CD recording

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by satchmo shaz, Oct 24, 2005.

  1. satchmo shaz

    satchmo shaz Active Member

    hi experts! we are doing a CD recording soon
    Has anyone got any tips?
    We have booked a room and all the gear and 2 blokes to do it and we plan to do it over a weekend
  2. iggmeister

    iggmeister Member

    Dont play wrong notes!

    I expect there are loads of things that people more in the know than me can suggest but I think the most important thing is to get a good producer. A conductor of another local band in first or championship section should be able to do this fairly well and hopefully would be well worth whatever he/ she charges. When recording you can tend to to get caught up with not dropping your mute, sneezing, catching buttons on instruments or generally making a noise to remember what went wrong and what needs editting.

  3. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    One thing to bear in mind is the recording order: particularly if you are recording over more than one day, it makes sense to spread out the tougher pieces, so you're tackling those once you're nicely blown in but before lips begin to get tired. Bear in mind that the producer/engineer will want to be able to set the recording levels, and will probably be wanting to hear a range of snippets showing the band at maximum and minimum volume, particularly any percussion contributions.

    Also, I don't know how much editting you are planning to do, but I would suggest that if anything is simply not going right, put it to one side with a view to returning to it later on. I recall one recording we did with a tricky, high-lying euphonium line: we ran it through several times and it just was not working, and it was beginning to get everyone wound up, especially the euph with his top Cs; having left it, we went back to it at the end and recorded it perfectly in one take.

    I presume your room is reasonably safe from uncontrollable noise intrusion, but it also makes sense if players avoid footwear that is likely to make too much noise, depending on what the floor-covering is - it's surprising what the microphone will pick up ;)
  4. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    If you by any chance need to get percussion deps in, make sure they do a couple of rehearsals. 90% of edits that go wrong are because of percussion - not because they play badly, but because (for example) they move to the other side of the band to hit a cymbal that was played somewhere else on the first take.
  5. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Peter has, as ever, given some very useful tips.

    Some random thoughts, not in any order (and some may repeat suggestions above, so sorry about that!):

    1) Remember dusters for the floors so you don't get mute taps.

    2) Remind any foot tappers, er, to not do it when you're recording.

    3) Avoid jangly jewellery - that goes for both girls and boys :p.

    4) Make sure all mobile phones are switched - that's off, not on vibrate.

    5) Ensure you're venue has adequate lighting.

    6) Make sure you've got an adequate supply of water - room temperature is normally better.

    7) Don't forget the kettle for the engineers :biggrin:

    :cool: Employ a decent producer - it's practically impossible for the conductor to produce the recording from the middle of the Band, even though up front I'd guess that a lot of them think that they could ;)

    9) Make sure that the repertoire is appropriate. Although it's not for the engineers or producer(s) to tell you what you should be recording, it's tantamount to a waste of your time recording something that is either A) too difficult for you (even though you love playing it) or B) won't stand up to repeated listening i.e. you may be tempted to record something that you can 'get away with' on a concert - but people will be listening to the CD performance in perpetuity (and in that case you need it to be good).

    10) Structure your recording schedule accordingly, as has already been said. Start off with something that involves everyone - you'll need to do something like this for the souncheck anyway. Speaking of soundchecks, be patient, even if it seems to take a long time - it's important that the engineers get things right, especially if it's going straight to stereo. Record the solos at appropriate points during the weekend.

    11) Don't break pieces up across the overnight break - especially if the venue and / or engineers require a full reset (e.g. for insurance reasons). You'll morethan likely find that it's impossible to edit sessions from different days into a consistent performance.

    I've gotta put my small person to bed - if I think of anything else burning, I'll come back later....
  6. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Ooh, one thing I've forgotten.

    Noise intrusion.

    Check what's outside your chosen venue. I recently did a choir recording for the Laurence Singers - everything was hunky dory until the builder's across the way decided to be conscientious and work on the recording day as they had fallen behind schedule. The were fixing iron balconies to flats, involving sawing, hammering and spot welding. This was not good.

    Check for things like nearby sports fields (and matches!), nearby roads, airport flight paths - try and go while said noises may be being made and assess the situation from there (unless, of course, you've used it before!)
  7. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    More room considerations - did you book it yourselves, or did the recording company have a hand in the choice? I'm thinking in terms of things like:

    1) Is it big enough - brass needs time to develop.
    2) What shape is it, and what's on the walls - rooms can play havoc with all sorts of things particularly wrt reverb tails and unwanted echos (obviously, the engineers will take this into account when they see it)
    3) Has it got a separate room for the engineers to use as a control room? It's difficult - not impossible, but difficult - to balance a brass band recording from within the same room.
    4) Make sure that - particularly if it's a Local Authority building - that you can plug the gear in! I know it sounds stupid, but it's surprising the number of venues that now require PAT testing - most recording companies are likely to be fully compliant anyway but it's worth checking. It's no good turning up on the day only to find that the caretaker won't let you plug anything in!!

    Other than that - just turn up and enjoy yourselves, and let everyone else worry about the technicalities :)

    Good luck!
  8. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Good advice here and the odd one from me too although KMJ Recordings has stolen most of my thunder....:)

    1. Plan carefully the order in which you're going to record the pieces, don't leave the piece with the tricky rhythms needing lots of concentration till last on the day - your players will be drained by then and you'll never get it down.
    2. Make sure there are lots of refreshments available, tea, coffee, sandwiches etc etc. Its always a long day and if you can provide eats at the venue you're more likely to start the afternoon session on time and keep the players out of the pub! ;)
    3. Make sure everyone knows not to move a muscle until a couple of seconds after the piece has finished - even if you've just nailed Year of the Dragon in one take, keep a check on the urge to shout yessss!
    4. Noise: make sure everyone knows how to blow their water out silently, that no-one has clanky buttons, rings, squeaky chairs, mobile phones, pagers, whistling hearing aids or anything else that makes a noise outside of what you might expect.
    5. Only try to record the pieces you can really play. I mean really play, to a contest standard. Any mistakes recorded are there forever. If you can get through at least some pieces in one or two takes it removes a lot of the time pressure on the day should things go wrong at any point.
    6. Don't try and cram too much into one day - much better to pay a little more for a two day session to get a much better CD at the end of it.

    and finally:

    7. Enjoy it - its a great experience! :biggrin:
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2005
  9. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    ...and don't forget to make sure soloists have maintained their instruments properly. Clanky valves can play havoc if they end up being close miked.
  10. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Oh just thought of another one...if you can get the chance to do a rehearsal or two in the venue beforehand then do so, so your players are familiar with the acoustic as soon as you start to record.
  11. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Always a cunning plan if budget allows :p

    Another thing is to try and not get frustrated if you're asked to do things lot of times - it'll be for a reason. A good Producer will know when enough is enough ;)
  12. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Oh and it might be worthwhile thinking about potential edit points in the pieces. If something goes wrong then you'll be able to start at a point without spending time thinking about / discussing the best place to go from. Anything that saves time faffing on the day, to give you more time actually playing is worthwhile.
  13. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    This is really the realm of the Producer and the engineers.

    If you do end up with a little inexperience against you, remember that you should never do a dry edit. What I mean by this is always run into the section that you're hoping to patch - it allows the room to sound and the appropriate reverberation is important when you're trying to crossfade things. WoodenFlugel is quite right though - don't do too much.

    Always make sure that you've covered thigs at least twice, just in case ;)

    Depending on how much time the editors spend in post-production, it's not unheard of to crossfade half a minim that had a split on the front - but that attention to detail can sometimes be costly depending on how you're paying your bills :D
  14. satchmo shaz

    satchmo shaz Active Member

    wow! thanks guys, theres some really interesting stuff there, keep the hints and tips coming;)
  15. strongbow

    strongbow Member

    In agreement 100%! Also, not to push the point too much and put the soloists off, but make sure that the soloist don't do too much in the pieces before their solo's as it can get quite tiring on the old embouchure.

    As well as the clanky valves, watch out for breathing noise as it can get in the way!! Not just the soloist but usually the bass section.

    :tup Good luck and as has been said before, enjoy the weekend it can be good for moral.
  16. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Breathing noise, to an extent, I can live with - it's all part of the performance. Of course, basses and the iron lungs can be quite loud :D

    There are two schools of thought here. One is that you're actually there to capture a performance, and the other can be somewhat artificial whereby you in a sense manufacture a performance.

    Breathing noise from soloists can more often than not be got round by mic positioning (again this should be covered by the engineers and producers). Occasionally, though, you do get odd things (like lip buzz) creeping in, which is down to the players that you can't really get rid of.
  17. NeilW

    NeilW Member

    Listen when the room is supposed to be quiet: we had to move a clock out because it ticked (not all the time, just sometimes!)

    Air conditioning off (was quite unpleasant recording on hot evenings over the summer - but we could put it back one while we rehearsed...)

    We were quite lucky that one of the guys in the band had the recording gear so we could do it in easy stages: a couple of pieces a month was the theory, but ended up being 4 or 5 some months and none others!

    Lastly listen to what's been recorded carefully to make sure its what you want on the CD and re-record if it isn't - to be honest we've got one track on this year's CD that I would have felt happier redoing but we ran out of time....

  18. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    To take a couple of these one stage further...

    In terms of the 'noise of the room' other things to check for include stuff like the automatic coke machines, bar room chillers etc. The fridges in this kind of thing have a habit of kicking in at random times - normally right in the middle of the quiet bit. There are two bad sides to this, one is that you'll be able to hear them on the reocrding and the second is that if the recording company don't condition the mains and the machines are on the same circuit you can get lots of nasty artifacts caused by the electrics.

    Secondly, make sure that the balance is agreed between anyone that matters before the recording is sent to tape i.e. make sure there's adequate communication between, say, the MD and the Producer to make sure things sound the way you want them to sound. Again, depending on how the recording is done, there may be nothing that can be done in post-production about balance....which kind of ties in with the make sure you're happy with it concept.

    Be careful with the multiple sessions idea. Unless you're resets are extraordinarily good (seating positions, mics positions with laser sights etc), you could potentially ed up with a recording that is inconsistent across the CD - this is just an extreme version of why I said don't break pieces overnight.
  19. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Anothe couple of room considerations - I'm on a roll here ;)

    Check out the roof structure. When I did a recording with Leyland earlier this year, for the majority of the weekend it was the hottest so far of the year - now that was uncomfortable. However, when we were derigging there was a freak hailstorm. It was at that point that we discovered that the roof construction was mainly plastic - it didn't look like it from the inside. If we han't finished the recording by then we would have had major problems.

    Also related to the weather, check out how well the windows seal against noise from the rain if you can. More specifically, if it's been raining and the room is adjacent to a road, make sure you can't hear cars driving through puddles outside :D
  20. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Does anyone else think it would be a good idea if Keith could do a synthesis of all the ideas he has put forward here (and elsewhere) into a "basic guide to planning a band CD" sort-of-thingy, so that tMP could add it to the "library/articles" section, along with the "Copyright Factsheet" ? ? ?