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Thursday 29 June 2017

Band on a budget - the recording process part 3

Strewth, it's fair to say I'm knackered. I had a fairly lousy night's sleep last night and I'm writing this at about 10:30pm, so apologies for any typos or accidental swearing...

So, after day 1, where are we?
Well, loading up the car took a bit longer than expected - I hadn't quite appreciated how much more gear I was taking than for a usual practice - and then there were roadworks slowing all the traffic down on the north side of town. But I arrived at about 9:25 so only ten minutes late.
Unlike our bass player who, it turned out, thought I was giving her a lift like we normally do.
Anyway, eventually we were all in the hall and unloaded.

We did have a lot of stuff, this is just some of the stuff I brought...
But then we are trying to create a complete recording studio so it's not really surprising.

Set up - drums
Most of the morning was then spent setting things up. The drumkit we set up where we'd tested it previously. After further listening we stuck a couple of duvets up on mic stands to reduce some of the wall reflections and thanks to some friends of ours we had a couple of extra mics to play with as well; an sm57 and a Superlux R102 ribbon mic. A few acoustic foam panels were carefully placed to reduce a bit of floor reflection as well and it was sounding quite good.
Actually, the kick was a bit too boomy...
Moving the mic a bit more off centre sorted that.
But the ride was a bit low...
A bit more mic movement of the knee* mic sorted that.

Set up - Bass and guide guitar
We did look at DI'ing the bass but it turns out to have a tube pre-amp section. I've heard bad things about running tube amps without a speaker load so we just took the bass straight into the Tascam's instrument input and did the same with my guide guitar part from the Variax.

Set up - lead guitar
We set up the guitarist's amp in the extra section of the room with a couple of long mic cables and a long guitar lead (he has a buffer in the pedal set) and semi walled it off to cut down on the spill. In the end we needn't have worried about this as by the time we'd got all this sorted his lift turned up and he had to go. We'll be overdubbing his guitar parts tomorrow afternoon.

That took us to lunch time - at which point we discovered another part of the hall had been made available for some tea and coffee for a group of, well, I can't remember what their reason for being there was but there were a few old ladies enjoying a cuppa.
So we had lunch.

After lunch we cracked on with recording, starting with Northshoremen. This is quite a tricky track as, although it has just a few repeated sections, they don't all repeat the same way. And the 1st verse lyrics repeat over the 2nd bridge. And the chorus repeats over the verse chords at the end...
There are also a couple of stops in usual places.
It seemed a good idea at the time.
Anyway, eventually we got there but I had developed some nervousness by now. I'd noticed a fair bit of popping and crackling building up and I was a bit worried about the quality of the recording. Listening back it seemed that it was coming through on my DI guitar line - which was fine as that was just a guide track that we'll be ditching.

Anyway, I bumped the buffer right up and we pressed on with the lead vocals.
Listening back to a first take there was waaaay too much room reverb (partly because I like the sound of the Omni setting of my tube amp for vocals). Fortunately we were prepared for this and another mic stand and duvet was pressed into service. There was still a fair bit of room noise but much more manageable.
Four proper takes and we were good. Though because of the buffer size it needed tweaking for playback.

Rhythm guitar
This was a bit of a mare really. It's the most complex of the parts that I'll be playing and by this point my fingers were getting a bit sore. I've got about 8 takes to work through but I'm pretty confident I have enough to comp a decent take out of. The effect of that big buffer size caused me a bit of a headache in timing as well.

Moving on
At this point we had a bit of a chat about what to do next and decided to give Building for the Flood a run through. It's fundamentally a much simpler song and the bass player and drummer had been hanging around waiting on me for the last couple of hours so were getting a bit restless.
Set up was exactly as before so no changes to anything other than headphone volumes and plugging my DI into a different guitar.
Four runs through that and, listening back tonight, I think we have a completely workable take there.

Overall I think we're a bit behind where I'd have liked to be but we've got the most difficult song in the tank and we're in a good place for tomorrow. I am still concerned around some of the pops and crackles I'm getting but listening back on my main computer now they're almost non-existent on this machine. I think that either my laptop is underpowered or, more likely, poorly configured for this.
I'm really not looking forward to editing that acoustic guitar part but I am looking forward to tomorrow.
Time for bed, adios.

* Because the kick has no hole in the resonant head I've got an Omni mic sitting between the kick and the floor tom (under the ride) that is picking up a bit of the beater sound from the front of the kick.

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