Recording - August 2016 - 14

As I approach a recording session of one type or another, I
commonly feel a keen mixture of
excitement and anxiety. There's
excitement for the opportunity to do
one of the things I enjoy most in this
world. I love setting up microphones
and related gear to capture as faithfully
as possible the sound of the musicians
I'm about to work with and to represent,
on recorded media, the music they make
in a fashion that meets or exceeds their
expectations. The anxiety, of course,
comes from the fact that there are any
number of things that can sabotage the
recording process, and my reputation is
on the line every time I hit Record. I
enjoy that combination of feelings and
have come to realize they are the natural companions to challenge. Challenge
is a good thing, right?
I hope so, because recording a band
is full of challenges. To keep the anxiety
side of the equation under control, I
focus on the preparation. There are lots
of variables that can surprise you, but
there's a lot you can do to prepare to
meet those challenges with confidence.
When the unexpected does show up-
and it will-you're in a better position to
deal with it, because you're not so
stressed out. I'll walk you through some
of what I do, working up to the time
when that metaphorical red light comes
on... and after.

By Bill Stunt
If I'm working in an unfamiliar venue-
say, a new studio, a club or hall for a live
performance recording, or someone's basement-I make a site visit and note as much
pertinent information as possible. What are
the acoustics like? What's needed and
what's available to "fix" the acoustics if necessary? What is the load-in and load-out situation like? What about cable runs?
Where will the band set up? Is there a
space to make a dedicated ad hoc control
room? If it's a live recording, do I need to
set up outside in a van or truck? Where
can I park that vehicle? How do I interact
with the house PA? Do I need a splitter?
Can I augment the stage microphones with
some extras for recording only?
If I'm working in a studio, I'll make a
list of the available microphones, preamplifiers, and outboard gear, and I'll
make a list of supplemental gear that I'll
need to supply. If it's a home recording,
I'll do an inventory of my own gear,
match it up to the instruments I'm recording, and note what extra stuff I need to
borrow or rent. I count cables and make
sure I have enough, and yes... I note
that on one of my checklists.

If I'm not working from my own
recording space, I go into "hyper
list mode", making columns for all
the different types of items I'll need to
gather up and transport to the recording venue. Cables, connectors and turnarounds, (turnarounds-male to male or
female to female adaptors-are amazingly useful), power bars, power supplies for condenser microphones. (I had
a couple made for me, for those odd
times you run out of power supplied
from consoles, sound cards or stand
alone preamplifiers.) I'll note if I need to
bring any sound absorption material,
like my trusty moving blankets and foam.
Oh, and phone numbers and email
addresses... lots and lots of contact information, including everyone involved in
the recording and the venue. I also make
note of the numbers for local equipment
and musical instrument rental businesses.
Being prepared increases your chances
of getting a successful recording, every
bit as much as your chops behind a console or your DAW. I recommend it highly.
Your lists will differ from mine, but I
encourage you to not dismiss some version of this process as insignificant to a
successful recording session.

Know what you're recording
The next part of preparation is understanding the music you're about to try to
capture. Music has a million charms and
there are a million ways to express those
Make a list and check it twice
charms. A band is not a generic entity; it's
I've made a lot of pre-recording checka living, breathing thing that needs to be
lists in my life. I've filled notebook after
understood before you can capture it faithnotebook with obsessive lists and notes on
fully. Your understanding of the unit will
the type of music I'm getting set to record.
inform a lot of decisions as you prepare
I make notes about the band
and execute the sessions.
1
and the feel or sound they're
Your understanding of the
after. I write out my impresband and the nature of the
sions of the music they are permusic it's creating will dicforming. I research and note
tate how you set up the
recordings of similar groups
group for the recording. It
and similar music to familiarwill be a factor in how you
ize myself with the genre, and
mic the group. That may
the different approaches we
well change from song to
can take with the recording. I
song depending on the
make detailed notes about
feel-a loud rock song
each song, trying to get in my
should get a different miking
head how to best capture the
treatment than you would
individual tracks. If at all possigive a ballad. Ballads are
ble, I attend as many
more intimate and a tighter
Tube preamps in my to-go rack: Joemeek VC6Q, PAiA Project r home- (closer to the mic) sound is
rehearsals as I can, to really
made tube mic preamp (released in cooperation with Recording, often very effective, particubegin to immerse myself in the
vibe of the band and the music. many moons ago!), Symetrix 525, and Behringer Tube Ultragain. larly on the vocals.
14

RECORDING AUGUST 2016



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - August 2016

 Contents
Recording - August 2016 - Intro
Recording - August 2016 - Cover1
Recording - August 2016 - Cover2
Recording - August 2016 - 1
Recording - August 2016 - 2
Recording - August 2016 - 3
Recording - August 2016 - 4
Recording - August 2016 - 5
Recording - August 2016 -  Contents
Recording - August 2016 - 7
Recording - August 2016 - 8
Recording - August 2016 - 9
Recording - August 2016 - 10
Recording - August 2016 - 11
Recording - August 2016 - 12
Recording - August 2016 - 13
Recording - August 2016 - 14
Recording - August 2016 - 15
Recording - August 2016 - 16
Recording - August 2016 - 17
Recording - August 2016 - 18
Recording - August 2016 - 19
Recording - August 2016 - 20
Recording - August 2016 - 21
Recording - August 2016 - 22
Recording - August 2016 - 23
Recording - August 2016 - 24
Recording - August 2016 - 25
Recording - August 2016 - 26
Recording - August 2016 - 27
Recording - August 2016 - 28
Recording - August 2016 - 29
Recording - August 2016 - 30
Recording - August 2016 - 31
Recording - August 2016 - 32
Recording - August 2016 - 33
Recording - August 2016 - 34
Recording - August 2016 - 35
Recording - August 2016 - 36
Recording - August 2016 - 37
Recording - August 2016 - 38
Recording - August 2016 - 39
Recording - August 2016 - 40
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Recording - August 2016 - Cover3
Recording - August 2016 - Cover4
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