When you begin to work on recording in your personal or project studio, what do you think is the most difficult instrument to record? All instruments (including voice) have their challenges. I think many people have found that recording live drums presented the greatest challenge. There are so many microphones, placements and techniques that it can seem a bit overwhelming at first. As with many parts of the recording process, there is not necessarily one correct way to record. You can use two room mics or multiple room and direct mics. As the recording capacity of ChurchHouse increased, I’ve used as many as thirteen mics to get the sound I want. I don’t necessarily use all the tracks in the final mix, but it’s nice to have options.
There’s a lot to consider. What type of mic is best for each piece of the kit? Where do want to place them? The drums need to be tuned correctly for recording, which will probably be different than tuning for a live show. Then there’s the ‘800 pound gorilla’ of the process – the room you record in. The room can make all the difference. In fact it can make THE difference. Some studios are known just for their drum rooms. We’re lucky enough to have both a small, ‘tight’ room that absorbs sound and a large open room with lots of natural reverb.
I’ve included a few articles about basic drum recording that I thought were a pretty good starting point. The bottom line in recording drums is taking the time and experimenting to see what works best for your drum set, equipment and recording room.
I want to share a recording technique that I read about when I started studio work and have used during sessions over the last several years. The idea is to track one guitar performance and end up with multiple tracks with different sound qualities.
To do this we have the guitar running in to two separate amplifiers – to get the best variety use amps with different sound qualities. For the example in the photo we’re using a Peavey amp on one side and a Mesa on the other side. Make sure the amps are separated so there is no bleed over between them. Each amp’s sound will be captured by three microphones. In our example we are using two dynamic mics close to the amp and one condenser mic slightly farther away on each side.
Each mic will go to a separate track in the recording software as seen in the photo below. You now have six unique guitar sounds you can use throughout the song. In our example we split the guitar signal going to the amps with a stereo chorus effect to allow for a greater stereo field when panning tracks left and right.
In the final photo below you can see how we used the diverse sounds throughout the song, bringing in different mics during verses, choruses and breaks. You can now accent different parts of the song with unique sonic signatures while maintaining a consistent guitar performance.
If you have enough tracks on your mixing console you can enhance these changes further using different settings of EQ, dynamics and effects on each track. This simple set up will provide you with multiple guitar sounds to make your track sonically interesting.
How many of you have looked at CDs of older material and saw that they are labeled as ‘remastered’ or ‘digitally remastered’? I know when I first started seeing this, I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. I understood the mastering process, but ‘remastered’? I’ve attached below a Wall Street Journal article that gives a short and relatively simple explanation:
When ChurchHouse Productions studio first began doing business, we used to send our completed mixes out to be mastered at other studios. This can be quite an expensive proposition. We now do all this work in house. Our mastering capabilities were greatly enhanced when our ‘Master Of Mastering’ (and all other things recording) Barett Krause joined the fold at ChurchHouse. He sent this link to me and I wanted to share it with you.
I find that Autumn is my favorite season to write and record new music. It has that cool ‘end of the day’ sunset feel. I like to throw ideas down on a small digital recorder – I find that if I go in to the studio with a song idea I can get caught up in the tech of recording and lose the first feel and vibe. Of course we also do a lot of initial studio work – right now we’re mixing down new songs and finding new artists to work with. Hopefully we’ll be debuting some new artists on the blog in the near future.
At the moment we’re dealing with the frustration of the storm aftermath in the Northeast – four days without power and counting (we have a generator so I can at least get on the PC, but I wouldn’t try to run the studio with it). We had the same problem last year – big storm, no power.
Oh well, back to the handheld digital.
I eliminated that damn hum – bad wire. That will be my next purchase.
Jar of heat from Texas, and a box of sweets from Texas… Texas in a recording studio on the East Coast. Go figure – ;o).
Vocals and drums!