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The Minimal Recording Approach

June 21, 2013

Last night, I recorded my brother’s new band at their rehearsal. They wanted to have something clear to listen back to as they were writing some material, rather than just recording a horrible mess with their phones. This was also a good opportunity for me to try out some unusual mic combinations that I wouldn’t do in a regular session. As you can see from the picture, the room we recorded in wasn’t ideal, but surprisingly, the results are quite good!

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So, I went for a pretty minimal approach, I used six mics in total, one of which wasn’t even used in the mix. For drums, I used an NT1-A on kick, SM57 on snare and a KSM32 as a mono overhead. For guitars and bass, I used an SM57 for guitar and DI’d bass.

In the mix, I did some fairly minimal mixing, I EQ’d all tracks but only compressed the master bus and the snare to tame some of the peaks. To give the drums the smack they needed, I parallel compressed the kick and snare and gave them space using some reverb. For bass, I also did some parallel processing, I made a copy of the bass guitar with an aux input and then heavily distorted it with the “Crunchy Citrus” setting in Guitar Rig. Guitar was just EQ.

I wanted to see what sort of sound could be achieved in a scenario where the room is less than ideal, the band are all playing live, and have their instruments loud. Setting myself restrictions made me think more creatively on how I was going to get the best sound possible with these limitations. I’m very surprised how well the condenser I used on the kick rejected the bass amp which was right behind the mic. The amp that was used in the rehearsal was a 300 watt valve amp, which I took a DI signal from. I also love the sound of the kick drum with a condenser, it provides a really nice rounded, warm tone which would go nicely with a clicky mic and subkick.

Listen to the quick mix I did below:

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