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 recording question 
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Post recording question
So I was listening to some old Mamas and Papas songs recently and noticed the heavy amount of echo on the vocal tracks.

How was this accomplished on tape? Did they apply echo directly the microphones and record the master tracks that way?

Or would they record the master tracks "dry", and then re-record those tracks to another tape and apply echo in between?

I guess it's the same question for any kind of "universal effect" applied to anything in old recordings (i.e. - not a guitar amp distortion/wah/flanger/etc applied directly before recording)

I'm just thinking of how easy all of this is nowadays with recording software, and was curious if any of you old people might know how it was actually done?

It reminds me of seeing in Live at Pompei, when Floyd was recording Dark Side of The Moon that they had these huge sheets of paper, with little cut-out strips saying "grand-father clock"...then "bongos"..."guitar" all laid out in time and essentially recreating a recording software chart old-school style.


Wed Feb 08, 2017 1:59 pm
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Post Re: recording question
I'm a big fan of the Mamas and the Papas; some info on California Dreamin'...

http://www.mixonline.com/news/profiles/classic-tracks-mamas-papas-california-dreamin/365434

They did stuff differently back then... Anyways, I hope that helps!

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Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:06 pm
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Post Re: recording question
Wow, Scott--what a great article! You rock, man!

Some choice quotes:

Miking
Quote:
The new vocals by The Mamas & The Papas were laid atop the original track, which fortunately was in the right key because the 4-track Ampex 300 recorder (which was basically two 2-track decks' electronics in a taller tower with new headstacks) didn't have much in the way of VSO capability. Howe set up the vocals the way the group naturally stood: the men and women facing each other, close in, each group with its own RCA DX-77 microphone. “I took the two mics and set them in a directional cardioid pattern, with the dead sides facing each other,” Howe explains. “That gave us great rejection and allowed them to sing naturally. The song starts out with the guys singing ‘All the leaves are brown’ and the girls answering the lines. It's pretty much the group all the way through except for a few lines that Denny sang solo. When the time came for that, John walked around to sing at the girls' microphone.”

The first-pass vocals were laid to one of the two open tracks. Howe then bounced the music bed tracks together on a second Ampex 300 deck and doubled the vocals, careful to keep the vocal tracks separate from the rest of the recording.


Reverb
Quote:
In fact, as was often the case in this era, much of the mix had been done as the recording went along, with reverb from Studio 3's live chamber and EMT plate being recorded to the vocal tracks, and compression supplied by what Howe remembers as the prototype of what would become the 1176 compressor/limiter. “It was just a plain metal face with no numbers or anything on it,” he says. Howe split the men and women right and left, respectively, on the stereo mix, just as they had stood in the studio. He didn't use a particularly light touch on the reverb on each pass, either, adding a bit more on the final mix. “The reverb was part of the whole '60s sound,” he comments. “Everyone used it a lot on [all the vocal groups]: Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys and so on. It might have sounded the same, but you have to understand that back then, everyone made the same records. We were using the same studios, the same musicians, the same equipment. The only thing that changed was the artists. That's where the difference was.”

Like pilots flying on instruments, engineers had to trust their judgment when applying reverb, because, as Howe points out, there was no way to monitor the reverb return separately on the ultrasimple signal path of the Universal console. “Those were very simple straight-line modules: an echo send, a fader and a mic/line switch,” he explains. “The way you monitored it was to listen to the reverb recorded on the track with the vocals. You were making these kinds of commitments and decisions throughout the recording process as you went along. But the benefit was that when you layered the reverbs on each vocal pass, you got this wonderful, sparkling sound from the phasing in the chamber. We didn't plan these things; we discovered them as we went along.”

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Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:48 pm
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Post Re: recording question
Bummer, nobody digs the Mamas and The Papas? Ahh well... It should be noted that "that board" which is currently in the possession of Dave Grohl was probably a critical component in their (And others') recordings. From Fleetwood Mac to Neil Young to Nirvana...

Roit! Back to practice...

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Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:24 am
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Post Re: recording question
Jayesskerr wrote:
Bummer, nobody digs the Mamas and The Papas? Ahh well... It should be noted that "that board" which is currently in the possession of Dave Grohl was probably a critical component in their (And others') recordings. From Fleetwood Mac to Neil Young to Nirvana...

Roit! Back to practice...


well, I do!
Music from then was very interesting to me, especially pop music.

The complete absence of any "effects" other than simple echo/reverb on recordings, allowing just the pure vocal/horns/raw music to come through highlights just how excellent the performers were.

I dig it.


Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:44 am
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Post Re: recording question
[quote="randyRoit! Back to practice...[/quote]

The complete absence of any "effects" other than simple echo/reverb on recordings, allowing just the pure vocal/horns/raw music to come through highlights just how excellent the performers were.

I dig it.[/quote]

For sure Randy and no need to hire in the Gun ProTools Drum Editing dude to "align " everything ! :lol:

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Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:24 pm
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Post Re: recording question
piratebruce wrote:
[quote="randyRoit! Back to practice...


The complete absence of any "effects" other than simple echo/reverb on recordings, allowing just the pure vocal/horns/raw music to come through highlights just how excellent the performers were.

I dig it.[/quote]

For sure Randy and no need to hire in the Gun ProTools Drum Editing dude to "align " everything ! :lol:[/quote]


You know, I just recently participated in a recording project where the drummer in particular was especially groovy. A nice clean Yamaha studio kit paired with Meinl cymbals and an extremely well honed sense of time and dynamics, this guy seemed to do everything right, it was awesome! A real treat to play with and listen/watch him do his thing.

Anyways, despite it being very well played, and sounding incredible the guy in charge decided it needed to be a bit different sounding after the fact; The result was a lot of drum replacement and almost the complete removal of anything that conveyed any kind of personality.

Ugh. Not cool, but Whattaya do, eh?

Thinking about this while listening to the Mamas and the Papas.

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Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:17 pm
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Post Re: recording question
One of the reasons amongst my top 5 favorite bands is Earthless..

They play 20-30 minute rock and roll jam songs, live, and are pretty much flawless.

I am assuming they must record them "live", i.e. everyone playing at the same time, because I seriously can not think of how you could chop up a 25 minute jam song in a studio and maintain any of the awesome sense of groove that they produce.

Here's a great video of them (sound clears up after a bit)...


They really kick it into high gear around 18:33..the beginning of their SECOND SONG...bwwwahhahahah

Seriously - if they ever come to town you really owe it to yourself to check them out. I have seen them 4 times and am more amazed every time.


Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:41 pm
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Post Re: recording question
That guitarist reminds me of Terry Kath: idea after idea after idea after idea...

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Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:21 am
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Post Re: recording question
AnDroiD wrote:
That guitarist reminds me of Terry Kath: idea after idea after idea after idea...


Isaiah Mitchell is his name.

He's something else...I honestly have no idea how he can make 20 minute solos that just sound great from beginning to end. He has endless creativity..

The drummer, Mario Rubalcaba is unbelievably talented as well.
Watching him play live is a real treat.

Gonna check out Terry Kath.


Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:28 am
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