The mixing desk
The purpose of Music is to move us
emotionally, to make us dream and to propose its message of
the concert is the best way of approaching music, the CD allows
us to prolong the emotion of evening, and also to discover
new styles and new artists.
The recording studio is the laboratory where the magic of
the disc and the concert is refined : creating sounds, perfecting
the charm of an orchestration, working out an arrangement
or just trying to choose one or another style of reverb
the studio permits one to conceive and prepare the perfect sound
system that will allow the show to be enjoyed to its full. That's
why Jean-Christian MICHEL became so attached to the mastery of these
- ARCHITECTURE OF THE RECORDING STUDIO
studio includes a recording room, a small separate room for
the drum kit or any instrument which needs to be isolated,
and a mixing booth.
premises will have benefited from an acoustic treatment intended
to give the most beautiful sound possible : neither too glossy
nor too matt and ideally round and warm.
variety of materials such as wood, stone, cork, carpets and
rockwool will give this space the correct reverberation.
bass will be clear without obstructing the sound space. For
that "bass traps" big boards fitted to the ceiling
and covered with rockwool allow the best sound quality.
architects specialise in the building of studios, to achieve
stunning acoustic performances without sacrificing the aesthetics.
- RECORDING STUDIO EQUIPEMENT
studio includes a recording room, a small separate
room for the drum kit or any instrument which needs to be
isolated, and a mixing booth.
IN THE RECORDING ROOM :
the recording room are the musical instruments, microphones, stands,
connecting cables, monitor headphones etc. On
the baseboards, 220 V electrical sockets, and XLR boxes connected
to the recording console by miles of cables.
IN THE MIXING BOOTH
central nervous system of the studio : an assortment of high-tech
instruments : dispatching console, amplis, monitors, track-recorders,
Dat, autolocators, computers, amplifiers and monitors, and stacked
in their system stands, reverbs, echos and digital delays, noise-gates,
phasers, flangers, harmonisers, equalisers, enhancers, compressors,
too many to remember.
- UNDERSTANDING THE EQUIPEMENT OF THE RECORDING STUDIO
almost all recordings are made by the technique of multiple tracks
on one tape - tape recorders ( analogue ), digital recorders or
directly onto computer (Mac rather than PC) all are the same in
terms of understanding the functioning of the system.
multitrack technique offers the huge advantage of ease of use combined
with an unequalled clarity in the finished product :
allows direct recording, tracking (copying one track to another)
and re-recording (recording musicians at the same time as they listen
to that which has already been recorded on the tape). Sounds distributed
on separate tracks will then be mixed.
reasons of cost and convenience, the computer takes the track bit
by bit from the analogical track-recorder. Digital sound doesn't
have the "breath" of tape, and although it possesses wider
dynamics, it remains less fine and less "warm" than analogue
sound. Americans are now returning to analogue equipment, particularly
for instruments such as the clarinet. How to combine these two techniques
the heart of studio, there is a console. It manages the recording
operations and also tracking and mixing. It must have at least as
many channels as the recorder has tracks, in order to be able to
shall not enter into too much detail and shall only describe the
essential functions of a console which allow it to receive and to
send, to correct or to mix signals coming in from the synthesizers,
from microphones, or from for multitrack recorders or various other
These amplified signals are listened on the monitors
during the recording or the mixing.
PERIPHERALS OR EFFECTS
are reverbs and digital delays, equalisers, compressors, phasers,
flangers etc. which "embellish" the sound in the mix or
to give it a colour or a particular density.
- USE OF THE CONSOLE IN THE RECORDING
of recording desk
of mixing desk
generated with synthesizers or captured by the microphones
arrives in the form of a signal at the inputs of the console.
as close as possible to 0db so as not to lose the "gain"
(dynamics) or to distort, it will then be assigned to a track
on the computer or the track-recorder.
system of recording and simultaneous playing (simul-sync)
to and from the recorder allows the re-recording and the distribution
of the orchestration, instrument by instrument, to the various
- USE OF THE CONSOLE IN THE MIX
is the most fascinating and the most artistic work of the
sounds which are stored on the multitrack or on the computer,
need to be optimized, mixed, balanced, and reduced down
to two signals which are sent to the right and left primary
outputs of the console.
mixed signals, recorded on a digital stereo DAT machine
will be used to create the "master for edit" of
channel on the console, (corresponding to a track on the multitrack),
permits a wide range of modifications :
the equalisation modifies the frequencies, by correcting low, medium
The auxiliaries allow the input of different effects : for example,
reverb will prolong sound as if it had been recorded in the vault
of a cathedral.
Faders adjust the balance of instruments.
Finally whereas the panoramic potentiometers distribute the stereo
space left - right, the auxiliary controls are the delays which
will modify the depth of the sound space
6 - CREATING
a CD requires numerous stages. First of all you have to record the
"direct input" instruments : The rhythm section, bass
and drum kit, digital percussions kit, synthesizers, electric guitars
etc ... Then you must capture the sound of the acoustic instruments
: clarinet, pipe organ, classical guitar, violins etc....
all the instruments have been recorded, each of them on one (or
two for Stereo) different tracks, it is useful to "clean"
the "whites" on the tracks. Afterwards, only the mixing
remains, to create the "master for edit". This, compiled
to computer and processed by a sound editing software, will give
the definitive master. This last will be sent to the CD factory
to be fabricated.
SOUND RECORDING OF INSTRUMENTS
SYNTHESIZERS, ELECTRIC GUITAR, BASS GUITAR, ELECTRONIC DRUM
KIT ETC. IN STEREO
is the simplest step because the instruments are recorded
by "direct input", which is by plugging directly
into the console, without going via a microphone.
is enough to simply adjust the Recording level gauge to 0
Db. In this stage, it is not recommended to add in reverb
or equalise the sound. Indeed, experience suggests not removing
the possibility of future frequency corrections at this stage.
Corrections will be made in the mix.
RECORDING OF THE CHURCH ORGAN IN STEREO
Sound recording of the organ
a portable console and a stereo Neumann condenser microphone,
it is possible to realize a magnificent church
usual, the golden rule is first just to listen
you think you have found the place where you can really hear
the instrument, you stretch out acoustic shrouds around this
place and put a single stereo microphone in the axis, in front
of the organ.
have a recording "which rings" one will be tempted
- by slightly moving the microphone around - to find the point
of harmonious balance between the sound volumes of the great
organ, the positive and the pipes, while keeping them separate,
which is not always easy...
RECORDING OF THE CLARINET IN STEREO
Sound recording of the clarinet
we enter a more sophisticated domain. We incline two Neumann
condenser microphones to about 20 cms above the keys of the
medium body, on both sides the clarinet.
A stereo Neumann condenser microphone at about 70cm-1m from
the bell. This configuration gives a detailed, precise and
to the instrument will allow one to define the place where
the sound emission is at its most beautiful and to adjust
the location of microphones.
phase-metre is indispensable to avoid the inversion of phase,
difficult to master in this type of recording.
RECORDING OF THE CLASSICAL GUITAR IN STEREO
Sound recording of the
Acoustic guitar recording
excellent acoustic guitar's sound recording will be realized
by simply placing a stereo Neumann condenser microphone, or
better still, a Royer stereo ribbon microphone in front of
the sound hole.
little delay and reverberation in the mixing will provide
the best effect.
THE MASTERING AND THE BURNING OF THE CD
is sent to the DAT tape. A DAT (Digital Audio Tape) is a digital
(two tracks) tape recorder which will supply the "master
for edit", almost-definitive version.
This will be transferred into sound editing software to be
"cleaned" of the last imperfections and set up definitively
(noises before and after the piece, editing inside the piece,
fade in, fade out etc...), ending with the realization of
the definitive master.
is from professional copies of this master that the CDs will
be burned. For example, the fabrication of Jean-Christian MICHEL's
CDs were realized in this fashion by a CD manufacturing plant
: the CDs are engraved and put into the boxes with their jackets
to be ready to be sold.
- THE MP3 PRO
little word in passing about MP3 PRO. This new type of compression
combines the algorithm of MP3, well known by the Internet users,
with "Spectral Band Replication" (SBR) technology which
permits the restoration of frequencies between 13-15.000 Hz and
consequently allows a sound compression of greater quality.
- REAL AUDIO STREAMING
streaming format allows you to listen directly, almost immediatly
without downloading. In fact, while you're listening to the beginning,
RealAudio continues to load the rest of the piece. For more information
: RealAudio at http://www.real.com
encoding from Wave format (as with
an audio CD) in the RealAudio format has been done with Real Networks'
- MODERN MUSIC
design with synthesizers
music makes considerable use of electronics and data processing.
Computer Assisted Music is defined by the abbreviation CAM.
software packages classify as follows :
MIDI software packages (Cubase, Cakewalk, Big Boss), high
quality sequencers which allow synthesizers "to play"
a score by using the MIDI interface.
Sound treatment software packages ( Peak, Sound Forge, Spark,
Wave Lab, Pro Tools, Sonic Foundry etc...) These software
packages allow one to work on Wave files ( recording, editing,
level, fade in, fade out, dynamics, tune correction etc.)
"Integrated" software packages , which include both
functions, MIDI and Wave (Cubase SX or VST, Nuendo, Digital
Performer, Pro Tools, Sonar XL, Logic Audio).
Computers and synthesizers do not "dehumanize" music and
do not in any way damage its soul. On the contrary, they allow the
creator to draw new sounds, to leave more open the route for his
imagination when developing masterful orchestrations.
will never "replace" man, because it is always he who
is behind the machine, who dictates its program and gives it orders.
Music software simply allows the irreproachable execution of its
scores, henceforth transformed into "MIDI files".
reassured, the technique is there only to serve culture, imagination
and the dreams of the musician.
would have thought that one day, JS BACH's Sacred Music would be
played on the clarinet, the organ and by Computer Assisted Music !
MICHEL worked with great sound engineers such as Francis Miannay,
Jacques Lubin and Gerhardt Lehner of the Barclay studios in Paris,
Jean-Claude Egreteau at CBS and Mike Sharp at Los Angeles in the
Michel manages his own professional recording studio, and has
considered useful to propose some elements of reference to those
who would like to get their own HOME studio, or to have an additional
lighting to realize certain specialized sound recordings (as the
sound recording of clarinet, for example).