Therapy? – Andy Cairns Interview Part 2

 Andy Cairns interview part 2: Recording with Therapy?

- Click here to watch Part 1
Andy Cairns has recorded in some amazing studios with world-class producers and engineers, and he shares some of those experiences here with us in part 2 of the Therapy? frontman's interview at The Audio Production Workshop. 

Recording the session:

To record Andy's voice and guitar, we employed some tried-and-tested methods utilising a dynamic microphone for his vocal, and a blend of small-diaphragm condenser mics and his Gibson J200's Fishman pickup through a selection of acoustic guitar preamps, which we will look at in more detail in a future article. 

The Dynamic Vocal Mic.

The Shure SM58 is the industry standard vocal mic and is the preferred studio vocal mic for many producers. Artists like U2, The Killers, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Björk have all relied upon it as their primary vocal microphone in the studio. It's also one of those swiss-army-knife pieces of kit: If you could only have one microphone, choose this!

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Small Diaphragm Condenser Mics.

The various types of condenser microphone that are available all require an external power source - known as "Phantom Power" - most mixers and audio interfaces have this feature built in. For this reason, they must be connected via an XLR cable. Because they are powered, they are capable of capturing much more detail than most dynamic mics.  But be careful: Leaving Phantom Power activated when using certain mics - such as ribbon microphones and some "transformerless" dynamic mics - will destroy the mic!

Here we use a pair of small-diaphragm condenser mics to record the acoustic guitar.  Small diaphragm condensers react very quickly to an incoming sound source and are therefore perfect for acoustic guitar as it captures the transient sounds from the guitar being strummed or picked.  Using two mics allows a greater area of the instrument to be recorded, in order to harness the differences between the sounds from the soundhole, body and neck of an acoustic guitar or violin for example.

In this recording we use a pair of Calrec CM1051c's, a vintage British microphone that is sadly no longer produced.  There are a number of options available today, and you can still get excellent results with this pair of inexpensive Behringer microphones which sound great on six and twelve-string acoustic guitar, as well as percussion instruments:

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The acoustic pickup.

We have a closer look at Andy Cairn's acoustic guitar in this article. Andy's Fishman pickup system relies on a piezoelectric strip under the strings. When a piezoelectric material is squeezed, it produces an electric current; so when a guitar string vibrates while in contact with a piezoelectric material, the material essentially emits an electrial signal at at the same frequency as the vibration. We can then record or amplify this signal as necessary. 

Acoustic guitar preamps.

We'll be having a closer look at the acoustic preamps we used in a future article. They all have different characteristics, however they all have a great effect and can make the sound captured from a piezoelectric pickup sound far more natural. Details on the Boss and Fishman devices we tested can be found here: 

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If you want all the info right now, head here to watch the episode in full!