NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 2010: For anyone who has ever gone clubbing till dawn in this brave new century, superstar female vocalist JES is undoubtedly the voice of some fantastic memories. Steeped in the world of electronica and rocktronica, JES exploded onto the dance music scene in 2003 as the singer of Motorcycle’s “As the Rush Comes,” which held the number one position on Billboard’s “Hot Dance Airplay” chart and was the most-played dance song of that year. It was the fourth most-played dance song of the decade, according to Billboard’s recently released “Decade End Chart,” which also reports her solo release “Imagination” at #46 for the decade.
JES’s Metric Halo ULN-2 +DSP FireWire interface, with world-class mic-pre, A/D/A converter, and digital signal processing capabilities, has been with her for almost every note. The Metric Halo ULN-2 +DSP forms the basis of both her home vocal production studio,
as heard on her new March 15th release High Glow (Black Hole Recordings, Ultra Records), and her live sound for dates the world over.
Tom Fritze, longtime Hit Factory engineer, officially serves as the manager of JES’s production company, PlanetJES, but he also helps advise the songwriter about the gear and techniques in her home vocal production studio and serves as her FOH and monitoring engineer for live engagements. He explained, “JES is a prolific songwriter and she has collaborated with some of the biggest stars in the electronic music scene. I primarily manage her catalog of work and provide support for tours. Usually she writes with just guitar and vocal, or someone might send her a song idea or track, then she’ll craft the vocals. She’s like a vocal painter. She tries hundreds of different tones, different layers, different styles. She records it all at her home studio and then compiles and edits the most engaging approaches.”
When the time came to build JES’s vocal production studio, Fritze relied on his decades of experience to select the simplest and purest front-end he could. Before he tenured at Hit Factory, Fritze had spent many years at NYC’s Sync Sound post-production facility, which was then at the pioneering edge of Digital’s Manifest Destiny with the early technology 3M and Sony machines. “At those sorts of high-end studios, I had exposure to all the really good gear that’s out there,” he said. “I was able to experiment, and over time I came to expect a certain kind of ‘reality’ out of the equipment I used.”
He continued, “We tried all manner of mics, mic pres, and converters to get JES’s vocals into the computer with that same sense of ‘reality.’ We wanted to record some vocals and feel like she was still singing live on playback. The Metric Halo ULN-2 +DSP gave us both the mic pre and the converter, and no combination of separate units could match the purity of that signal. Moreover, it has enough clean headroom to allow us to record with no EQ and no dynamics processing.” JES completes the modest but powerful rig with a Neumann TLM 49 large diaphragm condenser and a Mac running Logic.
JES’s touring schedule is perhaps best described as frenetic, and the two find themselves on an airplane every other week jetting to destinations far and wide. Whether it’s to the frozen tundra of northern Russia or the baking sands of Jordan, Fritze always brings along the Metric Halo ULN-2 +DSP with an Apple MacBook and Sennheiser wireless mics and personal monitors to make JES’s vocals stunning and, because he can never rely on what he’ll find at the venue when they get there, self-contained. The light weight and portability of the ULN-2 +DSP is a definite bonus.
“The fact that our ULN-2 has onboard DSP is the key to its usefulness in live situations,” said Fritze. “We use it as the mic preamp and then rely on the DSP for no latency EQ, compression, and, if needed, live feedback filters. From there, I add Logic Pro for additional effects and reverb. The MIO Console lets me create separate mixes for front of house and the personal monitors. Most of the time, all I have to work with is a DJ mixer, so I’ll use a CD for the music and, on a separate fader, JES’s vocal mix.” We also like the Metric Halo “Character Processing,” which transforms the otherwise utterly transparent mic pre into something akin to various classic front-ends. I particularly like the “American” API emulation and also the “British” and “Tube” models.
ABOUT METRIC HALO Based New York’s Hudson Valley, Metric Halo provides the world with high-resolution metering, analysis, recording and processing solutions with award-winning software and hardware. www.mhlabs.com â€¢ www.planetjes.com
To view the latest single from JES, visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/planetjes#p/a/u/1/EMMy9xwdyOc
PHOTO CAPTION High Glow, the upcoming release from JES, which will be released March 15th, put the Metric Halo ULN-2 +DSP to good use.