Greetings to you all on this fine Monday. For this week's update, I thought I'd share with you some of the steps we're taking to increase our odds of getting an even better sound on our upcoming second album.
Although we are happy with how our debut record is sounding in general, we know that there are certain measures and investments that we can make now to help us increase fidelity, recording clarity, add a bit more "punch," and just get a fuller sound overall. Obviously, equipment upgrades are important, and we've already upgraded our computers to relatively beefed-up iMacs. Moreover, I've been looking into exactly which microphones I'd like to pick up for the next record, and have been really impressed with AKG stuff. Too many choices, though, and a lot of variables to consider, so I think that those decisions may come down to the wire...
The biggest investment I have made in terms of both time and dinero so far, however, has been the construction of an isolation booth in my basement. Now, if it wasn't clear already (and I don't necessarily think that it is!), I recorded the guitars and bass and my vocal parts for Within a Reverie all in my basement. All in all, the natural reverb sound was pretty nice, and, for a square room, I have no big complaints about how it affected the sound.
The shape of the room and it's natural sonic qualities, however, are not the issue. What the next record will have, which the first one lacks, is a properly isolated recording environment. To accomplish this, I have begun constructing an isolation booth in one of the rooms in my unfinished basement.
First, I selected the room below (which is not the one I recorded in for the current album), and decided I would split it in two by constructing a wall in the center:
North end of room
South end of room
After scrubbing down the walls and floors just to be sure there aren't any moldy surprises later, I put down the subfloor. (The basement isn't really moldy, but it is old and you can tell that it was at one time dirty, and I just wanted to preemptively attack any mold if there was anything getting started in the nooks and crannies.)
You should, by the way, use a rubber mallet and tap block when putting subfloor into place, and not the regular hammer shown above. After laying the subfloor, I began to cut the studs and assemble the walls.
Here's me celebrating the fact that I am making progress:
Next comes wiring...
Now, you may be saying to yourself, that this will not be a totally isolated environment, and you'd be right. Most obvious is the window on the north end of the wall.
My biggest concern is not totally attaining an isolated environment, but getting as close to it as my living situation allows, while at the same time creating a space that has easily manipulated acoustics. Much of the sound-proofing has been done for me--given that the basement is 3/4 below ground level, and the foundational walls are thick concrete with brick on the outside. On the east and west walls, I constructed decoupled wall frames against thick concrete walls. The concrete walls alone give this room a very isolated environment, aiding low-frequency insulation. The north wall, too, is concrete, but has the window issue to deal with. Luckily, outside the north window, there aren't too many noise sources, so I think I'll just be attempting to muffle rather than block incoming sound from the window.
The two problem areas will be the ceiling (below our living room) and the south wall which I am constructing to break the room into two. Double-layered sheet rock may help with low-end blocking on the south wall, and I am considering a suspended ceiling to insulate below a beefed-up layer of sound insulation applied directly to the ceiling.
This blog entry is, of course, a simplification of all the steps involved, but I thought I'd share this little labor of love with you all as it will be a crucial element in Within a Reverie's sound on the next recording project.
Our sound on Within a Reverie is clear and just raw enough to not sound over-produced. We've never had to "come around" to the recording quality, so to speak, even when we've wished there were certain characteristics that we captured better in our recordings. That being said, we know we can improve upon the recording quality for the next go-around, and we're not hesitating to make the necessary investments--even if it takes short amounts of work over the long-term.
Stay tuned to our site as we continue to trudge through mixing the last 4 tracks on Within a Reverie.
AND, just to give you an idea of where we're at with project #2, we have finished composing 90% of the as-of-now 17 track project (much more on that later), and have also finished recording all of the bass lines!
Talk to you guys soon!