sE In The Studio

Big Blue Meenie Studio and its Ever-Growing sE Electronics Collection

Jersey City, NJ - Big Blue Meenie is one of the oldest, largest, and certainly the most prolific "Open for Hire" private production houses for rock music on the east coast.  Originally built in 1981 as "Quantum Sound" and renovated several times over the last 25 years, it's currently an 6600 square foot, 2 floor facility which houses 4 control rooms, 2 live performance spaces, 4 iso rooms and 3 editing/support DAW suites, all networked together in one seamless system of file management and manipulation. 

BBM has been host to an amazing array of artists spanning all genres of music. 24 Gold and 10 Platinum records have been mixed and or recorded there over that time. Older rock acts such as Rage Against the Machine and INXS were mixed there by Andy Wallace in the Quantum era. Newer acts like Thursday and Taking Back Sunday were recorded and mixed at BBM by Tim Gilles and Sal Villanueva since 1998, as well as hundreds of worthy, if somewhat lesser known. 

Gilles has a strong affinity for Rupert Neve-designed audio products, so it’s not surprising that the sE / Rupert Neve RNR1 and RN17 microphones top his list of favorites from the company. “Those are both really, seriously good pieces of technology. They get used all the time,” says Gilles.

Engineers at Big Blue Meenie have a well-stocked mic locker from which to choose, but the first choice is frequently the RN17, says Gilles. “It’s a deadly good technology, and beautiful on a myriad of sources. I’ve tried the RN17s on everything, but they’re outstanding on grand piano, overheads, acoustic guitar; they just do the job in all the places you’d expect a pair of small diaphragm cardioids to go. And I admit that I actually own those other microphones that I’m talking about killing.”

"The RN17s are the go-to overhead mic here; the RNR1s are the go-to room mics. Since we’ve gotten these mics, which was roughly the turn of the year, they have been used on about 30 records. My guys will just use them over and over again - because they sound great!"

The RNR1 also stands up to current and vintage competition, he adds. “Like a lot of the great ribbons they have a sound, and that sound can be devastatingly helpful. They’re a very forgiving ribbon in terms of placement for stuff where some ribbons are less so. But they’re also incredibly detailed, and sound great. They’ve got an open top end without sounding the least bit hyped. I have never been a huge aficionado of ribbons on piano, but these sound amazing,” says Gilles, who recently purchased a Bosendorfer Model 214 small concert grand piano for the studio.

There are plenty of other sE mics in use at the facility, he continues. “The Voodoo VR1, that’s a genius mic! It sounds nutty. It’s one of those mics you pull out and say, ‘now there’s a room recording’. It’s a great character mic, and that thing’s properly designed and built.”

Large diaphragm sE Gemini models also get put to work frequently at Big Blue. “Even though I have a 47, I still like the Gemini and use it. Does it cost one-twentieth of the value of a 47? Yes! It’s clear, it’s relatively quiet, it’s pretty detailed sounding, and I would say it affords one a decent degree of downstream shaping as far as EQ; it rips pretty well. And it’s a sexy-sounding microphone. It’s often helpful to just toss the thing up and have it be pretty sexy coming back in the headphones to whoever is croaking into it, depending upon what you’re doing and how it’s going,” he says.

As for the T2 Titanium condenser mic, he says, “That thing is beautiful for capturing any kind of super-pure low-end source. It’s just amazing with sine wave material below 120 cycles. It has so much power in the very bottom octave.”