As a producer and engineer who records music of many different styles, it’s important to have the right tools for the job. Over the last decade Producer Jason Rudd has been in studios across the country using gear of every type to capture the sound and soul of musicians of every genre. Not one for gear for the sake of gear, Rudd is a connoisseur of quality and function with an expert’s eye and ear for capturing the detail in audio recordings. Inspired by a trip to Capitol Studios, where he spent time exploring what has been described as the “mic locker of dreams”, we sat down to talk music production, dream gear, and learn about Frank Sinatra’s favorite microphone.
Tell us about a Producer’s secret weapons
I’ve always been fascinated with mics in terms of the way they are tools for specific applications and what problems you encounter in the studio that they solve. For example, if you have a really loud source, like a snare drum or a Marshall amp, you need a mic with high SPL capabilities. If you have something that is annoyingly bright, like a trumpet, it’s helpful to have a dark microphone. One of the other problems that they solve is through their pickup pattern. Some mics are very loose and that makes them good for rooms. Whereas, some mics can have a very tight pickup pattern that can be helpful when recording something up close like drums. When you want to get really dialed in on the floor tom and not pick up the ride cymbal, which is always right next to it, it helps to have a very tight hyper-cardioid pickup pattern.
It sounds like you have very specific tools for specific purposes?
Yes and no! There’s the unexplainable part about some microphones like specifically Neumanns. The U87 is the flagship mic that most people are familiar with from Neumann. It sounds pretty good on everything, and then there are times it’s absolutely exceptional and nothing beats it. There are hardly any microphones on earth that are that versatile. Once you drive Cadillacs, you’re not going to go back to the Honda, you know?
Frank Sinatra’s Neumann/Telefunken U47
While diving through the mic locker at Capitol Studios, Rudd got up close to a legendary piece of audio recording technology; Frank Sinatra’s “Telly” mic. After 1950, Sinatra reportedly refused to record with any other microphone other than his Telefunken U47 held at Capitol Studios. Most impressively, Capitol Studios Audio Engineer, Steve Genewick, has said the famous mic is “also the Bob Dylan mic, and the Paul McCartney mic… and the timpani mic… it gets used every day in the way it would in any other studio.” That’s the magic of Capitol Studio Masters that our Producers like Jason Rudd bring to your productions; music captured in the same way that legends such as Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Beach Boys laid it down.
To finish… what’s the most prized mic in your locker?
Neumann made a mic, the KM84 that was widely regarded as being absolutely perfectly flat, which is not really true at all, but that’s how people felt about it. It sounded flat to them. They made these mics for many years and they were very popular and everyone loved them. I did land a stereo pair of KM84s with the original purple badges on them. They’re in excellent condition, and I basically wouldn’t let go of them. I’ll will these to somebody when I’m dead!
Coming Soon: Cop Show Funk
One of Jason’s current projects is due to land on Capitol Studio Masters in September. Sessions are wrapped and mixing & mastering is due at Capitol Studios with the incredible Steve Genewick joining Rudd at the board. With a working title ‘Cop Show Funk’, we’ve been promised an album jamming vintage, kitschy funk with incredible retro vibes!
FirstCom Music brings you the legendary sonic integrity of Capitol Studios with the launch of Capitol Studio Masters; a collection of curated original music recorded, mixed and mastered at the iconic Capitol Studios.