Choosing the most suitable space to record your Choir or Band on location can sometimes be quite a challenge. We have set out below some of the key points to consider.
It goes without saying that you need a space large enough to accommodate your Choir or Band. However when you are recording, you also need to consider space for the microphones and also a bit of space for the sound to develop. We will often put microphones all around your group as well as in between the musicians – particularly if we are recording a band.
It is possible to record in small rooms and if they are quite ‘dead’ we can always add reverb at a later stage in post production. However, it is often better to find a space which would allow the sound to ‘develop. Churches, Church Halls or Community Centres are the most popular types of venue.
A recording studio will usually be sound proofed and acoustically treated to ensure the microphones capture a pure sound with no interference or unwanted echo. However studios are usually quite small and not designed for choirs or bands. This is where a location recording comes in. In an ideal world you need to find a space which has some of the qualities of a recording studio.
The biggest, and perhaps most obvious culprit for noise interfering with a recording session is the hum of traffic near to your venue. Other noises outside of the actual recording space to be considered can sometimes come from adjacent rooms. If you are hiring a community centre for example do make sure no one else has booked any other rooms in the complex. Competing with a drama class in a room above for example will not help with your recording!
Often overlooked are the noises which might exist inside the proposed recording space. These will typically be from heating or lighting systems. Older buildings can have creaking radiators / pipes. Hot air heating systems can also be quite noisy. Quite often in larger halls the lights can sometimes buzz or hum. Some just do it when they’re turned on and then go quiet, others always make a noise. If you need to use the heating do make sure you have checked firstly that it works and secondly that it doesn’t create any unwanted noise. If it does, make sure you know how to turn it off, at least at the points when the recording is happening.
Other more practical considerations include the following:
Do ensure there is sufficient parking for those who need it. From our perspective at 4 Part Music we need space for our van and the nearer we can get to the venue the easier and quicker it is to unload and set up. Also consider your choir or band members. Try to find out how many will be bringing cars and ensure there is suitable space. If parking is limited encourage people to car share or get lifts from partners or friends where possible.
A recording session will generally be at least one full day and more usually over a full weekend for a choir or band. Therefore it’s important to plan refreshments and ensure there is either somewhere on site for your musicians to get food and drinks or for someone to arrange to bring refreshments. Also check whether you are allowed refreshments in the recording space. Some churches or worship spaces do not allow this,but have adjacent rooms where refreshment can be taken.
Again make sure there are adequate facilities for your Band or Choir members. Most Community Centres or Halls will have on site toilets but if you are recording in a Church then the nearest facility may be in an adjacent Hall or Church Rooms. Do make sure you also have access to this on the day of your recording!