|Ken Scott placing U87s on the toms|
Ken always uses the exact same mics whenever he records, and he always EQs at exactly the same frequencies. After watching him work it occurred to me that he wasn't EQing the instrument at all; he was EQing the mics.
The reason why I came to this conclusion is that he would get his sound, and often the instrument itself would change, but he'd hardly ever have to touch his EQ. Regardless of the instrument, it sounded great when he put the mic on it.
This is illustrated in Ken's memoir Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust in Chapter 22 when discussing the making of Devo's Duty Now For The Future album. He says:
"I think we used three different drum kits on the album because we were after different drum sounds. We set up one kit, got the sounds for the songs on that, tore that down and put another one up. The thing with me is, because I’m such a creature of habit, I hardly had to change anything from kit to kit. I even used basically the same EQ, which I had to change very, very little for each kit. And as I always use the same frequencies it wasn’t quite as much of a headache as one might have expected. I’m a firm believer that the sound comes from the studio, not from what I do."
I can say that I experienced this exact same feat with Ken when we were doing the most recent SNEW album, What's It To Ya, together. There was one song that required a completely different drum sound on the outro of a song from the other half. When the new drum kit was reset, Ken put the mics up, didn't change a thing, and it sounded wonderful.
Now obviously this method can only be effective if you always use the same mics and are very, very familiar with how they sound. That being said, I've seen it work first-hand, and it's certainly a totally different concept around using the EQ. Dare I say, one that only a master can use.
To read additional excerpts from Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust and other books, go to bobbyowsinski.com.
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