The Basements – ‘Lost’ Recording Session at Magnetic Fidelity Nov 25 by Jesus Agnew, recording engineer in Producer's Notes

The Basements were formed in Thessaloniki, Greece, with the aim of spending significant amounts of time in basements practise spaces and concert venues, playing 60’s style garage rock’n’roll. They equipped themselves with vintage instruments and haircuts, and prefer vacuum tube instrument amplifiers. Naturally, as soon as they found out that it is still possible to record an album entirely in the analog domain, on magnetic tape, they booked their Direct-to-Master recording session at Magnetic Fidelity in spring 2016.

They arrived with a vintage Eko guitar, and equally archaic Epiphone bass, an electric organ by Farfisa and of course a period-correct Rogers drumkit. As luck would have it, disaster almost struck a few songs into the session, when the singer’s voice started to sound rather vintage as well.
The staff of Magnetic Fidelity has acquired a reputation for being able to deal with technical problems of musical instruments during sessions, so Sabine, having been involved professionally in alternative medicine in the past, promptly fixed the problem with vast amounts of herbal tea and mysterious ointments.
The band performed their songs entirely live, all apart from the singer being situated in one room. The singer was placed in a separate room, equipped with a plate reverberation unit, suspended from the ceiling, and listened to the rest of the band through headphones. The remaining members could hear the singer’s main vocals along with the backing vocals of the guitar and bass player through a vintage vacuum tube amplifier, thus maintaining the appropriate feeling.

In the control room
Meanwhile, in the control room I set all the controls of the Magnetic Fidelity time machine to 1963, loaded a reel of ATR Magnetics 1/4″ Master Tape on one of the tape machines, and had fun riding the level controls of the vacuum tube mixing console in real time, while the band was performing and the tape was rolling. The achieve the tape saturation characteristics common with tape formulations of the time, the tape machine was calibrated to record close to the limits of the tape used. For maximum authenticity, the band insisted on the recording being monophonic, just like the records they love listening to.

Inspired by their time travel, the band also proceeded with appropriate photography for the album artwork. Following the recording session, the tape was reproduced on the same machine, whose output was now connected to the Analog-to-Digital Converter, converting the signal directly to DSD, at a sampling rate of 5.6MHz. The recording was transported back to the future of the present day, being available in DSD format on Native DSD, along with some other sampling rates.

analog recording equipment:

Telefunken M15A, Manley Variable Mu Mastering Compressor/Limier, Manley Massive Passive Mastering Equalizer, Thermionic Custom Green Fat Bustard, Magnetovolt Sideways, Variety Microphone Pre-amplifiers, FWRL Spring Reverb Unit

Cables:

Variety of cables, including Van Damme OFC, Viper, Cordial, and custom wiring consisting of 99.99% solid silver wires, along with gold plated connectors by Neutrik and some miscellaneous connectors by Amphenol and Switchcraft

Digital Converters:

Burr-Brown

Editing Software:

hahahaha

Mastering Engineer:

J. I. Agnew

Mastering Room:

Magnetic Fidelity

Microphones:

Various including models by AKG, Electrovoice, Lem, and Shure.

Mixing Board:
Thermionic Culture Custom Green Fat Bustard

Producer:

J. I. Agnew and The Basements

Recording Engineer:

J. I. Agnew

Recording Location:

Magnetic Fidelity Live Room and Plate Room

Recording Software:

ATR Magnetics 1/4″ Master Tape, if this counts as software…

Recording Type and bit rate:

DSD 5.6MHz

Speakers:

Magnetovolt Full Range Monitoring System based on KEF drivers

Jesus Agnew, recording engineer

J. I. Agnew is an Analog Mastering/Disk Cutting Engineer at Magnetic Fidelity. He also works as an Analog Audio Electronics Designer at Magnetovolt. He studied Audio Engineering and Music Technology, received an MA in Sonic Arts and Media Production, and went onto PhD-level research in Analog Synthesis Systems.
Jesus spent a decade as an internationally touring musician and also taught various Audio Engineering Subjects in academic environments and conferences. He has extensive work experience in recording, mastering and media production facilities and is a member of the Audio Engineering Society.