Mother by John Lennon cover – Recording Process

Session 1 – Bass

Now that my pre-production and arrangements are done I begin with the bass, in my previous post I mentioned recording drums first however, the drummer wasn’t in on that day therefore, took the opportunity to record bass whilst there were studios available. I recorded this in Studio 2 which is a medium size room so it will capture a lot of natural reverb that Jeff Lynne does and with little waveforms being reflected.

I chose an AKG D112, this dynamic microphone is able to handle sound pressures of up to 160dB without distorting the audio which, is excellent for achieving a clean sound as well as being able to pick up a frequency response of 100Hz and its total being 20Hz – 17Khz, this is good as it picks up the frequency range of the bass guitar and its accompanied harmonics i.e. low E string on bass fundamental 41Hz. http://www.akg.com/pro/p/d112 This is a cardioid mic meaning it picks up sound from the front of mic only so anything to behind isn’t picked up during recording. I set it on axis with the bass amplifier to pick up more attack from the pectrum, higher frequencies. And roughly 4 inches from the amp so as to get a little bit of the room ambience in there. The amp settings were clean and the master was at roughly speech level to get the tone without getting muddy. I also sent the bass through a direct input signal to the desk to capture the bass on its own without room noise.

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I ensured there was a strong signal from the mic to the mixing desk to avoid background noise known as signal to noise ratio through any normalisation or compressing during the mixing procedure . http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/definition/signal-to-noise-ratio this can be noise from the bass amp, microphone or even the mixing desk itself, by giving a strong signal from its source you can hear more of the signal compared to its noise accompanied with it so, getting it strong from the start avoids me normalising the signal along with its background noise as well.

My session was recorded with Pro-Tools with a sample rate of 44.1 KHz, bit depth of 16bit. I then imported my MIDI pre-production arrangement of the song so my bass player could play along with. I then added a click track and muted the unnecessary tracks the bassist didn’t need. I sent this playback signal through AUX1 to the bassist’s headphone mix as well as the 2 mono channels of bass mic and DI signal.

Channel List – Studio 2 Bass recording
Equipment/Source I/O Comments
AKG D112 Input 3, output ADAT 7/8
DI Signal Input 4, output ADAT 7/8  Scrapped later
Playback L/R Channel 15/16 ADAT 7/8Sends AUX1 Sent to bassist headphones aux1

 

During the recording I encountered some distorted noise audible through the monitors, I checked if the source was the jack lead or the channel on the mixing desk itself. This problem was solved by changing the inputs on the multicore itself from Input 1&2 to 3&4.

Just to recap here was the intended MIDI version

https://soundcloud.com/dtheman-1/mother-midi-version

 

Session 2 – Acoustic Guitars

Thinking about where the acoustic guitar will go in the mix, I knew I would need to stick to simple miking techniques however, due to my adventurous and ignorance I decided to experiment with multiple microphones, so I could then choose the best sounding and suitable one during my mixing stage. I wanted a bright tone so chose The Rode NT2A condenser microphone, offers a frequency range of 20Hz to 20Khz, cardioid, figure eight and Omni polar patterns with a SPL of up to 147dB at 1Khz, will be able to pick up the full range of frequencies of the guitar as well being able to handle the sudden increase in amplitude from chords and hard picked strings. Recorded in cardioid has a near flat response in the mid range which is where I want my guitars in my mix.

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The Shure PG52 (dynamic)was placed off axis, roughly a foot away from the sound hole to pick up some of the body (200 – 800Hz) of the guitar, I combined this with the Samson C02 (small diaphragm condenser – reacts well to transients/sound changes) off axis at the 12th fret same distance as the PG52 to avoid any phase issues (soundwaves arriving at mic same time with same polarities ‘compression/rarefaction). When I combined all three mics it gave the impression of being dubbed. I ended up scrapping the NT2A from my mix later as I already achieved great tone from the C02 and PG52.

I recorded the normal chords to the song and added a layer of octave chords using a capo, this really gave the guitars a full and rich tone, happy with my results no further dubbing was needed.

Session 3 – Electric Guitars

Jeff Lynne doesn’t use too much distortion in most of his songs; I decided I would record a clean guitar that would fill in the blank areas of the song hooking the audience’s attention longer. I chose a ‘Schecter’ equipped with humbuckers our college had bought that week (which had new strings and proper intonation which will help with octaves and lead/solo sections in the song) plugged into a Peavey Bandit 112 amp, recorded through the clean channel, I varied different parts of the song using the bridge (more bass ) as well as neck pickups (more “twang” < technical term, treble).

Once again an NT2A – Off axis from the speaker cone, roughly 6 inches away and a Shure SM57 (dynamic) same as the NT2A but on the right hand side of the amp. The session was tracked in the control room through sending the amps input signal through Aux A on the multicore, coming out Aux A on the ProFire 2626 interface, plugged into my guitar.

After setting enough input gain I listened in playback some of the other tracks coming in and out of solo, checking for phase that may cause other tracks to lose tone/characteristics. The polarity switch as well as several movements was then made with the two mics to keep in phase with the rest of the track.

Session 4 – Drums

Due to neglect and poor planning, I failed to send my drummer a demo of the song, this lead to 2 hours of re-takes of sections to keep in time with the track. On the bright side I managed to closely replicate the sound of Jeff’s double tracked, fat snared, emasculated kick, luscious drum sound. Another Rode NT2A was chosen not once but twice!, one pointed at the shell (for body 100Hz) of the snare although looking at the specs being able to handle SPL’s of up to 147dB, moved it roughly 3 inches away from the snare just to be sure it won’t damage or peak as well not getting too bright (harshness around 7 – 10 KHz). The second NT2A was pointed outside of the kick drum approx a foot and a half away so it blends with the rest of the kit, picking less attack (1 – 3 KHz) and boominess (Fundamental around 40 – 80 Hz).

I placed a Samson C02 (small diaghram condensor – more directional, more accurate off-axis response) on axis with the high-hat, Listening to Lynne’s music the overheads tend not to be too wide in the mix so, for my overhead used one Avantone CK-6 (Large diaghram condensor mic) pointed at the centre of the drum kit positioned behind the drummer.  The CK-6 offers a HPF at 80Hz (to rid rumble) and a -10 pad available to avoid overloading electronics. picks up about +5 dB at the 10 – 12 KHz and +2 and more around 6 – 10 KHz (ideal for cymbals).

CK-6 Frequency Response

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