Recently we have had loads of Live at the Lab sessions here at soundlab. Many different types of bands, acoustic and duos, full rock bands, sometimes keys, backing tracks and a whole manor of different instruments and scenarios to test out our new set up and equipment.
With the live sessions being limited to just a single live performance with no overdubs and everyone all having to be in the same room, this throws up all sorts of possible problems. We are limited to 16 mic lines in the room with just 2 jack tie lines, whilst having these limitations can restrict some of our microphone choices and setting up of the room and session, it also helps us concentrate more on the source and performance and needs of the band. So instead of chucking up every mic we have got and trying to catch slightly different sounds and looking for that sweet reverb spot that enhances a certain tone or instrument, we have to take the less is more approach, mostly with very direct and close mic positioning. Room and ambient sounds will always be there with the bleed of so many instruments and so much noise in the room. For instance the drum overheads will be pick up some “bassey guitar roominess”, that the close 57 on the amp won’t have. The vocal mics will be picking up plenty of drums……. imagine a soft vocalist a few feet away from a crash cymbal that is being twatted by some oaf. We have to try and use these things to our advantage and position the room accordingly. So altho we only set up close mics on the kit, the vocal mic and probably most of the mics in the room are going to be acting as rooms mics for the kit.
We have toyed with smb for a vocal mic, which works great if you have a loud aggressive vocalist as they will produce a nice big signal to work with, but for anything vaguely delicate a more directional mic is preferred such as a 58 or the Sontronics st6, as the singer is actually closer to the mic capsule there is less chance of spill from said oaf…. Even tho you will always get some, you don’t want to lose the vocal in a sea of cymbal and back ground noise.
Being a live session too it is always about the performance. So we have to have the band feeling as comfortable as possible. We are only able to send 2 separate headphone mixes, so we have to spend a good amount of time making sure everyone has a good mix to hear and to perform to.
We have also had a great chance to test out all of the different microphone preamps we have at our disposal. The SSL vhd pre’s are my personal favourite at the moment. being so flexible from squeaky clean and warm or adding those 2nd or 3rd Harmonics just fattens up the kit or any source sound you need. Close 2nd for me are the Api’s and sontronics which both have amazingly clean and clear results and plenty of head room and padding options which come in very handy with loud bands! To my surprise and amazement the Neve 1073 dpa is yet to tickle my taste buds. It’s easy to hear the warmth it can bring and provide but every signal just seems so hot, there are only a few positions of db to choose from and 20db attenuator trim pot which doesn’t give many options at all. I’m sure with more play i will come to grips with this pre-amp as it is considered probably the worlds greatest and most loved!
Anyway, i look forward to getting some of our recent sessions out there for the world to see and hear. We have had some great bands in over the last few weeks. Hope you all enjoy! Now gotta go mix them :)
I will go into more detail about the recording and mixing process we do here at the lab in the coming weeks. This is my first blog.... So plenty more to come......