Behind the Boards with Guest Engineer Ryan Haft
Accomplished engineer, producer, and musician Ryan Haft recently visited Pulp to engineer Tampa indie trio Sienna Queen’s debut Ep. Haft has worked with some of the heaviest hitters in South Florida’s music scene like Jacuzzi Boys, Torche, Las Nubes, and Jaialai. We took some time with this studio wizard to discuss what he looks for in a studio and touch on some of the techniques he used while working on sessions at Pulp.
You’re from Miami and Sienna Queen is from Tampa. How did you land on Pulp as a home base for recording?
I had previously mixed a track from Dikembe and an album from Tape Studies that was recorded entirely at Pulp. I thought the sounds from those recordings sounded great and reached out about coming to Pulp for tracking.
Once we started talking about how to proceed with the Sienna Queen, I suggested it might be easier for me to just travel from Miami instead of the band all trekking down south and they were into the central location idea.
What are you looking for in a studio when you’re working remotely?
Personally, I'm looking to use a new room that sounds great and has the equipment I am used to working with in order to achieve a sound comparable to my own studio. Also, I try to use a room that I feel will have accurate monitoring, so I'm not playing a guessing game on how things will sound. This can be a combination of speakers, and/or how well I feel the room is calibrated.
How was your experience working on the Daking Console?
The Daking console was fun to work on. It’s not as wild as an SSL, but it did have some routing tricks that seemed rad that Winston showed me. Daking Pres and EQs are fantastic. I own a pair of them and they get used a lot on drum shells, bass, guitars if you are looking for that edgy Trident A range type of sound. However, the majority of my work was done with the outboard gear. I’ve never been a huge fan of using a slew of the same mic pre on a single source.
Was there any outboard gear that you were most excited to use in the session?
The outboard collection was one of the main reasons I wanted to track at Pulp! Some highlights for me were all the great tube gear like Pultecs, the Retro 176, Highland Dynamics BG2, and the DW fearn stuff.
Which microphones defined the Sienna Queen sessions?
The main goal for the Pulp sessions was to get our basic tracking done for Sienna Queen’s drum, bass, and rhythm guitar tracks. I'm a big fan of ribbons and condensers for drums so we predominantly used Coles 4038s for overheads along with the Neumann 149. U67s and the AEA r88 for room mics sounded wonderful. Josephson e22s for toms and Neumann u47 for kick drum. The inside of the kick and the snare top were mic’d with dynamics only.
I used Dynamics/Ribbon and Condenser /Ribbon combos for all of the guitar tracking.
We noticed you placed some microphones behind the open-back cabinets. How do you incorporate that sound into your mixes?
It’s the same notion as mic'ing the top and bottom of a snare drum, I feel mic'ing the backs of cabs will get you a deeper dimension to guitar amps. The back of the speaker cone gives you a different frequency response. On its own can sound pretty uselss, but when blended with mics in front of the amp I believe you achieve a fuller, deeper representation of the guitar amp.
May I add that the studio also has an incredible collection of guitar amps!
Do you have any advice for engineers looking to bring projects between different recording facilities and rooms?
I'd definitely map your sessions out beforehand and get detailed with budgeting time for getting sounds and tracking each instrument. I like to game plan my signal chains to make sure I can get the sounds the sounds I want quickly. Try new things, but always have an idea of what gear you will guarantee that you get a good sound.
Do your research and inquire with the studio beforehand if you’re working on a new console. I made sure to watch some videos on the Daking, so I wasn't completely in the dark about its routing capabilities when I showed up. Bounce between the different sets of speakers to highlight any flaws in your sounds if you aren't used to the studio’s monitors. If things that are consistent across different monitors you can trust that your decisions have been made accurately. Always do something to capture the beautiful sounding space you are working in!
If you’d like to know more about the studio, book some time, or arrange for a tour give us a call at (352) 505-3620 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch!