What is an “outside the square” thing you’ve done during recording that worked?

What is an “outside the square” thing you’ve done during recording that worked?
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#1

Whilst creative recording processes are pretty common place, I’ve found that outside of an “effect”, tried and true methods work and are the default.

But I had some success the other day by making a snap decision that changed the course of a song we were recording.
The song was one that was written fifteen years ago and was always a live favourite. We had recorded the drums back then and a few years ago added guitar and bass.

We recorded the vocals. On three separate occasions over a couple of years. Each time, it felt like something was missing. Our wives mentioned that it just wasn’t the same as when we used to play it live. Strangely, the drums were recorded live to no click and I’m one take - hmmm

A month ago, the singer tried yet again. After a verse and chorus, the comment “it just doesn’t have the same energy as the live recordings we have”.
Bing!!! Light inside the head comes on.

I grab a 58, hand it to the singer, set up a Facebook live stream and tell him we’re going to record this live three times and that he can move around the studio as much as he wants.

All three takes were better by a long way compared to what we previously had. They had forgotten words, bun notes a lot of mic noise from it moving in his hands, but the energy was there. It also sounded way more muffled and dense compared to the sm7 that we normally use.

But, by the time I cleaned it up, it was ten times better than before.

Below is a video of part of a take.

Now, what I did was not a stroke of genius and creativity in the studio by any stretch - but it was something different that we had not done before in order to solve this problem.

What have you folks done that is a little different for you to solve a recording or mixing problem that you normally would not do?

The clip (skip to around around 1:40 as the song is a little slow and low at the start)

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#2

This is about creating sound effects, rather than music per se. Some years ago I decided to do a cover version of Judas Priest “Metal Gods”. I had read some interviews where they talked about creating the sound effects in that song themselves, in the English mansion they were recording in (Ringo’s maybe?). There’s a loud cracking sound at the beginning, which I believe they did with a hammer and a piece of sheet metal and a ton of reverb. I used a lightning sound I had recorded on a stormy night, tons of reverb too. At the end, the Metal Gods are supposed to be “marching through the streets” like robot Godzilla’s or something, and they used some silverware trays in the mansion kitchen dropped on a metal prep table. I did something similar, with a plastic tableware tray on a tile floor. Had to play around with mic placement on that one to get in the zone. Here it is if you’re interested.

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#3

Yeah it can be hard to capture the right energy for a vocal performance! Sometimes I do pushups or run around a bit because I sing better when I’m slightly out of breath, lol. Crap I should have done that yesterday when I was recording vocals. :woman_facepalming:

Oh, something I did one time that was neat… so I have a drum set in my studio, and if I forget to turn the snare wires off I get a lot of sympathetic vibrations and buzzing. I was playing a nylon string guitar and noticed that I liked the way the snare buzzing was interacting with the part. So I put a mic on the guitar, and a mic on the drum, and I had a neat ambient track to work with.

And recently I knew I wanted a vibey, lo-fi sound for a long acoustic guitar outro. So instead of messing with effects I just recorded it from across the room, facing somewhat away from the mic haha.

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#4

That snare idea is fantastic! Instead of fighting it, embracing and using it!
I’ve done similar things with room mics as you mentioned with that Lo fi guitar sound. I nearby always put a mic outside a room when recording drums and will crush it and blend it in sometimes.

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#5

Pretty cool ideas here.

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#6

About 4 years ago I decided to remake some songs from an old band. I have an old cassette from a practice session, and to get the drumbeat down for one of the songs, I recorded a section of the intro off the cassette which was just the drums. Then I programmed the rest of the song based on that. Then, I thought it would be cool to start the song with the intro drums from the cassette. I liked that so much, I ended up editing together the kick/snare for entire song from the intro, then ran that track under the programmed drums to create a parallel track. I also strummed the bass part on that with a pick and recorded the strumming with a mic. I thought it might add some nice texture to the bass track. That made it’s way into the mix too.

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