Cassandra Elese - "Teach You": Engineer's Cut
What is an Engineer's Cut you may ask? We've broken down the song, "Teach You" by Cassandra Elese recorded at Warm Studios, and created a version that provides isolated tracks with an A/B comparison of both dry & processed audio.
Additionally, the Engineer's Cut provides full signal chain information for each instrument, the benefits of a studio mic, analog preamp, & analog compression as well as how each of these plays a role in achieving a professional final mix.
Be sure to also catch the engineer discussion at the end of the video for some in-depth detail on what went into deciding which mic, preamp, and compressor were chosen for each instrument in this project. Enjoy!
[:30 - :49]Compression At Work
Listen for the smooth, even response on the lower vocal register. Even as the vocal arrangement jumps into higher frequencies, the volume doesn’t change drastically allowing the performance to sound smooth without being sterile.
[:52 - 1:05]Mic & Pre Magic
Listen to the clarity in the upper midrange and the smooth roll-off of the highs. The higher frequency parts do not sound harsh. This is the mic and preamp working together to give maximum clarity with a musically “smooth” high end. This combination is just enough “texture” (smooth) to sound soulful, but there is enough clarity and detail in the upper mids and highs to make the reverb and echo coming in sound pristine vs. muddy.
[1:05 - 1:15]Touch of Processing
The reverb and echo come in to catch the detail of the mids and highs perfectly, also latching on to a fuller-body lower midrange, adding depth to the sound. The signal is clear, the gain has headroom, and the volume is balanced. Because of this, the reverb and echo do not sound muddy like when there’s bad EQ and/or no compression on the lower register parts. Alternatively, the processing effects do not sound tinny/thin like on plugin preamps that can’t add enough body and depth to even high-quality condenser mics.
[1:38 - 1:48]Clarity & Detail on Guitar
Listen for the clarity and detail throughout the guitar part. The detail available from a quality large diaphragm condenser in the WA-87R2 going into a WA73-EQ allows the engineer to get all of the detail in the accompanying part. Since this is a two-instrument track, there’s more room in the song for the guitar to occupy a wider frequency range vs. say, a large song with a full band where the guitar’s role is usually more limited to focused midrange frequencies only.
[1:48 - 1:56]Now You’re in the Room
Adding reverb and echo to the guitar makes the source (amp) sound “right in the room” with the vocalist, adding a level of intimacy to the performance. It’s like listening to a perfect performance of the track in a concert hall with amazing acoustics.
[1:56 - 2:16]Good In, Good Out
Hearing the two sources together with no processing effects shows how much clarity, depth, & controlled power the analog signal chain provides. Because we don’t have loose bass (often perceived as muddy), dropped mids (lots of digital gear scoops the midrange and loses clarity), or harsh high end (a hallmark of inexpensive mics and poor circuit design), the engineer is set up for success to start making adjustments on the final mix as needed without having to go back and address problems with each individual track.
[2:19 - 2:28]Final Mix Notes
The quality of the original performance captured with an analog signal chain provides the engineer with enough quality information to add even more gravity to the sound with reverb and echo during the final mixing stages. The term, "fix it in post" should never enter the conversation. Making sure a proper analog recording is achieved on the way in is the key to a pro sound!
Below is a brief synopsis of how each part of the signal chain adds to a professional recording and helps to bring a final mix to life.
Condenser Mic: Improved Detail
Microphone Preamp: Clarity & Depth
Compressor: Controlled Power
[2:38 - 3:41]Engineer Discussion
Final engineer discussion includes information on what was considered during the process of selecting gear for each of the sources included in this track.