Studio Life

To finish up for the year there was one more project outside of regular work that me and a good friend partnered up for. It was to engineer, mix and master however many tracks that could be done in a relatively short period of time. It’s not cheap to get studio time so a lot of bands these days look to smash out and EP in one session i f possible and then come back for overdubs and vocals, which is exactly how this project is panning out. Our hearts and minds where in this project and we thought we hadn’t forgotten any studio skills in 4 months since the last gig, but we were wrong.


I would just like to reflect on errors on our behalf being a harsh as possible so that, I in particular learn from them. Working in chronological order the first mistake was not allowing enough time to set up with the drummer before the rest of the band arrived. We were just finishing patching in the mics and moving them into position when everyone else started rolling in with gear. We had a guitarist who needed a stereo D.I for two different pickups, one clean and one running through a pedal board. Adding to that the pedal board had dual outputs so another signal was routed to a speaker amplifier in another room which was mic’d up with a SM57 and a C414.

Besides the drum mics we needed 4 vocal mics, a stereo D.I for the keys, a mono D.I for the bass and 2 room mics. By this time you can start to imagine things getting busy and it’s easy to be distracted prolonging setup times . The guitarist's setup threw us a bit due to our own lack of experience in this particular studio. For the drums we ended up with 2 top snare mics (good / bad combo) 1 bottom snare mic, 4 tom mics, 2 overheads, 1 hi-hat, 1 ride and 2 for the kick drum. Everything worked well except for the kick mics. Normally we run a 901 inside the kick but this kit didn’t have a hole so we just ran with the D112 and a Yamaha subkick, the results as you can guess was no click or top end. We discussed placing a mic near the floor tom facing the kick beater and snare but time got the better of us.

Another thing that threw us was having a console with a routing matrix that only goes up to 24 but having 26 microphones to run. We knew the interface had more inputs than 24 so we just had to figure out a way to connect it up. What we ended up doing was running microphone 25 & 26 to external preamps and then into the interface. It threw us because it’s not our own studio and we hadn’t been in that situation before.


The next biggest problem we had was setting up headphone sends for the band. We ran two splitter boxes so the vocalist could be on one mix and the muso’s could be on the other.  The stage box had headphone connections labelled 1 to 6 and we thought 1 and 2 would be headphone mix 1 and headphone mix 2. It took me a while to figure out that 1 through to 4 where for headphone mix 1 and 5 and 6 were for headphone mix 2.


After figuring that out we thought we had it sorted but no. In the foldback section on the desk it has 4 little buttons per headphone mix. It basically ask you where you want to source your headphone mix from A or B (1 or 2) We had all these buttons pressed in meaning each headphone mix was sourcing from both 1 and 2 resulting in no separation in headphone mixes.

So we tried setting up the headphone mix for the lead vocalist first but every time we turned him up we were in fact turning everyone up. So we now know that the console can handle 1 stereo headphone mix or 2 mono headphone mixes. On top of these issues the drummer was only getting sound in one ear. We swapped out the splitter box good we then swapped out the TS cable which fixed it.

First song in I think one of the film guys kicked out a cable from the stage box as we heard a loud’ish noise from tom mic 1. After we found that we were good to go but by this point the band was losing it’s Mojo and confidence in us.

All in all we recorded some great sounding tracks and I’m confident they will turn out great. We still have some overdubs and re-doing of some vocals and a chance to earn back some confidence.

It’s a shame we run into these problems but I guess it was a good learning experience and highlights the importance of preparation and timing for the band rocking up and expectations of setup times.

Ill have some audio and video content in the new year. Have a good Xmas and new year everyone, take care