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Recording a Large Broadway Cast Album Part 2

IMG_2225In a past blog entry, we talked about how we tracked a large Broadway cast album in Studio A. We have done quite a few cast albums in the manner described since then. Although we prefer recording in one room to keep things simple and at a lower cost for the client, there are cases where we simply have to use more than one room because of a larger cast / orchestra and the need for more isolation. In 2014, we recorded cast albums for Rocky the Musical and Side Show using the two-room set up utilizing both Studios A and B. A case study for recording the Side Show cast album is presented below.

The 15-piece orchestra, conductor and two principal singers were situated in Studio A and the remaining singers (featured soloists and chorus) in Studio B. Frank Filipetti engineered the session.

Studio A

SS Avatar Studio A 11-30-14.v2The conductor was positioned with his back to the glass of the control room facing the live room. The main live room was split into three sections bordered by a wall of gobos separating the strings, woodwinds and brass instruments. A bass booth was set up and tall gobos were used to isolate guitars. The drummer was in the piano room and the percussionist was in the rhythm room with all sliding glass doors closed for isolation.  Two principal soloists occupied the side iso-booths of Studio A adjacent to the control room.

Studio B

The rest of the soloists were in iso-booths in Studio B and when the chorus sang, they were in the main live room of Studio B. Soloists took turns at designated solo mics depending on which song was being recorded.  The control room was manned by a second engineer who took care of levels and took care of the singers.

Between A and B

SS Avatar Studio B 11-30-14.v1There are 48 channels of analog tie-lines available between Studios A and B. All the vocal tracks and console talk back was routed from B to A. The instrumental mix, two principal vocal tracks, conductor talk back and console talk back was routed from A to B. 

In addition to using the Neve 8088 console, a few external mic pres were used in the A control room. We ended up with a total of 80 inputs going into the Studio A Pro Tools rig.

Sight lines – Video system

In order to secure sight lines, a video routing system was used so the conductor could see all the singers, and the orchestra and singers could see the conductor as well. The people in the control room had access to the same images.

It took all day to set up both rooms and the orchestra was recorded on the same day in the evening. The cast came in the next day to record with the orchestra and recording ended at night.

The session was produced by Sam Davis and engineered by Frank Filipetti assisted by Aki Nishimura and Thom Beemer. Engineer Alex Venguer manned the Studio B control room assisted by Nate Odden. The cast recording will be released by Broadway Records.

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