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First time doing a live in-studio session. Advice?
Old 14th March 2014
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
First time doing a live in-studio session. Advice?

Hey guys. I've been doing some research on different methods and techniques for live, in-studio recording but I thought I'd ask for some project-specific advice. I'm recording a five piece band in a couple of months and the instrumentation is vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, electric guitar, fiddle, and drums. Now my plan right now is to record the bass and electric guitar via DI to reamp later since I don't have any isolation rooms.

I've heard of a lot of bands tracking the vocals live with the rest of the band and using that in the final mix. Would you guys recommend this? How much of a problem would it be to overdub these if they don't come out well with the full take? Also for the fiddle...how much of an issue is this going to be with bleed, etc? I understand bleed is simply going to happen and there's no way to prevent it but since I'm new to this I'm really not aware of the limitations that live recording has on overdubbing and mixing.

Thanks so much for your time! Any advice is appreciated.

Nico
Old 20th March 2014
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Any help would be appreciated, guys. I've been doing research on my own but would still like the input of people that have first hand experience.

Thanks a lot.

Nico
Old 20th March 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
 
bigdoghat's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I don't have much of this kind of tracking experience but something to consider for sure is this: unless the vocalist is 100% isolated during the initial recording, when you go to overdub, it's going to sound different because there'll be no bleed from all the other instruments on his vocal mic. So every punch-in, it'll sound like something has dropped out of the mix because there will be silence in the background whereas before there was bleed. So I would shoot for getting the vocalist 100% isolated to give yourself the most options in that department. Even if you went the crazy route and got the band back in to play along for overdubs just so there'd be bleed on his vocal mic, it wouldn't sound the same so that's not an option.

The other thing I've come across when I've randomly read about this kind of thing is, bleed can often be good, so start researching 'good bleed' and how you can use it to your advantage

Edit: another option is the vocalist sings with the band, is not isolated during the initial recording - they're just singing for vibe and for the band to get a good feel. But everyone is in agreement this won't be the "keeper" lead vocal. Then you come back later and record the keeper vocal tracks with just the singer in isoation. I think this is a pretty common approach too. The main thing about everyone recording together is not so much that everyone is all in the same room, it's that everyone is all playing together as that creates a certain kind of dynamic. So live recordings of this kind often have one or more players isolated but the ideal situation is they can all see each other too even when isolated, I don't know if this is do-able with your recording space?

If you've never recorded fiddle before watch out for mic'ing it too close, it can be very edgy and harsh if you do that, so look into fiddle mic positioning a little bit too.
Old 20th March 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
 
GZsound's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Fairly simple to do your project.

I would record the rhythm tracks first. Drums, electric guitar and bass. Have the singer sing along with a scratch vocal part. Once the scratch vocal is recorded, if there is vocal bleed in the drums or guitars, have them play the song again while listening to the scratch vocal in their headphones.

Normally, I recommend a click track to keep all the remaining tracks lined up.

So, rhythm tracks, then lay down the acoustic guitar part with the player listening to the rhythm tracks and the scratch vocal. Finally, add the fiddle part.

After all the tracks are recorded, have the singer lay down their vocal part. Then do any harmonies.

I have been recording rock and roll and bluegrass bands like this for years since I have a small one room studio.
Old 20th March 2014
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Hey guys thanks for the help.

bigdoghat, thanks for the advice about the bleed! Going into this I have already decided that I'm going to record the vocals live with the band but it will be an all or nothing type deal meaning that we either keep the whole vocal take or we overdub the full vocal take, not a combination of the two. I have heard of bands recording the vocals live and it can have good results. For example, Ray LaMontagne's 2010 album "God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise" was recorded all at the same time with the exception of a few overdubs but most importantly none of the vocals were overdubbed and the vocals you hear were the vocals from the actual take. I'm going for this sort of vibe so I'd definitely like to keep this option open.

GZsound, I appreciate hearing from someone who has worked in these conditions before! My main issue is that I have recorded tracks like that for quite a while (scratch vocal, one at a time overdubs, etc) but this project I would like to, like I said above, go for a different vibe similar to Ray LaMontagne. I guess my question is more along the lines of, for example, if I did the take and I wanted to redo the fiddle part and there was bleed from the original fiddle in the drum overheads, how big of an issue this would be.

Thanks for the responses!

Nico
Old 20th March 2014
  #6
Lives for gear
 
GZsound's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
If you have fiddle playing anywhere near any microphone, it will bleed. A fiddle is about as difficult to hide as a harmonica. They just take over.

There is no way you will be able to overdub the fiddle part if you record it at the same time as everything else. It will be on every track except the direct instruments.
Old 20th March 2014
  #7
Gear Addict
 
Lunatic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
You should go into this project *expecting* that you will *not* be able to replace *any* parts later due to bleed. It's just the nature of the beast.

Can you talk to us about your room and it's dimensions/setup? How about your mic options? Tell us about those too, please.

We do a lot of live tracking and occasionally these sessions include tracking vocals live in the room. That's the tricky part because the drums become your biggest problem in the vocal mic. You just have to accept a few things when this happens such as you will not be able to put the vocals "on top" of the band at mix time unless you want loud cymbals (from the bleed) and you will not have to be careful with your high end EQ on the vocals to make sure you aren't bringing out cymbal hash. again, due to bleed in the vocal mic.

I wouldn't do the electric guitar via DI and reamp later. As long as you place the amp appropriately in the room and use reasonable volume levels the guitar amp will not be a problem. If necessary, put a moving blanket on a mic stand in front of the amp. Again, the drums, especially with an acoustic guitar, will be your biggest issue.

Also, don't rush setup and soundcheck. Take things one at a time. Be as methodical as you can. Try and tame the bleed best you can with player placement in the room and then appropriate polar patterns. For example, if I am tracking vocals live in the room I grab an AKG D5 (yes it's a "live" mic) because it's supercardiod pattern is so tight that you can really minimize the drum bleed into the vocal mic. It's scary how quiet you can get the bleed in that mic.

Here is an album we did with everyone live in the same room, including vocals, with just the bass going DI, 'til Then | Ronnie Shellist The band was thrilled with the results and, while there are always things I wish I could change after a project is complete, I'm very happy as well with how this turned out. It can be done

Anyway, that's my .02. Just remember to experiment. Don't rush. Oh yea... and have fun!
Old 20th March 2014
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Hi Lunatic, thanks for your response. The album you posted sounds great! Definitely the feel I am going for here.

As for the room, it's relatively small. It's been acoustically treated and is a good sounding room but, like I said, size is a limiting factor. I was thinking of dividing it into quarters, one for each member and putting appropriate sound barriers between the musicians to at least attempt to make the isolation factor better. For microphones I don't have the biggest collection. SM7B, pair of Oktava Mk-012, Fathead ribbon, Mojave MA-200, SM81, several sm57s, a couple of low end LDC's, you get the idea. Always open to budgeting in new equipment to get the job done better.

I'm getting the feeling that I'll probably have to do the fiddle afterwards and then overdub the acoustic guitar as well since my guess is it's going to pick up a lot of the bleed.

Thanks!
Old 21st March 2014
  #9
Gear Addict
 
Lunatic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks for the kind words. We had a great time on the record. Such great players. They cut all the electric tracks in *one day* with no overdubs.

If the room is small then dividing it into quarters probably isn't going to buy you much. That being said, what are your sound barriers?

How "big" are the drums as in... how loud and raucous are they going to be?

My gut reaction is to tell you to reserve the SM7 and Fathead for vocals. I did an Indie/Americana record where we use a ribbon on the singer's vocals and pointed the null at the drums. That worked fairly well. Try both and see which one you can tweak/place to get the least amount of drum bleed.

Don't hesitate to go ahead and mic the AC guitar as well as take a DI and blend the two. You can get great results that way.
Old 21st March 2014
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
My gut was also to use the SM7 for vocals. The drums aren't going to be very "big" there may be one or two songs where the drummer really plays out but for the most part its relatively soft. Lots of slower more intimate stuff on this album. Sound barriers are up in the air right now. I have a few months before we begin the tracking so I will probably construct something with some leftover 703 and boards I have laying around. I can't afford any professional or high quality sound barriers, my budget just won't allow it but I figure I can try to do the best that I can with the materials I have available. Any cheap and effective options you can offer that I may be overlooking? Also I'm planning on micing the AC as well as the DI but I have a feeling the drums may be too much for bleed since most of the acoustic parts are finger picking/on the softer side.
Old 21st March 2014
  #11
Gear Addict
 
Lunatic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If it's "soft" drums then the SM7 or Fathead should do you right or even an LDC that does Fig8. Just point that null at the kit where you get the least bleed preferably the lest cymbal bleed. Here's that Indie/Americana band that I was talking about, Birds of a Feather Songs | ReverbNation

On the first record we used Shinybox ribbons on her vocals and on the newest record (songs closer to the top) we used an AT 4050. The drums were fairly soft and not too aggressive and our bleed was pretty minimal. Well, the bass drum was a little tricky. If I had to do it over I'd put baffles right in front of the drums to "catch" of of that initial kick hit.

I've always just used heavy moving blankets draped over mic stands for cheap baffles. However I do, now, have some very effective gobos but they're a little too tall to put in front of a drummer.

These photos will give you an idea of how we setup for the session. Sorry there aren't any closeups, Birds of a Feather | Denver Colorado Recording Studio | Evergroove Studio
Old 21st March 2014
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks for the images, that helps give me an idea of what I should do with this. I'll definitely look into getting some of those blankets in addition to what I have. To address the kick drum I was planning on putting 26" sound barriers in front and on the sides to reduce the kick hits so we seem to be in agreement there.

I really do appreciate all of this insight. I'm sure most of what I end up doing will come through experimenting but right now it's looking like tracking the guitar, bass, drums, acoustic, and vocals all at once and then if need be redo the acoustic guitar and vocal tracks if I really can't work with them (I'm imagining that I will be able to work my way with them with mic placement, etc.) and then finally overdub the fiddle track into the mix.

If I were to need to replace the vocals...would the bleed from the original vocal performance onto, let's say, the drum overheads track become an issue or would the bleed be too minimal to cause a problem?
Old 21st March 2014
  #13
Gear Addict
 
Lunatic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
On the first tune in that link, "Climb Every Mountain" we didn't have to re-cut the acoustic guitar because I used a ribbon mic with the null towards the kit. That plus the light drums and there was pretty much *zero* drum bleed in the acoustic and no acoustic bleed in the other mics. Worked very well.

In regards to replacing the vocals, it really depends on what you use for overheads. The slightest amount of bleed can rear it's ugly head and become trouble once compression and EQ are applied. Still, my original statement stands,

You should go into this project *expecting* that you will *not* be able to replace *any* parts later due to bleed. It's just the nature of the beast. If you set that expectation with yourself and the band and treat the performances as well as mic placement accordingly... you may just be surprised down the road :-)

Oh... one more thing. Such an involved and detailed setup like this can be exhausting. I would setup one day and then start tracking the next. The band and your ears will thank me later.

Last edited by Lunatic; 21st March 2014 at 02:08 AM.. Reason: i kaynt spel
Old 21st March 2014
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Sounds good, thanks so much!
Old 21st March 2014
  #15
Gear Addict
 
Lunatic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Keep us posted!
Old 21st March 2014
  #16
Lives for gear
 
jdier's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I have never reamped, so I do not know much about that or if it is good for your application, but I have done a fair bit of recording all band in one room at one time. I also played on a daytrotter session where it was one room, mic it up, record to two track.

My gut has always been to live with the bleed. Get the band set up and ask them to get comfortable and sounding like they want to sound and so they can all hear each other the way they like, so they are comfortable. Best performances come from musicians that are comfortable and feeling good about how they are sounding.

Kick them out, put up the mics, bring them in one at a time and make sure you have the mics right, then hit the big red button.

I have had really nice success this way. The bleed can stink, but if they are players and set up in a way that they are comfortable it should work.
Old 21st March 2014
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks, jdier. I totally agree with you on the bleed. I definitely feel it's a huge part of the "live feel" and accept that it's going to be there. I guess my main concern was that if we do a great take but the acoustic guitar misses one note or something like that then the bleed into other microphones would not allow that to be easily fixed. I'm excited to experiment with this though. Definitely a whole different mind set then tracking one at a time.
Old 21st March 2014 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
jdier's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nico Zottos ➑️
Thanks, jdier. I totally agree with you on the bleed. I definitely feel it's a huge part of the "live feel" and accept that it's going to be there. I guess my main concern was that if we do a great take but the acoustic guitar misses one note or something like that then the bleed into other microphones would not allow that to be easily fixed. I'm excited to experiment with this though. Definitely a whole different mind set then tracking one at a time.
I punched acoustic guitar and acoustic bass on one session and on another I punched electric bass.

Worked better than I expected.

We never kept the vocals and only kept a few guitar solos.
Old 22nd March 2014 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdier ➑️
I punched acoustic guitar and acoustic bass on one session and on another I punched electric bass.

Worked better than I expected.

We never kept the vocals and only kept a few guitar solos.
That sounds realistic. Thanks!
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