Renaissance recordist Reto Peter is a music producer, audio engineer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, teacher, and voting member of the Recording Academy. He was worked in nearly every genre of music, including indie artists from his native Switzerland to breakthrough hip-hop act Flipsyde in his adopted hometown of Oakland—also home to Green Day—for which Reto earned a TEC Award for his work on their Grammy-winning album American Idiot. He owns a “greatest hits” collection of classic studio mics, with the latest being four large-diaphragm condensers from Audix (opens in new tab): a pair of A231 vocal mics and a pair of SCX25As.
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“I like tracking with large-diaphragm mics in general because I feel like they give me more to work with in the mixing process,” said Reto. "I recently used the Audix A231 on three projects, all with male lead vocals. One, a Swiss punk band that came to Oakland, had group vocals. I really liked its sound with all three bands. That mic has some bottom.
"There’s a proximity effect as with any cardioid pattern, but that can be very cool for vocalists who step away from the mic. The A231 captured a lot of raw material to work with, so the tracks really responded to my mixing decisions after the fact. And always in a pleasant way. If I added more top end, it didn’t sound harsh—it was just more of what I wanted to hear.”
The SCX25A are known for sounding great on a wide range of sources, and Reto’s recent work included two: one expected; the other, not so much. “On another project that was mainly acoustic guitar, I used the SCX25As as a spaced stereo pair,” he added. “They gave me a very nice, round sonic picture of the guitar.”
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As for that unexpected use, it’s usually thought of as the domain of the D2 or D4: “I really like the SCX25A on toms. I’m not talking overheads, though I like them for that, too—I mean close-miking. With some inline pads added to prevent overloads, they’re perfect. They have the body but also the crack I want to hear. I’m a big fan of close-miking, so I’m looking forward to using the SCX25As a lot more in that application.”
Reto’s next gig with his Audix mics was recording an old-fashioned radio drama in which high school students read lines and created real-time sound effects using various objects, and all of them were masked due to COVID. “I hung the A231s on boom stands, slightly high so the actors could read their scripts, which were on music stands. The SCX25As close-miked the two sound effects stations, and the flatness of the capsule made them easy to position,” said Reto.
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The results were pleasantly surprising. “I got all the low and low-mid I needed, especially from the female actors. I think this is because the proximity effect of the A231 begins a bit farther from the mic, and that was a good thing in this case. In the highs, I only had to boost around 8kHz a little to compensate for the masks. To listen to the final product, you wouldn’t know they were wearing them. For the sound effects, which included silverware, paper noises, and an old typewriter, I didn’t need to EQ anything. The SCX25As sounded perfect out of the box.”
“I’m really happy with these professional ventures using Audix,” Reto concluded. “If someone needs a great vocal mic, I think the A231 is the way to go. And the performance and value of the SCX25A is outstanding.”