Nilento - Localised environments


Swedish producer/engineer Lars Nilsson has
carved a unique creative niche that spans both the worlds of classical and jazz music. The practical end of his approach to recording is amply demonstrated in his studio base, Nilento, which is built around a series of barns in a very rural setting near to the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

Nilento 3

Having trained and worked as a classical musician, Lars began using the early low-cost digital systems introduced at the beginning of the 90s to make
location recordings. However, their lack of facilities encouraged him to develop his skills in mic technique, acoustics and mic preamps so that the right sound was created prior to recording.

The idea that all the core elements should be in place right at the start was natural for classical music but he found that his techniques and skills transferred easily to jazz.
While he still does some location recording, more of Lars’ projects have now been brought into Nilento where his jazz recording is drawing an increasingly international clientele, and a reception area that’s becoming covered in awards. He’s also frequently requested to master his own and other producers recordings, and the studio has been designed to allow this.

Nilento 2The musicians playing area consists of a many various sized rooms with differing or variable acoustics to create optimum sounding local environments for acoustic instruments. He has a close working relationship with local studio designer Claes Olssen of Audio Support who realised the current studio and is periodically called in to ‘tune’ areas in the studio to meet very specific recording requirements.

The next stage of Nilsson’s technique involves the careful selection of not only the correct mic but also the most suitable mic preamplifier. Preamps play a large part in his technique and has a choice of around 10 models that include Neve, Crookwood, API, Focusrite and custom designs that are used to create the desired sound.

The heart of the control room is a Pro Tools HD systems, Focusrite controller and a full 5.1 surround system using Genelec 8030’s with sub woofer and a separate 1031 stereo system. When possible, Lars also takes a Genelec monitoring system on location but frequently the acoustics of the temporary ‘ control rooms’ are so poor that he has to rely on headphones for the recording, leaving critical decisions and the finer adjustments until he returns to the accuracy of his studio’s Genelec monitors.

Nilento 4Many of his projects are mixed in 5.1 surround and have gained good reviews in both the musical and hi-fi press. They benefit from a single approach to production, from recording through mixing to mastering but Lars isn’t afraid to experiment when necessary.

"When I did the Lars Danielsson ‘Libera Me’ 5.1 surround SACD", he explained”, the bass was featured as a solo instrument over an orchestra, 16 channels of percussion, piano, and contra bass. How do you record that bass in surround? I experimented for 2-3 hours while the bass played played and I stopped at seven mics, creating a surround signal on a bass solo instrument with one in the middle, two in stereo and two at a distance behind, a DI output, and I had a little extra mic. Seven mics on the bass! I thought I’m crazy but it sounds good in the surround!”

Normally, however, recording techniques are far simpler.

"Many times I’ve had people ask me how I got a particular sound and the answer so often is that I did nothing - perhaps just a bit of limiting but that is enough with a good musician. Where so many go wrong is that they think that good sound comes from a lot of processing. But with a good musician, and the right technique, that just isn’t true. That may be all you need."