Woodinville, WA (May 3, 2007)–Producer/engineer Ryan Hadlock grew up at Bear Creek Studios, the recording facility his parents founded in a converted barn outside Seattle in 1977. After college, Hadlock began working at the studio and has become an in-demand producer and engineer, attracting bands from all over the country to Bear Creek, such as Blonde Redhead, The Black Heart Procession, and The Album Leaf. At the same time, Hadlock started taking on projects in studios around the world.
Until very recently, Hadlock relied solely on classic microphones to capture his signature sound. “I know them very well,” he commented. “I have Neumann 67s and 47s, AKG C24s, RCA ribbons, Shure 57s, and Sennheiser MD421s, among others. But I’m always trying new mics because the prospect of having a cool new tool inspires me. But almost invariably, I read the hype, get the mic, put it up against one of my classics, and think, ‘hmmm, this doesn’t sound as good as my classic.’ None of the new mics offer me anything better than what I already have.”
Hadlock was excited to learn about the Crowley and Tripp ribbon microphones from his tech, Allen Garren, who heard them at the San Francisco AES convention. He requested a pair of Crowley and Tripp Naked Eye ribbons for evaluation in time for a session with the indie rock four-piece Metric.
Bear Creek Studios live room “I put them up on Jimmy’s guitar cabinet and he immediately said that it was an amazing guitar sound,” Hadlock recalled. “We tracked the majority of the guitars with the Naked Eyes. I originally tried them with a clean Focusrite preamp, but the Neves sound better. There aren’t any noise problems with the Naked Eye mics. I could crank the gain on the Neve and they sounded great. You can tell that the Naked Eye is a ribbon–it has that sound–but it’s not as affected sounding as my old 44s and 77s. I only use those mics when I want that old, affected sound. The openness and detail of the Naked Eye makes it a good choice in situations where you wouldn’t normally consider using a ribbon.”
A case in point, Hadlock also tried the Naked Eyes as drum overheads. “It immediately sounded like the drums had come through a time machine,” he laughed. “They had that big warm classic drum sound that I have always been after.” Since the Naked Eye has two sides, a bright side and a dark side, Hadlock was able to find the right sound without putting up multiple mics. All of the drums were tracked with the dark side.
“It’s really like having two mics in one,” he said. “The dark side is warm and when you flip it over, the top end opens up. We used the dark side on a Vox amp to compensate for its brightness, and we used the bright side on an old black Bassman amp to give it some edge. Whichever side I used, I felt comfortable putting it up close, where I would normally put a 57. If I did that with my vintage ribbons, they’d sound terrible.”
Hadlock rounded out the session with Naked Eyes on his bright Steinway piano and on Metric’s lead singer, Emily Haines’ vocals. “The piano sounded great. I used the dark side and made it sound like a lot of classical players wished it sounded. The vocals were brilliant. Everyone loved them. The whole recording was inspirational for me because now I have another tool that I love. The band was inspired too. It’s tough to make a band love what they’ve recorded at the end of the day, but Metric definitely did. The Naked Eye was responsible for a lot of that. The band ordered two of them as soon as we were done!”
Hadlock also brought the Naked Eyes to track an album with the Canadian six-piece Islands, in Montreal, and used them with similar success. The owner of that studio, Mixart, also bought a pair of Naked Eyes as soon as Hadlock left. In summary, Hadlock is reflective, “My entire career, I have been looking for a mic to add to my collection of classics that was made after 1978. Until now, I hadn’t found one. The Crowley and Tripp Naked Eye is an amazing microphone. No other new microphone is like it.”
Crowley and Tripp ribbon microphones are hand-built in Sound Wave Research’s (www.soundwaveresearch.com) Ashland, MA laboratory. Models include Studio Vocalist, Soundstage Image, Proscenium, Naked Eye, Recordist and SPLx Custom.