Pat Flaherty - Bring Me The Dawn
The microphone techniques used were inspired by The Recording Engineers Handbook, written by Bobby Owsinski. I had started the production with idea that Pat would arrive with all his equipment, which to my knowledge and Pre-production prep told me that it was guitar, banjo and foot stomp. So I prepared for that. When Pat arrived he informed me that the drummer was waiting in the car park. In my old line of work I was used to rolling with the punches, so I jumped at the chance to help him get straight into the Live room and set-up. I quickly changed my plan and set up for a drum recording. The new plan was SM57's on the top and bottom snare, D112 on the kick, NT1A over the shoulder of the drummer and an AT2050 room mic.
Next to record was the bass, which I DI'd from the Live room to the desk and through to an amp that was recorded as a seperate channel. In reflection, afterwards I could have tracked the drums and bass live, then re-amped them later. I did this through multi-tracking, after through a HA3500 bass head and Warwick Cabinet. Doing some of the work Live may have saved me some time in the production.
The acoustic guitar was recorded with an Omni AT2050 and and NT5 in an A-B stereo configuration. This worked well and captured the brightness of the guitar and colour from the room. One area I was convinced would work well from The Recording Engineers Handbook, was the banjo micing technique. In the book they suggest different methods for 2 types of banjo, a closed back and open back. In this session I was introduced to a hybrid banjo, which comes with its own challenges if you don't know what your doing. I didn't, but quickly learnt and moved the mic around the banjo until the best spot was found. With this banjo the area of resonance was around the side, almost like small holes on a resonator guitar, but different tone. The sweet spot was pointed above the fret board and in towards the holes. Pointed directly at them about 10 inches away.
After the music tracking was done, Vocals were the last thing on the production schedule and Pat delivered a great performance. He sung all parts to the song using the NT2A in a cardioid polar pattern. At this point the session was only into the 3rd hour and he knew the song very well and was well rehearsed. The dynamics in his voice really came out over the tracks and he required no pitch correction at any point later in the vocal edit.
Tracking acoustic guitar
Fireface 800 Interface
- Audient 4816 Console
- Audio Technika AT2050 Condenser Mic
- Rode NT5 Small Diaphragm condenser
The guitar was recorded in the centre of the room and faced towards the glass. Pat's playing style was quite soft in his strumming patterns and finger picking so facing him towards the glass didn't effect the room acoustics in the microphones.
Banjo Mic Technique and Vocals
- Audient 4816 Console
- Rode NT2A Condenser Microphone
The Banjo mic placement was originally taken from The Recording Engineers Handbook, however, after getting to the session and seeing the type of Banjo Pat had, I changed the plan knowing that it wasn't an open or closed back banjo. It had resonating holes around the side which caused a problem in finding the sweet spot. This was my first time recording this instrument, the mission started to find it. The best method I could see was to mic up the holes around the side of the banjo. This is where the air pressure was escaping and was the clearest position an SM57 could find.
The Vocals were standard and required no processing in either the headphones or the aux sends on the bus. Pat delivered the vocal in a few takes through the NT2A, which I find to be one of the best vocal mics i've used in my short career.
- Top Snare - SM57
- Bottom Snare - SM57
- Hi-Hat - Rode NT5
- Overhead - Rode NT1A
- Room - Rode NT1A
The drummer was a late inclusion into the production, but arrived on the day well prepared. His work through playing at church, touring nationally and session playing made it an easy addition and really showed. He used a maple Ludwig Drum kit with a really great gated reverb sound resonating naturally off the snare. Everyone in the control room lost it when that came through the two SM57's. I suggested we keep the kit simple and only use the basics on the kit. So we cut it down to kick, snare. ride and hi-hat. This really let the room and the mics capture as much of the instruments as possible.
Although Nathan did a great job playing to the scratch and click we were provided, we had slight tempo problems an the start of the song. This needed to be fixed in the edit, but learning from that mistake I can see how important it is to pay attention to the finer details. The technique for recording was something I had never done, but tried using a mono overhead and room mic. This worked well to reduce noise in the room and added nice space to the close mics used on the kick and snare.
- Fireface 800
- Audient 4816 Console
- Passive DI Box
- Mark Bass Cabinet with amp head
- AKG D112
The bass was played by Pat after the drums had been laid down and decided to go for a DI and through to amp set up into 2 channels. This gave great groove and tone to the bass in the mix and was a pleasure to re-amp. The D112 picked up a more rounded tone than the SM57 and was the reason for the choice on the day. In the picture there is a room mic still connected, but this didn't get used in the mix as it wouldn't capture the best sound at the back of the room. I would say this part of the production was the easiest due to the simple grooves Pat put on the track.