This post is part of a series called Your Recording Environment, where we look at how to create an environment for the best quality recording.
The space you have chosen to record in is going to affect the amount of spill you are going to get between instruments. By carefully choosing which instruments should be recorded together, you can get a lot more control over the sound of individual instruments, while retaining some of that vital eye-contact between musicians. For instance, a popular way to work is to start off a track is to record the drums and the bass together. These are a good point to start with as they will usually control the rhythm of the track, and are a good solid foundation to build on. To get as much separation as possible between the drums and the bass, the bass can be run through a DI box instead of an amp, and fed back to both musicians over headphones. That way there is no bass amp be picked up on the drum mics, and there isn’t even a mic on the bass so there is no way the drums can be picked up on the bass DI box. If you really want to include a bass amp, you can always play the bass recording through one and mic it up, or overdub it later.
Perfect, 100% separation between the bass and the drums. This is really good news when it comes to mixing, as you now have much more control over the independent level of the two instruments.
It is of course possible to record the bass with an amp but be aware that the amp is likely to be picked up on the drum mics, so every time you fade up the drums the bass will get louder too. Not only that, but the bass can sound very distant and muffled as the mics wouldn’t have been pointing at it.
Since drums and bass can quite happily be recorded together, you can assume that together they have the biggest space requirements you are likely to need (unless you’ve got a huge live string section). You can then record the rest of the band independently on top of the bass and drum recordings. This is good news, because ultimately it means you don’t have to have a room big enough for the whole band at once.
By dividing the band up and being carefully controlling any spill, you can really make the best use of your recording environment and gain a whole load of extra control in the mix.
[image via dave.kobrehel]