How To Record A Band

Audio interfaces truly come into their own when recording a band. There are three things to consider when choosing an interface for this particular job: the size of the band, what you want to record, and your budget. 

How to record band rehearsals

If you just want to record rehearsals, buy a two-channel interface like a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, and throw a couple of mics up in the room. It’s fast, low-cost and straightforward, and the recording process won’t distract you from nailing the performance. However, it’s worth considering an interface with more options to future-proof your investment.

How to make a multitrack recording of your band

If you want to make more polished recordings and take more control over your sound, you’ll need an audio interface with more inputs. When multitracking, each voice, instrument and microphone needs its own dedicated input on the audio interface; if you have multiple mics on one instrument — like a drum kit — they will take up as many interface inputs as there are microphones. If you’re plugging guitars and basses ‘straight in’ to the interface, you will want high-impedance instrument inputs to make sure you capture your tone faithfully. So even a simple recording setup on a three-piece setup — with vocals, guitar, bass and drums — you could be looking at six inputs (vocal, guitar, bass, kick drum, overhead left and overhead right), which puts you in the territory of an interface like the Scarlett 18i20, which is an incredibly capable device, trusted by bands all over the world.

Overdubbing band parts

If your input count is very limited, you can still make great recordings using one of the oldest and best-known recording techniques: overdubbing. With just a two-channel audio interface like a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4, you can first create a guide recording of the guitar and vocals, then have the drummer play to that in headphones when tracking. Once the drums are down, you can track the bass guitar, then capture the guitars in isolation, and re-record the vocal, adding any backing vocals you may desire. You can even layer and replace the other instrumentation using the same process — all with a simple and cost-efective interface.

Using an ADAT-enabled interface to expand your band’s recording capabilities

If you have a bigger band and budget, an interface like the Scarlett 18i8 or Scarlett 18i20 can become your full-scale recording studio, capable of capturing the whole band live. The Scarlett 18i8 has four mic preamps on board, the Scarlett 18i20 has eight, but both feature an ADAT optical input, with which you can add an additional eight inputs using an external device such as the Scarlett OctoPre or Scarlett OctoPre Dynamic. With this many inputs, you can easily capture a multi-miked drum kit, plus a number of instruments, vocal mics and even extra bits like percussion and keys.

Whatever interface you choose, adding one to the band opens up all sorts of brilliant opportunities. You can capture your ideas in rehearsals, your live shows, or record your next hit!