AE-240 FALL'13
eddie ciletti

updated 5dec13

Week-1: Introduction

Actually, this is a sample 4 track recording from last week of AE-237 Electronics Class using student-built preamps.

SONG: Strange & Beautiful
 Aqualung Version
Student Version

Week-2:  First 4-track recording

SONG: Save Tonight
Eagle-Cherry version
Student Version

This 4-track live recording, bounced to mono consisted of the following ingedients:

  • Tape Stock: 3M 226 @ 15 IPS, 3dB over 250nWb/m, IEC EQ
  • drums (Mark): EV-635 A to Altec-1612 preamp / mixer / compressor
  • Vocal (Matt): EV-664 to modified Pultec MB-1 preamp (with optical limiter) purposefully at the edge of distortion
  • Acoutsic Guitar (Luke): Terrible sounding DI output through VF-13 student preamp (Matt's)
  • Bass (Jordan): Taken direct through Altec 438
  • The Acoustic GTR was purposefully mixed low so that a better recording could be had after the bounce
Week-3: Eagle-Eye Cherry Overdubs on bounce

Week-4: Mixing and Tape Machine Calibration
Until now, I have spared you MANY technical details, allowing you to familiarize yourself with the machines and the process.  I hope you have enjoyed what I like to call ‘the Discipline of Analog,’ a.k.a. learning to be creative within a minimalist construct. We have not really prepared for these sessions, but as musicians, you now know the importance of preparation and pre-production as applied to an ensemble performance. 

So far we have learned to live with four available tracks, embracing the commitment of bouncing all four to one in order to create three available tracks. Now it’s time to Mix!

Here are the steps:

  • Demag: make sure the tape heads – and tools that will touch the heads - have no residual magnetism.
  • Clean: if you want to hear treble, the heads must be free of tape oxide that can shed onto the heads
  • Playback Calibration: a TEST TAPE is your friend. It is ‘Full Track,’ recorded across the full width of the tape.
    • Reference level = 1kHz
    • Course Azimuth = 8kHz (focus for treble)
    • Fine Azimuth = 16kHz 
    • The above HF can be used for Playback EQ, but 10khz is the reference
  • Record Calibration: 
    • Bias is used to minimize distortion
    • Input cal = adjusting the meters for an incoming signal of known level: +4dBu = 1.22 Vrms = 0 VU.
    • Record Level = 1kHz
    • HF Record EQ = 10kHz
    • Low Frequency Calibration: Yes, surprise! Low Freqs are swept from 250 down to 40 hz and the LF playback EQ is adjusted so that the bumps and dips are about equally above and below 0VU.
  • Insert mix buss EQ and compress
  • Get ballpark settings
  • Use reference tones to confirm Left / Right balance.
  • Blend away!


Session Punch List

Our first 24-itrack session was attanded by Kevin, Mark and Matt with Chris P sitting in.  The recording was a cover version of Sly Stone's "If you want me to Stay" that was recorded live.  The mix  was very simple - not even 16 tracks were used - with Matt handling the 2-track, chris P running the multitrack.  Kevin massaged the majority of the mix.  At about halfway through, Mark and Kevin worked together.

We used Studio-3 as a live reverb chamber, using an Aux Send to drive a powered monitor and a pair of KM-184s to capture.  We recorded these two mics to track 17 & 18, taking advantage of the distance between the multitrack's record and play head to create 'pre-delay.

Kevin's Raw
Kevin's Processed
Previous Student Mix

Week-7: Tracking Session

Trident Console with INPUT SELECT in MIC mode.  Preamp out via insert Send to Tape machine (this apprently included the EQ in the record path, tho none was used).  Tape machine was connected to the channel strip via Insert Return.  Stereo mix was routed pre master fader via Mix Buss Insert Sent to dbx 160XT to the Otari 2-track recording at 7 1/2 ips, 3dB over 250 nWb/m IEC EQ to unknown, NOS 3M tape.

Talkback was via Aux send 4/5 to Furman headphone amp to Mackie powered  monitor with a ground lift.  to me, the mackie monitors are a little screechy - coudl be reflection from console.

I think we have some vocal overdubs to do.

As noted below, there were 6 deliberate rough mixes, plus 'bonus' tracks - live session stereo recordings.

Week-8: Mix Session

A very organized session with more details to come about patching (stereo mix buss insert), mix buss compressor (dbx160XT) and monitor EQ.

SlateOnly with Noise Reduction

Week-9: Band Session

Everyone was a bit more preapred for Taylor's band, early arrival was much appreciated and setup went fairly smoothly.  Communication was lacking a bit, as Taylor was holding back and the band wasn't quite fully connecting due to monitoring issues.  My original email suggested setting up both talkback / floor monitors and then migrating to headphones for the vocalists. 

There is an overall fear of Phantom Power, which under normal circumstances is invisible to Dynamic Mics, coil and ribbon.  You are taught to have a healthy dose of respect for Ribbon Mics, and rightly so, as they are generally expensive and repair costs are to be avoided. Phantom Power Link

Cleanup after the session went very well.  Luke started the rough mix and when I returned, Zacque assumed the position.  Zach's mix was burned to CD and then I took a crack at it.  Both versions are included here, both raw and processed, so you can gain some insights into the power of Mastering.

Zacque's Mix
Zacque's Mix
Eddie's Mix
Eddie's Mix