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