The way to record raw, natural sounding tracks

Wanna know how to get a raw sound? If you are in a natural mood, chances are you want to make natural sounding recordings. Don’t ask how I figured that one out; it comes naturally (pun!) to me. Hehe. -.- Anyway. For a good, believable raw and natural sound, you’re going to need a proper, good sounding room, with no nasty sounding reflections, but not something completely dry and lifeless either. Anything can work great, from a barn to a room filled with book shelves or even proper treatment. In the former case, don’t forget the barn owls. They provide you with just the right amount of high frequency damping, and they come handy for harmony vocals as well. Find the sweet spots in the room, where certain instruments sound the best for you.

Want it raw? Room matters

Try to avoid overdubs; record as many things live and at once as possible. The hardcore way is to not do overdubs at all. If you or anyone in your band makes a mistake, just re-record the whole thing. Yep, that’s the joy of it.

raccoon likes a raw soundAlso avoid close miking. You want the natural sound of your preciously chosen room, with all the ambience it can provide. Don’t be afraid to set the mics a few feet away from the sound source if needed; including vocals, and listen. Don’t stop until you get as close to the exact sound you want to hear as possible. It means you are EQing with microphone placement. Set every microphone to a distance where you want to hear the instrument later in the mix.

Bleed equals magic

Don’t be afraid of bleed. If it sounds good, it’s good; in other words, when the whole thing sounds good as a whole, there’s no need to take it apart to little separated pieces.

The real hardcore approach is to use a single microphone with an omnidirectional pickup pattern, and set up the whole band around it. Then whoever takes a solo will step closer to that single microphone for the duration of that part. It obviously works the best with acoustic instruments. If you set up the amp of an electric guitar or other electrically amplified instrument for this kind of recording, you’ll have to either manipulate the volume knob/pedal of your instrument, or you’ll really have to look after your playing dynamics.

Don’t use DI tracks, and don’t double track anything. If you want to hear something in stereo, record it with a pair of mics. XY, ORTF or spaced pairs can work perfectly when placed properly; a binaural setup can get you a great natural sound too.

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