Five-Time 2003 Grammy Nominee Ricky Skaggs Stays True To True
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: Ricky Skaggs is having a great Grammy Award season. With eight Grammy Awards already under his belt plus a string of past nominated records from his self-owned Skaggs Family Records label, the bluegrass legend is up for a total of five nominations at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in February 2004.
Both albums, "Live at the Charleston Music Hall" by Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder (Skaggs Family Records) and "The Three Pickers" by Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson & Ricky Skaggs (Rounder Records), were recorded live using Neumann-distributed TRUE Systems Precision 8 eight-channel microphone preamplifiers. Lee Groitzsch, a recording engineer as well as studio manager of the Skaggs Family Records studio, explains that the TRUE preamps fit the requirements of the two projects perfectly.
"On both of those occasions we had a low budget, but obviously had some high sonic requirements that we had to meet," he comments. "We wanted to find mic pres that weren't outrageously expensive to buy or rent, but would deliver sonic integrity when putting it to tape."
In addition to sounding good, the mic preamps needed to be easily transportable, continues Groitzsch. "We weren't going to be renting a truck. We were going to be hauling the gear and setting it up at the venue ourselves, and patching it in ourselves, and cutting to a RADAR [hard disc recorder]. The TRUE mic pres sounded good on acoustic instruments and vocals and being one-rack space unit with eight channels, it ended up being one of the key pieces of gear in our project."
The TRUE preamps offered peace of mind, he continues. "We didn't have to worry about what happened to the signal going to tape. We knew we were going to be able to use what we cut and not have to think about EQ-ing it to get it to sound like something. I ended up using the Precision 8 on Ricky's album and on 'The Three Pickers,' and with great results."
"Live at the Charleston Music Hall" by Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder is up for three Grammy Awards, including Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for the track, "A Simple Life"; Best Country Instrumental Performance for "Get Up John"; and Best Bluegrass Album. "The Three Pickers," featuring Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and Ricky Skaggs, received two nominations: Best Country Instrumental Performance for "Pick Along" and Best Traditional Folk Album.
"So now, we've got two projects that the TRUE preamp was used on that are nominated for a Grammy," enthuses Groitzsch. "We're just a small label and we've got five nominations. Amazing. We're hardly even getting played on the radio!"
The Charleston live recording additionally made use of several Neumann KMS 105 microphones, reports Groitzsch. "We used a KMS 105 on Ricky's vocals, the fiddle was cut through one, plus the banjo, and Ricky's mandolin was cut through as well."
The results were spectacular, he says. "Ricky's live record, sonically, is probably one of the better sounding records that we've turned out. It went way beyond our expectations, especially for the amount of money and time that we had available to us to create it."
The Precision 8 preamps are also getting plenty of use at the Skaggs Family Records facility. "I'm using the TRUE pres here in the studio just about every time I cut a piano," says Groitzsch, "because I'm using the M-S function on it." The Precision 8 supports decoding of the M-S or Mid-Side mic setup, a technique that offers a true stereo image. "I use a stereo mic, generally a C24, with the M-S portion of the mic pre. It's the best our piano has ever sounded. We're really pleased with the results."
"In the past," he elaborates, "we've had a problem with getting the piano to stick out without having to EQ it really heavily or manipulate it." The TRUE Precision 8 has eliminated that problem, he says. "Now, when the piano sits in the track, it's got its own character and identity, and marries well with the other instruments. The M-S feature of the TRUE preamp has been of great value to us."
The Precision 8 is designed and built by Sunrise Engineering, a design and build manufacturer located in Tucson, Arizona. Neumann distributes True Systems in the USA.
Neumann's award-winning line of microphones has set the standard in the industry since 1928. In 1999, Neumann received the prestigious Technical Grammy(r) for their 70 years of innovation in microphone design and contribution to the music industry. A continuing commitment to provide innovative, technically refined products and engineering solutions of proven quality ensures that Neumann's stature will remain unassailable. Neumann USA is owned and distributed in the U.S. and Latin America by Sennheiser Electronic Corporation based in Old Lyme, Connecticut.