how to record a band live

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

Post Reply
User avatar
Babaluma
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 447
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 6:42 am
Location: Paris, France
Contact:

how to record a band live

Post by Babaluma » Tue Jun 19, 2007 9:35 pm

please forgive the newbie questions :oops:

i've been making programmed electronic ambient and techno music by myself for the last 15 years, but i want to start branching out into tracking and mixing live bands, which is a completely different cup of tea.

i like the steve albini ethos of trying as hard as possible to capture the live sound of the band. i work at a japanese girls high school and will probably start out by recording these punk/indie/rock bands.

my questions relate to the specifics/logistics of achieving that live sound.

i understand how to mic the drums/bass amp/guitar amp etc, but i am wondering about the vocalist. i want to avoid multitracking if possible, but i also want to get as much seperation as possible for later ease of mixing.

do i just put the vocalist through a PA and mic that? what about spill into the other mics? do i put the voalist in a vocal booth where the other band members can see her and get everyone to wear headphones and set up a headphone mix for them all so that they can hear her? doesn't that distract from "rocking out"?

or would it just be easier to ask the band to play first and then get the vocals down later?

how do the pros do it?

thanks in advance for any ideas,

gregg

Danly
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 173
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2006 12:34 pm
Location: new york

Post by Danly » Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:45 pm

when i record my band practices, we do 4 tracks. 1 mic on the guitar amp, 1 mic on the bass amp, 1 mic on the drums, and an aux send (line out) from the p.a.

this setup is great for me because we're limited in track space and can get two singers with 2 different mics on to one track.
Starlab

stuntbutt
pushin' record
Posts: 264
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2004 4:31 pm
Location: Saint Louiee
Contact:

Post by stuntbutt » Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:28 am

I can't stop thinking about working at a Japanese girl's high school.

User avatar
Babaluma
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 447
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 6:42 am
Location: Paris, France
Contact:

Post by Babaluma » Wed Jun 20, 2007 1:02 am

Danly wrote:when i record my band practices, we do 4 tracks. 1 mic on the guitar amp, 1 mic on the bass amp, 1 mic on the drums, and an aux send (line out) from the p.a.

this setup is great for me because we're limited in track space and can get two singers with 2 different mics on to one track.
thanks, that's a fantastic suggestion, hadn't considered that at all!

User avatar
Babaluma
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 447
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 6:42 am
Location: Paris, France
Contact:

Post by Babaluma » Wed Jun 20, 2007 1:04 am

stuntbutt wrote:I can't stop thinking about working at a Japanese girl's high school.
it's great!

there's a "soft rock" after school club, but they are all more like heavy rock/indie/ska/punk bands. there are about 10 of them. i'm an english teacher, but am hoping to offer my recording services for free once i've got the equipment together, hopefully early next year.

at the moment i'm just trying to get my head around the logistics of it all.

stevebozz
gettin' sounds
Posts: 126
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:38 am
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Post by stevebozz » Wed Jun 20, 2007 6:58 am

Room mics can be cool, if you have the space for them. If you're going 2-track and can mix live, then throw up a stereo pair, along with whatever you can pull from the board. do you mic the amps and drums into the live mix regularly?

get some good isolation headphones to get a good idea of what's going on. if it were me, I'd try to do multitrack to give me the most options when mixing.

have fun!
Steve

-- Chief City Recordings | www.chiefcity.com
-- BOZZmedia | www.bozz1.com

FNM
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 176
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2004 10:43 am

Post by FNM » Wed Jun 20, 2007 8:17 am

Ask the band how they want to do it. If they don't mind using a vocal booth or singing through a P.A. then try that and see how it sounds.

This is what I do and usually they say they want to do everything live. Then when we listen to that they realize there is too much cymbal bleed in the vocals and we overdub those (I have 1 room, no booth). Then often I suggest guitar overdubs if it's a three piece and we decide whether or not we like those, etc.

There's definately no 'pro' way to do it, there's a million ways to do it.

User avatar
8th_note
buyin' gear
Posts: 524
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 4:58 pm
Location: Vancouver, WA
Contact:

Post by 8th_note » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:43 am

It depends on how commercial a sound you're going for. I've done several projects where we've recorded the band together to get a live feel but my clients want the recording to sound upfront and professional which means that I pretty much have to isolate the guitars and bass from the drums to get the separation I need to achieve that kind of sound.

I record in my basement studio but I have three rooms where I can isolate the guitars and bass if necessary. I put the drums in the main room and the guitar cabs in other rooms. I close-mic the guitar cabs. Usually we run the bass through a Sansamp Bass Driver so we don't need a separate room for that.

All the players are in the main room with the drummer so the band can see each other and maintain the vibe. I have several pairs of Vic Firth isolation headphones so each band member can hear what's going on.

I've never tried to record vocals with the instrument performance. I think that's just asking too much. I record the vocals later and I virtually always record several takes and comp the best parts together. The vocal is so important that it's just not realistic to expect a young singer to nail it in one take.

I have a couple songs on my Myspace page that were done this way if you'd like to check them out. On the player to the right play the bottom song, the one by Shanghai Shanghai. The other player on the left also has a song by the same group. Mudshark Studios

Danly
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 173
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2006 12:34 pm
Location: new york

Post by Danly » Wed Jun 20, 2007 1:21 pm

i like recording the basics without headphones. Set up a p.a. and have vocal monitors for the band, then mic the guitar, bass and drums and run a line from the p.a. to the recorder. Then tell the kids to play and just record it for a while and use the best parts.
Starlab

User avatar
Babaluma
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 447
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 6:42 am
Location: Paris, France
Contact:

Post by Babaluma » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:51 pm

stevebozz wrote:do you mic the amps and drums into the live mix regularly?

get some good isolation headphones to get a good idea of what's going on. if it were me, I'd try to do multitrack to give me the most options when mixing.

have fun!
thanks for the hints.

as i said, this is all new to me and academic at the mo!

i want to be able to record the "authentic" live sound of the band, but also have as much seperation as possible for later mixing.

User avatar
Babaluma
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 447
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 6:42 am
Location: Paris, France
Contact:

Post by Babaluma » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:54 pm

thanks for the tips everyone.

i think i'm gonna try recording it all live (with d.i.'d bass) and put the vocals down later, if the band agrees!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 72 guests