While writing and pre-producing their upcoming 14th album in a barn in upstate New York this summer, Dream Theater found themselves ready to record a full month ahead of schedule. To keep the momentum going, they decided to record the album right there in the barn: thus, engineer James Meslin and production manager Maddi Schieferstein were tasked with getting the space and gear prepared for recording in less than a week.
Historically, the band had always recorded on vintage Rupert Neve consoles to achieve their sound, but this time they opted for a more portable rig utilizing 24 channels of Rupert Neve Designs’ new RMP-D8 Dante-connected mic preamplifiers, a Portico 5024 quad mic preamp, four Shelford Channels, and a full complement of sE / Rupert Neve microphones as its core.
Meslin says his initial task was to find recording gear that wouldn’t compromise their dedication to sound quality, but could also travel with them long after the album was complete. “We wanted to invest in equipment that would have longevity with this band – our eyes lit up thinking of how we could use the RMP-D8 on the road with Dante. Being able to take these on tour, and not only have the convenience of Dante, but have it sound like the record, is really exciting.”
According to Meslin, “The Rupert Neve Designs gear has been the backbone of this whole recording process. Having recorded on vintage Rupert Neve consoles throughout my career, working with the Shelfords and RMP-D8s has been a very familiar experience. The RMP-D8 sounds and feels like a classic Rupert Neve console to me.”
In keeping with their desire to maintain this classic sonic footprint on the album, they also made use of the Rupert Neve Signature Series microphones from sE Electronics. “With drums, the RN Series mics were the true focal point of the sound. A pair of RN17s [small-diaphragm condensers] in X-Y over the drummer’s head capture the immediate experience from the drummer’s perspective and kit, two RNR1s [active ribbons] are out in front of the kit in Blumlein to capture the entirety of the kit and the room, and two RNTs [large-diaphragm tube condensers] are split in omni to pick up all the excitement in the room. Those RNTs are really pleasing to the ear – very natural and easy to fit into the mix. So far we haven’t even needed to use EQ on them.”
According to Schieferstein, they had just a single week to put the entire studio together. “It was scary – especially because we had never put our hands on the RMP-D8. But we put a lot of faith in the Rupert Neve Designs gear, and it all came through shining. This record would not sound like this record without those pieces.”