The recording of Parallel Crossings

The setting:  Parallel Crossings was recorded at Studio Traumwald in northern Massachusetts on June 14, 2007; an overcast, gray and chilly New England spring day.  The live room at Studio Traumwald consists of an 11-foot peaked ceiling, stone and barn wood asymmetrical walls, and thick carpeting.  It makes for a beautiful sounding acoustical space.  The element of the silence and stillness of the New England countryside makes for a wonderful and inspirational recording environment.

The technical:
 The recording process was very clean and direct; both figuratively and literally. Each of us was close-mic'ed using a A+B coincident stereo pair of microphones. There was also a matched stereo pair of overheads.  This provides for a fuller and wider stereo image, but without losing the individual placement (left vs. right channels) of each instrument.  The microphones which were used are as follows.

Microtech Gefell M-930 (my primary mic)
Microtech Gefell M-295 (my secondary mic)
Neumann TLM-103 (
Sándor's primary mic)
Neumann KM-184 (
Sándor's secondary mic)
AKG 414-XLII (matched stereo pair as overheads)


Here is a track sheet from the recording sessions.  A purist approach was utilized at every step of the recording process.  All microphones were routed through very pure microphone preamps: a Millennia HV-3D. These preamps were selected for their pristine, pure and uncolored amplification; as well as massive headroom and an exceedingly low noise floor.  All studio cabling is Mogami Neglex.  From the six Millennia mic preamps, the lines were routed into a 24-bit/96k 16-track digital recorder.  No EQ, compression or limiting was used; either in the live recordings or during mixdown.  Not using compression or limiting means that the overall volume level of the final CD will be somewhat lower than most other CDs.  However, the beauty of no compression is that the full and natural dynamic range is captured.  No equalization was used; either during the live recording or during the mixing or mastering.  No studio tricks; no overdubs.  What the listener hears on the CD is exactly how the compositions were performed in the recording studio.  The only effect which was used was the addition of Bricasti M7 digital reverb during the final mix. 

The master tracks were mixed and mastered by Sándor at Tandem Records Experimental Studio in Vac, Hungary in late fall 2007.

From Studio Traumwald's lush but precise sounding live room, to the 24-bit/96k digital recording process to the final step of cutting the single-speed glass master, the end result is a very beautifully recorded, audiophile-grade CD.


Sándor's Notes on Parallel Crossings

The Big Trial

We always try to be modest when we are very enthusiastic of certain magic moments, but when we heard our baritone guitars together first we smiled to each other almost at the same time. We both knew that in a way this recording is historical, because it was the first opportunity when two (crazy) baritone guitar players, with real baritone guitars started to play music and record it for adding something unusual to world of the guitar.
Maybe this is not so important for the average listener who just want to hear guitar music. Creating the first real baritone duo album was really important for us. We have always been saying for a long time: Someone should do this! And finally we have, and are very happy to have done so. Not merely to be the first, we are not sporting people, but much rather to fulfill our curiosity, for the experience and growth, which we now have, and which we can share with listeners.

The Guitars

Two baritone guitars can sound extremely muddy without control and musical intelligence. Before the recording, I had many ideas what not to do, and I know Kevin felt the same. Using the right tunings and stringing proved to be a strategic point. On this recording, I used a Lance McCollum 12-string baritone guitar. Actually, I did not have much practice on this guitar because I received the instrument only one week before the recording sessions. I played only a few concerts with this guitar, but I had no
recording experiences with it. So I was a bit nervous as to how it might behave in front of the mics. I trusted Lance’s guitar and I was not disappointed. The guitar sounded incredible from the first moment and offered even more possibilities that I could previously imagine. During the recording session I tried some new, experimental tunings and stringings and the guitar was singing beautifully, and it fit perfectly with Kevin’s Santa Cruz baritone guitars. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the two steel string guitars on the recording, but our playing style and techniques are different enough to provide a good separation of the two guitar sounds.

With making these two albums, we created a commitment for ourselves as well. We must continue on this path, and I we feel that this is only the beginning.

Concept of Mixing

Our original plan was to make two albums with identical soundscapes, because the recording session happened on two adjacent days. Listening to the recorded tracks, it turned out that the second day’s session sounded different and offered other and even greater possibilities for the mixing.
On the first album (Resonance), I put the two guitars into the same artificial reverberant space using the Bricasti M7. By the beginning of the mixing process, I worked out an interesting and exciting concept of how to use multiple spaces without masking the recording.

The mixing of Parallel Crossings took place in the Tandem Records Studio in Hungary. On this album, I used somewhat smaller sizes and shorter decays for the main reverb preset, but at certain places I used extremely large spaces for enhancing the three-dimensional quality of the recording. Certain solos, and some longer decaying notes are placed in a larger space with a longer distance, and in this way achieved a multi-space, layered soundscape with illustrated distances and depth. In some sections, the recording of four simultaneous high-tech reverb engines was working concurrently. I believe that the direct message of music is able to be conveyed on only one speaker, but the music can be much more, a multi-dimensional occurrence. We try to compose and play music to achieve this.

We wanted to preserve the natural dimensions of the recording, so we did not use any compression (and never do). However, the music can have another dimension: the space. For the demanding and sophisticated listener, the sense of space is a first-order acoustic property required to get the feeling of presence. The properly used space can carry even more messages in the music. To work and play with spaces (natural or artificial) is an art, and together with the inner message of the music the result can be taken to an even higher level of art. My goal was nothing less, than to create such art. In recent years, I have worked out a concept of esthetics to use the spaces in a special, tasteful but very efficient way to illustrate the three-dimensional quality of the music.

Another dimension of the music is the dynamics together with fine detail. As Studio Traumwald has an amazing variety of different high-tech mics, we managed to record with incredibly fine detail, so we wanted to preserve these dimensions as well.

Sándor Szabó,
 25 April 2008