Owl Shed Studios prides itself on two things; first and foremost, the results we achieve and secondly, flexibility both in space and in workflow.
Both Jack and Andrew relish the opportunities and challenges that each project brings and adapting to them. As a studio, it has always been a priority to be able to accommodate as many different types of ensembles as possible. In so far as approach and knowledge, Jack and Andrew are constantly learning and experimenting to learn about new techniques and concepts which can directly improve both client experience and the results of the collective effort to produce the best final product that we can!
Owl Shed Studios has hosted full five and six piece bands recording live - drums, amps & all! It has moved to outside locations for either drum set or full band tracking. As well as tracking live, Owl Shed Studios is also equipped to track piece by piece, instrument by instrument or some hybrid of the two. A frequent approach has been to track the rhythm section with guide vocals and then to overdub vocals and other melodic elements.
In short, Owl Shed Studios' priority is to be as flexible as the clients needs are!
Owl Shed Studios is fully equipped to record and produce bands live, both in front end space, mic and instrument requirements but also on the back end, via mixing and mastering techniques.
In today's day and age, tracking live is relatively rare. Given the flexibility of today's technology and the tools available for multi-tracking and recording separately, many artists default to tracking separately. As is the case with any tool or approach, there is nothing wrong with it at all - we use it frequently at Owl Shed Studios. It has immense benefits as well as certain inherent restrictions and drawbacks.
At Owl Shed Studios, we take a flexible approach to each project, trying to find the best ways to capture each artist's performance. Utilising live recording is a key tool in this array!
The main benefits of recording live are;
It's cost effective - everyone records at once rather than one after another, often as much as quartering tracking time required!
It's how a lot of bands feel most comfortable - most instances of bands making music together will be onstage or in a room together as opposed to layering performances, thus making the transition to playing in studio much smoother!
Almost always, the best and most energetic performances will be captured live - as mentioned above, most musicians and bands feel most comfortable performing together, simultaneously - imagine the difference between chatting with someone face to face as opposed to on video chat. No matter how clear the connection and hi-res the audio & video, it can never match the intricacies, tone, body language and more of interacting in person. The very same goes for tracking live!
In all practicality, and in most cases, a hybrid approach is usually taken whereby the rhythm section (drums, bass, rhythm guitar) is recorded alongside other placeholder elements, such as guide vocals to help keep place in the song, all of which can be tracked properly (overdubbed) later on! This offers the best of both worlds - the energy of a live performance can be harnessed along with taking full advantage of the meticulous and detail oriented nature of multi-tracking.
Time economy is still much higher as, in most cases, final takes of your rhythm section can be attained all at the same time. Fixes and editing can be performed on these takes independently as well. For example, let's say we do three runs through a song and your drummer plays an absolute blinder on the third take but the guitarist's fingers are a little tired or their guitar has slipped out of tune by then - as such, their best take was their first. Perhaps your bassist has a tricky run coming into the last chorus and only really nailed it on the second take but otherwise was real solid. In most cases, it is entirely possible to mix and match quite liberally between different performances captured in this way. So long as they are all tracked at the same speed (to a click or a guide track) and the groove hasn't drastically changed from take to take, you can take your drummer's third take, your guitarist's first and you're able to grab whatever you need from the bass track. Even were your bassist not to grab that tricky pre-chorus run, it would be entirely possible to track those few bars separate to the other musicians, thus not requiring everyone re-track the entire tune! Only in rare instances would you be prohibited from doing this. In most cases, it would be sound from one musician bleeding across into someone else's mics that would cause an issue - usually the drums making their way into different mics.
At Owl Shed Studios, we always set up so as to control bleed from one source to another, thus limiting this issue a lot! In many cases, bleed lends a recording character and helps provide a bit of 'glue', tying the instruments together and helping them sound coherent together. While we understand that bleed can be a wonderful thing, too much of it or bleed in the wrong places can throw up far more issues than it's worth, as mentioned previously! We have two main ways that we can limit unwanted bleed, specifically from a live drum kit - one is to record only DI on any guitars and bass so that the only open mics would usually be drums and vocals, utilising various amp modelling software to provide tone. This also allows enormous flexibility for guitarists and bassists to be able to patch any issues of their own at home, as no tone has been printed.
Another approach is to record with the drummer isolated in one room and all amps in a different room, thus limiting bleed via a physical barrier and allowing for guitarists and bassists to utilise their own sounds and tones that they have painstakingly put together. We have also had incredible results recording everybody all in the same room - drums, amps, vocals, the lot! By positioning drums, amps and singers in specific ways, one can take advantage of microphones' inherent blind spots to reject unwanted sound (see video below)!
Long story short, Owl Shed Studios are able to cater to whatever requirements and preferences a band or artist may have when it comes to capturing the performances that they want for their project!