Hold on to Love

January 18, 2012 9:27 AM

For some reason I entered the New Year feeling despondent, so I wrote this to cheer myself up. So I suppose it's a resolution.

This is the first track I mastered on my new-to-me Revox PR99 reel-to-reel, and boy do I love the way it sounds. It goes out sounding like a computer and comes back sounding like a record!

posted by unSane (8 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Love the sound. I'm totes jealous (both of your writing chops and your gear).
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:55 PM on January 18, 2012

Thank you! But you know, there was nothing special in this! I've been sort of priding myself on doing this stuff on, if not exactly a budget, then not going crazy. It was the $199 Sterling ST77 mic into the $99 ART Tube PAC preamp for all the vocals. The guitar was a Jazzmaster into the Blackheart BH5H half stack recorded with the $70 MXL R40. The bass was a $199 Peavy BXP into guitar rig. Piano was Alicia's Keys, organ NI Vintage Organs B3, Drums NI Studio Drummer. Only FX were bog standard compression, EQ, reverb and delay. The real magic fairy dust was definitely the Revox PR99 which cost me about $1000. I felt bad about buying it at the time but holy crap it ties everything together.
posted by unSane at 10:15 PM on January 18, 2012

Definitely nice and warm sounding. And holy chord-changes in that tune! My head was spinning trying to keep up.
So what was your work-flow? Just curious. The machine is a 2-track, right? So you did your mix and then brought it into some mastering software and did a real-time dump onto the Revox? Then re-digitized it back into the computer as your master?
So essentially you are using the Revox as an analog warmer kind of thing?
posted by chococat at 7:44 AM on January 19, 2012

Hey, Chococat, I did the mix and then played that out to tape and simultaneously recorded it off the repro head onto a new stereo track alongside the rest off the song, basically so I could A/B them (and also if you do it this way you don't get any tape drift problems if you are just doing a single track at a time).

Then I mastered from the laid-back tape track. EQ, limiting etc. I also put a noise reduction plugin to remove the residual bit of hiss there was at the beginning and end -- it's not much but I could hear it on the monitors.

I got a calibration tape and set the machine up quite hot, so it is doing quite a lot of tape compression on the peaks but not (as far as I can hear) going into distortion. The little red lights come on at +6dB, but I think there is actually about 14dB of headroom, so I don't worry about them too much and just look at the needles.

The 15 ips is also quite bright, I think about +2dB at 10KHz, which gives it a little sheen.

I know the second modulation is a bit much but by that point in the song that whole major-third oscillation is part of the gestalt, I figure. The verses are in F and the choruses are in D, then the second chorus modulates to F, then the bridge is in Fm and leads us back to a chorus in F, and I thought, fuck it, Ab here we come.
posted by unSane at 8:09 AM on January 19, 2012

I wasn't sure about the modulations at first, but the more I listen, the more they work. Gives it kind of a cyclical feel, like you're repeating the chorus as an affirmation or something.

Nicely done, and well-recorded too.
posted by anthom at 11:57 AM on January 19, 2012

Yeah, I think I got used to them so they sound normal to me now. I was deliberately trying for a little strangeness when I wrote it... that's why the main verse is nine bars long... it would sound more normal if it stuck around for two bars on the Am ('you never felt so low') and if the chorus stuck around in F instead of jumping up to D, but I think it's the tension between what I'm hoping is a sweet sounding poppy production and the mild eccentricities of the song that makes it interesting. At least it does to me., which is the main thing!

Also, once I had committed to the idea of the modulations, when I tried to do the last chorus without that final push up to Ab it sounded really flat, because after what happened in the previous chorus you kind of expect it to happen.
posted by unSane at 12:40 PM on January 19, 2012

So sweet! You have a very nice voice. (From a person who knows nothing about these technical things.) Did it make you feel better as intended?
posted by Glinn at 6:42 AM on January 20, 2012

I came here from the new simple version and christ, this is just fantastic. Freaking love the harmonies too.
posted by marienbad at 10:03 AM on May 10, 2012

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