5 Reasons Why Live Band Studio Recording is Better Than Track-by-Track Recording
Here’s a question that you’ve probably asked yourself at some point. Which studio approach works best when you’re getting a song recorded? Do you get the musicians to record track-by-track in separate studios, usually their own home studios? Or do you put them together to record as a live band in a recording studio?
OK, everyone has their own view on this. But here are 5 reasons why we think the live band studio recording wins out over track-by-track recording:
Creative collaboration between musicians
There’s an obvious benefit to putting musicians to record together in a professional studio. It’s what painters and writers take as a given. The opportunity to refine, correct and perfect the end result.
Record each of them remotely and sure, they’ll do a good job – but they’re working in creative isolation. Put them together in a studio and you get a bunch of talented session musicians making music. And “making” is the important word there. They collaborate, try things out together, come up with creative ideas.
Ask any recording engineer. It’s hard to find a single one who’ll argue that track-by-track recording has more energy than live band recording.
Energy is something that needs to be communicated emotionally, in person. Professionals like playing live for a very good reason. It’s more natural. You’re never going to achieve the same cohesive passion when you’re playing to a metronome through a pair of headphones. Yes, you’ll sound OK but there’s a strange “disconnect”.
When seasoned pro musicians play live together in the same room, it’s all about non-verbal communication. Tiny alterations to tempo, spontaneous touches of colour and a “tighter” overall sound.
Better sound quality
When it comes to the live band studio recording, one subject comes up over and over again. The thorny subject of mic bleed. Basically, it gets a bad rap.
The fact is that many of the best sounding studio microphones are extremely sensitive condenser mics. They’ll record the sound of the required instrument, but they’ll also pick up the sound of what’s happening around them. If musicians are playing together in a studio, mic bleed can cause problems.
So how do you get round this? Well, the answer lies in the quality of the studio and the quality of the recording engineer. Good professional studios will usually have several recording booths set around a “live” room. The amps and loud sound sources are isolated in the booths while the musicians are together in the room. The only sound source you’ll actually hear in the live room is the drummer. And the result? Great energy, good sound isolation and zero mic bleed.
Where instruments have to be recorded in the same room – strings or brass, for example – the quality of the sound engineer is crucial. Get the mic setup wrong and the instruments sound weak. Get it right and mike bleed can actually create a bigger sound, a deep richness that you simply can’t achieve with overdubbing. With a well thought out setup, smart selection of the right microphones and preamps to preserve the purity of instrumental tone, mic bleed makes the sound come alive.
Live band recording sessions are quicker
Even with experienced musicians, the track-by-track remote recording method is time-consuming. The drummer records all of the drum parts and sends it to the bass player who records all the bass parts. Then you get the guitarist to record the guitar part, add in any overdubs, then do the vocals.
And there’s nothing worse than getting to the vocals and realizing that the tempo sucks. At which point you send it back to the drummer and the whole process starts again. And given that most musicians record in their own home studios, what about the differing sound quality of each studio set-up? It makes mixing and mastering a time-consuming hassle.
Get a bunch of pro musicians to record your track live in a studio, and take it from us – they don’t waste any time. They are professional session musicians who are already comfortable playing together and when it comes to speed, this is a major plus point.
It’s more cost effective
This one may surprise you. Providers of remote track-by-track recording often argue that a live studio approach is significantly more expensive than the remote, track-by-track option. Actually, this isn’t always true.
Take Supreme Tracks, a top-shelf online recording studio, as a good example. For a start, your song gets recorded by professional players who perform every day and most nights. They don’t need much time to get a perfect take. Added to that, you get professional studio quality and the tight, energetic buzz of a live performance. And all this comes in at just a fraction above the price of a home studio recording.