With ten Grammy nominations under his belt, record-making comes naturally to the veteran producer/engineer Joe Chiccarelli. For the past ten years, he has called Hollywood's legendary Sunset Sound studio his home base. Here, he has worked with artists such as Jason Mraz, Young The Giant, My Morning Jacket, and many more. We recently sat down with Joe to talk about his approach to producing records, and specifically, how he chooses microphones:
A Paradigm Shift
Joe describes how his workflow has shifted as he segued from tracking analog to digital recording using Avid Pro Tools HDX. In the 80ies, it was critically important to get polished sounds during tracking. The detailed mixing process would happen at a later point in time. Nowadays, Joe finds that his mixing process starts immediately after, or sometimes during, recording.
"I'm basically building my mix during the overdub stage."
Consequently, mixing is all about finalizing things and finishing off a mix that he has fine-tuned for many weeks.
How to Choose Microphones
In the video, Joe explains that he starts thinking about all the elements of a record much before the actual sessions start. Microphones are, of course, a critical component in the tracking process. Thanks to his extensive experience working at top studios such as Cherokee Studios and Sunset, Joe has built up a mental sonic library. His internal catalog of sounds allows him to choose the right mic, depending on what genre and vibe he is going for.
"Mic choice is really a matter of capturing the right color with that particular instrument."
When reaching for a particular microphone, Joe continually thinks about how that microphone will help an instrument or a voice sit in the mix.
How to Produce Records with the Sphere L22
Joe has found that the Sphere L22 Modeling Microphone is a terrific starting point that gives him many options in post. It is much more a mixing tool than just a microphone. Working with the Sphere AAX DSP plug-in in a Pro Tools HDX setup, he can quickly audition different models in realtime. As a result, he sometimes ends up with choices that may not make sense on paper but work well in the mix. The Sphere plug-in allows Joe to get stunning-sounding results with fewer plug-ins and less DSP power. It has become an essential tool in how he produces records on a daily basis.
Moving Past the Initial Skepticism
Having access to a vast array of iconic microphones, it's no surprise that Joe was initially skeptical of Sphere. However, he was pleasantly surprised by the innovative capabilities and sonic quality once he put aside his reservations based on early-mic modeling solutions:
Why Sphere is a Great Learning Tool for all
With the Sphere L22, you can get to know those legendary microphones that are out of reach for many. That's why Joe Chiccarelli thinks that it's a real plus to start experimenting with microphone modeling:
Whether you're just starting or you're an experienced engineer: Sphere is a great tool to learn about the differences and similarities of common microphones.
With Sphere you now can:
- Record with the sound of microphones many have only dreamt about
- Change mic type, polar pattern, and other microphone characteristics, even after tracking!
- Audition the sound of different microphones without tiring the vocalist
- Reduce bleed, undesirable room coloration, and other common issues using Off-Axis Correction™
- Record in stereo from a single microphone
We invite you to install the free, fully-featured Sphere plug-in for all major platforms and DAWs. Try it now and reimagine our library of pre-recorded tracks.