Advice/Help Needed for Recording Demo

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Parasite, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. Parasite

    Parasite

    Oct 22, 2016
    Hey guys,

    My main goal is to cheaply record a demo for my band to distribute to potential venues and recording studios to give them an idea of what we sound like. Right now we are practicing in a decent sized room (14'x16', somewhere around there), and the plan is to record all the instruments in one take. We're not too concerned about crisp quality, we just want to express the ideas of the songs and energy of the band.

    I've done some preliminary research into possible gear we made need and the Zoom H4N Pro caught my attention. What I'm currently considering is using the main mic as an overhead for the kit and the two XLR outs for the guitar and bass cabs is Vocals are running through 2 PAs and I hoping the overhead can pick that up as well.

    Does anyone have experience with this sort of situation? Is there a piece of gear better suited for handling this task? Is there a better way to capture what I'm aiming for?

    Thanks in advance for any help. I tried to include all the information you guys may need to answer my questions, but if I left anything out let me know.
     
  2. Overheads for the main vocals isn't a good idea. Maybe just a mic in xy position is better. Just check, where the best sound is in the room. BTW you can buy the H6 with six tracks and two changeable mic-capsules for <300,- now. If you can afford it, the Livetrak might be a good idea too, if you really want a multitrack recording.
     
    equill likes this.
  3. guts

    guts

    Aug 13, 2018
    I know it seems like it would be easier to get a demo done in one take like this, but it's actually much more difficult.

    It takes more time and effort to record everything separately, but it's much easier especially with limited equipment on a limited budget. Also it will sound better.
     
  4. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    If I understand what you're saying you'll get 4 channels of recording. 2 will be the internal mics and 2 are the xlr jacks. I think it would make sense to make at least 1 for input a feed from the mixer with the vocals. Maybe the other for the bass. That would give you the ability when mixing to control the volume of the vocals which need to sit right in the mix, and the bass, which has the best chance of not printing well on the room mics.
     
    mikewalker likes this.
  5. cornfarmer

    cornfarmer jam econo Supporting Member

    May 14, 2002
    This is all fine and dandy, but take a sec and think about your target audience, i.e. venues/studios. Is the approach you're thinking of going to put your band in the best possible light? These people might get a lot of unsolicited demos and if yours sounds like every other band-practice-room-live-recording, they're probably not going to be beating down your door.....speaking from my experience, having done this over and over and over and over. If you're a known quantity, have a following (i.e. a draw) then ignore my BS and carry on.

    If you go with something from Zoom, are you going to dump the tracks into a proper DAW to mix? If yes, get the H6 so you have as much tracks as possible - make sure you can record all 6 tracks at the same time - and then double/overdub the vocals or anything else afterwards in the DAW if they don't come across well. You're going to have to experiment and see if the on-board mics can record the drums good enough, plus 100 other things you don't usually think about (bleed from other instruments, does the actual room sound good, etc.) Rabbit hole.

    If you want to achieve something better, it's going to cost more time and money.
     
  6. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    This

    Fly the recorder itself over the drums to get an XY overhead setup. Use one of the additional inputs for the lead vocal, and then the other for bass. The trick will be that you'll want to keep your bass level in the room as low as possible to keep it out of the other channels since it already has its own dedicated input. Simultaneously you'll need to play a little, check the balance and then continue adjusting the guitar level until it's mixed well as recorded. Not an easy task, but definitely possible.

    Alternatively you could just throw up an omni mic and adjust everyone's output levels until it sounds appropriate and call it good.
     
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  7. Parasite

    Parasite

    Oct 22, 2016
    Thank you guys for the help,I really appreciate your input. The H6 looks like it'll be what I need to get this job done, that way I can have the internal mics as drum overhead and one spare output for where ever sounds best on the drums. The other three will be mixer out for the vocals and the two cabs.
     
    DirkP and Reedt2000 like this.
  8. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    I think with that unit you'll be forced to use 2 of the 4 possible channels for the internal, stereo mics (one track will be left, the other right) that will only leave you 2 tracks to feed directly (one from each XLR). I'm not 100% sure but you also need to confirm it will record 4 simultaneously. Could be plugging in the xlr negates a mic and it only records two tracks, gotta read the manual..
     
  9. Parasite

    Parasite

    Oct 22, 2016
    I am hoping whatever flaws there are in the final product or however underwhelming it sounds in comparison to a well produced and mixed recording can be overlooked by whoever is checking the demo out (although this is probably misplaced hope). The goal is to have a raw example of the band, not riddled with mistakes but having the energy that's present when we jam. I have discovered in the past some of that magic gets lost (at least I lose it) when people sit down with 'recording' in mind. I'm sure time allows for one to record while still having that same jamming force but I have yet to acquire that skill.

    We're sort of a conglomeration of rock/garage/jam/blues/punk so the venues we're targeting hopefully are accustomed to hearing things that are a little messy. I do plan on mixing these tracks in a DAW. My skills aren't superb so who knows how that will turn out, but I have some friends I can turn to if the process gets hairy. I do appreciate what you've said though, got me thinking critically about this. We will definitely experiment with the setup and not just take the first recording setup all the way to the bank.
     
    oZZma likes this.
  10. Parasite

    Parasite

    Oct 22, 2016
    It's kind of a strange move to have a product called the "H6" but only allow four channels to record. Will research though, thank you.
     
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  11. Paulabass

    Paulabass

    Sep 18, 2017
    If I might ad, without offending- Every single demo I get with an promo kit is professionally recorded. Most of them are a track from the CD they sell at gigs. The competition for gigs is fierce, and your EPK has to be top notch.
    If you do it yourself, send it out to be mastered. Have the CD commercially duplicated, and printed. Send out demos on CD, and thumb drive.
     
    equill likes this.
  12. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    I've never used that one, I just grabbed the manual and you're fine. It has 4 XLR/TRS jacks in addition to the 2 mics & can do all 6 simultaneously. That gives you a lot of options. As already mentioned the vocal(s) need to be as separate as possible so you can adjust level, EQ, and add effects when you mixdown. The bass is hard to catch on a room mic. You might consider bass drum as a separate track, it is hard to get a quality bass drum sound from a room mic so having it on its own too will let you EQ on the back end. You'll have to play with a couple configurations to find the right setup but you should be able to do what you want with the H6. :thumbsup:
     
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  13. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Guest

    Oct 1, 2011
    if it were me, I would use a mixer to get your blend, then hit the 2 channel interface with that sub-mix

    edit: doh... thought it was a 2 channel
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  14. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    That's way better.

    1. Drums OH Left
    2. Drums OH Right
    3. Drums Bass Drum
    4. Bass Guitar DI
    5. Guitar Cab Mic
    6. Vocal Mic

    Do that and keep your bass as low in the room as possible. Shut it off entirely if you can to keep it out of the other mics.
     
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  15. ofajen

    ofajen

    Apr 12, 2007
    92.4W 38.9N
    For this type of recording, I would pick a small recorder with a pair of built in omni mikes. Something like the Tascam DR-05. It will give a very accurate rendition of the sound in the room. They are about $100.

    Otto
     
    And I likes this.
  16. filmtex

    filmtex

    May 29, 2011
    Here’s an example of how good that can actually sound-substitute Zoom H4/6 for Canon Xha1 on camera mics:
    The set up:

    Drums:
    Overhead-Audio-Technica 4041
    Kick-Heil PR40
    Snare-Shure SM 57 beta

    Bass:
    Direct from Hartke HD 150 with slight Boss compression

    Accordion:
    Shure SM 58

    Guitar and vocal:
    Direct from wireless feeds

    Misc Vox:
    Shure SM 58

    I mixed for a good live sound at the Canon XHA1 camera mics with a Soundcraft UI-16 and recorded a stereo mix with the stock on-camera mics and also grabbed a stereo recording from the UI16. Mixed when edited with FinalCut Pro between the four tracks, UI-16 tracks jam-synced with camera audio tracks.

     
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  17. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Yep. There’s something to be said for keeping it simple when the goal is to just to capture the vibe.
     
  18. oZZma

    oZZma

    Sep 13, 2018
    Italy
    May I ask what genre are the demos you usually get? Because in punk/garage DIY recordings are not uncommon... Like the OP I'm trying to figure out what shall we do with our material when we are ready to send it to venues/labels (hopefully the end of the year, but we have already started to evaluate the options)
     
  19. Paulabass

    Paulabass

    Sep 18, 2017
    ^ OZZma- I understand that punk/garage may actually prefer a low tech approach, the star making machinery does apply to that genre as well. Punk bands that have made it BIG have always had state of the art production, and a huge budget behind them. Sadly, success is still gained by playing the very game punk/garage is supposed to be against. One could easily argue that The Ramones, Green Day, the Clash, early WHO, and many other are not punk, but they certainly started that way. Success came when they started playing the game. All the successful (from moderately successful regional bands, to huge touring acts that have left the punk ethos behind) use name producers, and mega technology. A rough but cool demo may get you into the hardcore local clubs, but your EPK had better be good if you set your sights any higher.
    -Edit- I have been working with A&R men from some pretty major labels for 40 years. They have one thing in common- Wooden ears. If you send a demo to a major label it has to be BIG budget, and sound exactly like what you want the finished product to sound like. You cannot say- Imagine it with bigger production. They can't. They see in black and white.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
  20. oZZma

    oZZma

    Sep 13, 2018
    Italy
    Ok, I'm fine with that. Major labels would not be interested in any case, and they are not my target, in any case. So DIY should be fine.
    Thanks for the explanations!