Recording A Band With Steve Albini

Steve Albini is a remarkably prolific producer, and his influence has been felt on a huge variety of records by artists such as Mogwai, Pixies, Low, Joanna Newsom and Nirvana. He currently runs Electrical Audio recording studios in Chicago, and here is a brief glimpse into his technique…

Time To Pick The Mic

Recording a band might seem like a straightforward task to the layman – just plonk a microphone in front of each instrument and off you go to the mixing desk.

However, it’s not quite so simple as that. First off, you need to have a room that’s appropriate for recording a band in (ideally, a large room with acoustic treatment).

Then, you need to decide which amps to use, and which microphones to use for each instrument – both pieces of hardware play a vital role in colouring the audio. The more familiar you are with the characteristics of your hardware, the better you can select a particular model to achieve specific results.

Once you have all your gear together, you need to decide on placement – first of the instruments themselves in relation to the room/other instruments, then for the microphones in relation to those instruments.

Everything Sounds In Place

Before the days of advanced EQ and compression in post-production, mic selection and placement was the primary method of controlling how each instrument’s sound appeared on the recording – and it is still an extremely important element for capturing ‘that sound’. Here’s how Steve does it…

By the way, if you need a bit of help deciding which microphone to purchase next, you should check out the very handy microphone database over at Recording Hacks


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