You've Got a Friend in Me, Sean!

All last week I was racking my brain as to who this mystery person I was going to be recording was and what they wanted me to do. Well, you'l be happy to know I got my answer and I was more than excited to say the least. Little did I know what lay in store for me. After interviewing head tach person Sean Astill on The Great Dynamic Range podcast, I'd found out he had quite a few stints working for one of the best studios in Australia. Studio 301 to be exact, which is just one of the reasons I thought this project was right up my alley. 


What Sean had planned just flawed me! He's about to have a baby? first of all, I don't remember discussing that in the podcast, but I like new information. Secondly, this song we are about to record is for said baby. As someone was a baby, I could definitely see how this is a gift that means a whole lot of good stuff to a future audio protege. 

The song we were recording was by singer/songwriter Randy Newman which is the famous tune You've Got A Friend In Me In Toy Story. The song will be performed by Sean, Sean's Dad and Sean's twin Brother. One thing that I really enjoyed about this project was the song itself. It immediately puts you in a good mood no matter how many takes you need to do. Lucky I was working with a professional. Here's a video of Randy singing his heart out.

We started with the drums, which is my favourite part of studio work and for some reason not popular. I know it was easter Monday and it's technically a holiday but I turned up solo to this production. In some ways that was for the best, because I got to use my own skills I've acquired and there wasn't too many voices in the studio.


Our setup consisted of 14 microphones, and great sounding Ludwig grey kit through the Neve Custom 75 Console. 

  • 2x Royer 121 (Overheads)
  • 2x Neumann U87 (Room)
  • 2x AKG C414 (Overheads)
  • 1x SM58 (HiHats)
  • 1x SM57 (Snare Top)
  • 1x SM57 (Snare Bottom)
  • 3x Sennheiser 421 (2 for the Top Tom and one for the Bottom of the small)
  • 1x Sennheiser 421 (Kick In)
  • 1x AKG D112 (Kick Out)
Phase inverted cable at work, sorry for the blur

Phase inverted cable at work, sorry for the blur

Since we were using so many microphones, Sean had a technique that would allow us to minimise the input list. Instead of manually inverting the phase on the desk, we would use cables. Yep! that's right, there is such a thing as phase inverting cables and I don't know why I didn't know think about it till now. This will save my inputs and a lot of time in future drum recordings. I'm really excited that this session has taught me something new and will improve my knowledge of studio equipment. 

As you can see in the above video, we used the patch bay extensively. We worked with a Distressor, dbx160a and the 2254 compressor on the Neve Custom 75 console. These were fed straight back through the returns, so I didn't get any A-B comparisons. In retrospect I wish I had done this, so I could have written more about the patching and what it achieved.