Recording album in a tin room - will it suck?

Obzen

Member
My band Into Orbit are self-recording our debut album.

We have pretty decent equipment and are going to spend heaps on professional mixing and mastering.

But, we are recording in a storage unit we rent and use as a rehearsal space and studio.... it has tin walls and a big tin door. I've wanted to pad it out, but I just haven't been able to find the time and money... plus I'm not a very 'DIY' kinda guy. So that job kinda slipped off the agenda.... we really want to get this album done sooner rather than later so decided to go ahead and record in the un-treated storage unit.

Here is a demo we recorded in that same room... with my attempt at mixing it (admittedly I'm really not very good at mixing): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4gY81s-Gyw

If our performance, instruments, mixing and mastering are all spot on, will the sub-par room we recorded it be much of a detriment to the end-product?
 

porter

Platinum Member
I saw the thread the first time, but I have no idea either way. My covers are recorded in a garage and I think they sound pretty good, but obviously a better environment would be preferred.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Mixing and mastering wont fix any issues with the room. It's the whole polishing a turd thing. It's still a turd. If the room is echos, you may be able to bury it some but it will still show up on stops. The personality of the room will still be present in the final mix.

You can deaden your room for free if you go to carpet stores and ask to raid their dumpster for throw away carpet. I have done this numerous times and have yet to be told no. While it wont soundproof anything, it will deaden the room.

And there is no E in bastards.
 

Bobrush

Senior Member
I'm not an expert, but I have done some recording and do read a lot about recording, and it seems all the experts say that room treatment critical in recording. I have had recordings clearly suffer from a less-than-desirable room, but which was still FAR from a tin box. Sorry, but I think you have some more work to do before you can make recordings you'll like.
 

Obzen

Member
And there is no E in bastards.



You try telling that to Quentin Tarantino!

I've done a lot of jamming and recording in the room, and I personally think it sounds fine, actually I really like the sound of some of the recordings we are getting in there... but I'm totally ignorant about the subtleties of 'room acoustics' and audio engineering...

I'm quite happy to continue doing what we're doing, the only thing I'm afraid of is taking it to a mix engineer and having him/her tell us that the tracks sound like crap, and then ending up with a slightly sub-par album sound.

I've thought from time to time (prior to a bit of mixing) that cymbals maybe come through a bit too harsh on the high-end and wondered if that could possibly be to do with the tinny room?

But overall, to my and my band-mates (non-expert) ears our recordings sound great.
 

Obzen

Member
I'm not an expert, but I have done some recording and do read a lot about recording, and it seems all the experts say that room treatment critical in recording. I have had recordings clearly suffer from a less-than-desirable room, but which was still FAR from a tin box. Sorry, but I think you have some more work to do before you can make recordings you'll like.
Yeah, that is my impression from what I've read too.
But... what we have recorded in the room so far sounds great to my ears..

I think I might send some of the raw tracks we have record so far to one of the engineers we are thinking of using, to see if he thinks they would be okay to work with.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
But... what we have recorded in the room so far sounds great to my ears..
That's because you are in the moment, doing what you want, and enjoying the process. I have recorded plenty of things that I thought sounded great at the time, only to listen to them later on and think they sound like crap. I'm sure there are others who have had the same experience.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
The key to a situation like yours is triggers. Close mic and then use sampled sounds in place of the actual drum sounds. I know that most drummers hate the idea of doing this but it will negate the need for a great sounding drum room. This method of recording drums is way more common than most people realize. Spending the money on mixing and mastering is absolutely the right answer. I would also recommend having the person doing the mixing add the samples to your existing drum track. He will likely have access to much higher level sounds than you will.
 

porter

Platinum Member
The key to a situation like yours is triggers. Close mic and then use sampled sounds in place of the actual drum sounds. I know that most drummers hate the idea of doing this but it will negate the need for a great sounding drum room. This method of recording drums is way more common than most people realize. Spending the money on mixing and mastering is absolutely the right answer. I would also recommend having the person doing the mixing add the samples to your existing drum track. He will likely have access to much higher level sounds than you will.
If you're in need of a sample pack, I think the Orbinator/Edgemont library sounds quite good for heavier music. Very affordable too.
 

Obzen

Member
The key to a situation like yours is triggers. Close mic and then use sampled sounds in place of the actual drum sounds. I know that most drummers hate the idea of doing this but it will negate the need for a great sounding drum room. This method of recording drums is way more common than most people realize. Spending the money on mixing and mastering is absolutely the right answer. I would also recommend having the person doing the mixing add the samples to your existing drum track. He will likely have access to much higher level sounds than you will.
I have used, and do use triggers and sampling (usually in prog-metal stuff).... but I don't think the style of music we are playing would suit triggered samples. I will remain open to that suggestion anyway though.
 

Obzen

Member
Now I have follow up question:

We have laid down 90% of the guitar tracks (we are laying the guitar tracks down first and doing the drums after, which is unconventional I know.... but let's not get into that here!).

I'm thinking that we should just go ahead and do a whole lot of work on the room before tracking the drums.

Opinions please... We tracked the guitars (close miked) in the same un-treated tin room... do you folks think that this as equally as bad as tracking drums in our crappy room? or could the guitar tracks potentially be more usable than drums recorded in the same room?

Thanks for the advice so far! =)
 

Torkerz

Senior Member
To be fair, Meshuggah have pretty much used Toontrack even for Guitars in their albums these days...

In previous projects I have been in, I have used my Roland TD-9K with the Roland UM-ONE MK2 cable, hooked it up to Logic and Superior drummer and after mixing - hey presto, sounds like a top notch recording without having to pay for studio time and worry about 'getting the perfect take'.

Of course it's not the same as a studio, and given the time and money, I really prefer getting real drums down in a great live room, decent mics and with a good engineer - but my parents aren't millionaires and I have bills to pay, so the above is the next best alternative and gets great results if you know what you're doing.

Sometimes, recording something just for sake of saying its been 'recorded' isn't always amazing... Plus you have yourself to battle with. I always feel rushed in recording sessions sometimes and regret takes - Not to mention the sinking feeling when you get your recordings back after being 'Mixed' to find it sounded exactly the same as it did raw but with reverb added to the master track... I always ffind too that no matter how in depth you describe how you want your recording, the results are never the same as if you just did it yourself.

I remember we paid hundreds of pounds just for a day in a studio, we all played great however, the engineer just bragged all day how great his equipment was and how much his studio costed. Shame he didn't know how to use it...

Weigh up your all options before forking out a tonne of cash on something you're embarassed to even show your friends...
 
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eclipseownzu

Gold Member
Now I have follow up question:

We have laid down 90% of the guitar tracks (we are laying the guitar tracks down first and doing the drums after, which is unconventional I know.... but let's not get into that here!).

I'm thinking that we should just go ahead and do a whole lot of work on the room before tracking the drums.

Opinions please... We tracked the guitars (close miked) in the same un-treated tin room... do you folks think that this as equally as bad as tracking drums in our crappy room? or could the guitar tracks potentially be more usable than drums recorded in the same room?
The room is basically a non factor for the guitar sound. Usually a unidirectional mic is used for guitar recording and it is place right at the output of the speaker. The only factors that really effect guitar tone are the head, cabinet and speakers (and obviously the guitar and player matter greatly as well).

Have you considered recording outside. You should be able to get a very benign environment. I really think the sound of the room is overrated in drum recording. I have recorded in three different studios and in all three instances we used so little of the room sound in the mix it was basically non-existant. A tin-shed will kill you with overtones in the overhead mics, but recording outside you can eliminate that problem and get a pretty true drum sound.
 

Obzen

Member
UPDATE, some people might find this interesting:

I sent the raw files to the engineer we are probably gonna use (very highly regarded in our local scene), asked him for a sample mix and for him to give us his professional opinion on the audio captures we have done.

I didn't want to skew his opinion so I didn't tell him we were recording in a storage unit with tin walls... I just told him that the room we are recording in a room that was 'not acoustically treated'.

The sample mix he did for us sounds fantastic to me, and here was his opinion on the tracks:
"I don't think they are damaged by the room, but they definitely needed some tweaks on my end.
You are in a position where you can probably get away with it as long as you have your drums tuned well and the performances are there.
The main issue I faced was the guitars being a little bit on the dull and murky side, I had to give them quite a bit of push in the midrange to bring out the grit in tonality.
Saying that, it's all totally workable. and for a DIY recording I think it'll turn out great."
 
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