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Cambridge Location Recording

by Feb 19, 2014Clients, Sound Advice0 comments

When I was asked to take basically my whole studio up to Caxton near Cambridge to do some location recording for a couple of days my reaction was “sure thing, but why don’t you come here?” – the answer being “there’ll be over 20 of us on the stag…..”

The penny dropped – I was being asked to essentially provide a recording studio service on location to a bunch of drunken reprobates for a couple of days….why not! Jonas – the organiser and best man had tried to find a residential studio but the sheer number of guys meant that it was proving difficult as they were all descending on the venue gradually over 2 days, bringing an assortment of instruments with them and they sought a more relaxed feel afforded by the 15th century manse that would serve as our HQ for the weekend which belongs to the groom’s parents – who were mercifully away!

The plan was to record a 7-8 minute medley of songs that all members of the party would perform on in some way – either instrumental or vocal duties and day one would be used to lay down the backing track and record the majority of the instruments with day two reserved for vocals in between bouts of clay pigeon shooting and copious amounts of drinking!

The Gear List

The first thing I had to decide on this job was what to take with me – I essentially needed to track a full band (albeit separately) over a weekend and would probably need to work fast and mix as I went along so needed tools and equipment that I could rely on.

Threecircles Cambridge Location Recording - EquipmentMy recording system was based around my trusty old Macbook running Logic 9 and a few plugins from Waves. The main interface I tool along was my Presonus Studiolive 16:4:2 which has compression, gating, HPF and EQ on all channels so this afforded quite a high degree of pre-mixing which allowed me to work quickly and commit to decisions en route.

I took along a pair of active Genelec 8040a monitor speakers on Quiklok speaker stands for my monitoring, as well as several pairs of Beyerdynamic headphones and my single channel Peavey headphone amp. I also took along a floor wedge monitor speaker for foldback when recording the gang-style vocals. A Sansamp Para Driver was used to record bass guitar, which was my Fender Squier Jazz/Precision hybrid.

The main consideration for me was which mics to use – I wanted to take the best ones I had which were all predictable and wouldn’t necessarily exhibit the “cheap Chinese brightness” when used on multiple vocal takes for example. For the drums I decided on an AKG D112 and ElectroVoice RE-20 for kick drum depending on the sound, a Sennhesier MD-441 for Snare, SM57s for Toms and a pair of AKG c451EB for overheads. I also used a pair of Golden Age Projects Ribbon mics for room mics on the kit which was being recorded in a long parquet-floored music room.

My main instrument mic was the absolutely lovely Neumann TLM193 which I can’t get enough of – it is very neutral and takes EQ well when necessary meaning that recording many of the solo instruments such as organ and acoustic guitar, not to mention the percussion was fairly straightforward without the need for corrective surgery to get instrument to fit in the mix – most times a HPF and slight compression was all that was needed.

I also had with me my trusty pair of AKG c414s which I used on the Steinway grand piano, a pair of Rode NT5s for ORTF stereo gang vocals and a Neumann TLM103 for solo vocals. I also took an Edirol R-09 portable recorder to record the exhaust of the Aston Martin Vanquish in the car park!


One of the groomsmen, Adam, happened to work in artist development from Paul Epworth’s old London base which was handy as he was keen to take over as MD for the weekend and also played several of the instruments such as guitar, organ and lap steel which really helped keep the session on track and meant that something actually got recorded! Adam was joined by Ali on drums and the two had been up until 4am the night before arranging the track which would start with Whitesnake, AC/DC and Lynrd Skynrd before neatly segueing into Bugsy Malone!

Threecircles Cambridge Location Recording - DrumsHere you can see the main recording room which was used for drums and guitar as well as the majority of the vocals. The room mics were positioned behind the camera, in the back two corners of the room. You can also see the multi-core drum which took the mic signals to the next room which I was using as my makeshift control room – on top of a billiards table! 

The first half of day one involved the setup in the morning before getting the drums setup in the music room as well as a guitar amp, mic’d with the obligatory SM57. The guys had already decided they wouldn’t use a click as the track took in many different songs so we set things going fairly quickly meaning that I could set levels and tweak mic positions while the guys worked through the arrangement. This also meant that we could have a tentative listen through to check the sound we were getting before concentrate on getting the best take upon which to build.

'Control Room'

Threecircles Recording Studio Cambridge Location RecordingHere you can see yours truly in my makeshift control room. A spare mac monitor really helped in this scenario as I could give myself a bit more screen real estate. Also a boon in this case was that the speakers were situated in the middle of the room which meant I didn’t have unruly bass levels to contend with in an un-treated acoustic space.

Much of the rest of day one was spent recording a wide variety of instruments to fill out the arrangement. More electric guitar was added – via DI this time and an amp simulator was used in Logic. Acoustic guitars were also recorded.


Threecircles Recording Studio Cambridge Location - GuitarsMost of the subsequent electric parts were DI’d – either directly into the Presonus Studio Live or via a DI box or Sansamp. Here Adam is laying down some of the guitar overdubs after his main part was captured along with the drums in the music room.

The house contained a lovely Steinway grand piano that simply HAD to be recorded as well as an old double-action organ which featured in several places. The piano was mic’d with a stereo pair of AKG 414s and most of the other instruments saw the Neumann TLM 193. Several percussion instruments were tracked such as tambourines, shakers and a rain stick and mouth organ was recorded using a hand-held SM57. Bass was tracked via DI with a Sansamp Para Driver set for an SVT preset. A lap steel had been brought to our attention in the afternoon and this was DI’d as well.

Acoustic Guitars

Threecircles Cambridge Location Recording - Acoustic GuitarTracking acoustic guitar was a very straightforward process of using a Neumann TLM 193 over the 12th fret. The portability of the Presonus StudioLive interface also meant that I was located close to the player to make decisions on mic placement and get the headphone balance right. 

Stay tuned for day two including all vocal tracking and more on mixing as you go…..

Threecircles Recording Studio
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Richard Simmonds
Richard Simmonds
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.read more
Richard Ellis
Richard Ellis
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 ��read more
Ashley 'mAsh' Garbett
Ashley 'mAsh' Garbett
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!!read more
Dan Mailer
Dan Mailer
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.read more
Victoria Mills
Victoria Mills
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!read more
Steve Watts
Steve Watts
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! 5/5read more
Rob Clark
Rob Clark
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!read more
Stephen Ellis
Stephen Ellis
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
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!read more
Kennedy Clark Herring
Kennedy Clark Herring
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 : )read more
Mac Kinnon
Mac Kinnon
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.read more
Matt Milligan
Matt Milligan
Excellent recording studio, highly recommended!