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How do YOU record a band?

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by MNProductions, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. MNProductions

    MNProductions Active Member

    I just started recording bands and I've heard of drummers being able to lay down their track just by a click track but I've started making scratch tracks with metronomes in the headphones then going back and recording the instruments individually starting with the drums. I'm just wondering how other people record a full band?
  2. MNProductions

    MNProductions Active Member

    Oh! I use Cubase LE 5 on a Macbook Pro with a Tascam US800 interface. I have MXL 144, Nady CM88s, Shure SM57, and Digital Reference DRM4. I'm investing in 4 way headphone amp and a ART Tube Preamp once I sell my Xbox 360
  3. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    I don't record every band the same way. I try to find the ultimate way for each band. When I am recording everyone separately (rarely happens these days) I definitely make scratch tracks.

    Here is the most important thing. Drums don't need to be recorded first! Sometimes I'll record them last or closer to the end. Record the parts that need the most energy last. This way they have more to feed off of.

    Most often these day I am the band live off the floor. I used to really baffle the instruments from each other but I am doing less of that because the "bleed" can be cool. This way no one needs to wear headphones and we get a band that feels like a band.
  4. Beat Poet

    Beat Poet Active Member

    I'm one of those that can do that, playing solo to a click. I think records where the instruments are recorded in sequence lack some of the spark and nuances of live recordings, and it's certainly the case with the studio recordings made by some of my old bands. You can't beat that method though for efficiency or if the band are nervous.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Specializing in live recordings, everybody is playing at once. Over the years, in the studio, I always track the band, simultaneously, all at once. I've never gone back to rerecord instruments individually. That's silly beginner crap. I want a cohesive performance out of the band and you don't get that one at a time. But everybody has their own style. I come from a land of hit records and everybody recorded at once, together, as a band. Then you might go ahead and augment that recording with additional overdubs of other instrumentation and/or vocalists. But even the scratch vocal track when cut on a SM58 frequently ends up being THE TAKE. This will generally happen after umpteen overdub vocal takes have already been tried. So never destroy the scratch vocal track. Hey even Robert Palmer did it that way. Just because people see things in movies doesn't mean it's supposed to be done that way. It just looks good for the movies. Though I know plenty of local yokels that record all of instrumentation, separately, completely disenfranchised from a real performance. That works great with most cruddy amateur professionals. But real musicians along with real musicianship happens all at the same time, together. Unfortunately most amateur professionals don't think they are talented enough to pull off an all at once style of recording. And they are generally right because they suck. Such hasn't appeared the case to me with your fine British talent. Your discipline is much different than US Americans. Just listen to what Geoffrey Emmerich accomplished coming out of school at 16. Assistant engineer to the Beatles then and at 19 the primary. That doesn't happen here in the US except for perhaps, myself?

    I was a fool not to accept Sir George Martin's offer years ago.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  6. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    Ha Funny you say that recording everyone separately is for beginners.LOL I won't let crappy bands record separately because they rarely have the ability to not play together. Mostly I record people separately when it is studio musicians coming in for specific parts.
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I sort of agree with Remy more than Paul. It's a matter of the definition of "beginner." Bands that aren't tight can be recorded one at a time and the tracks time aligned, pitch corrected, bent folded, spindled and mutilated. It won't be a masterpiece, but they aren't masters. But of course, Paul's also right. Actually playing well one track at a time is a skill that most people don't have - even those in bands that can play well together.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Yeah, good point Bob. It hasn't been uncommon for me to record the entire rhythm section first. Then you go back and augment with yet more. I do appreciate those extremely talented folks that can play multiple instruments. But part of that is only possible because they can envision it in their head to begin with. And that's a part that most can't get right. Or they are not in possession of that part of their brain. I am fully aware that I am not in possession of all of my brain. It was squished to smithereens so many years ago and it's not even any good as leftovers. But I digest... my dinner. Nothing like eating dinner in your control room while listening to musical examples from other folks. And one must be careful when doing so because vomiting wouldn't do my Neve any good. Although I think my Neve likes beer? If it doesn't... I'll drink it.

    Has anybody tried that Bud Lite with Clamato? Mixes sound better with it.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Of course being a single musician who plays all the instruments, must start somewhere. It doesn't necessarily need to start with the drums but with a click track. Then perhaps guitar bass & keyboards and then the drums. Maybe the other way around. Music is art and art is music. As mentioned, there is no right or wrong method. There is only what makes sense for you. I've actually recorded singer/songwriters who came in to cut a demo. One guy in particular couldn't play drums but he brought a drum set in. In his demo, he sounds like a competent drummer but in fact, we cut each drum part, separately. That is a pass of bass drum, followed by a pass of snare drum, followed by tom-toms, finished with cymbals. And nobody ever knew he couldn't play the drums. So I can't and don't always have my way. Guys who can play all the instruments I feel are generally talented and worthy enough of my expertise. I have told bands that can't play their instruments at all, to get the heck out of my studio. Another reason for that action on my part is, I can make them better than they are. If they should get work from something I've recorded for them, it would be fraudulent. So I don't practice in fraud... of a mirror even though I love my own good looks.

    So you're inquisitive as to how bands are recorded. They are recorded from single microphone mono machines up to multimillion dollar studios and everything in between. They are recorded in good acoustics, bad acoustics, no acoustics. They are recorded with the most expensive equipment and the cheapest equipment. None of this matters it's only the talent that matters. You obviously have some. So get to work and post what you've done so we can all have a good laugh... at how fabulous it is.

    I only care if someone wins at a ballgame
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    You know I love you Remy but I couldn't agree, and disagree with you more. Many missed the switch, the great divide in the 80's and never saw it coming. It left many engineers in the dust.

    I started a post on the DUC that was removed because it got so ugly. This was around Sept 2000. It was all about the demise of the big studios. I said most Big Studios would be done by 2005 and then sat back and watched the flames.. One week later I started recording.org and never looked back. The R.A.P. (recording audio pro) crowd all came here. The big studios where here and most of those studios are gone. Why?

    I was part of the generation that killed the big studios. I was in the front lines using the gear that eventually killed them.
    There is a whole other world that lays one track down at a time down, every bit as professional as the old method you are describing. It takes a smart mind to figure out how to do it my way too. There are a lot of GREAT pop songs done one track at a time. This, I am 100% certain of.

    Wow I say... , I could spend 5 hours slugging this one out but it would only be an thorn and/or go over most heads here. Rarely do I talk about my professional background, so I won't much. I don't like to. Its irritating and not in our best interest to say much more than I already do. You guys here are the pro's of traditional recording and that is what RO is all about. I am so grateful to be part of all this but once in a while i belt out a few lines and duck!

    so here is one of those times.

    I'm completely the opposite as our traditional recordist and musician. I've made a really good living using electronics and playing the guitar. When I was around 18, so inspired by pop music, I was so sick of trying to educate bands and wait for them to figure out their parts and see the opportunities ahead. I couldn't wait for the day I could do it all by myself. The multitrack and DAW has been my saving grace.

    Musicians that can't keep time or play to a bed track are useless to me. So many pros can't play along with click tracks. They need others to set them free. **** man, I'm in heaven when the tracks are tight and it is solid and exact. That's when I cut loose. Thats when the magic happens in my world and I know others who share this experience too. But they aren't traditionalists. Most recording engineers haven't a clue about the MIDI world. Why would they. It freaks them out. It freaks them out as much as drum machines freak out drummers.

    If there are secrets to this, then I know some, and sequencers and recording one track at a time fits that group. I have been a professional DAW musician (Hybrid Musician) longer than most of our members here but say little because its of no interest to most of the traditionalist, and it doesn't fit the mold of RO in general. I love to sit back and learn about acoustics and all the gear used for good reason. But, if I was going to write a pop song, ( thats what I love the most) I would most likely do the majority using samples one track at a time. The only things I would use on top of the MIDI and Samples, would be vocals and possibly guitar. But we are talking POP music now.

    Remy and I have a lot in common. My mother was also world a world class opera singer. She sang on shows with Robert Goulet, Danny Kay, John Vickers, Jimmy Durante and more of that era, but her career fell short from the disease, MS and unfortunately missed her moment to stardom at La Scala. One year later she would have been in the greats circle. She told me something that I'll never forgot. "Be smart and go with the times. Don't be broke like most starving musicians".

    So many people stay locked into their generation and stop learning. If you can move with the times and discover the key elements ( the sounds of that generation), it just gets easier. The next part of my music career is merging Remy's world with my world but the hybrid way.

    The right way is what feels right to you. If I was recording a traditional band with people that had no experience in DAW production and electronic music, then traditional is the ideal way. If I was producing a pop album however, I would most likely do it one track at a time and ditch most of the microphones for samples any day of the week. You call that amature and I call that smart business and modern.

    A lot of recording studios are going under because they are trying to drag (That's silly beginner crap ) old school methods into the 21 century. I love it all.

    Flame away...
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Actually, I couldn't agree with you more. I apologize if my rhetoric was on the loose sloppy white trash side. Sometimes I can be quite inarticulate or, all too brutal. A personality flaw I know... probably due to natural good old homegrown actual brain damage? It is certainly all too obvious to me what the true WAVE of the future is. And it is exactly how you described it. Of course not everyone in this world who is a musician will also be competent engineers like yourself and others here. There are still us old fogeys who will still be called on from time to time. And to do things the way we always have. Although I will still likely throw people out when they demonstrate they have no talent? Those folks I usually encourage to go home and start making recordings on their computers. I tell them it's easy. So eventually, I figure they'll show up here? Then they can read us and truly know what's going on. Right? And in particular, I've always found that Americans want more choices. So they get truly university oriented seasoned debates. It's all part of the adventure of trying to get people to think and to listen. Because as you know, everyone on the face of this planet will have an opinion.

    There is something to be said for old-school of any historical variety. If it wasn't for old-school, there'd be no more symphonies, grand pianos or opera singers. So there is still a lot of people that feel keeping up traditional procedures in so many things we do, still important. I mean, we really don't need religion anymore because we have the Internet, right? Who needs politicians and crazies running our country when we now have the Internet, right? We are making recordings on our own but are we making the electricity on our own necessary to power our equipment and lifestyle? I might give up this traditional stuff when I find myself on the communication board on the Starship Enterprise NCC 1701? I never did find out if they were using any of that silly Silicon stuff?

    Slowdown... let me catch my breath... (damn young Scully waggles)...
    The chagrined Remy Ann David
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Well, I think the OP has the answer he asked for (though maybe wasn't looking for) - people record bands every frickin way imaginable, for every reason imaginable.

    I think that theDAWstudio has a good point in his objective, omniscient, post: a lot of times the way we record a band is controled by constraints - equipment, studio space, competence of the band, band members playing multiple instruments, people's schedules, whether band members live in the same town, state, country. I assume that this is what Beat Poet meant when he said that recording one track at a time is "efficient." Probably the better work is "flexible." Recording the whole band at once is far more efficient in terms of time. The Beatles recorded their first album in a single day - three three-hour sessions. Try doing that one track at a time. (Yes, people in our mid fifties always bring up things like this.)

    I also like audiokid's point about the artistic advantages of going one track at a time. The precision of click-based music is now central to electronica, synth-pop, metal, hip hop. But in some of these genres the precision itself is an artistic end (audiokid is eloquent about his feelings on this). In others, it's just a means. Metal started out in the early '70's as a loose, sloppy genre and then tightened up when people wanted to record multi-layered guitars. Hip hop is sample based, so it is technically natural to tie everything to a click, but I don't know that there any real artistic advantage to it.

    But there are genres that - at least to me - don't benefit from precision: acoustic music, folk, country, blues, funk, R&B, and rock genres that flow from these. They are at their best when they have a groove that comes from genuine ensemble playing. This is the stuff that I like best, and I've build my studio so that I can record a full band in this way. And, yes, I often run into some of the constraints mentioned above and have to one track at a time.

    Now we have not talked about the bad reason to record one track at a time: because the producer/engineer is an anal retentive control freak. When I turn on the radio, I hear a lot of stiff, stilted, mechanical music made by studios that were not under any of the constraints listed above. They just valued the studio over the musician and wound up with mass produced music.
  13. MNProductions

    MNProductions Active Member

    I've interned at a pro studio and I sweat I only saw him use 1 mic, except when recording. The Neumann U87 going through some older tube pres, going to 400 different other things, then to the board, then the suped up computer. It was crazy. So totally know that!

    I totally dig what everyone is saying and I will definitely keep a lot of these things in mind. I Really respect all the things your saying Remy, but I am just starting out. I use computer foam on my wall cause I cant afford baffles or actual absorbers and I cant really say 'I'm not gonna record you cause you suck' I just dont have the support to do that yet. (Otherwise, yea I would have turned down the first kids I recorded), but I never really thought about the pros and cons of recording all at once. I think what I'll do next time is record all the stringed instruments and keys all in one take first, then go back for the drums. As of right now I've only got enough inputs for 6 mics. I think theDAWstudio gave me some really useful advice in my situation.

    The first band I recorded really.. were... well, junkie and I only had 4 mics (My MXL 144, 2 Nady CM88s, and a Shure SM57) a Behringer Xenyx 1204 and a Tascam DP01FX then. Due to bad mic placement on the drums, Keep in mind I play acoustic guitar and have never miked drums, The song turned out really rough.

    Lets Runaway - Sinners Sanctorum by MNProductionsVA on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

    I've already talked to the 'band' (I say that because they're just a guitarist and a drummer who seem to Jam more than anything) and we'll be re-recording the song next month with my new equipment. Hopefully if I can get another SM57 I can do them both at the same time as everyone has been suggesting.

    When I got my new equipment, I made a cover song to get used to cubase and my new audio interface. I would really love feedback on it. I have a feeling its left heavy but I dont have a VST to visually see if the audio is or not. If anyone can suggest a free one it would be greatly appreciated.

    9 Crimes (Cover) {{NEW}} by MNProductionsVA on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

    Please take a look at my other soundcloud samples and let me know what you guys think. I really want to get better. ESPECIALLY in the Mastering department.
  14. MNProductions

    MNProductions Active Member

    OH!! Also 9 Crimes is the only one that was recorded using my Mac. Darkwing Duck was recorded using the old Tascam and mixed and mastered in FL Studio 10 (I know.. wrist slap..)
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I'm gonna throw my nine cents in here simply because I want to.

    There is no right and no wrong. I guess thats been established, but there are preferred ways to capture certain nuances for particular types of musical styles and the types of productions that go into that style.

    For me, I like to capture the groove of the bass and drums in a well rehearsed arrangement. I definately appreciate players who embrace the click track. I am one of those. The click is a very nice toy to allow pushing and pulling the feel around a basic speed. I can play on the beat or either side of it. But thats just me. Not that many can. Even really good players cant at times. So as a producer I have to ask myself what is going to be the best method for getting things to groove and stay together as a whole.

    If I'm doing a Blues record, everyone plays all at once. Theres no other way for this style. Even if I'm only capturing the drums and bass in the first pass and the guitars and vocals and keys are only guide tracks, everyone plays at once. I'll isolate as best I can because you never know what is going to become the magic of the moment.

    I find that most earthier music is like that.

    Rock stuff can go either way. Play at once, individual tracks, sometimes building from a midi groove thing....AS LONG AS THE SONG IS SERVED , and the techniques of the capture do NOT degrade from the song, anything is the right thing.

    Notice the capitalization of that last statement. When you move away from this concept you miss the point. And incredible as it may seem, the unknowing audience will miss it too. I have zero problem at all going through a production and replacing a single note that is out of tune,time,perhaps even considered 'wrong' in some way, in order to get to the SONG. I also have no problem leaving all the warts in something that feels so perfect in its flow and delivers its message to any who would hear it.
  16. MNProductions

    MNProductions Active Member

    I'm charging by the song. My maximum is $60 regardless if I get new equipment or not. When I recorded the first band, it was $40 but after Christmas my drum mics and interface came in so I brought it up to $60. I would have done hourly, but its not affordable to most of the starter bands. I had one band ask me about 5 songs and I quoted them $200. I think thats fair for using my gear and spending 8-12 hrs on it haha
  17. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Nothing funny about the 8-12 hours for 200 bucks. In today's financial Times and with these entry-level folks, that's about all anyone can expect to make or to afford. Generally, because of the truck and the delivery of it location, I have charged as little as $250 per day. A day constitutes 8-12 hours and no charge for mileage within the Baltimore-Washington metro region. Even with the 36 input Neve and the 20 additional API's, along with ALL the vintage processing and top shelf microphones, bands are still recording in their buddies basements for the same rate on crappy equipment. Probably because their friend invested $500 in software and $500 in an audio interface and they all want to play with it? After all, why should they spend $250 on a recording when they spent $1000 on equipment? They probably also have realized they won't sound any better on a $85,000 console, with $12,000 of outboard processing & $25,000 worth of microphones? I didn't even bother to include the computers, recorders, multitrack interfaces, video capture, CD/DVD duplication, tuneups, oil changes, transmission jobs, custom welding. Thankfully, I only paid $39 for the 30-year-old CB radio in the Cab of the truck, 30 years ago.

    Breaker breaker good buddy. I've got the greasy side down, the shiny side up and the meters are pegged. Want to hear my Jake Brake? Yeah? Blubberblubberblubberblubber. Did you hear that low-end? Almost sounds as good as that MIDI stuff does.

    My studio is portable when you carry it in a 25,000 pound, 30 foot long, Mercedes-Benz 1117 turbodiesel.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  18. MNProductions

    MNProductions Active Member

    $200 for all 5 songs. I charge per song not hour.
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Yeah, and for nearly the same price, a band can record as many songs as they can play in three 45 minute sets. I even tell them that the crowd will not object to them playing a second take of a song when they tell the crowd they are making a recording that evening. The crowd's reaction is usually a cheer. And then they also have a whole lot more than five songs to choose from since the entire evening will not fit onto a single CD. Assuming of course that they are the only band playing that evening at that venue. Plus, since it's still all multitracked, they even have the option of corrections & overdubs and remixing after-the-fact (for an additional charge).

    I'm thinking inside my box, my 25,000 pound box.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I never, ever work by the hour. That only gets you into trouble and places you into a lower bracket level. Many may disagree but piece work breeds better clients and produces excellence, PERIOD! If it takes you longer to do something, you do not have a clock controlling your craft. My Rule of thumb. Anything that involves creativity, you charge by the project. Everyone is happier.

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