Okay, you caught us red-handed… We crushed the hell out of it. Cranked the Slay up to infinity and let it go to town. Fattened it up with a little extra Body and threw to the wolves (disclaimer: no wolves were involved in the making of this song, unfortunately).
But we did say, “Screw it, you know what this song’s missing? More mutilated talkback microphones that probably should’ve never made it to the mix stage anyway.”
The results were pretty frickin’ badass™.
Why It Works
The microphone we used was mounted far from the kit – acting as a room mic when it wasn’t in use as a talkback. As you can hear in the clip, it was barely noticeable in the mix to begin with, and something Fluff didn’t feel he had gotten as much use out of as he would’ve liked.
By using Gain Reduction in lieu of another compressor, we were able to take advantage of all the plugins features that make it ideal as a vocal compressor.
We could control the Body of the track with fine adjustments without stacking additional plugins. We could dial in the right amount of Gain and Saturation. Most importantly, we knew the plugin could handle a huge amount of compression without giving out.
Compressing With Context
Also note that Fluff isn’t using the crushed talkback mic for the entire song, only the parts where he felt it really added something to the mix.
In this particular song, the verse was lacking a sonic quality when the additional guitars drop out after the chorus. By automating the bypass on Gain Reduction and only engaging it for the verse, we added something sonically interesting where it was needed, leaving the denser parts of our mix uncluttered.
Other Studio Rebels
While I wish we could claim total recording industry revolution by using talkbacks in a mix or just doing things the “wrong” way in general, there were some creative geniuses that beat us to it. You might have heard of the times where:
- Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” used the talkback and onboard compressor of an SSL 4000 for its iconic drum sound
- Michael Jackson recorded some of his “Billie Jean” vocals through a long cardboard tube
- The Beatles plugged guitars directly into preamps regularly for overdrive, and nearly blew up an Abbey Road console by daisy-chaining them
Breaking Your Own Rules?
What kind of workflow rule-breaker are you? The kind to mix entirely start to finish with an amp sim? Do you use Gain Reduction on your master bus (and every track before it)?
You’re crazy, and we love it. Come join the Joey Sturgis Tones Forum if you haven’t already. You can swap session stories and see how your studio antics rank with the rest of us!