How to record your band, part 1: preparation

The first part of our 10-part series

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d33QhJnmlIA

For the rest of this 10-part weekly series, in association with Steinberg, keep checking the hub page.

Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail! So don't hit record just yet. A little work behind the scenes will ensure that your time in your studio (no matter how makeshift) is well spent and productive.

There are many different ways to record your band, but recording your songs doesn't mean you have to be in a studio recording instruments separately. With the right equipment and a well rehearsed and prepared group of musicians you can record together live, and capture the essence of your sound.

You might feel that some recordings you've heard before fail to represent the dynamic of seeing a band play live, so tracking a band playing together is a great way of showcasing the energy of your sound for promoters and potential new fans to hear. It can also be relatively quick and cost effective way to record too.

The Tracklist

But before you even think about plugging in, your band needs to choose the songs you want to record, consider what songs best showcase your sound to people. Be realistic with the amount of songs to start with and make sure you know them inside out; because this recording is going to be an accurate reflection of how well you play them live.

Choosing where to record your band might be as easy as turning up to your normal practice space, but you might also want to consider somewhere with more options to separate the musicians. The need for separation is something we'll talk about later, but the natural reverb of a room's space might also prove valuable for ambience so consider what you have access to and where you might be able to hire; whether it be a professional rehearsal room or a village hall, you can still record live and get the results you need.

Essential Ammo

It goes without saying that your band will need their usual rig of instruments and amps but you're going to need some additional gear for recording too...

  • Microphones: dynamic for mic'ing the guitar and bass amplifiers, condensers for ambient room mic'ing, a drum set consisting of both dynamic and condenser type mics, mic stands for close and ambient placement of these mics.
  • XLR cables for all the mics with spares in case you have any problems.
  • An audio interface capable of taking multiple simultaneous inputs so you can record your signals, either via the PA or the mic's. In our video we're using Steinberg's UR824 rack unit with eight XLR inputs for our mic's.
  • We'll also need a laptop with a spec capable of efficiently running digital audio workstation software. We're using Steinberg Cubase Pro 8, which is available on PC and Mac and included with the UR824 interface as part of its Ultimate Cubase Recording Pack.
  • We're also using the Steinberg CC121 Advanced Integration Controller for an enhanced, more hands-on engineering experience.
  • Anyone who has ever played a gig will know you need to be ready for things going wrong so bring spares of all your cables; especially guitar and effects pedal patch lead. You don't want the whole recording session being sabotaged by a faulty cable. Also, bring spare strings for your guitars. Be prepared ahead of the recording session and you should be all set for live tracking.
For the rest of this 10-part weekly series, in association with Steinberg, keep checking our hub page.