Our Indiegogo Campaign is Live!

We've just launched an Indiegogo campaign to promote the studio and offset our startup costs.

Please check it out at indiegogo.sonictitanstudios.com and make a contribution, or help us out by sharing the campaign on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! 

Our campaign has perks for fans and friends who are interested in helping us out, as well as studio time and projects for bands and artists interested in working with us.  Here's a list of the perks we have available:

For Fans and Friends

  • $3 - Lich King Song Stems
  • $5 - Hand-Written Postcard
  • $10 - Signed Drum Sticks
  • $10 -Studio Listening Party
  • $15 - Lich King Album Stems
  • $20 - Sonic Titan Studios T-Shirt
  • $20 - Brian Face T-Shirt
  • $20 - Gaming Session
  • $20 - Bike Ride with Anthony
  • $25 - Signed Drum Head
  • $45 - One Hour Lesson
  • $60 - Lich King Gang Vocals
  • $75 - Drum Cover Video
  • $85 - Lich King Custom Kick Head
  • $600 - Fly us out

For Bands, Musicians, and Artists

  • $25 deposit ($100 total) - Studio Photo Shoot
  • $40 deposit ($160 total) - 4 Hours of Studio Time
  • $50 deposit ($200 total) - Play a Show at the Studio
  • $50 deposit ($200 total) - Solo Playthrough Video
  • $100 deposit ($400 total) - 10 Hours of Studio Time
  • $100 deposit ($400 total) - Solo Performance Video
  • $170 deposit ($680 total) - Band Playthrough Video
  • $200 deposit ($800 total) - 20 Hours of Studio Time
  • $300 deposit ($1200 total) - 30 Hours of Studio Time
  • $300 deposit ($1200 total) - Band Performance Video
  • $500 deposit ($2000 total) - 50 Hours of Studio Time
  • $1200 deposit ($4800 total) - 120 Hours of Studio Time

Lich King - LKV Bass Tracking

 

Last week, we started on the bass tracks for the new Lich King album.  We live streamed some of the recording process on LK's Facebook page, and during the live stream we had viewers asking about the bass tone.  Read on and we'll walk you through the entire recording chain, from the DI we used to Mike's bass rig.

BASS AND TECHNIQUE

#LKV bass tracking with Mike Dreher

Posted by Lich King on Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mike's tone starts out with a 4-string Ibanez Soundgear bass.  This might be hard to believe, but Mike plays entirely fingerstyle.  Instead of plucking the string, however, he essentially slaps the string with his fingers to get an incredible amount of attack - watch at 3:24 in the video above for a closeup shot.  

RECORDING CHAIN

We ran Mike's bass into a Neve RNDI, then into a Focusrite Saffire preamp, then into a line in channel on our Antelope Orion for A/D conversion at 96 kHZ/24 bit.  The Orion is connected to our Mac Pro over Thunderbolt, and we recorded in Logic Pro X.  We record-armed the bass DI channel and sent the output through a line out on the Orion into a Radial X-Amp reamping box in the live room, which then fed that dry DI tone to Mike's rig.  The reason for this setup is so we could A. have Mike playing in the control room while his rig was in the live room, and B. so we could simultaneously record the DI and mic'ed tones.

PEDALS

Mike's rig starts off with a Boss Bass Overdrive pedal, which provides most of the grit to the tone. The gain was set a bit higher than 9 o'clock, Dry/OD mix was 95% towards OD, and the high EQ was slightly boosted.  The level was set to a point where turning the pedal on and off would result in no audible change in volume through the amp and cab in the room.  I like to set guitar pedals that way as to minimize gain changes through the chain, and to A/B the pedals without the perceived loudness affecting my decision-making.

After that, he runs into ANOTHER overdrive, this time a Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive.  Gain was at 10 o' clock and Tone at 1 o' clock, Clean (which adds the original signal pre-OD back into the tone) at 10 o' clock, and Volume again set to a level with no audible change when turning the pedal on and off.

AMPLIFIER

Mike's head is a Little Mark Tube 800.  This head is a hybrid Tube and Solid State amp with a ton of options, which can both a blessing and a curse - you can make the amp sound nearly any way you want, but you can also spend FOREVER tweaking it until it's perfect.  We started off with Mike's usual live settings, but he tends to scoop the low mids a bit more than I prefer on a recording.  The end result was Gain at 9 o'clock and Solid State/Tube mix set slightly towards Tube.  For the EQ, Low was at 12 o' clock, Mid Low at 1 o' clock, Mid High at 12 o' clock, and High at 12 o' clock. The VLE (basically a presence knob) is at 11 o' clock, and VPF (a mid-scooping filter) is at 1 o' clock.

CABINET AND MICS

Mike uses an Acoustic 8x10 live, but for recording we've always opted for a 1x15 - it has a more rounded low end and tends to sit better in the mix.  This was mic'ed up with three mics - an AKG D112, a Sennheiser 421, and a Shure Beta 52A.  We tried several other mics, including an Audix D6 and a Sennheiser e902.  Most of these mics are typically used on kick and also work well for bass, but the latter two are known for the their pre-sculpted EQs that eschew mids in favor of low-end punch and high-end snap - not what we were looking for in this case.  We almost didn't bother using the 52A as it was our third favorite, but it did add a bit of something that the D112 and 421 didn't capture so we figured what the heck.

The AKG D112 was setup as the "primary" mic - pointed on-axis, just left of the speaker cap, and 1.25 inches away from the grill.  The other two mics are pointing at the same position on the speaker, but the distance was adjusted for each to keep them in phase with the D112.  I did this by playing white noise from an oscillator plugin in Logic through the rig and monitoring the D112 and one other mic at a time through headphones.  I would then slowly adjust the other mic, moving it closer and further away from the cab until I found the sweet spot where I couldn't hear any coloration in the white noise due to comb filtering.

TRACKING and editing

As far as the recording process, we typically ran through the song until we had three complete takes, then punched in any remaining sections as necessary.  On one song, we had a last minute change the day before I did my drum tracking, and some of the fills I did weren't lining up with what Mike had planned on playing, necessitating a quick rewrite on the spot.

After we felt comfortable with the performances, we used Logic's Swipe Comping feature to compile all of the separate takes into a final comped take, making sure that all four of the bass tracks (the DI and three mic'ed tracks) were grouped to ensure consistent edits.  If we found a section that still didn't have a suitable take, we fixed it with a quick punch in.

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Lich King - LKV drum tracking

Our first project at STS has begun, as we tracked drums for the upcoming Lich King album this past week.

DRUMS

My drum kit is a Pacific Drums and Percussion LX Series in a Cherry to Black fade.  At the time it was the highest end PDP kit before the DW line - a DW is my dream kit but wayyy out of my price range for quite a while.  The kit has a 20" x 18" kick, a 12" x 9" rack tom, and a 14" x 12" mounted floor tom.  I also used a 16" x ??" floor tom from my Yamaha Stage Custom kit as my PDP kit only came with 10/12/14 toms.  Looking back, I would have rather gone with the 10/12 rack toms and 16 floor - at the time I was typically playing with one rack and one floor, but I wanted a bit more variety in the tom fills so I added in the 14" tom.  Unfortunately, I've never been able to get the 14" tom to sound the way I want - it has a boxy sound and a weird resonance, but I tuned it as close as I possibly could and I think it came out okay.

My go to snare drum is my Pork Pie Big Black, which is 14" x 6.5".  I LOVE this snare - it's a brass snare and it's pretty deep, so it has both a good crack but still has a good body that hits you in the chest.  The range I can tune this snare is incredibly wide and it sounds equally great tuned super low or super tight.

I used Evans heads around the kit:

  • Kick batter: EMAD2
  • Kick reso: EQ3
  • Snare batter: Power Center
  • Snare side: Evans Clear 500
  • Toms batter: EC2 Clear
  • Toms reso: EC Resonant

CYMBALS

My cymbals are a pair of 14" Sabian AA Hats, 17" and 19" Paiste 2002 Medium Crashes, a 22" Paiste 2002 Power Ride, a Wuhan 10" Splash, and a Wuhan 18" China stack (more on that in a bit).  I'm not a huge fan of the Sabian hats, but I bought them for like $150 when I was 15 and have had them ever since.  I love the 2002 Crashes, but I have to be careful to hit them fairly hard in order for them to cut through.  The Power Ride, on the other hand, is an absolute beast - I hunted this cymbal down solely for its massive bell sound.  The bottom half of the Wuhan China stack is a broken 17" 2002 Crash that my friend Josh cut down to about 14".  It sounds more like a gong on its own now, but it works nicely in the stack to give the China more low end.

MICROPHONES

  • Kick in: Sennheiser e902
  • Kick out: Audix D6
  • Kick sub: Sterling ST55
  • Snare top: Sennheiser 441
  • Snare bottom: Audix i5
  • Snare side: Shure SM57
  • Rack Tom: Sennheiser 421
  • Floor Tom 1: AKG D112
  • Floor Tom 2: AKG D112
  • Overheads: AKG C414 B-ULS
  • Room: CAD M179
  • Ride: Shure SM7B

I was fortunate to borrow a pair of AKG C414s and a Sennheiser 441 from Klondike Sound in Greenfield - huge thanks to Dustin at KSC for hooking me up!  The 414s were the clear winner in our overhead mic shootout, relegating my CAD M179s to room mics.  Speaking of those, you'll see baffles in the corner of the room - the M179s are behind those as I like to avoid getting the direct drum sound in the room mics.  It gives the high end a nice natural roll off, and the overhead mics get enough of that anyway.

The 441 ended up as our snare top mic, as its tight pickup pattern helped minimize hi-hat bleed.  We felt it didn't give the snare enough crack, though, so we added an SM57 pointing at the shell of the snare, about 2 inches away.  I'm probably gonna have to do some EQ sculpting to make that mic usable, but I think it'll do the trick.

RECORDING CHAIN

All inputs used Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 for preamps, with A/D conversion at 96 kHZ/24 bit through our Antelope Orion.  The Orion is connected to our Mac Pro via Thunderbolt, and we recorded into Logic Pro X.

TRACKING PROCESS

I did anywhere from 5 to 15 full takes of a song before dialing in individual sections, particularly the fast double kick parts that required precision and clarity.  I tend to change up the drum fills in nearly every take, which gives me a lot of options to work with, but at the expense of not always having a good edit point between two different takes.

We're going for a more organic sound than on past Lich King albums, keeping drum samples and quantization to a minimum.  Everything is still recorded to a click track for consistency and ease of editing, but we're taking more care to keep the natural pushes and pulls in tempo that we typically do in a live performance.

PHOTOS

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