Help Us With Our Album

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by iwannalearn, Oct 3, 2005.

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  1. iwannalearn

    iwannalearn Guest

    Hey guys!

    I found out about this forum coz of the famous JP22 thread on compression etc. It was a fun read...

    Now onto my query...

    Our band will be recording our 1st album soon and I was hopin to get some ideas over here since this is um, :D

    My first question...

    We were thinking about recording track by track per instrument but one of my friends suggested doin a live recording as a whole band and just have all the instruments tracked. This obviously would be more affordable since we could do it in one take and clean some small errors later rather than do it er instrument which would take some time in the studio. but is this also advisable and practiced to this day? I'm quite clueless bout this. All the videos I watch about recording bands all do it per instrument. I was just wondering if maybe a live recording could be an option.

    I hope this thread could serve as our guide throughout this project of ours.

    Thanks a lot guys!
  2. sickyboy

    sickyboy Guest

    do what your friend said. record direct and use headphones or if you all have seperate rooms mic your amps, or do both. have fun.
  3. Quite a bit depends on where and how you plan to record. If you are recording at a fully professional studio, they should have no problem recording you all at once. If you are trying to record at home, you will have to make some serious compromises, based on the amount of equipment you have (you can't track individual instruments unless you have at least one input to your computer or recording device for each instrument).

    Live Advantages:
    Recording the way that the band is used to rehearsing can sometimes result in tighter and more spontaneous recordings.
    It can sometimes reduce the amount of time it takes to record the tracks.

    Live Disadvantages:
    Even in a professional studio, it can be hard to completely separate sounds, so some "bleed" from one track to another almost always occurs. In practical terms, this makes it difficult to have complete control over individual instruments. Consider a situation where the lead guitar can be heard on several tracks (like the drum tracks and the lead vocal track). If the guitarist hits a horribly wrong note, it will be almost impossible to remove that from the recording because it is on so many tracks.
    Also, if the whole band needs to be set up, there will likely be less focus on getting great sounds for each instrument.

    Track-By-Track Approach Advantages:
    Control. When you record each track separately, you are listening carefully to each track as you record it, ensuring that the sound is optimum and that the performance is perfect.

    Track-By-Track Approach Disadvantages:
    Few people are used to playing in such an isolated situation. It can sap energy and make timing difficult.

    I prefer a mix of the two approaches. I like to record drums, bass, keyboards, and sometimes a guitar or two at the same time. Then I overdub guitars, other acoustic instruments, and vocals.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    James has it pretty much nailed down...There are a few other things to consider, but mostly where you're recording and who will be doing the engineering.....

    Tracking drums and bass together with a scratch guitar and a guide vocal track will benefit you in that the foundation tracks will have the groove of the song.

    If the band is well rehearsed then this method will get you the best feel.

    In recording something you are going to be printing and marketing, the groove always will outweigh the controlled approach.

    In the days before electricity, we were required to make decisions based on track count, time spent, and other expensive things in order to make our budget work.

    Today, there is the mindset that we can do this one track at a time and spend all the time we want on our recording. It'll be PERFECT, but it may lack life and excitement.

    I always choose life and excitement on ANY project.

    good luck.
  5. skawful

    skawful Guest

    I'm not very experienced in the field of recording but here's a suggestion:

    *if you go to a pro studio*
    Ask around town and see if a studio has the capability to record simultanious tracks via a firewire mixer (or usb or etc)
    Then when recording songs first lay down a draft guitar/drum track... make sure the levels of this track aren't total crap and you can clearly hear details in the guitar and drums..
    Now do the master drum track... dont be lazy with this make it perfect
    After that (i'm guessing you only have bass/guitar(s)/singer(1)) record all the guitars at the same time (on seperate tracks...)
    Then Work as hard as you can (afford) on the vocals...

    *If at home*
    *requires a computer and some $$$ [no more than studio time]
    Recommended Hardware:
    -Any USB/Firewire device that allows multi track recording: m-audio mobile pre is what i used to use...$150
    -Decent Mics/Whatever you can afford/EQ can do wonders even with crappy mics! You can get away with 3 drum mics on a 5-7 piece set [I suggest the samson 7kit $249.99]
    -Garageband [i've used logic and unless you have loads of time garageband will do...]

    Using a digital mixer: track as much as you can without distorting sound (heavy metal bleh)
    Make sure you can "understand" the music before finishing with this draft track... then record the drums just like you would in a studio and finish up with recording all the guitars at the same time...

    -Since you can directly input your guitars with minimal noise/loss and record them with very little latency {when using a digital mixer} I HIGHLY SUGGEST IT over anything micing your amps {ehhhh}

    so all in all never record live... no matter how you do it - it will always be less emotional and empty sounding... you need to mix each indiviual track on some good speakers to get that full sound you hear in $$$ music....

    good luck, and everyone else probably knows 10x as much as me so listen to them :D
  6. Thomaster

    Thomaster Guest

    my advice would be a little different.
    if you dont have much time or much decent equipment, i'd rather go with a live-recording if i were in your shoes.
    in my opinion, if you have a band that plays good together (it should be a requisite, otherwise i wouldnt even consider recording)
    you should try to capture that so-called 'vibe'
    even with crappy gear and bad acoustics, the most important thing to hear from a cd(demo, whatever) is that the band has this vibe, or what i like to call 'need to express what they've been rehearsing and paying for'
    its much more important to be able to hear the quality of the bands playing, songwriting than it is to hear superduper quality guitarsounds or johntheodore-ish drumkits.

    i dont know if i understood it correctly. i just read you said you were going to record your first album. so is it album as in 'album' or album as in 'demo-ep/promo-ep/ep) ??
  7. Thomaster

    Thomaster Guest

    another advice would be to search on this forum a little more intensive, cause i remember a lot of people asking this same question over and over again..
    they might be different situations, but you will definitely learn something from 'm
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Hey "Iwannalearn":

    There's been some good/great advice dispensed here and some not so great advice. (Of course, IMO)

    Skawful -

    First - get rid of that HUGE graphic. It takes up too much of the page and is a bandwidth hog.

    Second - I disagree with most of what you said. I'm afraid that the information in your post is the very root of some of my biggest frustrations with some of my younger clients today.

    (And I swear, I'm not trying to be rude here, just helpful - your disclaimer at the end of your post is good.)

    When you call a studio, tell them what you need or want to do. Either they can or they can't do it. If you don't get a comfortable vibe about their response, don't record there.

    Unless you know the hell out of the equipment and how to use it, don't ask them "Do you use this mixer or this pre or this mic?" They will automatically assume you have no clue about what you're doing.

    Also, be leary of digital mixers. There are very few pro ones out there and chances are, if the studio you wanna record in has a pro digital mixer, you had better ask what their rates are. (Last time I checked, a Euphonix still sets you back somewhere in the 6 figure range...)

    My advice for your particular situation is to record live.

    Capture each instrument on its own track if at all possible. (And some instruments on multiple tracks - guitar, drums, you get the picture).

    If you're satisfied with this recording - great. Take it and use it. If not, you can consider any or every track in the project to be a scratch track. In other words, say you don't like ANY of the tracks. Start by first replacing the drums or the bass. Play the recording back for your drummer or bassist over a pair of cans. While they listen, they should play along as though they are playing live again. You can even mute their respective channels while playing it back so as far as they know (if they were to close their eyes) they ARE playing with the band.

    Get their part(s) down solid and then move to another instrument.

    This is a combination of Live/Multi-track. Often, I find this not only to be one of the best ways to record a band, but it makes the band better and gets the recording as tight as possible. You still retain the emotion and spontenaeity of the live performance, but you can overdub mistakes, etc. In fact, I encourage folks, while re-recording scratch tracks, to enjoy themselves. Play as though they're playing live and even throw in extra riffs or improvs.

    It might make the session run a tad longer, but it's worth it in the end.


    Two quick stories that have relevance here in this post.

    1. I just signed a girl to my label who is VERY talented (and VERY pretty to boot :D ). She wants to be a pop singer. Notice, I didn't say "star." I said singer. She admires the work of Liz Phair, Avril Lavigne, and others.

    As a musician, she plays and sings every part in her recordings. Though she's not the greatest at everything, she does try and she does well enough that I won't have a problem marketing and selling her and her discs.

    She went to one of my local competitors and told them that she wanted to record in their studio and play all the parts. They constantly told her something like..."Well, you can, but we'd prefer you didn't." or "We have session players that can fill out the parts for you." and so on. The fact is, SHE wanted to play all the parts and SHE was/is capable. Therefore, since the other studio folks wouldn't listen, she came to me (despite my rates being higher.)

    I listened to her speak and then I listened to her demo. I also listened to her complaints about the other studio. I signed her to a deal on the spot and now her recording is free of charge to her.

    I guess the moral of this one is: Tell people what YOU want. Then, stick to your guns. Either you'll find out you're an idiot (and I don't think you are for what you're asking), or someone will do it. Sometimes, really cool things happen when you stick to your guns!


    Second story - I get this ALL the time, so the story could be one of a million, but...

    I got a phone call the other day from a guy. The phone call went something like this:

    Me: Sublyme Records, this is Jeremy
    Guy: Hi, I saw your ad and wanted to ask you some questions.
    Me: Sure, go right ahead.
    Guy: Yeah, what gear do you use.
    Me: Well..., I use Summit, True and Grace preamps; Gefell, Neumann and other mics, Sequoia workstation. What kind of music are you looking to record?
    Guy: Do you know what "Industrial" is?
    Me: Sure, a mix of hard rock and electronic.
    Guy: Yeah, yeah, something like that. Do you do this on your own or are you part of a corporation or something.
    Me: Well, I own the limited liability corporation that is Sublyme Records.
    Guy: Cool. Are you hiring.
    Me: No, not right now.
    Guy: Where are you located?
    Me: Do you know where Massaponax High School is?

    Guy: Sure, that's the High School I go to.

    Ahh, and then the conversation made perfect sense. Despite the fact that this guy sounded like an illiterate 30 year old in his voice, he was in fact an illiterate High School student.

    From the very beginning of the conversation, I didn't know whether to be insulted or to laugh at this guy. At the end, it was clear, I was insulted.

    How dare a mal-educated high-school student who doesn't know a Schoeps from a Shure call me and grill me about my equipment.

    Long story short - had he actually booked time, I can't say I would have enjoyed the session. I would have taken his money and hit record, but that's about it. I wish I could say I'd be a better human than that, and I know good business practices tell me to treat ALL customers equally, but human nature says - "if he's a dick, treat him like a dick."


    So, sorry for the EXTREMELY long post, but I really wanna help someone whose alias is "Iwannalearn"


    Jeremy :D

  9. No $*^t? That's a hell of a deal. No recoup at all?

  10. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    i think that recording a band live is more expensive... you have to go to a studio with different rooms and gear! this requires time and money to prepare! recording in a room the whole band i wouldn't risk if you are inexperienced musicians (1st album) because if you need to change something it will be very difficult!
    try to mix things up like said before! Dave Matthews Band recorded their albums live in a circle! this way there's that live feel and vibe...
    so for me it really depends on your budget, time and experience as musicians and as musicians that record music
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Well, I didn't say no recoup, did I?? I just didn't put all the details of my contract in the post. Of course I make money on her. I engineer her album with one of my staff producers, then I farm it out to the ME of my choice. Then I pay for replication and then I take a sizable portion of the proceeds. After all, I am providing thousands of dollars worth of services at no charge to her.

    Well, yes. Recording live CAN be more expensive, but that's because there's often a recording pro involved.

    As for DMB - they record much in the same fashion that I suggested above. They play live and then they overdub the scratchs.

    As for the cost - how much do most people find it costs to record an album?

    I guarantee I could record most bands for a full album for less than $500 (or pretty damn close). Just think, that's 2 SM57s and a Mackie 1202! Instead, I can bring in $50K worth of mics and god knows what else for the same cost.

    AND - the really cool part - it's my job to record people, so I am supposed to know what I'm doing.

    Don't mistake my bitter sarcasm for agression - I'm just throwing out counters to most obvious objections.

    The important thing is to weigh ALL of your options - talk with your recording engineer and come up with a solution that works for everyone. If your recording engineer happens to be your drummer (well, then you're screwed... :wink: ), then so be it. Make sure he's on the same page you are.

  12. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    hahaha. so can i at $.50/hr

    I do demos for people sometimes, and i'll cut friends a break and record like 4 songs for $500. then i'll spend 4 days tracking and pulling my hair out and wondering why i keep doing this to myself.

    general rule of recording #1. Anyone who is capable of recording an album for $500 (lets say $25/hr = 20 hours = 2 days) is not going to want to spend $500 to record their album.

    i know this is going to sound a bit cynical, but:

    *IN GENERAL* the cost someone is willing to spend is proportionate to the amount of skill they have as a musician. so be EXTRA skeptical of someone who thinks they can record 10 or more songs well for $500 cause you will give them more then you should.

    anyone who has been around for long enough to be good in the studio knows how much time/energy/work it takes to record songs.
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Well, thanks for the amazing insult!

    I actually look at it the other way around.

    At $50 an hour, that gives me 10 hours to record 1 hour's worth of music and perform the basic edits. Instead of taking 500 hours, which you imply is necessary, I have good equipment, a good ear, an excellent monitoring chain and a good workflow.

    In other words, I have all the stuff and I know how to make it work.

    I can't imagine taking more than 10 hours for a well rehearsed band if they already know the tracks they wanna cut and are well-organized.

    If, however, they use recording time to practice and I have to dick around with plug-ins for an hour, then yes, I can see it taking longer.

    So, in truth, I would consider re-looking your statement or your process flow - one of the two.


  14. Mr. Wannalearn--
    First of all, there's some missing information in your question. I must ask you, are you going to do this recording YOURSELF, or are you going to pay someone to engineer you? I'm guessing by the way your post reads that you're a younger band, but I could be wrong on this. Have you done any recording before?

    Now, I'm going to assume a couple of answers and go ahead and pontificate, but if I make wrong assumptions let me know and I'll recant and rewrite.

    First of all, my hope is that you're going to pay someone to do the recording. That is, unless you have some gear and want to do more learning about recording than you do actually getting useful material down, you should pay someone to do it for you.

    The short answer to your question is both yes and no.

    You absolutely should record live and you absolutely should multitrack or "track by track". What's going to happen is, when you get into a studio, you're going to set up as though you were at practice (more or less, with modifications based on the space available and the engineer's preferred methods). Then you will all play together and you'll record most of everything. Then, you'll do it again. And again. And again. At some point a process known as "overdubbing" or "scratching your eyeballs out with a rusty spoon" will begin. Really it's only known by the second phrase if you've never done it before. If you're used to it, it's actually kind of fun.

    However, all this information is going to be really just preliminary stuff because, and again I'm assuming, the engineer you work with will have his own method of work flow and his own way of doing things. Good advice would be to let him. Also, tell the guy up front if you're interested in learning about the process. Ask him if, from time to time, he'd explain what he's doing or why he's doing it. A lot of times an engineer will do that for you if he knows ahead of time you're going to ask questions. If you just spring them on him he'll get annoyed quickly and give you snappy answers and send you out for snacks at every opportunity.

    How to find a studio to work with?
    Well, cost is a consideration. So is size and schedule. So is the type of project you want to complete. When you say "album" do you mean 10 songs (an industry standard-ish cutoff point). Or do you just mean "our live set" (which might be 8 songs, or it might be 13). What type of music are you playing? Certain shops tend to specialize in certain types of music and going to one that's familiar with and "in tune with" your style might be a good idea.

    By all means, don't be afraid to call the place up and ask all kinds of questions. And by all means don't listen to Cucco, he's a mook. Don't be scared to ask what kind of gear they have. Even if it doesn't mean squat to you that they rattle off a list of $*^t you've never heard of, asking that question tells you a good bit about the attitude they have.

    What will it cost? Well, many times that's negotiable. Especially at smaller shops. Studios essentially only have one "product" for sale, and that's time--in the form of single hours or blocks of hours. The price for a given amount of time, though, varies based on who you are. Seriously. A studio will charge one rate for a record label paying for time and an entirely different rate for an individual paying for his own time. Furthermore, blocks of hours can be had at a cost less than the individual hours added up. For example, if a studio has a $100/hour rate, they may give you a block of 10 hours for $800 rather than the $1,000 you'd expect from the hourly cost. Still other places (again, especially smaller shops) will sometimes work a deal with younger bands (because they know these guys don't have nearly as much money as they do desire) and give you a "per song" rate. Usually a "per song" deal will assume that things don't get TOO out of hand (like spending 100 hours on one song) but they usually will tell you that they'll let you know if it looks like things are getting crazy and you can regroup and decide on a plan without going in over your head.

    That being said, and considering that I don't know where you guys are located, you should be able to find a deal that runs you somewhere around $250 - $300 per song give or take. If that sounds ungodly expensive, you might want to consider doing a 3-5 song demo rather than jumping into a 10 or 12 song album. You'd rather have 3-5 well done songs to let people hear than a dozen that sound like baked ass in a light cream sauce.

    As to the idea of just "recording live".... Well, that's certainly an option. Let me just say, though, that you're probably not going to be entirely thrilled with the results. Especially if you stack them up against the results you'd get from doing a proper job of laying the songs down with the help of a competent engineer in an environment that allows you to get the best product you can possibly get.

    There's plenty more to discuss about your first recording project, and by all means please feel free to ask any questions that still remain, but hopefully this is a start that can steer you away from a major headache or two.

  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    "Gentlemen! I'm shocked! You cant fight in here, this is a war room......."President Merkin Muffley :lol:

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