Where can I record vocals in Portland, OR?
April 23, 2012 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Where in Portland, Oregon could I record vocals (using just myself and my own gear) without annoying anyone?

In the next while, I will be needing to record some singing, preferably somewhere in Portland. I don't need to rent a recording studio or a sound engineer - I have all my own quite portable equipment and all that jazz - I'm just looking for an (ideally) cheap space in which to do it.

I have to do quite a few tracks, over 20. I would ask a friend in a house to use their basement or something, but I don't want to feel too time-pressured and I don't want to put anyone out or drive my friends nuts, since it is quite a lot of tracks. I can't do it in an apartment because I don't want to really annoy the neighbors.

What are my options here? Rent a rehearsal space of some kind? But where? Any other ideas of how to work this? I'm not too concerned about the actual acoustics of the space. I'll futz with making it sound right after I get it recorded (blasphemy, I realize). I just need a space that I won't bother anyone or feel to embarrassed by my own loud singing. I am willing to spend something on it, but I'd like to keep it as cheap as possible.

posted by Lutoslawski to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I know someone who used these people for rehearsal space and had a good experience.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:44 PM on April 23, 2012

I'd check with Portland Community College to see what they might have available on their many campuses. Some MultCo library branches (Hollywood) have study rooms that are somewhat soundproofed. Churches might also be willing to rent space during non-service hours.
posted by perhapses at 2:52 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rehearsal spaces will not work - there's always a heavy metal band next door. Always.

And DO worry about the acoustics of the space - there's almost no way to get rid of the early return reverberation that characterizes the space you are in.

I'd look into renting or building a soundproof voiceover box and making a bedroom studio.

If you are going to treat the vocals post-recording, you probably want them as "dead" as possible. As I said before, any room sound that is tracked with the vocals will be next to impossible to remove or cover up.
posted by Aquaman at 3:25 PM on April 23, 2012

FWIW, if you can't find anything suitable in Portland and you don't mind driving out to Scappoose, I have a (very small) well-insulated sauna that you could use for as long as you like, if that would work for you. No echoes and no outside noise -- and we live out in the middle of nowhere so you wouldn't bother anyone. Memail me if you're interested.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:35 PM on April 23, 2012

The acoustics of the space you record in are very important. That's not to say that you must find a professionally designed recording studio, but you can't just setup anywhere and expect to get something that sounds good. I know, I've done it. I have clients who do it. It never ends well.

Don't go to a rehearsal space. There will always be a ton of random noise from other bands. Those places must build the walls out of tissue paper and wrapping papers, because they sure don't block out much noise.

With vocals you have some wiggle room with how you do things, since you will be singing relatively close to the mic, and it's easy to redo a line or even just a word if there is a random outside noise that finds it's way in.

If you are honestly willing to pay for a space, maybe the better solution would be to do it at your place a a time when people aren't there. Take a week off of work and do the singing while everyone else is at work, and your neighbors won't be bothered.

If that doesn't work in your place, maybe do the same thing, but at a friends house while they are out at work.
posted by markblasco at 11:04 PM on April 23, 2012

Thanks everyone. I concede that the space is important - and I hadn't figured in things like lots of reverb in the recording being impossible to edit out, or the sound of a metal band next door, so thanks for that!

The voiceover box thing looks cool. Maybe I can enlist a carpenter friend for some help with that. We'll see.

I'm going to do a bit more looking into these options (and rabbitrabbit I will memail you!).

Thanks again.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:39 PM on April 25, 2012

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