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Anyone ever record outside?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Taylor Livingston, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    This is kind of a weird one, I suppose, but I'd be interested to hear any thoughts on recording outside. Actual recordings made outside would be even better.

    Why, you ask? I'm going to record some drum sounds, and I don't have a good-sounding room to record in. I also don't have the ability to really deaden a room effectively. In the past, I've recorded drums at 2 separate home studios, but the bad room sound really turns me off. Both were suppposed to be deadened, but both had that "cheap room" sound anyway.

    Recording outside seems like it would have some interesting effects. There's pretty much no reverberation outside (at least with close mics), and I imagine things would sound very "natural" and non-hyped, which is something I like in a drum sound, in contrast with most music these days. I guess there may be some problem with low end; it seems like the kick drum might sound a bit unfocused and thin without walls to build up sound pressure. This is all speculation, of course, and I'm not a very experienced recordist. I should probably say that my music is a bit weird to begin with, so I'm not afraid of, and actually seek out, odd results.

    Any thoughts? Anybody done this before?
  2. Tenma4


    Jan 26, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    Subscribed. Been wondering and wanting to try this myself.
  3. I have never done it, but IIRC several pro bands have. I believe Stone Tempe Pilots did it on Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, but my memory isn't great for details like this. I also think that Muse did this on one of their records as well, but again I am not positive.
  4. Never tried it, but in a lot of places it's louder than you might think outside. Obviously in the city, but with wind and other natural noises it can be loud in the middle of nowhere too.

    If you're thinking about recording your latest black metal opus in an actual Scandinavian forest, I say go for it. But if you're looking for a clean sound, it's an iffy proposition. Make sure you've got lots of headroom when you record.
  5. TheIrishOx


    Feb 22, 2008
    From my experience I dont think recording outside would be good cause you can't control that environment as much as you can control an inside environment..................The only thing I suggest is that put your drums in a small compact room with a door and get a mattress and put it in front of the drums and where it is blocking the door too. It helped me out when recording, but i dont know.
  6. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    The noise is obviously a concern, but I was thinking of going out to the levy, away from cars and people. There may be some water splashing in the back ground, but that might be cool.

    Why? Is there some reason why transients would be louder outside?
  7. El-Bob

    El-Bob Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON
    this is pretty interesting, i think some of the naturally occurring noises outside could make for a unique recording.
  8. bassaficionado6

    bassaficionado6 Something about gumption

    Jan 7, 2008
    Napa, CA
    I too, have been wondering this.
  9. The likelihood of unexpected loud(ish) noises and gusts of wind is higher. If you're pushing it too close, a background noise that would not be a problem in the mix could make you clip, becoming a big problem. This is why film folks leave themselves more headroom than people recording music usually do. Less control over ambient noise.
  10. I remember that Stone Temple Pilots did some outdoor recording.

    Here's the only link I've found so far:

    I never really listened to "Tiny Music", so I can't comment on the actual sound.

    Edit: Sorry, missed agreatheight's post above.

  11. Deluge Of Sound

    Deluge Of Sound Banned

    Nov 8, 2007
    When I saw the band Minsk a few months back, they had a CD their drummer had made prior to joining up with them for sale along with the rest of their merch. This album was an ambient record called Cedars Lebanon-Archive I, and the only place I've ever seen or heard of it was at that show. I picked up a copy, and according to their merch guy, it was recorded in a cave.

    I'll ZShare some of it in a little bit, it's drum heavy ambient music and fairly lo-fi, but it should give you an approximation of recording "not in a studio"

    EDIT: Here ya go, it's in iTunes format (don't have the cd with me) at 320/kbps
  12. Doc Labyrinth

    Doc Labyrinth

    Nov 21, 2007
    New Jersey
    Mr. Wiggles the Worm
    the very last track on blood sugar sex magik by the red hot chili peppers was recorded live outside.
  13. Inflin


    Apr 30, 2007
    Newcastle, UK/Currently London
    Affiliated with Genelec, Avalon Design.
    I've tried this before, very recently! (and I know a rather well known producer who has tracked guitars and vox in a cave behind a waterfall!!)

    I think it can have amazing results. We were in a field, well away from roads of any sort, on private property, so we had the best conditions. We basically stuck foam windshields on everything (U87s, D112s, and 57s) and blasted away. We had windbreakers too, just in case it got blustery.

    It worked well, but as you'd expect there were rustles and tweets you'd not get in the studio, but in a mix, it wasn't obvious.

    As for the actual sound, it was...wierd. It's hard to explain, but when you spend your life tracking drums in dead studio cells, then it suprises you. Everything behaved differently than you would normally expect. The cymbals sizzled more than usual, the kick was boomier, and overall there just seemed to be a slight shift in all the frequencies of the kit, but the overall sense actually ended up sounding like you were sitting in your living room with a drummer. Very clear and distinct, which I'm guessing has a lot to do with the complete elimination of standing waves and the like.
    I can't show you guys as the tracks haven't been released yet and I'd be boiled alive, but I'll see if I can find anything else like it!

    But, as everyone has said, headroom is key. expect to give it up to 10dB more than you normally would, you never know when a gusts gonna blast into your mics or a crow squalks a little too loud or something!
  14. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    Outdoor recordings, in addition to the wind problem, would have near zero reverb, unless there was something big and hard nearby to reflect the sound back.

    Interesting comments about the lack of standing waves and overall frequency shift - if it can make it sound "like the drums are in your living room" it sounds like it may be worth experimenting with.

    Lots of "live at blah blah" songs are recorded outdoors, but with the giant PA system it's hardly the same.
  15. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    Right, well, that's sort of the point. Rather than trying to record in a dead room, you can get a dry sound by recording outside, then add whatever reverb in the computer.
  16. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    I was just going to say this.

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