Los Angeles, CA… At February’s 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band's 2014 effort, Life in the Bubble, captured the Best Large Ensemble award. With songs like the hard-driving "Why We Can't Have Nice Things," the lively Latin-tinged "Garaje Gato," and their freewheeling take on the classic "On Green Dolphin Street," one can easily appreciate the talent and effort that went into this endeavor. On the production side of things, the tools used to capture those performances play a significant role in the finished product. That’s why microphones from the catalog of Burbank, CA-based Royer Labs and its sibling company, Mojave Audio, were deployed.
With four GRAMMY Awards and three Emmy Awards to his credit, composer and band leader Gordon Goodwin has composed and conducted for a host of artists, including Ray Charles, Christina Aguilera, Sarah Vaughan, and Mel Torme to name but a few. Similarly, his film scoring endeavors can be heard on dozens of films, including The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, National Treasure, The Incredibles, and Armageddon. Working with seven time GRAMMY Award winning producer / engineer Gregg Field—whose recognitions include “Producer of the Year” and “Best Engineered Recording”—these two music industry icons really hit the ball out of the park with their combined efforts on Life in the Bubble. They discussed how much they rely on Royer Labs microphones.
“We recorded Life in the Bubble at Schnee Studios, Capitol Studios, G Studio Digital, and United Studios Hollywood,” Field reports. “During the various sessions, we used 8 Royer R-121 mono ribbon mics on the trumpets and trombones, a Royer SF-24 stereo active ribbon for room mic, plus 5 Mojave MA-200 vacuum tube condenser mics on the saxophones. More specifically, we used the R-121 and the SF-24 in combination for the various brass soloists while the combination of the Mojave Audio MA-200 and the Royer SF-24 were used for the various woodwind soloists.”
The trumpet, in particular, can be among the most challenging instruments to capture in part due to the high SPL they can produce. In this regard, the Royer R-121 eliminates that problem. “As a former trumpeter with big band experience, I often found the recorded sound of the trumpet seemed small and pinched, says Field. “Later, while producing Arturo Sandoval, I discovered by adding the stereo SF-24 for room sound in combination with the R-121, for the first time I was hearing the most accurate recreation of the trumpet.”
Goodwin—who plays saxophone and piano—commented on his experience with Royer microphones, “It is very important to us that every facet that goes into the sound of our music is in balance, and in synchronicity. The Royer mics are an indispensable tool for us to capture not only the energy and power of the Big Phat Band, but also the wide dynamic range of our music. But beyond that, these mics somehow have the ability to convey each musician’s personality in a truly nuanced way. You can really hear the humanity that underlines the performances. And that may be the most important element of all.”
In terms of microphone positioning, Field reports that for the brass and reed soloists, the R-121 (for brass) or Mojave MA-200 (woodwinds) were positioned approximately 12 – 18 inches from the instrument, depending upon the volume any given instrument was producing. Field reports, “The magic happens when you add the SF-24, which I like to position at least 10 feet away and 10 feet up, if possible. When you add the room mics to the mix, it has the effect of widening the instrument’s sound without it sounding more ambient and far away. It’s always a matter of pushing the SF-24 up in the mix until just before the room sounds starts to take over.”
With the credentials both Goodwin and Field have, quality customer and technical support services are crucial in order to keep their projects on schedule. In this regard, they are both very complimentary of Royer Labs. “John Jennings (Royer VP of Sales and Marketing) is always available to consult with and support us however he can,” says Goodwin. “This is a company that cares about music, and their products show that.” Field agrees and added, “John is always there to assist and address any questions we may have.”
Before turning their attention to upcoming projects, Goodwin and Field offered these parting thoughts. “I use Royer mics on all my projects,” says Field. “I’ve had such great results that I can’t imagine making a recording without Royer playing an integral role”. Goodwin summarized matters by stating, “I can’t think of a recording session I’ve been at in the past 10 years that wasn’t using Royer mics. They have become the go-to microphone for professionals here in Los Angeles.”
About Royer Labs
Located in Burbank, California, Royer Labs’ microphones are a staple of leading recording and broadcast facilities. For additional information about the SF-24, R-121, and all Royer microphones, please visit the company at www.royerlabs.com.
Photo info: from left to right: Gregg Field, John Jennings (Royer VP Sales & Marketing), and Gordon Goodwin.