Home Recording/playing/live tracking/mixing your own album

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Aurelio Tarallo, Apr 16, 2020.

  1. Aurelio Tarallo

    Aurelio Tarallo Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2020
    Location:
    Italy
    Hello folks!
    I'm new here and I signed up after thinking deeply about my recent experience while bored in quarantine.
    The question I'm posing is pretty huge, so forgive me.
    First of all, I'm a total noob when it comes to recording, but last summer for a number of reasons (mostly money related) I decided i would invest what little money I managed to save to get some gear and finally record my first album, with little to no prior experience.
    In retrospect it was a bold and kinda stupid decision, but whatever.
    So i got myself an Audient ID44 and a Beringher ADA8200 and spent my entire summer watching videos and trying to learn some basics (I run reaper on a PC).

    Now, here's my main problem:

    Most of the information i found was almost always related to pop, rock, metal and progressive music, with the instruments recorded separetly.
    But I have kind of a Jazzy trio situation with lots of impros that requires me absolutely to play live. The music just wouldn't happen otherwise.

    So I found myself playing and looking at the PC screen at the same time, in a decently treated room my bass player has, with my gear, his gear and a few items borrowed from friends. We managed to track the 7 songs in 5 days, but it was kinda hard (the music is not easy to play also).

    I then mixed and mastered my own music, losing my patience lots of times, doing all sorts of mistakes. Like I said I had no prior experience. After three months I decided it was good enough, I was burnt out of energy.
    Now, I'm not entirely happy with the results, but I'm proud of all the work I've done to get there.

    Here's the album for reference, feel free to say what you think (Guitar/Bass/Drums. Everything tracked live, no overdubs except for some fx, voice and percussions on track six. Ironically the guitar sound is what I like less)
    https://open.spotify.com/album/4GaropblAI4WxiABu8CVbh

    I've learnt a lot from this experience, but honestly, I bought the gear thinking I could be able to record another album in the future, and do small projects here and there.

    But is it really a good idea?
    Is there any of you who has some experiences like that, live tracking while playing? Is there something that could make the job easier? Besides hiring someone else obviously?

    I'm asking this becouse sometimes I feel a bit at a disadvantage towards all those musicians who are able to produce content and music like it's nothing, because they can rely on people recording their tracks from their homes and also using fake drums and whatnot.

    I live in a small town in northen Italy and teaching and playing doesn't really get me the budget to hire a studio every couple of years, and I don't wanna rely too much on favors from friends. I wanna pay my friends if they do work for me.

    I'm not crying about it, I'm pretty happy anyways, but that's just how things are for now.

    Any suggestions are more than welcome.

    Sorry for being long and boring folks, I hope someone will respond!
     
    audiokid likes this.
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    I'll try to listen to your music when I get to my studio tonight..

    I don't want to discourage you but rather being bluntly honest. Recording is an art, it can take as long as learning to play an instrument to master it.
    That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. You just need to be certain it's not getting in the way of your musical creativity or imparing your performance while playing..
    You see playing music and recording call for different parts of the brain and many aren't coping well with doing both at the same time.
    So if you could setup the mics and make all the gain staging on a day and record on another day when you just have to push record, that would help for sure..
    Also, doing it yourselves as a band doesn't mean you shouldn't be very well rearsed. Hit record, play the song, avoid any mixing or arranging or cut and paste and stuff like these on the recording day. Just have fun..

    The more you experiment and spend time recording, the better you'll get ! Simple as that !

    As for the quality, the biggest part comes with the room, instruments, performance, mic choice and placement and good gain staging..
    Really, this is where 80% of the good sounds comes from. Of course better preamps and/or converters or outboard gear will give you better sound but 10 - 20% better..
    Try making it sound good in the room and place the mics so they capture the best sound, is the first and biggest challenge..
    Recording live is far better than tracking one by one, specially with living music like jazz and many others..

    One option you could explore is to send your files to someone else to be mixed and mastered.
    If mistake were made while recording, I'm sure this person will give you hint for your next recording...
     
    Aurelio Tarallo and bouldersound like this.
  3. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Location:
    Boulder, Colorado
    Home Page:
    Don't beat yourself up too much. Recording is hard to do really well and recording a live group is usually even harder. It gets easier with practice. There's a lot of knowledge and experience that will just take time to gain. You need to figure everything out from initial tones, mic choice and placement, room treatment, instrument placement in the room (for sound and for sightlines), gain structure, troubleshooting, monitor mixes, all the while keeping in mind how it will affect your options during the mix phase. And that's just a partial list for tracking.

    Fortunately there's a community here that can help you through all of that.

    I would suggest you get the part about setting mic levels sorted out so you can switch from engineer mode to musician mode during takes. Splitting your attention will probably detract from your playing. Get things set up and take a break, then go back and hit record.
     
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  4. Aurelio Tarallo

    Aurelio Tarallo Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2020
    Location:
    Italy
    Thanks for the feedback, I deeply appreciate it.
    I actually did exactly as you suggested and took care of the gain staging and mic placements first. But for guitar and bass I had to stick goin direct, because we didn't have a room to mic cabs. I tried my best to get a decent sound I enjoyed playing with using plugins, then reamped my guitars later with a sm57 and a condenser mic. I ended up blending the 3 tracks.
    But I feel like I made some mistakes in the gain staging of the guitar, the signal was quite weak after stripping the track from the plugins. I don't really recall but I fear I left some plugins active while doing the gain staging and I failed to match the levels with and without the plugins.
    Also, even thoug I had just to hit record and stop I made some incredibly noob mistakes like leaving the monitors opened while tracking. Which resulted in having to trash some good takes. Also sometimes a pretty good take could have a single huge mistake and we felt compelled to correct it there before going to another tune.
    It wasn't a good workflow overall.
     
    pcrecord likes this.
  5. Aurelio Tarallo

    Aurelio Tarallo Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2020
    Location:
    Italy
    Thank you so much.
    I am aware that I was arrogant in trying to play the audio engineer part on a whim. Recordind is indeed very hard and I hope to get better. But also I don't wanna take away too much from the playing and writing. It's difficult to find the balance!
     
  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    Doing it often is the key.

    As for gear, we hear alot of theory about quality and price etc..
    Some will tell, a good engineer will make good recording on any equipement. Some will say you need pro gear to sound pro.
    It's hard to make up our mind with all the sayings specially when we start.
    I started with cheap gear and upgraded and upgraded. Now I can say while I don't own the most expesive equipement, I have what I'd call the base pro gear.
    The ISA preamps that I have aren't the top of the line but what I'd consider the first steps into highend preamps and I have a few others at the same level.
    What I can say is that with cheap gear, (like a scarlett preamp/interface) I needed to work harder to have a good sound and at the same time, I was still figuring out what good sound ment. When I got my first ISA preamp, it all changed WOW, it sounded good right away. To image the difference, I would often make EQ curves with more than 6db deeps or bumps and with better preamps, it's rare that I curve more that 3db here and there..

    I recommand you search for RAW tracks to practice mixing on tracks that were recorded by pros. We sometime beat ourself too hard without knowing how things should sound raw and mixed.. Telefunken has a list of free download https://www.telefunken-elektroakustik.com/multitracks
    I'm doing the exercise a few times a year myself ;)

    For the recording aspect (capture), learn how your mics sound by trying them on many sources and just move the mic around the source and here how the sound change..
    Learn about phase and bleading etc..

    And of course, post here as often as you want, we will try to help. (PS. try putting the mp3 file here so people doesn't need to access another site)
     
    Aurelio Tarallo likes this.
  7. Aurelio Tarallo

    Aurelio Tarallo Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2020
    Location:
    Italy
    Thanks For the feedback!
    I didn't realize i could upload a file, here's the first track of the album.

     

    Attached Files:

    pcrecord likes this.

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