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Recording a CD for church

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by MKS, May 8, 2006.

  1. Hi.

    I've volunteered to help record a CD for our local church. It'll be a resource for the church groups to use, so quality is not paramount... Last time we did it we recorded the whole worship team at once, mixed down on the fly and recorded direct to Minidisc, which worked reasonably well.

    HOWEVER this time I'm going to attempt to record 16 channels of audio direct to my laptop. Brave? Yes. Foolhardy? We'll see... ;)

    Sony Vaio A117S (1Ghz RAM, Pentium M1.7Ghz, 4200rpm HDD, 20Gb+ disk space free)
    MAudio Firewire1814
    Behringer ADA8000 8 channel preamp, linking to the FW1814 via ADAT optical.
    Evolution UC33e controller for faders, pots etc.
    Sonar 4 Pro
    Red5 Drum mic set (RVK7) *
    Red5 RV8 condenser mic *
    + assorted other mics at church.

    Guitars (x2)
    Oboe, Flute, Cello, Trumpet
    4-6 vocalists.

    So my plan is to submix the drums and record in stereo (I'm running out of inputs already!), have Bass, Keys, Guitars all DI'ed , Instruments and vocalists going through the preamps.

    * I'm impressed with the Red5 Audio mics. VERY inexpensive but remarkably good quality.

    I'll keep you posted on how things pan out...
  2. Please do, I am going to atempt the same project for my church. Three singers, guitar, bass, drums.

    We have a Mac laptop with Pro tools 7
    M audion firewire 410
    Mackie board
    3 Shure beta 58a
    Still need a drum mic kit
  3. This can be done with no problem if you have the time and know what you are doing. It might be a little difficult if you plan on recording everybody at once. I'd record the drums and the audience (if you're doing it live) and then overdub everything else. One of my regular gigs is at a church and we never keep the live recording. Everything is overdubbed, although we use a studio.
  4. Well it was quite hard work, but we got *something* in the can. It took 3+ hours to set up, test levels etc. and only 1 hour to break down. Typical! ;)

    Here are a few preliminary thoughts:
    1/ We ended up recording approximately 14 songs over one evening and a morning. This is a *lot* to try to record in the time. The problem is that we didn't really have a lot of time to do loads of takes - basically the band had one or two runs through while I sorted levels etc. then we did one take. In retrospect I should probably have held out for at least two takes on all of the tunes to give more options in the edit / mix stage.

    2/ I should have spent longer getting a decent mix of the drums. The kick sound just wasn't brilliant. This could be a combination of a fairly old, nasty drumkit but also my naivety in how to properly position the mic. I should have studied the Sound on Sound articles more closely! (See Recording101 sticky).

    3/ Our Worship Leader (MoM) had invited lots of people in an effort to be "inclusive" in the project. In retrospect I think we would have got a much more cohesive unit if we had recorded the core band (drums, bass, keys, guitar, guide vox) first then overdubbed the additional singers, instruments. On day two we had a much smaller band, and the results were much more pleasing, easier to record (everyone got a mic-channel) and will be easier to mix as a result.

    4/ What did work quite well was taking the channel 3/4 outputs and splitting these into a vocal monitor mix and an instrument monitor mix. It meant that the appropriate people were hearing what they needed to hear.

    5/ I had all audio routed through the laptop & Sonar and was using that for monitor mixes. This introduced some latency (bad) but meant that Sonar was the only source of mix levels (good) rather than having two or three places where levels could be altered.

    6/ I plan to overdub some parts - namely acoustic guitar & oboe (my wife). I didn't get a decent signal on the guitar, and I think our guitarist will be happier re-recording the parts anyway when the pressure is off. I might also revisit the drum parts.

    So I think I would do things differently if I was starting fresh, but I *hope* the end result is slightly better than the previous session where we mixed and recorded in one fell swoop.

    I'm sure it'll take a *long* time to get all the songs mixed and ready for copying, but fortunately we have lots of time.

    PS. The Red5 drum-kit set is really worth checking out. Great value (at least here in the UK). There's a comparison with an AKG set at http://www.dancetech.com/aa_dt_new/index.cfm
  5. ironside1966


    Dec 21, 2007
    why not replace tkr kick drum with a sample or BFD or ezdrummer if you have them
  6. JKT


    Apr 30, 2007
    Buffalo NY
    Endorsing Artist: Barker Basses
    You're suffering from a lot of the same things other worship teams struggle with. Including the one I play on.

    First there is the attempt to be 'all inclusive." To invite anybody that has "a heart" for the project-regardless of talent or whether or not the project needs them. Sensitive topic and one of my personal buttons. Try going down to the church kitchen next time they're puttin on a dinner and tell them you have decided to cook because you have "a heart for it" let me know how that works for ya ;)

    Another thing makin it tough for you is the size of the war party which you already realize. When worship teams get real big and contain "mixed" types of instrumentation they often become neither fish nor fowl. Too big to be a functioning band and yet not really an orchestra with a conductor. Very unwieldy.

    If you can pare it down you will be way happier with the product.

    JKT :)
  7. Reminder to myself to update this thread with my post-mix findings...

    This CD is now complete and I ended up being quite happy with the result - to the extent that I can actually bear listening to it! Can't exactly say that of the previous CD (where I was only a player). Mixing took some time, but we made some decisions early on which really helped the mix come together: 1) We decided that the most important thing was to get a mix that lets the songs come through - this is a CD for small groups to use to "lead" their worship, so it's most important to get a good lead coming through. 2) With this agreement from the MoM it meant that I didn't need to be TOO concerned with the "inclusive" aspect of making sure that EVERYONE could be heard. This meant I could mix down some of the more dodgy playing / singing!

    On the mixing front I tried to carve out a place in the mix for each instrument, using volume, EQ and stereo placement. This meant that even if an instrument or singer was mixed low, they *could* still be heard, which in some ways answered the "inclusiveness" thing. I made sure that the key parts: worship leader, keys / guitars, bass, drums came through cleanly without too much overlap. This took a while to achieve...

    My last big learning was to burn a CD and play it on a bunch of different systems - at home, in the car, at church, on the iPod etc. to check that the mix sounded reasonable in each place. "Can I still hear the bass?", "Are the keys too loud here?". This REALLY helped get a mix that would work no matter where somebody played it, and got a fairly consistent sound. I spent a fair amount of time checking overall levels of each track using the "average" and RMS monitoring levels from Sonar. This meant that there wouldn't be jumps in volumes between tracks.

  8. stranger0


    May 10, 2007
    I wouldn't mind hearing some clips
  9. OK - I'll post some in the next day or two. Stay tuned. They will only be clips though...
  10. Sound clips now on www.myspace.com/hankspaniel. They'll only be there for a limited time though... Clips of two tracks, "Who can know?" and "Name above all names".
    "Who can know?" was recorded on the Friday night with the extended band, with keys, guitar and bass DI'ed, drums, vox, instruments all mic'ed. I then re-recorded the guitar and lead vocal part later to give Ray (our worship leader) a better shot at the recording.
    "Name above all names" was recorded on the Saturday featuring the smaller band. Again, keys, guitars were DI'ed, vox and instruments mic'ed. I recorded the bass part later at home by plugging my Ovation ABG directly into the soundcard (MAudio 1814). Only listening back to the original recording we decided to rerecord the lead vocal line and I recorded Andrea singing one night in her living room, sitting on the floor, glass of wine to hand. Not the best policy for a powerful vocal perhaps, but she was comfortable recording that way. Bear in mind most folks I'm working with really *aren't* familiar with being recorded.

    Everything was mixed in Sonar and I added a little EQ and multi-band compression to lift the overall mix.

  11. stranger0


    May 10, 2007
    Actually the vox sound great on "name", (she sounds hot too), has a lot of warmth to it imo.

    I tend to get a bit of the balance problem, some parts sounds great but when you mesh them together its like ***? Are you recording your levels as closed to 0 as possible?
  12. I'd love to aim to get recording levels close to zero dB, but sometimes that's just not possible.

    What might be happening with your mix, is that you might find too much overlap in EQ between your parts. You should try to "carve out" a place in the EQ spectrum for each of your parts and apply EQ cut (not boost!) to achieve this. Take an acoustic guitar part - you may need to cut the low frequencies which will make it sound awful on its own, but in the context of the mix the strumming or picked acoustic comes through as the "twinkle" in the upper frequencies. If you heard the acoustic part solo'ed in my mix I'm sure you'd say it sounded terribly tinny. Do the same with vocals and keys.

    You don't need to be too religious (!) about doing this though. Having some overlap is OK - another way of achieving separation in mix is by placing each element of the mix in its own area of the pan field (L-R). Even subtle changes can help each element of the mix "pop" out i.e. Place the bass and drum kit Centered, acoustic guitar at 10L, keys at 10R, electric guitar 20R etc. Play with the panning to see what sounds right.
  13. stranger0


    May 10, 2007
    I was doing the placement thing with the guitars, 1 left, 1 right and 1 center (Yea I have 3 of them...I appreciate the condolences) and actually it turns out REALLY well doing that, my biggest thing has been trying to make my bass sound decent and not so boomy but yea, the EQ thing seems to be the way to go.

    I like how you think though, its not so much an EQ cut you're talking about, its more like using parts of the EQ to support the other instruments.

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