Funk House Recording Sessions:

For one of my assignments, I was given the task of compiling a Funk style recording of a track given to me by one of the lecturers. We had been given a track, which was recording using midi parts titled “Funk house.”

https://soundcloud.com/officialeveofeden/funk-house

According to my Lecturer it was suppose to be a fun pop track with band style instrumentalisation.

We had to record some musicans to which would be recorded by other students on the course for their own funk house recordings,

We recorded 3 musicians in a team of 6 they where as follows.

Luke: Guitarist (very good might I add.)

Mike: Bassist (he’s on both of my recordings.)

Kyle: Guitarist (Not as polished as Luke, but alright.)

We set ourselves a rough schedule:

Schedule

As you can see above, we set ourselves about 15 minutes for planning, 30 minutes set-up for each artist, and 45 minutes give or take for the recordings themselves.

We had the following set up for Lukes Guitar recording:

Equipment: I/O Notes:
DI box Input 1/ADAT 7-8 Guitar goes into Aux D, this is then routed to a DI box in the Live room linked to Peavey Bandit 112 in the live room, as well ads being sent out on input one on the multicore, coming out of the desk.
Shure Sm58 Input 3 (Desk’s input 2 didn’t work)/ ADAT 7-8 Dynamic/Cardoid On axis to the back of the amp, to pick up the resonant bass frequencies at the back of the speaker cone.
Sontronics Orpheus Input 4/ ADAT 7-8 Condenser (needed phantom power)Used as a room microphone, letting its Omni-directional setting pick up the guitars sound reflecting off the room.
Cad M179 Input 5/ADAT 7-8 Condenser/Cardoid (needed phantom power) On axis to the front of the speaker, to try and get the attack and treble of the guitar.
Click Input 14 To give the artist something to keep in time with.
Playback Input 15-16 To listen back to the recording.

 

On Pro Tools, we made a group to put the 4 guitar channels together, allowing us to solo or mute them all at once, as well as putting in markers on pro tools, so we needed to record bits individually and put them together later.

He was pretty easy to work with; we recorded 6 or 7 takes, each split into 8 sections. We didn’t have to adjust his guitar tone, since he set it up himself and it fit the recording. We then packed down and started setting up for Mike

.Luke Picture 1Luke Picture 2Luke Picture 3Luke Picture 4

To record the bass we set up a separate PT session but imported the session data from the previous one so we had the same tempo and all the markers. For this set up we opted for a more simplistic technique.

We had the following set up for Mikes Recording.

Equipment: I/O Notes:
Line out from AmpegBA115 Input 1/ADAT 7-8 Went out the Line out on the amp, into a DI box, (grounded) then into the wallbox in the performance room.
Audix CK6 Input 3 (2 on desk wasn’t working) Condenser (needed phantom power) on axis placed 4 inches away from the grill to avoid proximity effect.
Click Input 14 To give the artist something to keep in time with.
Playback Input 15-16 To listen back to the recording.

 

After sorting out his tone slightly, adding more mid range, he did two takes, all the way through, each one slightly different.  The next day we where planning to recording a vocalist, but we got a message that she was ill so instead we received another guitarist, Kyle.

Bass Line Out Bass Mic Amp Placement

 

Are set up for Kyle was almost identical to Luke’s, however we decided to use a Rode NT2a instead of the CADM179, this was so we could compare the two:

Below are the frequency response charts for both of them: The top one is The CAD.

As we can see, the frequency response its pretty much identical, though the RODE has the option of a low cut, as well as having a lower frequency response, however the CAD has a boost at the Higher frequencies around the 5-10K mark. Resulting in a slightly more trebly sound.

Cad Frequency ResponseRode Frequency Response

Also what was interesting was that the SPL(sound pressure level) of the Rode NT2 was higher than that of a 57’ even though it’s a condenser! Mad right? Which means because a condenser is slightly more sensitive that a Dynamic, you could get a clearer sound, since it will be able to take it.

We had the following Set-up for Kyle’s Recording:

Equipment: I/O Notes:
DI box Input 1/ADAT 7-8 Guitar goes into wah pedal, which then goes into DI then into amp, DI then sends dry signal to desk, as well as the Peavey bandit 112.
Shure Sm58 Input 3 (Desk’s input 2 didn’t work)/ ADAT 7-8 Dynamic/Cardoid On axis to the back of the amp, to pick up the resonant bass frequencies at the back of the speaker cone.
Sontronics Orpheus Input 4/ ADAT 7-8 Condenser (needed phantom power)Used as a room microphone, letting its Omni-directional setting pick up the guitars sound reflecting off the room.
RODE NT2a Input 5/ADAT 7-8 Condenser/Omni (needed phantom power) On axis to the front of the speaker, to try and get the attack and treble of the guitar.
Click Input 14 To give the artist something to keep in time with.
Playback Input 15-16 To listen back to the recording.

 

 

Like before, we imported session markers from previous sessions, however, Kyle struggled to play to the click, since he also had to use the wah pedal to accentuate certain notes, and couldn’t get them on time. We recorded it in sections, and I couldn’t remember how many takes where recorded, this is when he told he was playing the same thing for most of the song. (If we had known, we could of saved time and recorded one section and then duplicated.)

Kyle Guitar MIc Orpheus Sm58

The Headphone Mixes for Luke involved no headphones, as he recorded in the studio booth with us, but we had to turn the monitors off to make sure he didn’t here the returning signal back to Pro Tools. However for Mike and Kyle we used Aux 1 on the multicore in the live room, and then on the desk, set up a send pre fade so they could hear themselves, and then on Aux 2 had the backing track, adjusting it accordingly.

 Mixing the Funk House Bands:

I was given 6 Pro Tools sessions containing the recordings of a musician playing one of the relative parts; my job was to mix them down to one session, taking the best parts from each.

The Musicians where:

Vocals: Maya S/Glen S

Guitar: Luis V/ Connor A

Bass. Mike B

Drums: Ben W

 

I started off by listening to some Old funk recordings, to get an idea of what sort of sound I should try to replicate with the mixing of the tracks, and so I asked my of Lecturer Jules, who is a massive Funk fanatic, to recommend me some funk to listen to. He recommended the following.

Parliament –Give up the funk (1976)

I found on this track the Drums and bass very prominent in the mix, the song has a fade out, and the Synth hard panned to the left.

James Brown – Get up offa that thing (1976)

In this track the guitar was hard panned to the left, and the drum and bass very prominent in the mix.

Ohio Players – Love Rollercoaster (1975)

In this track the bass most prominent in the mix, then the drums, the vocals jump between bits left and right, fade-outs.

After I had do my homework on the style which I was going for I then looked at all my tracks, I started by working the Drums, as if I made sure the drums where spot on, it meant I could work to them rather than using a click track. To check if my files where in time.

Drums:

The kick was recorded on two channels, one recorded on a D112 and the other with a Clip on C518m. I listened to the D112 Kick drum channel on solo and I noticed it didn’t really sound like a kick drum at all, lacking any really attack, sounding more like a Low Tom.

After a little more information gathering I found out that the kick drum they recorded didn’t have a hole cut in its resonant head, so they just put the microphone on axis to the centre of the skin!

This is why it sounded like a tom drum, because it wasn’t picking up the pedal hitting the beater head on the other side, just picking up the compressed air inside body hitting the resonant head.

To counter act this, they used the Clip on microphone on axis to the beater head, placed in the top corner. The resulting sound had far more attack as it picked up the kick quite clearly, however due to where it was placed it also picked up some of the snare and hi hat too.

Since in pro tools it had recorded into a play list, I had multiple takes to choose from, So I started listening through each of them trying to find the one which had the least errors, or the one that stood out the most.  It also gave me the option to “comp” different parts of each clip from different takes to get the best take.

Comp

I chose the second take because it had the least amount of errors, and had a fill variant that I quite liked.

The Clip on mic I chose to use the fifth take, since even though it had some rattles when the drumhead settled (since the drummer didn’t take his foot of when he wasn’t hitting it) It was the clearest.

I then listened to them together and muted a couple of bummed or muffled notes to keep it consistent, but didn’t comp any takes together for the kick.

The snare takes where pretty consistent, recorded with a SM57 facing across the rim, but there were multiple fill variations throughout the song, and a snare roll at the end, which on most takes, wasn’t in time.

In the end I settled for using the second take for the snare, but comped the snare roll at the end from take 8.

The Overheads where recorded using C1000s’, I checked through takes on the two channels at the same time, with them panned left and right to hear the stereo separation, and settled on the second take, no comping or editing necessary.

Once I had my drum kit established, I sent the outputs out on bus 1-2, and added a Stereo aux channel with the same input, giving me control of the volume without having to adjust each fader, also if I wanted to apply panning or an effect to the whole kit, I could do.

After this I adjusted the levels, with the kick being on unity so it most prominent, as I had found with my research, with the overheads just bellow on -5dB to keep emphasis on the beat, however the D112 kick was overloading the channel, due to it peaking during the last couple of bars.

Mix Window

I solved this by setting the Aux channel to -5dB and adding a compressor to push down the higher frequencies that where causing it to overload. This was done by having the threshold set to -20db, a low compression ratio, attack and release time, and a boost in gain of 7.2dB to even it out again in the mix.

 

Bass:

The bass had two channels, one recorded with a DI box and the other with an Audix D6.

I listened to the play list of clips recorded with the DI, but there was a high pitch buzz, which made the track painful to listen to, so I added a low pass filter to remove the troublesome high end frequency, with setting the frequency roll off to about 1.8Khz.

I then listened to the sound of the Audix, and I felt it gave more of the tone of the instrument, feeling warmer and fatter, without me having to do anything to it.

I comp’d the best bits from both tracks for both channels and routed there outputs to Bus 3-4 while setting that as the output for a stereo aux channel co I could control all the bass tracks in one place.

Compd bass

EQ low pass

Since I my rhythm section was now sorted, I could move on to mixing the different guitarists in. I start with Luis’ tracks, which consisted of 3 takes on a single channel, 1 of which was a harmony guitar part.

Guitar Harmony Track.

I copied the guitar harmony onto a newly created mono audio channel, and panned them extreme left and right, to give dynamics as a nod to the older funk style recordings I looked at.

After this I added some volume automation to the track to add some dynamics, making the intros take turns before both coming in making it so one side goes silent at a time, and then during the outro doing the same thing but just making it so it goes up but comes back down again.

Guitar Boosted

I then added one of my vocalists. Maya. It consisted of 3 vocal takes, but had incomplete vocals, not containing the “In the Funk House” sections. I wanted a more fuller sounding chorus segment, so I took one of the other vocals and double tracked it, muting the verse segments on the track.

First I normalised it and added a limiter on the main vocals, since it was peaking on the chorus even when I lowered the volume in that part to compensate. I also wanted to have some stereo separation on the first verse, so I made the tracks automation pan to each side for each line said.

Panning Automation

I set the limiter to block everything at -5.2dB on the track to try and avoid it peaking during the chorus; I also panned the 2nd vocal track halfway to the right, so they sound as if they are over your shoulder.

Compressor Bass

I then added a compressor to level out the vocal track, making the verses more equal with the chorus, with a medium threshold, and boosting the gain to make up for the compression by 11.1dB.11.1db

For Connors guitar part, the session given to me consisted of 3 channels, labelled “Left Sm57” “Right Sm57” and “DI”. It was all over the place with some channels missing, and by listening to some the DItracks, some of them didn’t have a corresponding track on the other channels, leading me to assume they where recorded at a different times.

Missing DI

I chose to use takes 10 and pan them extreme left and right, giving a stereo feel to the track, and automated the volume for each channel to add some dynamics, boasting it during the solo section.

For Glen’s vocals, I used a complete jigsaw of different takes, almost having a different segment for each line, comp’d together. I consolidated the chorus vocals since it consisted of 4 clips, and then moved it over the where the second and the 3rd choruses where to maintain some consistency.

Glenns Vocals 1 Glens Vocals 2

When I was happy with the main vocal track, I consolidated it to one to make it easier to mix. I noted that the vocal take had some louder parts to it, so I added a compressor to even out the mix.

Compressor Glen

I changed the threshold to -41dB, so when he belts out some parts, it takes the frequencies about the threshold, and pushes them below line, I didn’t really have to adjust any of the settings, just boosted the gain to make up for the heavy compression threshold.

I wanted to again to double track some areas of the track, not only to add emphasis to certain points, but try and show what could be achieved from a session musician.

I started by using a different vocal take for the verse, but automated the volume so only certain words where doubled, trying to achieve a sort of side-chain-esque effect. I also took a segment of the verse the “some people say” part and added it to the intro to spice it up a bit making it sound more full.

Finally I panned the main vocals 32 to the left, and backing ones 42 to the right, this was to give vocal track space to breath, and give more of a stereo field.

Panned

Before I Bounced both my files, I added a master fader to each channel, set to -3dB to make sure it doesn’t clip. On my first mix, I made it so it only faded out after the notes had faded, while on the second mix, I had it fade out gradually, again a nod back to the old style funk recordings.

Below I have included a link to each on my sound cloud.

https://soundcloud.com/officialeveofeden/funk-house-mix-1

https://soundcloud.com/officialeveofeden/funk-house-mix-2

Let me know what you think.

Liam

 

 

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