Production with Dr. Bær

Hey folks,

the summer and vacation time is over and I'm back in music production and I have a very cool project to share with you!
I spent the week with Dr. Bær, a German metal band recording their debut EP in the Sportstudio.
Metal music has always been dear to me, since I grew up listening to a lot of it. Not having worked on a lot of metal music lately, I was very excited to produce this EP.
Before the studio work began, we spent a few hours together in a rehearsal and talked about the bands goals for the EP, sound, recording strategies and I had a chance to listen to their songs.
Listening to a band before you record them is very necessary in getting a feeling for what they want and where they're going with their sound.
I took away a couple of ideas for instrument setup, equipment choices and the recording process from that rehearsal and I had a pretty clear picture of what the 2 days of recording would look like.
To start, we spent half a day setting up and micing drums, guitars and bass as well as a preliminary vocal track and setting up monitoring for everyone.
The setup went pretty swimmingly, since everyone had well prepared instruments and we had no major technical hickups.
Working with old gear like that, things can go south very quickly and sometimes, you don't even know why.
Apart from a sudden computer shutdown that was easily salvageable (save your projects frequently!), recording went very smoothly as well.

We spent the entirety of today mixing and left with something that's pretty close to a finished product, making everybody involved very happy.

Something I wanted to focus on for myself in this session was experimenting with different choices of microphones and preamps.
We at Sportstudio have the luxury of having lots of different pieces of gear to choose from, making it easy to learn a lot about the impact of microphones and preamps on the sound of an instrument.
Disclaimer: I was reminded again of how important it is to get your instruments to sound right acoustically BEFORE you think about putting a microphone on it! Choosing the right room and positioning for your instruments is paramount as well!
It is quite amazing, how the choice of a microphone can influence signals in a specific way. You can't make a horrible sound great by putting a very expensive mic on it, but you can lift a great sound up or accentuate certain characteristics.
Most notably, I tried out some different choices for drum overheads, snare and toms.
Knowing that the drum sound has to cut through lots of guitar walls, I chose a pair of very clean sounding overhead mics (dpa 4011's). I spread them out to get the cymbals away from the middle, I don't want them interfering with the snare drum or vocals more importantly. 
To go with that, I chose a very clean and "uncoloring" preamp. The cymbals in the mix work perfectly, they're neither harsh nor too dull and they blend really well with the rest of the instruments.
For snare bottom this time I used an SM57. I tried a couple of other mics before but I can't seem to get the sound I want from using condenser mics. There's something about the hard sound of the snare wires with using a lot of condenser mics that turns me off.
The SM57 worked perfectly. It gave me the needed snare wire sound and a lot of body to go with the rather snappy and aggressive top sound.
Lastly, the toms were micd with Sennheiser clip on mics. I typically use 421s or something similar for toms, but I wanted something thinner, brighter and more aggressive for this occasion. The toms themselves were very rich in sound with thick wooden shells and double layer coated skins. I managed to get a lot of clarity and attack out of the toms, which made me very happy, because I don't have to work hard in the mix. :)

I encourage you to always experiment as much as possible and don't be afraid to do something that doesn't work! Nobody knows all the answers and you might find out something interesting to add to your toolbox!

I'm gonna leave you with a few impressions from the session and a rough snippet (straight from hard disk) and hope to see you next time!

Rob