LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK – MAY 2010: House Recording Studios on Long Island is a relatively recent addition to New York’s shifting studio landscape. With impeccable design by esteemed acoustician Frank Comentale, House Recording makes good on the often-promised but seldom-delivered combination of professionalism, comfort, and inspiration that are the hallmarks of a great facility. Not long ago, a Bock 195 FET large diaphragm condenser joined the studio’s enviable microphone collection. It has since been used, almost without rest, on everything from vocals to acoustic guitars to room tone to clarinet.
Owner and chief engineer Marc Bauman was looking to add a FET microphone to what was already a comprehensive array of ‘must-haves.’ “I was looking for something that excelled but that didn’t push beyond the $1K range,” he said. “I searched the internet and quickly found that there was insane hype for the Bock 195 on all the message boards. People were saying it was a great ‘all arounder,’ which is what I was hoping for. I heard some sound bites and was pretty sure this was the mic I was looking for.” He took a modest plunge and made the purchase without so much as a demo. Bauman has since used it for nearly every genre of music that can be named, from punk rock to acoustic reggae, and on every instrument in a modern arrangement, from lead vocals to woodwind.
EMI recording artist Bobbie Terzi used the Bock 195 at House Recording Studios to capture the silky texture of her pop-reggae vocals. “Her vocals came out so crisp, so detailed, so articulate,” stated enthused Bauman. “She has great mic technique, which of course is critical, but the mic also went a long way toward taming any hints of sibilance. Because she was close to the mic and because it is cardioid, there was a noticeable proximity effect. But it wasn’t at all boomy. In fact, it just made her voice sound warmer.” Bauman obtained similarly satisfying results with vastly different vocalists, including punk rockers Dirty Slot Machine and hip-hop artist REK.
“Since most everything gets mixed in the box these days, I’m a big advocate of high-end mic preamps,” said Bauman. His usual chain for the Bock 195 on vocals starts with an Avedis Audio MA5, Neve-style preamp. From there, signal enters an Empirical Labs Distressor EL8X with the high-pass filter engaged in both audio and detector modes, distortion II (tube emulation), and mid-band emphasis compression. An Apogee Rosetta 200 brings the analog signal into Pro Tools. From this template, he tweaks the parameters to suit a particular vocalist. He said, “It delivers an absolute butter sound! There is no harshness and the bottom is wonderfully full and musical.”
But at House Recording, the Bock 195 is more than just a vocal mic. When easy-listening rocker Jeff Sluker entered the studio, Bauman recorded his acoustic guitar with the Bock. He engaged the mic’s switchable “fat” mode and placed it about six inches from the 12th fret. Budding clarinetist Annie Bodian benefitted from the Bock 195 when Bauman used it to record her college audition tape, putting a musical sheen on her proficient performances. Almost without fail, the Bock 195 serves as a room mic whenever it hasn’t been enlisted as a close-mic. “Room tones for drums or anything else sound fantastic with the Bock,” he said. “I just dial that signal in during mix-down and the whole recording takes on a sense of place that’s remarkable.” In the near future, House Recording Studios will add a second Bock 195 so that those room tones can be delivered in stereo!
BOCK AUDIO, established in 2007, builds the personal designs developed over the last eleven years by mic expert David Bock in Los Angeles, California.