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Recording some Hippies

Discussion in 'Recording' started by steppingonmars, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Hi all

    Well after taking a break this summer I've been asked to record a folk band. There's a mandolin player, a drummer, an acoustic guitar player and a bass player. I'm sure they would like to do it live with the drums, but I only have one room so there's going to be issues with the sound isolation with the drums. I have a couple of gobos I could use. The other thing I could do is record the bass and drums together and the guitar and mandolin after.

    Anyone had any experience with a band like this?
  2. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Yes, and they ate a picnic in the centre of my live room and paid me £30 per hour including picnic-time!

    I wouldn't worry about sound isolation too much; they will want to vibe off each other anyway so just do it all together.

    Ideally I'd put them all in the room with the drummer with their instruments on headphones, using the bass via a DI, the mandolin and acoustic via something like the Schertler contact pickups together with Fishman Rare Earths or their internal pickups and just give them a headphone feed.

    If you then want to improve on the acoustic instruments with mic'd tones, they will have a full ensemble to play along with and what you gain on the sound quality swings, you may lose on the feel roundabouts, but you will then have the choice.

    I use a D-TAR Solstice for the Schertlers; its a great 2 discrete channel DI box / preamp for acoustic instruments and I literally A/B-ed it against everything on the market in the price range and it ripped them all to shreds. Try to get one or hire one for the mandolin & guitar. I use it for the exact same thing live and in the studio.
  3. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Thanks, I'm sure they have pickups as they gigs, so I'll di them as well

    What I've also done was set up gobos with the mandolin and guitar player together, and the drums and bass together, I'll DI the bass, I can always reamp later. I'm doing stereo x/y on the guitar and mandolin, but making sure one mic can do the job if I get too much bleed so I can mute it out later if needed. I thought this way if it doesn't work out we can track the guitar and mandolin later without worrying about them bleeding into the drum mics. Do you even bother with stereo mics on the guitar/mandolin? Right now I'm using SDC, but maybe I should just use a couple of 57's?
  4. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    With the Schertlers/Fishmans, no I don't. But the Schertlers are really costly, the Fishmans a few hundred $ I would guess (I'm £) but quite reasonable, and its really the Solstice that ties that whole setup together (any quality DI would probably do the same, but this has some very tasteful extra flavour) and means I can treat acoustic instruments like electrics and outperform most mic'd setups - the advantages in situations like this tip the balance for sure. Plus my gigging acoustic has an LR Baggs dual pickup inside which gives stereo out via a contact mic & piezos. So I usually shove bands on that (Its a Babicz Identity and sounds pretty great recorded although its brutal for feedback live).

    However unless your preamps are great, if you're wedded to mics, I would suggest SDCs every time over the 57s. 57 Betas don't have that same roll-off but SM57s do I believe have a top-end roll-off and are much more suited to things wiht a bit of grunt - delicacy is not a word I'd associate with them although a a good set of pres can make them shine. Even a set of KEL HM-1s would be a good cheap choice, or Studio Projects C4s (although I don't recommend these very highly anymore having had terrible customer service from the UK dealer). I now use the Charter Oaks M900s for my goto SDCs for any acoustic instruments including drums - again customer service was terrible although the function it fulfils is great - something for another thread - but yeah you want sparkle and I'd say 57s ain't too sparkly.
  5. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Well I did some experimenting today, there will be more than just a little bleed :) There's gonna be a lot of bleed from those drums, hopefully the drummer will play nice and quiet or with brushes I can only see it working out this way. First I recorded some drums by myself, then some acoustic guitar. With the gobos in place, the levels were hotter from the bleed of the drums than with the acoustic guitar by itself. I guess we'll have to see tomorrow.

    I'm gonna cover my bases and let them know non the less as I don't want to look like a jackass at the end. I've done bands live before, but that was with guitar amps wailing away.
    I have 16 channels at my disposal so I'm gonna di the guitar and mando and mic them so if it doesn't work out we can overdub them later.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Jeemy's spot on. And, if you have issues with volume and listening, sometimes letting people hear exactly how they sound as a whole is a good start to learning and respecting the engineer from that point on. Just as long as it doesn't kill the vibe too . How you go about that, is another topic.

    Hope that helps.
  7. hi,

    hey guys, i am literally saying A/B-ed it against everything on the market in the price range and it ripped them all to shreds and i would suggest SDCs every time over the 57s. 57 Betas don't have that same roll-off but SM57s do. i have a couple of gobos I could use. thanks.


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  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    If you have SDC's with nice tight patterns, you can array the group in such a way as minimize the bleed. However, I too, would take as many DI's as possible. The one problem will be problems with timing and feel should you decide to keep the initial drum tracks and redo the instruments. There will be some little bleed from the mando(unbelievable but true) into the drum mics.....unless they can really PLAY.....
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I find this question has far less to do with audio and recording and more to do with psychology and "musician management." The big thing is getting the best performance out of them. A great performance with a lot of bleed is a lot better than a bad performance with perfect isolation. There are a lot of questions:
    1. How tight are they?
    2. What kind of stamina do they have?
    3. Can they adapt to playing with headphones?
    4. Can they play with groove if you record one or two tracks at a time?
    5. Can they play to a click?

    You want to make them as comfortable as possible. Here's one way I've tried. Start off with a good fairly short song (not their best - too discouraging if it sucks). Have them play it all together so they get used to playing with cans and you can adjust the headphone mix. If they have enough stamina do three takes back to back. No playback until the third take. Just tweak the headphone mix and do another take. At that point do some playbacks and evaluate psychology. Are they getting better with each take? Worse? Pissed off? Bored? Do they have the discipline to do bass and drums and then overlay the guitar and mando? Are they so sloppy that you'll never get a good track as an ensemble?

    Again, this isn't a recording question. The best thing for recording to to lay down one track at a time to a click. It's just not always the way to make the best music. This is just a wild guess on my part based on far too little info you'll get your best results with them playing all together, cans on one ear and one uncovered, three to five takes per song. Do the best you can with the bleed following the recommendations above, but don't worry about it in the end. Leave some of the mistakes in. Let it be natural. Heck, they're hippies dang it. Don't get too careful.
  10. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Well I recorded them today, all live, no di's. They didn't have pickups anyways. It came out very good. The ambience is lush from all the bleed I guess. The key is that the drummer played like he was in a folk band, used brushes and played lightly. Maybe I'll post a bit of it when it's done.. Unbelievable how well a mandolin will cut through a room too :)
  11. theycallmebrown

    theycallmebrown Active Member

    please do, id love to hear it. also, post how you mic'ed it. i have some folk projects coming up id love the advice.
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I think mando should be used in more types of music. It sits in a very nice frequency range that stays out of the way of other instruments and stands out well without any push. I think you will find it very easy to place in the mix.
  13. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Agreed. It just sits nicely between the acoustic guitar in the mid range. Whenever I do just acoustic there's always the lows, low/mids then real highs and the mando just plops right in between so you don't have to eq the hell out of the guitar to fill up the spectrum. Actually just pulling up the faders with the bleed and the instruments the mix was almost there, not even sure if I'm gonna have to do much for reverbs except on the vocals, and probably I'll have to use a reverb to make it sound like bleed. I'm not sure if this is going to be a recording with a lot of fidelity, but I'm liking the vibe of it and the hippies are too. I'll maybe post something after I get the ok and I get paid :)

    That's another question, maybe I should just use the speakers for recording vocals instead of headphones, or is that too much :)
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    You definitely want the headphones on for vocals if at all possible. That's where you almost always want the most clarity and control. A lot of times a vocalist will be more comfortable with the phones over one ear or with open backed phones. In those cases you will get a little bleed, but again that's usually not terrible.
  15. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Well here's the end result. I'll show you the worst one, any suggestions on the mix would be appreciated

    05 Track 5.mp3 - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    More guitar and strummed things in general. A little less snare. Puch up the middle a touch and verb the vocal so its sits a bit better.

    Is this compressed across the 2-bus? If you have the ability to send the drums out to their own stereo bus, I would fiddle with the compression there. Careful not to change the time as this will cause the 'bleed' to act as a ghost to the actual tracks.

    Anytime you can bus stems of individual instruments in a 'live' mix like this one you're going to gain some control over the overall impact of each instrument no matter how much bleed is present.
  17. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    I have a drum bus. I compressed it a little more with a milder compressor, waves c1 instead of psp vintage warmer. I put up the mando and guitar and eq'd the vox a bit. The previous link is the new version

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