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buffalo bites monthly feature Ever wondered what can make a great recording better?

In this session with talented young Birmingham (UK) band, Malone Malone, we found ourselves with three days to track two songs so

Well, that’s not an easy one to answer. All sorts of things make

there was time to experiment a little. In our previous session we’d

music sound better, from a naturally gifted performer who’s worked

wrung the life out of ourselves and the studio to complete one

hard to perfect their art to the ‘right’ combination of instruments

track in a day, which sounds pretty good but this time we could

and sounds, and the equipment used to record, mix, and edit these

make it sound more ‘expensive’, lol!

factors. Tom Wild, Foel’s in-house engineer had been playing with room Music (in most cases hopefully) comes from the heart and is

sounds and suggested we give it a go, ever happy to try another

expressed in a very personal way. Every nuance in breath, pitch,

engineer’s recommendations (especially someone who’s spent

timing and timbre combines to make the performance.

some quality time experimenting in that particular studio) we set about mic’ing the drum kit with close mic’s in the usual way.

But what about ambience? I’m not talking about the elusive ‘vibe’ that artist’s want, this time I want to explore the sounds ‘around’

We’re spoiled with two great rooms at Foel, being a converted barn

the sounds... Are you with me?

there are high apex ceilings with two main live rooms and a stone floored corridor providing plenty of scope for ambient mic’ing.

I’ve spent years recording bands with a very dry sound. When I say ‘dry’ I mean very little room sound, with the express intention of

Once we had at least one mic positioned close on each drum, hi-

having an intimate vocal or an absolutely in your face guitar tone,

hats and overheads, we began mic’ing the larger of the two rooms

something that seems to jump out of the speakers at the listener.

which was empty except for a piano. We used a beautiful Neumann

It’s also been a factor of time in a lot of cases as there isn’t always

SM69 Valve stereo mic, just forward of central and facing the kit.

the chance to re-amp or record an instrument in isolation to utilize

Being that the drum kit is projected out through a large double

a nice sounding space. Of course there are hundreds of artificial

doorway, this central stereo mic in line of sight of the kit will serve

reverb plugins and hardware, Altiverb by Audio Ease and Lexicon

to collect a more distant but reasonably stereo image of the drums

respectively make incredible sounding spaces from a variety

and cymbals than close mics and overheads alone.

of methods from Impulse Response recording in real spaces or complex mathematical algorithms, or both to give the listener a

A few feet behind the Neumann we added a pair of large dia-

perceived environment in which the sound ‘exists’.

phragm capacitor mics placed a few inches from either side wall or facing the wall. With the microphone’s null points toward the

In a recording session I ran this month at my favorite recording

drummer these mics pick up 99% ambient sound from the second

hideaway, Foel Studio in the heart of Wales, we tried something a

room and very little direct sound, by the time the sound of the kit

little different.

gets to these mics most of the stereo information is lost so when panned out wide it’s best described as a delayed wash with little

Now it’s entirely possible to record an acoustic band with a single

by way of attacking transients so it just adds ‘space’.

mic or stereo pair, placed properly between the performers and get incredibly honest recording results, especially as there’s not a lot

Once we’d sound checked the kit, and checked all the phase of the

one can do to any individual parts in the mix, this is the complete

mics we got Louis to bang out a beat and pushed up the ambient

opposite to how I’ve done the majority of my work, being that

mics. The drum kit comes to life! I like to record drums from the

most of the bands I record have electric instruments and frankly a

drummer’s perspective (possibly because I’m a closet drummer),

‘simple mic setup’ won’t cut it. You need a mic (or 5) on pretty much

adding these ambient pairs really breathes life into the kit, giving

everything!

you the space around the kit and a detailed representation of the room it’s in.

BWD Magazine • www.bwdmagazine.com • 23

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BWD Magazine - May 2014  

If we are to continue our evolution as human beings we must be mindful of where our race to the future is leading us. Mistakes set to rent a...

BWD Magazine - May 2014  

If we are to continue our evolution as human beings we must be mindful of where our race to the future is leading us. Mistakes set to rent a...

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