Tracking on non studio environments. Pros and cons

    • February 1, 2023 at 3:11 am #4506

        I would like to know your experience on tracking sessions on non ideal conditions. I have recorded in different venues and studios and I have experienced that sometimes the studio might not be the best place to record for two reasons. The particular acoustics of the place depending on the program. And most interesting one the energy and mood of the musicians. Sometimes when they enter to the studio the environment  does not allows them to be loose and productive.

        Would you trade off some of the quality of the sound to get the right vibe? Or viceversa?

        • This topic was modified 1 year ago by JorgeMR.
      • February 1, 2023 at 8:04 am #4520
        Bob Katz

          Dear Jorge:

          We see your post! Someone will certainly contribute an answer soon. Being a new forum I thought it would help you to know that you’re actually being seen 🙂

        • February 1, 2023 at 10:10 am #4526
          Bob Olhsson

            For me, the hardest thing to track in a livingroom has always been a vocal. This is because the dynamics of a vocal performance only sound right with the singer around three of four feet back from the microphone. That way their head and body motion aren’t affecting the sound. Doing this requires both isolation and uncolored sound reflections from the walls so people won’t sing too loud straining their voice.

            Drums, on the other hand, are a piece of cake.

            Most people feel lots less intimidated in a livingroom and will give lots more convincing performances.

          • February 3, 2023 at 10:58 pm #4710
            Mary Mazurek

              I track a lot of classical and acoustic live performance. So I have to bring a lot of equipment with me. I also build in redundancy. I always roll two recordings because there are no retakes. The situation can be stressful, but the energy of a live performance is amazing!

              This picture is from the podcast Illinois Turns 200. I was hired by the state of Illinois to record these podcasts in various locations across the state in front of live audiences.

            • February 3, 2023 at 11:00 pm #4713
              David Streit

                Tracking in a non-studio environment can engender a great vibe that can have a very positive effect on musician / artist performance. One disadvantage is the amount of setup time involved in working in a space without a studio’s infrastructure. There’s a lot of equipment to put in place if you’re doing a full-blown multi-track pop production. Mic lines, monitoring, a headphone system, outboard gear, etc. Of course, there are also potential issues with environmental noise and sub-par acoustics.

                Still, the results can be spectacular. Here’s a recording I did in the artist’s living room. I was set up in the same room, just behind the line of cameras, trying to get the best sounds I could in a compromised monitoring environment. In these situations, you rely on your experience of best practices to guide your engineering decisions. We could have made this in a recording studio, but I don’t think it would have been nearly as cool.


              • February 18, 2023 at 12:59 am #4957

                  I’ve made a few records in everything from cool houses to barns to a very strange shipping and receiving room on a fjord in Norway! I absolutely love recording in different environments but that also includes basically every studio I’ve been in because I just love recording music. 🙂

                  I’d say the biggest issue to look out for is bad electricity and/or interference. Even something like the neighbors flipping on a blender can be an issue, lights on standard dimmers can wreak havoc, etc.


                • February 27, 2023 at 8:47 am #5009
                  Ryan Sutton

                    I’ve personally done plenty of recording in “non-traditional” spaces.  9/10 I cam able to get a decent recording once I figure out how to mitigate (a-la the use of go-bo’s).  Vocals can be tricky if the room is really live.  Drums can be tricky if you’ve got a bunch of parallel naked walls.

                    To answer your question about the tradeoffs, I’ll take a great performance everyday over a technically perfect recording.  I’ve had times where I’m mixing an artist/band and the vocal recordings aren’t all that great but the performances were killer.  Rather than fight too hard against all the “imperfections”, I leaned into them more (exaggerate) and was able to create a cool sound that was unique and identifiable to the artist.

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