JIM ROACH

EMMY-WINNING COMPOSER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, APPLE BEATS 1 RADIO

Los Angeles, California - USA

Could you please tell us a bit about your background? Where you came from, what you're up to these days?

I started my career, as most producers / writers do, in bands touring the country. Having the luxury of being in a lot of studios, and getting to watch bigger name producers, I quickly realized that this is where I was destined to be - so I completely switched gears in 2005 and bought a very simple studio set up and sought out to teach myself what all of those knobs did.

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I didn’t have any formal training, which I still see as a plus and a minus. I produced a lot of records for several years and accidentally started a record label that had some minor success for being run by one producer! Through that venture I signed and produced artists Jesse Thomas, The Young Romans, Go Tell The Eskimo, Gideon Brown, Javier Dunn and a couple of others.

Along the way I got lucky by having a break in the film / TV licensing world. From there I wrote and produced the end credits to films like “Salmon Fishing In The Yemen” with Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, as well as Tyler Perry’s 'The Marriage Counselor', as well as the end credits for 'The Darkest Hour' starring Emile Hirsch. Outside of end credits we’ve licensed hundreds of songs to major motion picture and television, trailers and commercials. I’ll still produce the occasional artist but I’ve found a great niche in writing / recording for picture. I recently joined Apple Music as an executive producer as well.

In Jim's studio with Jesse Thomas on the Gemini II and sE4400a.

So how did you become familiar with sE Electronics?

I was introduced to sE through a friend by way of the Voodoo ribbon mics and was blown away. I was using them as room mics on drums pretty religiously because they captured a great top end that normal ribbons weren’t picking up. From there my eyes were opened to the Gemini as a great workhorse large diaphragm that was on par with my more “classic” microphones. I”ve been a fan ever since! 

I currently own a pair of the VR2s and use them nearly every time for room mics when recording drums, as well as for overheads. They capture a very nice overhead image of the kit without the brashness from the cymbals. I will also use them quite often to capture a stereo image of an acoustic guitar by putting the capsules one on top of the other. I recently used them on a female vocal as a bit of an experiment and was incredibly happy with the results! It was for a project called Moon Talk that does a lot of film / television and the singers voice has been hard to capture well as she sings soft and is very airy. The Voodoos were by a landslide the winners for the tone we were looking for.

I’ve also had the pleasure of trying out the Gemini on vocals and was blown away by it. When I was recording the british band Go Tell The Eskimo we used the 4400s (on loan from sE) on percussion and acoustic guitars with fantastic results! 

Is there something in particular you like about the mics? What makes them work for you?

I generally prefer ribbons where most people reach for condensers. For the music I generally work on condensers can feel too “nice” and bright. I like the Voodoos because they have the ribbon warmth with a more open top so I can get the best of both worlds on drums, acoustics, horns, etc...

 

Any more general information / advice / words of wisdom?

If you’re aiming to be a producer or engineer, just keep showing up. I’ve learned that showing up and saying ‘yes’ a lot early on is 99% of moving ahead. There are a lot  of folks who want it, but don’t have the staying power. Keep showing up and learn studio etiquette!  But most importantly: trust your ears. You can make a GREAT sounding record without obsessing over gear. I hacked my way through learning engineering / production with no training, and really little understanding of what “standard” was. I still feel like I know very little but at the end of the days if my ears like it I go with it, no matter what mic it is, or how much compression I’ve put on it. Happy recording! 

 


GEAR
TIPS & TRICKS

"I’ve gotten awesome results with stereo pair recording for acoustic guitars with the VR2s. I’ll place one right at the joint of the neck and body, slightly angled toward the fret board, about a foot off the guitar. Upside down and above that capsule I’ll place the second mic pointing at the bridge of the acoustic. This garners a beautiful image of the guitar."

"For drum rooms (in a larger room) place a pair of VR2s about 15-20 feet off the kit pointing directly down at the ground about 3 feet high. This takes away a lot of the cymbal information and darkens things up a bit. Works GREAT every time!"

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