This project was for sure a major throw back in time for most of us who have grown into the industry in an all digital age. From massive spinning reels of tape to vintage outboard gear Sound park studios was and and absolute treat to the ears and eyes for any gear geek including myself. Prior to the session at sound park which lasted a full day there was a couple of sessions of intense planning from channel input lists to microphones to be used. Two weeks prior to the session the group of us had worked around and planned for a band who our colleague Ben had contacted to jump in on the session. It did not take long for trouble to strike when we found out that band could not make it to the session. Having looked around for a band it was much to our relief when our lecturer Dave informed us that he had found a band who agreed to come in. With some last minute planning we managed to be ready and geared up for the session.
Having planned for a 10 o clock start we found ourselves all on the number 11 tram heading in. Once we had arrived at the studio it was a quick tour around the studio to get our bearings and it was straight on to work setting up microphones and amps. The band we were recording was a Melbourne based band “DAG” which consisted of three players on drums bass and electric guitar respectively. I was made in charge of setting up amps and microphones for electric guitar. This place was for sure a treat for guitar amp lovers like myself from voxAC30’s to Fender twin verbs this place was an amp galore. Having spoken to the guitarist of the band Dusty who was pretty adamant on using his fender deluxe amp merely on the fact that he was use to it we finalized a combination of the tone of the fender deluxe and a fender vibro champ to give us the tone required. While myself and fellow student “Z” setup guitars the rest of the group were on the job setting up and mic’ing the absolutely amazing sounding 1960’s oyster shell Ludwig as well as a Ampeg SVT for bass. Once we had put microphones on everything then came the complicating part of routing things all over the place to outboard gear and finally to the tape machine which was the highlight of the day.
Audio Tape and tape machines are something that I had read about for ages and seen online but never had the opportunity of experiencing it first hand. It was for sure an experience I will not forget and for sure something I wont mind doing everyday of the week. The rumors I had heard about tape sounding amazing was true as I experienced it first hand it also made me realize the affect modern DAW’s have had on the process of making music.
Having decided with the band we were going to track 12 songs in a 10 hour sessions seemed very far fetched but for our fortune the band was well practiced and knew exactly what they were doing…… and were running through and finish up songs like no one’s business. Apart from the music the whole process of recording to tape was a complete change to us all. Having to rewind to get back to the start of the song instead of hitting Enter or to listen to the whole song just so we could bounce it into pro tools instead of offline bounce was all in all a very new experience. One thing we were really lucky to have is a band who had practiced and knew what they were doing…… which made life a bit easier and didn’t have us sitting around cutting bits of tape to edit it.
The overall experience was absolutely amazing …. another fact about sound park which is very interesting is the studio complex itself. There was no fancy calibrated acoustic panels no floating floors this place was turned out of pretty much DIY acoustics and it sounds absolutely amazing. Which made me realize you don’t necessarily have to spend heaps of cash on acoustics but rather know what substitutes work best. The control was an absolute blast from neves to telefunkens from Junos to Gibsons sound park was a engineer/ musicians playground. The vibe was the kind thing you’d look for to inspire you and the desk looked all torn up which shows its seen a fair few songs pass through.
Personally I don’t know if it was the 1960 Ludwig the tone of the bass guitar of simply just the tape hiss but there was certainly something beatle-esque about it which I absolutely loved . I’ve always believed there is only so much you can learn in a class room and this session thought me heaps. From how to set up a tape machine and all prep you have to do In order for it to run properly and how a lot of unique vintage outboard gear work Sound park was an absolute blast.