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How to Reduce Mic Bleed When You’re Recording Everybody Together

A reader writes in with a question:

I’m playing in an amateur Blues-band, consisting of an normal 5 piece band and a 7 piece hornsection. On one of our rehearsal-evenings we also did some recording all together. Each individual instrument had their own mics and the drums also had separate mics.

But of course since all were recorded at the same time in the same room there is the issue of bleeding. Can you tell me the best way to reduce bleeding of i.e. vocal and horns into the snare drum mic ??

That’s a tough situation.

Gates and Expanders

On one hand there’s no real way to completely reduce the bleeding of all the instruments. You can use a gate on the snare drum to reduce the amount of bleed but you might run into trouble.

If you are too heavy handed with the gate it might sound too unnatural because if the instruments are too dominant in the snare drum mic the drop off in level might be too noticeable.

If that’s the case, using an expander will give you a more natural way to reduce the ambient sounds so you can focus on mixing the actual sound of the snare drum.

With an expander you don’t completely mute and cut off the instruments that are bleeding into the drum mic, but rather lower the levels between each snare drum hit.

Performance Recording

I see the need to mix each instrument separately but with too much bleed it might interfere with the other instruments. If you need to boost the EQ a LOT in a certain instrument, that EQ boost will interfere and color the EQ of the instruments that are bleeding into that mic.

Like I said, it’s tricky.

It’s a trade-off between an amazingly tight performance with everyone playing off each other in a room. You’ll get a better performance but at the risk of losing some post-production control.

That’s when clever positioning of both microphones and instruments come into play. For those of you wanting to record everyone at once, use baffles and gobos to isolate each instrument. Instead of isolating the people, isolate the instruments.

This will be hard with a horn section but if you can cut out the bleed from all the other instruments you’ll instantly have a better recording to work with.

Live recording has its trade-offs but with clever setup and microphone techniques you can still get a great sounding performance that you can make the most of in your mix.


Recording_Strategies_popupdomination.pngSpeaking of recording techniques, here’s what a recent reader, Jerry Bakkus had to say about Recording Strategies:

I have been home recording for a few years so a lot of the material covered was a helpful review. I thought you explained the techniques very well and they seem easy enough to try out. I really look forward to playing around with some new stereo mic techniques, like Midside and Blumlein. Also, I really liked how you covered the various microphone types and gave specific recommendations for each of those. Overall the Recording Strategies was very helpful and definitely worth the money.

If you simple to use, practical recording tips for any instrument, you can’t do much better than Recording Strategies(

Image by: .:: Mich@el ::..

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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