Ben’s been through the mill when it comes to the music industry, learning what he can from any role, be it roadie, engineer or producer. But it was while working in a music store on days off from his Sound Design degree that gave him the biggest breaks. Within months he was riding Front Of House faders for Sweet Inspirations, Elvis Presley’s female backing singers and mixing live on the BBC – not bad for a first year university student! Working in the music store also allowed him to audition every quality mic in the business, giving him immense knowledge and insight into the single most important part of the recording process – knowing which mic to use and how. “It’s rare that a mic comes along that really blows you away, so when it came to re-vamping my mic collection sE was my first choice. You really can A/B these mics with the Neumanns of this world and get the same results. That and the miniscule price tag make sE irresistible to me!” It was only when Ben finished his studies that he decided to take the plunge and become a freelance engineer, using the wealth of experience he’d picked up over the years to realise his dream. And now with his career firing on all cylinders, he’s just embarked on his biggest project to date – building his own studio. Results are paramount when it comes to recording sound, and because Ben’s working for such a wide range of artists he needs the mics he carries to be diverse and flexible. “There are infinite ways to get 'that take’, so when it gets to the point in a session when I need a mic to bring out the detailed top end, or to capture the room ambience, I know exactly which mic to pick up.” “One minute I’m using the Z5600a [valve condenser mic] for a beautifully detailed female voice, then an hour later I’ll be using it on an ambient kick drum. And the Titan [condenser] is a great overhead mic, but I also love it for airy backing vocals, or a female pop vocal.
“But when it comes to vocals I’m nearly always reaching for the Gemini and the Z5600a. I find the 5600 really comes into its own for pumping 'rocky’ vocals, but the Gemini [dual-valve] gives me the detail I need to hear every nuance in that intimate 'hair standing up on the back of your neck’ type vocal.”
“And I’d be lost without my R1 [ribbon mic] when it comes to tracking drums – it’s such a great room mic, but again it’s so flexible. It can be the softest, roundest sounding mic for, say, jazz drums, but then turn up the volume, slam it through an LA2A and it’s a brutal, fiery beast!” “There are also some great features on sE mics –the variable pick-up pattern on the Z5600a is a really cool tweak, or example – but it’s what comes out of the speakers that matters most to me. Sonically I just can’t argue with the results that something like a Z5600a gives me.” “Ultimately sE mics repeatedly give me the performance I want.”