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Saturday 1 July 2017

Band on a budget - the recording process part 5

End of stage 1

Well our two days of holiday and hall time are up and I've had a night to think about things so here's a few pros, cons and lessons learnt for next time.

Taking a couple of hours to work out where best to put the drums on a previous night was time well spent.
The hall only cost £50 between the four of us so even if I've made a complete pigs ear of things and we end up ditching all of it we're only down £12.50 each.
Everything worked. We had no dodgy cables, faulty kit (pops and crackles aside), dead batteries, not even a broken string.
We all had fun (despite my getting a bit stressed on a couple of occasions).
Taking the time to pack everything away properly at the end means that unloading and sorting the stuff when I got home was a very simple task.
Brief aside - the band is great at this; everyone pitches in and helps with everything, no-one is ever standing around twiddling their thumbs whilst there is stuff to be lugged or set up. Not all bands are like this - end aside.
I'm glad I never found a buyer for my little mixer - I'll be keeping that now.

I could have done with some inline supressors or pads. I did buy a couple of DI boxes last year but I was just thinking about live use at the time so the ones I bought, whilst very good, don't have pads.
It took me too long to try and come up with a solution for our bass player's monitor mix, and then it didn't work all the time.*
Everything took a bit longer than expected. Not a lot longer, but enough to mean that we've ended up with significantly less content that I'd hoped for.
Either my laptop isn't powerful enough, or it's not configured well enough, or I'm hitting transfer limits somewhere but it caused some real headaches and I'm still not sure that all the tracks are free from artefacts.

I'd set up templates for the tracks on Reaper, but that was based on my mixing template. I need to create a recording variant of that for next time.
Engineering and performing is difficult work, some stuff got missed along the way, primarily any note-taking. Having an extra person on the second day helped a lot (particularly as he got up to speed with the software (we were using cubase last time)) but there's still things that I could have done better if I only had one hat on. I need to factor in more time for this.
Only get out the stuff you need at the time. At the start of day 1 I spent some time setting up my usual amp and pedal rig which then proceeded to get under my feet and cause a ground loop and got taken away a couple of hours later, unused. It didn't get used until the afternoon of day 2.
Don't get too stressed. As song-writer, singer, rhythm guitarist and recording engineer I felt that I had a lot going on and at times I let myself get too stressed. Had I been more relaxed I think we could have had a better session, I could have come up with a monitor-mix solution for the bass player for example. I hope I'll know better next time.

Next steps
First thing is to work through all the tracks and check that I've got all the best takes marked up and we're consistent across the whole mix. Then there's a big piece of work to go through and check all the tracks for pops and crackles, line up the timings of the tracks hit by the latency and generally get things into something resembling a fit state for mixing.
Once that's done I need to record my missing parts and then send some stems to the guitarist for him to add his bits.
Then we'll do a faders-up mix and see if everyone's happy with what we've got and what kind of production approach we want to take.

Since I've started on this, I'll keep blogging throughout the process, but on Monday real life starts again so updates will become much more sporadic.

* I have now figured out a solution that would have worked just fine. Which is rather irritating.

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