TSP & The Speaker-Mic Recording

Quite a long while ago Tim blew up one of the speakers in his home stereo. Instead of throwing out the remaining good speaker with the broken one he decided to put it to work. He ripped the 8″ driver out of the enclosure, soldered a cable and cannon plug to the terminals and mounted it in an old disused snare stand.

Photo by Luchpup images

It is lucky for us that he did. The day he brought it in to give it a try we were tracking electric guitars and looking for an older fashioned sound. The speaker mic was tried and turned out to be the exactly the sound we were looking for – no other mic was used on the guitar amp that day.

The speaker mic has since become our go-to bass amp mic as well as being used to fatten kick drums and even tried on vocals, with varying degrees of success.

Tim, being the kind of person that he is, simply couldn’t leave it there. His band – Teen Skank Parade – were going their seperate ways at the time and there was a bunch of songs that they didn’t have a recording of.

He came up with a plan and got Cam and I to help him with it.

There were rules:

  1. No microphones allowed, only speakers.
  2. Nothing digital was allowed to be used.
  3. The band had to play live, no overdubs.
  4. We had to record a live mix straight to 1/4″ 2 track tape.

Cam and I managed to negotiate a slight modification to the rules and were allowed to take a multitrack analogue recording along with the live stereo mix.

On the day Tim arrived with a box of broken and/or discarded speakers and headphones. Cam, Tim and I got to work with the soldering iron while the band setup. Tim had an apple eyeball computer speaker for the snare mic and a pair of headphones that he wore inside out – tied onto his head – for his drum overheads (pardon the terrible pun).

10 and 12 inch speakers were simply gaffered stright onto the face of guitar and bass amps and Sully sang into a 6″ speaker cone.

Cam and I took the “all analogue” rule to heart and supplemented our spring reverb with a couple of other homemade effects. The front recreation room was turned into a reverb chamber – signal was sent to the stereo system and a couple of speaker=mics were used to return the sound of the room back to the mixer. The Studer 1/4″ machine was threaded up, slowed down to 3.75 ips and used as a tape delay.

We had to eq in a decent amount of highs to compensate for the natural rolloff that the speakers had. The overall sound was thick, fat and dirty. Very dirty.

Which suited the band quite well as they are dirty boys with dirty minds and dirty mouths. You can hear a sample of the recording here but be warned, you may be able to hear some bad language through the noise.

Tim made a movie of the whole process which you can find here. And he has a lot more information about the project on his website here.