Used for the mixdown of "In da Club", as stated by producer Dr. Dre in this transcribed March 2005 interview.
"In Da Club"
Producer: Dr. Dre
Engineer: Vito (Mauricio Iragorri)
"With 50, he's an artist with such an amazing voice," says Vito. "You just put him behind a microphone and it just sounds good! My job is make sure it doesn't distort and it's not overloading. While he's vibing and doing his thing, I'm scrambling to make sure nothing is going wrong with the signal path."
"Recording vocals with Dre is a meticulous process," Vito reveals. "There are some exceptions, like 50 is an exception. There are some people that just do it, and there's not much punching involved. And there are other people who need a lot of punching, and that means maybe a couple words at a time until all the rhythm and the pockets are correct. Dre has an amazing sense of rhythm. He hears all these crazy rhythms in the vocal and, because he's a rapper as well, he knows how it should be performed. As a producer he's great, but as a rapper he knows what pocket they should be hitting and he can really coach someone well. Working with Dre on vocals is cool because you get to see how he directs someone and they actually sound the best they've ever sounded."
Signal Path: Tracking
"I like my vocals to sound 'crystal,'" says Dre. "I use the Sony C800-G for vocals because it has a clean sound and about 85% of the people that get behind it sound great. My main objective is that the vocal sound is present and clean and ultimately does not distort. I get the sound I want out of the EQ on the SSL. We've used it forever and have made many hits on it, including 50's 'In Da Club.'"
"We come from the Sony C800-G and out of that into the Neve 1073 mic pre," explains Vito. "We don't use the EQ, because most of the time it sounds good flat. If there's a need for it we'll engage it, but for 50 Cent on 'In Da Club' we didn't use any EQ. Then we took it out of the Neve mic pre into the Avalon 737-SP compressor. It's a mic pre with EQ, and it actually has a compressor, but we're not using any of the mic pre on the Avalon - we're just going straight into the line input. From the output of the Neve it goes into the line input of the Avalon, which allows you to use the compressor alone. We set the compression ratio around 7:1 and the threshold usually hovers at around 0. I set it at a medium attack and fast release. I'd say we're using around 3 or 4 dB of compression, sometimes up to 7 dB. On 'In Da Club' it was about 4 or 5. Then it comes back into the SSL 4000 G with E modules (at Encore Studio) and we bring it back on the insert.
"There's a patch on the patch bay that says 'insert return,'" he continues, "and that's where we bring the vocal back into the insert return, because it's the shortest patch before you actually hear the vocal. It has the least amount of circuitry of anything in the channel, so you're bypassing the EQ, the dynamics. You could use it all, but if you really want the shortest, cleanest signal, that's the way to go. Then we bus it out to Pro Tools HD and we use the small fader to send it to PT. That's about it."
"The way we came to this chain is - a while ago, when I first started out, I was assisting for Dr. Dre," says Vito. "I noticed how their engineer was doing it and it sounded good. The records sounded amazing, so when Dre hired me to engineer, I told him, 'Ya gotta buy some of these,' and he bought some 1073s. I had heard for a long time that they were really good mic pre's to run vocals through. At Encore, where I was assisting, they had one there, and anytime we were doing a session we would always run vocals through it. So when I saw Dre doing it, it was just cool seeing a rap guy using a 1073! That's how we came up with it. As for the compressor, it's just a good tube-sounding compressor. Sometimes we use the DBX 160 - the original - as an alternate compressor; it sounds good and we've used that on a lot of records."
Signal Path: Mixdown
The Yamaha SPX-1000 played a prominent role in mixdown. "We used a REV-5 room setting," says Vito. "There are a couple patches in there that sound really good. They're old reverbs and they're not the best nor most expensive, but they sound good, they're reliable, and that's all that matters! For R&B the Lexicon reverbs sound great. They work good for R&B, but for rap the SPX works good. We've used Lexicon's before too and they work okay. It's depends on the song and the artist and what you're looking for in the song. Like on Eve's stuff we used the SPX-1000, too."