Set in the 60’s and broadcast on the AMC cable TV network; The Emmy Award winning show Mad Men has earned a loyal following among TV viewers. Created and produced by Matthew Weiner, the show stars Jon Hamm as Don Draper, creative director of the fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad firm.
David Carbonara is the show’s composer and his winning mix of contemporary score and period jazz has inspired a number of Mad Men soundtracks as well as the Mad Men Revue, a live show starring cast members that Carbonara produced. When recording the show’s musical tracks, Carbonara insists on capturing every last musical nuance, and has selected a combination of microphones from Mojave Audio and sister company Royer Labs.
Recording engineer and mixer James T. Hill works with Carbonara on the show’s musical recordings. In addition to his work on Mad Men, Hill worked with composer James Newton Howard on numerous movie scores including The Sixth Sense, as well as composer Jane Antonio Cornish’s In Luce and numerous additional projects. They use Mojave Audio’s MA-201fet and MA-100 condenser microphones as well as Royer Labs’ R-121, R-122V, and SF-24 ribbon microphones.
“Jim started using Royer’s in 2003 and Mojave mics in 2007—the year we began work on Mad Men,” Carbonara said. “In the five years we’ve been working together on Mad Men, we’ve deployed the Mojave MA-100 on acoustic guitars, drum cymbals, and hi hats; and the MA-201fet on vocals, acoustic guitar, and a variety of other soloists. We’ve been equally pleased with the performance of our Royer ribbons. We find the R-121 works really well on brass, woodwinds, and guitar amps while the R-122V does a great job on woodwinds, acoustic guitars, and strings. With the Royer SF-24 being a stereo microphone, we typically use this for piano, drum overheads, and room ambience.”
Based upon his successful experience in the commercial studios where Mad Men tracks are recorded, Carbonara recently acquired a Mojave Audio MA-300 multi-pattern vacuum tube condenser microphone for use in his personal studio. “I started work on a film where it will be necessary to record acoustic guitars and some strings in my home studio—something I’m not accustomed to doing,” he explained. “So, of course, I asked Jim’s advice for my microphone choice and he quickly recommended the Mojave. Jim suggested the MA-300 would be right for anything I might need to record in my own studio and I’m pleased to report the mic is performing exactly as I had hoped.”
Carbonara was equally complimentary of the Royer ribbons he and Hill use, “Jim likes using the R-121 and R-122V ribbon mics because of the null points, which help provide isolation between instruments when used in a room full of musicians. We’ve also used a pair of R-122V’s in a Blumlein configuration for capturing acoustic guitars, small acoustic groups, and drum overheads.”