Ses­sion di­ary Home From Home

With high-qual­ity record­ing tech, Adam Gold­smith ex­plains why you don’t even need to leave the house…

Guitarist - - Opinion - adam gold­smith

The past week or so I’ve been record­ing tracks for pop artist Gabrielle. Those of you over the age of 25 or so may well re­mem­ber her string of hits in the 90s and into the early Noughties, in­clud­ing the No 1s Dreams and Rise, hits with boy band East 17 and the sound­track to Brid­get Jones’s Di­ary, Out Of Reach. I’m imag­in­ing that most of these were recorded in plush mul­ti­mil­lion pound stu­dios with ex­ten­sive record com­pany bar and cater­ing bud­gets.

This week was a touch dif­fer­ent, and this is no re­flec­tion on her in any way, more of a re­sult of a small bit of tech you may be fa­mil­iar with: the in­ter­net. More specif­i­cally, the abil­ity to make high-qual­ity record­ings with fairly ba­sic equip­ment and ping them across the uni­verse in a few min­utes.The stu­dio in ques­tion this time was the ex­ten­sion of my house (sep­a­rated from plas­tic dinosaur wield­ing tod­dlers by two hefty fire doors) and the ex­pan­sive cater­ing was my wife’s rather fine lasagne. I made the tea, which sub­sti­tuted rather well for a tab be­hind the Abbey Road bar –York­shire Gold, if you must know.The en­gi­neer/writer was my friend and col­league Sam Burgess, who I’ve known since the first Pop Idol se­ries and also plays bass in the Ron­nie Scott’s house band.

The phe­nom­e­non of do­ing proper ses­sions from home stu­dios has be­come much more of a fea­ture of my work in the last few years, and prob­a­bly ac­counts for 15 per cent of my in­come these days.You don’t need a huge ex­pen­sive setup in or­der to pro­duce good gui­tar tracks at home, but the skill set needed has cer­tainly changed from when I first started work­ing. I now have a ba­sic knowl­edge of DAW record­ing pro­grammes, in par­tic­u­lar Logic, and I know how to get a de­cent sound with a se­lec­tion of mics, although for any­thing more com­pli­cated than a short jin­gle, I em­ploy a proper en­gi­neer.

The ba­sic idea for my stu­dio is to be able to pro­vide good-qual­ity gui­tar tracks that are eas­ily dropped into a client’s project at their stu­dio, ready to be mixed. I use a va­ri­ety of mics, for acous­tic ei­ther a Neu­mann U87 or AKG 414, and for amps usu­ally the ubiq­ui­tous SM57, pos­si­bly com­bined with a rib­bon mic of some de­scrip­tion, although I will ad­mit the elec­tric gui­tar record­ing side of things, how­ever, is now mostly my Kem­per with the amaz­ing Michael Britt pro­files. From there, every­thing goes into my UAD Apollo in­ter­face. This is an im­por­tant part of the record­ing chain as the au­dio con­vert­ers and mic preamps have to be of a good qual­ity in or­der to cap­ture the sound ef­fec­tively, which is es­sen­tial to keep­ing your client happy. Once recorded, I ex­port the files to Drop­box (check­ing them first and re­mem­ber­ing to take the click off for the bounce!), share the link and get paid.All with­out hav­ing to leave the house. A friend I am work­ing with this evening has just com­mented that to re­ally cre­ate the ses­sion ‘ex­pe­ri­ence’, I should prob­a­bly drive up and down my own road, pre­tend I can’t find a park­ing space and swear at some traf­fic war­dens.

The bot­tom line – apart form your play­ing, ob­vi­ously – if you want to do in­ter­net ses­sions, is hav­ing the high­est-qual­ity record­ing sig­nal chain you can lay your hands on, com­bined with a de­cent-sound­ing room. Even if you have a great au­dio in­ter­face and mics, an un­treated square box room won’t sound good.The chain can also be let down at any point by a duff bit of gear, anal­o­gous to hav­ing a cheap crack­ling patch lead on your ex­pen­sive ped­al­board. As if ped­als, amps and vin­tage gui­tars aren’t enough to keep us oc­cu­pied, tech­nol­ogy has pro­vided us with an­other rab­bit hole to dis­ap­pear down. Good luck to us all!

“You need the high­estqual­ity record­ing sig­nal chain you can lay your hands on”

A glimpse into Adam’s home stu­dio, where the York­shire Gold is on the house…

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