Thursday, 28 May 2015

Toro Cheng Trio "Pianistic Wolverine" @ StarMount Studio

"Pianistic Wolverine"was being captured in StarMount Studio. A jazz trio project headed by Toro Cheng (piano), Ken Chung (bass) and Terence Ling (Drums).

Exciting time as it was a debut album and we were having the trio in the studio for the first time as well.

We had this on Pyramix 9, everything routed through Audient Zen 16 channels mic pre and into Horus interface. The tone was unified and the instruments were easily blending together while maintaining separation.

Dixon Artisan, with Audio Technica AE 2500 dual element microphone pairing was interesting as this was a rather huge kit for a jazz trio. The AE2500 has a very mid body tone, and we like the options to blend the condenser microphone with the dynamic according to different intensity of the song.

We enjoyed the songs, especially the originals from Toro very much and definitely looking forward to more to come from the trio.

Check them out on iTunes!

Toro Cheng

Ken Chung

Terence Ling 

The Moment we have done recording.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Bihzhu "Bright Veins" @ StarMount Studio

Body percussions, indian ethnic percussions, gamelan and gongs, electric guitars, 2 choir groups, ringtones, double bass, coins, synths and more were being featured in Bihzhu's latest single "Bright Veins". 

With the same production team, Bihzhu as content creator and lead singer and Savy as music arranger and producer, once again we are able to have a dynamic and creative outcome that offers more compared to the "Nightingale Tales".

We used blumleins on the body percussions, most of the sound sources were captured with our favorite stereo ribbon tube microphones RT1. They work best on body percussions and claps, producing an un hyped and very natural sound reproduction, especially for finger snaps and claps.

Session was all the way 192khz 32bit and the track count went past 60 tracks. And we are still able to go further without slowing down the DAW at all, which was quite impressive for an i5 intel processor with just 4gb of RAM.

The objective of the music is to be as open as possible and it open its arms to participation to the music. Percussions and percussive sounds were mostly present in the song, everything was lead by Bihzhu's powerful vocals and backing harmonies.

We went mobile with the system, as we traveled out to capture the gamelan and gongs. Set up was simple and quick. Horus made connections easy with their DB25 to XLRs, and with Ravenna network, we got the shortest signal path as the Horus was placed right around the gamelan set, and all being connected to the DAW via network cable.

The track was mixed by Alex Tan of StarMount Studio and mastered by Woody at Westside Mastering. Such fun collaboration with so many talented and passionate personnels.

Watch "Bright Veins" Music Video, produced by Chris and his dynamic team, and get yourself a copy fromiTunes too!

Bihzhu, Zal and Savy discussing on the body percussion

Santosh providing the ethnic percussion touches.

Fly on the bass

Strings in StarMount Studio

Ken Hor, one of the talented composer/ music arranger has brought his project in again. Which means more fun and more experiments in the studio!

We utilize the other studio downstairs ( very near to the coffee and baked goods), its more reflecting surfaces for the music.

We tracked the guitars with extra reflection boards ( like the reflectors in photography), amping the electric guitar signals at the hallway (so that the aroma from kitchen can get into the room) and trying different microphones on the violin and viola.

Looking forward to the next one...

Lo on the guitars

The creative team

Yu Heng and Lo

Angela on violin and viola
Freshly brewed cappuccino during session!(scones too) 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

WVC+1 Waiting For That Day @ StarMount Studio

Finally after 6 years of waiting, we have got the chance to record the latest album for WVC TRIO+1 "Waiting For That Day". Its such a special occasion as this is one of the must do list set 6 years ago. We were recording Tokyo Blue "Naked Soul" and WVC was also releasing their debut album at the same time frame. The band was so good that we set out a goal to be able to record them one day.

The band, lead by Tay Cher Siang on the piano and keys are one of the hardest working jazz band that we know of. Constantly reaching out to the audience for the passion they have on jazz music, having performances in large to small scales. Most importantly they also held several music workshops to share their passion and spread the awareness towards jazz music to the local communities.

We were delighted to have the band in the studio. As this was also special to StarMount as we were in a transition to change our system entirely, from Pro Tools HD environment into a total alien system- Pyramix Masscore.

It was also a bold decision as we were considering system upgrades to improve our workflow and output quality. And we got a demo unit courtesy of Salzbrenner Stagetec Mediagroup Asia to try out the system. It was in Pyramix 8 Masscore with Horus interface and we were loving the sound already.

We did not want to put the session at risk and decided to go on with our current Pro Tools system for a smoother workflow. As we proceed to recording the 2nd song from the band, we just couldn't hold it longer than to halt the session, requested 30 minutes break, reroute everything into Horus and Pyramix and resume recording.

We were then able to record at 192khz 24 bit, and we were impressed by the powerful DAW to handle high track counts without breaking sweat. The Horus mic pre were solid and had ample headroom for us to track the entire album without the need of any compressors. We did have the stereo piano through Neve Portico 5043 for the color and also the drums through the buss compressor from the Audient Zen Console (we called it the magic box)

The AD/DA conversion was superb. We had a larger stereo spread, higher headroom, and a better representation of separation as compared to our previous Lavry Blue. Though we love the punch and tightness  from the Lavry Blue AD/DA, Horus seems to have an upper hand for recording natural acoustic instruments.

We had maximum of three passes for each songs, sometimes one. It was thrilling to work with such efficiency and it challenge us to capture the chemistry whenever music is being played. Cutting down direct mics and focusing more on the overall was our objective. We would want to preserve the performance at its most organic form, which was in line with the band's idea of recording.

We love our tube ribbons, and it was placed on the acoustic double bass and as additional mono overhead for the drums. The bottom end was lush yet having a cushioned texture, and surprisingly we could get enough separation from the drumkit, which was just less than 1 metre away from the double bass.

sE 4400a pair was our favorite on the grand piano. We were able to play with different tones by switching polar patterns and its flat shape provides sufficient flexibility and reach for a semi covered lid. For a touch of color, Neve Portico 5043 were called up for the job, applying some sweet transformer characters towards a powerful and composed piano tone.

3 different microphones were used for saxophones, sE Gemini MK2, JZ 11 and AK47 by Telefunken. All of them contributed to the detail and tone, fitting the mood of the songs. No EQ were applied and what you heard from the record were just from the microphones.

"Waiting For That Day" is out in CD album and also available on iTunes. If you are in Malaysia, and better, in KL, Catch them live (WVC Trio +1 Concert) on the coming 24th and 25th of June 2015 at KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) for two nights of musical journey with the band.

Can you tell which tracks are of Pro Tools and Which are from Pyramix?

WVC Trio+1 with special guest visiting

+1 Julian