While solo piano artist and session player Ed Roth may not be a name that one immediately recognizes, his musical contributions are legendary. Roth has performed and or recorded with a wide range of artists, from R&B superstars the Brothers Johnson and Mya to pop stars Annie Lennox and Sophie B. Hawkins, to Rock legends Ronnie Montrose, Robby Krieger, and Keith Emerson, along with critically acclaimed country acts and Singer songwriters Turnpike Troubadours, Cody Jinks, Tom Morello and Jules Shear. With a track record like this, Roth can use any microphone he chooses for his studio projects. That’s precisely why, for his forthcoming studio album, he chose the sonic accuracy and warmth of microphones from Mojave Audio and Royer Labs.
Roth’s new album, JazzLand, will be released February 22 on Los Angeles-based Funzalo Records (http://funzalorecords.com). JazzLand was recorded at his personal studio, known as The Keyboard Room. Roth described the project, “JazzLand is all solo piano. The album represents my takes on a collection of jazz standards, some of which you likely know, others perhaps not.”
Roth described the project, “I tried to pick songs that had a timeless quality about them, and that moved me in some way. The different vamps and solo sections may not be what you have heard before, but they are what came out naturally, without a lot of plotting… my spins on some old jazz numbers.”
The Keyboard Room is not your typical personal studio. From this location, Roth handles a lot of remote recording work—performing on piano, Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes, analog synths, and numerous other electronic keyboards. For JazzLand, Roth used a combination of two Mojave Audio MA-300 multi-pattern large diaphragm, vacuum tube condenser microphones, along with a Royer Labs R-122 active ribbon microphone. He discussed his experience with the Mojave and Royer equipment.
“The two Mojave MA-300 mics were positioned in a L-R configuration above and a bit behind the hammers just over strings,” Roth explained. “These two mics did a spectacular job of capturing all the attack of the piano without any harshness. The MA-300s have a clarity and warmth for a musical and natural sound. These mics do a great job handling the wide range of dynamics produced by the piano without the shrillness and high frequency distortion artifacts that I often hear with modern condenser microphones. Simply put, the mics captured the performance that I heard in the room as I played, with all the dynamics and warmth of the instrument on display.”
Roth was equally impressed with the Royer R-122. “I positioned the Royer R-122 so that it was leaning into the piano at the middle of curve, with the top of the mic positioned about one foot plus up over the piano’s soundboard. This mic did a terrific job of adding depth to the overall sound while furthering its warmth. Royer ribbons are known for adding warmth to digital recordings and that’s exactly what happened here. The R-122 helped make the recording more of a sculpture than a painting!”
On many recording projects, experimentation certainly comes into play, but other times questions arise—so responsive, capable customer and technical support services are crucial. In this regard, Roth was very complimentary of his experience with Mojave Audio. “Dusty Wakeman at Mojave is a pleasure to work with,” Roth reports. “He goes out of his way to help and he understands the challenges we face in studio projects. Best of all, it’s easy to get support whenever you call. I’d rate the company’s support services at 110%.”
With JazzLand in its final preparation stages prior to its February release, Roth reflected on his experience with the Mojave and Royer microphones. “Acoustic piano is one of the hardest instruments to capture, especially when it is solo, all alone in the recording” Roth explained. “You want all the dynamics and explosiveness of the piano performance, but it’s still got to be warm, and most important, it has to sing. It takes careful positioning of the microphones and equally careful listening, (and in my case, some help from some serious engineers) to ensure those microphones are in the right places to accurately record the instrument’s sound. The combination of the Mojave MA-300s and the Royer R-122 are genius for recording solo piano. I’m very happy with the results and the support Mojave Audio provided. This project is something I’m very proud of, JazzLand is a very personal project and these mics helped me deliver the intimacy of the project.”
To learn more about Ed Roth, visit him on at: http://funzalorecords.com/ed-roth/.
About Mojave Audio
Located in Burbank, California and sister company to Royer Labs, Mojave Audio is a manufacturer of quality condenser microphones for the recording professional. Additional information on the MA-300 and all Mojave Audio products can be found at www.mojaveaudio.com.
About Royer Labs
Located in Burbank, California, Royer Labs’ microphones are a staple of leading recording and broadcast facilities. Additional information on the R-122 MKII ribbon microphone and the entire line of Royer Labs microphones can be found at www.royerlabs.com.