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Session Notes: Editing Full Band Recordings

The Practical Craft of Recording
By Mike Senior

Recording a band together holds many advantages for a session's workflow, sonics, and general mood — and it can still leave a surprising amount of scope for corrective editing if you wish.Recording a band together holds many advantages for a session's workflow, sonics, and general mood — and it can still leave a surprising amount of scope for corrective editing if you wish.Photo: Daniel Plappert

Our engineer has the rare chance to compare an overdubbing approach with a band-in-the-room recording — and the winner is clear!

It often seems to me that project studio recordists are a bit cagey about recording bands all together at the same time, preferring instead to 'play it safe' by tracking drums first, and then overdubbing the other parts on top. An understandable reason for this reluctance, I think, is that the benefits of all‑in‑one‑room recording can appear a bit nebulous compared with the clear advantages of overdubbing — namely that any part can be re‑recorded, edited, and processed independently after the fact. So in this month's Session Notes, I'd like to provide some concrete arguments for the all-at-once approach, by way of some unusual recordings I was able to make on a recent rock-trio tracking date.

To Overdub Or Not To Overdub?

The session in question is the one that I described in much more detail in last month's Session Notes (https://sosm.ag/sn-multi-purpose-recordings). In that article, I explained how I designed the miking setup specifically to give lots of mixdown options, even though the drummer, bass player, and guitarist were all set up within a few feet of each other in the studio's main live room. Just to recap briefly: all the drums and cymbals were close-miked (the kick and snare with two and three mics each, respectively); a main stereo 'overhead' pair was supplemented by three separate sets of stereo room mics; the guitar amps were all...

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Published May 2019