Monday, 30 May 2016

Self-Producing an EP Pt.4: Recording

We got to this point and as we'd done things the way we have, it wasn't really as cut-and-dry anymore where the demos ended and new recording sessions would begin. In the process of refining the demos, we'd recorded new tighter guitar and bass parts, and as the drums are programmed we just modified the midi to improve the demos. We considered re-recording the guitars but that seemed like a lot of work for no real gain. Some of the bass got recorded again but that was voluntary. Making the drums sound good was a bit different, that required moving to a different set of patches. EZDrummer is great and definitely serves it's purpose but sounded way too polished to be dropped in here. The input all stayed the same but we changed the patches around to find the sound we were looking for across all the instruments, and there was nothing more exciting to it than that.

Recording vocals however was going to require a bit more effort. The demo vocals weren't going to do, and they'd all need replacing. After a few experiments I opted for setting up my large condenser mic in a wardrobe that had been stuffed with pillows as insulation. The sound was clean enough and had the added benefit that I couldn't get too close to the microphone by mistake. After a few evenings of attempts I wasn't happy with and trying to do them piece by piece. I took a weekend and spent a couple of hours per track getting down 4-5 takes and comp'ing together the best take I could from each but not deleting any of the other takes on the off chance they were needed later. Around this point I experimented with triple tracking the parts in places where it was particularly heavy, to give it more depth. I couldn't quite make them sound right and I expect that's a combination of the mic placement and not being skilled enough to EQ out what I suspect was a lot of unnecessary frequencies building up to make it sound strange, so this idea got scrapped.

Things that were important:
  • Getting everything down in 2 sessions over 1 weekend helped with consistency.
  • Focussing on getting a decent comp and moving on stopped the on-going march of trying to improve them continuously.
Improvements:
  • It seemed like I'd had enough practise time to get it right, but I'd argue I definitely hadn't.
  • It might be a better idea to do this in a rehearsal or recording studio next time (ideally an actual studio, obviously) so things like volume levels aren't a concern when the neighbours are in. A proper studio has better suited mics, rooms and equipment and no noise concerns to worry about.