Neumann helps capture ‘The Peace That Deafens’

An array of Neumann microphones were on hand to capture the sound of ‘It’s The Peace That Deafens,’ the eighth studio album from singer, songwriter and producer Ola Onabule.

The British-Nigerian artist was introduced to Neumann microphones over 20 years ago, at the start of his career, and has continued to use them in a number of challenging studio environments since. Onabule’s latest album fuses African, jazz and soul influences into 12 songs that ‘defy categorisation.’

“I remember recording my first ‘big studio’ vocal at Metropolis in London. A lot of time was spent A-B testing an array of carefully positioned mics in the quest to find the one that best suited my voice,” he said. “The U 87 i beat the rest hands down. I remember being knocked off my feet by its effortless reproduction of nuance and harmonics.”

With a three and a half octave range, Ola needed a tool that could capture his voice accurately across the whole frequency spectrum. “The combination of the U 87 i’s flat, faithful response and the M 50’s warm tone was such that ever since I have done many vocal sessions with both microphones set up, allowing engineers to choose between a balance of both mics or just one on a final mix,” he added.

A modern equivalent to this rig – a U 87 Ai and M 150 Tube – is set up permanently at Onabule’s Casa del Funk studio. But it was another producer – Grammy winner George Whitty – who suggested he try the Neumann TLM 49 on the latest album.

The album features a new, stripped back sound with all-acoustic instrumentation. Further Neumann microphones included a stereo pair of KM 183 omni pencil mics on the Bluthner baby grand piano, a pair of KM 184s on acoustic guitar and a U 87 Ai on the guitar amplifier. On the drum kit, MD 421s were used for the toms, a pair of KMS 184 for overheads and Onabule’s U 87 Ai for the kick drums on the title track.

“It’s a gentle song and the superior fidelity of the U 87 Ai was a definite boon,” he commented. “Using many of these microphones was a dream back in the early days – I never imagined it could come true. Neumann has shown remarkable faith and generosity by letting me have access to almost any microphone I need to help my aural fantasies become reality on this album.”