You must dare to work in lively halls possessing both a proper sound ambience that can contribute to the final result and an acoustic comfort for the same purpose. It is hard to think of a high quality music recording having been produced in an ambience of acoustic discomfort, with a small and dry room of poor incentives in musical terms. Have you ever seen a carpeted room? One with absorption panels? You will not see it again. My hall is a panel-free room and with no inches of carpet. Our room is 300 m2 and 7m high comprising 2100m3 in total with capacity for 60 performers. The seventh room is where my microphones are set up. For this reason, I call this room “Sala OPUS 7”. This hall has a Steinway & Sons grand piano, D160440 of remarkable sound which has been by my side since the time of my second studio (Opus 2), around 1977, a year where I acquired this piano upon recommendation by the soloist Leonora Milà.
LONG EXPERIENCE AS A HELPFUL TOOL
I opened my first studio in 1976. However, my first recording for professional bands dates back in 1962 in Estudi Toreski, a studio no longer existing. I was a pioneer musician in recording studios at that time. What was the reason for that? It was about my wish to find more natural and genuine sounds than those captured then.
My first studio was the typical little niche that became larger in time and finally reached the expected level of perfection. I came to run recordings for the whole of artists of la Nova Cançó where the first LP by Marina Rossell was recorded, with arrangements by Lluís Llach. I composed and created advertising jingles for the main advertising agencies such as Dodot, La Jijonenca, Cola-cao, Martini, Banco de Bilbao, Danone, Wipp Express, Marina d’Or, among others.
I recorded soundtracks of Spanish versions such as The Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Hercules, Aladdin, Mulan, The King of Egypt, The King and I, Annie (1983) as well as for films such as Dragon Rapide, Serenata a la luz de la Luna, La Orgía, La Quinta del Porro.
I was the composer of the music for El Hijo de María (Maria’s Son) by Jacinto Esteva. I recorded the symphony for TV3, in 1983 and composed the music for the programs “Tres i l’astròleg” “Filiprim” “La parada“, as well as the music and sound of the Spanish stand at the Expo de Sevilla, in 1992.
In 1995 I was awarded with the Premi Ciutat prize of Barcelona for the recording of the CD “Eduard Toldrà, música i poesía” alongside with Anna Ricci. In 2000 I was nominated by the SGAE for the Best Sound Technician Prize.
The use of a high quality mobile equipment for outdoors recordings. Actually, I use the same equipment for both the hall and outdoors recordings. In fact, the hall becomes just another recording room.
SOUND TAKING: THIS IS ART
SETTING UP THE MICROPHONE: A DELIGHTFUL ACTION
A microphone is not an ear and it does not behave in the same fashion. Setting up a microphone can entail a high level of sound manipulation. You can try a sound test: record your voice while holding your mobile phone only five centimeters off your mouth. Try the same, this time by holding the phone two meters away and compare. You may have not been “manipulating” anything, but the recordings you obtain will be different.
Recording a Big Bang can be completely different to recording an opera aria. It is not the same recording a Cobla than a piano nocturne.
Setting up a microphone in an incorrect manner can only ruin the sound take. In fact, the sound take will be irreversibly ruined. The same consequence can also result from wrongly compressing and equalizing the sound. Basically, I use Neumann microphones and regarding applications, Shoeps, Shoeps, Sennheiser and AKG are among the names I use.
After 60 years of experience I should be credited enough. Nonetheless, every new take poses a new challenge to my knowledge.
The role of a sound technician and music producer is not limited to obtaining the best sound. The real role of a sound technician is related to the use of resources that can help the interpreter improve their interpretation.
Principle 5 bis
AND AN EVEN MORE RIGOROUS AND PATIENT POST-PRODUCTION
Post-production is the process where a Grammy worthy result can be generated. It is not unusual that only one week of recording requires two or three months of post-production to adjust the tune, time, pauses, attacks, resolutions, crescendos, diminuendos, tones, pitch, phrasing, ties, highlighted notes and proportions where the best version are chosen by adding notes, suppressing noise, etc.
MAKE THE SOUND RUN THE SHORTEST ROAD
If the best virtue of a mixing table is transparency of sound, it is important that its presence goes unseen. The question is why not removing it?
Estudi Albert Moraleda actually removed the mixing table from the studio in 2001 (which means I sold it) and now we are exclusively using virtual mixers. This is due to conviction and the results observed.
The hearing of the recording samples of symphonic and chamber music can clearly demonstrate the reason for that.
We talk about sound in a pure state. No sugar or color added to the sound’s flavor. Only the best of acoustics.
I acquired a Steinway & Sons Grand Piano in 1977 having recently arrived from the factory in Hamburg and after the concert performer Leonora Milà convinced me to do so, as she had tried it and discovered its magnificence previously.
She phoned me right from the store and said: “Albert, before me is an exceptional piano. If you buy it for your studio, I can promise you to come and make all my recordings with you.”
Leonora kept her promise.
THE USE OF A SOFTWARE OFFERING THE MAXIMUM OF ATTENTION TOWARDS THE MUSIC, WITH THE MINIMUM MANIPULATION OF KEYBOARDS.
The reason for that is approximately 60% of time saved over most of the existing edition programs during the post-production sessions.
Last, but not least …
IT IS A MATTER OF EXPERTISE
Since 1961 when I did my first recording sessions with the band “Sis únics” in the studio Toreski of Radio Barcelona where the German musician Joan Lluís was a member as pianist, I have met all types of recordings for years.