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> Recording Live Vs Click Track
Bogdan Radovic
post Feb 12 2015, 10:47 AM
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When we go into the studio, we usually either record "live" or against a metronome beat or so called "Click track". I must say that all the material I have recorded with bands so far was done against a metronome beat/track. We would usually record pilot tracks at home and then drummer would first go into the studio and record the drums over pilot tracks and metronome click. After drums are done, other instruments would be recorded. Lately, I've been thinking about the alternative approach - recording "live". This means that the band will go into the studio and play live, just like on rehearsals or gigs. Usually drums, bass and maybe a guitar track would all be recorded in this one take and then other instruments/tracks overdubbed.

As I view it, here are some pros and cons of both methods :

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CLICK TRACK


Pros

- music is recorded to a steady metronome beat so there is not much if any tempo variation throughout the song
- it is somewhat easier to record overdubs and add other midi triggered instruments over the tracks which are recorded "in time" and with the click track
- more flexibility in studio choice as only 1 instrument is recorded at the time

Cons

- less dynamics in music which come from variable tempo throughout the song
- lack of energy that comes from band playing together in one room

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LIVE PLAYING

Pros

- songs sound more like the live band performances
- songs have tempo which is not fixed and usually speeds up in the choruses, drops a bit in verse and dynamics go up during solos or ending sections of the song
- overall more dynamics

Cons

- tempo can really get away and song can start in one tempo and end up with a completely different one which is not always good. I would call this "additional nervousness" in the song. Songs would be less "flat" and steady sounding when it comes to time keeping.
- could be more tricky to record as band would be searching for a "perfect" take and this take also needs to have a good and well played other instruments (not just drums) since more musicians are recorded at the same time.

_________________________________

What would be your preference? If you have any experience with these recording approaches, please share smile.gif
Did I miss any pros or cons of both approaches? I was wondering how famous bands record? Which ones record live tracks for example?


I saw some clips by RHCP and Iron Maiden from the studio which I would guess are recorded live but I'm not sure.

Here are they:





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klasaine
post Feb 12 2015, 04:17 PM
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Depends on the type of music and whether you may want to add a sequenced or 'timed' part later. If that's something you may want to do then having a grid (click track) to lay it on is a lot easier than having to tweak the timing later.

You can split the difference and record the basic rhythm tracks 'live' but with a click. Or, a common method is to just have the drummer play to the click.
Lots of great music that we consider soulful and live sounding has been recorded live in the studio with a click track (Motown).
If you practice playing and recording to a click, as with anything else, it becomes easier and more natural.

Ultimately it comes down to "how good your time is" as a band and/or an individual.

I would say it's not so much a pro or con situation. It depends on what you're trying to accomplish in the music or what the application of the music is going to be.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Feb 12 2015, 05:16 PM


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Mertay
post Feb 13 2015, 09:34 AM
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Nice post!

I also agree it can be a genre thing, since the difference is in the groove not every genre can adapt it musically (at least today).

To point out the importance; back in time like in the 50's an album would take only a day or 2 to be completed smile.gif I think Beatles were the first to use a 4 track tape machine, imagine you have 4 tracks only in your DAW! smile.gif

Today only jazz, traditional blues or I guess rarely country albums are completed like this, and the musicians must be superb.

But for a non-click track recording, I think some kinds of indie and folk would be logical. Genre's that have goals to sound the same on stage as in the album without a huge team of engineers behind them.


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klasaine
post Feb 13 2015, 04:14 PM
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A lot of modern 'rock' - indie, post rock, whatever you wanna call it - is done w/o a click. If it's not meant to be dance music or cut up and re-mixed (as long as your drummer's time is good) there's really no need for a click. If you're gonna do it all in your bedroom one inst at a time then yeah, a click is probably a necessary and good thing.

*4 track recording was in the states by the mid 50s (Atlantic records). We also had 8-trk here by the mid 60s. Upon hearing that the Beatles used two (synched) 4 trk machines to record Sgt. Pepper Tom Dowd (engineer and producer at Atlantic) famously said, "why'd they do that?"

This post has been edited by klasaine: Feb 13 2015, 04:15 PM


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Mertay
post Feb 13 2015, 05:41 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Feb 13 2015, 03:14 PM) *
*4 track recording was in the states by the mid 50s (Atlantic records). We also had 8-trk here by the mid 60s. Upon hearing that the Beatles used two (synched) 4 trk machines to record Sgt. Pepper Tom Dowd (engineer and producer at Atlantic) famously said, "why'd they do that?"


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