Cookie Marenco discusses her recording techniques for Blue Coast Records | Blue Coast Music

Cookie Marenco discusses her recording techniques for Blue Coast Records

Stereo vs Multi-track recording...

Before I had a commercial studio, we did a lot of stereo pair miking to record our band rehearsals.  I enjoy stereo pair recordings, especially when other people do them.  There are times when I use only a stereo pair... mostly with a single instrument like when recording piano or guitar, etc.

But, I find for myself and the artists I'm recording for, I tend to use a multiple mic setup.  Some mics are close, some are far, some are a stereo pair of the room.  It really depends on the instrumentation and players.  It's never the same. There is nothing wrong with miking using a stereo pair.. for me personally, it's not what I want from my own recordings.  

When recording a vocalist, the song is important.  Hearing the words and the breath of the artist is important to me.  If you record a vocalist like Jenna Mammina in the same room with a pianist (Like John R Burr -- who is dynamically considerate) you wouldn't be able to hear her sing with only a stereo pair.  Her voice is soft and delicate to deliver.  I want to hear her voice and breath.  You can check out the previews of this album here.,,  recorded direct to DSD256.

We record a lot of singers who play the piano at the same time.  It's nearly impossible to get both piano and voice with a stereo pair setup and get a piano sound I enjoy. It's hard with multiple mics as well.

Depending on the vocalist, I am using a two mic setup on the voice so that they can more freely move around.  Microphone(s) depends on the vocalist.  We have a good collection of vintage mics and I have a good friend who rents mics if I need. 

The only mics I insist on are for the piano...  stereo -- BK4012's run through Millennia preamps using our silver/copper cable (that we build in house).  It took 6 years for me to settle on this setup.  It's become a signature sound for us.  You can hear dramatic differences with the same technique on the same instrument when played by different pianists. Compare Fiona Joy to Art Lande. Very different sound.. both beautiful.

I'm a piano player.. the piano is a 7' 1885 Steinway.  There's an article in MIx Magazine from the mid 90's on how I mic the piano with photos if you can find it.  No two piano players play with the same amount of force so adjustments are made for each player. 

I don't use headphones unless we have a drummer in another room.  Headphones adds another layer of complication and distance to the musician's performance.  We have 3 isolated rooms at the studio. The majority of our recording were done in that way prior to my starting a label... but if I can, I prefer the live in the studio with multiple mics methods.  Now, I should say that I spent more than 20 years doing typical overdub sessions.  Much easier to get a great sound when everything is isolated.  Much harder to get a good groove or emotional locked-in performance.

We've had our audiophile group over during a recording and they are often shocked how soft a vocalist performs.  Now, on the other hand, I've had classical duos of violin and piano over and time when the violin was so loud in the room the piano had to be brought up in the mix for a balanced sound.  That's how they heard each other in the room.  I'm sure some people would have enjoyed hearing it that way, but, it was not a pleasing sound that I felt most people would buy.  I was a hired gun to do what I do... make what I consider a balanced sound.

Bottomline, if you like what you hear... support the artist, label and producer creating it. Buy their music. Tell other people about it. Post a link somewhere. 

Enjoy your music!
Cookie Marenco