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Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Lesson 2 of 27

Avast! Studio Overview & Walkthrough

Sylvia Massy

Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Sylvia Massy

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Lesson Info

2. Avast! Studio Overview & Walkthrough

Lesson Info

Avast! Studio Overview & Walkthrough

What I like about Avast as far at their equipment here is there's an old beautiful old collection of API consoles. There's actually an API sidecar which is a 1604, which is circa 1973. And I'll just step over here and take a look at it. This is the vintage part. This has got 554 EQ's which is similar to a 550 EQ, except it's a sweepable selection here for attenuation and boost. So we're gonna use some of these mic pres in this for our recording. Then the majority of this API console is a Legacy which is about a mid to late 90s console and it also has some great EQ's. These EQ's are actually the 550 LEQ's and it is similar to a 550 EQ except is has two mid-range EQ's for selection. So I enjoy using API. It's an American make. And it has a kind of a mid-rangey vintagey kind of sound which I think is appropriate for this band. Thunderpussy has kind of a grungy, guitar-heavy sound and you'll find out about that in a little while, what they're about. Anyway, the other thing about Avast that...

I'm going to incorporate into our recording today is they have a nice Pro Tools rig with plug-ins. But we won't use any of those plug-ins for recording. We're gonna stick with a lot of this outboard equipment here and that would include these compressors we'll be using and you'll see the ones that I've chosen to use in this recording are labeled. I'll be using the Teletronics LS2A for vocals. I'll be using some of these distressors for room mics to give it a crushing sound. Also a room mic, a set of room mics, will go through this EMI Chandler compressor, stereo compressor. And then a variety of things will go through the 1176 compressors. We're using mic pres, they're Summits. Some of the mic pres for some rooms. Also there's some fun stuff here and including a chorus echo which we're gonna run and have running throughout the recording. Also over here there is some tape machines. We'll be running the two track ATR for most of the recording, and just have it going to Pro Tools so in case there's something magical that happens during the recording that we will have that documented in our Pro Tools recording. So let's see what else do we have here? Maybe we should take a look at what's going on out in the room. Okay, I've managed to choose some microphones. Hello. So I've managed to choose some microphones for our recording and they're set out but we haven't set up the equipment yet, the musical instruments. But there's a standard group of microphones I like to use for drum recording. They're simple microphones. They're not expensive microphones. Basically SM57 Sure microphones and Sennheiser 421 microphones for the drums, for the kick, for the toms. We're using Neumann U87s for overhead and we'll be using them in an MS configuration for a very wide picture as far as our overheads go so we can get the symbols and really have a wide picture. The other things that we have set up that we're ready to use will be, let's see... We've got Cole's ribbons for the wide rooms. We have some unusual microphones also. This American, it's a ribbon mic. It's very old and rare and we'll be using that for one of our room mics. We're gonna have a boombox set up here that we'll use the onboard microphones on the boombox so that we can use the onboard compression in this cheap little Sanyo boombox. It should be an exciting sound. We have the bass set up. The bass cabinet is set up in an isolation booth off to the side behind that baffle. Also the guitars are set up in a side room over here. They'll be mic-ed separately. However the bass player and the guitar player from Thunderpussy will be here in the studio with the drummer, as well as the singer is going to be standing right here. I think her name is Molly. (laughs) She'll be standing right here using this reissue Shure 55S for her vocals. Scratch vocals, we'll re-do the vocals later. Anyway, so that's a basic setup. We also have a speaker that's been turned into a microphone that we'll use on the kick drum to get a big sub-harmonic sound on the kick. Let's see, what else do we have going on in here. I think that we're gonna a lot of fun with this. I like to make every recording session an adventure in some way. So we have a few unusual things planned and as you'll see in later episodes that we're gonna do some crazy stuff here. (laughs) So get ready for the door to come open and see maybe some motorcycles being brought in or maybe we'll be using drills for instruments or who knows what might happen with this project. It's gonna be a lot of fun. Yeah, I'm thinking that the song that we're recording will need a click track. So we've set up in our session we're using a Pro Tools generated click track. We'll probably do some editing. Maybe do five or six takes and then edit the best parts of those takes into the one version that we'll use for overdubs.

Class Description

Over the last 30+ years, Sylvia Massy has built a career as one of the gutsiest and most innovative recording engineers and producers. She has worked with legends like Prince and Johnny Cash, and won awards for her work with bands like Tool, System of a Down and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you will get a peek inside the recording process of one of rock’s legendary engineers. 

While she is a proficient master of vintage gear, Sylvia stresses that great records come not from having the right gear, but from capturing great performances. Join Sylvia as she records a song in the studio with Seattle alt-rock band Thunderpussy, and learn how to work with an artist to capture that magical take in your own work.

Pulling from her years of experience and sharing stories from her newly published book Recording UnHinged, Sylvia will show you:

  • How to get interesting and vibrant drum sounds, using the room and the drummer to your advantage
  • Capturing great sounding guitars at the source, without editing and reamping
  • Pushing vocalists to deliver their best vocal takes 
  • Mixing both in the box and through a console using outboard gear

Sylvia is also known as a prolific educator, speaking and teaching at some of the best recording schools around the world. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the industry’s most celebrated A-list producers. 


Jimmy Foot

This Studio Pass episode with Sylvia Massey covers a lot of ground. From fundamentals like correct mic placement and phase to experimentation with amps, cell phone delay and a few extra parts, Sylvia makes it fun! I have been lucky enough in my career to work with a number of great engineers and producers. I haven't had the opportunity to work with her, but Sylvia is certainly in that category, and anyone who gets a chance to work with her would be a lucky person. This broadcast is the next best thing. Great job there at Avast Studio and fantastic camera work! And as for Thunderpussy; you guys rock!

Marc Felish

Wow, that was such a blast. Thanks so much Sylvia and everyone else for making this such a fun experience. I picked up so many new ideas that I can't wait to try out! Sylvia is such a creative producer, it was so much fun to be a fly on the wall watching everything. Loved it!!

Marcus Soares

Awesome! A great opportunity to pick into the creative mind of one of the greatest and get that kind of knowledge that you can't acquire otherwise. Highly recommended!