Tech Band Recording Sessions

For this assignment we had to record a band of musicians made up from the members of our own course, the emphasis wasn’t necessarily how well the song was played, mainly just so we as studio engineers had something to record without getting outside help.

The band we recorded was a three piece, a drummer, guitarist and bassist, attempting to play the song Debaser, by Pixies.

We spend about 15 minutes planning what equipment we where going to use and what micing style would best suit the recording, the list was as follows:

Equipment I/O Notes:
AKG D112 Channel 1 Dynamic/cardoid. On axis Inside of the kick drum, facing the pedal, for less bleed.
3 Shure SM57’s Channels 2 – 4 Dynamic/Cardoid two off axis on the top and bottom of the snare, bottom one having its polarity flipped. Good mid range response for picking up snare freqs. +6dB boost around 6kHz. Third 57, outside the kick drum on axis to the resonant head
Beta 57A Channel 8 Dynamic /Cardoid Off axis on top part of Hi-hat. Picks up less bite from hi-hat compared to SM57,.
AKG C518 x3 Channels 5 – 7 Clip on mic/Condenser, Cardoid(need phantom power) On Toms, adjustable position, built in High pass filter -20dB on low freqs. Flat response up to 3.5 KHz. Mid tom mic was not working.
AKG C1000s x2 Channels 9-10 Condenser/Cardioids/in Spaced Pair set-up. (Need Phantom Power) Both overheads equal distance from middle of kit for balance in volume. Flat freq response Mic, Cardioid.
Avantone CK6 Channels 11 Condenser/Cardiod/need Phantom Power Room mic, used to capture reverb of room, 80Hz padding
DI Box – Bass, Guitar Channel 19 For bass recorded in drum booth, and then guitar in vocal booth. Recorded with a dry signal to add desired effect later.
Audix D6 Channel 20 Dynamic/Cardioid pattern, good bass response with reasonable mid range.
Audio Technica Pro25 Channel 21 Dynamic/Cardoid good bass response.

 

Once the microphones where in place we got the band to do a guide track, where we started just having all of them in a room to see how the band sounded together. We instantly noticed that the band where not playing in time and the sound was bleeding everywhere, so instead we step up Aaron in the main studio, Craig in the drum booth, and Will in the Vocal booth.

I thought that this would be a good time to compare the Beta 57a we used on the High-Hat compared to the Sm57s on the snare. I have both the frequency responses below.

Shure Sm57 Response Beta 57a Response

 

As you can see from the charts, the Beta 57a drops its frequency response around 6KHz, where high hats and cymbals ring out around 5-7Khz, so this takes some of the mid range out, giving it a crisper sound. Depending on how far away the microphone is, its low frequency response changes, this wouldn’t have been helpful because we close mic-ed the snare, (1/8 of an inch) it would of given us a exaggerated mid response of the snare, making it sound more like a tom.

 

The headphone mix was as follows, Aaron was on pre fader in the studio with his headphone mix coming out on Aux D, with Will on post fader on Aux A, and Craig on C in the drum booth.

In the studio we where recording in The main room has Auxs A-D, The Drum Booth only has C and D, and the Vocal Booth A-B.

We set a click track of 120, which wasn’t what the song was, but its what they had learnt it at. We did several attempts with the drummer, adjusting the accents on the click track to try to keep him in time. After that didn’t work, we doubled the tempo, but that didn’t work either.

We then sent him away, and moved onto the guitar instead, who after a couple of attempts we got in time, with the bass following suit.

Mixing:

Because as reported above, all the members of the band initially had issues playing to a click track, so I had to sift through numerous takes find the bits that where in time. Due to this I only had maybe between of 1-2 minutes of useable audio, the rest was beyond help.

I started by looking at the guitar recordings, since this only consisted of one channel, and found a take of the intro, verse and chorus, which was in time.

The track was recorded using a DI box so it was just a clean guitar signal; it wasn’t re-amped so I had to use a plug-in to emulate that of a guitar amp. I used SansAmp Tech 21 NYC, and adjusted the settings on the interface to mimic that of the guitar sound I was hearing on the recording.

Amp Plug In

Since the Guitar part didn’t really change much, I decided to mix up different parts of the song, overlapping the chorus riff with the intro, and then using a different riff later towards the end to break up the monotony of the power chords.

This involved creating a new mono audio track and using the tab to transient feature to find where the start of the notes where, and then cutting tools to select a bar worth of notes at a time, positioned them to making the guitar more interesting to listen to.

Two ChannelsCut up Clips Guitar

Next I sifted through the drum tracks, and tried to locate at least 4 bars, which would be in time, once I had found these, I added all the channels, which contained drums to a group channel before I cut them out, and re arranged them.

The benefits of this are huge, as when I cut one of the tracks, or mute one, it does them all, allowing me to accurately get 4 bars worth so I could then duplicate them. (Note you need to make sure your select edit and mix, if you want to edit them.) While also finding an ending in time and adding it.

I then bussed the drum tracks (on bus’ 1-2) to an auxiliary stereo channel so I could apply effects to them together rather than doing them all individually.

I adjusted the volumes on the different parts of the kit, dropping down the overheads by -10dB, the snare channels by -5dB, while boosting the Hi-Hat and the room mic to balance out the mid high range frequencies.

Edit and Mix  Drums in loop

 

Drum Channels

Once they where in place, I then used some effects to spice them up a bit, one of which was a low pass filter sweep. This does pretty much what its says, starting with the lower frequencies, then slowly filtering in the higher frequencies, making it sound as if you hearing something through a wall, then going through the door to that room.

 

Sweeping EQ

I used it to subdue the drums at the start while the guitar and bass are at normal volume, then letting it sweep up so they come crashing back in. This was done by loading up a 7 band EQ on the Aux channel and then adding the low pass frequency control to the Plug in Automation list, which I set to about 6-7Khz which then sweeps up all the way about 10 seconds in.

adding to automation sweeping EQ

In addition to this I added a compressor to the Aux, this was used more as an effect than to even out the mix, as its working with the low pass to make the drum kit sound really roomy and have a more garage rock feel to it.

I two automated this, adding a master bypass to the automation panel, and turning it off the same time the sweeping EQ finishes. Also note that I added the compressor ahead of the EQ in the insert channels, so that the EQ sweeps with the compressed drum sound and not the compressor compressing the EQ sweep.

master bypass

Next I moved on to the Bass, which was recording on three channels. I was fortunate enough to have a whole take of the song that was in time, so I was just a matter of positioning it into place with the guitar and drum tracks.

Compressor Drums

I bussed them to an Aux Stereo (this time on channels 3-4) and as with the drums added them to their own group channel. I didn’t do much to the bass channels, except using a compressor on the DI’ed bass to flatten out the thuddy Low E. The DI provided the basis for the sound, with the D6 and the Pro Fire adding more of the tone from the amp to the overall sound.

Bass Channels

Once this was done, I saved the session and then exported it to a wav. File, there’s a link at below to the sound.

https://soundcloud.com/officialeveofeden/debaser-fli-remix

Liam

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