EST. Part 1 focused mainly on the musicians, and how to perform in the studio for a very important reason - no matter what you happen to know, or how much experience you might have in recording, if the band sucks, all your effort will be a waste. Thus I clearly established a heirarchy of importance in the studio; musicians are the most important element, followed by the engineer and other studio staff. After all, without the musicians, what is there to record in the studio?
Drum/Live Room: This should be a relatively large room, about the size of a bedroom, that is as noise-free as possible, and it should have certain acoustic properties that are beneficial to the sound of the drums and other instruments.
Resonances, aka room modes are inherent in the dimensions of the room. If you want software to calculate room modes for you, email me. Unfortunately, absorptive panels, "egg cartons," and other methods will do nothing to help you with room modes. One surefire solution is to eliminate the bass cabinet. Instead of playing with a bass amp in the room, send the bassist into the console through a direct input box, then feed the signal into headphones. No bass in the room = no modes from the bass! Drums, being "whitish" noise, are less prone to mode problems, but modes can still bite you if you're not careful. Generally, the snare (properly tuned) will not do it. If anything, it will be the kick drum or tom toms. Getting a mode? Tune the drums differently. As a general rule, higher frequencies are less of a problem, so? Tune the drums higher. That's the default way to go, but you can also tune down. Tune until the problem goes away, and the right drum sound will "find itself."
The other consideration is the reverberation of the room. A bedroom-sized room should have a pretty nice reverb time, depending on the construction materials. The ideal situation is to start with a room that has too much reverb, that way you can add absorptive "fuzz" to get rid of it if need be. If you have the other problem, a "dead" room, you really can't add reverb. Thus room choice is crucial here. Choose a room with some natural ambience if you can, and don't worry if it's too much. Some cheap absorptive materials are Pink Panther fiberglass insulation, burlap from a fabric store, even stuffed animals or pillows from an old couch. Area rugs are also useful as you can add or subtract them at will. Some people believe in recording in a dead room and adding reverb electronically, but nothing beats the sound of a truly great live room. There's no reverb module in the world that can compete with perfection.
Obviously, the design of rooms can get extremely involved, so I'm just outlining the basic concepts here. Stick the drums in a big room with some reverb, and tune them so there are no errant modes. In short, the drum set and room are together a single instrument. This "live room" is where the foundation tracks will be laid.
I am blessed with a beautiful bedroom in my rental house that has hard wood floors, hard cielings and walls, and glass doors. It's large enough that room modes are not an issue, and the reverb sounds very natural and pleasing. No work, just set up and play in there and it sounds great, better than any reverb machine on Earth, in fact. That's the fun of finding natural environments that work well - it's like playing with million-dollar gadgets.
When I do vocals, I just send them into the living room. Since I don't have a vocal booth yet, I just plop the vocalist in the front room where there are three couches, coats hanging, and plenty of other "fuzzy" stuff to essentially "kill" the reverb in there. It's not a vocal booth, but what do you need, really? You need a good, solid vocal performance with little or no ambience from the room. Find a dead room and go. Noise is also a major concern. Turn off any computers you can, and any appliances. Toss your dog outside for a while.
Once you have found the right environments to record in, or if you are fortunate (or rich) enough to be recording in a professional studio, you need to select your microphones carefully. There are three main types of microphones:
The other type of mics is the Ribbon family. These are quite expensive and nice, and are used very much the same way as a LD Condenser. Don't worry about them, though, I doubt you can afford one.
Condensers, just place at a distance. "Placement" is really not necessary with them. They just pick up everything.
With dynamic mics, solo the channel and crank the mic. Play with distance and location until you "find it." There is always some sweet spot with every source, and no one can tell you where it will be. Concentrate on the sound as you move the mic, with a loose boom stand. Once you find that spot, tighten up the boom. That's it. Dynamics are nice because they generally don't pick up much except what they are stuck in front of. You may hear the snare in the guitar track if you solo the channel, but in the overall mix, this won't matter a bit.
It's a pyramid. Don't even record unless you have something to record. Once your band is tight, and you all know what you're doing, record.
When you do record, lay down the drums and the band at large first. (lacking lead players, vocalists, etc.) Once you do three or four takes in the live room, lay down the other instruments. When the mix is beginning to sound a lot like the song you originally wrote, do the vocals. Also, don't forget to take breaks. You will find that you will do a lot better with a fresh mind than one that is fatigued and irritated.