Recording and Production in the News
Orpheus and Maselec bring an extra dimension to the recording of The PriestsCambridge, UK: The accuracy and clarity of Prism Sound's recording equipment has been praised by producer Mike Hedges for the contribution it made to the success of the Christmas 2008 classical hit sensation, The Priests.
Prism Sound's award-winning Orpheus multi-channel Firewire computer interface was used extensively during pre-production for the album, while three of the company's MMA-4XR pre-amps were among the equipment shipped to Rome for the choir recording, which took place in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. These units particularly impressed Hedges, whose previous production credits include U2, The Cure and the Manic Street Preachers.
"Very rarely have I come across a piece of equipment that is truly indispensable and I am so happy to have found these," he says. "Prism Sound and Maselec have certainly delivered on their promises with the MMA-4 XR. It is only when recording through mic amps of this quality that you can really appreciate the massive benefits and true beauty of audio transparency." The Prism Sound chain was completed during the mastering stage, which was carried out by engineer Mazen Murad at Metropolis Studios in London. Among the equipment used were Prism Sound AD-2 AD & DA-2 DA converters, Maselec MEA-2 mastering EQ and a SADiE DSD8 mastering system.
Now officially the fastest selling UK debut for a classical act, The Priests took the charts by a storm when it was released by Sony/Epic last November. On its first day of release, the CD sold more than 29,000 copies when it was simultaneously released in an unprecedented 30 territories and recently passed the million sales mark worldwide.
The album features Fathers (and brothers) Eugene and Martin O'Hagan and Father David Delargy, all from Northern Ireland. They have been singing together since childhood and were given a £1.4 million recording contract by Epic after their demo landed on the MD's desk. The majority of the album is traditional devotional music and classical excerpts that have been given a contemporary twist by Mike Hedges.
Initial pre-production for the album took place in The Good Shepherd Centre, Belfast, in May 2008. Producers Mike Hedges and Sally Herbert were assisted by engineer Olli Cunningham, who brought along his Orpheus to record guide vocals.
"We started with a piano and vocal only rehearsal to routine the songs, then we spent the rest of the time working on tempos, feel and keys using the orchestral arrangements which were realized using samples running live from Logic Pro 8," Olli Cunningham explains. "The guide vocals were recorded directly into Logic through the Prism Sound Orpheus using the pre-amped channels with the Overkillers switched on. The Orpheus was invaluable as it meant the guide vocal recordings were great quality - some takes were used on the masters."
Cunningham adds that the flexibility of the monitoring in the Orpheus software made it possible to set up a simple yet very effective mobile studio, with the priests on headphones and a small set of powered speakers for the recording team.
Once pre-production was complete, the project moved to Rome for an intensive three day recording session at St. Peter's Basilica. Alongside the Prism Sound MMA-4XR pre-amps, Mike Hedges and engineer Haydn Bendall assisted by Olli Cunningham also used a Pro Tools HD rig running at 24 bit/96k to capture the 54 piece choir.
Cunningham says: "We did three evening sessions, each lasting three hours, in the Cappella Giulia in St. Peter's Basilica and recorded 15 songs."
The choir sang to pre-mixed stems featuring the Irish Film Orchestra, recorded earlier at Windmill Lane Studios, and lead vocals, recorded at Amberville Studios near Belfast.
"We had the stems in Pro Tools and the choir's performances were then mixed with the tracks during the day at the Forum Music Village studios in Rome, Cunningham adds. "The Prism Sound pre-amps were fantastically clean and accurate and captured the magic of the choir performance in what was a unique and beautiful space."
Mike Hedges adds that sonically, The Priests is one of the best albums he has ever recorded - and much of the credit for that lies with the Prism Sound equipment, which brought an extra dimension to the entire project.
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