This is part of my final major project: click here to return to the main menu:
In addition to For the Best, I’ve also recorded another band from outside college; they are called Sound the Siren, a 4-piece hard rock/alternative metal group from Bournemouth. Though I hadn’t seen them live at this point, I had heard the name a couple of times, and from a couple of low quality live videos on their Facebook page I saw they had potential, plus I knew the lead singer through a friend of a friend.
Unlike For the Best, who came to me a week before they wanted to record, and already had the song pretty much in a finished state, I wanted to take a much more hands on role with Sound the Siren, taking the time in pre production to make sure that we got the song they wanted to record in the best form possible before we hit the studio.
In return for working with them, I asked a simple set of terms:
- That I could use there work for my portfolio, and my course
- The Cost of the recording would be split between the 5 of us, working out cheaper for everyone and also all of us sharing the cost of the sessions.
- I would be allowed to keep the stems from the track to make a remix.
The band agreed and we began Pre Production.
In pre production, I met up with the band at their local practice space, so I could hear how they sounded and see how they interacted with each other; they had an idea of two or three songs they wanted to record, as well as playing me through their set list in case any other songs jumped out to me.
After a couple of practice sessions, we decided on a song titled “Get Out” since It was a mid paced, fairly heavy song which I felt would be the best representation of their sound, as well as being fairly straight forward to record as it followed the verse-chorus structure.
However I proposed to the band that they should try to add some extra parts into the song to give it more character, since it had the potential to be so much more then it was at this point.
Through some improvisations and some suggestions from myself and his band mates, James (Guitars) added some clean parts in the choruses, as well as a fully fledged solo towards the end of the song, making it sound like it is slowly building towards a climax, as well as giving him more options for playing a live performance.
Though at the same time could see that less is more, so after the first verse, decided to drop out so David (Bass) could carry the rhythm and stand out more.
With some of my ideas and Heather’s (Vocals) we also added some extra vocal parts to the song, coming up with an additional bridge section, as well as repeating some lines so I could have them sound like an whispered echo. I also had a look over at the lyrics, and offered some changes, a word or so hear and they’re but nothing to make it sound different.
Once we had worked out the necessary changes we moved onto recording.
I decided to record the band mostly individually, and then mix the multi-track later on, as I felt this would give me most control on the mix, plus would make it easier to fit in all the extra parts.
My order of recording was to record drums first, using a DI’d Rhythm guitar as a point of reference for Leon (Drums) to listen to, hopefully to get a better performance out of them, plus then having the option of re-amping the DI signal later on if I needed to. (Part 1)
Then I’ll move on to Bass, as they would have two points of reference from the DI’d Guitar and the Drums, followed by the distorted guitars, where I would take the DI’d Guitar out so they wouldn’t interfere and throw James off. (Part 2)
Once this was all tracked, I would record vocals. (Part 3)
I wanted to record them to a click track, but after a couple of practice takes, It became clear that they where struggling to do so, so instead I got Leon and James to play to each other, and use that as the template for all the other parts to play over. Later on I would tempo map the song to make it easier for me to edit.
Overall the recording took two sessions to complete, as James got a new amp in-between recordings so redid the guitars, and Hev wasn’t happy with her vocal performance so again there where re-takes.
The Drums I had placed where in the live room facing the diffusers on the wall, so all the immediate reflections wouldn’t bounce back into the microphones, with a rug also being placed underneath the drums to dampen any vibrations from the floor.
Also me and Leon went round the kit and listened to the individual drums, applying masking tape to certain parts, especially the snare, since It was very resonant, which resulted with the David’s cigarette packet being used for weight.
|1.||Kick||Shure PG52, 4 inch’s away from the beater head, off axis, bottom right of pedal.|
|2.||Snare Top||Shure Sm57, on the rim facing the center of the snare.|
|3.||Snare Bottom||Shure Sm57, on the rim facing the center of the snare, Flipped Polarity.|
|4.||OHL||Samson C02, XY Coincident Pair, about a meter back from the drums, center line between the kick and the snare, a couple of inches higher then the cymbals.|
|5.||OHR||Samson C02, XY Coincident Pair, about a meter back from the drums, center line between the kick and the snare, a couple of inches higher then the cymbals.|
|6.||Room||Avantone CK6, couple of meters back from kit, about 4 o’clock from the drummers back.|
The Shure PG52 was chosen due to its frequency response, as it has an exaggerated response between 50-100Hz, capturing the low end “boomy” aspect of the Kick (60-80Hz) as well as registering the “attack” of the beater head (4Khz) as the microphone is boosted around the 5-6Khz.
I wanted to try a different microphone for recording the Kick, as I had previously used an Audix D6, I chose the PG52 for Its more high end response, as Leon would be using a double kick pedal, and makes a great alternative.
It was on axis to the beater head within the kick drum, with its cardioid pick up pattern making the higher frequencies of the kick drum being more pronounced when its on axis, moving it slightly off axis however, will produce a slightly darker tone.
Within the shell of the drum kit, it is isolated from the sounds of the rest of the drum kit, giving the recording it more clarity in the mix.
Kick important frequencies: Boom (60-80Khz) Attack (4Khz)
The Sm57’s cardioid pick up pattern and frequency response, makes it a great chose for close mic-ing, as mentioned before a Cardioids pick-up pattern on axis picks up the higher frequencies directly in front of it clearer, so with one on the rim facing towards the center of the resonant head, and one placed towards the beater head, it picks up both the body of the snare and the rattle bellow.
The role off on its frequency response from 100Hz is designed to avoid proximity effect, with a boost around 240Hz (roughly the body of the snare) and another between 4-6Khz (snare wire) sit in the spectrum.
Snare Important frequencies. “Body” (240Hz) “Ringing Overtones” (6Khz)
Samson C02’s, which are small Diaphragm, cardioids condenser microphones. When placed in an XY coincident pair configuration on a stereo bar, both microphones are placed 90-degrees from each other.
This makes them phase coherent, producing a focused stereo image, with the center being quietest as both microphones are off axis. I had these stand about a meter away above the cymbals to get a balanced sounding kit, with the cymbals sounding crisper by having the microphones on axis.
The C02’s are a good choice for use as overheads, due to their frequency response gently rising from 2Khz onwards and levelling out at 9Khz, where both the Cymbals and the High Hat sit in the spectrum.
Overhead Important frequencies: “Gong and Clunk” (100-300hz) “Ringing Overtones” (1-6Khz) “Sizzle” (8-12KHz)
I wanted to experiment using a room microphone, as I felt it would allow me to utilise the ambience of the room, which when mixing I could have it sit underneath the actual kit, plus use it by itself creatively to get a more distant sound.
I chose to use the Avantone CK6 due to its fairly flat frequency response, giving an accurate representation of the room, with a slight dip around the 300HZ mark to take out some of the “boxy”ness within the room, also having behind the drummer results in a more distant sound, as the kick and snare are further away then the cymbals.
|2.||Bass D112||AKG D112, On Axis.|
The amp was placed in the live room, facing the diffusers in the same manner as the drums, which will block some of the reflections in the microphone, as well as having the amp on a stand, to stop the vibrations being picked up from the floor, and on a rug
The AKG D112 was used to mic up the bass, and was placed off axis to the speaker cone to make the higher frequencies more accentuated. The AKG has a similar frequency response to the PG52, but I chose the AKG due it having a flatter frequency response between 400Hz to 1Khz, where as the Pg52 has a reduced response between those areas, which is roughly, where the Bass’s fundamental frequencies sit.
After this I moved onto Guitars:
|Channel No:||Channel Name:||Microphone:|
|1.||Guitar (On Axis)||Shure Sm57, On Axis|
|2.||Guitar (Off Axis)||Shure PG52, Off Axis bottom right hand corner.|
As mentioned previously I placed the Guitar Amp in the same place as the Bass, on a rug, on a stand facing the diffusers mic-ed up with an Sm57 on Axis and a PG52 off axis.
The 57 was used to pick up the higher frequencies, the more trebly parts being (on axis) of the guitarists tone, which was heavily distorted, while the PG52 was used because its frequency response is exaggerated in the higher Mids and low mids, giving the body of the tone, while reducing the frequencies the lower parts of the bass sits in. Because it was off axis, these higher frequencies would be not as prominent while giving more of a warmer tone. (note picture is from the first session, as he recorded with the black-star amp the second time.)
Essentially I have taken the principle of how I would capture an acoustic guitar and have applied it to an electric one, using the PG’s lower frequency response to pick up the lower frequencies, while the 57 picking up the highs.
I recorded both the lead and rhythm guitar a minimum of twice, so during the mixing stage I could have two pairs at different levels and panned differently, dropping out and reappearing to reinforce the other ones.
For vocals I have chosen to use the RODE NT2a, a large diaphragm condenser, using its Cardioid picks up pattern setting. It has a fairly flat frequency response, which gets slightly more exaggerated from 2Khz onwards towards 6Khz.
I had the microphone set up in the same room as all the other instruments where recorded in, with a pop shield to limit the sibilance being picked up. I chose this due to Heather having a fairly high vocal range, allowing this range to be the most prominent thing in the mix.
The Microphone was mouth level, mainly to accentuate her head voice, rather then the lower throaty voice, making it sound more feminine.