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The Interlude tracks – Post Production

The tracks are done, I’m pretty satisfied with what I got during tracking.  Today, I spent some time editing the tracks and lining up takes and picking out the best stuff for each song.  I have a few things to line up still on a few of the tracks using elastic time to make everything super tight but I think these tracks should come out pretty well.  I seriously wish I had been able to do projects like this more often during my time at VFCC but oh well, we live and learn and move forward.  I worked on EQ and compression settings for tracks as well as reverbs and a few other ideas.  I really have enjoyed the post production process thus far and hope I will have the opportunity to do this more in the future.  Today was my last day at VFCC, but they have so graciously allowed me to come back in January to use the studio and to finish up the projects that I have not been able to finish while I was there.

I have to give a huge shout out to “The Interlude” for how much work they put in on such a tight schedule and for pounding out the tracks like pro’s.  I appreciate their musicianship and their talents that they poured out on these tracks.  I will do my very best to communicate everything the best I can in my final mix.  I’m looking forward to it.

Anyway, here’s a small sample of one of my rough cuts… enjoy and give me some feedback!!  I’d love to hear what everyone thinks.

Check it out on my website

Interlude @ VFCC Tracking finished

Well, we stayed up pretty late last night but the tracking is finished.  I’m going to spend a little bit of time in the studio today just making some small modifications before I come back in a few weeks a mix it down.  I’m pretty happy with the way it came out and I’m pumped to hear how this project is going to turn out.

Interlude Sessions Part 3

Today, I spent more time working with “The Interlude” in the Valley Forge Christian College studio.  We finished up tracking all the electric guitar parts and also finished the acoustic guitar tracks.  Ryan Seler is the lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist for the band and I tracked his Taylor 214CE.  I used the Audio-Technica AT4080 on the body of the guitar while using a Shure SM81 on the neck to pick up the string nose and definition.  It’s time for a break to relax, rest our ears and grab some food.  The bass tracks are up next tonight.  I would have rather had the bass earlier on but scheduling for students during finals week its rough so I’ll be doing the bass tracks tonight.  Maybe some vocal tracks tonight as well…we shall see.

Studio Tracking – The Interlude Sessions @ VFCC

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am working on tracking a band called “The Interlude” which a bunch of my friends are a part of.  We are tracking in the Protools HD studio that is at Valley Forge Christian College.  We are using the Avid C|24 as our control surface and we have two digi racks: the 192 and the 96.  Our drum tracks are complete.  (For more info, see previous post)  Tonight, due to scheduling conflicts, I was not able to track bass first as I had wanted.  So I did most of the electric guitar tracks with the scratch acoustic and vocals playing in the background.  It worked alot better then I had anticipated.  Also, I did some experimenting with micing as I am so fond of doing.  The electric guitarist, Aaron Ranzenbach, used his Vox Valvetronix amp for everything so far.  We may use another amp for a few things later but that will be determined then.  For micing, I used a Shure SM57 on the front of the amp aimed in between the center cone and the outer edge.  It was almost exactly half way in between the middle and the outer edge.  Secondly, I decided to try an SM57 in the back of the amp aimed towards the cone through the metal housing of the speaker.  It gave me a very mellow tone while I was able to get a more harsh, yet still very warm sound from the SM57 in front.  I was not quite satisfied with it though.  Since Aaron was playing at a relatively low volume level, I decided the sound pressure level was low enough that I could safely use a small diaphragm condenser in the back of the speaker.  I decided to try the Audio Technica AE5100 loaned to VFCC from Doug Gould of WorshipMD (  This sounded great!  I loved the definition and clarity I got from the AE5100.  Granted, I was comparing apples and oranges (the SM57 response to the AE5100) but at the end of the day, what sounds the best is what makes the money right?  Anyway, continuing on, I then placed an Audio Technica AT4080 active ribbon mic about 18 inches in front of the speaker.  That gave me a nice ambient effect with the figure 8 pickup pattern even in the relatively dead room that I was using to track.  I may experiment tomorrow with a Sennheiser e609 to give me a little bit of a different sound and to help me make other tracks sit differently in the mix but we shall see.  Stay tuned, I’ll be posting links for you all to listen to my work as soon as it’s available.  Hopefully, the final tracks should be done sometime in early January.  I would love to get them mastered but I simply don’t have the plug ins and I don’t have the money to pay another studio to do it…so we’ll see what happens.  Thanks for reading…I’ll keep you all posted!

Some tracking notes

It’s almost the end of the year and I am graduating from Valley Forge Christian College at the end of this week.  So I am trying to squeeze the last bit of time that I have out of the VFCC Protools HD studio we have.  This week I am tracking a band called “The Interlude”.  Last night we did drum tracks.  I wanted to share my micing technique for my sessions to see what everyone thinks.  This is still a budget studio for students so I don’t have access to a ton of great mics but the school has been steadily improving and buying better gear and that makes me happy.  But anyway, here is what I used

1-Kick Attack = Shure PG81 (inside kick by where the beater would hit)

2-Kick = Shure Beta 52a (in hole on front of kick)

3-Kick Ambient = Shure KSM27 (about a foot in front of the kick)

4-Snare Top = SM57

5-Snare Bottom = AKG C414

6-High Hats = Audio Technica AE5100

7-Tom 1 Top = SM57

8-Tom 1 Bottom = Audix i5 (that mic was hatin’ me all night for some reason)

9-Tom 2 Top = Shure SM57

10-Tom 2 Bottom = AKG D112

11-Overhead Left = Shure SM81 (XY configuration above middle of kit)

12-Overhead Right = Shure SM81 (XY configuration above middle of kit)

Anyway, that’s what I used.  I know there are some people who read this who might have some good comments and ideas or maybe even things I can do better.  So let me know…I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment, facebook me or email me at

Audio Technica AT4080 Active Ribbon Mic Review

There are a multitude of microphones that are in the market today and even more applications.  Choosing a mic for whatever purpose you may have dreamed up is not rocket science, but it can be difficult to get the sound you might have in your head.

I have always been more of a Shure fan and then select mics from various other companies.  But, by far the company that I had the least experience with was Audio Technica.  Lately, I have had a lot more exposure to Audio Technica and I have been pleasantly surprised.  Valley Forge Christian College just had their yearly Christmas concert Christmas at Valley Forge this past weekend.  We were able to borrow some microphones from Worship MD CEO, Doug Gould ( who does some promotional marketing for Audio Technica among other leading audio industry companies in the church market.  One of the mics he lent us was the Audio Technica AT4080 Active Ribbon.

First of all, I was interested that it said “active ribbon”.  In my experience, a ribbon mic is in the “dynamic” family of mics, not condenser.  Also, it is usually dangerous to send phantom power to a ribbon mic.  But this ribbon mic required phantom power.

Holding the mic in my hands, the construction is rock solid.  The mic felt very durable and the construction is aesthetically pleasing.  When I plugged it in a tried it, I was actually able to use it live and amplified.  Our application for the Christmas at Valley Forge concert was to lightly reinforce a classical vocal in a dry room as well as live tracking in Protools HD.  My initial impression was that the mic was very warm and smooth and had a clean, clear and crisp ribbon mic tone.  Even though it has a figure 8 polar pick up pattern, was able to get a serious amount of gain and volume for our live reinforcement out of the AT4080.

Like I mentioned earlier, the AT4080 has a figure 8 pick up pattern that responds to 20Hz to 18khz and can take up to 128dB.  Stop…128dB from a ribbon mic?  Yes, actually it can take it.  That really broadens the applications that this mic can handle.  I think in the next few weeks, I’m going to experiment with this mic as an ambient mic on a guitar amp because it can most certainly take the SPL.

This is a serious contender for the future of live sound as well as studio recording because it still allows you to get that classic ribbon sound while allowing the user to practically forget about the issue with lower output and the delicate nature of ribbon mics in the past.  I must admit, this mic is going to be added to the ever growing list of mics that I will be looking to purchase for my own personal mic collection and closet.

As always, I want to hear your comments and feedback.  Feel free to comment or email me at

Check out the Audio Technica AT4080 here:

Check out Worship MD and Doug Gould here:

Presonus Studiolive 24.4.2 Review

It has been a few days since I last posted on here so I decided to do some blogging today.  I want to talk somewhat briefly about my experience with a new mixing console that could potentially change the way people view small format digital consoles.  I had the opportunity to use the Presonus Studiolive 16.4.2 and 24.4.2 consoles and must admit I am impressed.  As far as bang for your buck, it is all it says it is and gets the job done.  For a smaller sized church that is looking to upgrade, this might just be your ticket.  Both consoles can be daisy-chained to another console of the same model to give your more inputs.

The Presonus Studiolive 24.4.2 features 24 channels, 10 aux busses, and 4 subgroups.  It features four dual 31 band EQ’s that can be routed to the mains, or any of the aux busses.  You can recall settings and copy and paste settings across channels.  It also features an auto save function so that if the console crashes or loses power, you do not lose all the settings you created or modified.

The features are solid.  The EQ section features 4 band fully parametric EQ, gates, and compressors for each channel.  Each part of the signal chain has factory presets to give beginners a starting point for EQ’ing everything from a kick drum or snare to a guitar or vocal.  The rotary encoders that stretch horizontally across the console and are clearly labeled control these options.  It has some great effects built into it, which also have some presets to get beginners started.

Another awesome option that the console has is a Firewire record out.  This allows you to multi-track your live performance directly to your computer.  The preamps are the Presonus studio quality XMAX preamps that are installed in many of their recording interfaces and produce solid results.  The included Studio One Artist software is a basic multitracking program that is easy for most people to work with yet still includes solid features and plug-ins for post-production tweaking and producing.  Studio One also allows you to play the track back through each channel so that you can use the console to mix your tracks or to perform a virtual sound check.  This can be great for beginners who need to practice mixing without the pressure of a start time or a band waiting on stage.  They can play back a recording and work with EQ’s, compressors, and gates until they are perfect.  Not to mention, the console supports VNC which allows remote control of the console from a computer, iPod, iPhone, iPad or another VNC device.

This console lists for $3999 but you can find it for about $3299 which is a great deal for the price.

This is just a brief review.  There are quite a few other features that this console has and things it is capable of.  I would love to hear from anyone that has had exposure to or experience with this console.  Please feel free to contact me at

Sprint data on Apple iPod touch

Sprint announced earlier last week that they would be releasing the ZTE Peel for the Apple iPod touch on November 14th.  It is almost like a “case” that fits on the outside of the iPod touch that connects you to Sprint’s 3G data network.  I have to admit, it is a cool concept.  But I can’t help but feel like Sprint grasping at AT&T’s success with the iPhone and iPad by creating a sort of a mini-iPad or limited iPhone.  The data plans are decent but still not worth it.  They give you 3GB of transfer for $29.99.  It’s slightly better then the AT&T data plan but still, compare the networks.  Sprint vs. AT&T?  Really?  It simply is not competitive price wise.  The only really cool thing about it is that you can use Facetime anywhere without jailbreaking your iPhone or iPod touch. But then again, you are limited on data transfer.  So if you use it alot, you are sure to be paying fees for overages.

You be the judge.Check it out here:

As always, feel free to comment or email me at

Audio-Technica ATM650 Review

Over the past few years, I have been running sound in a lot of different environments on many different systems.  I am an audio engineer at Valley Forge Christian College and I have toured as an audio engineer for the college’s ministry teams for two summers now.  The first summer, I toured with Pneuma 2009 and then with Chosen 2010.  I have always enjoyed experimenting with micing techniques and finding the best sound with each individual instrument.  Every live reinforcement engineer and studio engineer wants that “it” factor.  The sound that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck because you know it’s awesome.

One mic I experimented with recently was the Audio-Technica ATM650.  It is part of the artist series of microphones that were loaned to the school from Worship MD owner and representative, Doug Gould.  (  The ATM650 features a dynamic element with a hypercardioid pickup pattern and responds to frequencies in the 80-17,000 Hz range.  It is basically Audio-Technica’s version of the legendary Shure SM57.

My first impression was that it was solid in my hand and it felt well build.  The flat windscreen on the front was more open then an SM57 but was also more durable because of the threaded head.  The design of the head was very similar to the Audix i5 drum mic.  I have had countless SM57 windscreens fall off and it is always annoying.  This does not seem to be an issue for the ATM650.  The first thing I did was plug it in a put it on my drummer’s snare.  I was pleased to hear that it responded well and was clear and crisp while still maintaining fullness and body.  Since it was a 14-inch snare, balancing attack and body can be interesting at times using a SM57.  This mic responded better and was clearer with less EQ adjustment.  It also had more “life” to it.  It was not as focused as a SM57 but also, did not pick up a ton of ambient noise from the room or from the rest of the drum kit.

I also experimented with the ATM650 on a few different guitar amps.  It proved to be a solid choice on pop tones as well as still keeping the fullness and growl when used on heavier tones.  It was easy to shape the tone I was looking for both for solo playing as well as contextually within a mix.

As far as “bang for your buck” is concerned, the ATM650 keeps up with the going rate of the SM57 and the Audix i5 coming in at $99 retail.  If you are lucky, you might even find the ATM650 for cheaper then a SM57.

Like I said, every audio engineer is looking for that “it” sound.  This may be the mic for you and your application.  I suggest that any live sound or recording engineer check out the Audio-Technica ATM650.  Keep going after that perfect sound!

You can check out the Audio-Technica ATM650 at this website.

I welcome comments and questions.  Feel free to comment here or email me at

Hello world!

Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Jason Castellente.  I am a musician, audio engineer, designer, and all around tech nerd.  I will be blogging on basically all of my areas of interest, experiences past, present, and stuff I’ll be doing, and anything else that comes to mind.  I’ll do my best to update this as much as I can.  But I want this to be interactive.  If you, the reader, are interested in something or what to know more about something, drop me a line and let me know.  Maybe your topic will wind up being a post on here.  We’ll see where it goes…

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