4400: The Recording Stage

And so it came time to put my planning to the test. With my research conducted and an idea of what I wanted to achieve I was ready to start recording.

The recording was split up in to two four hour sessions as planned. The first session was due to be a guide guitar part for the drums to play along with and the drums. However, a last minute emergency left me without a guitarist for the day. This made things slightly harder as the drummer had to play pretty much blindly, while trying to remember the song structure in his head while playing. This was far from ideal and meant the drummer played a less complex version of what he would normally play. However the end result was perfectly usable, and with a bit of editing to rearrange some small parts I was happy with the end product.

As for positioning and miking the drums I stuck to my original session plan. I used the coincident xy stereo technique for the overheads in order to minimise phase problems and also because I didn’t feel like I needed a massively wide stereo field for this type of recording. I used the SE electronics SE1a’s to bring out the brightness of the cymbals. My reasoning for the positioning of the snare mics was to try and achieve a similar sound to the snare in the original version of the song we were recording a cover of, which is quite bright. For the kick I just tried to get as deep a sound as I could. On the day I decided to experiment with using the Beyerdynamics Opus 87 as an additional kick mic. I also tried a technique I heard about called knee miking which consists of placing an omnidirectional condenser mic at the drummers knees, however I don’t think I did this correctly at the time as I don’t think I used an omnidirectional mic. Anyway I ended up not using any of these additional mics but it was fun to experiment.

The next session was for vocals, bass, rhythm guitar and lead guitar. I recorded a guide vocal and guitar track first and then moved on to rhythm and bass. The setup I used for this was the guitarist in the live room miked up and the bass in the control room DI’d using the Octopre. The bass was simple and achieved a good sound with just the DI. For the guitar I decided I would go for a single large frame cardioid condenser. I originally intended to use the Red Audio RV15 for this, however the mic I had was buzzing quite badly so I decided to use the Rode NT2. I placed this fairly close to the guitar at about the upper edge of the body and angled down to point at the sound hole. The idea behind this position is to get a good low end to the guitar without the boominess of having the mic right in front of the sound hole, while still getting a bit of string sound and attack. I used the same position for both guitar parts and I was happy with the achieved sound.

I also used the Rode NT2 for all of the vocals. The lead vocals were recorded first, with a pop shield and the mic on axis and close to the singer. I then recorded backing vocals using the same positioning, the only other thing to mention there is that while recording the two vocalists I had them spaced fairly far apart and facing each other in an attempt to minimise bleed.

Overall I feel that I managed to achieve quite a good sound on all of the tracks, and I was happy with the result for my first recording.

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