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Recording without Isolation Rooms

Discussion in 'Recording' started by jaydubb411, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. jaydubb411

    jaydubb411 Guest

    So I've been recording myself and different bands I've been in for 5 years or so with Cubase SX and am comfortable enough with the program that I've started offering local bands my services at their jam space. It'll give me some good experience, and will be cheaper for the band then going to a studio, with hopefully the same quality. The equipment I'll be brining with me is the Alesis iO26 (8 track firewire), PC with Cubase SX3, a variety of mics including Rode NT1, SM57's/58's, and 5 pairs of headphones. I might rent a good pair of monitor speakers from the local music shop too.

    I'm going to be recording a 4 piece band (think Rise Against meets The Strokes) at their jam space next week and am looking for some feedback on what process others have used in the past when recording a band without isolation rooms. Here's what I'm thinking of doing.

    1. Record the scratch vocal. Have the whole band play the song together to a click track, and record a scratch vocal track. I'm thinking the drummer is the only one who'll need to hear the click track. Of course if the band knows the song inside/out then we could skip this step and work without vocals.

    2. Record the Drums. Have the Drums, Bass and Guitar(s) play, going direct out (or line out?) from the guitar and bass amps so that the only thing heard in the room are the drums, but everything is in the headphones. Probably record the bass and guitar tracks too (scratch track of sort).

    3. Record the Bass. Now I can mic the bass amp, probably with an SM57.

    4. Record the Guitar(s). Same theory as above.

    5. Record the Vocals. Re-do them or keep the scratch track.

    If anyone has any advice for me it would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    My suggestion if you are looking for track separation at mixdown....

    To achieve the cohesive interplay of the drums and bass, these go down first with everyone else 'tracking' scratch tracks for the feel. To control the drums in a fairly live room, you'll want to erect some basic barriers to simply kick the reflections around a bit. Theres no way you'll achieve studio-like absorption or reflection so something to knock down the major nodes is needed. Packing blankets draped over office cubicle barriers will do this, as well as letting the players still see each other for communication.

    Next, close mic everything thats being mic'd. The less time delay you have in the space between the source and the mic, the less likely you are to pick up odd frequencies and other things to compound your mixing later.

    Above all stay focused and have fun.
  3. jaydubb411

    jaydubb411 Guest

    Thanks for the suggestion Davedog. I haven't given much thought to the acoustics of the room yet, which is probably one of the most important aspects in this whole process, especially for the drums. I've done some reading up on the subject, but it will just come down to improvising on the spot to see what sounds best I guess.
  4. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Go to U-Haul, steal a bunch of packing blankets...
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    More still......

    If you have access to a bass DI then use it. Micing a bass amp can be a process that, without the proper preamps, is a hit or miss situation. Its usually better in an instance such as yours, to simply take the sound off the bass itself rather than futz around trying to get the amp to sound right. The direct outs on amp heads are also iffy from brand to brand....a lot of that being due to the various impedances the manufacturers choose to build into their units. If you can achieve a good sound with this method then go for it....remember to put a load on the amps output as this can cause damage to the amp.

    A clik track is a good idea if you are planning some editting and need a time signature to add or subtract later on. Be sure you make a few passes with the drummer and confirm that they can actually PLAY to a clik.

    It aint that easy.

    Remember that a cohesive feel to the songs, will always trump equipment quality in a basically live situation.

    Track as cleanly and clearly as you can without artifacts and mixing becomes easier. Do not assign verbs or effects at tracking....use as little compression as you can....when making guide tracks with other 'live' instruments in a room with multiple open mics, think on the individual mic's patterns and place them so there is minimal bleed from these other sources. I mention this because there can be unwanted vocal ghosting on the drums you can never get rid of and may present a problem later on.

    Tracking is all about the preparation to mixing which is, in reality, where the song will come alive.
  6. MediaMurder

    MediaMurder Guest

    Yea I was gonna say the same thing, make sure they know that if they play with a click track not only will the overall result be better sonically but it will also come quicker.

    I would go with the technique of micing the kit in separate peices starting with the snare, kick, then toms, hats and overheads. Either have him or her play just the kick beats and use his knees as the cymbols and snares for time or cover the parts of the drums up so you get absolutely NO bleeding at all and then you have super clean drum tracks with tons of control. Make sure they play on time. Dont be afraid to tell them they need to play more accurately.

    Scratch tracks arent always necessary if the singer has rehearsed enough. I would lay down scratch guitars first, get the kit and bass together and then do guitars and finally vocals.

    I could go on forever, sorry...

    But yeah have fun man, most importantly..
  7. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    The guitarist could prove to be the one with the better ability to play with a click track.

    Don't chisel anything in stone. Walk and talk with your people with an open mind, they know how they like to work better then anyone.

    I'm gonna print out what Davedog listed. That is a procedure checklist worth keeping handy.
  8. jaydubb411

    jaydubb411 Guest

    Each drum piece separately? I'm not so sure about that. Do bands actually do that? For one, we'd be there all day, and two, I'm not too concerned about bleed through on the drum tracks. I'll sacrifice that, over the cohesive feel of the drummer...he's not a drum machine for God sakes!
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Ha....I think he means to say that he would mic each piece seperately in the whole kit. The drummer would play as is, but there would be a mic on each tom, on snare, kick and overheads.

    Personally, I almost always stay away from individual drum mics unless my goal later is sample replacements (which it rarely is).

    But...your mileage may vary.
  10. Costy

    Costy Guest

    It's a very common thing for recording rock drums : close mics on
    everything + overhead mics + distant mic on kick + two(or more) room
    mics. 12-14 tracks for drums is quite normal. During mixing you might
    not need all of it, but in case you need it it's there.
  11. grizzzly540

    grizzzly540 Guest

    Depending on the sound they might be looking for, if acoustics are an issue, you might try modeling everything but drums and having them all play together and then add Vocals later. If they want anything MUCH better than that then they will probably want to go to a studio anyway. This is saying that they are playing in a garage or something. If the room isn't that bad, don't worry. On drums I comonly use 10 or 11 mics but you can get a great sound with 3-5 mics as well
  12. Drewslum

    Drewslum Active Member

    I'm with jaydubb. Media Murder isn't talking about close miking. he's talking about recording each drum separately, read his post. If you did that drum track you would get a perfect example of a drum track that lacks GROOVE.
  13. Drewslum

    Drewslum Active Member

    I'm with jaydubb. Media Murder isn't talking about close miking. he's talking about recording each drum separately, read his post. If you did that, you would get a perfect example of a drum track that lacks groove.
  14. Drewslum

    Drewslum Active Member

    I'm with jaydubb. Media Murder isn't talking about close miking. he's talking about recording each drum separately, read his post. If you did that, you would get a perfect example of a drum track that lacks groove.
  15. AwedOne

    AwedOne Guest

    MediaMurder wrote:

    I play drums, and I've tried this technique. Believe me, it does not make for a cohesive groove. And that was with easy pop rock. I can't imagine asking a busier drummer to do this. It doesn't come off sounding natural at all.

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