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Band recording, what to sacrifice if not enough inputs ?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by pcrecord, Jul 20, 2015.

  1. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Just curious to read your toughts.
    The band have a huge drum (2 BD, 4 toms 2 floor toms) bass, 3 guits, 3 vocals..

    Which mic(s) would you sacrifice if you don't have enough inputs on a studio live recording..?
    Toms ? Overheads ?
    Put 2 back vocals on 2 mics or the 3 vocals with an omni mic ?
    Go for not so good mics and preamps to fill the quantity ? (ex octopre...)
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    assuming the Toms aren't a feature part of the drum mix, i would most definitely sacrifice the toms. OH are extremely important to me. They gel the entire mix, even if they are barely audible. but, this is also assuming your room is relatively pleasing too.Well, on second thought, that wouldn't matter either. I would still keep the OH. ;)

    Hope that helps a bit.
  3. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I'd have to figure a drummer with 6 toms plans on getting his money's worth out of them.

    How many tracks are you equipped to do at once?
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    pretty wise (y)

    @Kurt Foster
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    8 isn't enough! i figure at least 3 for drums (2 on the kicks and 1 O/H), 3 for vox, 3 for guitars ... you're already short by 1 .... and you don't have the vocals yet. i think you are going to need to run the octopre into your RME via the lightpipe or do some serious sub mixing.
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    If you're working with an 8 channel interface, I can't image how you'll do all that 'live'.
    Plan A: Even if you did a 4 mic method (Kick 1, Kick 2, OH1, OH2), you're down to the 4 channels necessary for bass and 3x guitars. In which case, I'd overdub the 3x vocals and guitar solo(s) after you get a good take with the 'live' rhythm tracks. You'll lose some of the overall live feel, but have less bleed, and as many takes as necessary to get a good guitar solo.

    Do you have a 4 or 8-bus mixer to sub-mix things before they go to the interface?
    Plan B: With some work you could get the drums down to stereo, but after you add the 3 guitars, 3 vocals, and bass you'd still be short (unless you do the drums in mono).
    Plan C: With a mixer you can always do it like a live gig, and combine drums to stereo groups, combine the rhythm guitars and bass to a stereo groups, and background vocals to stereo groups. That would leave 2 tracks, one for lead vocal + one for guitar solo(s).

    I've had some success using a combiner box on double-kick drums before, if you get down to where saving one channel helps - but you obviously lose the ability to pan the 2 kicks a little bit L/R.

    Even with a 16-channel interface, some compromises will have to be made with that many inputs.
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I actually have 14 inputs that I can expend with my retired focusrite saffire 56 which had some stability problems...
    I'm not using a mixer, just preamps and the interface
    So 2 LA-610, 4 ISA, 4-710, and 4 RME ff800. I'm recording at 96 so the adat ports are all busy. Keeping a reverb return, I still have 5 line inputs available on the RME which I could use for the 56 preamps.. but I try to plan things without it..
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Well, you didn't specify how many channels you have to work with... but it sounds like you are asking your pre to do more than it can.

    Assuming that we are talking about a standard 8 input ( XLR-Instrument) pre/i-o, then my knee-jerk reaction would be to sacrifice toms first, and rely on the OH's, but even taking those channels out of the equation, you're still shy on inputs, unless you can group vocals onto one mic and mic all three amps with one mic... but that's not gonna give you much control if you are looking for discreet-style track mixing.

    You could also sub mix the sections, if you had a mixer - mic all the drums ( including 2 OH mics) and get a good sounding drum track - and then send the 2 outputs of the mixer to 2 ins on your pre... that would buy you back 3 channels and still let you include the toms. This leaves bass, 3 guitars ( three guitars? wow... the ego scale of that band must be off the charts... LOL) and three vocals. With this count, you're still shy by one input, so you could consider sharing 2 vocals on one mic, or, miking 2 of the guitar amps with one mic.

    This is all assuming that you can't overdub vocals after the back-line has been tracked.

    I dunno. Perhaps your best bet would be to live-mic the whole ensemble with a nice stereo pair - minus the vocals, which would have their own input channels - but ... this is going to require a good-sounding room, not to mention a lot of time spent with performer/amp placement, and also, just as importantly, a very savvy group of experienced musicians who understand how to play in a set up like that... working well off of each other, controlling their own performances - dynamics, not walking all over each other, etc.

    It can be done, but it's gonna take more than just a little prep time to find the various sweet spots ( if there even are any) of the room for each instrument, and with mic placement as well... these things are critical in a scenario such as this.

    This is where the bad-ass engineers of yester-year, at places like Motown, Abbey Road, Muscle Shoals and other studios, really knew what they were doing... but then again, so did the musicians. ;)
  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I posted this just before you ;)
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Late. As usual. Busy. Here's where you NEED that small mixer. Something with a L/R out and maybe an Aux or two. Borrow one if you don't have access. Mackie or better....This will take a few passes for a proper balance....unless you're a wizard....6 channels in the mixer will do it....Save your quality channels for kik,snr,OH L/R...every other drum related thing goes into the mixer and comes out as two channels. Here's a suggestion also....The 2 floor toms will be very similar in their attack and their relation to pitch...One Mic with EQ will get you what you want...The same with the rack toms. Like most drummers with multiples of the SAME THING, they are usually grouped in twos so most likely theres only two mics needed for the four on the rack. So you really should be able to get this done with three tom mics. Don't look at it as a need to close mic things in a live recording. There'sa lot of sounds available through 'area' micing.

    I don't know what kind of separation you will have but chances are these guys are going to be on the heavier side of music. So your room sound is going to be tested with sheer levels. If you can get separation with gobos or positioning then you stand a better chance of getting something tighter sounding.

    One last thing.......drummers. I used to do scads of rockin hair bands back in the day with 20 inputs. They ALL had 18 piece kits with double kiks. My first thing was to fill up the board with the drums, close micing everything and usually a stereo pair OH's. Then I would have the band 'rehearse' the first song on the list and I would roll a cassette or the multitrack....but really it was to watch the drummer play the song. 9 times outta 10 they never hit half of the kit. So then I would have them take down the pieces they weren't using and go with what they needed. Didn't leave up things that would hum and crackle with sympathetic resonances...the two U87's in the overheads would most certainly pick that up.

    So don't be afraid to step on toes in order to get a better product. In the end they'll thank you.
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    This has been my experience as well, Dave... quite often, in fact. I've done countless sessions over the years where the drummer would show up with a monster, 18 piece, Neil Peart style kit ... and then usually ends up not playing even half of what they've set up.

    Which is far better than what I've also experienced in similar situations; which is where a "drummer" shows up with the same humongous kit - but who instead feels the need to hit every. single. piece. of. their. kit - and whether they end up coming back around in time to hit "the down", and lock back in, is often irrelevant - just as long as they hit everything in sight, that's the most important thing, at least to them. LOL ;)

    Some of the best drummers I've ever worked with, who have given the best performances with the best sounding tracks, have been with them using a well-tuned, 3 to 5 piece kit - K, S, T1, T2, F, (with fresh heads) that they know how to play, and a pair of OH's. Most of the time, I usually don't even bother with a direct mic on the hat, unless they specifically ask for it, or if it's being used for obvious nuances, as in a jazz style or something... 90% of the time I let the OH's pick up the HH; which results in a much smoother and silkier sound - though it's style-dependent, of course.

    But, more often than not, anytime I've direct-miked the HH,, I usually end up pulling it back so far down in the mix anyway, that I probably shouldn't have even bothered; and the other reason I don't like to DM the HH is because it's another hot mic that you have to deal with, on an instrument which already has a lot of mics on it. LOL...

    IMHO of course. ;)

    pcrecord likes this.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    what has three legs and an assh*le? a drum stool.

  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member


    This leads to a short story. I was recording a rock band and they had the usual two gits,bass, drum ape thing going....The one guitarist was the talent, the second guitar owned the PA and could sorta sing, the bass player was the girlfriends brother, and the drummer fancied himself as the second coming of Keith Moon. 16 piece kit. Shoulda stuck with the Kent 4 piece for a while longer.....He could actually play basic beats okay but when he'd get going there was no telling where the next 'one' was going to fall. A click track was out of the question and they were on a budget. So we did four songs. After each take they would crowd into the booth and proclaim this as the best they had ever played and on we went. Everyone went home happy happy joy joy...Later that night I get a call from the good guitarist. He says he knows what he heard and could I fix the drums? I told him with tape its hard to do and really what would this accomplish. He told me then that he had an audition with a major touring band and this was going to be his demo but it was so scrambled that it was embarrassing and not worth using for his secret purpose. So he paid a friend of mine $100 bucks to come in and lay down another set of drum tracks. I bounced all the instruments to a 2 track and rebooted the multi so we didn't destroy their tape. He nailed all these songs in less than an hour. Now here's the funny part. When they came back for vocals I pulled the tape from a box I had mislabeled and put it up. The band didn't know the difference and the DRUMMER was dead certain that he had played all those new drum parts the first time just like it was! So we used my buddies pro drums on their recording anyway. But that drummer had thought he was doing all this in the first place.
    DonnyThompson and pcrecord like this.
  14. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    This band is giving me headhacks and I didn't start to record yet. I agreed on sunday to record but was waiting to confirm the time.. I never was able to speak to the signer who started it. The only one I reach is the guitarist and we are not on the same world I think.. I was asking if it's gonna be 10h am or noon and he just replied 5pm.. Eh sorry I don't record that late on a sunday.

    Anyway, I decided to to plug back my saffire 56 and set it up as standalone mode (every preamp assigned to a line out) and I put those the inputs of the RME.
    I was able to make at least 3 stable enough preamps for that session and maybe a forth that need further testing..

    I will definitly plan for at least 4 more preamps in the next year so I don't trouble myself that much in the future..
    Now, inventory of the mic stand = ok
    Mic wires = NOT !! I need to go buy some more lol ;)
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I lived the exact same thing.. I re-recorded the drum on an album and the drummer kept saying how he was good on those tracks.. The album wasn't good enough so I didn't even fight my name on the CD ;)

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