Real Illusions Session notes?

The name says it all! Discuss Steve's studios, your studios and gear set-ups, amps and effects here. This is not for discussing guitars (Steve's or otherwise).
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Tim L
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Real Illusions Session notes?

#1 Post by Tim L » Sun Apr 10, 2005 9:58 am

Could some of the powers that be (Mod's/VIP's, etc.) share and discuss the microphone schemes, techniques, and signal chains used in the recording of the basic tracks for this record? Dunno about others but I'm a total "gearslut" when it comes to engineering. I know it can be boring for some but I'm absolutely obsessed with hearing about the technologies and techniques used to achieve the sounds on records I love! Always looking to "lift" a trick or two for my own "toolbox"... :wink:

I know Mr Vai is a tad busy at the moment but if Neil Citron or Paul Bliven could spare a few moments to pull out the session notes and talk a bit about this it would be awesome! 8)
Last edited by Tim L on Mon Apr 11, 2005 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#2 Post by RAI » Sun Apr 10, 2005 10:53 am

While it's not THAT detailed, have you seen Steve's on notes:
http://www.vai.com/realillusions/index.html

It's a beginning, I guess.......
Maybe Neil will spot this thread, as he does visit the board from time to time.

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#3 Post by Tim L » Sun Apr 10, 2005 3:40 pm

Thanks RAI.

I have indeed read those notes... very cool.

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#4 Post by Tim L » Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:26 am

Anyone know the message board PM for Neil Citron?

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#5 Post by RAI » Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:36 am

You'll find Neil here:
http://vai.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=8939&highlight=

Don't know if his PM is blocked or not, though.
Only one way to find out, I guess.....

:D

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#6 Post by Tim L » Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:06 am

Thanks... I'll give it a shot.

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#7 Post by Neil Citron » Wed Apr 20, 2005 9:30 am

Hello Tim:
Well the simple answer to Steve's set-up for recording is;
Steve used a combination of microphones, depending on what song or amp and guitar combo he was using.That amp always has dynamic mics, ie: shure 57,or sennheiser 421 etc. From there it's into the API board. that truely is a great sounding piece of gear. When Steve wants an effect on a song, it's recorded that way. He doesn't add it later. Get it the way you like it now, not to mention you play better with the sound that you want. He also used the PSA-1 (tech 21) direct pre for some of the direct sounds. We record to Protools HD at 96k 24 bit and it stays that way as long as possible. In conclusion I must tell you that Steve has the abillity to make a card board box sound like a Marshall. That doesn't hurt either. Neil Citron/Mothership head engineer.

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#8 Post by Tim L » Fri Apr 22, 2005 4:12 am

Hi Neil,

First off I'd like to say thanks very much for stopping by on this!

Is compression something Steve likes across his guitars? If so could you talk a little about particular units and how they where used on 'Reflections' (ratio's, applied while printing, at mix down, both)...?

I very much appreciate anything you can share on the technical particulars of this record! Engineering is a passion of mine and I seriously dig hearing about this stuff!

Thanks again,

Tim L

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#9 Post by laficojr » Fri Apr 22, 2005 8:27 am

Neil Citron wrote:Hello Tim:
Well the simple answer to Steve's set-up for recording is;
Steve used a combination of microphones, depending on what song or amp and guitar combo he was using.That amp always has dynamic mics, ie: shure 57,or sennheiser 421 etc. From there it's into the API board. that truely is a great sounding piece of gear. When Steve wants an effect on a song, it's recorded that way. He doesn't add it later. Get it the way you like it now, not to mention you play better with the sound that you want. He also used the PSA-1 (tech 21) direct pre for some of the direct sounds. We record to Protools HD at 96k 24 bit and it stays that way as long as possible. In conclusion I must tell you that Steve has the abillity to make a card board box sound like a Marshall. That doesn't hurt either. Neil Citron/Mothership head engineer.



Hey Neil,thank you dude.
:D

Thankx
Last edited by laficojr on Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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compression

#10 Post by Neil Citron » Sat Apr 23, 2005 11:32 am

Hi Tim:
Well first, Steve uses compression to tape (hard drive) on his guitars and makes it the way he wants it so he doesn't have to use it later. His favorite compressor for Electric Guitar is an LA3A. They're not made anymore and Steve's is a really great sounding one, which is not true of all of them. His settings very depending on what he's going for, but an all around setting to start at is a 4:1 ratio with a fairly fast release and a threshold that isn't too low. The controls on a LA3A are different than new compressors. There's just 2 knobs. Gain and Peak Reduction, so it will take some trial and error to get another brand to match the threshold-ratio settings. Steve has always used effects to tape and thinks that you get it right the first time and then never worry about it again. I hope this helps you. Neil Citron
Ps: there's a great book called "Behind the Glass" that interviews a lot of big engineers and producers about they're recording techniques.

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#11 Post by davester1234 » Sat Apr 23, 2005 1:32 pm

wow, i always thought steve would want the control of adding effects later. I thought I was a dummy for recording them direct to tape! haha :lol:

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#12 Post by pagliai » Sun Apr 24, 2005 7:43 am

Hi Neil,
thank you so much for your golden info.Sounds like he goes to Eddie Kramer's direction,also for the mics technics.
My questions'll be about effects printed on tape:
1.Did you speak about any effects or only a particular effect that 'll be an important part of the song (for example the delay settings on HINA from skyscraper album or the rythm on The Animal from passion and warfare)or he prints on tape any effects(delay reverb and so on)?
2.When he prints the effect track on tape, the effect is added after the console preamp stage or the effect comes out just from the amp cab?
Or he plays with effects (delay and so on)but he doesn't print them immediately and he'll add them after in mixing stage.
Thank you so much in advance and congratulation for your soloist album it is really groovy.
ping pong regards
Alex

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Re: compression

#13 Post by Tim L » Mon Apr 25, 2005 1:31 pm

Neil Citron wrote:Hi Tim:
Well first, Steve uses compression to tape (hard drive) on his guitars and makes it the way he wants it so he doesn't have to use it later. His favorite compressor for Electric Guitar is an LA3A. They're not made anymore and Steve's is a really great sounding one, which is not true of all of them.
True enough... depending on the maintanence the unit's seen (condition of the capacitors etc,). These units haven't hit the streets yet but UA is producing a reissue of the LA-3A. Hopefully it'll be cool...

http://www.uaudio.com/products/analog/LA-3A/index.html
His settings very depending on what he's going for, but an all around setting to start at is a 4:1 ratio with a fairly fast release and a threshold that isn't too low. The controls on a LA3A are different than new compressors. There's just 2 knobs. Gain and Peak Reduction, so it will take some trial and error to get another brand to match the threshold-ratio settings.
Cool... lately my 'go to' compressor for dirt guitar stuff has been the Distressor. Usualy 2:1 to 4:1, -2 to -3dB of GR, attack/ release depending on the part.
Steve has always used effects to tape and thinks that you get it right the first time and then never worry about it again. I hope this helps you. Neil Citron
Ps: there's a great book called "Behind the Glass" that interviews a lot of big engineers and producers about they're recording techniques.
Yes, I keep hearing about this book but haven't grabbed a copy as of yet... It's on the top of the "to do" list! :D

Neil, could you talk a bit about Billy's set up as far as signal chain(s) goes for this record?

Again, Thanks for taking the time to talk about this stuff!!!! 8)

-Tim L

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#14 Post by Neil Citron » Wed Apr 27, 2005 1:59 pm

To Alex and Tim:
Well Guys Here's the answers if I read them right.
Steve does all of the ways effects can be done. He sometimes records with the effect on, so he'll have the right vibe. Sometimes he'll add a delay on an aux track in Protools, again to get the right setting and sometimes that gets printed and sometimes he'll use something else to get the exact sound he wants. The rule is never trap yourself unless you have to ie: Have limited effects processors etc. When it comes to effects other than guitar effects, Steve adds them in at mixing time, not before.
Billy's rig for recording is a smaller version of the live rig. He has direct, High cross-over and Low with control over his distortion level. He uses his ampeg head like live. We mic the cab and also take him direct. Billy makes the bass have that growl and if you've seen him play live you'll understand. It takes no compression or EQ as Billy does all that himself before sending it out.
Once I saw Steve use the cheapest effects unit and then right after that he used an eventide. His take is all things have a sound and it's interesting if you can find a way to use them. Take that thought with you next time your recording and see what happens. Best regards,Neil

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#15 Post by Neil Citron » Wed Apr 27, 2005 1:59 pm

To Alex and Tim:
Well Guys Here's the answers if I read them right.
Steve does all of the ways effects can be done. He sometimes records with the effect on, so he'll have the right vibe. Sometimes he'll add a delay on an aux track in Protools, again to get the right setting and sometimes that gets printed and sometimes he'll use something else to get the exact sound he wants. The rule is never trap yourself unless you have to ie: Have limited effects processors etc. When it comes to effects other than guitar effects, Steve adds them in at mixing time, not before.
Billy's rig for recording is a smaller version of the live rig. He has direct, High cross-over and Low with control over his distortion level. He uses his ampeg head like live. We mic the cab and also take him direct. Billy makes the bass have that growl and if you've seen him play live you'll understand. It takes no compression or EQ as Billy does all that himself before sending it out.
Once I saw Steve use the cheapest effects unit and then right after that he used an eventide. His take is all things have a sound and it's interesting if you can find a way to use them. Take that thought with you next time your recording and see what happens. Best regards,Neil

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