Distance Over Time, the fourteenth album from American progressive metal band Dream Theater, was released on February 22, 2019 on the Sony Music label. Featuring 10 tracks, the album is in many ways an introspective look at the band and its history together—resulting in an effort that exhibits a back-to-basics approach and a renewed sense of force.
Capturing the performances as accurately as possible was crucial to the nature of the music and the spirit of Dream Theater. Central to this effort was the recording of lead vocalist James LaBrie, who was captured exclusively using the Mojave Audio MA-1000 large-diaphragm multi-pattern tube condenser microphone.
Mixer/engineer/producer Richard Chycki served as the vocal co-producer and engineer on Distance Over Time. As an engineer and mixer whose clients include Rush, Aerosmith, Skillet, Mick Jagger, and similar artists, Chycki knows what it takes to capture the essence of rock and roll. And with over 30 years of working with Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie, Chycki knows well the intricacies of LaBrie’s voice. Vocals for the album were recorded during September 2018 at Mixland in Toronto Canada. Chycki described his experience with the Mojave Audio MA-1000.
“LaBrie sings all lead and backing vocals,” Chycki explains. “I learned about the MA-1000 toward the end of recording vocals for Dream Theater’s previous album The Astonishing, where the mic proved itself as an excellent choice for James’ vocal style. As a result of that experience, we used it exclusively for the recording of Distance Over Time. James’ vocal performance can have a particularly wide dynamic range and finding a microphone with both a complementary response and the ability to handle his vocal level had been a challenge—until we discovered the MA-1000.”
When queried about those MA-1000 attributes that made the mic an excellent choice for capturing LaBrie’s vocals, Chycki offered the following comments. “First and foremost, the MA-1000 has the innate ability to sound great on all sources on which I’ve used it,” he said. “The mic is in many ways a jack of all trades and master of all. For vocals, the MA-1000 is both present and bright—without being harsh or sounding EQ’d. The detail of its capture is exemplary, as is its ability to capture high SPL without distortion or breakup.”
When using microphones, the ability to capture the essence of a performance is a combination of tried and true practice coupled with experimentation. So, when questions arise or any other assistance is required, it’s crucial for the equipment manufacturers to be responsive. In this regard, Chycki rates Mojave Audio highly.
“Mojave Audio and HHB Canada, the Canadian distributor for Mojave, have always been super-accommodating and proactive,” he reports. “Both companies exhibit genuine concern that all projects involving the use of their products turn out right. I know that if I have questions, I can call the Mojave office and get capable support without any runaround—and that’s very important.”
Reflecting on his experience with the Mojave Audio MA-1000 throughout the Dream Theater project, Chycki offered these final thoughts, “For a long time, Mojave mics have been part of my secret weapons bin that now aren’t so secret anymore. Their mics are reliable, and they sound great. And really, what more than that needs to be said?”