Waves Audio and Abbey Road Studios team up to model historic microphones used by Royalty 19/05/11
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Academy Award® Best Picture Winner The King's Speech captured the imaginations of moviegoers the world over. Now, Waves Audio and legendary Abbey Road Studios have captured the sounds of the iconic and historic microphones used during the actual 1920s and 1930s events that the film was based on. Here's their press release with the details...
The Waves/Abbey Road – The King's Microphones plugin is a digital audio processor, created in concept by Abbey Road Studios and engineered by Waves. This marks the first collaboration between Waves and Abbey Road Studios. The plugin is the only product of its kind that recreates these rare microphones, giving studio/live mix engineers a quick and easy distinctive vintage/"lo-fi" sound for vocals, drums, etc.; giving post re-mixers a dialogue processor to achieve authentic period-appropriate sounds; and giving sound designers the chance to recreate the sounds of the era, for the shaping and processing of sound effects.
The mics were recently restored and employed to record audio for the film, which inspired the team at Abbey Road to explore the mics' potential further. Peter Cobbin, senior recording engineer at Abbey Road Studios, who worked closely with the Waves engineering team on the development of the plugin, stated, "Last year I had the fantastic opportunity to use the microphones built for the British Royal family whilst recording the score for The King's Speech. This year I am proud that the combined efforts of Abbey Road Studios and Waves have produced a wonderful authentic plugin that captures the very essence of these beautiful and rare microphones."
The King's Microphones plugin is a special EQ filter processor that recreates the unique tonal character of these microphones, with three proximity positions for each: Close, which emulates the response from a source located 5 cm from the capsule, creating a warmer tone through proximity; Ambient, which emulates the response from a source located 40 cm from the capsule; and Natural, which emulates the basic response of the microphone, without any proximity effect or artifacts. The King's Microphones plugin is RTAS, AudioSuite, VST, AU and Waves SoundGrid compatible. Additionally, the King's Microphones plugin works in Mono or Stereo mode.
Abbey Road Studios is an iconic symbol in the international music industry. The studios have been at the heart of British music for almost 80 years and been the home of countless landmark recordings and innovative techniques, equipment and technology. Today, Abbey Road Studios is one of the most technically advanced recording, mixing and post-production facilities in the world. In the 1920s and 1930s, EMI had the honor of crafting special microphones for the British Royal Family for use at important and significant occasions. From this extremely rare collection, three microphones have been used as the basis for this unique plugin.
Used exclusively by the royal family for speeches on momentous occasions, each of these three priceless microphones dating back to the 1920s was tailored and tuned especially for its specific user: King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Ornately designed and decorated with gold, silver and chrome adornments bearing the royal coats of arms (the official coat of arms of the British monarch), each is a one-of-a-kind aesthetic masterpiece with its own distinctive sonic character.
H.M. King George V model:
This Carbon microphone was designed by Marconi-Reisz circa 1925. It consists of fine carbon dust held between output electrodes, fronted by a mica diaphragm and encased in a grand marble shell. Carbon microphones are rarely used today. Despite the model's limited bandwidth and relatively high noise floor, it was one of the best microphones available at the time, and this particular microphone and plugin have a wonderful colored sound unlike any mics manufactured today.
H.M. King George VI and H.M. Queen Elizabeth models:
Both of these microphones were based on the EMI CPM201 model. These moving coil microphones were specially built in 1936, encased in silver by G&S Co Ltd of London. The diaphragm is made of PVC and shaped almost like a loudspeaker cone. It is presumed these microphones were designed for outside broadcast, as they are more robust than the more popular ribbon microphones of the time.
After being discovered deep within the vaults of the EMI Archive Trust by Cobbin, the microphones were then used by him to record music and dialogue for The King's Speech at Abbey Road Studios. After the film was finished, he was tempted to try the microphones on other sources. Drums, guitars, vocals and synths were then played and "processed" through the microphones at different proximities. Cobbin's curiosity was rewarded with some fantastic and unique "filter"-type effects, inspiring the eventual collaboration with Waves. The resulting plugin allows sound designers, engineers, producers and musicians all over the world to give their audio the "royal" treatment.
Cobbin added, "It was exciting to know we had the very microphone used by King George VI, the central character of this film, and I thought how appropriate and inspiring it would be to have the microphones present at our recording sessions. The royal microphones are works of highly-skilled craftsmanship."
Mirek Stiles, Head of Audio Products at Abbey Road, stated, "Since the early 1990s, Waves has been developing groundbreaking plugins for the audio industry. We are very proud to be working closely with Waves in the creation of exciting new products based on the legendary Abbey Road Studios equipment and expertise."
The King's Microphones plugins offer stunningly accurate recreations of the originals' unique frequency responses, with three proximity settings for each. Pricing and Availability:
The Waves/Abbey Road – The King's Microphones plugin is currently available with a U.S. MSRP of $99.00