What's the best way to record in this space?

velvet_man

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 7, 2016
1,208
Vancouver
I'm seeking the advice of those with more experience with recording than me (which is probably most of you). Sorry in advance for the long post!

My band has a great rehearsal space with a 16-channel PA in a nice big room (pic attached), and we've been toying with the idea of doing recordings in there for a while now. Some of you may remember me asking about using something like a Focusrite Scarlet to send the PA channels to a computer for recording. Well, it tuned out that would have cost as much as a mixer with built-in USB multitrack recording. So I kept an eye on Craigslist and pounced on a Soundcraft Signature MTK 22.

The Jam Space.jpg

Last week we did a test run, just recording our rehearsal. We only hooked up 4 of the drum mics (he has 7 mics that all came in a kit specifically for drums) and one SM57 for each guitar (we've got another 57 and a Sennheiser e609 that we didn't hook up last time) and a single bass mic on the bass amp (no DI last time, but he said he has an old Zoom stomp box that has a direct out, so we'll try that next time). We also have 4 SM58s for the vocals as all four of us do vocals at various times and 2 large diaphragm condenser mics. I thought we could set the condensers up as room mics.

The first problem we had is that the vocal mics are all plugged into the PA mixer so we can hear them in the monitors. We didn't have the cables to send out from the PA mixer channels to the recording mixer channels, so our drummer rigged something that sent all four mic channels to one channel in our mixer. It sounded OK when one person was singing, but terrible when others joined in because we couldn't mix or separate them at all. Our drummer says he has some cables he can bring next time to send the vocal channels individually, so that should sort out that problem. The only other option I can think of is to plug the mics into the recording mixer directly and try to rig up something with headphones for the four of us, but I think we'd all prefer playing without headphones if that's feasible.

The other problem was mic bleed and even PA hum getting picked up by the mics. Not shown in the picture of the space are three floor monitors across the front of the stage and a huge PA speaker on either side of the stage, pointed out away from the stage (there's actually enough room in there to do a small show for 100 people or so).

For the mic bleed, I was thinking of building some dividers to put up around the amps and the drums. Sort of like what they have in this pic I found online.
large.jpg

We have a pile of extra 12"x12" foam panels, like the ones you stick to the walls (some are on the wall behind the drums in the first pic). Could we just cover some pallets with a bunch of those to get the job done, or does it need more?

Finally, are we on the right track? Is there anything we're overlooking or just going about the wrong way? Thanks!
 
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pazman6

Senior Stratmaster
May 28, 2014
1,853
Prairieville, Louisiana
For your vocals I would take the mics straight to the recording mixer. Then use the groups or aux send to return each mic to the PA mixer. You could combine all 4 on a single group/aux send or send then all individually. You should get a good clean vocal take of each mic for later processing and still have the live vocals to play to without headphones.
 

pazman6

Senior Stratmaster
May 28, 2014
1,853
Prairieville, Louisiana
For the bleed I would DI the bass. Move the amps farther from each other and aiming away from other amps. I would get them farther away from the drums as well. You can manually edit out hum and noise during silent parts in post processing. I would think if you are playing at live stage volume the actual instruments would be much louder than any noise and bleed during the song. ALso you might consider standing off the stage and facing the drums - physically rotate the mics 180 degrees- that way the vocal mics won't be picking up drums and guitar amps. Your audience might be pissed though with your ass facing them..........
 

Seamus OReally

Fading away
Gold Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2019
5,786
Santa Rosa, CA
Hopefully Fezz Parka will drop by. I would at least partially isolate the drums with absorption panels, close mic the guitars (and isolate them too), and turn everything down.

Iso panels should be made of more absorptive material than the glue-up foam can provide. I suppose you could stuff a palette with noise reduction insulation and cover it with a material semi transparent to sound, even burlap if going cheap. But there’s tons of info online about building your own panels.
 

El Gobernador

fezz parka
Apr 21, 2011
35,160
Nunyo, BZ
If recording rehearsals, mic it the way you would an orchestra. A Blumlien Pair or Decca Tree.

If going for a live band sound, it's the way to go.

If individual miced sources l, gobo the drums and bass.

Bleed is glue for Rock'n'Roll. Tchad Blake when recording Dylan ( who tracks everything live) found that if he killed Dylan's vocal mic for instrumental passages, the whole vibe of the recording went with it.

So, don't fear the bleeder. LoL

Recorded live at the Highland Park VFW in 2009. Two mics out front, one room mic.

 

velvet_man

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 7, 2016
1,208
Vancouver
Thanks for all of the great feedback, everyone!

First, we're hoping that, eventually, we can fine tune this enough so that we can get some proper recordings that we can put up on Spotify and Apple Music and whatnot.

We recorded three songs previously by spending an overnighter in a local studio at a sound engineering college with a sound engineering student at the helm. That was the cheapest option available and it was still $250 for one night of recording. Add to that the fact that we're all old (40s to 50) and we crapped out before our 6 am cutoff so we didn't even get the full bang for our buck.

So we're hoping that we can do some recordings in this space to save money and give ourselves more time to work on it. Our first three songs were recorded live off the floor in the studio, though they had large 6' separation panels between each of us and the drums, and there was a separate amp room to put one of the guitar amps in. The student who recorded us thought we'd use the recordings that night as a scratch track and re-record everything individually later, but that seemed like it was going to add up to a lot of money so we never ended up doing that. And we liked the sound of us all playing together anyway.

Of course, we double tracked the vocals by recording them again separately later so that we make sure we have a good vocal take, so we'll do that again. And we're open to doing a few overdubs here there as needed.

@pazman6 Thanks, we'll experiment with spreading out more and aiming out amps away from each other and reverse the vocal mics so they go into our mixer and then to the PA mixer for monitoring. I think our mixer has better preamps, too, so that will be a bonus. And we're definitely going to DI the bass. The other guitar player is playing through a Katana, so we could even DI that, too, since it has it built in.

@Seamus OReally Thanks for clarifying about the sound panels. We do want to go cheap since we just spent a bunch of money on a mixer and mics, but we'll have to do a bit more than sticking together some foam and pallets that we have laying around. I looked up some DIY sound panels sites, and it looks like it should be doable without breaking the bank.

@Fezz Thanks, I won't worry so much about mic bleed! Is there any value in setting up room mics if we're close micing everything? We don't have any omnidirectional mics, just a couple large diaphragm condensers (basically Audio Technica AT 2020 clones. Mine's made by Mackie, I don't know about the other one).

Another question for everyone, what's the best way to mic my cab? I have a V30 and a Greenback in there, and I have two SM57s. Is it feasible to get both speakers that way, or should I put both mics on one speaker, with the typical mic 1 on the center and mic 2 on the cone?
 

pazman6

Senior Stratmaster
May 28, 2014
1,853
Prairieville, Louisiana
You could mic each speaker with a 57 and then blend them at mix down to what you like. Something to try for fuller guitars - If you can play the songs tight, I would record a live take with both speakers and then an overdub take with both speakers - Then combine one or both speakers from each take with a hard 100% Right panning for one take and the other 50% Right panning for the second take - it will give you a fuller sound on the right side for the one guitar. Then do the same process for the other guitar player on the left side.
 

El Gobernador

fezz parka
Apr 21, 2011
35,160
Nunyo, BZ
I mic amps with two mics. One close, outer edge of the cone off axis.
The other about three feet away. Usually a ribbon or LDC. 2020 aren't real large diaphragm condenser mics. They're basically a side address pencil type capsule.
Is there any value in setting up room mics if we're close micing everything?
Sure. Especially if you want to capture what you'd hear out front.
 


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