Freddie Breitberg, a sound designer and music producer from Chicago US, recently implemented Shure KSM ribbon mic in recording the debut album of a big band jazz artist known as the Great Postmodern Nightmare.
When Breitberg realised that his collection of classic RCA ribbon mics were due for a renovation, he decided it was time to try Shure’s authentic modern ribbon technology.
“Ribbon microphones are like old friends, one loves them for their warmth and personality,’ he says. “They have always been a key tool for me in music recording and I’ve always had a collection of vintage ribbons to offer my clients. This project, which was actually a crowd-funded CD, gave me a great chance to explore the personalities of the Shure KSM ribbon mics.’
The session, which took place at I.V Lab Studios in Chicago, was over two days and Breitberg made use of Shure KSM3 13s on all the horns, and using the KSM353 as part of his mid-side stereo room miking arrangement and on amplifiers.
“I’ve done a lot of big work live in the studio and came up with a horseshoe layout for the horns to take advantage of room acoustics and figure-eight pattern of ribbon mics,’ he explains. “I spot-mic each instrument individually and I use mid-side stereo miking to capture the room. It gives me both room sound and isolation.’
For Breitberg to capture horns he specifically made use of a set of KSM313s, which have a unique ribbon design with the two sides of the microphone producing distinctly different frequency responses, neutral from the front, slightly brighter from the rear.
“The 313 sounds excellent on horns, They are as warm as my vintage RCA ribbons, but with more high-end. That means less EQ and less processing in mix and that is always a good thing in recording.’ In working with a large group of equal KSM313s, Breitberg was also struck by a couple other things. “They are just wonderfully consistent from mic to mic,’ he reports. “Compared to other ribbons they have plenty of output and their null points in the figure eight pattern are tremendously deep, which really helps with isolation in my room scheme.’
Breitberg’s big band technique places the band in U-shaped seating arrangement with the drums at the base. For this band, the other leg of the “U’ had four trumpets directly across and parallel to the drums, with the bones and saxophone sections perpendicular and directly across from one another. The rhythm section of bass, piano, and guitars was arrayed.