Rarefied Recording, a San Diego Recording Studio

New Console at Rarefied!

Greetings all,

I’m excited to announce that Rarefied has acquired a brand new mixing console. Say hello to our 32 channel AMS-Neve Genesys! It’s housed in a beautiful custom desk made by Tony Brett of Brett Acoustics (Tony did all the interior build out of the studio). The desk features a wonderful center section for computing purposes (monitor, keyboard, mouse). This keeps the engineer in the sweet spot for all of the mundane Pro Tools tasks that are inevitable in today’s workflow. You can see in the picture one large ultra-wide monitor and then another small screen embedded into the desk. The large screen is for Pro Tools and general computing needs. The small screen is actually a dedicated screen for the Genesys computer. Yes, it has a built in computer! Very fancy…

The Genesys is a giant upgrade from the Toft ATB, which was nice, but admittedly the bottleneck of quality in the studio. The Neve not only brings the famous sonics of the Neve brand, but also a host of modern features that will become very useful engineering tools. Although the Genesys is an analog console it actually employs digital control for most of the board functions. This allows for advanced features like Total Recall to be possible. Total Recall means that the board’s state can be saved and recalled at a later time with little effort. Prior to this I had to painstakingly write down the position of every fader, knob, and switch on the Toft if I wanted to recall a mix or tracking session. It was a time consuming process that was definitely prone to human error either on the documentation side or at the point of actually doing the recall. Things will be a lot swifter and accurate with the Neve!

Every mic pre is a 1073 style with transformer. Half of the console has a Neve 1084 type 3 band equalizer while the other half has a Neve 88RS style 4 band (the 88RS is AMS-Neve’s flagship console). Each channel has two inserts which can be moved between the recording path and monitor path of the console. The EQ can also be moved between the paths and ordered before or after the inserts. There are 4 mono and two stereo aux sends, 8 sub-groups, and 4 stereo reverb returns with a cool “width” feature to widen the stereo image of the reverb. A secondary set of ins and out allow for signal to be sent to our tape machine instead of our digital converters at the flip of a switch.

Besides Total Recall the board also has flying fader automation and a mode where the console can act as a control surface for Pro Tools.

Integrating this new board into the studio was a giant task. It involved moving the patchbays to the credenza and the converters to a new side table rack next to the couch. Many many thanks to my wiring guy, Thom Canova, who planned things out to re-use as much cable from the prior build as possible. And also tons of gratitude to the many volunteers who spent hours soldering and slinging cable- Bill Cosenza, Fabian Ortega, his brother Eddie and co-worker Anthony, Ramiro Cazares Jr, and Scott Lehman. It still literally took pulling an all-nighter to get things done in time for the first session on the books, but we did it!

For Rarefied this is a huge deal, but it’s also worth noting that for San Diego this is kind of a big deal. As of right now, the only Neve consoles I know of that you can work on down here are the 10 channel side car at Studio West and a Neve that’s part of the mobile recording truck known as Le Mobile (so not really even a studio you can go to). So as far as full sized Neve consoles to track or mix on, Rarefied seems to be it for San Diego. Come and get your Neve on!

Hanukkah/Christmas 2015 Gear Update

We hope you had a great Holiday season! This year the studio scored some pretty cool stuff.

Here’s a list and a little about what each one does:


JHS Crayon: this is a distortion/tone pedal for guitar. The Crayon is the little cousin to the JHS Colour Box. Both pedals employ circuits similar to the front end of a Neve console. Some of the earliest ways that extreme distortion was put to tape was by running guitars straight into a console and distorting the mic pre in the console. The Crayon gives you that sound in a convenient little box. Think Beatles “Revolution”.


JHS Little Black Buffer: this simple little box is just a buffer for your guitar. When you’re recording in the studio it’s not uncommon to setup your pedals and so forth in the control room, and then run a cable through a special wall jack into the live room where the amp sits. Between the cables required for the pedals and the runs to and from the wall jacks/amps there can be quite a bit of signal quality degradation just due to all the cables. The Little Black Buffer can help you overcome that loss. It’s designed to be able to drive the type of high capacitance in your signal chain that is typical for a multi-pedal, long cable run setup.


Voodoo Labs Big Shot ABY: this pedal lets you send your guitar or keyboard signal to two different outputs or even both at the same time. It has a full compliment of features that help overcome common issues when working with two amplifiers. You’ve got a ground lift on the B output which can sometimes solve those nasty buzzing issues. There is also an “ISO” switch which inserts an isolation transformer into the B signal path. This is another way to stop ground buzz in its tracks. And there’s a phase reverse switch in case the signal out of amp B is phase inverted from the signal out of amp A. If you want to record out of two amps to get a massive sound or just sonic diversity, the Big Shot is going to get the job done no matter what.


Moog Minifooger MF Flange: this pedal is an all analog flanger from the analog synth kings at Moog. Rarefied already has the MF Trem tremolo pedal, which sounds amazing. Now with the MF Flange we’ll have that iconic flanger sound in spades. The MF Flange actually has a stereo output as well as an expression pedal input which lets you modulate the flanger effect in real time with the flick of your foot. And yes, we do have a Moog expression pedal ready to go for it.


Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter: this simple box provides a gain boost for dynamic and ribbon mics. Dynamics like the Shure SM7B and ribbons like the AEA R84 are amazing, but their output is a bit lower than your average mic. This means you often have to use a lot of gain at the mic pre amp and if the mic pre amp’s self noise isn’t so great or if some noise is coupling into the line prior to the mic pre, the signal to noise ratio may not be so good. Enter the CL-1. You place it right near the mic itself and get a quick boost in gain before ever even hitting the mic pre. This should make great mics like the ones mentioned even more useful.


Electroharmonix V256 Vocoder: this pedal has several classic vocoder sounds and many other amazing features built right in. The vocoder bands can be adjusted from retro (8 bands, think Kraftwerk) to modern (256 bands, think Daft Punk). The Gender Bender knob and the Pitch knob can really let you dial in the effect even more. And there’s also a Blend and Tone control. Without an instrument attached you can still get basic single note, major, and minor chord drones going, but via the 1/4″ input or the MIDI in, a keyboard (typically) can really let your inner robot sing. But the V256 doesn’t stop there! It also has a feature called Reflex-Tune which is essentially a real-time Autotune. While we do have Autotune 8 at the studio, it’s always nice to just plug something in sometimes and get what you need with the turn of a few knobs. From the videos I’ve seen on YouTube, you can definitely get that obvious Autotuned sound or a more subtle correction.


Voodoo Labs Micro Vibe: this pedal is a recreation of the classic 60’s Univibe effect. This effect was supposed to be like the sound of a Leslie rotating speaker amp, but it really never sounded much like one. None-the-less, artist’s like Jimi Hendrix put it to great use. Think of the Micro Vibe like a unique chorus pedal.


Granelli Audio Labs right angled modified SM57: the Shure SM57 is the most ubiquitous microphone ever to be found on the stage or in the studio. Nearly every electric guitar and snare drum you hear on records was done with a 57. How can you improve on the classic? Make it even more useful by giving it a right angle bend so it can fit into tighter spaces. This is especially useful on drum kits where some drummers really don’t leave a lot of room between drums, hardware, and cymbals. And hell, it can never hurt to have another SM57 lying around. The way in which Granelli Audio Labs does their mod, the sound of the original 57 is unaltered. Brilliant!

Happy New Year!!!

Xmas 2015 gear

Xmas 2015 gear