Burbank, CA â€“ May, 2010â€¦ Whether heâ€™s fronting his 18-piece orchestra or performing with the 3-piece rockabilly band the Stray Cats, guitarist Brian Setzer has a unique sound that has inspired fans the world over. Capturing that sound and ensuring each individual instrument has its own place in the mix is no easy task. Thatâ€™s precisely why when itâ€™s time to mic Brianâ€™s guitarâ€”as well as the bass and drumsâ€”FOH (front of house) engineer Jimbo Neal relies on his assortment of Royer Labs microphones to get the job done right.
In addition to being responsible for all sound considerations in terms of mixing and recording shows for both the Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Stray Cats, Jimbo is also the FOH engineer for Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics fame). With such high profile artists among his credits, it comes as no surprise that Jimbo has some very strong opinions when it comes to his choice of microphones. This is precisely why he relies on Royerâ€™s Live Series microphonesâ€”the R-121 Live and R-122 Liveâ€”as well as the critically acclaimed Royer SF-24 Stereo Active Ribbon Microphone. With their warm, natural sound, the ability to handle high SPLs, and their robust build quality, Jimbo knows he can count on his Royers during the heat of performance.
With his signature Gretsch hollow body guitar, Brian Setzer plays through a Fender Bassman amplifier. This is a unique combination of instruments to mic,â€? Jimbo explained. â€œThe Fender Bassman can get a little edgy, and the R-121 Live does a terrific job of keeping the sound really smooth and true. Thereâ€™s a lot of SPL coming off that amp cabinet and, with its ability to handle those levels, the R-121 keeps the sound warm and smooth. Iâ€™ve had countless musicians come up to me a say, â€˜How does that guitar sound so good?â€™ Whenever that happens, Iâ€™ll give them the headphones so they can listen to the Royer micâ€™s impact on the sound and then they just smile and say â€˜OK, I get itâ€™. The R-121 makes a huge difference to the sound.â€?
Jimbo reports that for this application, he typically positions the R-121 Live roughly a half inch from the grill cloth and rotated at a 45-degree angleâ€”pointed directly at the dome of the loudspeaker. From there, the guitar sound is fed through the sound reinforcement system.
Bassist John â€œSpazâ€? Hatton, who plays an upright bass specially outfitted with two pickups, has his amp cabinet miked with the Royer R-122 Live. â€œJohnâ€™s bass has two pickups that feed direct boxes,â€? explained Jimbo, â€œand the R-122 Live complements the sound from the direct boxes. Without the Royer, thereâ€™s a hole in the bass sound. The R-122 really completes the sound and, to be perfectly honest, more often than not, I tend to lean on the R-122 more than I do the direct boxes. This mic brings an element of the overall bass sound that the direct boxes alone donâ€™t deliver.â€?
For Hattonâ€™s bass amp, Jimbo places the R-122 Live horizontally onto a 10-inch speaker. He typically positions the mic 2.5 â€“ 3 inches away from the grill cloth, rotated 45-degrees and slightly tilted downward. â€œBy setting the mic this way,â€? Jimbo explained, â€œI get better rejection from the drummerâ€™s cymbals, which are very close by. I find the R-122â€™s figure-8 pattern and its nulls (points of minimum signal reception) work really well in terms of helping to isolate the bass from the surrounding cymbals and toms.â€?
Jimbo also reports that heâ€™s become very fond of his Royer SF 24 Stereo Active Ribbon Microphone, which he uses for drum overheads with drummer Tony Pia. â€œI typically position the SF-24 about four feet directly over the rack toms in the center of the drum kit,â€? Jimbo says. â€œMake no mistake; I will never handle a live drummer again without this mic. Itâ€™s that good.â€?
Before turning his attention back to the issues of preparing for the next concert date, Jimbo summarized his experience with Royer Labs. â€œRoyer Labs is a great company that really understands and supports its customers,â€? he said. â€œDave Royerâ€™s passion for sound quality reinforces the fact that with Royer, I know Iâ€™m working with a quality microphone. Everyone at the company has a real passion for what they do and it shows in the quality of the microphoneâ€™s performance. Iâ€™ve taken these mics around the world twice and, in all that touring, Iâ€™ve yet to experience a problem. These mics are built really well.â€?
â€œOn these shows, every input has to sound great,â€? Jimbo continued,â€? and the Royer mics really help me with that. The bass and guitar are such important parts of the show that they have to really sound exceptional. When weâ€™re working with the larger orchestra, my Royer mics help me with imagingâ€”placing the sound exactly where it needs to be while maintaining the definition of each individual player. If I could figure out how to put my Royers on every source that needed to miked, I would.â€?
About Royer Labs
Located in Burbank, California, Royer Labsâ€™ microphones are a staple of leading recording and broadcast facilities. Additional information on the entire line of Royer Labs microphones and other aspects of the company can be found at www.royerlabs.com.