Canandaigua, NY (December 6, 2022) — Steeped in the musical history and culture of his native Los Angeles, Felix Free describes himself as a “spiritual rapper.” The rhymes he’s crafted with such projects as funk-folk-hip-hop ensemble Luminaries, and the even more multi-hyphen trio Free Creatures, lift one’s spirits high indeed. These words explore themes of world peace, hope, justice, and the oneness of humanity — poetry that surely helped him earn an opening slot for fellow wordsmith Matisyahu. His first studio album, Rocketship Theory, frames his personal growth as a journey through outer space. Tracking vocals a continent away from the studio of producer and engineer Marv Ellis, Felix scanned for the perfect vocal tone. Having used Audix mics onstage, Free finally navigated to the AP41 wireless version of the OM5. It had been his live mic of choice, so not only was it already there, but he felt it captured his voice better than his studio mics.
Felix had of course been familiar with the OM5 and its wireless counterpart from being onstage with his friends in Free Creatures. “They’ve used Audix mics for live vocals forever,” he says. “We were looking at my live shows maybe three years ago, really breaking down the board tapes and seeing what might work better for my voice. Marv had been using an older Audix wireless mic onstage, but it impressed me right away.”
Specifically, Free was drawn to the sound quality, not to mention the broad freedom of movement onstage. “I’m a very animated performer,” he explains. “I cannot stand in one place in front of a mic stand! I had been looking at some other big names in wireless mics, but Audix just struck me as a better-built product. I don’t know what the range spec is but when I was on tour with [iconic Jewish rapper] Matisyahu, there were a few dates with some huge stages. If that space is there, I’m gonna run all over it! I even ran out into the crowd several times. I didn’t hear one dropout or one pop and the audio quality didn’t change.”
By audio quality, Free is referring not only to the OM5’s abundant fidelity, but also to the fact that its response characteristics were the match for his voice he’d been waiting for. “I can have a nasally voice sometimes. The OM5 doesn’t make it sound more pinched,” he notes. “Instead it compensates for that by picking up the bass of my voice really well, not just the mids.”
With vocal tracks for two songs left to record for Rocketship Theory, and the vocal tone in his mind’s ear still elusive, Free defied convention and performed an experiment: trying a stage mic in the studio. “Keep in mind that I was learning to record myself and digitally transferring tracks to Oregon,” where his chosen family member (and Free Creatures frontman) Marv Ellis was producing and mixing the record. “We were never once in the same room. I decided I’d A-B the OM5 with my studio mic, which shall now remain nameless! With a pop filter on it, the Audix just sounded better. For one, my vocal didn’t need a lot of EQ or compression after the fact.”
Marv Ellis’ seasoned ears were shocked but perhaps not surprised. “Free Creatures uses Audix mics on tour— I’d bet we’ve used your vocal mics on more live shows than any band I know,” he beams. ““What we liked about Felix’s OM5 on the tracks he sent us is that he found his voice. His delivery … everything just came together. We’d been working on the album for over a year and a half, and finally he sent me the last two songs, ‘Orbit’ and ‘Blip,’ and everything gelled. The difference was that on those tracks, he had that Audix mic. Over the course of the album, Felix taught himself how to record, and in terms of his vocal tone and performance, it was like those last two tracks were the goal the entire time.”
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