As we often show, the dBs Music students are always getting hands-on in some real-world experience whatever course they choose to study with us. Recently it was our first year Live Sound students in Plymouth who were set a unique recording challenge. As part of an assessment the students were tasked with recording the band, with the second part of the module assement to mix these recordings from the day.
The recording took place in a church in Totnes which is (a small town near our Plymouth campus). There was a grand piano in the room already, a drummer, both double and electric bass and saxophonist brought their own instruments. The musicians had already set up how they wanted to stand as they all had to be able to see each other to help each other play in time.
Next was the job of setting up the mics and PA. Because of the ambient and lively nature of the room acoustics, the instruments had to be close miked so that the recordings weren’t washed out with all that ambient reverb in the room. The drums had clip mics on each of the toms with a top and bottom mic on the snare, kick inside and out and an XY configuration on the overheads. The basses were running through an amp which was miked with an Electrovoice RE20 and then DI’d. The sax had an SM7b for the saxophonist to to play into however the proved an issue as he tended to walk around the room so a Neumann U87 had to be placed to the side to capture so of the movement.
Getting a mic on the piano prompted a bit more discussion because capturing it accurately in the space could be quite difficult. In the end two AKG C414’s were used underneath the piano as well as two SM57’s on the inside right up against the soundboard and a Royer 101 ribbon mic that was facing across the soundboard to capture and overall view. Acoustic baffles were also used to help provide some separation in the room, this coupled with creative use of the microphones polar patterns helped the students to get the cleanest audio recording possible
A PA was also set up to help fill the room from a mix perspective. The PA consisted of two Martin Audio MLA tops with two Martin Audio subs, the monitoring system was also Martin Audio. When it came to mixing through the PA the key was to keep it minimal the only thing that really needed re-enforcing was the bass, piano and maybe some of the kick drum depending on the track and even this was only very slightly. This is where the difficulty of the task really shone through, as the students were being assessed throughout the day, so there ability to know what mics to use when mixing, as well what instruments to re-enforce really came into play.
The dBs Music students were also in charge of recording each track, which they would later be mixing in the studios up at the main site. The recording set up consisted of Pro Tools and the Allen & Heath QU24 mixing desk, which took a direct feed from the main PA and monitor desk. All the gains for the mics for the recording were controlled on the QU24 and were completely separate from the main desk.
After all the recording had taken place then began the task of putting the church back together which included moving the alter back to the centre as well as all the other bits and pieces. Overall the day was a success and everyone had a great time.
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