Los Angeles-based producer/engineer Gary Grant used Royer Labs’ SF-24 phantom-powered stereo ribbon microphone to record trumpeter Malcolm McNab’s new release, Exquisite, for the label Kinnell House Records. McNab is best known as a session musician who has recorded more than 2,000 film soundtracks. Grant recorded Exquisite over a two-year period and completed it in November 2006. It features the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Johann Sebastian Bach, Frank Zappa and Bruce Broughton.
“This was an incredibly challenging project,” Grant says. “The Tchaikovsky Concerto is a monumentally difficult piece to perform, and since this CD was recorded over a relatively long period of time, gaining a consistent room sound on all the pieces was yet another issue we had to address. The orchestral pieces were multitracked by instrument section, and it was the Royer SF-24—consistently placed in the same position throughout all the various sessions—that served as the audio glue in terms of providing consistency to the overall sound.”
With the exception of the Broughton piece, which was recorded live at Fox Studios in Los Angeles, the remaining three selections were recorded at Dreadnought Studios in Altadena, Calif. In addition to producing and engineering the project, Grant also served as its conductor.
“Throughout the various sessions,” Grant continues, “we used a 1950s vintage RCA KU-3A unidirectional ribbon microphone with a Universal Audio 2-610 dual-channel tube microphone preamplifier as the close-field instrument mic. The orchestra was recorded with close-field miking of Neumann TLM 170s and the Royer SF -24, both going into a Millennia HV-3D 8-channel mic pre. But the Royer SF-24 provides 60- to 70-percent of the sound you actually hear.
“The SF-24 has a tremendously rich, spacious character that provides the fullness of sound I was going after. When we needed a slight bit more articulation, we brought up the level of the other mic, but for the most part it was the SF-24 that really made this recording shine. During all the sessions, the SF-24 effectively served as the Decca Tree. We placed the SF-24 10 feet up in the room and 12 feet back from the primary mic, and it performed flawlessly—with clarity and a beautiful presence.”