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Author Topic: Tracking setups  (Read 2247 times)

channel29

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Tracking setups
« on: July 24, 2011, 10:24:32 pm »

Hi there, first time poster, just recently discovered this forum and I really enjoy the discussions and I feel fortunate to be able to hopefully get some advice and guidance from seasoned pro's and other posters.  My question is about tracking setups.  I'm just a weekend warrior at the moment, but having been in many studios with various bands over the years the bed tracks were always recorded in much the same standard manner.  Everyone wearing headphones, mic the kit, isolate the guitar and vox, di the bass, and just try and get a good pass of the drums.  Then layer everything later, perhaps keeping a scratch bass or guitar track now and then.  This never really seemed to capture or preserve the real sound and inspiration of the song.  Would anyone here have any advice on a more live setup in the studio, with the band basically setup as live as possible?  I know that bleed/spillover can be a good thing if the performance is spot on, but I'm sure there must be some rules of thumb/guidelines in terms of amp placements, use of baffles, etc.  Also i was hoping someone might have an opinion on the M-Audio Profire 2626 in terms of both the converters and the Octane preamps.  Are the preamps considered decent enough for tracking?  Any advice appreciated.  Thank you.

Fletcher

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Re: Tracking setups
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2011, 12:36:14 am »

More than a few constellations have to line up favorably to pull this off with any form of decent results... the first and foremost is that the players need to be able to play REALLY well!!  If that happens [which has become a rarer and rarer event in recent decades] then you need to have a good sounding room in which those rare musicians will perform.  Generally that room will have a relatively high ceiling [5m - 15ft. is often around minimum] - and the band will have excellent sight lines to each other.

In terms of "bleed" - its all about managing that bleed.  If you're working with headphones you can spread the instruments around farther than if you're working without headphones.  There is a delay of about 1ms per foot between the sound of the amp and what the player hears [speed of sound - physics stuff you need electronics to work around] - so if you're working without headphones you need to manage those delays to have them work with the feel of the song. 

You can have the instruments / amps work out to kind of a circle thing with the musicians in the middle of the circle [drums at one end and the rest of the orchestra gathered in front of the drums] - or set it up like a stage [often provides musician comfort as its a familiar environment].  When you get up to wider stages the musicians will have monitors [electronic solution] that will allow them to hear each other in a reasonable amount of time... these monitors can be headphones [or "in-ears] or even floor wedges &/or "side fill" [like a PA turned into the stage].  The bottom line is that the musicians have to hear themselves comfortably and in a manner that inspires them to play to the best of their ability [both in terms of technique and feel] for this to be a positive scenario.

Its pretty rare [and usually requires a decent sized budget] to get access to a recording space like this.  Often you'll find yourself in a scenario where the recording area is closer to the size of a rehearsal facility.  These smaller environments can often have a rather "boxy" nature to them... not always a bad thing [see Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" for details] but more often than not it will make things more difficult to engineer and to achieve the ultimate goal of the recording.

In terms of things like gobos you can use them to help you manage both bleed and the time character of the "room" sound.  By placing them on either side of an amp you can kind of channel the information above about 250Hz in a direction... cut down on the side radiation of the sound from the amp. You can also use them randomly in the room to reduce some of the "hang time" of the reverb in the room... or to at least change the character of the reverb in the room.  You won't eliminate the bleed - its more like managing the length of the upper structure of the character of the reverb [sorry if this is a bit unclear - its not kinda difficult to explain].

At the end of the day... the most important aspect of this - and the main reason to do this is for musician comfort during tracking.  If the musicians are more comfortable working this way then it can be a huge positive... if they're not more comfortable then it can be an abject exercise in futility.  Over the years I've had the privilege of working with a bunch of musicians who can handle this and thrive in the situation... I've also worked with a few who wanted to give it a shot while it ended up as a complete and total [as in please don't put my name on this mess] clusterfuck.  On your end - your chops need to be together as even with "close mic'ing" you will have way fewer "post production" options [things like EQ on any given instrument will often have negative effects when you put everything in context... and compression can suck up additional room sound due to the bleed aspect which can make things less distinct than you would like]... so you need to absolutely be mixing at all times... you need to get as close to a "finished product" while you're tracking as possible for this to be a any kind of workable scenario.

I hope this is of some assistance.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

channel29

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Re: Tracking setups
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2011, 01:24:07 pm »

Hi Fletcher thank you so much for the response, it is of great assistance!  I have one room at home at the front of the house with about an 18 foot vaulted ceiling so I may give that a try.  It's not a huge room but we're just a 3 piece so it should be comfy enough.  I will also adhere to your suggestion to "mix while tracking" and nail the performances, regardless whether the live setup works or not. My first attempt at recording my band at home was not great, obviously due to still learning what I'm doing, but also I did notice how much easier it was to mix a couple of the songs where the performance was good, the arrangements were thought out and uncluttered, and more attention was paid to mic placement/source quality.  Thanks again.
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