This is part of my final major project: click here to return to the main menu:
The final college band I recorded and the 5th overall for my Final Major Project, was a 4 piece band consisting of a singer who also played rhythm guitar, a lead guitarist, a bassist and a drummer performing an original song titled “Down to Dusk.”
Since the singer and her guitar where the foundation to the song, me and my recording partner Dan decided to track her first doing vocals and playing guitar, to act as a guide, then track Bass and Drums at the same time to the guide track. Once this was done we would then track the lead guitar over the top of the rhythm and then do all the main vocals along with all the subsequent harmonies the singer wanted to add, acting equally as producers and studio engineers,
The Pro-Tools session was set at 16 bit/44.1Hz, and at a tempo of 182bpm.
We decided to use a RODE Nt2a to record the vocals, as its cardioid pick-up pattern setting would allow us to record the guide vocals without picking up much bleed from the guitar she was playing at the same time, as well as having a frequency response which is exaggerated from 5Khz onwards, picking up the singers “presence”, while the higher end response picking up the singers “sibilance.”
It’s has a build in High Pass Filter so the singer can be close without the song sounding too bassy, plus the addition of the pop shield helps filter out some of the pops caused by fast moving air hitting the microphone, such as the syllables “b” “p” and “t.”
For the guitars we recorded both of them through a Peavey Bandit, with a Shure SM57 placed just off axis to the center of the speaker cone, resulting in a slightly warmer tone. The Sm57 has a build in High Pass Filter, meaning it’s a good choice for close mic-ing, with its cardioid pick up pattern only hearing what’s in front of it, so won’t get any reflections back off the walls. It also has an exaggerated higher frequency range, with a boost around 8Khz giving the guitar more clarity.
For the Rhythm guitar the vocalist wanted to use some pedals which she put in-between her guitar signal and the amp, with these being a tube screamer like pedal to boost her signal in certain parts, as well as a reverb pedal which combined with a Gretsch hollow body guitar I assumed it allowed her to emulate the natural amplification of the hollow body when she’s playing acoustically. This would hinder me later in the mix, but she was so used to playing with it her performance would of not been as good if we had taken it away.
Bass and Drums:
In order to track bass and drums at the same time, we decided to DI the bass and then have the incoming signal, as well as the guide tracks and click in the mix, this feed then went to both the bassist and drummer.
For the drums we had a fairly simple set up, which consisted of a Shure PG52 outside the sound hole of the kick drum, a Shure SM57 on the rim of the snare facing towards the center, and a pair of Samson CO2’s out in a XY coincident pair formation.
The PG52 is a large diaphragm, dynamic cardioids microphone, so as mentioned before would isolate the sound of the kick from the rest of the kit. It also has a frequency response which has a boost around 100Hz, letting it pick up the “Boom” of the kick, while also having another boost between 3-4Khz, picking up the beater sound as well.The PG52 is a large diaphragm, dynamic cardioids microphone, so as mentioned before would isolate the sound of the kick from the rest of the kit.
The SM57 also is a good choice to mic up the snare, as mentioned before with its High pass and cardioid pick up pattern, allowing it to be placed close to the snare, which is one of the loudest instruments in the studio. Its frequency response also favours the snare, as its got a boost between 200-300hz, followed by a cut between 300-400Hz, allowing it to pick up the “body” of the snare, but also reduce some of the “boxiness” of the recording.
Having the overhead in an XY pair means that both capsules sit on top of each other, meaning that they don’t get phasing issues because they are receiving the sound at the same time, and by having them above the cymbals down the center line of the drum kit avoids them picking up the air released from the impact, as well as getting a tight, balanced stereo image.
Using Samson CO2’s as overheads works quite well, as they have a boost between 5 and 15Khz, which is where the cymbals ringing overtones sit, as well as having a role off from 100hz downwards, leaving out the low end so it doesn’t interfere with the PG52 on the Kick.