Blogosphere #2: An Autobiography of a Rock And Roll Record

Forward:

Brad is doing his first collection of blog posts about his record. He is going to be telling the story of how the record went from idea to action to product. Brad was an active musician for years but as life went on, life got in the way.

Love for art never goes away, however.

Shortly after we got 5/4 rolling he and I began work on his new Album. It is still in progress but it is moving quickly. This is his narrative. This is the beginning of his venture with his music rekindling and restarting, in many ways, right where it left off several years ago. 

This is

"An Autobiography of a Rock And Roll Record"

by Bradley Lenz

Once upon a time in a college town far away, for some people that is, I started performing with alternative Rock and Roll bands. I was lucky. There was plenty of venues and college kids that provided a scene that reflected what was going on all over. It meant music had a place to thrive. The fraternities could not get enough of the new Rock and Roll emanating from college radio. I played Bass in some bands. Guitars in other bands. I played cover tunes; other peoples music. And, I wrote and performed songs that I wrote. It was an experience. 

Ultimately you finish school, Grad school, Blah Blah Blah… not important for this story. Let us just say time passed. I stopped playing music. Then one day I saw Joe Smothers in a restaurant. He played for years with Doc Watson; and taught me to Travis Pick when I was sixteen. But I was many years away from the young man Joe met at the Mill House in Valdosta, Georgia. He asked me about my music. I said I did not play anymore. He looked upon me as if I was sick. We talked. I wondered If something was wrong. With me. 

That being said, who am I you might like to know. I am one of the five partners of the 5/4 Management Group. We have a recording studio and rehearsal space that we rent to musicians and any artist that can come up with at least $150 a month for work space, and a showcase venue for bands and visual artists. The Space is meant to incubate new art. We want everyone to be involved. 

Yet there is, of course, more then one reason why I'm telling the Autobiography of my record. I am a song writer and musician. After all these years of obscurity I admit I am looking forward to telling a little of that tale. Know that people create art for themselves first, without others, hoping to share something of our collective human experience. As for Fame… Who Knows… I never was…and the few famous people I have met, in the varying fields they represented, seemed perfectly normal, with the same shared aspirations as everyone. I think the consensus is, it is hard to be famous with everyone.

5/4 gave me the opportunity to work with a great studio and the sound engineers that really make the music happen. I wanted to be back around music. However, I was sitting in the stands at a Braves Baseball game when I thought; could I play my music again? I asked my brother Dan, “do you think I should play music again?” The response I got was unexpected. He said, “I think you should; What was that song…?” And he proceeded to sing varying lyrics to songs I wrote and performed, some of which, I had not thought of in nearly 20 years. I did not think anyone remembered; I was wrong.

A Rock and Roll record! The cover art of the albums we love are as familiar as pictures of old friends. Music is associated with these images that participate in the biographies of our lives, loves, hopes, and tragedies. And, as familiar as the sound of our music becomes few of us really know the story behind the records and music that define the margins of a time, or friendship. The purpose of this story is to tell the tale of one Rock and Roll record; My Rock and Roll record, from the beginning of the story to the end: For You. 

My hopes are that we all learn something from the process. I would like to learn more about myself and the people that play music with me. And my hope for you is that you learn something concerning the recording industry, music, aesthetics, and hopefully…Yourself Too. Documenting a process provides us a moment in time; with an open future. I am excited to watch this future unfold, and I hope you are too. Recording a record is about choices. We all hope to make good choices in life; as in art. This journey we will share.

So an older man looked at a picture in an old newspaper of a younger version of himself. And that is when I decided to see if I could still write and sing songs. That’s me, second from the left. 

 

The Blogosphere!

Welcome to the first of many 5/4 blog posts! 

I am Steven Jarvis, one of the studio engineers at 5/4 Music Space. 

I have been writing on music for quite awhile now. 5+ years maybe? 

The 5/4 team had the idea to start doing these blog posts as a way to further educate people on everything music. 5/4 is set up as a "Music Incubator". Essentially, it is a safe place for creatives to come and make art.

5/4 has one goal: to facilitate/develop musical art. 

 

Some of these posts will be technical in nature in order to further educate young artists. 

Some will be simple updates on day to day happenings here at 5/4.

Some will be about creative practices or maybe songwriting.

We plan to talk a little bit about EVERYTHING that we do here.

With this in mind, we begin our new blog! 

 

Blogosphere #1: Reviewing the AKG Perception 220 Condenser Mic

I chose this mic as the first topic simply because it was the first condenser mic that I ever owned. It has a special place in my heart because I bought this microphone before I even knew that I wanted to pursue audio production.

 

TRIGGER WARNING: I AM ABOUT TO GET A LITTLE SCIENTIFIC

The Perception 220 is a fixed cardioid, large diaphragm FET condenser mic. It's frequency response ranges from 20-20,000Hz and is fairly flat. In theory, it could be a perfect vox microphone in a studio setting because of how flat the response is. 

Here is a picture of the graphed response:

http://en.audiofanzine.com/condenser-microphone/akg/Perception-220/medias/pictures/a.play,m.923034.html

It is also a nice overhead. 
I've only used it as a single overhead, but a matching pair would sound delicious because of where the peak sits on the high frequencies(somewhere between 10 and 11k).
It's got a high pass filter or bass rolloff switch that will bring down the lows starting at about 300Hz. 
It also has a pad switch that brings it down -20dB which has led me to experiment with it in live situations. It works great as a live overhead, room mic, and Bass Cab mic.

It comes with a shock mount and a decent plastic carrying case. It is on sale for 150$ new. When I purchased it a few years back, I think it was closer to 250$. 150$ for this microphone is a steal.



My favorite thing about this mic is that I've yet to get tired of it. As it is a 150$ microphone, that is a big deal! 
I also love that it gives so much freedom to E.Q. in post! Equally captured frequencies are incredibly helpful when doing a large mix! 
Where the highs are smoothly accented in the response, it is also able to capture very natural sounds. I love using it to record live acoustic sessions. Great for catching the dynamic of the room.
This mic was recommended to me by a friend and fellow sound engineer years ago. I bought it as my first condenser. It still finds it's way into most of my studio projects somehow or another.

I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new mic to add to their collection but especially to those who are new to the world of pro audio and in need of a first decent and decently priced condenser mic. It is all around trust worthy.



Pros:
- Price Point; It will pay for itself in one session.
- Flat Frequency Response makes it very versatile.
- Very smooth sound. 
- Great overhead.
- Great Vocal mic(in a studio setting).
- Great room mic.

Cons:
- DO NOT BOTHER trying to mic guitar cabs. It hasn't a great response to higher SPL's.
- A little sensitive. Even for a condenser.
- The High Pass filter cuts too much out and starts to affect the warmth of the sound.
- Figuring out the proper time to use the pad versus volume or gain cuts can be tricky. There is something about it's character that causes this. It could just be me, though.