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Studio Recording advice from Jimmy "Z" Zumpano - Recording - Mix Engineer


Recording & Mix Engineer – World-Class Studio Owner

Jimmy “Z” Zumpano is an award winning recording and mix engineer, and also the owner of ZAC Digital Recording and Stonehenge Recording Studios in Atlanta. Some of his clients include Whitney Houston, She'kspere, Jermaine Dupri, Babyface, Toni Braxton, LA Reid, Tony Rich, Mariah Carey, Jazzy Pha, and many, many others.


There are many new up-and-coming producers and future engineers who don’t realize that many of the vocals they hear are recorded with a combination of great microphones and mic pre-amps.  


(a) Can you tell us the importance of having a good mic pre?

(b) What’s the deal with engineers not using the pre-amps that are built in the recording console to do vocal recordings, etc.?


(a) The mic pre is absolutely of utmost importance and will effect the entire characteristic of the microphone itself.  Some very good mics can be seriously impaired by using a low quality mic pre - like lack of headroom or detail, along with various frequency anomalies (irregularities) not usually produced.  The  concept about the built-in mic pre-amps is that more time and money (ie...quality) can go into a stand alone pre-amp with one or two channels than will go into a console pre-amp trying to allow you 56 channels or more. We have many geniuses in the industry who strive daily to build the best path, with the highest quality components.  So, by this logic, we prefer to use the outboard pre-amp for that signal integrity. Yet, many console pre-amps are still quite adequate for the job and should not be feared.


(b) The Nuemann microphones - like the U-87, U-67 and U-47, going into a Neve Mic pre-amp, preferably the 1073 and 1084.  Every engineer will provide a different answer, but typically, we pick the stuff to match a particular feeling for a song.  But, this combo is often the safest bet with good results… across a wide variety of singers and acoustic instruments.






                       Click below for more:


Vocals & Compressors

The Mix Summing Bus

Mixing “In The Box”

Studio Monitors & Amplifiers

Tweaking In The Lab

Pro Formats for Recording & Mixing