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Live Recordings in the Studio

Monday, January 3, 2011 @10:04:14 AM

(Originally posted as a comment on Nielen Prinsloo's blog "Studio Vs. Live")

I have a basement recording studio and have recorded and produced several CDs for friends and family. My objective in the studio is to capture the magic of a live performance and I've come up with a number of studio techniques to support that objective. I don't record drums, but here's what I can suggest for songs using acoustic bluegrass instruments and vocals.

Have the four key musicians stand in a circle about 5 to 8 feet in diameter. Dedicate a high output supercardioid dynamic microphone such as the Shure Beta 57 to each instrument and to each voice. Review the pickup pattern of each mic and place the mics to minimize pickup of multiple instruments/voices from any of the nodes. Use a good preamp for each mic to provide plenty of headroom.
Have the band do a live performance at normal volume levels while recording each mic to a separate track. There should be enough isolation between tracks to clean-up any minor mistakes on individual tracks using automated punch-ins as needed. You can add additional instruments or tracks as desired without loosing the "live feel" achieved in the initial take.
You can preview a recent CD that I recorded using this technique here.

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