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Kutna Hora live session… again!

April 8, 2017

Last weekend, I recorded Kutna Hora again. We recorded two tracks to create a three track EP from the song we recorded last time. I don’t really record live anymore, so when sessions like this come up, it’s very welcome. I generally prefer to take a modern approach with recording, and record each instrument individually to get a lot of control come mix time, but recording live is really great practice for getting to know the limitations of your equipment and forces you to be more thoughtful with mic placement and amp settings.

We kept things pretty much the same like last time, but I wanted to improve on some things. Last time I used a D112 on bass which picked up a tonne of drums. I still used the D112 this time, but pinched an sE Reflexion Filter from work and raised the bass amp off the floor. Doing this surprisingly helped a lot, I’m usually quite skeptical about reflection filters, but the sE one really helped, I’m probably going to buy one for myself eventually.

I used one of my Cascade Fathead IIs on the guitar that was closest to me last session, but this also picked a lot of drums. The theory here was that using a figure 8 mic and having its null face towards the other instruments would reject more bleed than a cardioid mic would, but this didn’t happen, so I opted for an SM58 and took the grille off. Again, I was quite skeptical about the notion that if you take a grille off a 58, you have a 57. Well, it turns out that’s actually true (kinda), Shure say if you add a meshed ball grille to a 57 you have a 58, so surely taking the meshed ball grille off a 58 gives you a 57, right?  But anyway, the 58 did a better job on guitar than my Fathead II did.

For everything else, mic wise, it was the same. I used a Heil PR40 on kick, SM57 on snare and hi tom, MD421s on mid and floor toms, SM7B on hi-hat and my Rode NT2000 on overhead. I’ve been using the SM7B on hi-hats for the past few sessions I’ve carried out, and it’s become my hi-hat mic of choice now, it’s a great mic. The NT2000 is also a really great mic.

In terms of mic pres, there was only one major difference. I originally had bass going into my Great River ME1NV, but due to recording an active P-bass style guitar through an amp with a 15″ speaker, this was way too woofy. This time, I opted for my Hairball Audio Copper which worked really well! There was just the right amount of colour to the signal whilst not adding a tonne of weight.

For vocals, we overdubbed them like the last session, but due to having a kid’s birthday party taking place in the main hall, it was bleeding into the vocal track. I originally had Andy up a flight of stairs facing the wall, but this didn’t work, so I had reluctantly put him in the toilet and recorded vocals there (a first for me). The toilet is, as you would probably expect, brick walled, narrow and reverberant. Thankfully, Andy’s vocals are just a textural piece, and his vocals are just whispered rather than sung, so it didn’t interact with the room all that much (if at all).

Additionally with this session, we recorded some synth parts which went into my A-Designs Pacifica. Fred runs his synths through guitar pedals to dirty them up a bit, so we took a clean DI without effects and another with effects so that if it went horribly wrong, we at least had a clean take. I’ve come to really love the Pacifica; It’s probably the best mic preamp I’ve ever used, and I’d be happy to just have a studio with about eight of them in a rack. Anyway, here’s a couple of pictures from the session for your visual pleasure.



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