It is estimated that there are well over 2,000 recording studios in the United States today. That number pales in comparison to the nearly 12,000 Starbucks dotting our landscape from sea to shining sea. Nonetheless, 2,000 professional studios are still a daunting number of facilities to sort through (ain’t nobody got time for that). Recording studio setups and gear lists can vary greatly. It’s hard enough for us gear-heads to keep track of equipment, let alone musicians who have no idea what an 1176 actually is or does! So how do you go about picking a studio for your next project?

I am starting a series of posts aimed at bands and musicians looking for recording studios in Los Angeles. In these posts I will highlight specific gear you can find at The Rattle Room, give you a brief explanation of what the gear does, a bit of its history and examples of some past use. Over time, I hope you will take notice of our carefully selected gear list and realize that it’s time to book some studio hours!

First up, our flagship vocal mic…251-large

The Bock 251 is a Multi-Pattern large-diaphragm tube condenser microphone developed and tailored by company founder David Bock. A genius in his field, David designed the Bock 251 after the coveted sound of the Telefunken ELA-m 251, which was discontinued (although they now make a new model with design changes). The early remake of these mics started with David Bock at Soundelux and the final version re-emerged under The Bock Audio namesake.

What does the The Rattle Room use it for?  Vocals!

Lets breakdown the terminology and understand what makes this mic so cool. Multi-Pattern describes the microphone’s ability to focus on what’s in front of it, and how much bleed it picks up from the side and/or back of the mic. This can affect the tone and how much of the space you desire to hear on a performance. The term “Large Diaphragm” relates to the size of the component that captures the sound waves from your voice. Tube condenser simply put, means the mic needs external phantom power and that there is a tube in the amplifier signal path. Tubes are traditional used to amplify signal but also benefit from additional warmth or distortion characteristics. This beast of a mic uses an external power supply and a hand-made German capsule inside that large diaphragm.  Any singer who steps in front of the 251 will be blown away by its character.

The Bock 251 has that vintage bite and huge sound, blended with a modern twist. This mic has super duper low end, with no mud. In addition, its mids have a full but clear sound, perfectly suited for voiceover and singing work. My favorite thing about this mic has to be the shape of its high end. It is silky smooth, with the perfect amount of air and it never gets harsh for me… EVER. I have recorded some of the most ear cutting screams and scratchy rock vocals on this thing, and it mellows and sculpts the tone for me. Yet at the same time, a delicate singer can expect every detail to get picked up with intimacy that will make a listener blush. Singers love its response and I believe the more fun a singer has with a mic, the better the performance will turn out.

Here is a short list of some recent albums recorded with the Bock 251;

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

The signal chain for Dave Grohl’s vocals were a Bock 251 mic, through a Neve 1073 preamp and Empirical Labs Distressor compressor.

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun11/articles/foo-fighters.htm

 

Paul Simon – So Beautiful So What

The signal chain was a Soundelux 251 (now called Bock 251) going into the Telefunken V76, and then a Purple MC77 or LA2A to capture Paul’s vocal.

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct11/articles/it-1011.htm

 

OK Go – Hungry Ghosts

The guitars were tracked with a Bock 251 to capture several amps including a Selmer and 1950s Fender Princeton amp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungry_Ghosts_(OK_Go_album)

 

Mötley Crüe – Saints Of Los Angeles

All vocals tracked with a Soundelux Elux 251 (now called Bock 251) running into a Vintech X73i mic preamp/EQ and a Universal Audio LA-2A compressor/limiter

http://gc.guitarcenter.com/interview/motleycrue/neil.cfm

 

Deftones – Diamond Eyes 2010

Chino’s vocal was recorded on the Bock Audio 251 with a Martech MSS-10 preamp into a DBX 160, sans EQ.

http://www.emusician.com/artists/1333/deftones–modeling-for-mayhem/45321

 

See you in the studio, happy tracking everyone! – Jaron