Recording on location

Fandango Recording Toronto provides multitrack recording on location in the Greater Toronto Area being specialized in classical music, choirs and jazz. Recording on location is the right way to approach your musical project when:

- Recording in a studio with very large rooms and good acoustics can be very expensive. But space doesn’t need to be a challenge: there are some very nice halls and churches with great acoustics available for rent that can accommodate large choirs and orchestras. 

- The sound of the room (hall, church) helps add character to the type of music being played, and is actually a major part of the final product. Some of our projects were done in churches, like Christmas Carols CD for the Vox Maris Choir of the St. George Church from Toronto, or Men of Note Choir of the Anglican Church from Stouffville.

- The objective is to capture the performance, the band’s ability to entertain, improvise and move the crowd. Recording a concert/show in a club may not be as polished as a studio release; however I personally enjoy live recordings a lot because they demonstrate the band’s real appeal and strength.

- Recording jazz is all about capturing the live performance; jazz is extremely interactive, it has so much improvisation, there is a lot of dialog between the instruments. So, recording a jazz band in a club (especially one with good acoustics) is desirable and rewarding.

- Safety is a concern. Recording on location in schools (like schools choirs, battle of the bands, etc) makes it easier for schools to organize and provide the safety of the students, which otherwise can be a major problem. I did some very nice recordings in schools recording their choir and orchestra and the schools were able to sell the CD and raise quite some money.

Recording on location requires quite a great deal of experience: each scenario is different. Recording a chamber music group, a choir, a philharmonic orchestra or something similar requires certain techniques to provide both a good balance between the room atmosphere without muddying the vocals/instruments and clarity. The mics and preamp quality and transparency is essential, think Schoeps, Earthworks (both mics and preamps), DPA, Millennia. A live stereo recording is OK for a simple demo; but for a CD release the stereo recording is just not good enough!

Recording live requires capturing both the atmosphere and each instrument separately so it leaves your options open at mixing. The major challenge to recording on location is getting the best sound of the space, while maintaining clarity and details. While the acoustic space is well known to the engineer in the studio, a new acoustic space requires new solutions that are different than those used in the studio.

An important aspect of a recording on location job is careful planning for both the studio and the artist/artists. We are looking at the space first and, based on it, we come with the best recording strategy. As a performer, there are many things you can do to help the process, which in the end influence both the quality of performance and recording. As an example: try to schedule to record songs where you have brass and reeds at the beginning of the session rather than the end; unless the artists are pros with a lot of experience, there is a fatigue that occurs, which can be quite annoying.

For more info please read chapter 2.2 - Recording on location from “The Musician Guide To Music Production” available for free download.    

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