Microphone Shootout – Guitar Edition

IMG_0650At this point in my life, it’s fair to say that I’m a gear head. As a musician, I like having gear around – it’s good to have options. When you have other gear head friends, things like the results of this post happen!

During our holiday break, my friend Brandon and I convened on two separate days to test some microphones. One day was for snare drums (I’ll post that later) and the other was for guitar amps (We had also done this a few years ago for kick drums, but I have to find those files again before I can post them.). In order to eliminate as many variables as possible, I played the same riff through the same guitar amp (pictured above) with the same settings and we placed each microphone as close to the same spot and distance as possible. In addition, the only EQ placed on the guitar tracks after recording is a high pass filter at 80 Hz and no mastering effects were used. I compressed and EQ’d the bass track… well… because. Besides, the guitars are the important part here.

I now present our results – eight microphones, two at a time. The first microphone listed is panned hard left and the second is hard right. And before you ask: Yes, it’s the same riff as the Guitar Amp Test, just slowed down a bit.

Our first matchup is the ol’ standby facing one of its many challengers – Shure SM57 – vs. Blue EnCore 100i.

SM57 vs 100i

Next is probably the least fair matchup – Audio Technica Brand X XM3 (discontinued) vs. Electro-Voice N/D478.

X3 vs. 478

Next we have the Audio Technica Battle – ATM63 (discontinued) vs. ATM650.

ATM63 vs ATM650

Lastly is the matchup of the microphones that need phantom power – Blue Ball (discontinued) vs. Groove Tubes Convertible.

Ball vs Convertible

The interesting thing to me was the difference in microphone input levels. We set the input level on my interface at the same spot for each microphone, but some mics were much quieter than others. Not surprisingly, the Ball and Convertible were by far the loudest – we were so close to clipping on the Convertible track…

So there you go. What do you think? Personally, I’m pretty sure this is the last time I record guitar amps with just a 57.

Edmas 2014: Christmas In 10 Minutes (And 11 Seconds)

santaball.pngWell, it’s about that time of year again, isn’t it? Time for MORE CHRISTMAS RECORDINGS! Once again, all of the standard “traditions” are in place. This batch, however, developed a bit of a theme. When I picked these tunes last year (!) I decided to finally tackle both John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Christmas songs (I figured we couldn’t have one without the other). So, why not do all pop songs this time around? Consequently, this is the longest batch of Christmas music I’ve made to this point. This set was tons of fun to make and may have launched a new tradition – quite a few people lent their voices (and, in one case, their guitar) to this batch. Enjoy!

Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Wonderful Christmastime

Happy Xmas (War is Over)

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer

Recorded and mixed at The House, Rochester, NY, Nov-Dec 2014. Mike’s contributions recorded by Ed at Sukhenko Design, Rochester, NY. Guitar solo in “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”: Mike Sukhenko. Choir in “Wonderful Christmastime”: Ed, Rob Klingenberger, Mike Sukhenko, Adam Donnelly, Brandon Fess, Eric “Irk” Bryan, Steve Begy. Fighting in “Happy Xmas”: Ed, Rob Klingenberger. Football fans in “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”: Ed, Rob Klingenberger, Sarah Klingenberger, Mike Sukhenko, Adam Donnelly, Brandon Fess, Eric “Irk” Bryan, Steve Begy.

Roland Guitar Amp Test

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The old (original?) Micro Cube. Looks kinda goofy with a microphone in front of it…

I don’t know why, but I’ve been fascinated by the Roland Cube amp series ever since I first heard about them. That fascination manifested around Thanksgiving 2006 when I purchased a Micro Cube. It’s popped up on occasional recordings – like, say, all of the Distinct Kicking Motion tracks and one batch of Christmas songs – and its ability to record in silence has proven handy. I’m a fan. So much so that when it came time to pick an amp for a more low-volume gig, I settled on one of its relatives – the Cube 40 GX.

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The Cube 40GX. Lightweight and loud – perfect for low volume gigs. My dad almost threw it the first time he picked it up…

Allright, so now I have two guitar amplifiers from the same line. How about an amp showdown? I came up with a simple rock riff and recorded it a total of four times – each amp first through a Shure SM57 microphone, then through its “rec. out/phones” jack. I used the “R-fier Stack” setting and left the EQ/tone knobs as flat as I could. The results were pretty interesting – the direct line in particular shows just how far they’ve come in amp modeling sounds over the past eight years.

First up is the sound of the speakers as picked up by a Shure SM57. Micro Cube on the left, Cube 40GX on the right. Microphone was placed slightly off-center.

Amp Test Microphone

Next is the “rec. out/phones” jack. Again, Micro Cube on the left, Cube 40GX on the right.

Amp Test Direct

There. That was fun, wasn’t it? Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next time.

P.S.: Here are the amp settings, for posterity’s sake or something. I set them up on a chair because it’s easier for microphone placement.

Cube 40GX

Cube 40GX

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Micro Cube

Giant Punk Steps?

Hi. I was bored last night, so I made a thing.

Giant Punk Steps

Inspired by the harmonic idea behind the John Coltrane tune “Giant Steps”, I wondered what would happen if I took the “Louie, Louie” chord progression, played it once, then played it again up a third. This is the result.

New Video?!

Yep – new video!

To compliment the release of “Overload! Overload!!”, I made a lyric video for the song. Enjoy!

As always, the single is available on my Bandcamp page, accessible by either clicking the link in the side bar or right here. Thanks for watching and also for listening.

“Overload! Overload!!” Is Here!

Yes, you read that title right. My new single is now available for stream and download on my Bandcamp page. To get there, you can either:

1. Click HERE or…

2. Click the “Bandcamp” link in the sidebar.

Check it out! And, as always, thanks for listening.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Hello there. Today, I am making an announcement. On August 5th, 2014 (two weeks from today as of this post), I will be releasing an old school-style single. Unfortunately, this won’t be on an actual 45rpm record, but maybe later…?

“Side A” of the single is “Overload! Overload!!”, also known as the “too much candy” song. Written in 2006 and routinely performed by my old band Smock, This is an all-new recording of the song, re-done from the ground up.

“Side B” is a brand new song called “Only The Important Questions”, This song came about after asking Twitter and Facebook for song topic suggestions one evening in an attempt to cure my boredom. Clearly, the attempt was successful… Written just this year, This single is the song’s first release.

To recap: NEW SINGLE. AUGUST 5TH, 2014. Where can you find it? On my Bandcamp page, of course. And since you’re here, check out the cover:

OverloadCover.

The Hockey Project: 82

Hey! We made it! After six months, we’ve finally reached the end of the regular season. So, how’s about a fun little pop-rock tune to commemorate the occasion? That’s what I thought, too. Like the last tune, this is a bit of an homage to Coheed and Cambria – their most recent album closes with a simple and fun rock song, which is what I tried to do here.

The lyrics should be somewhat obvious here. It’s a long season for sure, and there’s a good chance it didn’t end the way you wanted. But, since this is the last game (game #82 for the NHL season, hence the title), why not just have some fun? For the record, there are a total of 1,230 games in an NHL season. I checked the online official scoresheet of the last game just to make sure.

82

Enjoy! Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next time with a return to the heavy stuff.

The Hockey Project: ELIMINATED

Hello there. Today’s Hockey Project tune is a notable departure, mood-wise. As the title would suggest, this tune is about finally being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. It’s in all caps because I always type it like that in this context. More fun that way, I think. Either way, I guess this is what you wind up writing about when your favorite hockey team is dead last in the whole league…

Musically, this – and the following song – is a bit of an homage to Coheed and Cambria. Their most recent album (which is excellent, by the way) has a really dark-sounding opening track much like this. For the music theory buffs, this is one of the rare times I’ve ever used an augmented chord. Also, that acoustic part was much more difficult to record than I expected. Holy crap did that hurt…

ELIMINATED

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next time with a more uptempo song.

The Hockey Project: The Rental

Hello again. Today’s Hockey Project tune tackles a huge day late in the hockey season – Trade Deadline Day.  Lots of players and draft picks change hands as some teams gear up for a playoff run and others just kinda throw in the towel. Lyrically (with the exception of the second section), this song is mostly from the perspective of a guy who just got traded, from hearing the news to joining his new team. As for the second section, picture it as your standard talking heads show discussing the deal.

Musically… I like Tesseract. There, I said it. This is likely the djent-iest djent fest of a song I’ve ever done. Oddly enough, this almost feels like more of a showcase for the bass and drums to me. Also, I like how the rhythm guitars almost get lost in the last section because so much is going on… Enjoy!

The Rental

I’ll see you next time for something noticeably darker.