Through the Periscope: Microphone Character in Creative Studio Production

Saario, Antti ORCID logoORCID: (2023) Through the Periscope: Microphone Character in Creative Studio Production. In: Innovation in Music 2023 Conference, 30 June - 02 July, Edinburgh Napier University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract / Summary

This paper will explore the creative affordances that ‘character’ microphones with unique voicing, strong pre-equalisation, and/or a non-linear response enable in contemporary recorded music and sound production practices. The paper will approach the topic from two perspectives: (1) that of a microphone designer and (2) of a creative studio practitioner, employing interviews with Paavo Kurkela (Scopelabs) and Mattia Sartori (Scopelabs) and Adrian Utley as the primary perspectives.

Mattia Sartori and Paavo Kurkela are the design team behind Scopelabs’ first microphone model The Periscope, which combines a small diaphragm omni condenser capsule with a built-in compressor housed in the microphone’s body. By the nature of its design, the microphone by default disrupts the typical recording signal chain and affords a capture (‘production’) of tones that has not been possible with a single microphone and opens up new colouring options with different microphone preamplifiers, with the compressor taking place pre-preamplifier stage. The Periscope is particularly advertised as being able to produce ‘instant’ parallel compression and the application of parallel microphone techniques is a sub-theme for the research and discussion.

As an artist, producer and a studio musician, Utley is known for the importance he places on tone and capturing – and thus setting – the tone for the given track already at the tracking stage. Utley is effectively ‘mixing when tracking’ when he utilises multiple microphones on a single sound source, combing a ‘more’ full-resolution microphone with a narrow bandwidth or a strongly voiced microphone in parallel. He also often spends time exploring the potential afforded by the given recording space, when captured with a colourful microphone and compressed heavily.

The paper builds on the work of Van Eck (2017), Fink, Latour & Wallmar, Prior (2021) and the author’s own work in Pigott & Saario (2021) and Saario (2022), in relation to creative application and potential of transducer colour, where the characteristics of the given transducer are seen (‘heard’) as an essential aspect of the production assemblage in the ‘production’ of the musical or sonic expression.

In addition to the discussion of related studio practices, the exploration of the affordances and constraints of character microphones and the associated emergent production ‘options’ will be situated into and discussed in relation to a wider critical framework of assemblage theory (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) and vital materiality (Bennett, 2010).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Technology > Inventions & Patents
Courses by Department: Academy of Music & Theatre Arts > Music
Depositing User: Antti Saario
Date Deposited: 20 May 2024 13:19
Last Modified: 20 May 2024 13:19


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