sunnuntai 19. huhtikuuta 2020

Kekkonen elää! - Live #1 Iron Country Sisters

Kekkonen elää! is back after a long break and this time we'll be streaming our sessions live!

Yes, we are aware that in this time streaming is the new black, so it isn't a terribly original idea, but nonetheless we wanted to give our dear clients an opportunity to stream small scale live sessions with a great sound. Each session will have a little special feature and we'll do a recording setup overview in the blog and our Instagram (@studiokekkonen - be sure to follow us!).

The sessions will be streamed for free on the Studio Kekkonen YouTube channel (please click the little subscribe button!), but there are ways you can help each artists and we'll make sure you'll be aware of how you can do that.

Our first session is with Iron Country Sisters! Formed in 2014, Iron Country Sisters is a trio of three sisters Paula, Silja and Julia Rautamaa, who released their debut album "The Blue Hidden In" (out on Soit Se Silti) in 2019. Recorded partially at Studio Kekkonen, the album was produced by the latest addition to the Kekkonen team Eero Nurmela, alongside the sisters themselves. The record received good reviews in the Finnish music press. You can support the band by buying a physical copy of the album here.

Follow Iron Country Sisters on their social media platforms: 

Oh, and finally, welcome to the team, Eero!

The session will stream live right here:

torstai 23. huhtikuuta 2015

Kekkonen elää! #9 Vesterinen yhtyeineen - "Valot eteiseen" live at Studio Kekkonen

Kekkonen elää! is back with a brand new live session! Now it's time for Vesterinen yhtyeineen to present a ballad from their new album Onnellinen mies, which is going to be released in may!

Thanks again to our backers at Soundtools and the video guys at Luomustudio.

Kekkonen elää! #9

  Vesterinen yhtyeineen: Valot eteiseen

Written and performed by Vesterinen yhtyeineen   

Mikko Enqvist - Guitar
Teemu Jokinen - Drums, backing vocals
Petri Kivimäki - Acoustic guitar 
Markus Piha - Bass
Janne Riionheimo - Keys, backing vocals 
Tero Vesterinen - Vocals

Recorded by Julius Mauranen & Mikko Raita
Assistant engineering by Arttu Aalto & Janne Riionheimo
Mixed by
Janne Riionheimo

Video by Luomustudio
In association with Soundtools 

About the song and the session

Vesterinen yhtyeineen was recording their fourth album during the Kekkonen elää! live session and the song “Valot eteiseen” was going to be performed for the album a few months after the session so the band had a great opportunity to demo the song in the studio environment. As the keyboard player of the band, I (Janne) was also playing with the band, so the recording was mainly carried out by Juppu and Mikko. However, as I recorded, mixed and produced (together with our drummer Teemu) band’s new album, it was natural for me to mix the song also for this Kekkonen elää! session.

The band had played the song only a few times before the session so this was the first version of the song. The arrangement of the song changed slightly after the session (and due to the session!) but the music, lyrics and basic tranquil mood remained the same. There is no drums in the final album version and also another acoustic guitar is added to the arrangement. The icing of the cake in the album version is an epic flugelhorn solo in the end of the song played by Martti Vesala, but let’s now talk about this session.

About the recording

We did the session again at our lounge and our aim was to capture an intimate and delicate band performance regardless of the leakage between the instruments. The song was built upon Pate’s acoustic guitar picking that was picked up by our wonderful Neumann KM88i through a Knif Audio V804 pre. Although the drums weren’t very loud, Pate’s picking was quite quiet, so we recorded also the DI from the acoustic guitar. The DI signal from the acoustic guitar is a combination of a condenser mic inside the body and a saddle Piezo pickup, but we had to make rather piezo-heavy balance of the two because there was a quiet but audible distortion in the condenser.

Tero’s main vocal was recorded with our Neumann U48 (through the Knif Audio V804 pre) and for drummer Teemu’s backing vocals we used the Shure SM7. Janne sang to the very cool and exotic Audio-Technica 5040.

Lead guitarist Mikko “Jönkka” Enqvist played a Gibson 335 through the Vox AC30, that we placed into the office and recorded with two mics: Shure 57 and Audio-Technica 4081 ribbon. There were two Neumann CMV 563’s as overheads, Shure 57 on snare, Sennheiser MD441 on hihat and AKG D112 and Audio-Technica 4050ST on kick drum. Two AKG C414 XLS’s was used for the room.

Make played his bass through Electro-harmonix Bass MicroSynth with a mild volume pedal effect, after which the signal was captured with his SansAmp Bass Driver DI. Janne had NI’s B3 emulation on his laptop and played it with the AKAI MPK mini mk2, which is actually a pretty nice mini keyboard with 25 synth-action keys and a 4-way thumbstick that Janne used for the Leslie speed control. The keyboard has also a sustain pedal input and a USB-B port instead of a mini-USB like in its predecessor.      

All the tracks, except KM88i and U48, went through our MS Audiotron desk without any extra processing.

The band rehearsed the song few times and after the headphone balance was ok for all, they were ready for the take. The song was played three or four times but as usual the best take was the first one!

About the mix

It took about seven months until I opened the session for mixing and at first the arrangement sounded ”wrong” for me because I had become so familiar with the album version, which has also been a part of band’s set list. However, the mood and Tero’s vocals are so fantastic in this live take, that it makes this recording comparable to the album version (or even better!!!).

At first the mixing of Valot eteiseen was quite easy. The rough mix without any processing except some low-mid cut and high boost on the master sounded pretty nice so all I have to do was to try to polish it. First I inserted a Slate Virtual Mixing channel to all tracks (except busses) and a Virtual Mixing Bus to the master bus. Our default for the plugin is Brit 4K emulation with 6dB drive which I also used for the mix. I tried to mix some time with Brit N, but it was so fat that I switched back to the default.

I started mixing with the vocals and as Tero with U48 is a familiar couple for me, I used my default setup for them. That is a AVID EqIII for cutting resonances (nothing radical this time because Tero was singing so smoothly), 1178 for compression (our LA2 is under maintenance), Waves API 550B for boosting high end, three Waves C1’s for compressing some specific frequency bands (180Hz, 3kHz and 3,8kHz) and a Massey S-limiter.

The acoustic guitar track was a combination of KM88i and the DI signal. I cut some highs and lows from the KM88i because the drum leakage was quite dominant. Some lower mids were cut from the DI and the combination were compressed with dbx 160 the needle hardly moving.

At this point it was obvious that the drums leakage to acoustic guitar’s KM88i and to the lead vocal’s U48 and the vocal leakage to the KM88i would affect to the overall sound. Even though I compressed the mids and highs from the vocal and acoustic guitar tracks with Waves C6’s that were sidechained from snare and Hh (it actually worked well!), the drum ambience was characterized by the leakage. But hey, this is a live recording!

Some bass was added to the kick drum and low-mids were cut with AVID EqIII. In snare I cutted ringing on 150Hz with AVID EqIII and cutted attack with the SPL Transient designer plug-in. I used Waves DeEsser both on snare and on OH:s to get as soft sound as I could, because the character of drumset high-end was determined by other mics! The set was finally slightly compressed with our Gyraf G10 Vari-Mu.

Bass had a 2dB low boost with Waves API 550B and mild compression with dbx160. I used also a Sound Toys Decapitator to warm it a little bit. Jönkka’s guitar didn’t have any processing, just the right balance between the two mics, which was actually adjusted while recording.

BV:s were slightly compressed with Waves Rcompressors (no eq this time) and the keys were warmed up with Decapitator and some mud was cut with AVID EqIII.

And how about the reberb? Oh, yes there is a little on the vocals. Some plate from ReVibe that was also used as a demo verb while recording.

On the master I had the demo AVID EqIII from the rough mix activated all the time as well as our normal chain that was Audiotron desk stereo channel with master EQ (few dBs at high-end) -> G-SSL -> Otari MTR-12 1/4” tape machine. I added some more high-end to the the demo master eq and also with the Waves API550B. I used our Rantanen LA4 as a parallel compressor with all the tracks through it.

After all I didn’t use the room mics at all. The mix was quite sensitive due to leakage. I couldn’t add high-end to the vocals or acoustic guitar without adding ambience to the drums and I couldn’t raise the volume of acoustic guitar without adding ambience to the drums and to the vocals or without adding a distortion from the DI-track. But what the heck, once in a while it’s beneficial to have limitations!

torstai 20. marraskuuta 2014

Kekkonen elää! #8 Juurakko - "Eipä Kasva Kaikki Laulut" live at Studio Kekkonen

This time we are proud to present Juurakko, five incredibly talented musicians mixing finnish folk and blues with a skiffle instrumentation twist. They recently released their debut album “Lauluja Kuistilta” on the Inkoon Musiikki label, including this song, “Eipä Kasva Kaikki laulut” (translated “O Roots, Where Groweth Ye?”).

Kekkonen elää! #8
Juurakko: Eipä kasva kaikki laulut

Performed by Juurakko
Written by Minsku Tammela, lyrics trad, arranged by Juurakko
Kaisa Saarikorpi - Vocal, suitcase kick drum, Moomin mug
Eija Kankaanranta - Concert kantele
Minsku Tammela - Vocal, flower pot
Anna Wiksten - Vocal, karttu
Laura Kaartinen - Vocal, pump organ

Recorded by Mikko Raita & Julius Mauranen
Assistant engineers Arttu Aalto & Janne Riionheimo
Mixed by Mikko Raita

Video by Luomustudio
In association with Soundtools

About the recording by Mikko

Once again we opted to set up this live session to our studio lounge instead of the dedicated tracking room, because of the better space offered for the camera guys to work in. This means shuffling around a table and a few sofas but on the plus side the lounge does look nice as well!

The recording was a challenge. We recorded Juurakko’s album (including this song) at Kekkonen, but for the album we recorded instruments and vocals separately. This was partially for sound quality issues and partially to let the band focus on their individual performances better. So a real live recording was uncharted territory, also because the band’s collection of instruments is not of the tried-and-tested variety, and most of them keep swapping instruments from song to song.

Juurakko uses an instrument amplifier for the concert kantele when performing live but here we decided to start completely acoustic and see how it would work. After some discussion with the band we also decided to do this one without headphones, instead setting up 2 Genelec 1030 studio monitors as sidefills for the band if needed.

During soundcheck, it became obvious that the kantele was not audible enough for the whole band so we employed the monitors, giving the band a hint of the kantele. The instrument in question has a built-in stereo microphone system which we could utilize here with no risk of feedback in the monitoring, and it came in handy come mix time as well.

We picked up the kantele with 2 Audio-Technica 4050 microphones, but it soon became obvious that the mix would need a good amount of the BSS DI’d stereo line signal, as the kantele player Eija Kankaanranta was playing a special effects-y cloth-muted pattern on the high register, which is acoustically very quiet and the neighboring pump organ especially was bleeding a lot into the kantele mics. Nevertheless, we set up the mics as close as possible using a bidirectional polar pattern so we could get the real miked attack tone at least. The line signal would also end up handy for low end extension, as like in many Juurakko songs, the kantele is doubling as the bassline here as well.

Next in line (literally) we had Laura Kaartinen with the pump organ and vocal. For the pump organ we opted for two trusty Shure SM57’s directly above the sound holes which worked quite nicely. For Laura’s voice, we had found during the album recordings that our tube Neumann CMV 563’s worked well on her so it was an easy choice.

Anna Wiksten was playing the “karttu” which is basically a dented piece of wood originally used for doing laundry (or something along those lines). In Juurakko, Anna uses it both as a kind of Quiro as well as just clapping it like in this song. We picked up the attack of the karttu slap with a Audio-Technica 4081 ribbon mic which gave us perfect separation with it’s bidirectional polar pattern. For Anna’s voice we used the Audio-Technica 5040 high-end condenser mic for the first time and it did not dissappoint, in fact it could have been a good complement to her voice on the album as well.

Next to Anna we had Minsku playing a flower pot filled with small sleek stones with a nice “big maracas” type sound. We picked it up with a small-diaphragm vintage Neumann KM88 condenser, which also picked up Minsku’s handclaps nicely. Minsku’s voice got our 2nd Neumann CMV 563 which we used extensively on her vocals on the album as well.

Last but not least we had Kaisa Saarikorpi, clapping hands for the beginning of the song and playing an Arabia-made Moomin-themed coffee mug with a pencil later on (the Moomin characters are an essential part of the sound!). Both were picked up nicely by a second Audio-Technica 4081 ribbon. Kaisa also had a suitcase “drum” which she played with a kick drum pedal, which we captured with a AKG D112 kick drum mic. For the vocals, Kaisa got our crown jewel Neumann U48 tube condenser, used on most of her leads on the album as well.

To top things off we had two room mic pairs: An Audio-Techica 4050ST Mid-Side stereo mic close to the band at knee level, and a pair of AKG C 414 XLS’s in a wide omni AB setting further back.

The recording went smoothly after setting up, with the band doing a few takes searching for the perfect feel and soon nailing it. The Luomustudio crew recorded every take collecting extra shots to be used as they only used 2 cameras.

The mixdown, still by Mikko

Mixing down “Eipä kasva kaikki laulut” was a relatively straightforward process. I had to spend some time sculpting the kantele tone and balances to cope with the amount of pump organ and percussion bleed in the mics but other than that it was smooth sailing. To start, I employed a similar mix template explained in previous blogs with a “colouring” analog/digital master section as well as a collection of my most used effects plugins in a readymade virtual “rack”, but with the addition of some additional “desk sound” from the Slate VCC in the master and individual channels as well as Slate VTM  “tape” on the master.

For the kantele, I just employed a hefty low end EQ boost to the DI signal to get the bass line really happening, and also added some high mids to both the DI and mic signals for presence on the high muted pattern which Eija plays for most of the song.

The pump organ got a similar treatment, a bit more bass and high mids, effectively scooping the mids slightly.

For the karttu, I ended up processing slightly more, trying to get a bit more “wood tone” out of the instrument. I compressed it somewhat heavily with the Massey CT5 and also limited the transient with a Waves L1 to try to even out the sharp attacks to be able to raise the volume a bit. I also boosted low mids, especially around the wood block’s own resonant note to bring it through the mix.

For the flower pot I just added some top end, but it was fairly present in the overall bleed so there was not much I could do to sculpt it anyway, luckily it sounded good in the room.

The Moomin coffee mug just needed some lows rolled off, it too was fairly present in the vocal mics and ambiences.

Kaisa’s kick drum was another difficult beast. “Au naturel” it sounded somewhat dull and mid-rangey. That’s obviously to be expected, the resonant “heads” on it are significantly thicker and more rigid than on a real kick drum. It does sound good in the room but the low end extension was not quite there for how nice everything else was sounding close miked, so I decided to trigger a hint of a sampled real kick drum (played quietly with lots of low end bloom) underneath it which did the trick quite nicely. For triggering I used Massey’s DRT and Toontrack’s Superior Drummer.

Both room mics were used with quite liberal midrange EQ cuts, I also used a bit of Waves S1 widening on the M/S pair.

For vocals, I did a similar treatment than on the album. Depending on the singer, a bit of de-essing and dynamic EQ:ing with the HOFA IQ-EQ was used, as well as mild individual compression with the Massey CT5 and group compression with the Softube Summit Audio TLA100 as well as further IQ-EQ on the group. The vocals were the only tracks getting artifical reverb, employing a mixture of my real EMT 140 Plate, Softube’s TSAR-1, Avid ReVibe and ValhallaDSP’s ValhallaVintageVerb. I decided here to keep the “room feel” of the picture so the reverb was mostly used subtly, just for a hint of sweetening.

To top things off I automated the vocals a bit section by section, enhancing the (always shifting) lead vocals and we could call it a mix! The whole mix was moderately limited with a Massey L2007 limiter as there was no separate mastering involved.

Setting up: Mikko adjusting Laura's vocal mic

Laura and Anna


Laura helping with mic repositioning

Soundcheck is ready!

Arttu, Janne and Julius in the control room

Anna, Kaisa, Minsku & Luomustudio's Joonas and Sam listening

Preparing the intro materials

Shooting the intro
Channel list
Pictures by Luomustudio & Studio Kekkonen

perjantai 10. lokakuuta 2014

Kekkonen elää! #7 Delay Trees - "Perfect heartache" live at Studio Kekkonen

Kekkonen elää! is back with a brand new live session with one of our all-time favourite groups, Delay Trees to celebrate the release of their latest record Readymade in Germany. Thanks again to our backers at Soundtools and the video guys at Luomustudio.

Kekkonen elää! #7 

  Delay Trees: Perfect heartache

Performed by Delay Trees
Written by Rami Vierula and Delay Trees

Rami Vierula Vocals, guitar
Lauri Järvinen Guitar
Sami Korhonen Bass
Onni Oikari Drums, backing vocals

Recorded by Julius Mauranen & Mikko Raita
Assistant engineer Arttu Aalto
Mixed by
Julius Mauranen

Video by Luomustudio
In association with Soundtools 


The thing I (Julius) love about working with great bands like Delay Trees is that when they show up, they bring their own special energy and quirky personality as well as their unique sound. I've worked with Delay Trees a lot, starting way back in 2009 when I mixed one track on their debut EP Soft Construction, I produced, recorded and mixed their eponymous first album and have worked on every Delay Trees release since, including Doze, Before I go go EP and their latest album Readymade, which was released early this year in Finland and today, 10.10.2014 in Germany by Soliti. Having said that, working with Delay Trees is always a great pleasure.

The song Perfect heartache was the first single of the new album and after some contemplating in prior to the session we ended up picking it for the live session. It's one of my favourite tracks off the new album and it was very nice working on it again (and also getting to record it the way I like). The band played four takes (plus one false start due to ProTools weirdness) and the keeper was take number two.


We decided to record this session in our lounge, as we did with the earlier ones this year. Rami expressed a strong wish to be in the same room with the rest of the band - despite the obvious leakage from Onni's drums (and believe me, that was a LOT of leakage!) and having worked with them before, I knew this to be the most comfortable setting for Rami and the band, so that's what we went for.

To fight leakage I chose to record Rami's vocals with the Shure SM7 (through the Knif Audio V804 pre), but even then there was a lot of drums in the vocal mic. Rami's vocal style is very soft and I don't think anybody has played as loud as Onni in our lounge before, so that's a tough combination! As the lounge is not a dedicated recording space the acoustics weren't designed for medium loud drums. However, the leakage was the only real issue I had with the drum sound.

Also due to the leakage, we put Rami's guitar amps into our live room, Lauri's guitar amp into the office and Sami's bass cabinet in Mikko's control room. The cable run to Mikko's control room was 25-30 metres, so it's a blessing that Sami didn't have a combo and we could run it as a speaker level signal! Rami's guitar cable was long too, but thanks to the George L cables our great assistant Arttu soldered some weeks before there was no significant signal loss.

We picked up the drums with AKG D112 and Audio-Technica 4050 on kick, Shure SM57 on top and bottom snare, AKG C414 XLS's on toms (yes, with the -20dB pad on...), Neumann CMV 563's (into Knif V804) as overheads and Audio-Technica 4050's for the room. Onni's backing vocal mic was Sennheiser MD441.

Rami's guitar setup was a Roland Jazz Chorus in stereo for the classic, jangly sound and our Creamsound CS-1/6 for a fatter overdrive for the chorus. The Jazz Chorus was mic'd with two Audio-Technica 4081 ribbon mics and the Creamsound with an AxeTrak isolation cabinet (into GAP-73 pre), partly to prevent leakage, partly because we ran out of mic stands! This time around, Rami played his Fender Mustang instead of the loyal Rickenbacker. Lauri's guitar was picked up with the classic SM57 into a GAP-73 pre. Sami's bass cabinet was mic'd with a Sennheiser MD421. Most tracks went through the pres and fat Lundahl transformers of our MS Audiotron desk with no EQ and no compression at the recording stage.


The mix of Perfect heartache was fun, but required quite a bit of work - again due to the leakage, the main issue being the drums leaking into the vocal mic. 

The first thing I did was lower all the bits where Rami wasn't singing by about 30dB with clip gain and filter out as much of the top and bottom end that I could comfortably do. This already helped a lot, but the snare was still pretty loud and sounded a little messy bleeding into the vocal mic. Also, as the dream-poppy quality of Delay Trees and the vocal on this particular song demands a healthy dose of Roland Space Echo (featured in the intro of the video too!) and Knif Audio K.Verb (i.e. tape delay and spring reverb), the snare leaking into the vocal mic wasn't a great thing. So I ended up setting up two compressors - one regular, one multiband with a sidechain feed from the snare, ducking the vocal mic briefly by about 6dB every time Onni hit the snare (a very nice snare by the way). In solo, the vocal sounded pretty obviously processed, but with the music it worked like a charm! Onni's backing vocal got a similar treatment.

I also duplicated the vocal track with all its processing for a send for the Space Echo and edited that track even more drastically to get rid of any non-vocal signal in the effects send.

There was other sidechaining going on as well as to make the vocal stand out a little more. I compressed both the reverb return and the 2-bus master a little with a sidechain feed from the vocal. The former was to have the reverb signal duck a little when Rami sings for more intelligibility, but without losing the nice tail of the spring reverb. The latter is a somwhat special technique where the vocal ducks the whole mix, but so that it's also within the mix... It's more simple than it sounds and the bottom line is that it actually works. There was more master processing going on, notably our desk's stereo channel going into the Gyraf G-SSL compressor. This time around I ended up using the Slate Virtual Tape Machine with very mild settings instead of our Otari, simply because the Otari's settings were set to such hot levels that it messed up the cymbal sound, making the hihat in the chorus too washy.

Other than that the mix was very pleasant and fun to mix! I used our lovely MXR Dual Limiter on the drum bus. It's a very strange compressor in terms of design (it uses the unusual pulse width modulation-topology), but sounds punchy and open with practically any settings. There was a dbx 160X on the kick and snare too and a Rantanen LA-4 as a "send parallel" compressor for all instruments in the mix, but not the vocal. The other processing for the drums was pretty basic EQ, Waves API for boosting. The bass had a little compression (Softube FET), a little extra distortion (Soundtoys Decapitator) and a small amount of subharmonic action from the dbx 120XP. Sami played his vintage Fender Jazz bass and the sound was great to begin with. Both guitars sounded great to begin with and aside from a touch of Softube FET and some EQ, it was mostly about getting the automation right. There was also a Slate VCC Channel on all audio tracks of the mix for some softening niceness.

Rami, SM-7

Onni and Julius miking the drums

Julius, Sami & the Jazz bass and Arttu

Lauri with pedals...

The Audio-Technica 50th anniversary 4050!

Gazing at the shoes

keskiviikko 30. huhtikuuta 2014

Kekkonen elää! #6 Sakilaiset - "Poppia" live at Studio Kekkonen

To celebrate the First of May (not by coincidence this time), our sixth Kekkonen elää! session is here! Brought to you by Soundtools and Luomustudio. This time something completely different!

Kekkonen elää! #6

Sakilaiset: Poppia

Performed and written by Sakilaiset

Recorded by Mikko Raita & Julius Mauranen
Mixed by Janne Riionheimo
Video by Luomustudio
In association with Soundtools


Sakilaiset was founded in 2002 and early on played and sang songs in Helsinki slang. After that the repertoire of the band has broadened, ranging from 150 year-old couplets to new “rautalanka”. The band is a combination of “rillumarei” music, a schlager orchestra (up to 12 musicians on the stage) and a folk band with a crude flavour. Some related artists might be M.A. Numminen from Finland and Max Raabe from Germany as well as Tuomari Nurmio and for the next album also Nick Cave. As a band member and the engineer of the band, I (Janne) will write something about the song and the live session.

As a band, we rehearse, perform and release music quite randomly, but we are now recording our third album at Studio Kekkonen. The song “Poppia” is one of the new tracks. The song is actually 5 years old, it started out from lead singer Olvi’s lyrics for which guitar player Pate made a tune, which was then finalized together in one jamming session. It became a strange combination of modern couplet, humppa and a pop-jingle. Slightly annoying like every pop-song!

We had booked studio Kekkonen a few weeks before this live session for the recording of five songs, but unfortunately our drummer Joni had an other gig so he couldn’t play at the session. We considered different options and ended up with a peculiar one: let’s hire our friend Jönkka to play banjo instead of having a drummer! So when we got to the studio we arranged Poppia for acoustic guitar, banjo, double bass and keys. After a few takes Jönkka found Juppu’s Yamaha RX-7, a drum machine from 80’s, and got an idea of adding some tom fills to the song. The song was already recorded without a click so we overdubbed the fills real time with the clumsy buttons. When it was time to perform “Poppia” for the Kekkonen elää! live video our drummer was again unavailable, so we programmed the drum track with the RX-7.


For the live video recording we wanted a cozy and intimate setup in the lounge where everybody could hear each other without headphones. However, we needed to hear the drum machine track and the organ so headphone monitoring was still necessary. Although the playing balance was pretty good, we considered different options for the positioning of the instruments in order to minimize leakage. Beforehand we were thinking that the banjo would be problematic, but fortunately the tone of Jönkka’s instrument is not very loud. Actually the most problematic instrument was the kazoo!

The mic setup was as follows: An Audio-Technica AT4080 on Jönkka’s banjo, an AKG 414 XLS on Pate’s acoustic guitar and a Neumann U48 on Antti’s double bass. Antti and Pate had also electric “piezos” in their instruments, which were recorded just in case. Pate was also singing to an AKG 414 XLS while playing so we used figure-of-eight pickup patterns both on his guitar and vocal mics. Antti’s backing vocals were picked up with a Shure SM7B and Janne sang and kazoo’d into an Audio-Technica AT4047. We used two tracks for Janne’s Wurlitzer: DI and an amp, which was placed in Janne’s office and picked up with a SM57. Janne also used one of the studio’s weird organs, which was pitched realtime up by 30 cents in ProTools. Olvi was singing into a Audio-Technica AT5040 which was recorded though our Knif Audio V804 mic preamp. Another Knif channel was used for the banjo. The other channels went through our customized MS Audiotron Multimix desk (R.I.P Matti Sarapaltio 23.4.2014).
The song was played five times and the arrangement changed slightly in each take. Pate found a different more open position in his guitar at the last take and Jönkka changed his banjo lines also slightly.

Olvi, Juppu, Pate and Antti behind the Shure SM7B.

Pate with two AKG 414 XLSs.

Jönkka in front of AT4080.

Janne in front of AT4047.

Jönkka, Janne, AT5040, 2xAT4081, AT4080 and the RX7 on the floor


The guideline for mixing Sakilaiset has previously been to “sound old”. Our previous release was a recording of J. Alfred Tanner’s couplets from early 1900’s so it wasn’t necessary to sound modern in any way, so the album didn’t have much high or low end and the sound was quite lo-fi. Our next album will be a collection of our own songs so the esthetics might change a little, but it will not probably sound too hifi. That was also the guideline for the video mix, which will be added to our album later on, with possibly some overdubs.
Although we didn’t have real drums I had a kind of a normal setup for the RX7. The distinctive tom fills were compressed with a RComp and equalized with a Digi EQ III (450 Hz cut and boost in the low and high ends). RX7 claps transients were slightly smoothened by a transient designer and mildly compressed with a DBX 160 (needle hardly moving). The bass drum had a low cut filter to get rid of the overwhelming sub bass and the shaker and the snare had a mild top boost. Our Stocktronics plate was used as a reverb as well as a room IR for the toms, and I also added parallel compression to the RX7 track with our Knif Audio Vari-mu compressor.

Bass channel (combination of DI and U48 tracks) had Digi EQ III, RComp, C1 and URS emulation of Neve to boost the pluck at 1,3 kHz. The banjo was compressed with a second channel of our 1178. No EQ was used. Acoustic guitar was mildly compressed with a LA4 and the top end as well as mid-range at 1,5 kHz was boosted with Waves API 550. Some distortion was added to the Wurlitzer with a Softube FET compressor and some mud at 350Hz was cut with a Digi EQ III, and some presence was added with URS Neve emulation. The organ had the before-mentioned +30 cent pitch, a chorus, Digi EQ III and Soundtoys Microshift to make it stereo. Kazoo was compressed mildly with a Digirack Compressor that was already on the track.

Olvi’s vocals had a little bit more processing. First there was a 3,5dB cut at 260Hz as well as very narrow and deep notch at 2,65 kHz to cut the unpleasant mouth or throat resonance peak. Then it was compressed with LA2 and 1178 and the high end was boosted with our new Waves API 550 plugin which was purchased just for that purpose. Before we had a Focusrite’s Liquid mix which has pretty good emulations of API and NEVE EQs, but we are about to upgrade our computer and update our OS (now 10.6.8) and unfortunately our Liquid mix won’t be supported anymore. In the end the vocal track was de-essed with a RDeEsser. The lyrics in the chorus have lot of p's and somehow some of the p's didn't have so much energy and sounded more like k's in the mix, which changed the meaning of the lyrics (for instance shoppia sounded like shokkia and koppia sounded like kokkia) so I had to reinforce them by replacing them by double p's from the word poppia.

I used our Slate digital virtual channel and mix bus in vocal tracks as well as some other tracks. I have often used Waves C1 with side chain in split mode on Olvi’s vocals to control the 2,5-3 kHz harshness especially when he is singing loud, but now I didn’t have to use it. Was it the AT5040 microphone or was it the feng shui in Olvi’s throat? I think it's the combination of different factors but alternative microphones are always worth trying - especially eccentric designs with four rectangular capsules!

Backing vocals were sent to a stereo bus which had Digi Comp, Digi EQ and a Massey tape head plugin in its inserts.

Master chain was our MS Audiotron desk stereo channel with master EQ -> G-SSL -> Otari MTR-12 1/4” tape machine.

The ambience was recorded with a pair of AT4081 ribbon mics in Blumlein setup. The not so optimal balance in the ambience track made the effective use of the track difficult so I played also with few IR samples to get a suitably balanced muddle for the mix.

These days I do studio work quite infrequently and for me this was the first time when I mixed with our new FAR active studio monitors so I felt little uncertain about the mix at the start, but after a few versions I was happy - so here it is, the song of the first of may 2014. Sakilaiset and Poppia!

Our new FAR monitors are being installed.