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Cambridge Location Recording – Day 2

by | Feb 26, 2014 | Clients, Sound Advice | 0 comments

Before heading back to Caxton near Cambridge for the second day of location recording, I made a detour via the studio to check through the rough mix from the day before. I find that Genelec speakers tend to make everything sound pretty good so I wanted to check the balance on my trusted Yamaha NS10s in the studio. The good news was that the mix was working well and most importantly the bass was clear and defined – something I had been worried about when using the Genelecs.

I had packed down a lot of my gear the night before and brought back a lot of the spurious equipment now that we’d finished tracking drums so setup was a simpler affair – I created a “control area” out of the way in the main music room where I could setup speakers for playback as well as have mics setup for vocals with a set of headphones and a floor wedge covering fold-back duties for the singers.

The 'Control Room'

Threecircles Cambridge Location Recording - Day 2The “control room” setup for the second day. This was in the music room to facilitate easy recording and communication with larger groups of singers not to mention freeing up the billiards table for the social activities! Vocal mic can be seen along with the fold-back monitor for the group recordings.

I chose a Neumann TLM103 for the main vocal mic with a metal pop shield and SE Relexion filter to try and capture as clean a recording as possible. I ended up not using the relexion filter after all due to a shortage of mic stands – I had clearly been a bit over zealous in my efforts to ensure a quick pack down and getaway the night before! I also set up an ORTF pair of Rode NT5 mics to capture a stereo recording of the group chants and gang vocals that were to be the main component of the afternoon.

Gang Vocals

Threecircles Cambridge Location Recording - Gang VocalsHere you can see my approach to recording the “Gang” vocals which included chorus sections and the extended outro, many of which were doubled.The stereo pair of NT5s record the group while Adam (right) conducts with fold-back via headphones.

The most important thing on day two was for me to be able to work quickly – the guys were going out clay pigeon shooting in two separate groups an hour or so apart so I only had a finite amount of time to get them recorded. The first group spent a while rehearsing their parts – some of which would be performed solo and some in a group so I had both the Neumann TLM 103 and Rode pair setup and sent to the monitors ready to go. I also had to make quick changes of mic gain as I went – knowing that different guys would have differing levels of bravado on the day!

Instead of changing the gains constantly or ask the guys to repeat things I might have screwed up or clipped – I chose a fairly sensible gain setting and then relied on some compression via the console to provide the level trim that might be necessary. I used a fairly smooth 2:1 setting – knowing that I might inevitably use more later on. This meant that I could move quickly between vastly different vocalists and keep most of what was recorded – I would say that around 75% of the vocals recorded were all first-take keepers – something unheard of in a normal studio environment!

Playback

Threecircles Cambridge Location Recording - PlaybackThe situation of my “control area” on day 2 allowed me to quickly rotate the speaker stands for playback to the group for decisions and mix appraisal.

Much of my mixing needed to be instinctual and quick – I wouldn’t have much time to perfect everything so had to use predictable and reliable plugins to achieve this. I had tracked everything sensibly to start with so didn’t have much trouble getting the vocal level above the backing so I just needed to go with my gut as to whether something needed to be brighter, more solid etc and paint broad brushstrokes.

The plugins that I relied upon were my usual studio tools: LA-3A, 1176 and LA-2A compressors and Pultec EQs from Waves. The ability to make quick changes and get instant results was really a benefit in the scenario. I also made about 20 vocal tracks and routed them to a group to facilitate quick balancing between the disparate parts – I didn’t want to get too bogged-down with automation. I had some bus processing on this group to further solidify the vocal tracks. I ended up with 6 main faders to make mixing even easier: Drums, Percussion, Music (including piano, bass and guitar), Vocal, BVs and Gang – meaning I could rapidly change the balance if I needed to get the vocals above the track – I could also EQ the whole music group to make more room if required.

Waves 'One Knob' Plugins

Threecircles Cambridge Location Recording - PluginsThe “One Knob” series of processors from Waves proved very useful in this task – allowing me to work quickly and instinctively so the session didn’t get bogged down in technicalities!

Another group of processors that proved their worth in this recording task were the “One Knob” series by Waves. I used several instances of “Louder” as well as “Phatter” and “Brighter”. I was surprised at how useful these tools were – it’s easy to dismiss them for being simple but that’s just what I needed!

Happy Campers

Threecircles Cambridge Location Recording - Happy Campers!The groomsmen at the end of day one – those involved in much of the instrumental tracking sessions. Here you can also make out some of the equipment used on day one – situated on an impressively solid billiards table!

So what did the track sound like in the end? You decide and have a listen below (parental advisory – explicit lyrical content…)

Threecircles Recording Studio
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Kieren Jones
Kieren Jones
2018-04-28T14:45:45+0000
Excellent recording facility and Adrian is a top professional guy! Thoroughly enjoyed it, will definitely be using your services again thanks for a great productive day.
Richard Simmonds
Richard Simmonds
2018-02-25T10:39:15+0000
Adrian, thank you for a great day and a half of recording finishing last Wednesday. Having been together as a group back in the 60s and now getting together 50 years on to record was a bit nerve racking but you made the thing so much easier with your professional advice and guidance. You've got a great set up and since we had Rog playing flute and drums [for some reason not at the same time!] the layering down of the instruments went really well. We had a great time and ended up with a CD and lots of happy memories. Martin living in France doesn't make it easy but we have all vowed to be back with something completely different for you to cut to disc. Thanks again and see you soon. Sam, Andy, Roger and Martin of Old Lemons fame.
Richard Ellis
Richard Ellis
2016-12-19T05:50:37+0000
This is a relaxed studio in a lovely location near the beautiful town of Saffron Walden. Adrian is a great sound guy, he listens and responds and adds enthusiasm to the day. Top recordings with the best equipment for a great price ... highly recommended ��
Ashley 'mAsh' Garbett
Ashley 'mAsh' Garbett
2016-12-17T12:19:23+0000
Having recorded at Threecircles several times, there's good reason why I keep going back... with such high end equipment, Ade's expertise and competitive pricing there's no need to go anywhere else!!
Andy Webster
Andy Webster
2016-12-14T22:55:28+0000
I first met Ade when a charity band event needed a sound technician and PA rig at short notice, he provided top notch sound for the event and also offered a very well priced live recording, which he would go away and mix at Threecircles Studio. The results were brilliant, I have never heard myself recorded live so well and the mixing was fantastic too. As a result, one of my bands then used Threecircles services again, this time at the studio to record a track for promotional purposes. We had a great time and were really happy with the results! Would highly recommend for both studio work and live sound.
Dan Mailer
Dan Mailer
2016-12-14T20:26:42+0000
Three Circles is excellent. Great studio that I have recorded at various times over the year. Ade is a hard working producer who gets great results.
Victoria Mills
Victoria Mills
2016-12-14T20:25:21+0000
I've both recorded and rehearsed at Threecircles and I can't recommend them enough! Nothing was too much trouble, the facilities are excellent and our demo sounds amazing! Thank-you!
Steve Watts
Steve Watts
2016-12-14T18:46:27+0000
Loved working with the chaps at Three Cirlces, they have all the gear and every idea! Super talented guys who get the very best out of you! 5/5
Rob Clark
Rob Clark
2016-12-14T18:20:10+0000
Very professional sound, genuinely listens to what you want and the sound you wish to create, and makes it better in every way! Highly recommend!
Stephen Ellis
Stephen Ellis
2016-12-14T18:19:54+0000
Recorded the last Kaine single at this studio; very professional set up, Ade is a great guy and the coffee is also good.
Gemma Marner
Gemma Marner
2016-12-14T18:04:48+0000
I've always loved recording at Three Circles - lovely, comfortable space and surroundings and Adrian is so easy to work with. Would recommend it in a heartbeat!
Joel Priest
Joel Priest
2016-12-14T16:57:59+0000
Great location as so close to London by road or rail. More mics than you can imagine and Ade has always done a highly professional job whenever I have used his services.
Kennedy Clark Herring
Kennedy Clark Herring
2016-12-14T16:42:36+0000
Truly professional attitude and highly capable. Recommending these guys for studio work as well as live sound... Cheers guys, appreciate the extra effort you put in,making us sound truly amazing. 5 stars : )
Chris MacKinnon
Chris MacKinnon
2016-12-14T16:41:46+0000
Ade at 3C is a true hero. Aside from having professional equipment, incredible understanding and knowledge of music production and a brilliant studio - he is a real genuine man. If I could I'd give this studio 6*, Ade recently recorded a single for my band completely for free because he knew we were doing it for charity.
Saxon Davids
Saxon Davids
2016-12-14T16:39:40+0000
Great recording facility! I've recorded at Threecircles twice now and enjoyed both sessions a lot, Ade is great to work with and has an set up of equipment and can produce excellent sound, and charges at a reasonable rate also! And the coffee is also a huge plus! 😉
Matt Milligan
Matt Milligan
2016-12-14T16:01:56+0000
Excellent recording studio, highly recommended!