Hello everybody!

I will record a rock n roll band. My goal is to get the classic sound of the 1950s-1960s with a polished feel. I mapped the following recording setup, but i have a fear that it will sound to POPish, plz critize my buildup and give some recording tips if possible. Thx

Recording Setup:

Band: male vocals (very clean voice with a mid twenty boy softer sound) drumkit (full acoustic, i do not know which jet) electric guitar (i do not know which amp jet, 4x12 Marshall 16 Ohm box in seperat amp chamber) upright bass (ampeg svt-III bassamp, 4x10 + 1x15 trace eliot box) digital piano :/

Channels: I planned to record everything over a ssl duality se console but the voice. The voice I planed to record via a avalon channel surpassing the ssl sound to create contrast to the backing track. As i want use somewhat no eq in postproduction to give it that olds cool vibe i want to use ssl and avalon eq and compressors as much as possible.

Microphones: Vocals: Neumann U87 or C4000B (i think i try them both and see what works best) Drumkit: Kick: AKG D112 Sanre: Shure SM57 top AKG C4000B or AKG C391B Fig8 Body Overheads: 2x AKG C451 B or 2 Neumann U87 ORTF or AB not sure jet Hi-Hat: Beyerdynamics CK703 Toms: 3x SM 58? E-Guittar: AKG c414 + AKG C391 B for MS Upright bass: Shute Beata 91 + Sennheiser MKH-40 for Pickups + Amped D112? + Di i am so not sure here Keybord direct into SLL + heavy convolution reverb in postproduction

Thank you for your help!

2 Answers 2


This is a very music recording orientated question, so you might fare better asking on Gearslutz. I'll offer my thoughts anyway.

Your equipment set up sounds excellent, BUT I think you'll find it very hard work to get a 50s/60s sound with such modern mics, mic technique (you mention M/S), mic pres, and instruments and amps.

Your whole production seems geared towards making an exclusively modern sounding recording.

Understood, you do mention wanting to make a 'polished' sounding version of a 50s recording style but I think the 'polished' sound will come from the very fact that recording today has become such a controllable environment if you manage it correctly.

First, I would research into 50s instruments and amps, and beg or borrow or hire their equivalent. You will not be able to make a Marshall stack sound old. (Unless you put an inordinate amount of effort in after)

Second: Research mics. You need to look at tube or ribbon mics if you want any hope of the retro sound. A modern U87 or 414 is going to sound far too modern on vocals.

Third: Mic technique; again research technique to find one suitable to the genre you're looking to record. Sometimes only one mic was used in a recording, and the band were arranged around that to get the balance of the mix.

If you get all that right, then you will be on your way to having an authentic sounding recording. Your nice preamps and converters will lend it a nice polish.

In your mix you will have to choose plugins cleverly to maintain the vibe of the recording. Some nice saturation or emulators for example.

You mention 'heavy convolution reverb' - if you're going for convolution, again make sure you use the right IRs - like proper reverb chambers or spring reverbs. Again, research what was being used in the genre you're looking to emulate.

  • Yeah reverb Chambers sound great! Thx also i Experiment with the pre delay to get some slapback feel on the voice! Sounds great!
    – MrToBe
    Aug 12, 2013 at 22:31

Before you make all of these decisions about the signal chain, think about what made 50s-60s rocknroll and pop music sound the way it did—it's so much more than just the mics and preamps. Do some reading about the sessions themselves, the equipment available, and the limitations that studios and bands faced in terms of gear and time.

The musical groups recorded together in the room with each other...there was almost never time or sufficient track counts for overdubbing. As such, the room counts A LOT when deciding on your sound. Even in modern recordings, drums get their tone from the mics in the room FAR more than from the close mics.

Most music was recorded directly to 2-, 4- or later 8-track tape machines...not only did the tape give the music a very distinctive sound, but it also limited the the number of mics that an engineer could place on a given instrument. When I toured Sun Studios in Nashville, they described their original drum miking technique as having 3 mics: one on the kick, one figure-8 between the snare and the high hat, and one overhead.

Back to the tape: tape saturation is an inherent signature mid-to-late 20th century recordings. While it's more work and money to run a recording session on tape, it's FAR more difficult, nay impossible, to mimic the sounds of tape in post using plugins. I think recording on tape, even if you do a tape transfer to a DAW for mixing afterward, will put you leaps and bounds closer to the original sound than if you recorded digitally.

Also, think about employing ribbon mics, especially on your drums, guitars, and maybe vocals. Good ribbon mics can do incredible things to singers and instruments in terms of smoothing out dynamics and coloring the sound. Mics like RCA's 77 and 44, Coles mics, and the Royer line are some of my favorite mics to use when I want a highly-colored, "interesting" sound to my recordings.


  • Exactly! Any tips on what to see in Nashville? Possibly visiting there for work in a few months! Aug 11, 2013 at 18:11
  • Haha sadly no, I was only there for a day for a tour stop. I would highly recommend seeing sun studios, though. It's a pretty awesome tour about the history of the recording industry, and you get to walk around the live and control rooms.
    – Matt Glenn
    Aug 11, 2013 at 18:35
  • And get some dry rub BBQ, if that's your thing. Because that is definitely their thing ;).
    – Matt Glenn
    Aug 11, 2013 at 18:36
  • First on the list is the BBQ; then Sun Studios! Ha! Thanks. Aug 11, 2013 at 19:29
  • 1
    Tried the 3 mic Thing! Sounds good! I even Ended up using only 2 414 for the whole drumkit! I realy Hope i can find a vintage ribbon! Thx
    – MrToBe
    Aug 12, 2013 at 22:29

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