Recording a whole band live is one of the hardest but also most fun things to do.
There are a lot of challenges that come with it and plenty of problems to solve, especially if you are in a small room.
Should you isolate everything as much as possible? If so, how? Should you try and keep the room out of the recording or make the sound of your room a big part of what you're capturing? Is it about the sound or about the vibe of playing together as a band?
Listen now as we answer these questions among others and dive deep into the topic of live recording.
This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.
TSRB Podcast 064 - Recording A Live Band - How To Deal With Bleed And Get The Most Out Of The Room Sound
[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] We are talking about recording, live in a room and how to isolate the individual elements and instruments better, but also about how you can actually embrace the room sound and the fact that, so, yeah, let's discuss, this is the self recording band podcast. The show where we help you make exciting records on your own, wherever you are, DIY stuff.
Hello and welcome to. The self recording band podcast. I am your host. Benedick tine, and I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm Owen flood. How are you? Hello?
Malcom: [00:00:38] I'm great. Thank you very much, having a fantastic Monday. How are you doing? Sorry. Sorry
Benedikt: [00:00:46] for that. But after the conversation we just said, starting with I'm having a fantastic Monday.
It's just awesome. No need to get into details you, but it's just, let's just make me laugh. Uh, yeah, we always having a perfect Monday. Um,
[00:01:00] Malcom: [00:01:01] Nobody has ever been tough. Yeah, exactly. Not for us. So the self recording band Mondays, or we eat Mondays for breakfast. Exactly, exactly. That's how
Benedikt: [00:01:10] we, that's how we do it.
So, uh, that like, but how are you actually, or how, what, like, how was the weekend? What did you do? Because I've seen some pretty amazing pictures.
Malcom: [00:01:19] Oh, it's great, man. Yeah. So I was at this studio called Barnhouse sound in Qualicum beach on Vancouver Island. Here. It is one of the most beautiful studios I've ever witnessed.
Um, both in photos and now in person. It is crazy. Crazy. Beautiful. Sounds amazing. It sounds like this big cathedral pretty much. It's got, it's like a big timber frame, three story, tall vaulted ceiling situation. With the beautiful glass all over the place. I'm like the less sunlight and check it out on Instagram.
Um, Justin, uh, the owner is just a great dude that helped us over to login and set up and stuff as well, which was really appreciated. And, uh, yeah, it was in there with, uh, listening to the podcast. [00:02:00] Michael Wilford Wilford. I said his name. I'm sorry, buddy. And, uh, it was, uh, yeah, we, we had a blast. It was just like a live in studio situation too.
So there's accommodations there. There's a hot tub pool table. The whole works. It was fantastic. Great weekend. But now I'm tired because we worked our butts off. Yeah,
Benedikt: [00:02:19] I, yeah, I'm pretty sure that, and actually that was the second session in a row, right before that you were, did the vocal thing that we've been talking about.
So yeah, it's been a
Malcom: [00:02:29] busy few weeks. Uh, hanging out with the musician folk, but it's been great. Great. Some super-stoked on the sounds
Benedikt: [00:02:36] totally. I have one question, one particular question, then we move on to today's episode, but this is also relevant. Um, I saw the pictures and there was like, I didn't, I'm not sure if I, if I remember correctly, what did you use a pair of coals as overheads on those drums?
I did. Mike's okay, cool. Because I was interested in two things because first of all, I thought that. [00:03:00] Probably when the room, like when the ceiling is that high and the room is that great sounding, you probably get like, these overheads probably sound almost like roommates and like, you get a bunch of, a lot of ambience in them, which, which can be great.
So I bet that was probably the intention.
Malcom: [00:03:14] Yeah. So w we've talked about that a little bit, um, river Mike's almost as a rule almost, uh, our figure eight patterns, right? So they here. Behind them as well as in front of them. And that was exactly, um, yeah, as you intended to, or as I intended, I guess, but as you suspected that we got, uh, some room at me, it's in our overheads, that sounded just like crazy.
Awesome. It was sweet. Um, also happens to be kind of, uh, do you know, shaky grapes artists. No. Um, okay. Well, anyways, the, the drum part is more of a riff than a drum part, then it could beat. Um, and there wasn't a lot of simple usage. It's like the ride gets hit every once in a while. And the high hat is kind of like, uh, another drum rather than like a constant.
Um, so. That let me just [00:04:00] be like, okay, well, we're going to get a, kind of a figure eight thing going on. Um, kind of a figure eight. It wasn't really, but anyways, tight end phase coherent fat sounding drums. And then I actually used a stereo ribbon pair on the room mic as well. So it's like very bombastic Rumi sounding drums.
It was awesome.
Benedikt: [00:04:18] Awesome. Um, and yeah, the second part of the question, you all almost answered that, um, sort of, because I was wondering about the placement because it doesn't, it didn't look like a. A proper quote, unquote bloom line or anything like that, but like not, not a space pair either. I think in between I think
Malcom: [00:04:36] my thought was that they were pointed at what I wanted them to be pointed at and close enough that the phase would be pretty darn good.
Benedikt: [00:04:43] Awesome. Yeah. That's what I was. Yeah, because sometimes that's the right thing to do. I just wanted to mention that because it's a good example of. That there are no hard rules. And just because there are like, quote unquote proper stereo miking techniques, that doesn't mean you have to use them all the time.
You can break
Malcom: [00:04:58] the rules. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It [00:05:00] worked great, um, worth noting as well. That those mikes, the, these big Coles, if you ever get a chance to use them, my favorite Mike's hands down. I love them so much now. Um, they are essentially ginormous magnets and they'll literally push the other one around, like, so if you're trying to put them in a way that they don't want to go like that, your mic stands, it's going to fly away from you as you push it closer.
So it's a little frustrate.
Benedikt: [00:05:25] Yup. Yup. Can
Malcom: [00:05:26] confirm or smashed together. It goes to the way, like make
Benedikt: [00:05:31] this too cool. Yeah. But that like that. You know, when you, when you look at a picture and you can almost like hear how good it sounds just by looking at it, that's one of those
Malcom: [00:05:41] pictures. So, yeah, totally. Yeah. Go ahead to my Instagram folks.
I'll post something.
Benedikt: [00:05:46] Exactly. I do that. Cool. Talking about Instagram. That's a pretty good segue too, into something I wanted to share with you because. I started doing something today. Um, so by, by the time this episode airs, it's probably like [00:06:00] eight or nine days ago. Um, and, uh, what I want to do is I thought of ways that I can provide more insights and advice and value in quick tips and things.
Yeah for the community and for listeners. And I thought about it and like, how can I do that without it taking up a lot of time so that I can still do the podcast and work on records and all that. So, but I still want it to be buttoned it to be valuable. Of course. And I also wanted something that got me thinking and that made, makes me reflect on projects that I'm working on and like, think about things a little deeper.
So anyway, I came up with the idea that I would just do. Very short daily blog posts. So not like long form blog posts, but like could be a couple of sentences. Could be just a small little, like some like a tweet or anything sometimes a little longer. I don't know. But what I would, what I do now is I make a blog post on the website every single day on some topics.
So when I work on a session on a record, or when we talk about something [00:07:00] and something sticks out to me, I make a note, write it down, and then I make a short. Post about it the next day, I just reflect on it. I think about it a little more. And then whatever comes to mind, what I think might be a useful lesson that I've learned or a problem that I had to solve or anything like that.
I'm going to share that immediately with you, because I think that's one of the best ways to, to teach is actually like share what you learned yourself. Like the second before, you know, or like, I just want to share all the, all the little tiny lessons that come or problems that come up every day. And, uh, the way I do that is I post make a blog posts on my website.
So if you go to the self recording band.com/blog, there are going to be like long form blog posts that I've written a while ago. But now there is also going to be the daily blog category with these short posts. And I'm also going to put them in my Instagram stories. So if you follow me at Benedick tine, just one word at Benedick time.
On Instagram. You'll see those in my story every morning, my time. So that's just something I want to share with you. And, um, I [00:08:00] let, let me know if you find that helpful, if you find that interesting, um, part of it is also doing it for myself, I guess, because it just makes me think about things and sharing things publicly is almost, it's like always a good exercise.
And so, yeah. Anyway, let me know if you like that. I'll do that from now on. And, uh, that's something I'm really, I'm really excited about. And, um, so yeah, go to my Instagram. Look at those beautiful pictures and then go to my Instagram and check out the daily posts, their stories
Malcom: [00:08:27] minds for an Eagle fix Benny's is for learning something.
Benedikt: [00:08:34] I think there's like value in both. So anyway, like, yeah. Thank you for that. And then last thing before we get finally get to today's episode is. I want to ask you once again, please, to share the podcast with your friends and also please leave reviews on whatever app you're listening to this podcast. If you're on Apple podcast, that's awesome.
If you were on whatever app you're using, if they have a review feature or some [00:09:00] rating feature, whatever, please give us five stars and write a couple of sentences. It really means a lot to us and it really helps us reach more people. And, uh, yeah. Make more recording sound better. And, uh, so yeah, please do that.
And every once in a while, we might even shout out a couple of those, uh, people who do it. So this week, for example, Malcolm shared with me a pretty amazing review. That we got, I haven't even noticed, but I want to read it because it's awesome. It's from Brett attic and he says he gave us five stars and he says, Malcolm is an absolute genius.
I have to agree. Wow. What a smart man.
Malcom: [00:09:40] I already liked him.
Benedikt: [00:09:42] These podcasts are still helpful to begin to starting out recording instruments, understanding software gear, explanation tips, and so much more. The amount of knowledge in these podcasts is ridiculous. If I could. I'd give this a 10 out of five.
Thank you so much, Brett. This just made my day [00:10:00] and, uh, yeah. We might just awesome. Do a couple of shout outs that way. If you review this
Malcom: [00:10:06] staff bread is obviously one of the most intelligent, talented people in the world after reading that comment. Um, no,
no doubt in my mind. He's right. About everything he writes. Um, no. Yeah, just for, I want to segue that, uh, We've mentioned this band, um, where future a few times on the podcast and a bad I've been mixing for ed. He is their drummer. So there's a. Some cool him learning. I'm getting them mixed tracks. He's recording.
It's all this like, Hey, what we're doing is actually working. It's awesome.
Benedikt: [00:10:40] That's great. Cool.
Malcom: [00:10:41] Yeah. Um, and as far as sharing the podcast with other people, you know, and, um, you know, giving us reviews and stuff, that's also gonna help us get other cool guests on and stuff like that. Like the, the growth we experienced helps us secure even better lessons for you in the future.
So there is some benefit for you actually doing that, and we really [00:11:00] appreciate it.
Benedikt: [00:11:00] Absolutely. Yeah. I'm so glad you mentioned that better guests. And also the more people listen, the more people write reviews and more people react to our shows, the more emails we get and all of that, the better we understand what you really want to hear, what would really be helpful for you?
So the better we can, like. Um, make these episodes and come up with topics for you. So it all works together. So yeah, share these episodes, help us grow and, uh, please leave reviews. Thank you so much.
Malcom: [00:11:30] Sure thing. Sure thing. Like I'm going to do it. Yeah, no problem, man. I'll do I'll leave a review. Malcolm is the best.
I'll just write Brett's out, but Alex review again,
Benedikt: [00:11:45] I'm starting to question whether Monday's the best day to do a podcast.
Malcom: [00:11:51] I didn't have enough coffee. Sorry. No problem.
Benedikt: [00:11:53] So let's move on to today's episode. And this is, it kind of goes back [00:12:00] to what we were talking about with the drum overheads. At least this will be part of this episode as well, because we are talking about recording, live in a room and we're talking about how to reduce bleed and how to isolate the individual elements and instruments better, but also about how you can.
Actually embrace the room sound and the fact that you're recording live. So yeah, let's discuss, uh, it's, it's a question that we get a lot. That's just one thing I wanted to say. And that brings me back to like the whole, we react to your, um, requests sort of thing, because a lot of people are asking this.
It seems like a lot of people are recording live or at least do demos and pre pro-life. And they're struggling to get a clear recording with good separation between the instruments. And all of that. So, um, we try to, to answer this for you now and give you a little, uh, some, some insights on how we would approach this as such a situation.
What are your first thoughts on this Malcolm? First? I
Malcom: [00:12:57] actually want to talk about why you might be recording [00:13:00] live, um, to give some context to the situation. Um, cause I know some people who have never done it and then I know some people that are just terrified of overdubbing and not doing it live. Um, so.
We're talking about live in the sense of maybe you're trying to do like off the floor demos or pre-production in your jam space. Um, but we're also talking about live. If that's how you want your album to sound. If you want it to be a live off the floor album, or maybe it's a live off the floor video of you playing a song that's been recorded for the album, but you're doing like a video of it, or just an alternate version, you know, there's all these different situations where live comes up and.
Learning how to do that effectively is totally helpful. I'd also argue that learning how to do this, it's going to teach you things that will help you with large performances in the future. You don't have as much freedom, but it could help.
Benedikt: [00:13:51] Absolutely. I think that recording in general is helping you with your life performances.
It's like, I think recording a record is almost like a bootcamp for every band. Like bands are so much better after [00:14:00] recording a record and they will be for every
Malcom: [00:14:02] time. Yeah. Every single time, no matter how good you are. Yeah. Yeah,
Benedikt: [00:14:05] totally. So, yeah, totally agree. Um, yeah, these, so basically the scenarios. So it's important to talk about the why in this case, because that might, you might have to make the decision.
Um, whether you want things very isolated and separate, or whether you want the glue factor of like everything bleeding into everything you need to decide, what is more important to you? Do you want to have very good separation because you want to analyze things, but the tones are not really as important or the final sound of it.
Um, all these things, like there are a couple of decisions to be made here and it's always going to be some sort of trade-off in a life situation. I feel it's. It's a trade-off with, when it comes to monitoring, like how much do you want to hear from the room? How much do you want to hear in your headphones?
Um, it's going to be a trade off there. It's going to be a trade off. Like when you think about you want to use like a real amp? If so, [00:15:00] how loud can you crank it? Is it going to sound worse? Because it has to be really quiet or do you need to use a load box or amp Sims and avoid the amp at all? Like all these things.
It's, it's one big trade-off I think. And a lot of questions that you need to answer. But there are some things that I think help a lot, and that gets you like 80% there. And it's always, there are a few things. If you do those, that's probably do the trick that will probably do the trick and everything else.
It's like little improvements. If you want to go further.
Malcom: [00:15:35] Right. Yeah. So first off we got to talk about positioning, um, which is going to be like, if we're 80 20 in it, that's the, that's the 80% that matters or 20% that does 80% of the work, you know? Exactly. I know what I'm talking about. Right. Another Monday strikes again.
And for people listening. Yes. We record on Mondays, even though you're getting it on. [00:16:00] Exactly.
Benedikt: [00:16:00] Exactly. Yeah. So positioning, um, and we mean. Positioning of instruments or amps in the room, but also Mike positioning pro and like positioning of whatever you use to isolate stuff like acoustic absorbers gobos, stuff like that.
So positioning stuff in the room. Um, yeah. And that is really the 80 here to me at least. And it starts with how you set up the band. I feel like, so. I'm curious to hear if you, before I, I tell people what I think about this. Do you have any approach to this? Like, do you, let's say you record a real record, not a demo, but like the real record live, would you.
Set everything up as like, if it was a stage or anything like that, or do you approach it completely different?
Malcom: [00:16:45] I approach it completely different. I I'll be honest here. All of the times I've had to do this, have been in commercial recording studios. So I've had a lot of power in that I'm like, okay, the amps is going to go in this other room.
Um, no problem. Uh, we've got a snake that [00:17:00] runs in there, you know, and then, Oh yeah, these doors, there's two doors on this wall. So we'll just like, isolation has been pretty easy for me, but that said there have been times. Where we've left them in the same room and had to figure that out. Um, and I did not do the, the stage setup, quote, quote, unquote stage set up where everything is, you know, along the same wall, pointing the same direction.
Um, I took into account where we, well, I think there's a few things take into account where your players are and then where your instrument sources are. Um, There's a lot of communication that goes into a live performance. So being able to have everybody looking at each other, like they bands often do naturally in a jam space.
Right. A lot of bands don't set up, like they're on a stage, which is a whole thing that needs to be practiced, but that's another conversation. Um, normally it's a circle, right. So I generally try and get the band set up like that. Um, and then. Then we have to figure out the instruments, I think. Right. [00:18:00] Um, so first up would be drums and drums.
I usually just decide on where I think the drums will sound best in the room. And then I'm going to start building around that. Do you do the
Benedikt: [00:18:09] same. Sort of, yeah. I start with the question of like, what, what's the, what's the image going to be like the stereo image. So is it important, like, do we have like multiple sources in the room that are going to bleed into each other and that are actually going to be loud in the room?
Or are we going to do all of the I and stuff because then it doesn't matter as much. So if you do all the eye, all the eyes, and if we let's say overdub, the vocals, which I. Most of the time would recommend, then I would absolutely go and choose the best spot for the drums and then put the people wherever and just grab the eyes.
If I'm dealing with real amps and it's going to be loud in the room, then there's going to be another trade-off I guess, because then I will probably choose a spot for the drums. Close to the shorter wall of the room. If it's like a standard like rectangular room, I would [00:19:00] put the drums in the middle of the shorter wall of the room.
Then I would put the bass if there's a bass amp, close to the drums, because those are like the kick drum and the bass are probably going to be in the middle. So I'd want them close together. If I put a pair of room mics in the room, then I would on the longer walls like left. And like, if you look. If you look from the drummer's perspective, if you look into the room on the left and right wall, somewhere in the middle, I would put the two guitar amps facing to like the center facing each other, basically pointing to the center of the room, sort of.
Yep. And I would put the guitar players on the opposite sides of their amps, actually. So not in front of their own amp, but in front of the other end, because oftentimes you can hear your own and better. At a little distance, um, whereas the standing right in front of it. So that's a little trick that I use.
And like, you can switch, you can just look for a good, good spot where both guitarists can hear both guitars in the way they want them to hear when they want to hear it, hear them. So I would do that base next to the, to the drums. And then I would put the vocal, if there are vocals in [00:20:00] the room, also, I would put them as far away from the drums as possible.
On the other short wall, the vocal is looking. Into the room so everyone can see each other. And the vocalists, like with the back to the wall, the microphone pointing away from the, from the drums avoiding symbol bleed and the vocal mic at all costs. Um, and that's probably one of the rare situations where I also would use or try it at least to use some of the, the, those like reflection my screens that I typically don't like, but in this situation, I would probably use it to try and get rid of even more symbol bleed and bleed it overall.
So in that way, like everyone can see each other. And, um, if I've thrown out a pair of room mikes in the room, maybe some are close to where the vocal mic is. Um, I can have a stereo image with one guitar left, one guitar, right. Bass and drums in the middle, sort of. Uh, vocals won't really matter because they will be quiet in the room probably.
Yep. And yeah. And then I would probably start [00:21:00] dialing in volumes, listening to those roommates and just make, I would make sure, probably that I get a good balance in the room if that's something I want. Yeah. If I want the, yeah,
Malcom: [00:21:12] the, I totally think you're right. The, the main thing you have to consider is that stereo picture.
So if your roommates don't match. What you want to hear? You're, you're kind of going to be battling that for the rest of time. On the other hand, not really on the other hand, but in conjunction with that, I guess you can also try and utilize like the pole, the pattern, the pickup pattern of your roommates to reject where you place your amps.
So if it's cardioid cardioid, you can get your app kind of behind the room mix in those NOLs and get some more isolation that way. Um, but again, If you're not careful, you're going to like still hear some that may be in the wrong mic. You do have to really listen to anything that's meant to like, pick up what the room actually sounds like with all of you playing.
It has to match what you want. Yeah. [00:22:00] That's you can't really stress that enough. Um, I've gotten to sit in, this is a little bit of a tangent, but I've gotten to sit in on some like symphony recordings in big theaters and stuff like that. And 85% of those recordings are two Mike's hung off the rafters above the crowds head.
Um, spaced out there. Or, or sometimes a little closer to the stage, but it's like almost always all of it is like, I can't even stress how much all of it, I mean is to mix in. Just getting the whole picture that sometimes they're spot mics on the piano or something, but it's almost all done with two mics and it's because they placed them and arranged the band on stage.
There's a reason the band is laid out as they're laid out on, on the stage, um, in those situations. So that is what you have to do in this situation too. Totally
Benedikt: [00:22:44] agreed. And you can do the live setup by the way. Um, there's a famous producer. His name is Vance Powell. I don't know if you know him. Um, yeah, he, yeah.
Uh, and he does, from what I know, and from videos that I've watched of him, like he likes the life setup thing [00:23:00] and he also relies heavily on a pair of room that captures like the band coming off the stage basically. And he likes the fact that everything's lined up perfectly and it gives him a feeling of like, um, yeah.
I don't know if it's phase, but it's coming from the same direction, lined up perfectly. It has the energy and th th the stereo image that you get from a band. So you can totally do that, the life setup, but you need a room that allows you to do that a big enough room, because like lining up everything next to each other on one wall requires a pretty long room.
And also you want to have some space in the other direction as well to get as far away with the room mikes. As you need to get a cool image here. And so it's not possible in most small rehearsal rooms, I think, but no, if you can't do it, it's you, you, you can't do what Malcolm just described as well, of course,
Malcom: [00:23:50] but kind of regardless.
The those room mikes, if they don't sound like the stereo image that you have in your head for your recording, it's not even worth putting them up. Yeah. [00:24:00] It's like it gets done wrong so enough that it's worth mentioning. It's like, just don't use those channels for something else. If you're not getting what you want
Benedikt: [00:24:07] from the room.
I absolutely agree. And sometimes you don't want them at all. Sometimes you want the amps really quiet because you don't want them in the, in the drum overheads or whatever. And you, you wouldn't get a good room. Glue or room image anyways, or. So sometimes it just doesn't make sense in that situation. So only use them if you really want that sound of one pair of Mike's in the room.
And also if, if what you're hearing there is usable and actually matches the sound in your head. Totally. And, and often that's not the case. I agree. Yeah. So when it comes to positioning, the next thing is like the clever use of isolation, um, tools I'd say, or. Things you can build yourself or buy or whatever.
So I would, in, in the example that I just mentioned, and also in the live setup example, I would probably always try to use gobos between the guitar amps and the [00:25:00] drums. So when you look again from the drummer's perspective into the room, you wouldn't see the guitar amps because there would be gobos um, yeah.
Sort of hiding them from the drums.
Malcom: [00:25:10] Yeah, we're talking about shields. Exactly. If you're not familiar with gobos, we're putting something in the way, ideally something with some acoustic treatment. Um, but whatever there's, uh, I saw photos of, uh, Steve Earle. Um, do you know that guy, uh, copperhead road is like the session of that and they recorded some studio in Ireland and it's like, just concrete walls are built into the room.
Then that was their gobos concrete walls. It's like, wow. Things have changed.
Benedikt: [00:25:42] Yeah. I mean, yeah, it's probably the best gobo of all. Like, if it's
Malcom: [00:25:48] a little reflective, but very effective, it didn't even treat the surface like. No, no. It's like concrete.
Benedikt: [00:25:54] Oh, okay. Okay then. Yeah, I mean, I, I was thinking like, uh, concrete core [00:26:00] that treated with something, you know, that would be great
Malcom: [00:26:02] actually, but no, there was a back in those days, I think there was confusion between sound proofing and sound treatment.
Benedikt: [00:26:11] awesome. Yeah. Um, I would just use whatever, like. If you can, like you can, of course build absorbers, like, um, the, the way that , that we had, the guests that we had on our podcast and our friend and acoustics expert, Escalade Han teaches all the time. It's like you build a wooden frame and you put fiber, um, some sort of like Rockwool fiberglass, whatever you use, uh, inside that.
Um, there's different. I say, whatever you want to use, because there's different stuff in different countries that Scott different names. So I can't recommend one product. I just know for Germany, it's like, Rockwool Sona rock is one thing that works, but there's different, like sort of Rockwool available and you can put that inside that wooden frame and then cover it with fabric.
And that's a, gobo, that's an absorber. And you can put that on the wall or you can use it as a gobo and just put it somewhere in the room. Or if you don't want to build something [00:27:00] like that, you can just use a mattress or whatever for that, like, for, for. Getting some isolation from the amps. It will probably work.
Malcom: [00:27:07] Yep. Um, you'll, you've probably seen it live with people using like venues have plexi shields for amps or drums sometimes. Um, those work in the pinch as well. Um, yeah. Be careful with what they do to the sound as well. They're always too close to things, but, uh, but essentially it can be worth blocking the, the, the line of sight essentially.
Benedikt: [00:27:33] Yeah, totally. Yeah. And then, um, yeah, try whatever you, you can to shield things from, from other things. And then one neat little trick that I like to use that goes back to using the polar patterns of the mikes that you touched on, that I like to use. And also. Full circle here to the beginning. I'd like to use ribbon mics as overheads in those situations because of the figure of eight pattern, because what that [00:28:00] does is like figure of eight mikes have the novel on the side and it's actually, they are rejecting a lot.
They are, they have better rejection than cardio is on the back, actually. And if you put two ribbon mics on the drums as overheads and you end the side of them is pointing into the room where the guitar amps are. You get pretty. Good sounding drums with pretty low volume like bleed volume. It's, it's incredible actually how much you can reject with those.
I have a pretty small live room and I've done a bunch of recordings in there with pretty loud amps and every single time, I couldn't believe how quiet the M swearing, the overheads if like, um, positioned correctly. And it only works with the figure of eights because they pick up from the bottom at the top, but the size have a really, really good rejection.
Malcom: [00:28:48] Yeah. Yeah. Smart, smart Mike choice there for sure. I like that a lot. Um, do you'd be surprised at how, again, going back to room mix, especially how loud guitar, [00:29:00] strings and vocals, it can be, um, getting into room mikes or even overheads or whatever. Um, so positioning the player does actually matter. Um, you might think it doesn't cause you can't hear anything in the loud room, but those mikes might be able to.
Um, so if you've got a guitarist. Even if it's amp has totally died or something, and he's strumming hard beside the room, like you'll, you're gonna hear that, like ticking, um, potentially. And that's not very musical sounding. Right. Nobody wants to hear an electric guitar and plugged in recording.
Benedikt: [00:29:29] Oh yeah, totally.
I didn't even think about that, but you're totally right. Especially in a small room, you easily get you get you quickly get close. To some mic and then you hear the strumming and you, yeah,
Malcom: [00:29:39] totally. Um, we should talk about, uh, about doing that or, or using the app Sims and stuff like that. Um, that is, uh, it would be brief because it's so simple, but that's a great, great move.
If you have a piece of gear that lets you, uh, cause they do the player needs to monitor something at the same time. So it has to, you have to have [00:30:00] a setup where they can. Not having an amp live in new, but still here an app, right. To be able to play their parts. Um, and there's lots of ways. Like my camper is one way you can use some like the neural DSP stuff or amp Sims.
If you have, uh, an interface set up to monitor, I guess, um, or. There's some there's even pedals that do a pretty good job of it. Now, like the Strymon or radium, I think is one that is like a, it's like a pin, a pedal with a direct out. Um, so those are options and obviously that's going to remove all bleed, which is pretty cool, um, worth considering.
Right? Definitely worth considering, especially for bass.
Benedikt: [00:30:38] Absolutely. I mean the best situation would be to get the vibe of people playing together without all the bleed would be to have all the eyes. And then do vocal overdubs and basically just record the drums in the room. And, um, that way you can like totally focus on the drum sound.
You can do whatever. To make the drum sound as good as possible. And then you can just [00:31:00] ramp the guitar performances and do vocal overdubs in that way. I think you get the best of both worlds in a way.
Malcom: [00:31:05] So yeah, it, it literally is the best of both worlds. You get the fun of doing it live with the isolation of individually recorded tracks, essentially that part.
And then if there's a mistake, you can fix it. You know, it's not bleeding. It hasn't bled into. The room and people don't account for that. It's like if one person screws up, it screws up for everyone if there's bleed. Right. Um, so it, like, it is really hard. People think is faster, but it can be a lot slower if somebody is not up to the tasks that record life.
Um, and, uh, this really frees it up and I've set up bands to do this, to like, Quotation Mark track beds live, um, and then ended up only keeping the drums and just redoing everything else. Been like, okay. That worked, but the rest could be better. So we're just going to start, we've got our foundation of drums now, so we'll just pick it up from there, overdub to them kind of thing.
Um, it gives you, you know, we're planning or hoping to record everything live, but. We don't have to, you know, [00:32:00] because it's not bleeding into everything. We have that flexibility. Um, and again, isolation rooms, if you can somehow run your app to another room and it doesn't, it's not bleeding in loudly, then you've got the same thing there.
It doesn't have to be a DEI. It just needs to be isolated.
Benedikt: [00:32:13] Yeah. And what do you just sat? There is also interesting to me because. Again, that brings us back to the question of why you want to make that live recording in the first place. And part of the reason, or may oftentimes the biggest reason is that you want to get the, feel the feeling of a band playing together, like people interacting with each other and the groove and the feeling that results from that.
And I think even if you just end up keeping the drums, you still capture that feeling that way, because the drums, the groove and everything has that vibe. And then if you overdub to it, you just have to make sure to. It can be a little tricky to do that again, like really nail the performance a second time, but at least you have the groove that, and that I think the basic energy is captured in those drum takes.
So the purpose is still like there and, [00:33:00] um, it's just, it's just works also. It definitely. Yeah. Yeah. Go ahead.
Malcom: [00:33:05] The reason I normally do this is actually not because of the live set up. Cause I never really do find that I miss vibe from going over dub. So I'm like all my favorite records recorded over up.
It doesn't seem to be a problem for them. It just takes a good drummer. Right. Um, and, but there, there definitely is a difference. But, um, the main reason I actually do it is when the band hasn't done enough. Pre-pro. And I know that we're going to need to make changes to the song and arrangement on the fly.
And we don't want just to be doing that based on drums. We want the whole band to be able to react and try things out rapidly, be like, okay, what if you guys build into the course, rather than just like going from, you know, low level to high level kind of thing, like have a dynamic build and we can try it on the spot with everybody modifying their part at the same time.
Um, communication is just so quick in that case. And there's no, there's nothing left to the imagination anymore. So it's normally a production where we're still doing production choice decisions at that stage. And that's why [00:34:00] it's so
Benedikt: [00:34:00] nice. Absolutely. And I would even recommend you do. Maybe if you can, if you can, at all, like do a quick setup with, like, let's say you plan on overdubbing, any everything, but maybe you can set up.
Like two or three dyes and do one pass of each song altogether, even if it just planned to record rums, just to make sure, um, that it really like maybe, maybe you want to do a tempo change somewhere and you're not really sure. Maybe like, even if you have done pre-pro maybe you haven't thought about. What the exact like you should have, but maybe you haven't thought about like temporal changes or maybe one part still feels a little weird and you don't know why.
And then, um, you just, you can't just do one pass, compare it to your demos. Compare how it feels if you find yourself or if you play a song five times and every single time. It's a little, one part is a little slower than what you have in your pre-pro. Maybe it's a good idea to make that part a little slower.
You can just do a last check and make sure that what you capture is actually that the way that the [00:35:00] song should feel. Yeah. Yeah, totally. So, yeah, absolutely agreed. Now what, when you do that, when you record. Live with only the eyes. I think the monitoring becomes incredibly important because people are used to hearing their amps in the room.
And they're like, if you only have your headphones now, but the loud drums that are probably bleeding into those headphones. You got to make sure it still feels good for the player. So closed back headphones and proper headphone amps that can really drive those headphones and give you the volume that you need are absolutely critical here.
You need to be careful though. You don't want to damage your hearing of course, but you need something powerful enough that it's fun to play too. And that you actually hear what you're playing and you need also as the, yeah. As much isolation as possible. That is even more important than sound. I think.
Malcom: [00:35:50] Yep. Yeah. If you're recording live, you have to be able to play well together, live. And if you can't hear each other, it's not going to work. Right. Nobody can [00:36:00] play a good show if they can't hear themselves. So we've all been in that situation where the Mon stage sound is just a disaster and it's always a terrible experience.
Benedikt: [00:36:08] So yeah, pay attention to like, buy like a four channel or a bunch of those. If you need more, um, like a cheap, but good headphone amplifier. Um, that could really drive a couple of headphones and then use like isolation. Closed back headphones that don't have to be super expensive, but just something that gives you the oscillation and sounds somewhat decent pleasant.
And, um, that is I think the most important investment almost if you want to, if you want to do it that way now I'm going to say something controversial, especially for like guitar players, like people. If you play guitar and listen to this podcast, you might agree or hate the following agree with or hate the following statement.
And that is, and I, I'm curious to hear what you say about that and I'll come. Because I say that amp volume, even with tube amps, doesn't matter [00:37:00] nearly as much as people think it does. So to me, I would always like the priority would always be on separation and monitoring and like my position to get the tone and all of that versus like cranking the power of the amp, because I think it sounds, it only sounds good if it's crank really loud because I don't believe that to be true.
I think there is something to be said about. The different sounds, you get out of a power amp depending on the volume and that if you crank it, you get saturation and there's a sweet spot. And all of that, I totally agree, but I don't agree that it matters so much that it's worth having the amp bleed into everything else and causing problems with the drums.
And so I absolutely think that you can record a quiet tube amp. I've done it a bunch of times and works. There's also ways to can do it with a crank damp, like load boxes and stuff, but even without it just turning the massive volume down can absolutely sound good.
Malcom: [00:37:56] Oh yeah. A hundred, a hundred percent agree.
I think when I'm recording the [00:38:00] guitar by itself, I generally do turn it up quite a bit, but it's kind of because it's fun. Um, and, uh, yeah, and you've, you're making a decision by recording live that. You were giving up that luxury pretty much because you can't ruin the drum recording by blaring an app.
Right. It's just, that's not a good decision. It's a waste of your time if we're going to do that. So yeah. You have to balance it out. Um, on the other hand, it is totally a thing to be too quiet. Um, if the symbols are coming into your guitar mic louder than your guitar, you've got a problem. So there's like you got to balance the signal to noise ratio essentially.
And in this case, noise is literal other, literally other instruments. Um, so figure that out.
Benedikt: [00:38:43] Absolutely agree. There's a sweet spot here as well, but I'm glad you agree with the, with the power of discussion because I just don't think it's true. In fact, I've gotten a bunch of recordings from people where I think they recorded too loud.
I think. They, they, I think a lot of people think a tube amp [00:39:00] has to be loud and they ignore how the cab reacts to the loud amp. You get compression from the speaker. You some, Mike's just, can't take that, like the sound pressure, um, the room can
Malcom: [00:39:13] kind of get overloaded.
Benedikt: [00:39:15] So in some situations it would actually sound better not to crank the amp other situations.
You can absolutely do it. So there's no hard rule here. I just want to say, if you're worried about like your tube amp, not sounding good in a situation like that. Forget about that. Just get a good signal to noise ratio, set the amp so that it sounds good. Get a good mic position, isolated as good as, as much as possible.
And remember that it's always going to be a trade-off in the last situation something's got to give.
Malcom: [00:39:43] Definitely. Definitely cool. Yeah, it, uh, it's all about balance now. Vocals quick conversation there. You should overdose.
It's a disaster every time, but, uh, if you can't, it has to be live to video or something that would live stream kind of thing. [00:40:00] Um, placement is everything. Use a dynamic microphone with some great rejection. Uh, you could probably get away with a figure eight in the right situation, right band, um, I mean, you could get it ready with a condenser in the right setup with the right band, but, uh, dynamics is going to take a lot of the headache out of it for, um, make sure the null of that mic is at the loudest things in the room.
Um, hopefully they're far away from everything. Um, yeah, really your, your two tools are volume or three tools or volume, uh, placement of the polar pattern on your mic. And then also just distance distance makes a big difference. And then I guess, uh, isolation again, if you can get a gobo in front of the singer.
Benedikt: [00:40:39] Agreed. A hundred percent agreed. Yeah. And overdub again, it's just overdub if at all possible it's and it's not only because. It's for so many reasons. Vocals are quiet compared to a loud room kid in the room.
Malcom: [00:40:54] Assembles are almost no matter how big the room is. It's it's just, uh, there it's a [00:41:00] quiet instrument.
Benedikt: [00:41:01] And then also you got to think about if you're recording dies along with your amps, you can at least know that. I mean, if the amps allowed in the overheads, not at all, but like, there is a chance to edit guitars or edit drums in a way. Depending on how good the oscillation is. And if you use the eyes, you're totally free to do that.
But with vocals in the same room, it's very, very hard to do because the bleed will be loud in that microphone. And if you need to tune or time correct, or anything, uh, the vocals, you gotta have a hard time because it will sound weird with everything else. You're going to get faced with symbols. You're going to get weird guitars.
You're going to get Juni issues with the guitars. So you need to basically nail the performance or live with whatever mistakes are in there. And. Especially with vocals. I think it's just, you sacrifice a lot here. If like performance is lacking, it's just not good most of the time. So yeah. I don't have a really good singer to do that.
Malcom: [00:41:57] Yeah. Um, A lot of [00:42:00] DIY people are recording without compression and stuff like that either. So they're not really seeing the final product while on the way in, um, and they might be underestimating how bad the bleed problem in the vocal microphone is like, okay. It seems okay. But once you've crushed it and.
Compressed it and add a delay and reverb to it. Right. It's now you've got like a repeat of all the noise in there as well. That's been made louder. It really gets ugly quick. Um, so overdubbing is good little industry secret for you. I bet. Most of the live videos you think you've watched are overdubbed vocals.
Yes. Anything that's multi-camera probably an overdubbed vocal. Yeah. Yep. If it wasn't a live stream, overdub vocal, I mean, there's definitely exceptions. I mean, I'm painting with a broad brush, but, um, it, it's a pretty common little
Benedikt: [00:42:49] move. Absolutely. Yeah. And the final thing I want to add is sometimes the right thing to do is just to embrace the bleed and the fact [00:43:00] that it's live.
And sometimes all of what we just said, doesn't matter as much. And the approach, the right approach is set up a pair of room mics. Set up the stuff in the room that you get a great image balance out. The volume, use that pair of roommates as the main pair of microphones, get it to sound as good as possible, and then add in whatever is lacking or missing with close mix.
That can be an approach as well. Sometimes you just need to embrace it. Or sometimes if you have a mic in front of a kick drum that just gives you that awesome kick drum sound that you really want, and you need to put it at a distance from the kick drum, but that also means to get a lot of guitar amps in that mic.
Just embrace it. Just treat it as not only the kick-out mic, but treat it as sort of a roommate or a kick and Qatar, Michael, whatever, just label it differently, embrace it and run with it. That can totally work. It's the same thing. That mindset shift is often so helpful. It's the same thing as with. If you're getting a lot of high head bleed in a snare mic, for example, in a comment like a common scenario in a standard drum recording, sometimes it helps to just think about it differently.
[00:44:00] And you sometimes when people sent me a snare recording with a really, really loud high head in it, I just label it. Hat like hat slash snare or something. Right. And then I had like, I think differently about it. And then I treat it as a combination of a high hat and snare mic and I just live with it if it sounds usable at all.
Yeah. So sometimes that's just the right approach. Sometimes varying about isolation is not the right thing to do. And you just got to live with the fact that everything bleeds into everything and you make, you should even try to make the bleed sound pleasant. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:44:32] Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Embracing. I think that's actually a must in either way.
There's going to be some bleed. So how can you make it useful? Um, and not, not harmful, um, as long as the bleed sounds good, because remember we're not really editing anymore. This is live. Um, not that you can't, there's, there's tricky editing things you can do, but essentially. You're just what you're getting, you're getting what you get.
Um, and so making that bleed help you [00:45:00] is told the, a great useful concept to keep in mind, um, advanced mode. Concept for you. You could use speakers, a PA system to supplement certain things, so you can fight noise with noise. Um, so maybe you want it to sound even more live and you want that vocal coming note to speakers or something.
So that the room mic is actually hearing a vocal, you know, um, you can do stuff like that. You could reinforce the shells with a PA or, or maybe the guitars, whatever, you know, you can go down that road that, yeah, probably not in most cases, but as possible.
Benedikt: [00:45:34] Yes. Cool. Yeah. Thank you for that. That's also great idea.
Yeah, it's always no hard rules. Be creative, embrace the fact that you're recording live and do whatever it takes to make it sound awesome. Cool. I think pretty much we pretty much covered it.
Malcom: [00:45:50] Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. Um, I have one question for you. Yes. What would you like if you had the choice [00:46:00] right out, like after the, off the top of your head, whatever company situation comes to mind first, would you go direct boxes or as isolated as possible or Anson room?
Benedikt: [00:46:09] I have to answer with. It depends. Yeah. It's, it's the worst answer, but it totally depends. And it depends, it depends mostly on the genre. Like if, if it's yeah. I mean, some like the Sean was where I would need absolute isolation are probably ones that I wouldn't record life anyways. Right. That's the one thing.
But if I have to record, live or want to record live, then. Um, yeah, it still depends on the genre. The more technical it is, the faster it is, the tighter it has to be from like an editing or performance standpoint, the more isolation I need. And then I would go absolutely like the I overdubbed vocals and everything, and the more open sort of dirty.
Um, yeah. And if you want like organic or whatever you want to call it, it can be the more I can rely on roommates. [00:47:00] And I think this, the. The tempo of the songs plays and how technical they are is, is a part of that decision. For me, like with a, like really heavy, like half, half time parts and open chords and a lot of space in between the hits and like where the room can really shine and all of that.
I think the, every, everyone together in the room can sound really awesome. But if you're talking like technical death, metal is going to be a mess. To have some two extremes here, like the tempo of the song, the whole vibe, and also like how good the players are. Yep.
Malcom: [00:47:36] Yep. That is my main consideration. That was my cop-out answer was the players.
But if you think that you would need any editing at all, I would err on the side of isolation as much as possible. That is your new priority to me. Um, and, uh, also just end product. Is this going to be advertised as a live album or are you doing a live album that you want to be perceived as a studio record?
[00:48:00] Um, if you are expecting a studio result isolation again.
Benedikt: [00:48:04] Exactly. Yeah. Most of the time. Yeah, I, yeah. Yeah. I think especially in DIY situations, because that gets really advanced, like. Recording life, but making it sound like a proper studio record is one of the hardest things to do.
Malcom: [00:48:16] Yep. Yeah. Uh, it's it's uh, for me, it's always been a commercial studio space with, you know, session musicians.
Um, that's like the only time the room has really come to life, like magic for me.
Benedikt: [00:48:29] Yeah. And even then sometimes people are in different rooms or booths or whatever. Yeah, totally.
Malcom: [00:48:35] Yeah. It's still. All right. Cool. Um, yeah, lots of mindset stuff there. Lots of good tricks as well. Um, again, you can use that stuff a lot, but you know, isolation stuff is helpful.
Volume is going to make a difference to how you sound live. Um, again, like going back to the cranking, the power amp thing you're gonna have, doesn't need to be that loud, man.
Benedikt: [00:48:55] Exactly. It doesn't need to be that loud. And also what you said that those are [00:49:00] the two takeaways here for me that, um, Do whatever it takes to make the life thing sound good.
Even if it's like, even if you think that you're sacrificing something and the other thing is what you said, not come that you don't expect backed a record to sound more lively or organic or better, or whatever, or vibey just because you recorded live. Yep. So maybe recording life isn't even the right thing to do to begin with.
I just want to leave you with that. Yep.
Malcom: [00:49:29] Yeah, this reminds me, I haven't played live in so long now that I'm forgetting things. But our BA, when we had the sound guy that gigged with us a lot, um, and it was having a sound guy that knows your set, that does sound for you multiple times. That's the best, it's such an advantage, but he would always get us to level our guitars off.
So he's at front of house and he's like, okay, both play. And he doesn't even have it coming out on the main. So then he's like, all right, you turn up, you turn down and get us leveled. You know, good sound starts on the, on the sound stage. And then, and then he reinforces it with the loudspeakers kind of thing.
A [00:50:00] hundred percent balanced coming off the stage. That's
Benedikt: [00:50:02] the goal? A hundred percent agreed. I always did that when I was mixing live and it was still mixing live. I got yelled at, by a couple of guitarists for doing that because they don't want to sure. Not guitars, but like, I just, I just, I did it anyways because it's just so worth it.
And yeah. And so if you ever play live again, if we ever get to play live again and you have a sound guy that you trust, um, they. Just trust them and do what they say. Sometimes you might think you're not loud enough, but trust them. Yeah. All right, let's wrap it up. Thank you for listening as always a comment, leave a review, send us an email email post in the Facebook community.
Uh, let us know if you'd find this. If you found this episode helpful and also feel free to share your own tricks or your thoughts on it, on that whole process, we've got a couple of discussions on that topic going already in the Facebook community, but if you have a different perspective or some [00:51:00] insights to share, just do it feel free to post, um, and let's discuss further.
Malcom: [00:51:06] yeah. All right. Thanks for listening.
Benedikt: [00:51:07] Thank you. Bye .
Barnhouse Sound Productions (The Recording Studio Malcom Is Talking About In The Episode):
The Essential DIY-Recording Gear Guide:
TSRB Free Facebook Community:
Outback Recordings Podcast - Benedikt's other podcast
Your Band Sucks (at business) - Malcom's other podcast
If you have any questions, feedback, topic ideas or want to suggest a guest, email us at: email@example.com
take action and learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to 100% Mix-Ready, Pro-Quality tracks!
Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording