05 May Five Simple Backing Tracks Attempts (UAD-2 Update!)
Another Happy update.
I think I am almost there:
I started using the Universal Audio Plugins and… another world.
The first thing I did was to replace the Sonnox Equalizer with the above SSL 4000 (it's four thousand, but WordPress consistently interprets four as five and five as eight!) EQ/Comp strip. Keep in mind that the SSL4000 (four thousand) had the SAME components of the MCI JH-500 (five hundred) series onto which Back in Black was recorded.
Since Platt’s signal chain was with the equalization in there, I put it in the chain in place of the Sonnox EQ. The result is, to my ears, night and day.
NOT saying that I am 100% there, but i am another notch up there.
Additionally, I used a Studer 800 Tape plugin (also pictured above) to simulate the effect of tape compression (very subtle).
I think that with this new Equalizer, I can finally nail with a lot more precision several tunes.
A rather happy update, after depressing days.
I *think* I am on the right, definitive path to it.
Gear: a new sound card with better definition, finally you can hear clearly all the frequencies.
The Sonnox Oxford Equalization Plugin curve in ProTools has changed dramatically, (well, I changed it dramatically). I’ve read over and over that Platt said “…it’s more what you take away than what you add, and I know what I don’t like to hear”. So I started again from scratch.
Two microphones used: I finally used the Mojave 200 (inspired by the Neumann U67) and an AT4047. I positioned them in the way (I think) that Platt did.
Without two microphones it’s impossible to nail it.
The settings for the 1959 Marshall head (I am sure it was a 1959 at least for rhythm) were: presence 0, bass 3, mid 3, treble 5, volume 5.
What’s changed slightly, – again after listening for days and days, hours and hours – was the Vega transmitter sensitivity, it is almost maxed out.
The reason for this is because I hear that ‘A’ string on Angus’ rhythm, bassy and strong. There is NO way to get it just with equalization itself, nor without the Vega. It’s really an incredible boost. Also, the compression helps to get the sound crashing onto itself.
RHYTHM ONLY (no solo played).
P.S. I haven’t even started with all the new plugins from Universal Audio yet. As I will be getting hardware and plugins tomorrow, I really plan on nailing it 100%.
I have also abandoned that backing track. I realized that the drums and vocals were already equalized in a different way, and the original guitar sound would never match.
PS Just found this pic of me when I was 16 years old, that was 27 years ago. You can see me with an approximation of the guitar that I already loved the most, the SG. Here I had all we could afford at the time, a Yamaha SG200 (note the untrimmed strings!!!!! 😛 )
Another update: I think I now understand how the Vega may have been used on Back in Black: maximum sensitivity on the TX, and “clean” settings on the amps.
The following was rhythm and solo (1959 and 1987 respectively) both on 4(!). This way, the sound is a lot cleaner and a LOT more responsive to touch. Amazing.
That would explain many of the sounds there, especially Angus’. The “Back in Black” solo, if you listen carefully, at times sounds almost fully clean. I have fought with that mystery for years. Only now the “light” came to me: why not try a clean amp setting and boost the heck out of the transmitter? It works. It explains even better “You Shook Me All night Long” and “Hells Bells”, where the sound is almost clean, really. Until he strikes a little harder. At the point, each time, the sound “crashes” onto itself. It’s magnificent. By using clean amp settings and boost the fuck out of the Vega (lol), you basically get the best of the two worlds in terms of compression, sensitivity, reaction to touch, TONE. I think I am almost there. The guitars should sound a lot more open (especially Angus’ parts). Less and less equalization is used. I almost only took out some bass and the highs.
I say again, the great thing is that as soon as you strike harder, the sound crashes onto itself, driving itself. It’s a terrific feeling to play such sound.
The tone is basically the same that comes out of the amp.
Still not there with the final sound of the song, despite loads of attempts. I also think that a Neumann U67 might be a lot better, as it captures better the mid freqs smoothing out highs. I had to literally cut all the highs here, they were too bright because probably of the U47.
re-played the whole thing on another old backing track with vocals.
I think guitars sound slightly better because I put the microphone more far away (now at least 3 cms away from grill cloth) and slightly off axis. It’s till the tube Neumann U47. Just one microphone used, this one, for each guitar.
I definitely hear “more”. Also, the equalization for the guitars is nearly non existent this time: there is no raise of frequency on the 2k range. Impressive I would say. Maybe Platt didn’t really need to add much, and it makes sense. Equalization changes the sound unnaturally.
Not perfect, but still improving maybe?
If you think these are waste of time attempts, please think again: THESE attempts are what makes us progress understanding the sound deeper.
PS: the solos are a bit weird sounding here. Used the 1987 for solos (just like below) but I feel I didn’t do a good job on the microphone position AND the playing. Will redo.
wanted to mess around with the “new” sounds and did this.
Far from resembling the original – I know – but boy, is it hard to be a sound engineer!