MUSICIAN, LIVE & STUDIO ENGINEER
Kildare / Dublin

Mar 02, 2017Diplomat preview

Last year, I had a great time finishing off a really fun project called Diplomat.
What was it? Here’s the official description:

“Diplomat is a solo project from Michael Murphy (Tomorrows/The Chapters) with Tony Fitz (main collaborator and engineer).

The album is a series of collaborative and experimental recordings which encouraged the musicians to create outside their comfort zone in an immediate response to the material.”

My role was to take the seeds of a musical idea that Murph had for each track, and based on the direction he wanted to go with it, figure out how to get what was in his head coming out of the speakers. As we experimented with sounds, melodies and moods, the tracks would come together in a really organic way, without much of a plan. Nothing was out of bounds for us, or any of the musicians who were involved. The songs mostly led us all where they wanted to go, with Murph gently captaining the ship and steering us back on course if it wasn’t heading for the port he was aiming for. Late last year we finished final mixes for the tracks and were going to send them for mastering later this year for a release.

I recently added a Rupert Neve Designs Master Buss Processor to my studio, and to get to know it, I tried using it to master one of the Diplomat mixes.

As well as adding gain, I added a hint of compression and limiting, a generous amount of the famous “Red Silk” texture, and used the Stereo Field Editor to add a touch of low frequency thump to the middle, and a little high frequency boost to the sides.

I was stuck by just how transparent the compression and limiting was, how much punch the silk added, and the subtle widening and sheen the Stereo Field Editor achieved. And it took very little time to dial in a sound that felt finished. It’s a remarkable piece of equipment that I have no doubt I’ll end up using on every track I work on.

Below is a before and after preview of that Diplomat track, “Swine Lake” featuring Johnny Boyle (drums), Walter D’Goon (vocals & lyrics) and myself (vocals, guitars, synths).

Here's the final mix prior to mastering with the Rupert Never Designs MBP:

And here's the final mastered version using the Neve: