Silent Front – Album Recording Diary

Over the Xmas break I was glad to be working with Silent Front again at Silver Street Studios, this time on their 2nd as yet untitled album. Below is a day by day account of the recording, with details on what techniques and microphones were used.

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Day 1

The first day was spent solely focusing on the drum sound. We spent the better half of the day just tuning the drums. Once they were sounding nice it was time to start placing the mics. For kick I miked the front and batter side, with an AKG D112 and Behringer C2. I miked snare top and bottom with SM57s. Tops and bottoms of toms with ElectroVoice 468s and Red5 RVD9s. For overheads I used 2 x Oktava MK-012s, and 2 x Red5 RV4s for splash/ride cymbals (underneath so as to provide some shielding). Finally I used 2 x SE Ribbon mics as an ambient pair, positioned a few metres equilateral from the kit. Pre-amp wise I used TL Audio PA-2 valve pres on overheads and the Soundcraft Ghost’s pres with everything else. Once all the mics were positioned it was on to soundchecks. I usually set up the entire band for soundcheck and go through each member individually, then ask them to play as a unit to get used to the headphone levels. I’ll be adjusting the musician’s mix initially, making sure everyone can hear themselves. Then I adjust the control room mix, with the drums most prominent. Once the levels are checked and the musicians are happy it’s onto recording the takes. I prefer to record the band as a unit because it helps retain the live energy and visual contact essential for this style of music. Because there’s just the one live room I only mike up the drums to begin with, with the rest of the band plugged straight into the desk, so as to retain separation between the instruments. By the end of the day we probably got about half of the songs recorded.

Day 2

Pretty much picking up where we left off, day 2 was spent on the rest of the drum and guide guitar/bass parts. For the last song we decided to record it in two different versions, one with the same setup we’d been using up to this point, and one completely live with guitar and bass amps miked up as well. The live take sounded pretty good, and since the guitars weren’t very loud in this track it bode well for mixing. So we decided to stick with the live take.

Day 3

Day 3 was bass time. Placing Russ’s monster bass amp in the middle of the room, I used 2 x close mics (EV868 and SE2200a) and 2 x ambient mics (SE Ribbons) to capture the sound. When all the bass parts were done, we got round to setting up the guitar equipment. I used an SM57 and SE2200a on the cab, with the SE Ribbons for ambient. I put bass & guitar parts through the TL Audio valve pres. We found that the guitar tone had too much mid-range that was muddying the sound, so we decided to call it a day and return to guitars the next day with an extra EQ pedal. I find the best, most natural sounding results are found when the sound is right from the source.

Day 4

So we returned to guitars on the final day of recording, spending a fair bit of time shaping the guitar tone. I noticed that the guitar sound was “sucking” due to natural compression of the amp’s valves. It was fine once we turned down the input gain however. Due to Phil’s multi fx pedals we decided to record in layers, so that switching between the fx would be seamless. Once the guitar tracks were laid down it was onto vocals. To integrate them with the rest of the recording I had Phil stand in the center of the room, with one close mic (AT4033) and two ambient (SE Ribbons).

Vocals are due to be finished off in the next couple of weeks, after which mixing will commence.

Follow Silent Front’s album progress on their website here, and view their bandcamp page here.

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