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Recording 3 female vocalists live off the floor


I've been looking around old posts but can't find much on what I'm facing. I've learned so much from these forums, and you folks are Fabulantastic in sharing your knowledge and opinions.

I'm looking at recording a fantastic trio of female vocalists (they are all musicians as well) in a quick live off the floor recording. The purpose of the recording is self critique, and at the very most as a non-release recording used to get some local gigs for them. They are all semi pro, and I've had the pleasure of working as a percussionist with 2 of them before in different bands. They are well rehearsed and can sing.

They are doing a country gospel thing, with very sparse instrumentation.
I have a basic system. I use a PreSonus Firepod and Garageband (yeah that's right) on my sexy Mac. My microphone selection is limited to the usual handfull of 57's and 58's, and a couple of cheap condensor mics. Nothing fancey, or over the top. I do have access to a couple of nicer (not that the firepod sucks) Neve preamps. I can also rent or borrow.
I have a good sounding room in this old 1912 house. It's pretty much the whole main floor. I've made a number of really good live room recordings here.

Much like a shotgun wedding, so will this recording be. I'm curious as to opinions of how to approach this situation. For the most part, the music is one acoustic guitar, three vocals, and a shaker and harmonica at times. So, the shaker and harp and what ever else can be overdubed. I'm thinking a good quality condenser stereo microphone, well placed with experimention for the vocals, and a mic (i preffer two) on the guitar. I'll record a direct in also from the guitars pickup. Phasing will be an issue here.

What do you folks think?


pmolsonmus Sun, 10/15/2006 - 17:04
Without over-thinking it, I would probably try an omni condenser (rent if necessary) if they can all sing and are getting a good acoustic balance. Put it between the three, send it through that Neve and you'd probably be golden with a DI on the the acoustic and picking up a little bit from the omni.
If that's not possible 3 57's. 58's in a baffled formation (think peace sign with each singer facing the middle) might also serve you well and minimize bleed.
If possible I would try to have the guitar track(s) recorded in advance and give a copy to the singers to work with before the session. As a singer myself, I can tell you that this can really cut down on recording session time. If I know what I'm likely to hear in the headphones, I can plan for it and tune to it and worry about blending with other singers at the session, not my own stuff or the instrumentation.

My .02


VonRocK Tue, 10/17/2006 - 22:52
Thanks pmolsonmus.

I tried out the baffled formation with 2 58's and a 57 (I doubled the 57 with another mic I had just to compare it). I stuck my cheapo Apex condenser mic in the center at belly hieght and pointing at the ceiling just because I can. The two acoustic guitars went directly in. No headphones (as I only own one pair). They played and sang acoustically. That's the way they've been rehearsing.

I then cranked the place full of candles, and had some lavender incence burning just before the session.

We did two or three takes of each song. The five songs that they had rehearsed and worked out went really well, and some of the others will end up being great for them to work from and build. We were done ahead of schedule.

I just listened back to some of it. It sounds fantastic raw. A touch of reverb, and I'm done.