so many live shows throughout the year, we were able to put ourselves mentally "on stage" and obtain a blend that cannot be distinguished from a live performance.


Studio cats "EQ" and Bunter sit in on keyboardFinal mix down was done in the Tews living room (Thanks Craig & Gail!), with some help from their calico cats Equinox and Bunter. We also recorded the narration voiceovers for Dunkel ist die Nacht at the Tews house.



Mark gets advice from EQ

Mark gets some mixing advice from EQ.

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