Since it’s Beatles week, here are some interesting facts about their recording methods and the innovations that they (mostly engineer Geoff Emerick) introduced that are commonplace today.
- Multi-miking drums. Until Emerick began to experiment, the drum kit was picked up by a maximum of two mics – one on kick drum and the other as an overhead above the snare. In order to get a bigger drum sound, Emerick introduced a mic on each drum as well as one underneath the snare.
- Close-miking instruments. Once again, in order to get a different, fuller sound, Emerick violated the EMI standards of distance miking each instrument. Surprisingly, he almost got fired for this practice except for the great power of The Beatles. Emerick close-miked all sorts of instruments to the horror of the suited EMI execs, from drums to amps to brass to strings to Indian instruments. Of course, this is a practice that we take for granted today.
- Padding on drums. A lot of the sound of the later Beatle records came from the fact that Ringo put light “tea towels” across the drums as well as a sweater inside the kick drum at the behest of Emerick to dampen the ring. While the towels never caught on, kick drums are routinely stuffed with all sorts of soft material today, and for a time during the late 70′s and 80′s, a wallet taped to the snare drum (which you can consider another version of the towel) was pretty routine as well.
- Using a speaker as a transducer. A speaker and a microphone are basically the same thing – a transducer – except that they’re designed for different jobs. [read]
Source: Bobby Owsinski’s Blog