This was a really cool session. The band drove 2 1/2 hours from Avignon to spend the day with us in the studio. We recorded one track which, hopefully I'll be able to post the finished mix here soon.
We recorded drums and guide tracks first, then each instrument was overdubbed, then finally we recorded the vocal.
As far as learning goes, this day was all about 2 things :
- The importance of balance - both in the headphones and in the control room
- Mic placement - No EQ was used on any mic, I showed the students how to use the "proximity" effect to EQ, and how lateral movement and axis changes the frequency response (and thus you can EQ a signal simply by moving a mic)
A word about headphone balance. The students here had never set up a headphone cue in stereo...."because it's not necessary" Well for the musicians' comfort it is necessary! You don't make massive pans in the headphones, but stereo overheads are nice, and stereo reverb is also comfortable for the singer. A mono cue is sometimes the only option, but, and I've seen this time and time again, mono but becomes a shortcut because the engineer is not thinking about his or her real job which is to get the best out of the musician, so you must send the musician the best possible cue.
Here we set up 3 stereo cues, one for the drums, one for the bass and guitar and one in an iso-booth for the singer. Each cue had reverb returned into it. Once that was set-up correctly, the musicians took pleasure in playing, hearing each other properly and we got the takes we needed.
And of course the other thing that surprised the students is that during set-up I used one of the cues to instruct an assistant on how / where to move the mics, That way the engineer can stay behind the console listening to find the "sweet spot".
Its funny how the basics are overlooked sometimes...