Malibu, CA (April 30, 2008)– Veteran sound engineer Dan Wallin recently recorde Michael Giacchino’s epic score for Speed Racer, the latest film by the Wachowski Brothers (the Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta). Wallin and Giacchino have worked together on many previous projects, including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission Impossible 3 and the Lost television series.
Wallin used a collection of Neumann and Sennheiser microphones, including four Neumann TLM 49 large-diaphragm condensers, on the scoring stage for Speed Racer. Wallin keeps his ears open to new sounds and discovered the Neumann TLM 49 while recording Lost at Capitol. “Like the other mics in the TLM Series, the 49s have no transformer and thus no phase shift,” he said. “As a result, they have a wide open sound that is absolutely truthful and accurate.”
Two of the TLM 49s covered the cellos, while the other two covered the string basses. Eight Sennheiser MKH 40s captured the double-woodwind section. Six Neumann TLM 170s captured the violins and violas. Additional TLM 170s served the percussionists, the pianist, the brass section, the guitars, and one of the drum kit overheads. TLM 193s filled in for the other drum kit’s overheads, while both snares and hats were captured by Neumann KM 140 small-diaphragm condensers.
Wallin used three MKH 800s for a spaced LCR in front of the Speed Racer” ensemble and two MKH 800s in an M/S configuration in the front. In addition, one more MKH 800 captured the harp.
All of the mics went through Wallin’s Precision Analog class A preamps before conversion to 24-bit, 96kHz digital. While Wallin thinks 24/96 brings digital technology close to the fidelity of high-end analog tape, he was disappointed to have to use it on Speed Racer. Recent projects such as The Incredibles and Ratatouille went to tape, but Wallin was unable to obtain tape for Speed Racer. Nevertheless, he is excited about the new one-bit technologies, which he finds superior even to analog, and looks forward to the day when they are more widely available and flexible.
“While many sound engineers seek to impart a ‘sound’ to their recordings, I have always tried to make the orchestra sound as realistic as possible,” says Wallin. “I’ve used all the vintage mics, even when they weren’t so vintage, but Neumann’s transformerless technology was what really changed things for me. The accuracy of their transformerless designs gives me the musical transparency that I find so appealing in a good orchestral recording.”