Influence of Recording Stage Size

If you have a choice between several recording venues, you should make a wise decision, which kind of sound your music needs. The advantage of a small space is that you get a lot of precision in the sound. This is very useful when you write very focused on details and with lots of accents, e.g. in a comedy score etc. The disadvantage is, that you might get a quite “un-epic” sound where you want it to sound symphonic. The danger with small rooms is, that they can quite easily collapse on loud orchestral tuttis, especially loud trumpet accents etc will get a quite dominating sound and will probably be overly exposed in the mix as they spill quite heavily on the other mics.

A larger, reverby space (e.g. a concert hall) will give you a wide and symphonic sound, however it will probably cause troubles on music that radically changes dynamics very often and music that has a lot of detail work in the orchestrations, especially on loud passages. A lot of the precision will get lost in the reverb and there is hardly a chance to bring it back up in the mix. Obviously, it is practically impossible to get an intimate sound in a large space.

On the other hand is it possible to help small stages with artificial reverb, however, you can not expect to get really near to how the sound would be in a larger space and if you have an acoustically bad room, the early reflections from the small room on loud accents will further diminish the impression of size, no matter how much reverb you put on there. If you don’t have a choice of recording room or venue, you should specifically adjust your writing to the room situation. This means to balance sounds and dynamics differently (e.g. be more careful on the brass in smaller venues, more careful with complex rhythmic writing in larger venues). The ideal would be to know the room you’re recording in as more or less every room behaves somewhat differently, but if you don’t then at least try to take the size of the room into account when writing.

Below you’ll find an audio example of exactly the same piece recorded twice. The first part is recorded in a relatively small space with added reverb, the second is recorded in a relatively large space with no added reverb. Note how in the first part, especially on the trumpet staccatos, you can clearly hear the small space, no matter how much reverb is put on there but how you can also hear more precision in the sound while in the second part you have a breathier sound with less precision and slightly different balance situations (violins sounding thinner, trumpets being softer in the mix). To be fair one has to add to the equation that it’s a different orchestra with different conductors so the comparison has to be taken with a grain of salt.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *