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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => j. hall => Topic started by: bert on September 06, 2005, 03:58:44 AM

Title: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: bert on September 06, 2005, 03:58:44 AM
i was wondering what experiences you guys have with recording of a band, all instruments at once. i find it more difficult to mix, because processing a separate track afterwards, usually means also processing a bit of "background noise" from other instruments, making it hard to find good balances.. on the other hand, for some bands this works really good on the musicians in case of a real live-feel band.
i'm talking rock bands here, what do you guys think are good positions for the musicians and there cabs/drums to make it work for them (no monitoring) and to have decent recorded tracks afterwards to use in the mixing process?
i'm thinking putting all guitars/bass on one side of the room, not in a row, but a bit more like a quarter circle, and the drummer in front of them so they can see eachother playing.. also not too close to eachother..

it's kind of a subjective thing, but what are the things you should keep in mind when recording like this, avoiding phase problems and spill in other mics as good as possible?
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: j.hall on September 06, 2005, 08:36:18 AM
i've made a handful of records like this, and i've done some all live with every one's gear isolated.

with every one in the same room, you need to be very careful about where you put the bass amp.  the muddy low mids will build up in the other mics and create a problem if you aren't careful.

having the band roll with out headphones really is a good thing.  they play like it's rehearsal and they can communicate in a more natural way.

guitars are typically a non issue.  drum over heads can be a problem, i just used some decent dynamic mics and lowered them down pretty close to the cymbals.  i had pretty amazing isolation considering how loud some of those bands were.
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: Daniel Farris on September 06, 2005, 09:33:19 AM
Quote:

i just used some decent dynamic mics and lowered them down pretty close to the cymbals.


Just curious: what dynamics did you use?

In my mic collection (which is limited), the only dynamic I would feel comfortable doing this with is the Beyer 201.
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: j.hall on September 06, 2005, 09:39:46 AM
i used EV 308's i believe.  i did have my earthworks TC-30ks up, just in front of the kit.  it picked up a lot of muddy low end and some guitar, but i was still able to use them a tiny bit to round out the drum kit.

this was a hard rock band so have a beautiful image of the drum kit doesn't matter much when you have 4 guitar tracks jammed up as loud as you can get em.

i also did this setup with SM-58's for overheads and i unscrewed the wind screens.  that actually worked out really well come to think of it.

keep in mind, this was a 1500 sq/ft wharehouse space the band rented for their practice space.  we had tons of space to spread out and really get picky with the setup.  all the recording gear was int he same room so things had to be printed and then listened to, and adjusted if needed.
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: Daniel Farris on September 06, 2005, 10:06:41 AM
Quote:

i used EV 308's i believe.


Don't have those, but I have 408s. To my ear, the 408s have WAY too narrow a pickup pattern to do this with. What is the pattern of the 308s like?

Quote:

i also did this setup with SM-58's for overheads and i unscrewed the wind screens. that actually worked out really well come to think of it.


What do you think it would be like to tape over the screens of SM-58s, essentially turning them into omnis? Or would that defeat the purpose.

Bands ask me to do the "everyone at once" thing all the time (to cut the budget), but I discourage it. Besides, if you do the math on the odds of a good take times however many people in the band, it actually takes longer, especially with larger bands.

Quote:

all the recording gear was int he same room so things had to be printed and then listened to, and adjusted if needed.


Unfortunately, I work that way about 30 hours a week. I feel your pain. A lot.
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: j.hall on September 06, 2005, 10:29:46 AM
bacon skin wrote on Tue, 06 September 2005 09:06


Don't have those, but I have 408s. To my ear, the 408s have WAY too narrow a pickup pattern to do this with. What is the pattern of the 308s like?



i can't really remember to be honest.  i know the 308 only differs in it's polar pattern and maybe a slight frequency change they made to the 408.  they worked just fine for me though.

great electric guitar mics, and toms.

Quote:


What do you think it would be like to tape over the screens of SM-58s, essentially turning them into omnis? Or would that defeat the purpose.



i'd imagine you'd defeat the purpose if you went to omni

Quote:


Bands ask me to do the "everyone at once" thing all the time (to cut the budget), but I discourage it. Besides, if you do the math on the odds of a good take times however many people in the band, it actually takes longer, especially with larger bands.



i've only done it with really good bands that prepare for recording like this.  i've never had a problem.  if one guy blows they either all do it again, or we decide if we can punch.

it only take a few minutes to run another take.  if they know what to expect of this type of recording process, they will be ready and things go smoothly.

Quote:


Unfortunately, I work that way about 30 hours a week. I feel your pain. A lot.



actually, i loved it!

communicating is so fast.

we had a little lounge area in our space that was behind my "control room" area.  it was really nice cause the "recording space" was further away so bands could hang out in the lounge and actually talk and such and not ruin any guitar takes or anything.  i'd always clear out the room when it was time for vocals so we didn't have any trouble.  it was easily the most fun i've had making a record.  
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: Fibes on September 06, 2005, 10:41:56 AM
J. is right about the bass. I prefer to have him in the control room with me but sometime ya gotta let the whole thing rip. If you don't have great isolation for the control room doing some test prints is essential. I usually get the bass amp pretty near the kit when tracking this way and make it a part of the sound, the few times i've tried to distance the bass from the kit (one J. mixed) i never really dug the smear. lately I tracked a drummer with a monitor next to his ear and the B-12 in the bass players face. Somehow it worked fine having quiet directional bass sources in the rhythm sections face rather than a huge bass rig smearing the whole room.

Either way you gotta watch the bass in the drum mics and the bass and the guitars causing snare rattle. Some snare ratlle is good but some can be real annoying.

have fun and keep your head up.  
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: TheViking on September 06, 2005, 10:49:37 AM
bacon skin wrote on Tue, 06 September 2005 10:06


Bands ask me to do the "everyone at once" thing all the time (to cut the budget), but I discourage it. Besides, if you do the math on the odds of a good take times however many people in the band, it actually takes longer, especially with larger bands.


I used to be a huge believer in seperation and overdubs for a lot of these same reasons.   Most bands nowadays aren't practiced or good enough to just set up in a room and play the songs in a way that would be worth keeping.

Recently, I had a band come in to demo out some new songs and I set them up in my live room with all of their gear setup as if they were at a band practice.   These guys tour over 120 dates a year and when they're not on the road, they're writing.   I just sat in the control room, pressed record and let them play the songs like they do at practice.   When I mixed the stuff down for them afterwards, there was some bleed - but I think it just added to the feel.   Since everything felt so good already and everyone was landing in the pocket on everything, it was more like an orchestra than a band.   The ensamble of everyone playing together just really worked.

This situation brough me back to a conversation my mentor once had with me.   He said, 'Recording isn't rocket science - you just take a microphone and place it in front of a source and let your ears do the rest.'   The performance is everything!
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: NelsonL on September 06, 2005, 11:07:22 AM
Just did a couple this way myself...

We used headphones though, which allowed us go DI on the bass. I was running late and the bass was already dialed in when I got there-- IPB into an Alach LA4, a combo I'd never have come up with on my own, but which sounded great.

One nice thing about headphones was that it allowed us to have a guide vocal going-- which could potentially have yielded a keeper take with this singer but didn't. Anyway it helped mark the sections in what was ultimately a 9 minute track.

I'm not a fan of headphones at all (they really bother my ears after a while,) but it can work pretty well if you take the time to get the cue mix right-- which is surprisingly hard.

On another note, the one room studio thing can be really cool but presents it's own challenges. My original 1/2" 8 track joint was one big room out in the country-- right next to a junk pile and a couple of decrepit limousines. Every once a while one of the neighboring speed freaks would bang on the door at 3am--- alternately telling us to shut up, or trying to sell us a mountain bike. But I digress (wildly.)
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: Daniel Farris on September 06, 2005, 11:10:27 AM
Quote:

Recently, I had a band come in to demo out some new songs and I set them up in my live room with all of their gear setup as if they were at a band practice. These guys tour over 120 dates a year and when they're not on the road, they're writing. I just sat in the control room, pressed record and let them play the songs like they do at practice. When I mixed the stuff down for them afterwards, there was some bleed - but I think it just added to the feel. Since everything felt so good already and everyone was landing in the pocket on everything, it was more like an orchestra than a band. The ensamble of everyone playing together just really worked.


I have certainly had that experience. This definitely has happened and continues to happen with me as well. Within reason, I'm not really worried about bleed. Often, it gives things a great sense of location.

But, more often than not, particularly at my unfortunate station in the business, this is just a fantasy. Usually, you have four or five guys fucking each other up and necessitating dozens of takes, while each guy has gotten three or four great takes, just none of them simultaneously.
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: rankus on September 06, 2005, 12:42:40 PM


I have done a couple of good recordings this way as well.

I will second the notion that keeping the amps and kit close together is the way to go... Leakage is not the problem, it is the delay time between mics.  Keeping them closer together will help prevent the "smear"....

Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: Red Tape on September 06, 2005, 05:44:41 PM
FWIW, I do this most of the time at my low end of the business.. I find the only place I get any real leakage is OH's and sometimes kick mics.. bear in mind that I have a pretty small room, so I couldn't run into smear issues even if I tried.
I find that the leakage is just fine on the OH's, maybe the Glyn John's is less susceptible than other OH micing styles.
I also try to keep amp volume low-ish, which again is easier because of my small room. Some common sense on amp/mic positions and polar patterns and you should be ok.
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: bert on September 08, 2005, 03:47:25 AM
thanks a lot for your sharing of experiences, i was wondering though, some of you are talking about putting instruments and speakers not too far from eachother to avoid too much smear. what kind of distances are you taking about? also, you guys talk about the bass low mids problem, are we talking 300-600Hz then?

thanks..
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: j.hall on September 08, 2005, 07:51:58 AM
i'll let others comment on the distance thing, i've never really had a problem with it.

low mids, i was thinking more like 180 - 300 maybe a little higher.
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: Weird Geoff on September 08, 2005, 08:32:59 AM
I love recording 100% live..no isolation..balls out..like the old days..not that I was around..Its just an approach that I'm keen on..

The thing that has made it work for me is treating the tracking as mixing..its got to be right going down..the more perfect the better..'specially when I do it live to the ampex 2 track..of courese it only works with bands that can play well..

I've had problems with drums in the bass mic..bass in the drum  mics..also problems with performers who can't play well..and lots of phase issues..

I highly recommend experimenting with this approach to making records..because when it works its the sweetest thing ever..

Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: Rob Darling on September 08, 2005, 09:04:58 AM
The hard thing is that instruments, across the board, have been in loudness wars for 50 years now, and it's hard to really get a bunch of instruments to sound great in a room together because they're so friggin loud.  I don't know about anyone else, but while I love the engergy, I can't say I remember ever thinking a full modern rock band sounded great in a studio.  I'm sure that making a Tom Petty or Bob Dylan volume could be fine, but anything north of that, energy-wise, is just too much volume for any room that won't be too long for rock tempo.

The thing I've done a couple of times that I LOVE is putting the band in the room with the amps isolated, but giving the band wedges.  It gives them all the energy of the live thing, but with a much more controlled sound in the room.  I highly recommend it.
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: Weird Geoff on September 08, 2005, 09:41:01 AM
great point Rob..you have to be dealing with the right room and instruments and volumes as well as players to get decent results..

If everyone refused to multitrack and only do things live in the studio, would the bands go back to focusing on their own performances and natural sound? and would that make music "better" somehow? I dunno..probably not..maybe..its an interesting thing to think about..
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: j.hall on September 08, 2005, 09:50:07 AM
every time i actually track a record i never have a problem getting a band to tweak their amps.  at a live show bands are very unwilling (me included) to touch their amps.  in the studio, i have yet to run into any attitude about that.

and with particular topic, every band i've recorded like this has been great about controling their amps and creating on big sound that works together.

i think a lot of it is focused around ear plugs.  it's hard to dial in the level of your amp with ear plugs in.  you can't hear any of the high end, you don't know how your amp is cutting through with the cymbals.  you have to take the plugs out, set your amp up, and put the plugs back in.  i watch guys tweak the EQ on their amps with plugs in standing up.  what good is that?  

A.  you can't hear your tone when the 4x12 is hitting you in the knees.

B.  with your plugs in it's even worse.
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: bloodstone on September 09, 2005, 02:33:48 AM
Recording equipment in the room with the band except the example in my house

The best recording I ever did was all in one room live.  It was a quintet: drums, bass, keys, guitar and voice.  4 mics on the drums.  Bass was miced only.  I think I ran the keys in stereo direct, but unbeknownst to me the guy had speakers built into the board and that sound bled onto the drum overheads too. We did overdub the voice.  There was tons of bleed on every track and it didn't seem to matter.  I made little or no effort to isolate anything except the bass.  I put the guy's amp behind a couch in the room.  This group was composed of great players.  We tried guitar overdubs but they didn't work because there was so much bleed in the OH.

I also did a heavy metal band this way.  Lined up the bassist, drummer and two guitarists in a straight line with their amps facing forward.  I put the singer opposite the band with her mic facing away from them.  It was so loud that even with pro hearing protection I could feel my eardrums vibrating.  The bleed was insane, but we went with it and didn't even use the vocals we tried to overdub.  The client loved it.  Told me it was the best recording they'd ever done (and they've been around for 20 years).

Other times I've had problems.  Too much undesireable bleed in the overheads, bass mics and kick mics.  You can always try to gate the kick and snare some.  If you have a good device that's sensitive enough it will help.

If you want to capture the whole band live and you don't isolate, everyone has to nail it, obviously (except maybe the singer if they're willing to overdub).

I have the luxury of occasionally recording in my house.   I put the drummer in the living room facing the back of the house.  The bass amp goes in the hallway facing the back.  The guitar amp goes in the dining room facing the back.  Sometimes we treat everything but the drums as a scratch track (turn the amps down low and crank them up in the headphones).  Other times we just let it rip and deal with the bleed.  Covering the kick drum & mic with blankets seems to help some.  I'll build little "boxes" made of furniture cushions around the guitar amp.  The bass doesn't seem to bleed enough to be a problem with a set up like this.

The biggest challenge seems to be avoiding a general low/low mid murkiness that tends to pervade all the tracks if you're not careful.
Title: Re: recording all at once for live feel...
Post by: lord on September 09, 2005, 07:40:56 AM
Getting the overheads to work is the problem every time.

When it hits perfectly, the guitar bleed is perfect ambiance, and not "smear". Another way to approach it is to listen to the guitar bleed through the overheads and move the amp around until you like it. Then close mic the amp to complement that.