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THE CLASSIC SOUND OF NEUMANN MICROPHONES DEFINES PANIC! AT THE DISCO'S NEW RECORDING
Posted on Friday, December 4, 2009

 

Panic! At the Disco lead singer, Brendon Urie, sings into a Neumann TLM 67 microphone during the group's recent recording session.

MALIBU, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 2009: During breaks in a touring schedule with blink-182 and Fallout Boy, Panic! At The Disco has been hard at work on its much-anticipated third studio album, which will follow 2008's chart-topping "Pretty. Odd." Retreating to Malibu for pre-production and tracking, the band has given itself an interesting task. The goal is to record an album using the comfort and efficiency of all the digital gizmos that make a modern recording studio modern, but with the unmistakable character and authenticity of a classic 1960s recording. Recognizing that the front-end would be the most important contributor to that vintage sound, the band's sound engineer Jason Decter arranged for a modest mic cabinet populated first and foremost with high-end Neumann condenser microphones.

 

"We were excited to use just a small number of mics that would imprint a very vivid sonic character on the recording," commented Decter. "The idea was to keep it vintage sounding, but modern. Since the 'Neumann sound' has such an important place in the history of recording, we thought it would be appropriate to lean heavily on a small number of versatile Neumann condensers."

 

The newly-issued Neumann TLM 67 is heir to the engineering philosophies and technologies that inspired the U 47, U 67, and U 87, microphones that have warmed the hearts of engineers and the tracks of countless albums over the decades. Like The Beatles before them, Panic! At The Disco members crowded around a Neumann - this time the TLM 67 instead of the U 47 - to record multi-part vocal harmonies.

 

In addition, Decter found that the TLM 67 was an indispensable partner to a Royer ribbon microphone for electric guitar parts. "The ribbon wasn't doing it by itself," said Decter. "So I added the TLM 67 to see what would happen.

It's very rich and natural sounding and gave the guitar cabinets nice low-mid 'chunk' that cuts through the mix. If we take it out of the mix, the guitars lose a whole dimension that's vital."

 

Decter also used a Neumann M 149 Tube to record lead singer Brendon Urie's vocals. "The M 149 Tube is not a cheap microphone by any stretch," he laughed. "The good news is you get what you pay for. The 149 sounds amazing.

The rich tube tone worked perfectly for Brendon's voice."

 

Finally, Decter used a Neumann TLM 103. This mic's capsule is based on the famous Neumann U 87, which helped Panic! At The Disco achieve a vintage sound. It turned out to be quite a workhorse. Decter used its "sparkling, sheeny" high-end for drum overheads. For one set of acoustic guitar recordings, he used a small isolation room. For another set, he used a huge 50 by 50-foot room, with one TLM 103 at five feet and a second at ten feet.

"We messed with the phase a bit to get the right tone," he said. "The acoustics sit in the mix perfectly." In addition, Decter recorded several string parts with the TLM 103.

 

He kept the rest of the recording chain minimal, but of the utmost quality.

SSL and Neve preamps fed into George Massenburg EQs and Summit tube compressors. For drums, he recorded to two-inch tape and then dumped the tracks into Pro Tools HD, where everything else was recorded. "The whole album has a great natural sound," said Decter. "I think most of that has to do with the Neumann microphones."

 

Although the idea to go with Neumann started with Decter, it will have an enduring legacy with Panic! At The Disco. "I thought it might be a neat idea and the guys were happy to go with it," said Decter. "But it went way better than anyone could have expected! Now, they're buying these mics for their personal collections!"

 

ABOUT NEUMANN

Neumann's award-winning line of microphones has set the standard in the industry since 1928. In 1999, Neumann received the prestigious Technical

Grammy(r) for its 70 years of innovation in microphone design and contribution to the music industry. A continuing commitment to provide innovative, technically-refined products and engineering solutions of proven quality ensures that Neumann's stature will remain unassailable.

 

Neumann is proudly affiliated with the Sennheiser Group, which also encompasses Klein + Hummel (renowned sound reinforcement solutions) and Sennheiser Communications (technologically advanced headsets for PCs, offices and call centers). Neumann products are distributed exclusively in the United States, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean through Sennheiser Electronic Corporation, located in Old Lyme, Connecticut.