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The Ruff Pack

Marrying jazz with hip-hop

on 3rd July 2014

So many music genres, so many tidy labels. But art is often untidy. Some artists just don’t cooperate. They color outside the lines. Meet The Ruff Pack (TRP), a genre-bending trio that melds jazz and hip-hop to create something fresh and invigorating, and who recently hit the studio with AKG gear in tow to record a new album.

TRP is three musicians: Stephan Kondert, Matthias Löscher and Daru Jones. Each has musical pursuits outside of TRP, but they come together as The Ruff Pack to, in their words, blend the improvisational nature and compositional complexity of jazz with the rustic groove and frenetic energy of hip-hop.

Recently, they gathered for a recording session at Austria’s Lords of the Sounds studio and brought with them an AKG Drumset Premium, a kit comprised of AKG’s highest-quality microphones for touring, live and studio applications.

“When we came to the studio we had two projects we wanted to work on,” said guitarist Matthias. “One was the new album and the second one was doing videos…we tried [the mics] on the road, we kind of got familiar with them, then we did the pre-production of the album with them. It felt good, and we’re like, okay, why don’t we just go for that sound.”

The AKG Drumset Premium kit includes eight mics: a D12 VR Dynamic bass drum microphone, a matched pair of C214 condenser microphones for overheads, a C451 B condenser mic for Hi Hat, and four D40 Dynamic instrument microphones for snare, toms and guitar amps. Lords of the Sounds owner Bern Wagner worked with the band to set up the mics and capture the sound TRP was after.

First up was to mic Daru’s bass drum with the D12VR. It’s a large-diaphragm dynamic mic with a cardioid polar pattern and a thin diaphragm to enhance low frequency performance. It offers three active filter presets to match its sound shape with the kick drum’s character. Daru chose the “green” setting.

“The green one is the best for this bass drum, for sure,” agreed Bern. “It’s a bit of low end boost, but no high end boost.”

The C451 was used on the Hi Hat, a D40 for the snare and another on the floor tom. Overhead, Wagner positioned the C214, a large-diaphragm condenser mic that uses one capsule from the AKG C414 and the company’s patented Back-Plate Technology.

“What I like [about the C214] is that it has a whole range, it’s not just highs,” Bern explained to Daru. “It takes a picture of the whole kit, and it’s beautiful. You have the snare, you have the floor tom, you have everything in good balance.”

For Daru, the setup worked. "What I like about the microphones is just the simplicity of not having so many mics over on the drums because I'm a very animated drummer… sometimes I get up and sometimes if there are too many microphones around they get in the way,” he explained. “So it was cool to just have a few microphones and they got the job done. I was able to still be loose and be animated. I was definitely impressed with the sound, the fatness of the sound from the kick drum, it's crazy. The snare is massive…”

All eight mics in the Drumset Premium kit also have applications for a range of other instruments, and so can be used to cover an entire band. A D40 was used for Stephen’s acoustic bass, placed at Bern’s recommendation where the guitar body meets the neck to avoid the muddiness that can result when the mic is placed directly over the sound hole. The D40 uses AKG’s patented Varimotion diaphragm for crisp, powerful sound in all frequency ranges. A second D40 was used to mic Matthias’s guitar, one inch from the amp. To start, Bern opts for placing the mic just to the side of the driver’s dustcap, which delivers a bright sound, while moving it further away for a mellower, warmer sound.

With the mics set, the band did its thing, Bern captured it all with the AKG’s and the upshot was a session that delivered on TRP’s promise of weaving together high musical sophistication inside deep soulful grooves.

The result was recorded by They Shoot Music in this video of The Ruff Pack's live performance of "Not In My Town".

 

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Used AKG products: AKG D12 VR, D40, C214

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