5x-Grammy-Winner Cassidy Turbin (Beck, Keyon Harrold, Childish Gambino) and his brother Jason (aka Cadence Kid) embarked on recording a song using mostly the Sphere L22 microphone. The project highlights how Cassidy uses the Sphere L22 to record and mix a wide range of instruments. Here is Cassidy's exclusive session walkthrough of their original tune "Spell of Love".

Instruments covered:

  • Electric Guitar (in stereo with a single Sphere L22)
  • Vocals (how to contrast lead and backing vocals)
  • Horns (clarinet & trumpet )
  • Drums (Sphere L22 on drum overheads and snare overdubs)
  • Percussion (why Cassidy likes to track in stereo)

Watch the 'Spell of Love' Session Walkthrough With Cassidy Turbin

In case you missed our interview feature with Cassidy Turbin, make sure to catch up here.

Halloween Giveaway

As a special treat, we have teamed up with Cassidy and his brother for a Halloween giveaway. Download the exclusive multitracks of 'Spell of Love' and start creating your own mix, remix, or new version of the song. Submit your work until October 31, 2020 for your chance to win one of two Sphere L22 microphones. Follow this link to learn more and get started.

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The Sonic Vision

Cassidy and Jason set out to give the song a smokey, New Orleans vibe, and they chose the instrumentation accordingly. The arrangement is starts centered around a single electric guitar and then builds up from there. Cassidy and Jason not only wrote and recorded the track, but they also performed all the instruments themselves. Working very quickly, they let the song dictate the flow and sonic choices.  

"It was actually really quick to record. We recorded the entire tune in a single afternoon." - Cassidy Turbin

Sphere's capability to change microphone models and other parameters after the recording is done was instrumental in the process.

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Three-Dimensional Electric Guitars in Stereo

Cassidy recorded the primary electric guitar theme with a Fender Stratocaster guitar and a Roland Jazz Chorus amp. Rather than putting the mic up-close for a very direct sound, he chose to back it off slightly and record the amp in stereo. You can do so with a single Sphere L22 mic by rotating it 90 degrees and using the dedicated Sphere 180 plug-in. 

"I was then able to capture what the amp would sound like when you're sitting right in front of it." - Cassidy Turbin

Session walkthrough with Cassidy Turbin guitar setup Sphere L22 in stereo

When rotated 90 degrees from the principal axis, the Sphere L22 makes for an excellent stereo recording mic.

This technique became even more compelling in the B-section of the song, for which Cassidy engaged the chorus effect of the guitar amp. This is a true stereo chorus spread out across the two speakers of the amp. Recording it in stereo creates an immersive, three-dimensional listening experience of the modulation effect that would have been impossible to capture in mono. 

Over in the Sphere plug-in, Cassidy chose a pair of LD-67 models based on the venerable Neumann U67. Set to cardioid and with a simple high-pass in the plug-in, the electric guitar serves as the foundation for 'Spell of Love.' Learn more about Sphere's LD-67 models and the history of the U67 in this blog post.

Vocals

With vintage Neumann U47s and other prized classics being at Cassidy's daily disposal in his early 20's, he is intimately familiar with the nuances of the 47. Sphere's LD-47K model proved to be a perfect match for his brother's lead vocal in "Spell of Love." Jason's voice sits nicely in the track with the 47's cardioid pattern selected and no processing other than a simple 60 Hz high-pass.

In contrast, Cassidy chose a much darker sound for the call-and-response lines of the backing vocals. The Sphere L22 includes several moving coil and ribbon mics options, including two versions of the iconic 77 ribbon mic. Cassidy went with the RB-77DX Umber model that instantly creates the darker characteristics we know so well from ribbons. Without any additional processing, the backing vocals sound like they sit behind the lead vocal track.

Horn Section 

In the session walkthrough, Cassidy Turbin demonstrates how choosing the right mic model can help instruments to better come through in the mix. Cassidy plays clarinet and his brother Jason trumpet, so they set out to add a Dixieland horn section. He breaks down the horn section consisting of three clarinets and two trumpets in the video. Generally, the 4038 ribbon is his go-to microphone for trumpets, but with that, the horns got buried in the mix. Switching the entire section to the LD-47K model cleaned up the sound and let the horns become more audible without adding EQ or increasing the level. It also took out some of the 'tubbiness' in the trumpets.

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Drums

As an in-demand drummer and percussionist, Cassidy always keeps a drum set record-ready at his studio. The Sphere L22 in stereo mode (Sphere 180) centered over the drum kit allows him to capture the entire set with a single mic.

Session walkthrough with Cassidy Turbin on drums with Sphere L22 overhead

On 'Spell of Love,' the drums first come in with just a basic kick and hi-hat pattern. Later on in the B-section, the part changes to a floor tom rumble groove.

A large part of the drum sound in the song comes from the Sphere L22 overhead mic. Cassidy keeps the kick drum in the middle through careful placement of the mic while the snare and the floor tom fall on opposite sides of the stereo field. Here, a pair of LD-47K models perfectly complement the old-school vibe of the drum kit. This setup alone would cost $40,000.00 or more for a couple of vintage Neumann U47 tube microphones. Cassidy uses the width control of the Sphere 180 plug-in to spread the instruments out even more and to clear out the center of the mix. He also added a couple of spot mics to reinforce the drum sound and add punch.

Finally, Cassidy adds a marching snare drum part, this time with the Sphere L22 in mono centered over the drum. Once again, his favorite LD-47K model captures the snare drum's tone in a way that matches the aesthetics of the tune. Cassidy utilizes Sphere's built-in high-pass filter to clear out some of the low-end and make the part sit in the mix better.

Percussion

To wrap up the session walkthrough of 'Spell of Love,' Cassidy Turbin deconstructs the various percussion parts. This is where he had the most fun and quickly build an intricate percussion arrangement that moves the song forward. In 'Spell of Love,' Cassidy recorded several shakers, tambourine, and cymbal parts to add texture and depth.

Session walkthrough with Cassidy Turbin percussion overdubs with stereo Sphere L22

Tracking percussion in stereo with the Sphere L22 allows Cassidy to focus on the music and make mix decisions later.

Cassidy prefers to record most percussion in stereo so that he can place the parts in the stereo field while tracking. Because Sphere's stereo capture is fully mono-compatible, he is free to play with the width and positioning of the elements in the mix.

He also chooses the virtual microphones not based on dogma but based on what works best musically. A great example is a cymbal stack part whose tone he quickly transforms by swapping mic models. The very dark RB-77DX Umber model gives the stack a pleasant lo-fi quality that adds a sense of reverb to the backbeat. The DN-421 model in the Sphere's core collection is another favorite of Cassidy's for percussion and piano.

Listen to examples from the session walkthrough with Cassidy Turbin

Live Q&A with Cassidy Turbin

In addition to the session walkthrough with Cassidy Turbin, we get together with Cassidy for a Live Q&A on our YouTube channel on September 20th. This is your chance to ask questions and tap into Cassidy's vast experience and knowledge. Learn more about the live-streaming event here. 

Townsend Labs Live Q&A with Grammy-winner Cassidy Turbin header image full HD 1920x1080

Find out more about Cassidy and his work: https://www.cassidyturbin.com/


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

You are invited 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.


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