Help! Recording in the attic...

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by tomas6666, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. tomas6666

    tomas6666 Guest

    This is my first post, I hope it's in the right subforum.

    Here's the problem:
    I'm in a psychedelic band that consists of these instruments:
    1. drums
    2. amp for analog synth
    3. guitar amp
    4. bass amp
    5. vocal amp
    6. guitar amp
    7. guitar amp

    We are going to record on our attic (the walls + ceiling are wooden, there's lots of carpets and there's lots of junk lying around, so there's not really any acoustic problems) with a decent 4track cassette recorder and we'll have four AKG C1000 mics.

    My question is: What's the best way to record this?
    My proposal is one mic for the drums and two amps per mic, which should be enough to capture all the instruments. So, the drums on the first track, and then two amps on track 2, and so on ...
    I'd put the mics rather close to those two amps, in order to avoid a 'room' sound.

    Since I don't know anything about recording, do you guys think this would suffice? Or do you have some advice?

  2. fourone3

    fourone3 Active Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    Are there Toys in the Attic?!

    I'm sorry for the waste of time, but I just couldn't resist.

    I'm assuming you want to record it all live with the proposal you have laid out, or as much live as possible?
  3. tomas6666

    tomas6666 Guest

    Yeah, everything is done live, without overdubs.
    And we don't mind a raw sound but it should sound 'in your face' as opposed to our previous recordings, where the ambience of the room was clearly audible, which took away some of the power of the music.
  4. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Personally, I would rent a 16 channel mixer and a handful of sm57s. A 57 on each amp and one for vox, one for snare, the akgs as overheads and maybe on the kick. It shouldn't be a large investment. You'd still be mixing down to 4 tracks but at least you'd have more control over the levels.
  5. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    I'm assuming that this is a long term setup and renting other equipment is out of the question. Otherwise everyone will have a suggestion as to what to rent, buy, borrow etc.
    So keeping to the challange at hand- One approach might be:
    - Move the drummer and bass player to one side of the room and put one mic in front of them.
    - Move the singer to the other side of the room, facing the drums/bass and mic him. DON'T USE AN AMP FOR THE VOCAL.
    (yeah, I know, the rest of the band can't hear him right? Believe me, they probably don't know what he's singing anyway.- He can wave his arms to give cues if needed)
    For the rest, there's 2 options
    option 1
    - set up 2 gtrs as far away from voc and drums as possible and mic them.
    - set up 1gtr and keys as far away from everyone else and mic them.

    - Set up the 3 gtrs and keys in one area and using 2 mics get a stereo blend.
    If you can set up little baffles between everybody you'll get a little more separation. These can be as simple as some thick blankets or carpets hanging over some empty mic stands.
    After doing all that, you'll have to do a little trial and error to get balances right between the amps.
    It's easy to just set up like rehearsal and record all that, but the recording will suffer.
    However, if you can get some isolation going, it will be awkward at first, and the first bunch of recordings might suck because things will sound different in the room, but you'll get used to it after several weeks and you'll get a much better end product.
    Oh, and the big plus is that if you ever find yourself in a recording studio, you'll already be slightly ahead of the curve.
  6. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    Hot damn! I loved recording on to my 4 tracker.

    Another approach would be to record it without the separation. Try to get a good sound in the room and record that. You are basically going to have to do that anyway. Use a pair of mics in stereo and one for the vocals and one on the lead guitar or synths. It could take one, two or a dozen attempts to get the levels right but once you do, your golden.

    The only alternative or step up I would recommend is getting a mixer and a couple more mics. Then if you want to mic everything individually, you can. You can then mix the levels of each instrument before they hit the tape.
  7. tomas6666

    tomas6666 Guest

    First of all, thanks for the advice!
    And you're right, upgrading to a bigger setup is not an option.

    Some questions:
    @Natural: why do you suggest recording the drums and the bass guitar with one mic? I was going to use the AKG mic as an overhead and hang it at the height of the cymbals and in between them. Or should I put it closer to the snare and kick?
    And the vocals need an amp. Most of our music is based on improvisation so it's important that you can hear what the other musicians are doing.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    Given all the constraints my first reaction is to treat it as a live stage recording. Try - in the space available - to set up as you would on stage and put one pair of mics as a stereo pair in "the best seat in the house." Get someone to wander around the room while the band is playing to find the place where you sound the best. There are a number of stereo mic placement possibilities that you can read up on (there are explanations in the archives here or you can just use google), but I'd start with XY (capsules touching - 90 degree angle between them) or ORTF (capsules 17 cm apart - 110 degrees). In addition to the stereo pair you have two mics to use as spot mics for musical elements you want to highlight in the mix. Your choice depending on the band and the song. Vocals and lead guitar would be pretty typical. (Also depends on what is coming through clearest on the stereo pair.)
  9. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    Given that vocals need to be amped and heard by everyone else, this also means that it will be heard by all mics.

    In this case, I would switch to the setup indicated by BobRogers.

    (I'm also assuming that there is no headphone system?)

    If there is a headphone system, then I stand by my original post.

    The reason I would combine both drums and bass together, is that they typically form the the foundation of the band and can be treated as 1 instrument. If the drummer and bass player are tight, then the bass and bass drum will appear as one unified instrument.
    Also typically, bass players request to be near the drums for the reasons I just mentioned.
    Also, bass travels everywhere and will picked up by all mics, so the further away the better, and the only instrument I won't mind hearing the bass on is the drums.
    In all cases where the question is 'Where Do I Put The Mics?'
    You'll need to experiment. The closer the better. So in the case of Drums and bass, I would start with the mic a couple of feet in front of the drum set about 3' off the floor even with the first tom.
    But since you say that the band is an improvisational band, then, by definition, you're going to need to improvise with what you have to work with.
    You're going to learn a lot.
    Don't blow anything up.
  10. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    North Vancouver
    Do a live band sound in the room , but dedicate a track to just vocals. use headphones during the sessions for the vocal monitoring. Record a scratch vocal while you get the stereo recording of the band. This vocal is used mainly for timing and to keep the mood. Later redo this scratch vocal without the band.

    Personally I would do the bass the same way. DI in on its own track and monitor through headphones.
    Have fun.
  11. tomas6666

    tomas6666 Guest

    I made a quick drawing of my original idea.
    After the advice I got here, it probably needs to be adapted.
    The live recording BobRogers suggests sounds interesting and I'd be willing to try it, but I think lack of space will be a problem.
    For the live recording: all the amps should be facing the same way, right? We've done recordings like this in the past and the results were satisfying, but there were only three amps. So maybe there will be some problems because now there's twice as many amps.

  12. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    LINK555 -
    tomas6666 indicated that this was an improv band, so doing the vocals post would not be possible.

    you know, with this type of thing there is no way to know for sure how it's going to turn out.
    You can try it with your diagram. It just might work.
    Just know that there's going to a lot of bleeding from all the instruments into all the other mics.
    I'm sure we all have an idea what your attic looks like, and I'm sure all those idea's are different and probably wrong.
    So, you'll need to try it. See what doesn't work and take steps to correct the situation.
    Typically you want vocals on their own track.
    If the vocalist doesn't sing for large passages. (solo sections etc) you can turn off his track and reduce the extra noise.
    If it's combined with the gtr, then you don't have that option.
  13. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    North Vancouver
    Use headphones and it can still be live without having to amp the vox.
  14. tomas6666

    tomas6666 Guest

    Thanks for all the advice. I'll try out what you suggested although it'll be probably a matter of trial and error.
  15. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    One other thought.
    Also try miking the vocalist and not the voc amp.
    Just put the amp wherever it needs to be to provide a monitor for the rest of the band, but use a seperate track and mic for the vocal.

Share This Page