Prairie Sun Studios in Sonoma County (Northern California) acquired a pair of Crowley and Tripp Naked Eye ribbon microphones. Owner Mark Mooka Rennick (pictured) used them recently to record vocals and guitar for Shrapnel recording artist Eric Gales.
"Rock electric guitars need to sound smooth and full," Rennick explains. "They can be very harsh. Ribbon microphones are an elegant solution. They have a long history, going all the way back to the old RCAs, of imparting smoother highs and rich lows."
Each side of the Naked Eye's capsule imparts its own distinct sonic signature, roughly characterized as dark and bright. Mooka opted for the mic's dark side on Gales' guitar and felt that the Naked Eye was the right choice for the entire album. Gales variously used a Fender Strat with a Marshall stack, a Two-Rock amp and a Fender Bassman. Rennick boosted the Naked Eye with Telefunken V72 and Neve 1272 preamps.
Rennick also used the pair as drum overheads for San Francisco's Boxcar Saints. "Every now and again you hear from other engineers that ribbons are cool on overheads," has says. "I had to try it." Rennick used an X-Y configuration on drummer Rich Douthit's kit, whose toms are positioned below several old cymbals that he plays in a jazz style. Rennick decided to use the mic's dark side. On dynamically softer songs, he opted to amplify the Naked Eye mics with the Telefunken preamp and reserved the Neve preamp for louder tunes. "It is an absolutely gorgeous recording," Rennick adds. "The stereo field is tangible, and the warmth and bottom are stunning."
Lastly, Rennick used a Naked Eye for a voice-over session with poet Robert Trent Jones, Jr. using the microphone's bright side.