13 Nov Playing Back in Black in a studio with The Schaffer Replica
Above is from Youtube. For ALL those who have it blocked in their countries, below!
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Some of you have already probably seen it – I did the opposite of what I was supposed to be doing, i.e., posted “out of here” first, then here. Reason being though, I won’t post here without a write up, and here it is (I always – now and in the future – want to make the difference here by providing ALL the information I can to you all out there, as our experiments go forward).
If you had been reading here in time, you know I had the idea of going to a studio (recording studio) and pour it all out, i.e., try and use the studio acoustics to even go beyond what I have been trying to do in my hole, here.
So we did last Sunday, present our omni-present Franz (banane) and good ol’ time professional sound engineer and friend, Chris. Studio is his, with – though – a lot of gear that has survived my older studio, Studio58a. So it’s a little bit like being home (internally somehow Chris’ studio reminds me of mine, and not by chance).
Chris and I have also recently purchased a super used, 10th hand analog console of the old days, partly similar to the one that was used by AC/DC on Back in Black, at Compass Point Studios: an MCI Jh600 series. AC/DC worked on an MCI jh500 series.
The two consoles are not at all the same, but maintain some similarities. So we went for it.
Here a couple pictures to you of the console and some surroundings.
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So this is the console we used for tracking.
Since I really wanted to try and recreate – as much as possible and only for the “scientific” sake of it – the situation in which Angus recorded back then, I played rhythm in the recording room, and solos in the control room.
Our beloved – and really exceptional – The Schaffer Replica (TSR) has been ON the whole time, meaning that, I used it for both rhythm and solos.
Now, while some my raise their eyebrow saying “… but Fil, it wasn’t used for rhythm on the original recording…” I’d love to remind you that – YES – it WAS used for rhythm, too!
ALWAYS keep in mind that AC/DC technique from Let There Be Rock onward was to let Angus re-play part of the rhythm track in the centre position of the stereo image. This would allow them for a fuller sound – naturally – even considering that they were trying to avoid – after solos – the “fall down” effect, where after the solos, phonically things seems to “go down” if you don’t add something as a back up.
So Angus started to play rhythm – in the control room, using the SVDS – basically even before playing the solos from – likely – Powerage onward, for all the rest of his career.
So, YES (again) the SVDS has ALWAYS been a huge part of the studio (not to speak about the live performances!) sound of those great times. Simply, it’s not necessarily Angus’ sound on the outmost right stereo position (when tracking with the band), but it may be more often in the center.
It certainly is so – with no exception – on the whole Back in Black album. So always keep this in mind! Solos AND rhythm.
TSR in Recording and Control rooms:
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I did a couple of takes of the rhythm parts. Re-listened. Sounded good. Moved onto the solos. Did a few takes of solo one and of solo two. Done.
Took everything with us and brought it down to the lab, where it was assembled (mixed) “in the box” (i.e., into protools). NO EQUALISATION was used on the rhythm: what you hear is what it was.
Some EQ-ing instead was necessary for the solo, basically consisting in what I usually do that is, to take out some HMF and LMF.
I used the same exact settings for both rhythm and solo-ing on my Marshall 1959: Presence 0, Bass 7, Mids 4, treble 4.5, volume 6.5 (clean-dirty, anyone?). The TSR was set as in the picture, and it stayed as such for the whole time.
Guitar was at 7 for rhythm and 10 for solos.
Microphones were the now usual two trust-worthy Neumann U87 and Neumann U67, laid out exactly as show in the picture below:
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If you read here in the past, you know that this is Tony Platt’s way of doing it, same mikes, same spots, same conception: this is simply Mr. Platt’s way of doing it and there’s no secret about this (we’ve learned this in past investigations!).
While I was playing the guitar in the recording room, Chris manoeuvred the mikes gently twisting here and there “until it sounded good”. We left the mikes as they were for both rhythm and solos.
No EQing was done either on the console, just some really minor treble filtering, but really something like “-1” 😆
It felt like I was there. With them.