Graham Leftwich has been on the quest for superior sound quality for the past 30 years. A multi-instrumentalist, music educator and audio engineer based in Stamford, Conn. His mobile recording company TheSoundChaser™ specializes in location sound mixing, recording, and mastering. This past November, he tracked, recorded, mastered and lit the stage for FriendZ World Music concert — a dynamic and highly energetic African drumming and cultural dancing group — using the Antelope Audio Goliath recording interface.
Vibrant performances in vivid detail
When Leftwich was hired by FriendZ World Music, he knew the Goliath interface would include all the tools he needed. He’s been a fan of the Antelope sound quality and clarity since the introduction of the Orion32. Since then he has pieced together an almost complete Antelope ecosystem adding the Zen Studio, the MP32 and two Satoris. He acquired one of the first Goliaths in the USA and immediently put it to work on this session.
“Using Antelope’s products has given me the flexibility to go seamlessly from studio to stage with the exact same equipment being used during all parts of the project. I am around instrumental musicians every day, and on all types of instruments, and these products deliver the most transparent true-to-source sound,” states Leftwich. The performance took place at Bloomfield High School and featured a group of ten drummers and five African dancers. Co-producer and manager of FriendZ World Music Stuart “Mookie” Sanders called on Leftwich to record the project.
Leftwich deployed five speciality microphones, connecting them to five of the eight class-A mic preamplifiers on the rear of the Goliath. The microphones included two standup calibration mics at the front of the stage (110° and 7” apart) and three boundary mics were taped flat down on the stage five feet in from the stage lip at left, right and center positions. Musicians and dancers moved over and around the boundary mics adding to the increased detail of the recording. Monitoring with headphones through the Goliath, he captured the multi-hour performance recording at 24/192 kHz.
The vast dynamic range of sounds emanating from the stage, which included deep hypnotic drums, intricate footfall of the dancers, and the swishing of jewelry sashaying across the stage, was a true test for Leftwich and his recording setup: “I was a bit concerned about clipping because the SPL of the drums was very high — but the recording came out perfectly with no overloads. On listening back, the levels were exactly where they needed to be and the Goliath handled everything beautifully.”
Synergy on the stage and off
Leftwich appreciated the ease of transport and ‘all-in-one’ features of the Goliath, which left no stone unturned in both quality and functionality. “The Goliath saved me countless hours of set up time for this and other recordings. It has all the routing and everything I need not only for live shows but for mixing and mastering as well. It’s the most powerful piece of gear I own and everything sounded just sounded right through the Goliath.”
The sonic imaging and detail of the Goliath left nothing to the imagination: “With the FriendZ of World Music show, I was able to capture one of my best recordings to date,” he says. “My job was to capture these amazing musicians at their best and most passionate moments. These were complete takes with no edits. It’s as faithful to the real thing as you can get and that’s always my goal: achieving vivid clarity so you feel like you are at the show.”
Connecting at home base
When Leftwich decamped to TheSoundChaser™ studio, he connected the Goliath into his mastering set up and proceeded to balance and master the recording. Using Presonus’ Studio One in combination with the Goliath’s FPGA-based FX, he blended in a small touch of Antelope’s Auraverb reverb to complement the natural acoustics of the concert hall, lending exactly the color and sonic ambience he was looking for.
Coming full circle with Antelope
Going forward, the Goliath will continue to serve as the cornerstone of Leftwich’s recording set up for both stage and studio. He has also begun to integrate his Orion32 and MP32 into his system for larger recording setups as a stage box feeding 32 channels of 24/192kHz into the Goliath via MADI.
FriendZ World Music will be releasing a live DVD and a CD set of the performance, as well as posting teaser segments to You Tube in the coming weeks.
For more on Antelope Audio’s audio interfaces, please visit: http://antelopeaudio.com/pro-audio-devices/