Adding some life into a total digital recording, artificial microphone bleed
Recently got the opportunity to come to work in Shanghai for a short period and came across a bunch of guys in a band who need some help putting together some tracks. As I am without my equipment here (only basics) I am looking for some advice to inject some life into a few tracks. The style is up-tempo modern rock and there are both budget and time constraints so here goes.
Basically I am recording the band in a less than ideal apartment and because of volume issues everything has been done against everything I know, first of all drums were an impossibility to record due to lack of microphones and volume issues so I managed to find some pro-drum samples on the net which were as near as damn it to the original groove so I duly handed over my credit card and downloaded them. (and spent a solid 36 hours chopping and changing them) The drums are divided into kick mic, snare, toms and stereo overheads. All guitars have been recorded direct into a PC running Cubase SX at the same time with each guitar assigned an Amplitube 2 plug-in (bass has been doubled up as a dry recording).
Now through no short miracle the tracks have turned out pretty kick ass which has opened my eyes to see how far the virtual studio has moved along however they just feel a little bit lifeless. I remember a few years back a friend of mine told me that in order to get a bit more life out of his dance tracks he used to re-record the whole song back through his monitors with a couple of mics and mix it into the song. Also I think I read somewhere that both Martin Hannett and a producer for Led Zep also used similar techniques.
So what I would like to know, does anybody have any tips when It comes to creating artificial microphone bleed between the instruments. I have a couple of SM58s but can invest in a couple of condensers. Should I re-record the whole mix in stereo with a pair of mics experimenting with placements or should I re-record the drums separately and possibly the guitars together or maybe the kick, snare and bass together? Or am I way off and should try something completely different? Or just anything to squeeze a bit more life out.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I've used a short reverb to simulate mic-bleed. I was inspired by the original Let It Be album. On "Ive Got A Feelin'", one guitar starts playing and there is no bleed, but just before the other instruments come in you can hear the other mics being brought up at the faders. Then the bleed through comes through in those mics.
So I mimicked that effect using a short reverb and some automation to keep the verb in the first channel until the right time to bring everything in. In your case you could leave the reverb on all the time.
Set it up as a send so you can control how much of each track goes to it. THis is in addition to your "main" reverb that you normally use on vocals, or drums, etc.
Playing it back through the speakers does sound like a creative idea. Give it a shot! Might not suit you this time, but you'll know what it sounds like and can use that in the future. I would think drums and guitars but not bass guitar. I would think bass guitar would add mud - but I've never done this. I'd put the mics some distance from the speakers just like I was recording ambiance on say, an acoustic guitar.
Addendum: I wonder if pushing your speakers slightly onto overdrive would help "round" the sound out. Be careful not to blow them up!
If you try recording the speakers you are asking for trouble via phase issues. There is always a certain latency involved in this kind of setup. You should try it out, for sure, but be aware that that hallowed-out flangy sound is due to phasing issues caused by the latency.
That's one of the marvelous things about digital recordings in timelines. You can slip and slide anything, any way you wish. You can simulate that instrument bleed by rerecording individualized tracks, utilizing a studio monitor & another microphone to yet another track, one track at a time. You could just put that track through a plug-in, manipulating the delay & transfer that to another timeline track. Latency will then be dealt with by zooming in and synchronizing your rerecorded track to transients on the original track. Whichever track leads in time, that sound will be most predominantly heard from that and so you can delay your lead track making the rerecorded ambient track lead. You'll get more of a feeling of space. Want that song to feel a little more laid back? Put a couple of milliseconds of delay on the snare drum. This makes your overheads lead with the bulk of the snares tone now coming from the delayed snare drum direct track. We all get to play with time in the land of digital. Being able to manipulate time down to 1/44,100, 48,000, 88,200, 96,000, 192,000th of a second lets you decide how you want the whole song to sound, timed out your way. The entire feel of the song can be changed by adding 2 ms of delay to a snare drum track. You can also do this with vocals to put people on the backside of the beat or to move them up. When you advance things in time, the song will become much more aggressive in its feel. So play with time, you've got the time but time doesn't have you so there's no time like the present.
My present is time
Mx. Remy Ann David
Thanks for the speedy replies everybody! First of all I have been playing around with a little bit of short verb but because it sounds SO digital I have found that it needs too much in order to correct it and if I add just a little bit too much it tends to not feel 'modern' enough especially the drums but today I will most definitely reset the reverbs and give it another shot, try out a few more.
Going to give it a go re-recording though a few speakers, might hook up a few amps in the room, push the guitars through a few Orange cabs and hammer the speakers a little, back off the kick drum a little in the mix and mute the bass and vocals and re-record the rest of the mix through my monitors. I did consider the phase problem but i'm hoping that as RemyRAD suggested that I would be able to shift the re-records around enough to eliminate that problem. As for shifting the drums around I totally agree on moving different parts to change the feel, I did exactly that! Makes the track feel much more frantic. I will keep you posted on the results and (fingers crossed) hopefully I can solve the phase problem.
If anybody is interested I had a bit of time this morning to have a blast giving the drums a bit more realism. With excellent results! First I duplicated both the kick and snare tracks and zoomed in as far as Cubase would allow and shifted the duplicated kick track to the left and the snare track to the right by the absolute minimum and on each of the duplicated tracks added a bit of very short reverb (drum plate) I auditioned all of them individually to insure no phasing and EQ'ed each one independently. This alone was worth the effort, thickened everything out straight away.
Then I switched all the drums to mono and pumped the complete drum track through my right monitor, stuck my finger in one ear and moved around the room until I found a sweet spot and stuck a SM58 where it sounded great and re-recorded. The complete drum track minus the room mic was compressed a little through a PSP vintage warmer to give them a little more drive and the room mic was mixed back in dry.
Really really impressed, thanks everybody!
i envy the fact you are in Shanghai, that place is awesome
out of interest is the band chinese or english?
I kinda love and loathe Shanghai in equal amounts, but a lot of the loathing comes from me growing up in a tiny village in rural England with a population of 5000 then moving to a concrete jungle with a population of millions.
The band is Chinese with me on guitar, kind of joined the band under the understanding that I would help them out by writing some music for a few tracks and that I might have to leave at some point. To be honest for the Chinese guys it was their first band, they loved rock and I could see some potential and I wanted to get on stage again so I thought why not.
They have come on leaps and bounds so I've decided to take the plunge and get serious and spend some time to make a nice recording of a couple of new tracks. Most bands here think it's only cool to sing rock in English but I have hammered home to the guys that it if you do that you are cutting out at least 2/3rds of your audience and for me thats why rock has not broken out. Thinking about extending my stay if things work out.
There are a few of the earlier demos here, I do stress that these are only demos! Written and recorded In about 5 mins using a netbook and a cheap soundcard so please go easy.
It would be better if you could post this songs on some kind of English oriented music downloads site. I couldn't seem to download either song?
With 6 you get eggroll
Mx. Remy Ann David
don't know whats gone on there then? Had friends access and play the songs in Italy and U.K. with no problems. I would love to put the tracks on an English based service but due to the Great Firewall of China most are blocked. i.e. MySpace etc. And to be honest I kinda thought nobody outside of China would be interested in having a listen but I'm glad to hear that you are. Do you have any suggestions as to a band based website that might not be so popular? It might have slipped under the radar here. Did you click on the little green download icon? Did that work?