Johannesburg, South Africa (December 2, 2010)–A Bock 151 mic captured South African musician Hugh Masekela’s gravelly voice for his new album, Jabulani.
Grammy-nominated South African trumpeter, composer, and singer Hugh Masekela has been making chart-topping records since debuting with 1964’s The Emancipation of Hugh Masekela. The famous anti-apartheid activist recently recorded his upcoming album, Jabulani, his twenty-eighth, for South Africa’s Gallo Records at the Digital Cupboard studios in Johannesburg.
The album’s tracking coincided with the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, which gave the recording process an air of celebration appropriate to its theme. “Having the World Cup here certainly added a sense of excitement to the whole recording process,” reported Digital Cupboard owner and engineer Ian Osrin. “The album is based on archival material of what are known locally as ‘wedding songs,’ although they are sung at all festive occasions. We tracked drums, bass, keyboards and guitar at the same time. That laid the groundwork for Hugh’s vocals and horns.”
Osrin used a Great River preamp, a Bock 151, and little else to record Masekela’s famous voice, which figures more prominently than his horn blowing on the new album. Aki Khan at Eastern Acoustics Pro Audio was instrumental in selling the microphone to the studio.
“Hugh has a particularly difficult voice to record,” said Osrin. “It has a gravelly, rough timbre, but the Bock 151 took to it like it had been designed for him. The 151 has a lovely, flat response and seems to smooth the ‘gravel’ without making his voice sound thin or too muddy. In my experience, a lot of large-diaphragm vocal mics have a thin band of distortion around the 3 kHz range, which seems to present itself as a grating noise. The Bock doesn’t exhibit that nasty characteristic and remains smooth throughout the vocal range.”