A Precision Producer’s Studio Toolset

Some recording artists are precisely that: The recording course of is one with the artwork.

That’s Blake Morgan, the NYC singer/multi-instrumentalist/producer and label proprietor who’s simply launched his fifth studio album, Violent Delights. Its rock songwriting is filled with emotional moments, wielding stress, energy, hooks and deep feeling throughout 10 tracks.

Morgan’s craft is rooted as a lot in audio as in music creation. Each selection he makes to document and blend is 100% intentional, choosing his devices, amplifiers, microphones, preamps, compressors and plugins with care. His all-in dedication to audio excellence was made clear on SonicScoop in 2018 when he detailed his intensive course of for remixing and mastering his album Burning Daylight.

Blake Morgan’s new album “Violent Delights” presents up a recording and mixing grasp class.

Now Blake Morgan is with us once more for an additional recording and mixing masterclass. He’s shared the inventive problem he laid on himself with the Violent Delights idea, and the precision sign path he adopted to get him there. Observe together with this intensive audio diary, and also you’re certain to get motion gadgets you’ll need to strive in your subsequent studio undertaking.

Blake Morgan: “Violent Delights was about one factor: making a modern-sounding document however with a classic/analog strategy. From the outset, I wished to create an album that may sound as if Mutt Lange had produced a document by The Police. That’s why I’ve stated if The Police’s Ghost within the Machine and AC/DC’s Again in Black had a child, that child can be my new document.

“With a purpose to obtain this, I had a really analog strategy however within the digital world: I tracked the document as if I had been going to tape – one instrument at a time, actually specializing in every efficiency, with no digital studio-magic to “repair” issues alongside the way in which. I used extraordinarily particular gear and plugins for a selected strategy to recording and mixing the document: each observe was recorded by way of UA 610B preamps and UA 176 compressors – not 1176s, Putnam’s unique 176!

“After years and years of blending on SSLs, contained in the field and out, this was the primary document I’ve ever combined on an API. The Imaginative and prescient channel strips are on all the things. Additionally of be aware: That is the primary document I’ve made 100% “within the field” so to talk, utilizing all Common Audio gear together with the wonderful UA OX guitar interface. I tracked, produced, combined, and mastered the whole album at my NYC Greenwich-village recording studio, Valiant Recording, NYC. (See this 2014 SonicScoop characteristic to trace the studio’s evolution.)

“I used classic amps from the Sixties, classic guitars, and hand-made vintage-style microphones constructed solely for me by wizard Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff — his C-12 is all I sang by way of. It’s all then put by way of an analog strategy to recording, as if one had been going to tape, however within the digital world. That’s what provides the document its sound.”

The Studio Photographs

These are images of my studio, Valiant Recording NYC in Greenwich Village, together with some gear pictures and drum-recording belongings too:

“Valiant Recording’s all-purpose modular area. This studio was constructed initially constructed by necessity: it was a studio residence in a Greenwich Village brownstone. Now, twenty years and thirty information later, it’s the house for all of the information I produce and document.

“I’ve usually described it because the Millennium Falcon of NYC recording. Being comfy in my very own hand-built recording studio in the course of Manhattan had all the things to do with the performances on Violent Delights. It helps to document with a home-field benefit. And, musician after musician has informed me it’s their favourite place to document. Easy, welcoming, great-sounding.”


“Foremost recording room that includes my 1985 Steinway 1098 Upright piano. The acoustic therapy on ceiling and partitions permits for ‘dry room’ versus ‘moist room’ micing choices.

“Once more, constructed out of necessity, this room has confirmed to be each utilitarian and great-sounding.”


“Foremost recording room full view, with mixing desk. Half-inch thick glass on the home windows, btw.”


“Valiant Recording’s dwell room. Notice the classic amps: 1965 Fender Bassman (blackface), 1972 Fender Bassman (silverface), 1990 Vox AC30 hand wired thirtieth anniversary version (and the final one ever made), Vox AC15 hand wired, 1965 Fender Princeton, Headstrong Lil’ King.

“Notable classic guitars: 1977/78 Fender Precision Bass, a 1999 Gretsch Silverjet customized constructed for me, and a 2009 Gibson Les Paul Customized.”


“This bespoke mic assortment was hand constructed for me by Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff in Los Angeles. From left to proper:

MYN-C12 – Mark’s (Telefunken) C-12 design – that is the microphone all of the vocals on Violent Delights had been recorded with, and it’s the far mic on the drum room too.

MYN-U67 – his (Neumann) U 67 recreation which has an NOS (“new outdated inventory” – merchandise that was by no means bought to a buyer and remains to be new in its unique packaging) early ‘60’s UK Mullard tube EF86 in it.

MYN-U87 – Mark’s (Neumann) U 87 design

MYN-U47 Mark’s gorgeous (Neumann) U 47 recreation which has an NOS late ‘60’s British Navy Mullard tube 12AT7.

“The way in which the information I produce sound is deeply knowledgeable by these mics. I thank the universe for Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff every single day of my life.”


“That is my 1990 Vox thirtieth Anniversary AC30. It’s a particular amp: solely a thousand of those had been ever constructed – 500 black, 500 blonde – and as you possibly can see from the brass plaque and serial quantity, I’ve the final one ever made. This amp is the sound of Violent Delights greater than any single piece of drugs. I’d pull this amp out of a burning constructing if I needed to.”



“That is the bass rig for Violent Delights, my 1965 Fender Bassman with my 2009 Epiphone Jack Casady bass. The Bassman is an AB165 circuit, and I purchased it from a person who’d had it – and barely used it – in his storage for 52 years. His father purchased it for him on his tenth birthday and he’d stored it in good situation ever since.

“After I purchased it from him what he wished to know most was whether or not I used to be going to ‘acquire’ it or actually use it, and I assured him it could be the latter. Married with this bass (my favourite), its punchy sound and hollow-body character is magic. The Casady is sort of a Hofner crossed with a P Bass. Nice guitar amp too, and I used it for a few of the cleaner guitar sounds on the document.”


“My pedal board for the guitar sounds on the document. Proper to left: Fairfield Circuitry Barbershop (drive), Echoplex Delay, EarthQuaker Units Ghost Echo V3 (reverb), and Echoplex Preamp.

“The Barbershop is a pedal I largely use dwell and didn’t use a lot for the album’s recording, however the different three I actually did.

“Elementary to my sound is the combo of the Ghost Echo and the Echoplex preamp. The Ghost Echo is solely essentially the most beautiful pedal reverb I’ve ever heard, and the preamp – be aware: it’s final within the chain correctly – was important in creating the post-punk array of guitar sounds I wished for the document. I can’t dwell with out both of these two pedals.”

“Drum recording setup for Violent Delights. I wished a big-room drum sound for the document so I went to Dubway Studios in decrease Manhattan to document the dwell drums there.

“Notice: Coles microphones for overheads, Sennheiser 421s for toms (prime and backside), MYN-87 for journey cymbal/close to room, (Shure) SM7 for contained in the kick, and an MYN-U77 mic (not beforehand pictured) for out of doors the kick.

“The U77 is a bespoke mic Mark made for me and it has loopy low finish which I really like to make use of on the kick drum. (Shure) SM57s on the snare. And out of view is the aforementioned MYN-C12 for the far room mic.”

Important Monitoring & Mixing Plugins

It is a assortment of the plugins I used whereas monitoring and mixing Violent Delights.


“Central to my ‘Within the Field’ (ITB) recording philosophy is sustaining a console-recording strategy even within the digital world. In pre-production I’ll determine what ‘console’ the document ought to be made on – Neve 1073 for instance – after which decide to it.

The UA 610-B plugin gave Violent Delights that classic tube sound – and each single instrument on the document was recorded by way of it. It supplies a “glow” and a vintage-but-modern really feel that I really like. This strategy binds all the things collectively, and permits one to “shoot the film on the identical filmstock” the whole time, so to talk.


“My favourite compressor, the UA 176. Invoice Putnam’s design has all the advantages of the Fairchild however with some vital variations in traits. My mentor, legendary producer Terry Manning (Led Zeppelin, ZZ Prime, Shakira, Lenny Kravitz) taught me about this compressor.

“I used it to trace all the things on Violent Delights, and in a particular approach: I take advantage of it at 4:1, with the assault all the way in which ‘gradual’ and the discharge all the way in which ‘quick.’ I would like these transients! I would like that analog hug, binding, and punch. So with nearly each compressor I take advantage of, I instantly flip the assault to “gradual” and the discharge to “quick” every time attainable. I don’t hit it too onerous whereas recording, possibly 3-5 dB of discount. The 176 is the holy grail of compressors, and (in my view) blows away all the things else. It’s all I take advantage of when monitoring.

“This plugin mixed with the aforementioned 610-B is the ‘recording console’ for this document.”


The place would I be with out Common Audio’s OX Interface? All my classic amps have come to life – with out a whole lot of watts of quantity blowing up the studio – and that is why. Intuitive, easy to make use of, and nice sounding.


“Right here’s how I arrange the OX’s digital interface: Coupling the speaker mods with the amp I’m utilizing – on this case my 1965 Fender Bassman – one can tweak and form within the digital world, whereas retaining all of the analog magic. UA has actually nailed it with this method, in a world beforehand inhabited by ‘nice-try-but-no-way’ makes an attempt.”



“My ‘console strategy’ to digital recording extends to mixing. After years of working and mixing with SSL consoles, each in the actual world and digitally, I’ve moved to the API world. API sounds rather less ‘good’ than SSLs do to me, and have that Neve squishiness I really like, however within the combine world.

“Each channel in my combine may have this Common Audio Imaginative and prescient Channel Strip plugin on it. Notice the knee and kind on the compressor part (essential to the sound of this document!), which is the one approach I really feel it ought to be used. This specific compression setting is essentially the most ‘analog’ sounding: fattest, most natural, most forgiving. You possibly can actually hit it onerous, and also you’ll get the beautiful a part of ‘squish’ with out the ugly half. It binds all of the tracks collectively fantastically.

“Additionally be aware how I’ve arrange the EQ part. I’ll not often change this whatever the sound supply (aside from kick). I would like the sound of the console most of all, and I’ll form the EQ extra with Pultecs if wanted.”


“Right here’s a display seize of my combine session for the primary observe on Violent Delights, ‘Down Beneath Or Up Above.’ I work in Logic, as a result of I believe it’s not solely extra musical – and sensible – than Professional Instruments, I believe it sounds higher.”



“The key sauce of my snare sound: the AMS RMX16. Set to ‘Non-Linear’ it creates simply this little area across the snare that’s magic. Excellent for this document, impressed by Stewart Copeland’s snare sound. All hail the ‘80’s!”


“Each drum bus in my combine has an Empirical Labs Distressor throughout it. I’ve used the {hardware} for years, and I’m happy to report that the plugin does the {hardware} justice. My good friend [Empirical Labs founder] Dave Derr invented this glorious machine, and its modified recording. I take advantage of it at 4:1, Dist 2, and with the assault all the way in which down and the discharge all the way in which up. Mix to style, it makes the drums come alive.”


“The EMT-140 Plate reverb is the solely reverb I used on this album’s combine. I’m a believer in utilizing one reverb, if attainable, to once more bind issues collectively and create a world and a really feel for a whole document. For this one, the EMT-140 was a no brainer given the sound I used to be after. It’s not proper for all the things, however when it’s proper (like on my document)––nothing beats the character and 1960’s magic it supplies.”


“The Echoplex EP-34 Tape Echo is a traditional, and this plugin presents all of the sonic love of the {hardware} with out the complications of sustaining an precise tape echo. You possibly can hear this on all the paths on the lead vocal all through the document. Blended with the EMT-140, it’s beautiful. I normally set it to 1/4 be aware repeats.”


“I used the Fairchild 660 tube compressor/limiter (not the 670!) on these mixes particularly at a low 2:1 setting once I wanted to pin one thing just a bit extra in place, like vocals and bass guitar for instance. Utilizing it only a contact, this compressor made well-known by The Beatles by no means fails to ship.”


“Right here’s how I set my Pultec EQP-1A on the lead vocal. Including a bit of air and taking out just a bit low finish, the sound of this plugin is wonderful.”


“Hearken to the refrain of ‘Down Beneath Or Up Above’ or the verses of ‘Farewell My Coronary heart’ and also you’ll hear this enjoyable plugin. The UA Brigade Refrain provides you that Andy Summers love in a extremely efficient combine instrument. I really like this factor.”

Combine Bus

“To complete issues off, I take advantage of the Ampex ATR-102 as the very last thing in my combine chain. Set to GP9 at +9, this nice plugin provides one’s mixes a 3 dimensionality that’s onerous to explain. And an old-school analog vibe even ‘within the field.’ Can’t dwell with out it.”

— David Weiss is an Editor for SonicScoop.com, and has been protecting professional audio developments for over 20 years. He’s additionally the co-author of the music business’s main textbook on synch licensing, “Music Supervision, 2nd Version: The Full Information to Deciding on Music for Films, TV, Video games & New Media.” E mail: [email protected]



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