How to record your band, part 2: the set-up

Arranging and connecting everything

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Discover how to arrange your band in your chosen space. What will you need? How does it work? And how do you get the most out of it? We reveal the vital connections that have to take place before you can play a note.

There will be different ways you set up together for your usual band practices and gigs in terms of where the musicians are in relation to each other. But you need to think carefully about that when recording the band together and it might mean a different way of doing things.

We're going to be recording everyone simultaneously through a variety of microphones, so it means mic 'spill' is inevitable. Spill or bleed as it's sometimes known is the sound of an instrument being picked up by multiple mic's, such as the drums being picked up in a condenser mic that's directed at an acoustic guitar. You can't stop this happening in a live recording but you can help reduce it to make the mixing stage less problematic later.

Because of the need to be able to mix and edit the singer's vocals prominently in the mix we've decided to track the instruments live but overdub the vocals in a separate session to sidestep the significant spill that a sensitive vocal condenser mic would pick up from the rest of the band in a live performance.

Mic'ing the amps

Because we're close mic'ing the guitar amps, which we'll talk about in more detail later, as well as close mic'ing for the drum kit, the spill for those will be more minimal than other mic's we'll be using because they will be positioned close to the sound sources they are recording.

But with two amps being used in our setup, we're going to use the 5:1 rule help minimise any spill. The rule means we must make sure any amp mic's we use are separated from each other by at least five times the distance as they are from the source they're recording.

This helps avoid phasing, where the same source is picked up strongly by two or more microphones at different times. So we're spacing our guitarists out from each other here, more than they'd usually be in a band practice or live performance.

Arranging and spacing the band out in a horseshoe or semi circle shape is a practical way of spacing the guitar amps and drums out, making sure not amps are facing each other which could cause feedback problems with the mics later. It also helps the band to see each other; it's important not to underestimate the importance of eye contact between musicians when you're performing.

Studio screens

Makeshift screens between sensitive areas susceptible to mic spill can make a difference, though the effect will not be significant in this situation. Some hired spaces may provide them but heavy material such as blankets and curtains hung between sensitive areas can help reduce the mid and high frequency spill between the instruments in your band and the microphones capturing them. We're showing here how one could be positioned between the drums and loudest guitar amp.

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