Mystery Street Gears Up for Winter- Adds Neumann, API, Manley, and More
We started out by adding the classic Neumann U87 large diaphragm microphone to our collection in October. This mic brought us a detailed and punchy, pop/rock vocal tone that we were hoping for.
A week later, to complement the U87, we picked up the versatile Manley Dual Mono Preamp. The two-channel Manley has been not only great for thick, rich vocals, but it has been outstanding for drum overheads, acoustic guitar, and bass. The Manley can be adjusted to smooth out harshness, or it can be used to extend an instrument’s punch. We have found ourselves changing the settings through a single take of vocals or bass, to adjust to changes in performance styles. It works great for vocalists who want their chorus to punch, but want their verses to lay back. The same goes for bass players that might finger pick then slap parts of a song. By manually riding the gain, we can make the finger picking sections more punchy and make the slaps sound smoother, to even out a highly dynamics performance without relying 100% on compression.
Shortly after adding the Manley, we added another tube preamp specifically to bring a particular sound to one client’s project. This was the Bellari RP-220. While this might fall in the “low end” category, this vintage preamp can do some magic. A little music history here, this preamp was used to get that signature over driven vocal and guitar sound on Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” It was exactly what this particular client was looking for. We recently did a session to test it out. We plugged in acoustic guitar direct to the Bellari and cranked up the gain… it was fantastic and exactly what we were hoping for. We ran some vocals through it (U87), as well as the drum overheads (Shure KSM32) and it really brought the song to life.
So we went from “high-end” to “low-fi” in a matter of weeks and decided to also pick up a Tascam 464 four-track cassette recorder. While we love making things sound pristine, sometimes a song calls for something different and we aren’t ashamed to experiment! We recently tracked drums to cassette with this and it was quite nostalgic.
It doesn’t end there though. For the past month or so, we’ve had a API 3124+ on loan and had a lot of opportunities to see what a beast this thing really is. We used in on vocals, kick, snare and toms, sax, and even French horn. This preamp brought such a big punch we couldn’t imagine doing another session without it, so with the help of our friends at Sweetwater, we bought one of our own. It adds massive depth to rock drums, to female vocals, or anything that you want to “fatten up.” While the API isn’t for everything, it is unbelievable on so much. I wouldn’t consider this preamp to be as versatile as the Manley, but where the Manley’s powers end, the API picks up. On the punchy scale (not a scientific scale!), Manley lets me go from 30 to 70 and the API from 50-100. We really look forward to getting the API in the rack this week. In the meantime, we’ve still got the loaner, so we won’t go through withdrawal.
We’ve been using this gear working with The Missing Chums, UnderFire, The Freedonian Municipal Band, PandaDog, The Black Ribbon, and more. Be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming albums from these bands… they are sure to impress.