Band 1: For the Best: Drink Up (Recording)

This is part of my final major project: click here to return to the main menu:

I recently  recorded a local Pop Punk band from Bournemouth called For the Best, their singer, Harry, I had already worked with  on my re-arrangement of Mother by John Lennon, and it was he who approached me asking if I could re-record one of the bands existing songs. This was due to the drummer on the previous recording leaving the band and so they wanted a up-to-date recording with the bands current line up.

Since I needed more work for my portfolio, and he wanted a recorded song to help promote his band, I was more than happy to help. The band knew what their parts where so I didn’t intervene with the composition, however they wanted to multi-track playing the instruments one at a time with the drummer also wanting to record the song in sections, so at this point I was only being a studio engineer,

The band at this point also didn’t know what BPM they wanted to play to, I had worked out it from the previous recording they had given me, but would decide on the day.

Recording:

Since they wanted to Multi-track, I decided to start by recording drums, as this would then give me a foundation for which I could build up the other instruments on top of. I chose to record the drums in the drum booth in the studio, as it was fitted with diffusers, which would stop the microphones picking up reflections, as well as allowing me to control how big I wanted the kick to sound.

At the same time as recording drums, I would have the Rhythm Guitar ,DI-ed, recording in the Live Room, which would be sent to the drummers headphones, giving him another point of reference, plus recording it clean would allow me to re-amp it later if I wasn’t completely satisfied with the distorted ones later.

I also decided to record the click track aswell, because if there was any bleed from the headphones in the mix, I could then reverse the polarity on the click track and cancel out the sound in the recording (At least in theory.)

The List of Microphones, Channels, and Placements, are listed below

Channel: Microphone: Placement:
1. Click Track N/A N/A
2. Kick Audix D6 (Dynamic) Inside the Kick Drum: Slightly off Axis, 4 inches  away from beater.
3. Snare (Top) Shure SM57 (Dynamic) Above Rim of Kick Drum,  angled towards the center
4. Snare (Bottom) Shure SM57 (Dynamic) Angled in the same way, rim of the kick drum,
5.OHL Samson C02 (Condenser) XY Coincident Pair: Down the center line of the drum kit. above the cymbals.
6.OHR Samson C02 (Condenser) XY Coincident Pair: Down the center line of the drum kit. above the cymbals.
7. Rhythm Guitar DI N/A

 

Kick:

IMG_1410I chose the Audix D6 due to its frequency response,  as it has a boost between 50-100Hz, which will pick up the “boomy” aspect of the Kick drum (60-80Hz) as well as picking up the “attack” of the beater head (4Khz) where the microphone is boosted Between  3-6Khz.

By placing it on axis to the beater head inside the kick drum, Its cardioid pick up pattern will mean that the higher frequencies of the kick drum will be exaggerated when its on axis, however by having it slightly off axis, it will produce a slightly darker sound.

Having it inside the drum kit will isolate the sounds of the rest of the drum kit from the microphone, giving it more clarity in the mix.

Kick important frequencies: Boom (60-80Khz) Attack (4Khz)

Snare:

IMG_1408I chose the Sm57 due to its cardioids pick up pattern and its frequency response. As mentioned before a Cardioids pick-up pattern when placed on axis picks up higher frequencies directly in front of it clearer, so by having one placed on the rim facing towards the center of the snare head, and one placed towards the center at the same angle facing the snare wire. I should get both the attack of the snare and the ringing overtones of the snare wire at the bottom.

The Sm57 is also tailored for close-micing, as it has a role off on its frequency response from 100Hz to avoid proximity effect, a boost around the 240Hz mark, where the “body” of the snare sound comes from, and another boost between 4-6Khz. where the high sounding frequencies of the snare wire sit in the spectrum (6Khz).

Snare Important frequencies. “Body” (240Hz) “Ringing Overtones” (6Khz)

Overheads.

For the Overheads, I chose a pair of Samson C02’s, which are small Diaphragm, cardioids condenser microphones. I placed them in an XY coincident pair configuration on a stereo bar, where both microphones are placed at a 90 degree angle from each other.

IMG_1011

The result is a phase coherent placement, which produces a tight stereo image, with sounds in the center being quieter due to both microphones being off axis. having these both placed on a microphone stand about a meter away above the cymbals will give a good balanced sounding kit, with the cymbals being exaggerated due to the cardioid microphones both being on axis to them.

The C02’s also have a frequency response which suits they being used as overheads, as from about 2Khz onwards its slowly rises reaching a peak about 9Khz, which fits the range of the Cymbals and the High Hat.

Overhead Important frequencies:  “Gong and Clunk”  (100-300hz) “Ringing Overtones” (1-6Khz) “Sizzle” (8-12KHz)

Bass:

5For Bass I usually keep it simple, usually just DI  the signal straight into Pro Tools, but this time I decided to mic-up the Bass Amp but have a DI signal as well, so I could get the “growl” of the Tone of the bass, but still have a clean signal to use for possible re-amping.

The amp will be in the Live room, facing a diffuser mounted on the wall, which will block some of the reflections in the microphone, on an amp stand, to stop the microphone picking up vibrations in the floor, and on a rug to dampen any of the aforementioned vibrations. The Guitar will be recorded in a similar set up.

I chose to use the AKG D112 as my Bass amp mic, placed off axis to the center of the speaker to get a blend of both the higher and lower frequencies. Though the D112 has a similar frequency response, which all though similar to the D6 on the bass drum, It has a flatter mid range, so will fit in with the kick not taking up as much space in the spectrum, as the D6 has a reduction around the 400Hz mark which the bass’s fundamental frequencies sit.

Channel: Microphone: Placement:
1. Bass Amp AKG D112 (Dynamic) Off Axis, 2 inches away from cone
2. Bass DI N/A N/A

 

Guitar:

For Guitar I knew that a fair portion of the tracks I would be recording would be very distorted, and have high gain. I wanted to have a blend of a “heavy” sounding rhythm with a “clear” sounding lead, For this I chose the following options:

Channel: Microphone: Placement:
1. Electric Guitar (Close) Shure Sm57 (Dynamic) Close mic-ed on Axis to the speaker cone
2. Electric Guitar (Off Axis) Shure PG52(Dynamic) Mic on Axis to the amp off axis to the speaker.

 

IMG_1425If they decided to have some clean guitar parts in the mix, I would use a Shure PG52 off axis and a Samson C02 on axis to the speaker cone.  I chose the 57s for what ive stated above when mic-ing the snare, as by using the cardioid pick-up pattern I can have both mic’ set up as if I where recording an Acoustic guitar, using the PG’s lower frequency response to pick up the lower frequencies, while the 57 picking up the highs. I chose the C02 because of its high frequency response, but being a condenser It couldn’t handle the SPL of the amps cranked and distorted.

By having the two Mics set up on the amp, the one on axis would capture the higher frequencies, while the one off axis would get a darker tone, so when it came to mixing them, I could blend them depending on if they where either Rhythm or Lead.

I would also record both the lead and rhythm guitar a minimum of twice, so when it came to mixing I could pan them at different angles to create a more detailed stereo image.

Vocals:

IMG_0816In the song there are two sets of vocals present, The main vocal, and background/gang vocals. For the Main Vocals I have chosen to use a RODE NT2a, because it’s a condenser, so it more sensitive giving me more clarity, as well as its frequency response having a slight dip between 7Khz and 10Khz which is where a lot of syllable sound is. This in conjunction with a pop shield will eliminate hopefully any “pops”  while have the microphone just above mouth height and just under the nose to emphasise the “nasally” head voice associated with the genre, rather than the lower resonance in the throat.

Channel: Microphone: Placement:
1. Main Vocal RODE NT2a (Condenser) Between mouth and nose, on axis to singer, 6 inches back from mic, (2 inches back from pop shield, 4 inches from Mic to pop shield.

 

Gang Vocals:

For Gang Vocals I thought I could try to record them all at once,  using a pair of Samson C02’s in a XY coincident pair formation. Similar to what Im trying to achieve on the drums overheads,  The XY coincident pair will give me a tight stereo image, However unlike the drums, I wouldn’t hard pan them left and right when it came to mixing, giving a more focused sound, however I may record them more than once to achieve a larger “crowd sound” from the band.

Channel: Microphone: Placement:
Gang Vocal L Samson C02 XY Coincident Pair
Gang Vocal R Samson C02 XY Coincident Pair
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