For the 5x-Grammy-winning producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Cassidy Turbin, the magic of recording lies in capturing real musicians playing together in one room. We met up with him at his personal studio, Willowcrest Recorders, in Los Angeles to talk about microphones, the magic of recording, and what it was like working with the artist Beck.
Cassidy found his way into recording at a young age, trying to play drums along with the radio. Once he got "hooked on audio", things naturally progressed from there. The LA-native played drums in bands throughout high school and started to pick up other instruments and record other people. Today, Cassidy wears many hats in the record-making process: Sometimes, he's just engineering or mixing, sometimes he plays drums or keys and takes care of engineering on top. It's his love for music and making records that ties it all together. As a result, he is an in-demand session musician, engineer, producer, and mixer. He has collaborated with artists such as Keyon Harrold, Childish Gambino, Dwight Yoakum, and Frith.
Engineering for Beck
Cassidy got the chance to work regularly for Beck in his early 20’s, which led to engineering and mixing on the albums "Morning Phase" and "Colors." That process exposed him to a whole gamut of studios, musicians, and musical styles. As a consequence, Cassidy had his eyes and ears opened up to different, eclectic sonics.
A particular moment that stuck with Cassidy from that period was his first session at Ocean Way Studios (now United Recording Studio) in Hollywood, CA. The wall of sound from multiple musicians performing at their best right at that moment left a lasting impression. The combination of musical talent, the room's sonic character, and the legendary Ocean Way mic collection all contributed to this magic of recording.
"There's just something special about Ocean Way and their mic collection." - Cassidy Turbin
His work with Beck has earned Cassidy five Grammy Awards for his audio engineering contributions- two of which are in the category of 'Best Engineered Non-Classical,' a Grammy award recognizing the engineering sonics of an album.
How Cassidy overcame his initial skepticism about the Sphere L22
With vintage Neumann U47s and other prized classics being at Cassidy's daily disposal in his early 20’s, he certainly is no stranger to high-end condenser microphones. Over the years, he has built a reliable "mental library" of these iconic microphones and their sonic character. So it comes to no surprise that he was initially skeptical of microphone modeling when he first heard about it. But he nonetheless gave the Sphere L22 a shot and realized that there was so much more to it than just static EQ.
"Sphere is not just frequency response when you're straight on the mic. It's kinda like magic. It's science, but I'm not that scientific, so it's magic to me." - Cassidy Turbin
Cassidy then went on to compare Sphere's LD-12 model with his vintage AKG C12 microphone. While it didn't sound exactly like his C12 (no vintage C12s sound the same), it sounded genuinely fantastic. In some cases, such as an acoustic guitar, he even preferred the model to the vintage counterpart.
Tracking bands in small rooms with the Sphere L22
For Cassidy Turbin, the magic of recording comes most naturally when several musicians track in one room simultaneously. Despite having a reasonably small tracking room (18' x 16'), Cassidy loves recording entire bands in his space. Taking inspiration from classic Motown records, he embraces whatever bleed (also called 'crosstalk') he may get. That said, he uses all the tools available to him to reduce the bleed to an acceptable level. One of those tools is the Sphere L22 and the accompanying plug-in with its advanced features.
"I can just put that mic up in front, record without latency using the AAX DSP version, and then pick the mic that cancels the bleed out the best after the fact. It's really cool." - Cassidy Turbin
Building percussion arrangements on the fly
As a drummer and percussionist who often records himself, Cassidy is mindful of creating a recording environment that fosters creativity. The Sphere L22 is his go-to microphone that just stays on a mic stand at all times. With the mic set up to recording in stereo, his approach allows him to build entire percussion arrangements in no time. Without worrying about the specific mic model at the time of recording, he performs different percussion parts around the mic to build up a track. As a second step, he may change the mic model or play with other parameters such as panning and stereo width after recording.
"I'm a person all about trying to commit to what you want, but sometimes you don't know what you want yet. With this mic, you can just go record and worry about those choices later in the mix." - Cassidy Turbin
Watch Cassidy Turbin's session walkthrough video for the song 'Spell of Love', which he recorded almost exclusively with the Sphere L22. In the video, Cassidy explains the tracking process for guitar, vocals, drums, horns, and percussion.
Low-latency workflow with Pro Tools HDX
Cassidy's built his recording setup around a Pro Tools HD system using the included Sphere AAX DSP plug-in. Being a drummer and experienced musician, he is acutely aware of latency issues. The DSP-powered AAX plug-in for Pro Tools allows him to monitor the mic models in realtime with extremely low latency that doesn't interfere with the performance. This workflow is fast, reliable, and leaves all the options open for mixing. Since the AAX DSP plug-in is very light on DSP resources, he typically leaves it in place throughout a session.
Live Q&A with Cassidy Turbin
Replay our Live Q&A session with Cassidy from September 20th, 2020, and tap into Cassidy's vast experience and knowledge. Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notified on future videos and live streams.
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.