The sound you get when you’re recording is created by many factors. You start off by deciding what musical equipment you’re going to use. If it’s electric equipment, the guitar, amplifier and electronic effects all put their stamp on the sound you create. A few posts ago we discussed getting a variety of sounds for electric guitar. Picking a specific electronic keyboard has the same effect. Each electronic keyboard will have a slightly different sound – what the brand designates as a ‘piano’ sound will be quite different from model to model. Now throw in amp effect pedals, EQ units and rack mount effect units. For electronic gear the variety available is endless. But you also have this variety available to you when using acoustic instruments. A Martin guitar will have a different sound than a Taylor guitar. To multiply that, each model and style within a brand will sound different. You have the same variety with drums. What size kick or tom you use, what type of drum head are you using?
Now we add another factor. Which microphones ae you going to use to record? We do have a video on our YouTube site with a description of different mics and how they work. That only scratches the surface as the variety of mics with slightly different qualities makes the amount of choices almost endless. Next you have where you place the microphone, what type of pre-amp is it going through. Do you use outboard compression units or the effects included in your mixing board? Multiply all these factors together and the number of choices is staggering. I have found over time that most people who do recording have a number of ‘go to’ equipment items and set ups that they use pretty frequently. It’s a comfort zone where you know what you’re going to get with each set up, so you tend to use it more frequently. If you’re recording, my advice would be to shake things up once in a while and try different equipment combos – you never know quite what you’re going to come up with and it might be a remarkable sound that you wouldn’t have stumbled on if you stayed with your tried and true methods.
Finally, the way you use the sonic spaces available to you adds a final touch to the sound you’re going to get. If your sonic space is one room in the house, you can try different areas of the room. Using the corners of the room for microphones will give you different sound qualities than the middle of the room. Add blankets or other sound deadening devices to change things even further. We’re lucky at ChurchHouse to be able to use the entire house as recording space. Each room has a different sonic signature. The main studio is intentionally a ‘dead’ sound due to sound absorption panels on the wall. We are fortunate to have a large, high ceiling open room that has amazing ambience. All this leads to the video I’m including with today’s post. I’ve shown this video before but it really illustrates the great sounds you can get if you have the right type of space available to you. I call this set up ‘Inspiration Point’ and although it does take some time to set up, the sound you get is worth the work. I was reminded of this on our recent trip, where we hiked in a number of slot canyons and tight spaces and the echoes that occurred even when you are whispering are really amazing. They made me think of field recording an acoustic guitar or vocals in that type of space. Hope you enjoy the video and feel free to send me any questions or comments you have on this subject.