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What buildings or spaces would make good temp studios for vocals?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by thesamhill, Apr 17, 2021.

  1. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    If you had after-hours access to buildings around town, what places (other than recording studios) might make good vocal recording spots?

    I'd think school auditorium stages, theaters, and churches might be good as they are kind of built for that purpose. But would they be good if they were empty? Or what other places might make for clean vocal recordings?
     
  2. cyclopean

    cyclopean Poster Extraordinaire

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    Places with high ceilings?
     
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  3. Ed Driscoll

    Ed Driscoll Tele-Afflicted

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    How much room tone and reverb do you want on your vocals? If you want them dry, then hanging a few duvets or moving blankets around just about any room should work fine.

    Otherwise, you might want to match the size of the room with the tempo of the song. On a slower song, a larger space might work great. In both his book Making Rumours, and in Rumours' "Classic Albums" documentary video, producer/engineer Ken Caillat discusses how he hired Zellerbach Auditorium in Berkeley, and brought in a PA system to record Christine McVie's ballad "Songbird."

    It's ultimately down to how much "adventure" you want your recording project to be. If you're going the DIY route, you might be better off using the best mic you can afford (or rent a classic tube mic) in a dead room, and adding the ambience afterwards via a digital reverb plugin.
     
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  4. O- Fender

    O- Fender Tele-Afflicted

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    I know a guy who makes video documentaries. He uses his wife's minivan as an announce booth to record voice overs. I don't think that helps unless you want dry vocals and add your own reverb.

    I heard of someone recording in an historic fire hall. They left the door open to the tower where they hang the hoses.

    On a similar note, some museums in old mansions might let you record.
     
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  5. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    The bathroom: plenty of hard surfaces, and super bright. Stick two condensers in an X pattern on an acoustic guitar and it KILLS.

    Stairwells: if you can get access to a large building after hours when the cleaning crew is not working.
     
  6. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    my suggestions exactly!
     
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  7. Ed Driscoll

    Ed Driscoll Tele-Afflicted

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    Just remember if you're recording in an environment that isn't dead, it can be really hard to get the ambience off afterwards if you overcook things.
     
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  8. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    I generally don't track vocals wet, because you really need to tailor the vocal sound to fit the track. An office space with lots of open space (to reduce proximity to walls) but filled with furniture and stuff to diffuse echoes is good. A furniture store would probably be killer.

    You also want to think about neighbors- whether or not the vocalist can really let loose without having anyone come in and tell you to cut it out. Singing while you're trying to keep it down so as not to get kicked out of your space isn't conducive to good performances.

    Tracking drums are totally different, because the drums are the foundation for the sound of the song and that IS something I want to establish early on. Warehouses are good for this, especially ones with pallets of stuff you can move around to alter the acoustics. Old school theaters aren't as good in my experience, because they were built with reflective surfaces to acoustically amplify the sound from the stage into the house. That's great, but with an empty house that gets boomy in a hurry. Unless you're looking for "In The Air Tonight" style drums, anyway.
     
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  9. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    Ed's right about being stuck with the ambience, but I was once lucky enough to have a half-bath for a vocal booth that would knock your socks off. Now I'm in a better mixing room, but no booth. So I use a microphone shield:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08W2RDNZN/?tag=tdpri-20

    Not as good as a well-treated booth, but it cuts down on early reflections and keeps the ambient vocal from rattling around in the corners. If your ceiling's not super-live, they can really make a difference.
     
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  10. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    It you need dead space, a closet in your house that has coats and other heavy clothing hanging up. It's a wonderful place to track vocals. Put a chair in there, a mic on a stand, and get comfy.
     
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  11. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Interesting responses all! Thanks!

    I probably should have specified, I'm more thinking about dead rooms than acoustically interesting ones.

    My challenge is that I like to move around when I sing and play. Even in front of a mic stand. So closets and other small spaces aren't ideal, just for me personally.

    Boogie-ing around also seems to result in a lot of room echoes flying around from different places and at different freqs. That can be hard to dial in and notch out.

    I was thinking, there are lots of spaces around that I could probably get into for an evening- the church, a local community theater, maybe an auditorium, etc.

    I thought it be might be interesting to take a few mics, a stand, the filter, and the Zoom recorder and see if I could get some recordings that were less "small-room-verby" than at home, but where I could you know, boogie around a bit.

    I know that boogie-ing around isn't ideal mic technique. But I often like my takes better if I can boogie around. And I am gonna be gain riding anyway, regardless. And not having to notch filter room echoes as much might result in an overall nicer take.

    (I know I should probably just bite the bullet and get some studio time if I want actual good results but I am kind of an inveterate DIYer and I already bought all these mics and cables and the Zoom recorder for gigs, lol)
     
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  12. Biffasmum

    Biffasmum Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, try explaining that to your wife!
     
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  13. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I've been following these two and they make a bunch of very rough cut (and probably little post-recording processing) recordings that have great sound to my ears. This one shows a very small space as an example:

     
  14. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    'Long as you're not wearing one of her lace teddys, I think you'll be okay.
     
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  15. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    @Obsessed that's a great tune and Larkin Poe is phenomenal. At first I was thinking, "This Ruthie Foster and her friend look a lot like Larkin Poe. And they sound like Larkin Poe and they are singing a song I have heard Larkin Poe sing. Crazy coincidence." Then I got all caught up with the class, Iol.

    Here's another one that I have reason to suspect might have also been sung in the bathroom. Possibly the shower :D

    Ondara, Shower Song:

     
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  16. swervinbob

    swervinbob Tele-Afflicted

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    Yep, vocals is my next project to learn how to record. My music room is very dead. I may hang a moving blanket as a backdrop and use a SM7B I have coming today. There are some great plugins to add some room.
     
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  17. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Doctor of Teleocity

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    We’ve recorded 70 tracks in lockdown.. the vocalist used a spare room and suspended duvets to ‘deaden’ the sound.. all the ambience is added later digitally using IRs of spaces (some are amazing - concert halls, churches, etc.) or the usual reverb plugins.

    it is hard to remove ambience from original recordings. More options with clean and dry.

    Depends on what you are after. If super stripped down stuff and the ambience is key. Then just go out and try a few places. Have a couple of extra mics to capture the ambience on their own tracks as well as a close mic . One might be far away. You can then mix it a bit.

    We have access to a village hall with some sound deadening panels and roof treatment that is a really nice space with a warm open ambience but no hard reflections.

    Some interesting ‘spaces’ here.. you can load the IRs into a plugin in Reaper or similar.

    https://www.openairlib.net/
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
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  18. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I thought mine was too! Shows what I know. EQ sweeping, I found lots of boxy, feedbacky resonance stuff in the mid range. Dang it.

    It's not horrible for more sparse recordings but with drums and guitars and vocals and backing vocals, that zone fills up pretty quick.


    That is definitely an approach I'm going to keep working on. Any specific tricks, suggestions, recommendations to share are welcomed.

    It's tougher over the summer. Lots of kids, dogs, lawns that get mowed, motorcycles, car stereos, etc. And it's warming up so our windows are open.

    I have decent mics and recorders. And it's all portable and easy to set up because I got it to record my winery gigs etc.

    I figure if I could access some spaces that were pretty deadened already I could go in with a rough instrument mix and headphones on my phone, set up the mics into a Zoom recorder, and spend an hour or two getting some clean vocal takes.

    TBH I am probably finding this idea extra appealing because I am ready to go do something outside my house please and thank you o_O
     
  19. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Afflicted

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    Sounds good to my ears too ;) Not bad visually either!
     
  20. nedorama

    nedorama Tele-Meister

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    For the price of renting a hall, room, I'd invest in some duvets and either heavy duty mic stands or another way to hold them up. Or buy or make bass traps that then you can use in your house. It's a lot easier to have a setup in your own room that you can record vocals when you want at the spur of the moment vs. the pressure of having to perform at a rented space. Plenty of band rehearsal spaces if you want to get out that are already treated - and some of them well, at least in southern CA.

    More concerned about moving around the mic when you're singing - that's going to cause issues no matter where you record. Practice and get the discipline of staying put when you're singing for more consistent vocals. Live, it's fine to move around, but for recording, you want to have the distance and axis consistent.
     
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