Recording music in a home studio is a great thing. You can have a small room but still manage to create great mixes. Also, it cost cheap to build one.
With just a laptop and a couple of plugins, you can record any instrument. But what about recording a live band at a home studio? Can it be done?
Well, a short answer is yes. You can record the whole band in a home recording studio. But it depends on many different things.
Because recording a live band is very different from the modern approach when you record every instrument separately.
There is a number of things you should consider before recording a live band in your home studio. And here are the things you need to record a whole band simultaneously in a home recording studio.
1. Recording A Band Requires Space
To record a live band in a home recording studio there must be enough place. A band consists of at least three people but there are bands that have five or more band members. And if there is not enough space, a band recording couldn’t be done properly.
Of course, most home recording room space is not big like in professional studios. But a medium-size room will be enough for a band to play live and record at the same time.
Also, consider that there should be a place for drums too. Yes, you can use MIDI drums but that won’t be a live recording. You need to use real drums if you want to capture all the goodness.
If a recording room doesn’t have enough space for acoustic drums and band members, then it’s not a good idea for live recording.
2. You Need Many Inputs
The next important thing for live recording is the number of inputs. Because when you record a band that includes guitars, bass, vocals, and drums, you need to connect everything to a recording device.
Also, some bands may use other instruments. And if you don’t have a good recording device with lots of inputs, it will be hard to record a whole band.
Of course, a home recording studio won’t have a Neve Console. But you can find a good audio interface with many inputs. Yes, they are a little bit expensive but it’s the best way to record a whole band live.
You need an audio interface or other recording gear that has an input for instruments and microphones. You can use microphones for drums, vocals, acoustic instruments, and electric guitars if you use real guitar amps.
The minimum number of inputs required for standard rock band recording is eight. But I recommend at least sixteen inputs. It will give you more flexibility and much better recording options.
3. Use Amp Sims
For live band recording, a real guitar and bass amps are the best. You will get better sound and capture all the goodness of a live band playing. But it may have some disadvantages.
First of all, guitar and bass amplifiers require space. Secondly, in a small recording room, you will have too much mic bleed. Also, there could be other drawbacks such as the quality of amps and others.
So, a great replacement for real amplifiers is guitar amp sims. It’s much more convenient, you need no extra space in the room, and you can dial-in any guitar or bass tone in a matter of minutes.
Also, you don’t need to place microphones, change mic positions, or anything like it. You just plug your instrument in an audio interface, load a guitar amp sim, and choose your tone. It’s that simple.
Also, guitar amplifier plugins are great for recording DI tracks. You don’t have to think about tone while recording. Because DI tracks allow you to change guitar tone later.
Alternative: Isolation Boxes
But if you still want to use real amplifiers and I prefer that method, you can use amp cabinet isolation boxes or some guitar amp enclosures.
Guitar amp isolation boxes are designed for recording without external sound interference. These are the boxes that have a closed designed and are covered with sound-absorbing material.
Amp enclosures are great for home recording when it has a small space. They eliminate any type of mic bleed. Also, it’s great if you don’t want to disturb your neighbors.
You can find these types of isolation boxes online but if you have little carpenter skills, you can build them by yourself. It just needs a couple of wood planks, nails, and some sound-absorbing or soft material to cover the interior.
4. Record Singer In A Separate Room
A very important thing in live band recording is to have a very clean vocal recording. So, it’s a great idea to have a separate room or place for singers. And a vocal booth is a wonderful option.
You can record every member in one room but the vocalist should be in a separate place. The recording will be clean and there will be no mic bleed.
You can find affordable vocal booths online but you can build a DIY vocal booth yourself if you have some skills.
If you don’t use real amps or use isolation boxes, you can have a singer in the same room. But you can’t isolate drums.
So, having a separate room or some kind of vocal booth is essential for great and clean vocal recordings.
Alternative: Microphone Isolation
Like guitar amps, you can use an alternative for singers. And that alternative is microphone isolation.
There are countless isolations for microphones. These are special mic isolators that will cover any interfering sound coming toward vocal mics. You place them in front of the mic and it blocks any sound.
Microphone isolation shields are a great way when a recording studio doesn’t have a separate room for vocalists.
So, if you have a space problem in your recording studio, a microphone isolator is the best option to record clean vocals.
5. Use Headphones
When you record the whole band playing live, musicians should use headphones. Because in a recording room you don’t have the sound like on stage. So, every musician should wear headphones to hear themselves and others.
Of course, headphones must be high quality to hear everything correctly. And also don’t forget to have enough outputs for headphones.
Every band member should wear headphones and they must hear every instrument. And the sound must be very clear to avoid any issues.
As a recording and mixing engineer, you should also wear headphones during recording. You will hear everything in detail and the experience will be much better.
6. Record Overdubs
One of the most important things in a live recording is overdubs. Almost every live recording, whether it’s a live show or a studio recording, uses overdubs. So, you should use it too.
Overdubs could be used for different reasons. You can find mistakes and record overdubs for that specific section. Or if a song requires an additional instrument section or lick, you do it with overdubs.
It’s important to record overdubs after you record the whole band. Of course, there could be a number of takes before you choose the best one.
So, when you choose the take you want to use for mixing, try to find any major mistakes and record overdubs. Also, overdubs could be used for double-tracking, vocal harmonies, etc.
Recording a live band in a home recording studio is a great way to capture the sonic of the band and the record will sound alive and organic. But it can be a challenging task to accomplish and harder than recording every instrument separately.
However, if you do everything properly you can manage it. The important thing is to have a space for musicians and a good recording environment. Other tasks are technical and easy to execute.