This week I was recording some new tracks for a singer/songwriter named Keilan and his upcoming album. As is usually the case with projects I record, we were in a non-studio environment (a.k.a. an empty house). The typical challenges of a modern house were apparent, dry wall and low ceilings. But with a little work and creativity we were able to create two workable recording spaces with makeshift acoustic treatment.
Drums In The Foyer
Most of this house had typical 10 foot ceilings, but not the foyer. Right when walked in the front door there was this nice tiled floor and open entry way that reached up over two stories high. We decided to track drums right there.
This helped for two reasons: 1) we could get some natural reverb that gave the drums some life and made them a little bigger, and 2) we didn’t have to worry about waves hitting the ceiling and coming right back to the overheads. Take a look at some pics of our setup.
In the pictures you’ll notice we hung a blanket to the left of the kit against a bare wall. This was causing obvious problems with slap back, so we simply took two unused mic stands and slung an available sofa blanket over them to diffuse some of that sound. We were all very pleased with the result.
The Closet Vocal/Guitar Booth
After drums we tracked pretty much everything else upstairs in an available walk in closet. We hung clothes on the racks just behind Keilan to absorb sound hitting the wall and corner behind him. We placed pillows above him on the closet rack to do the same up top near the ceiling. And even though you can’t see it in this pic, right in front of Keilan is the same blanket we put next to the drums.
So in essence we boxed him in with blankets, clothes, and pillows to deaden the nasty frequencies caused by the dry wall. The result was a nice, dead, and quiet recording of acoustic guitars, vocals, and percussion.
The Makeshift Life
The beauty of computer recording is the power to take the studio with you wherever you go. The challenge of portable recording is the lack of a dedicated, acoustically treated space. This highlights however an important recording and life lesson. Many times things are out of our control and we have to create makeshift solutions.
In the case of a lot of my recording projects, we are doing as you see above, creating makeshift acoustic treatment out of what we can find. If instead we waited around until we had the perfect location or time to build an actual booth somewhere we wouldn’t actually get around to making music. Don’t wait around too long to record something. Be creative, use what you have, and do whatever you can to serve the music. Get your hands dirty and learn…even if you do it in a makeshift kind of way. No one listening back to the recording will know!