Music recordings. The philosophy of the Sound Technician

Music recordings. The philosophy of the Sound Technician

production music library

There are rules about how you should record and have a production music library, it’s good to know the theory, especially to skip the rules and do things differently; “if you want a different sound, record differently”. 

A good example is Geoff Emerick. He once thought: -a microphone works the same way as a speaker does. What if we used a speaker as a microphone? And that’s what he did, he took an NS10, probably evicted for having a broken tweeter, he put it in front of the drummer’s drum and connected the speaker to a preamp. 

The result was just as he had thought, a sound with a much deeper bass, totally different and original. A product that Yamaha will later market under the name of subkick.

Another technique to achieve a deeper sound from the bass drum is, for example, to place another bass drum after the one being used on the drums. Preferably one with a larger diameter to make it resonate at a lower frequency. 

By hitting the mallet on the front patch of bass drum “A”, it generates a flow of air that falls on the bass drum “B”, sounding by sympathy. We can also tune this second drum by changing its tuning to make it resonate at the desired frequency.

We need to capture both the sound of bass drum “A” and “B” and do it independently. To do this we will place a microphone in the normal position of the bass drum “A” and another one in the back patch of the “B”. This second microphone, preferably with a large diaphragm condenser, is used to better pick up the low frequencies that at this point are of less intensity.

Another thing that I have always liked, is the re-amplification, quite used in guitars, but also applicable to other instruments, for example, to recreate the sound of the snare drum. The technique is the same: we put a loudspeaker in the room to reproduce the sound of the box previously recorded. 

On the contrary, we place the box we are going to use. We arrange it in such a way that the patch where it is hit is next to the speaker, which now becomes our drummer, reproducing the box sound recorded in the production music library

And in the patch where the snare drum is located, a microphone is arranged to capture the sound. Either to get the sound of the box below that we did not have or to replace it.

Following this same technique we can recreate the environment of our recording room by re-producing a previously recorded sound. For example, we place a pair of speakers in the room behind the drums, in the place where the musician sits to play. 

Through these speakers we reproduce the sound of the drum elements. If there are two speakers we can generate a stereo image, in which we use only the tracks that reproduce a direct signal from those elements. 

By reproducing the tracks through the speakers we make the drum elements vibrate as they do naturally. It is necessary to take care with the vibration of the snare drum that can be excessive, if necessary we can leave it loose to avoid its vibration. 

Finally, we place a couple of ambient microphones in the room, in the position we like best, we record them and that’s it, we can now incorporate our new ambient tracks to the drum tracks we already had.

The pace of the production music library does not always allow us to give free rein to our creativity and imagination. Tasting the madness of the moment is what I am most passionate about studio sound. Having the option to study and research. 

To solve the unknown and, hopefully, discover a unique acoustic that works or that shows us what we should not do. The unknown will always make us learn. But remember a fundamental premise, no matter how or why you ended up there, IF SOMETHING SOUNDS GOOD, IT IS GOOD.