Money for Nothing

  • Artist: Dire Straits
  • Album: Brothers in Arms
  • Label: Vertigo, Warner Bros.
  • Year: 1985
  • Producer: Neil Dorfsman, Mark Knopfler
  • Engineer: Neil Dorfsman
  • Studio: AIR Monserrat, AIR London, Power Station (now Avatar) New York

Distortion -
A guitar sound so distinct that the tone identifies the tune. It comes courtesy of all the usual elements of tone -- the player, Mark Knopfler; the guitar, Gibson Les Paul; the amp, Laney; and just the right amount of overdrive.

Flange/Comb Filter -
Further tonal distinction comes from the frequency altering placement of the microphones at different distances from the amp. Lore has it that the microphones were in odd locations, not yet placed for recording. With the sound from the amp reaching the microphones at different times, comb filtering results.
The classic flanging effect is built of sweeping short delays. Here we have a tone driven instead by static delay times; the microphones aren't moving during tracking. The result is a fixed alteration to the spectral content of the sound.
The peaks and notches caused by this particular comb filtering combination of microphones -- two or three spatially dispersed Shure SM57s -- fall in tasty places. Because the talented people involved were attentive, smart and brave enough to notice a uniquely strong texture in the guitar sound, they left the microphones where they were and recorded it -- and mixed it! -- without further processing.


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