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Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Lesson 24 of 27

Creative Studio Techniques

Sylvia Massy

Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Sylvia Massy

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Lesson Info

24. Creative Studio Techniques

Lesson Info

Creative Studio Techniques

Well, we've been working with a song called Speed Queen by Thunderpussy, and we're at a point now where we've done all the foundation recording. We've done the basic drums, bass, guitar, guitar overdubs. We've done the lead vocals. We've done some backing vocals. And now it's time for some fun stuff. So I had the idea of maybe doing a solo, a motorcycle solo. The song is called Speed Queen. It makes perfect sense. So the challenge is well, how do you do a motorcycle solo when you're in the studio? Well, you just bring a motorcycle in the studio. So we have a friend of ours here, Sean, who's brought his motorcycle in. We're not gonna bring it entirely in the studio because we'll just get gassed out. However, it hasn't stopped me before. But this time, we're just gonna be, we're gonna be safe, and have the exhaust going out the door. Sean? Are you ready to do some recording, Sean? Absolutely. All right. So Molly, I think Molly's gonna actually do the solo. We'll be doing it with the ...

throttle on the motorcycle and we'll be doing it, I think we talked about having it in the end of the main section of the song, right before it goes into the double time. I think that's a good time in the song for the Speed Queen to hit the road. Yeah. Don't you think? Yeah. All right. So, all right. So we have a mic set up on the motorcycle now. Hopefully. I'm gonna have to run in and get a level on that. Yeah. Were we gonna do playback or anything? Or just-- Yes, you were gonna be, you would be-- Yeah, yeah, yeah. Listening to the headphones and you know the section of the song we're talking about? Yeah, just right at the end. Right when it starts going into the double time is when you, hopefully, it should sound like the, I'm sorry, the motorcycle is starting up and shifting gears and getting faster and faster, right? Yep. Okay, that's the idea. So I think we have headphones for you. Okay. You wanna come over here? All right, here's some headphones. Winnie has some ideas for this, as well. Is there another set of headphones that I could listen back with? I think you could grab that set right there. I'm gonna step behind you here. Let's WP if you want to, and then I can listen. Okay, here you go. Let's try that. That should work. Why don't you start-- Is it plugged in? They need two sets? Scott? Yes. I only had one plugged in. Okay. So that one's plugged in. She could take the drummer's, which are those. A better set. Whitney? That's good. I'll let you start it off. 'Cause you have a specific idea about this. Yeah. The second set. (mumbling) Yeah, so those are both on now. Okay. Those are both working. You listen on that one. I'm gonna listen in the control room. Okay. All right, so Sean? Go ahead and start her up. (engine turning) And I'm gonna go in here. (engine revving) All right. How's it looking? Looks like a good level. Why don't you guys go ahead and rev it up for us. (engine growling) Woo! That's peaking. It's peaking. All right, that's pretty good. That's good. All right. You wanna give it a shot? Okay. (laughing) Let's see, we'll park it close here. Let's see what we can do. This might work. It might be great. It might completely suck. We don't know. (rock music) ♪ Never look back ♪ ♪ Never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again honey what's your name ♪ (engine revving) (laughing) All right, I'm gonna go talk to 'em. Sean? Turn it off. I think we can take it, I think-- Thanks. Okay. What did it sound like in there? Well, I have to say that the revving, the high part of the revving wasn't high enough. And it actually, the pitch of the motorcycle is perfect for the song. Very low? (singing) That's the key of the song. But it's almost like it's too, it's not crazy enough, or something. Do you think it just should be more low and fast things? Or is it just never getting where-- It doesn't. It never really pokes out. Yeah. Yeah. You know what I would recommend is maybe we try it at the beginning of the song, so the song starts with starting, rev, rev, rev! (revving) And then have the drums start, because the song starts with drums. Can we try that? Let's try that. Okay. Is that somebody's Nighthawk that you guys know? This little 450 right here? Yes, I think so. 'Cause your 450's gonna be a higher revving engine. This is a shaft drive. Big 1100, so it doesn't have that like (revving). The kind of thing that you might be looking for. If the person's here, you might start it up and just listen to it quickly. 'Cause it definitely would be a different-- The low is cool, though, right? It is cool. I agree with you that it never quite gets, yeah. Yeah. Why don't we get the beginning. We got a pretty good performance on that right there. But let's get the beginning and so I'll, let's see. How do we do this? How 'bout if you come out, Molly. And I'll wave at you and kinda yell like, give you the signal. And then you start. And then rev, rev, rev, rev! (revving) Like you really get it going, all right? Okay. Yeah. All right, take two. (laughing) It's crazy. It's awesome. Yeah, well, I don't know. It kinda sucks right now, but maybe it'll get better. You gonna put it at the beginning? I'm gonna put it at the beginning. All right, let's see. We're gonna get 'em started here. Molly, you can see me. Hang on. All right, and, I'll give a little more time. Let's try this. Actually I wanna do a playlist. Just in case something happens. All right, here we go. And yes! (drumsticks beating) (drum music) (laughing) It's not bad. Not bad. I think we need to get it a little bit earlier. Let's do it one more time. Can we start from the stop? From turned off? Do they understand? Yeah. Oh good, all right. Okay, hang on a second. I'm gonna get this going again, and-- (shouting) Yes? (mumbling) Yes. Signal them, then they turn it on and start revving right away. All right, here we are, we're rolling. And now. (engine turning and revving) (drum music) Nice. Now we're talking. That's cool. Oh, we got it that time. All right. Nailed it. So good. (laughing) That was really good. You know what? That's fantastic! It's fantastic! Cool. It's really, really good. Sweet. All right, you guys have to come and listen to this. Cool. Thank you, Sean. All right. Awesome. Come on in. Thank you, Sean. Just chillin' on your bike. Sweet, I know. (laughing) So Sylvia, we got a question about are you micing the engine or the exhaust on that? Well, it's definitely micing the engine, 'cause that's the best sound. Yeah, not the exhaust. The engine. Cool. Yeah. Any other questions? Nope. (laughing) Okay. I think that turned out pretty good. Let's take a listen to that. You never know what you're gonna get. Sometimes it sounds great. Sometimes it completely sucks and it was a waste of time. But I think this fits the song really well. Are we done with Sean, do you think? I think we're done with Sean. We'll take a listen now. (engine revving) Oh, yeah. Already. Check it out. I guarantee you that 450 wouldn't sound that cool. Yeah, I think it woulda been-- It's too high. Yeah, well listen to this. (engine revving) (drum music) (laughing) Right? (guitar music) (laughing) Isn't that great? It's really great. That's all we'd need. We really don't need more than that. That just adds a lot of character to the song. That's killer. All right. It seems right that it's starting it off, too. Yeah. Oh. This thing. Yeah, right? It seems right that it's starting it off-- Starting off the song. Kicking the song into high gear. We'll keep the other motorcycle in there in case we wanna feature it, but really, the band is so powerful at that point that it kinda-- I'm curious. You wanna hear it? (laughing) All right. I mean, we recorded it. Okay. Let me go there. So this is the end of the solo, going into the end part. (rock music) ♪ What's your name ♪ (engine revving) I don't know how, into a higher-- I love the first-- If it was going higher, it would be, you know. Yeah. I just, I loved the initial (revving) and then it was kinda down hill after that. (laughing) And really, it's competing with the guitar actually. A lot. So, but it's there. We got it in case we wanna use it. Sweet. Yeah, but the intro I think is just really, really great. The start up is really killer. Just having the bike turn on, it sounds great. Yeah. Let's hear that again, one more time. And then we'll move on. Here we go. (engine revving) (drum music) Isn't that great? We did it live. That's great. All right, excellent. So, let's move on to something else. And I had the idea of, well, we had terrible luck using cassette deck, boombox for drums. But we have another cassette recorder that became available today and I'd like to try it for vocals. So maybe you could sing into this thing. We haven't hooked it up or anything. We haven't tested it, but maybe it works. Yeah. Worth a try. Worth a try. So we're gonna hook that up right now. I think the good place for this would be just in the phrase right before the tempo change. Right before the double time. After the guitar solo, before the double time, you sing just a phrase. And maybe we could do two tracks of you doubling with this cassette deck. Yeah, who knows? Maybe it's great, maybe it sucks. I don't know. We'll try. Okay, Scott? Whitney, do you have a cassette deck handy? I'm gonna go get it. I have a job for you. Scott? Yeah, what's up? Setting up this cassette thing. Okay. Okay. Um, here are the channels here. Pres are here. The one we were using for-- Is it stereo? What? It's the same one we were using yesterday. So yeah, it's-- No, there's another one. This is an entirely different one. Well, it's coming a headphone out. So it's still feeding both sides. Oh. So it's just a headphone jack into a DI box is how we're going with it. Okay, I see. Okay, very good. Yeah. Sweet. And you guys put fresh batteries in it? Fresh! Right out the package. Awesome. All right, all right, all right. Do we still have a donor tape, or is that in the other tape deck still? Must be in the other tape deck. Ah, here it is. This is our, let's see. It's coming out of the cassette. Headphone out of the cassette into these channels. Mic in? Yeah, okay. Cassette deck. All right, I'm thinking out loud, sorry. What we're gonna do is we're gonna use the on-board mic on this little old cassette deck so that she can sing right into it. And we're taking the headphone out of the cassette deck and we're going to put that into two mic pres and record it onto tracks here. So, we'll see if this even works. We failed with the drums. We tried recording drums with different cassette boomboxes and it didn't work, but maybe it'll work this time. Fourth time's the charm. That's right. (laughing) Okay, so will you create a new track for us? Yep. Excellent. And this will be, actually create two tracks. Okay. This will be the cassette. Call it cassette one and cassette two. Oh man, okay. I think we have to do four, 'cause it's dual mono. I'm just gonna use one side. Oh, okay. Yeah, just two. Yep, that's fine. All right, and, where is our cassette box, anyway? It's plugged in out there on top of the-- It is? Yep. I'm gonna go take a look at it and see what it's like. Maybe you wanna see if it's actually making a noise? Yeah, it should be recording, if you wanna go just clap your hands in front of it. Okay, oh really, okay. Oh, right. Here it is. Did you see this? We've been trying boomboxes, but not we're going right back to the desk model. Ah, oh, hey, this is actually really working, hang on. Yeah. Yeah, slam dunk! (groaning) Hello. Oh, my god. Is this working? Test, test, test. Definitely working. Sexy, sexy. Let's get Molly. Let's get Molly in here. Let me make sure she has headphones out there. I think your voice is really sexy in there. (laughing) Sexy, sexy. Sexy. Okay. I wanna make sure you have headphones. We're just gonna use the same ones from over on the other side. I wanna drag 'em over for you here. Here, you stand here and I'm gonna go in the control room and it's actually the microphone is right there. And I'm going to go in and listen to it. I'd like you to sing, okay? It may be that we wanna just whisper. But we'll try singing first. Okay. All right. (mumbling) (shushing) Hey, this is gonna be good. It's sounds awesome. Success, right? This does get a fist bump. Boom. Psh. Psh. Nice. Well done. (whistling) Can you hear me? Yeah. I didn't assign the return on that, so it might be still coming out one and two. Will you give me the singing loud voice? ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey ♪ We're going all the way to the other side. I know, it's gettin' crazy now. Hold on, wait a second. Is it going through our... We're going all the way to the other side here. Wait a second. Okay. Is it going through the vocal chain? No, it's just going straight. There's nothing. We can compress it. We can do whatever you'd like. Mm. We're not using any of the distressors anymore for the room, some of the bass-- Can we use a distressor? Yeah, of course. All right. I'm just gonna use the hose distressor with, or no, the other one. The phone distressor, since we're definitely not-- Phone distressor. Sounds great, okay. Cool. We're gonna put a extra compression distressor on it. (mumbling) Yeah. (laughing) All right, let me park it in a good spot here. This is the spot we're talking about right here. Kay, and we wanna make it, it almost sounds too good. Will sing that again. Here we go. Yeah. ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey, what's your name ♪ All right, I'm gonna fool around with the EQ. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. (whistling) Do it again. (throat clearing) ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey, what's your name ♪ I think I like that. I like that. Sounding pretty good. One more time. Okay. ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey, what's your name ♪ I like it. A little more output. Thank you. No problem. Got it? And we're nuking it, right? Oh yeah, we are nuking it. Nuking it. I think we're good. Let's do it. Are you ready for this? Yeah. All right, we're gonna be doubling those last lines. Okay. Oh, now I can hear myself. (laughing) Here we go. (rock music) ♪ Back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey, what's your name ♪ Damn, she's good, right? Oh, came in a little slow. Okay, now that you know where you're at, let's do it again. It's gonna be really cool. Here it comes. (rock music) ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey, what's your name ♪ That's pretty cool. I like it! Let's do another one of those. You may have to assign the input on that second channel. Okay. It'll be 27. Just save as the one before. Yep. Oh, all right. 27 coming up. There she is. (percussive breathing) Oh yeah, 40? I want this one on 50. Is that possible? Sure yeah. Let me push it up real quick for ya. Great. And I'll pan 'em for ya. Yes, please. And put 'em in her cans. And there you go, you're good to go. In the cans. All right. Here we go. Kay. (rock music) ♪ Never look back, never be the same ♪ ♪ Tell me again, honey, what's your name ♪ Beautiful. I think we got it! (mumbling) All right. (laughing) That was fun. Come on in. Cool. Okay, now we're gonna do, let's see. Well. (sighing) (laughing) I like that look. Should just record all the vocals like that. But, but, but I have another idea. All right. Thank you very much, that was great. I have another idea-- Let's keep ideas rolling. Okay, for the first verse to have, let's see. How we gonna do this? Well, we'll just try it anyway. We're gonna use a cell phone delay. So I got this iPhone. We need another iPhone. You got one? Yeah. How's your battery life? It's great. Okay, good. The idea, and let me think. I might have to think about this a minute. How are we gonna do this? So you're gonna sing in the control room with one iPhone. The other iPhone will be out in the room. Are you doing this, Scott? You setting it up? You gotta get her, the second iPhone. Oh, look at him. He's getting this ready. Oh, you got it? I need the phone, but I'm setting it up for the recording, yeah. So the idea here is that one iPhone will be in the control room, and the singer will sing on one iPhone. And the second iPhone will be in the tracking room, and it will be miced up, and it will be answered on speaker phone. So we'll call from this phone. It'll be answered, and then just set there and left on speaker phone. We'll keep the call running. Then the singer, eh. Molly will sing into the phone while listening to the monitors here at a low volume, 'cause I think there's gonna be a crazy feedback. We'll be listening to that phone on the monitors in here and it should be this weird, crazy, delay feedback because there's a big delay between this phone and that phone bouncing off the towers, especially if you start feeding back. It could be cool. It could really suck. But we're gonna try it. I've always wanted to send vocals into space, and that's literally what we're doing. We're gonna send them-- We are. Into the space and then back into the room. It's brilliant. We could just like yell through the door. No, no, space. We wanna go to space and then back. Satellite space. Okay. So these are gonna be really spacey vocals. Hopefully. I think it'll really compliment the power tool solo. (laughing) Are you making fun of my production style? I would never. (laughing) I'll prepare tracks. This is an experiment. I haven't done anything quite like this, but I started thinking about it this morning and I was like ah! We should at least try it. So I'm putting it in front of the Neumann so it'll just be the same vocal chain that we had before. Great. It'll be the same input that her vocal mic was. Whenever you wanna give us a call. I guess. Okay, wait a second. Okay, let me think very carefully about this. So our monitor is very important. The monitor will be coming back on? 51. Is it 61? 51. 51. And what is our input gonna be? That'll be the same as the vocal as before. I think it's, is that 23? 23. Now this could just go completely outta control, so I'm gonna keep the volume really low. (laughing) We'll open up the line. It's put on the tape deck. Yeah, awesome. Sweet. All right, I'm gonna mute what we just did, and here we go. We're putting it in record. You wanna call yourself? Yeah. Weird. (laughing) There you go. Okay. Good luck. Here we go. Do I remember my own number? I do, I do. Now is your ringer on or off? It's off. It's definitely on vibrate. So you're gonna have to go answer yourself. Oh, no, he's got it. Scott's holding it. Is he? Oh. There's delay everywhere. Okay. Oh, oh. (mumbling) Okay, okay, okay. (singing) Okay, okay. Is this gonna work? Come on! I can hear it. Through there. 23. So that-- Didn't change anything in the vocal chain. Didn't change anything here? No. (singing) Oh, when it starts working it's gonna go crazy. Let me go out there and talk and see if you can hear me. Is the vocal mic turned off? The power supply. It actually might be. The power supply? Yeah. Okay, turn that on. You wanna just pull the monitor down? Yep. Thank you. Uh-huh. Crossing fingers. (laughing) I love hearing the delay already. There is already a delay, right? Between the room and towers. (mumbling) Okay. Is it on now? I'd say give it like 30 seconds for the tube to warm up but yeah, it's on now. Oh, I see level now. Talk, talk, talk. (singing) Here we go, hearing it, hearing it. Okay, now, I'd like you to come on over here. Lean into that speaker right there. Okay. Yeah, there we go. Oh. (echoing) Is this good for everyone? (laughing) Oh, yeah. Right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's keep that going. (singing) All right, we're gonna do some crazy-ass shit now. Yes! (laughing) I like it. Okay, so can you just do like noodly weird shit? Like not sing? Or do ohs or ahs or some weird shit? Yeah. Where we puttin' this in the song, Sylvia? (singing) Leave it here? First verse? First verse. Then we're gonna do two tracks. Did you make two tracks? I didn't. I can just duplicate this one real quick. Do that. Yeah. Do you want it to be in continuous or? Just no, just kinda little blips here and there. Okay. And where is it? It's this one over here. Okay. (singing and echoing) You want it during the verse or during the intro? Verse. Okay. So when it drops down into that section. Got it. All right. All right. You ready? Okay, here you go. All right. Gotta good one? (rock music) (singing) Nice. Good. ♪ Came up to me and said what's your story ♪ (singing) Okay, now we're gonna stop. Let's double it now. Let's do it in a second track. All right. Very nice. Look it, we're already in four minutes in. (laughing) Sylvia, will you push up 52? I got it. 52. 52 and longer and we are good. (murmuring) Same spot, here we go. Here we go. All righty. (rock music) (echoing) (singing) ♪ Met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ (singing) ♪ She came up to me and said what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes ♪ (singing) Sweet! All right, let's see what that sounds like! There you go. Shall I end the call? Yeah, I think you can end the call now. All right. (laughing) You can probably end it on either side. Awesome. Well, I don't know. We don't know yet, really, if it's good or not. What are the harmonies doing there? It was fun. It was amazing. It's nice having the echo and the delay so spaced out but meeting in separate areas. Let's see. This is the cassette. All right, and then that's that, too. Okay, let's see what we got. (laughing) I love this stuff. This is great. All right. Now we're talking, now we're getting weird. (laughing) This is what it's about. I'm doing a little clean up here before I listen. And we'll see if this actually is something we can use. If it's really, really good, we might wanna get the rest of the vocals with the same effect, yeah. And use it as our main delay, vocal delay. But we'll see what this is like. Now I'm gonna turn up the lead, the regular lead vocal. And I'm going to turn down these delays and we'll see what it sounds like. (rock music) ♪ Ah ♪ ♪ Ah ♪ ♪ Ah ♪ ♪ Meet her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ Took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lips and high-waisted pants ♪ Oh, I kinda like it. Right? Let me just listen to that one more time. (rock music) ♪ Met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ Took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ I think just in that section and it's gonna be really good. All right? Good? Success? Feeling, yeah. All right, that was fun. (laughing and clapping) Success! Can I ask you a quick question? Yeah. So when you were saying come closer to the speaker, did you mean both together, mouth phone, mouth on phone, or phone separating as the lingering of the sound? Phone separating. Not mouth on phone. But like you sing a line and then while it's delaying and pointing it at the speaker, it should've regenerated. Gotcha, gotcha. Right? A feedback loop. Ah, but... I like this. I think it's great. Sounds cool. Yeah. All right. All right. Are there any questions? Not about this, no. People are just watching, yeah. Any other questions? No. Okay, good. Then, let's see. We have some other things we wanna do while we're in this mode. My notes are that we are going to do some things now to prepare for our mix which is coming up. I think we'll set up some things for the mix, and then we'll take a break and then actually start the mixing. Awesome. A couple things-- We're gonna do the garden hose? Yes, and that's part of something that we'll set up for the mix. Cool. I'll do a little explanation about it. The Cooper Time Cube was something that Uri created in the '70s. And it was a rack-mount unit with an attached box. And inside the box, it turned out that there was a garden hose inside the box. It was the strangest thing. It was an analog delay, and the way it worked is that there was a speaker on one end of the hose and a microphone on the other end of the hose. So you would send a signal down through the speaker. By the time it went through the hose and got to the microphone, there was a delay. That was a very early delay. And it was very popular on like Queen, ELO, some of these great '70s songs. So it's got a real unique sound and I'd like to try that on your vocal on this. So we're gonna create our own Cooper Time Cube. And all you need to do, really, is to have a hose. We used a hose during our drum tracking. So we're gonna use the hose in a separate, in a different way. And really, all we need, and I noticed that there was a couple of our supplies here that we could use. We have the hose. There's that half. I'll find some tape. We're going to use this. All right? This will be our speaker. And we'll send the signal, we'll send your vocal signal through this speaker and we'll tape this funnel, and it fits so well on there. We'll tape it right on there and then we'll put our garden hose on here and we'll send the signal down the garden hose, and then is our garden hose available? It's cabled in. It's cabled in? Okay, because we were using it earlier for drums, for a different purpose. But for this, we'll just connect the hose there, and we should be able to send your vocal through the speaker, through the hose, and get the same effect as a Cooper Time Cube and who knows? It might be really cool for the vocal, for our mix. So we'll set that up now. No problem. And then there was a couple other things I wanna set up in anticipation of our mix. Okay. So, let's go ahead and do that now. Sure, I'll take this. Awesome. Another thing we're going to do before the mix is we're going to set up a snare re-amp. And I'd like to try to brighten up the snare a little bit and make it a little more rattly and give it more character. And I'm gonna do that by actually using another snare and similarly take a speaker, run your snare signal down out of a speaker, out in the room, and actually tape a snare onto that speaker and then mic that snare. And it should add some stuff onto the original snare recording and make it better. Or not. (laughing) But we'll try. Awesome. So we're gonna work on those two thing right now and I guess I'm gonna step out in the room and help Scott set those things up. Okay, so we got the hose. We do. And did you get the funnel? Yep, it's right here. Great. Hooked up to the end of the-- I don't think we need to isolate this-- Oh, I'm not. I'm feeding it from the headphone amp. Oh, okay. So that way we can just send it from the board straight into the speaker, and it should power it. Okay. I'm gonna-- So the cord, the speaker cable for the speaker is kinda short, that's why it's over here. Okay. Let's go ahead and set up this snare re-amp at the same time. Cool. I'll just go ahead and tape this. Do you just want snare... Where did we put that snare? Oh, it's in the... Um, let's, yeah. And we should be ready to go there. All right. (drum sounding) That is a timbale. Let's try that one. It's another Keplinger, isn't it? Yeah, do we have any, sounds like there's a little. (drum sounding) I like that. Over towing. We have a stand anywhere for it? Stand. Well, we're not gonna use a stand. We're gonna actually tape it right onto this sucker. Oh, okay. Yeah. I gotta get a cable and a power cable for that. Just tape it right on that. Set it right on there, yes, like that. There we go. Actually we can't. All the plugs are on the back. Okay. So I've gotta... We'll probably have to tip it down. Fine. (laughing) Judge it here. This was a trick that Matt Wallace taught me a long time ago when I was just a babe and he was like the king of all producers. Matt Wallace, if you're not familiar with him, he's produced Maroon 5, all the best Faith No More records. That was Matt Wallace. And I was lucky enough to actually know him in the early days and he taught me some of his unusual techniques. And this is one of 'em. Okay, that might work. I don't know if the tape is gonna hold this stupid head snare on. But it's almost killing. This is gonna kill the sound. I think we don't want it to be all the way like that. So I'm gonna just remove some of that. All right? Just catch it on the edge. Yeah, catch it on the edge. This is really nice gaffer tape. I'm not familiar with this brand. All right. That cable for that. All right, that might work. Let's see. All right, that's, that might work. Let's see, what can we lean this on? Ah, looking around for stuff. Mm? Ah. I think I know what I can do here. Mm-hmm. So if he needs to access the back of this for cabling, then we just need something to lean it over onto. Hey. Let's try that again. One more bag here. That might do it. All right. Let's see, does he have access? Yes, he's got access. That should work. So we have our snare re-amp. What else are we doing here? We're doing the Cooper Time Cube. There it is. Great. Okay! We're getting ready to mix. There is one last thing I wanna do before we start sending signal out these things to mix. And we'll go back in the control room to do that. So the last thing I wanna do is hook up these two things. Ah, looks like he's already got 'em. Two tie lines. But these are RCA transformers. And they're passive transformers. These are out of a telephone system. You can get these transformers. There's several models that work good. What we're gonna do is put these across our stereo bus when we're mixing, and by doing that and running our mix through them, it's going to round off any digital harshness that we get from Pro Tools, and it's just gonna beef it up. It's kind of a really unique thing that Devin Powers and Ross Hogarth told me about. Ross actually has coined it the Iron Giant. And it really is like putting your mix through iron, 'cause these are heavy duty transformers full of metal. So I don't know if it's patched in yet. It's ready to be patched in. But these, I brought these to the session specifically to do this today. I'll just put these right here. Great. All right, so, let's see. I'll get the re-amp ready. All right. Well, we're having fun. We got some motorcycles. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah, we have some questions about the motorcycle. Which mic did you use on the motorcycle? Is that a-- Shure SM57. Kay. SM57, pretty much, you could use it on anything, right? Yep. Yeah. This one is a particular special SM57 because it's a transformerless, it's been modified. But I think any regular 57 would work great on a motorcycle. Yeah. Sure. Any other questions? Sylvia, you are kill, this is all caps, killer creative. (laughing) This is awesome, exclamation point. How do you come up with all these wicked ideas? Oh, wow. (laughing) It's all about life is an adventure. So, if you're lucky enough to be able to do this, make it an adventure. It should really be fun and interesting. Make every session as memorable as possible. Just have at least one little tidbit of uncertainty in your sessions. Because there's no telling if an idea like this is gonna work or not. Take a chance, and if it fails, great. It'll be a splendid failure. It'll also make the experience of recording something that your clients will never forget. So I try to build that into every session. Yeah. Scott. So I've got the 57 that we used on the snare out by the snare. I don't know exactly where you wanna position it. And then I've got, we'll just have the Cooper Time Cube on the hose input, which was, oh my. My god, she disappeared. It was-- I saw it around here. No, it's right here. Here we are. Here's the hose. Hose input is 16. Okay. So that'll be-- 16? That's your input in Pro Tools. Oh, okay. But this is where the mic is gonna appear. Right? Correct. And that is still in its compressor chain, so that's fine. Okay, good. And then the snare we didn't have any compression on and that is still coming in here on the API. And it's just the top, so I'm gonna pull these down. We don't need these anymore, right? Nope, none of them. Great. And then it's just the top. Just the top. That is still going through the bus and still through its same chain. It'll just be input three in Pro Tools. I'm gonna turn down the EQ that I used on the actual tracking snare. Actually turn it off. And we'll try without any EQ first. I'm going to turn on-- Okay, so that's the re-amped snare. The Cooper Time Cube hose. And I also was talking about our transformers and what, shouldn't we get that set up now? Yeah, we can definitely. You want your mastering chain patched in now? Okay, no, no, no, Scott. Just, it's okay. We don't have to do that right now. Let's work on these things first. I want to check here is make sure. Oh, I think I hear something out there. You hear it? Let me go-- Let me go out, and I'm gonna follow you out there. The volume's all the way down. So I'm gonna put this at about nominal, and then we can turn the volume up out there. Oh, right, because it's a powered speaker. Okay. Oh, that's that. Okay. That's the wrong send. We're gonna put the vocal through that and the snare through that. All right. Is that still the Cooper? That's the Cooper. And this will go something like this. I wanna get the sound of these wires rattling. So I'm gonna add a little more wire by just micing it like this. We'll see if that does something good. We had a question about what delay was being used. Is that the space echo or tape delay? Both. Plus, there's a cell phone delay, too. Okay. Yeah. But yeah, it's actually not being used live. It was used during tracking and it was recorded to tracks in the Pro Tools. And we're playing it back. So it kinda just adds a wash to everything. When we get into mixing, I think I will use some additional delays on the vocals. Sylvia, we have a question about the passive transformers. What are the important parameters to consider when choosing them? Do you just choose one and then get lucky if it works well or do you actually, are there specific ones to use and not use? Well, the ones that I found, so far, work best are the larger ones, passive, that you're able to adjust, that you're able to change so that they, you can change it from one to one. The way that they're wired up right now, and I think it's 600 in, 150 out on each. So they're wired, not one to one, but they're wired to reduced. So it kinda squeezes it. So you wanna have that ability to wire it in different configurations to see what happens with it. So, yes, these have already been wired a certain way. But I tried several different ways. Even if you go in one to one, it sounds better, I think. So, any kind of transformers, it's fun to experiment with them. Yeah, even one to one. Cool. How's it going there, Scott? Oh, it goes. I'm trying to get us our snare playback. The Cooper Time Cube, as you heard, was working fine. That works great. So I'm just trying to get us our re-amping box to work. Okay. (drum music) Oh. I like it. Sounds pretty good. So, I think it might still be feeding this a little bit, too. So we might have to do 'em separate. Just because this is getting fed from the same send for the headphone outs. Well, maybe we should track it, then. We'll just track it. If you'd like. I just unplugged it for now. And then we'll plug it in when we need it. Let's go ahead and track this then. Okay. Okay, so what we're gonna do, since we got this to work, we're going to go ahead and record the re-amp of the snare onto another track. And when we finish that, then we're going to record the vocal through the Cooper Time Cube onto a track. And just do it that way so we don't have it running live during our mix. (rock music) Good. ♪ Met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ Took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lips and high-waisted pants ♪ ♪ Moved outside and jammed a bit ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on the motocruiser, yeah ♪ ♪ She said I might come back but I ain't no loser ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call Speed Queen ♪ ♪ She liked to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ ♪ Long live the Speed Queen ♪ All right. ♪ Knew right then that I'd finally found her ♪ Great. So now we're just gonna run this top to bottom. The band's not involved at all. We're just going to add this to our session just to enhance the snare a little bit. Here we go. We'll just let it run from beginning to end. (engine revving) (drum music) All right. (rock music) All right! Cool! Drew? Yeah? You wanna know anything? I'm curious how much of this you do with the band here versus not here. Do you get all your tracking done and then say hey go have some free time, and then you work? Does that distract you to have the band here? Or how do you usually work? That is a good question because a lot of times I will ask the band to just take a break. Go away. And that way I can work and really listen to things. Sometimes the band will hear mistakes and they'll think oh, my god, I have to redo this. And it's usually not necessary for them to redo anything. So I'll excuse them and I'll get into the details. We'll do, like if a band was sitting in the room here, the drummer would probably think oh my god, you're fixing the snare. Why? Because my snare is awful and I need to redo the whole thing and we, you know. We're just enhancing the existing snare. I don't think there's anything wrong with the original snare but this will add a little flavor. And it's a fun thing to do, re-amping. The same thing goes with bass. Sometimes the bass player will leave, and I'll set up another bass rig and I'll re-amp the bass and get a better bass tone just by concentrating on it without the band being involved. Drum editing, always, I prefer the band to not be involved in the tedious every cut. Unless there's really important decisions about which fill to use or how to cut a fill, then I'll ask the drummer not to hang out. Same with tuning vocals. Vocalists get really upset when they hear how out of tune they are, and you can fix those things and no one will know any different. But if they're sitting there and they know, sometimes their insecurity level rises. And if you just don't wanna do that to them. So having them not involved in the tuning of their vocals is often a very good thing. Yeah. So there's a lot that I'll do without the band. However, if they're thick skinned and wanna be a part of every part of the recording process, then come on in. Yeah. We're getting a lot of questions still about the transformers that you're using. Where would somebody get those? What would they be looking for? Goodwill or you just pull 'em out of a telephone? Do they sell that, can you get those online? You can get 'em online. I'll have to actually post the model numbers. Devin Powers has a complete list and he was wonderful to send me these two. He also sent me some Western Electric. They're 111 C's. Western Electric, 111 C's. And they came out of telephone systems. They're big. It's best to find a matched pair. You can get 'em online. Look for 111 C, Western Electric. And there's other brands, too. There's Malotkey, there's UTC, and then things like the RCAs that I have today. I'll have to post the specific model numbers, though. But yeah, you can find them online. I guess that's the easiest place to find 'em. On eBay. You can also find them in surplus electronic shops. But again, you're gonna wanna try to find a matched pair somehow. So as close to the same era as possible. Okay.

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. 

Ratings and Reviews

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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!