The first start-to-finish project in the new studio was Lee Murdock’s 20th album Loving Light. One of the reasons that I decided to build a studio at home was to be able to continue to work on his projects. Since he had provided much of the carpentry skills for my other studio and was providing much of the planning and carpentry skills on the new space we made sure that the new space would meet the needs of his album production. We were not disappointed with how well the process went for Loving Light.
We followed our usual process of recording. Lee singing into an Equitek E200 while playing guitar and miking the guitar with a pair of Shure SM-81s, one above the 12th fret and the other below the soundhole and near the bottom outside edge of the guitar. We don’t use a click track. We will usually record the bass and possibly another backing instrument at the same time. Drums are overdubbed, as are additional instruments and background vocals and any percussion.
Lee and I work together on the mix. We use light EQ and compression as necessary. Sometimes there will be minor editing and punch-ins if necessary. Since Lee sings and plays at the same time, which is an important part of his “sound,” he will need to both sing and play for any guitar or vocal fixes. We use two or three different reverbs as necessary. Lee’s trademark sound is clean and unprocessed, so we don’t add any distortion or analog processing.
Since we have worked together on the mixes and listened to them on multiple sets of speakers as the mixes are finalized, mastering is simple. Sound Forge is my mastering tool. I clean up the head-end of the song and do the final fade on the ending. Then I will do usually between 3 dB and 6 dB of peak limiting using the Wave Hammer plug-in with compression turned off. I set the amount by visually looking at the peaks. I have learned this from years of experience and do just enough so that the effect is not audible. Then I load the album into CD Architect and set the song order and spacing. Then I balance the levels of the songs by matching the vocal levels. At this point, we are rarely making more than 1 dB to 2 dB adjustment to the song levels. Then I add the CD text to the file and burn a couple of CDs. We both give them a listen in the car, and on home systems. I’ll make any minor changes after that and burn the final masters.
We are both extremely happy with the final album and how well the process went. The album will be released in November. Available at leemurdock.com.