When we set up our mobile recording studio in a school hall there are usually 10 or more microphones dotted around. There are a lot of cables and also a desk with a laptop and other boxes with many flashing lights. This is the basic principle of any recording studio. The microphones are placed to pick up the sound. The signal from there goes into a box called a pre amp before running through one or more conversion processes. Once this is done the audio signal goes down a cable into a laptop which enables us to hear and save the files recorded.
The Mobile Recording Studio
Primary School pupils are usually quite delighted when they first walk into their school hall to see it has been transformed into a recording studio. And to all intents and purposes our mobile recording rig, once set up, does turn your school hall into a recording studio. There is very little difference between our set up and any ‘studio’ you might visit. The only real difference is we have to build it every time we arrive on location.
As a result of this, everything you would expect to find in a ‘real’ recording studio is there. All the microphones on stands, a sound engineer at a desk with much kit arranged on it and multiple pairs of headphones for anyone who wants to listen while we record. But the thing is, aside of that, there is nothing really to look at. Once you have seen all the microphones in place then it’s just a case of singing the song and doing the best you can.
Recording the song – multiple takes
Most schools will record songs by class or year group with maybe a couple of songs with the whole school together. We also quite enjoy recording staff songs; and I’m sure the pupils and parents enjoy listening to them on the album when it is released.
Each song will usually be recorded 2 or 3 times so we can get the very best version of your song. We do sometimes get groups who will record in just a single take. This is great as this helps us to stay on schedule. Sometimes a second take is not because there’s anything wrong with the singing but simply someone coughed or maybe there was an external noise like a plane going overhead.
Listening back to takes
Once you have recorded a few takes and we are happy that we have the best take ‘in the can’ then we normally play back an excerpt of the take for the pupils to hear their voices. This we achieve by setting up some monitor speakers along with our engineering desk so we can play back the songs as soon as they are recorded. The sound you hear isn’t the final sound which will be on the CD as theres a lot of work to be done in our post production studio once we finish on location. But it certainly gives an idea and you can hear the children’s voices have been recorded well.
Can we have CDs on the day?
We are sometimes asked if we can leave a CD of the recording on the day for the school to help promote the songs and sell more albums. Sadly, however, this is the one thing we don’t do. For a start, there is a lot of work to be done in post production before the tracks are truly ready to go onto a CD. Yes we could in theory cut a ‘pre production’ version but it wouldn’t necessarily sound as good as it could or indeed should.
Then there is the matter of copyright to consider – we cannot just leave copies of recordings where there is no protection or copyright licence associated with the disc. However, from time to time, we can sometimes produce MP3 files as ‘rushes’. This might be useful on occasions where there is a school fair which is only a couple of days later than the recording session. By playing a ‘taster’ of the CD then it is often the case that schools will generate more orders as a result.
If you would like to find out more about our mobile recording service for schools in the UK then please call us on 01225 302143. If you prefer you can click here to email us via the contact form.