Engineer Eric Schilling Opts For KSM313 and KSM353 Ribbons
NILES IL, January 22, 2010 — When recording engineer Eric Schilling was asked to work on a live recording for artist Dave Grusin, he saw it as an opportunity to try Shure’s new KSM353 and KSM313 ribbon microphones in several critical instrument applications.
“It was a live concert recording for a CD release on Concord Records,” Schilling explains. “The first half was a full orchestra, which was followed by a big band set. It was a pretty complex show.”
Dave Grusin’s career as a composer, arranger, and pianist has included a lot of soundtrack work, including eight Oscar®-nominated scores and original tracks. He also has composed the theme songs for various TV shows, including Good Times, Maude, and St. Elsewhere. A co-founder of famed jazz label GRP Records, Grusin has also won seven GRAMMY® Awards among his many jazz recordings.
The live concert recording was a career retrospective, paying homage to Grusin’s body of work. The orchestral set featured soundtrack music from movies like Tootsie and On Golden Pond, while the big band set included Grusin arrangements of songs from West Side Story, George Gershwin, and Henry Mancini.
The show took place in Miami’s Arsht Center, a venue designed for classical acoustic music and known for its great sound.
“It’s a beautiful venue,” says Schilling. “The stage is big – very broad and with a lot of depth to it, which makes it a great place to record. The producer was Phil Ramone, and we did a lot of planning together on how we were going to mic the show. It was a great opportunity to try the new Shure ribbon microphones.”
The Shure ribbon mics, models KSM353 and KSM313, are distinguished by their use of a proprietary material, Roswellite, for the ribbon. Roswellite is extremely strong, with low mass, high conductivity, and shape memory, enabling the mics to handle significantly higher levels and more challenging conditions in terms of wind blast, plosives, and phantom power, while retaining the characteristic warmth associated with ribbon microphones.
“I’ve always loved the sound of a good ribbon mic on trombones, and that’s where we put the KSM353,” notes Schilling. “I used one of them for the top two trombones. We used sort of a neat trick that Phil Ramone suggested, which was to turn it sideways and put it right between the players, which is an excellent way to take advantage of its figure-8 pattern. It was great because it eliminated drum bleed, which could have been a problem because this was a big open stage with no physical separation between sections.”
A second KSM353 was used for the bass trombone in a more conventional deployment.
Schilling also found a spot for the smaller KSM313 during the big band set. “That mic is fantastic on guitar cabinets,” he notes. “It has some interesting qualities. Where the KSM353 behaves exactly the same between the front and back sides, if you look at the polars, the KSM313 is a little brighter on the back side of the capsule. For this show, I thought the amp was a little bit dark in character, so I just turned the mic around and used the back side. So that turns out to be a useful tool for an engineer.”
With just a few weeks experience, Schilling is still in the process of putting his Shure ribbon mics through their paces. “I’ve experimented a lot with these two mics, trying them in a lot of different places, and they both have a really nice warmth, with none of the nasal quality I’ve found in some other ribbons. And they can both handle high SPL with no problem. In fact, I’ll be trying them in a couple positions where you normally wouldn’t use a ribbon, like on drums and percussion, just to see what they can do.”
Asked about his overall reaction to the KSM353 and KSM313, Eric Schilling’s summary was succinct and positive. “They’re really versatile. In fact, so far I haven’t found any application where they don’t shine,” he enthuses. “I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way the Shure ribbon mics performed in the Dave Grusin live recording. Frankly, if I had more of them available, I would have used them.”