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First metal band recording

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Jason McCulloch, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. Jason McCulloch

    Jason McCulloch Active Member

    Hey Pros.

    So I'm going to be recording my first metal band in a few days and I'm a bit nervous because, unfortunately, I don't have much experience with recording 5 piece bands in very small (home studio styled) rooms (or any room for that matter). So as a recommendation, if you were going to record a band's practice session, a session where everyone is in the same semi treated room (to include the vocal), and wanted to get the best recording, how would you go about doing so? Here is my plan and the gear I have to do the recording with:

    Presonus 16.0.2 Studio Live
    2 Sennheisser MK4s - Overheads
    2 Shure SM 57's - Gtr amps
    1 Shure SM58 on Vocals
    Bass D.I.
    2 Additional Mics for KD and snare (brand unknown,drummer will use own brand)
    1 SCT 800 Tube LCD as a room mic? (not sure that's a good idea with so many elements in the same room

    I have a drummer, 2 Gtrs, 1 Bass, and a vocalist. Unless the amp heads have D.I. capability, I'm not going to be able to split the signals of both guitars as I only have one D.I..

    So that's it in a nutshell. I have my ideas, but any tips on any particular instrument or on mic placement for such a tiny venue, would be awesome. I'm not expecting Abby Roads from the recording, but if I can get on the adjacent road I'd be a happy camper.

  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Metal is fun. Your setup looks decent. Seriously, get yourself another DI for that guitar. Any 20€ stage box will do fine, or if your interface has an instrument jack, use that as the DI, and split the guitar into that and the amp.

    The reason for this, is the gtr amp sound in the room, might sound great on ten, whith a kit. Your close micing, and that's exellent, for bleed. the actual tone of a stack on 11 that sounds amazing and inspiring, will likely take up far too much sonic space. The DI gives you the control you will need after the fact, without weirded out phase issues and bleed related things.

    The drums, I'd forget the room mic for this one, other than for effect on a slow breakdown to make a bombastic sound, it's a waste of data imo.

    The overheads, in most cases are 80% of the sound, but in metal, I primarily use them as cymbal mics, and 'weight' for the kit. The snare and kicks will undoubtably be layered or replaced with samples. Blast beats, and quads on kicks need this sonic information to be clear. So in that case cheap mics are fine, but if I were DI ing the guitars, or overdubbing them, I'd put the 57 on the snare. Sample can be used simply to keep the attacks of the drum consistent, it could be a sample of pink noise if you wanted to go 80s.

    The bass player might want or need to use an amp wich again is not a problem with when DI gtrs and drum samples are involved. You can hpf the overheads to filter the bleed. Most bass amps have a DI built in.

    The way I veiw it, the live instruments and amps are there for 'stage style' monitoring, and for feel. To help aid the energy of the performance.

    The recording, is all about clean triggering and DI capture. With the intense tempos, and frequency content, metal requires precise playing, and often drastic eq cuts and compression, so make sure no unesseary frequencies are in any of the instruments, because they all need to be big and mean.

    Last thing is obviously keep the volumes low as practical to still rock, and some blankets around the kit and singer are a great start to cleaning up anything that's not getting re-amped/triggered. this is how I'd go about it in your case.
    Jason McCulloch likes this.
  3. Jason McCulloch

    Jason McCulloch Active Member

    Bro, thanks for responding to this post. I'm seriously going outside of my element with this recording so I'm valuing all credible input. I was honestly thinking to get another DI or have the Gtr DI into the mix board and just send an an Aux channel (of which I'll have 4) to his amp. With this recording, I hadn't planned on giving them anything more than a "Semi-live" recording of their rehearsal. So that means no additional editing after the recording, unless they pay for the additional service. So if I have no plans on replacing the kick and snare later on, I'm guessing a snare mic, kd mic, and the two overheads will be all I have to work with.
    pcrecord likes this.
  4. pcrecord

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

    Placement is the key. How far in the bass drum, how close to the edge or center of the guitar amp.
    Bleeds can be pain but can be ally too. If you can place a mic so the instrument AND the bleed sound good, you're in for a great recording.

    Kyle has given you the common route ! Metal sound is particular and on the contrary to what we think they use some tricks to achive it.
    Using triggers on kick drum or drum replacement is very common. Using the a di recording of guitars and reamp it to make layers is also common.
    If you are not doing in those techniques, it doesn't meen you can't make a good recording but it may end up different than the numerous records the band listens to.
    It all depends on their expectation and maybe your fee ;)
    Jason McCulloch likes this.
  5. Jason McCulloch

    Jason McCulloch Active Member

    Hey thanks Marco, I appreciate the comment. I'm a firm believer in making bleeds work for me as well. That's a very interesting point about the tricks they use to achieve certain sounds. As I was talking to one of the guitarists, he by chanced mentioned a technique he'd used in previous metal recordings. He was very specific about a 60/40 panning on the guitars. I took that to heart as I listened to some of the bands they are going to cover and I'm glad I did. Small tips like that is what'll help me give them a familiar balance. I'll have to find out what other golden tips they may be keeping from me.
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    You should encourage this - without hard selling them or cramming the idea down their throats. Just let them know that most metal they hear ( and probably that they like, too) is hardly ever just a recording of their live performance.
    Re-sampling of drums is very common in this genre, as Kyle and Marco both mentioned - with some of these hyper speeds, you'll actually need something much faster in transient response to cut through. Use slow attack compression times, along with fast releases. The quicker your attack time is on GR, the more you'll chop off of the initial strike and presence of either the drum or the replacement sample.

    Don't feel shy about encouraging them to let you edit and mix further. If you want, cut them a good deal since this is your first time... but if you do a good job, you'll have the word of mouth advertising working for your benefit, along with a possible repeat client - if the band manages to stay together long enough to do another recording project. ;)

    You need to be your own advocate in this business, your own sales team. Maybe do one of the songs on your own, without telling them, to show them how good it could sound, and then let them decide if they want to pay you for it. If they don't, no harm, no foul, and you can just put it into the trash, or, if you think you've done a really good job, you could keep it and use it as a demo for possible future clients, or work with other bands... but don't just give it to them. Make the bait attractive enough so that they want to pay you for your time and talent.
    You're new to the scene, or at least to this particular scene, so you have to be able to show them ( let them hear) how good you can really make them sound, with a little work on your part. But in doing so, don't sell yourself short, either. It's tough enough to make a living in this business these days. Don't make it any harder on yourself than it already is by simple industry default. ;)


    Jason McCulloch and pcrecord like this.
  7. Jason McCulloch

    Jason McCulloch Active Member

    Hey Donny great advice. I'm all for getting paid. I wouldn't do it if I wasn't. It's too much work. I wouldn't say that I'm new to the recording scene as much as I'd say I'm new to getting paid for my recording services. Your tips make me feel much better and more confident in my approach. After doing school for the pass 2 years, I now have a higher respect for you guy's who have been doing it professionally for so long. Thanks for the advice, I definitely will have them see the light at the end of the tunnel in regards to the benefit of paying for editing and a mix.
    DonnyThompson and pcrecord like this.
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I did a lot of "spec" work when I was first starting out ( 2.3 million years ago, when Jimmy Carter was President ) ... partly because I didn't feel I was good enough to actually charge anyone for my services, but also because I wanted to make a name for myself, to get a reputation out there as fast as I could, and I thought the best way to do that was to do the "on spec" work. And eventually, it worked.

    But, looking back now, I feel as though I probably did too much of that cheap/free work. It was a self-confidence issue. That changed when the people whom I was doing that cheap work for, started telling their friends how they were happy with my work.

    Every veteran engineer here has had to pay their dues, and very few of us ever came out of the gate making much money when we first started out. So it's alright to do a few cheap jobs, or even a freebie now and then, if you are trying to establish yourself as a pro engineer... but don't sell yourself short, either. ;)


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