How long is a day?


For the most part when we are quoting for a recording session we normally refer to a ‘full day’ on location.  But what exactly does this mean and how long is a day?

The setup

When we are recording on location our engineers need at least 1 – 1.5 hours from the point we arrive at the venue to the point where we are ready to record. This is because we have at least 10 trips to and from our vehicle to unload all the kit into the venue and then we have to set up anything from 8-16 channels of microphones plus the engineering desk.  Then finally before we can allow choirs in we need to ensure all the cables are taped down and the area is safe for people to walk around.

For this purpose we usually try to run all cables in one direction thereby leaving a clear path for the choir to get into position without walking over any cables.   Once this is all done we let the choir in to warm up – during this time we will set some levels and may adjust the microphone positions a little.

The Recording Session

Once we are ready to record then generally we allow around 6-7 hours, including breaks.  It’s surprising just how quick the time will go when you start recording but it is still worth giving your singers or performers a mid session break. Just long enough for a bit of fresh air and a cup of tea is usually enough to revitalise everyone for the next session.

A recording session is often run a bit like a rehearsal. A bit of time is spent going through the song before we then go for a take. The MD will then have a listen back to the take and either re-record another full take or just a few elements of it.  Even so, 30 minutes can go by very quickly and you find you have only recorded a couple of takes.  This is why we would recommend recording no more than about 12 songs in a day.  Some choirs have managed 15 and we did record a school once where they recorded 24 songs in just 2 hours. But, they never stopped to listen back and no one had a break! Actually the album turned out rather well, but this is definitely the exception!


Once the recording is finished and the choir have cleared the ‘stage’ we will then dismantle all our kit and pack away.  This is a bit quicker than the setup but usually takes around 45 minutes or so.  Without wishing to appear ungrateful we would rather you didn’t offer to help.   We are quite happy for people to sit around and watch us pack away and it is often quicker!


Based on a 7 hour recording session (including breaks) the overall timings might work out thus:

  • 08.00 – 4 Part Music engineers arrive on site and set up
  • 09.30 – Choir arrives and warms up
  • 10.00 – Recording session
  • 11.30 – Mid session break (15 mins)
  • 13.00 – Lunch break
  • 14.00 – Recording session
  • 15.30 – Mid session break (15 mins)
  • 17.00 – Session ends
  • 18.00 – 4 Part Music leave site.

So as you can see, allowing for a few breaks, a 7 hour recording session means we are on site for 10 hours.

To find out more about recording on location with 4 Part Music, please give us a call on 01225 302143 or click here to email us

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