Living Words – In The Dark

As you might have seen, we recently changed the way our customer showcase works.  We wanted a way to quickly and easily post up songs that our customers had created with a little info about their gear set up. While going through some submissions, this one from Nick Stetina aka Living Words stood out, since he wrote, performed, and recorded the whole thing himself.  He also provided a very detailed list of what he used in the process of making the song.  Needless to say we were impressed, so we asked him tell us a little about his process in detail. You can see more about Nick’s studio NS Audioworks here, and check out the track and his notes on the recording of this track below:

Front-end Gear:

DAW: Pro Tools 10

Plug-ins: Waves, McDSP, Digidesign, Native Instruments (Grig), Izotope

Monitors: JBL LSR4326P and JBL LSR2310SP

Mic Preamps: Digi002 (Black Lion Audio mod), API 3124+, PreSonus Digimax FS

Music Gear Used:

Drums: Tama Starclassic Birch/Bubinga drum set with a SJC hand-hammered snare and various A series Zildjian cymbals.

Guitar: Fender Hot Rod Deville 2X12, Fender Standard Telecaster

Bass: Fender P-Bass, Ampeg 4X10 Cab, Mark Bass Little Mark II head

Recording/Mixing Approach:

Kick: Shure Beta 52 run into a channel of an API 3124+ and blended with a Yamaha Sub-kick run into a PreSonus Digimax FS

Snare: Shure 57 top and bottom. Top mic run into the API 3124+. Bottom into the PreSonus Digimax FS.

Toms: Sennheiser E604‘s run into the Digi002.

OH’s: Rodes NT5’s run into the Digi002 (Left and Right over heads).

Hats: AKG 414 run into the PreSonus Digimax FS.

Auxiliary Percussion/Djembe: AKG 414 run into the Digi002.

The choice of what mic preamps to use was simply a result of trying to prioritize. The API 3124+ only has four channels, so I chose to run the core elements: kick, snare and overheads through it. This left the toms for the Digi002 and the rest for the PreSonus Digimax FS. All of the drums have been tracked twice to give the perspective of two drummers playing, and to give it an additional bombastic feel. Once everything kicks in pretty hard in part 1, the drum part is an alternating ride/floor tom groove. The loud ride cymbal in this section had a tendency to wash everything out and created an undesirable gushing of cymbal in the floor tom tracks when the gate opened up. To combat this, I ended up recording samples of my floor tom, loading them into Drumagog and finding a nice balance between the original track and sampled track.

Guitar: Mic’d amp with Shure 57 and AKG 414 placed about 2 inches slightly off center from the speaker cone. Both mics run into the API 3124+.

Nothing too out of the ordinary actually going on with the processing of the guitars here.

Bass: Mic’d amp w/ 52 and 57. Mic placement 2 inches off of the grill, directly in the center of the speaker cone. Both mics run into the 3124+.

On this particular track, I used the Beta52 to take care of the low-end and the SM57 to take care of the rest. The Beta 52 had a LP filter on at about 500hz, while the SM57 had a HP filter at about 300hz. The two microphones were then blended to taste. Not only does the Beta52 cater nicely to the low-end, but I find it much easier to deal with getting the low-end of the bass guitar to sit better when it’s on a separate track. Once the heavier section in part 1 kicks in a distortion plug in is activated on the SM57. I found that a slight distortion on the SM57, rather than both mics, added a bite, while letting the Beta52 hold down the fort and keep the low-end clear and defined.

Keys: Old Casio keyboard that thankfully has MIDI out – Pro Tools DB-33 for organ, Ivory for piano tracks and Xpand 2 for bells/mallets.

Trumpet: – AKG 414 run into the Digi002.

Part 3 opens up with piano and kind of soaring blanket of sound. This sound is actually a 4 part trumpet harmony, in reverse, with some Guitar Rig 3 FX on it.