Members Bass – Craig A Guitar – Will T Drums – Aaron H A few months back we did a multi-track recording of our very own tech members, our musicians decided to cover “Debaser by Pixies”. It was this particular recording session where I learned several valuable lessons which I would like to share tips with all engineers reading this, although very simple yet crucial tips could result in your recording to sound platinum or fatal. My essential tips:
- Ensure all instruments are tuned; recording anything that’s out of tune will result in a beautiful well orchestrated group of professionals sound like a complete train wreck. Remember once it’s recorded its forever going to be as you’ve recorded it, you could use every plug-in in the world to salvage it but why not get it perfect from the start?
- Record the song in the order it should be, a techs nightmare to record anything is to jump straight into a section of a song and work in a non-logical order. Then when it comes down to mixing you just don’t know which order the song will be, resulting in you chasing the musician asking which part is which. For the sake of humanity if you were to use this method add markers to each section recorded and ask your musician to write the order of which the song goes i.e. Intro, 1st verse, chorus etc.
- Your band/musician should know the song, like I mentioned in tip 2 if you happened to record a song not in order and your musician is unable to provide a written structure of the song , you could end up re-recording or going days/weeks/months trying to place together a song, wasting time and energy when you could get other customers in.
- Accept a client only when they’re ready, bringing in musicians that don’t know how to play to a click, undecided how a part should sound etc. Will take forever if you’re they’re waiting for them to learn to play to a click. If you own your studio you should to make sure you’re able to accept as many clients possible if you’d like to stay open for business…
On the first day we recorded the guide track of the song with the whole band playing and ensuring they had mastered the song. Once done we started with the bass guitar as the song starts with a bass line, then we recorded the drums and the guitars with all members following a click track. We had our guitarist play in the control room’s vocal booth through a DI signal while the drummer remained in the live room. For this recording we were able to get an elaborate drum setup due to the pleasure of working with techs like our tech team. Below is a list I have made of the mics and the setup of every instrument.
|AKG D112||In 1||Inside of the kick drum, on axis 4 inches from the grill. Excellent method to avoid bleed from other instruments.|
|Shure SM57 x3||In 2, 3, 4||Two on snare, both off axis and one is on the top part of snare, other is under snare. Has an excellent mid range response for picking up snare freqs. +6dB boost around 6kHz. Dynamic cardioid mic. Third 57 inside kick, 10inches from the grill to capture more attack and mid freqs.|
|Beta 57A||In 8||Off axis on top part of Hi-hat. Has less dB boost on freqs 4KHz and up, to pickup less bite from hi-hat compared to SM57, freqs 50Hz – 1000KHz boost up to +10dB, pending on distance.|
|AKG C518 x3||In 5, 6. 7||Excellent Clip on mic used on toms, flexible neck to adjust position, High pass filter -20dB on low freqs. Flat response up to 3.5 KHz. Mid tom mic was not used due to mic not working.|
|AKG C1000s x2||In 9, 10||Overhead mics, OHL pointed off axis 1m away between floor tom and kick. OHR off axis 0.75m away from hi tom and snare. Both overheads equal distance from middle of kit for balance in volume. Flat freq response mic, cardioid and hyper cardioid.|
|Avantone CK6||In 22||Room mic, used to capture natural reverb of room, 80Hz padding to rid rumble and to avoid muffling up recording.|
|DI Box – Bass, Guitar||In 19||Bass in drum booth, guitar in vocal booth. Recorded with a dry signal to add desired effect later.|
|Audix D6||In 20||Cardioid pattern, crisp bass response with good mid range.|
|Audio Technica Pro25||In 21||Now discontinued. Very specific for low frequency response, +10dB peak at 125 Hz, very warm bass tone with great presence.|
Avantone CK6 Specs
AKG C518 Specs
Audio Technica Pro25 Specs
Headphone Mixes (Studios 1, 5)
|Aux a, pre-fader||In studio 1 the aux signals are split into different sections on the multicore i.e. in drum room only aux C – D is connectible, vocal booth aux A – B and live room all Aux available.|
|Aux d, post-fader|
|Aux a(studio 5) pre-fader|
Due to the high amplitude of the drums, our drummer wasn’t able to hear the click very well in his headphones. We increased the volume in P-T as the volume on the headphone amp was near max. The Accented clicks were increased further to really help the drummer nail the timing. Our method to record the drummer was to record each section until it was in time, so our drummer began playing a section and as soon as it was in time for at least two to three bars we stopped and moved to the next section.
Around the time of the recording, I had yet to discover playlists in P-T therefore, each time we completed a recording we added a new track by duplicating the recording and then ridding of the dup, resulting in previous recordings being underneath each main track. I really wished I knew about playlist as I didnt have the delightful option of comping a track with a click of a button. Instead I had to caveman the editing and actually carefully drag and drop sections into place. This meant that if a part I wanted to comp would have to be hidden then dragged in with the desired comp. Mixing Drums Once I built a balanced mix that blended I started to piece together the song. Sadly most of the timing was off by mere milieconds with the drum tracks, making it really non-salvagable to warp into time. Warping too much of it really diminished the quality and energy behind the takes so I decided to take parts that were in time. I did this by playing the click track over parts that were in time then when I found my track would split the track and ensured that I could loop it. I equalized the snare to add more bite and attack by adding +6dB around 500Hz – 1Khz and decided to mute the bottom snare mic as it was out of phase and shifting it in phase didn’t give as good a tone as alone. Guitar Mix I added a SanAmp plugin for the guitar to add distortion to fit the song a lot better. It adds the bite on rhythm and more sustain to the lead sections of the song.
Bass Mix There were 4 tracks for the bass, this means a lot headroom taken up for the lower frequencies when played back. So I decided to mute the room mic and it gave a clearer tone and less boominess to the overall mix. The result of duplicating most of the drum track…
Summary I had chosen the latest takes of every instrument to be the final mix as out of the previous takes, the instruments were eithher out of time or out of tune. I added the snare fill at the begining of the song to be in time with the guitar and bass then added the only drum take in time and looped throughout the song and other fills along the way. I edited the drum track in “grid mode” so that the tracks fit in place and time with the grid when I drag them in. Once completed I bounced the files to a disc as 16bit 44.1KHz, interleaved .wav file.