Bally Studios live 8 track recordings.
A new service, from February 2022.
Unlimited use of a digital 16 track recorder, to record live 8-track recordings in all of your rehearsals, from £39 for one month, or £20 per session, including everything you need to record your sessions.
Q - So what’s the deal with this 8 track recording set up?
At the back end of 2021 half the musicians we knew were binge watching The Beatles' “Get Back” documentary about them recording Let It Be, an album that was recorded in glorious 8 track, meaning the music was recorded from 8 separate microphones/music sources, before being mixed together. Back in the day recording sessions were so expensive that only a lucky few bands could afford them. When The Beatles recorded their debut album “Please Please Me” they knocked out the whole album in a single day, partly on the back of the hundreds of 6+ hour gigs in Hamburg over many years, but mostly due to the cost of £400 per day to hire the studio, at a time when the average house in London cost £2,530. You could have a week in the studio, or a 3 bedroom house in London. Eek!
Nowadays advancements in technology means that it’s possible to get buy of the recording equipment you need to record in 8 track for a bit over £1,500 including the 8 track recorder, the microphones, the cables, etc f0r the most basic of set-ups. The cost of sessions have dropped too, but many recording studios are still £300+ per day, for which you'll get much, much better facilities for your money, with more options open to the band. They can be a bargain for what you get, no doubt, but in a world where even established acts can still be making less than £10,000 a year from their music, and where COVID-19 has basically wiped out 2 years of touring income for most bands, it’s still a lot of money to pay out.
This is why we have launched our 8-track recording facility. It's designed to get 90%+ of the results at 5% of the cost. It has limits, but the results that it gets are well worth the paltry investment put into it. Bands that come to us can record their sessions in the same 8 track format that albums like The Beatles “Sgt Peppers…..”, The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”, Led Zeppelin’s “Led Zeppelin I” and loads more classic albums were recorded in. Most of the Motown records, and Miles Davis’ “Kind Of Blue” was recorded to 3 track, so 8 tracks can be plenty, depending on your circumstances.
Q - So I can record an album to the same quality as those albums?!?!
Whoah, hold on….. probably not. But that’s also looking at it in the wrong way. Some of those bands had 10,000 hours of playing together behind them, they had world class acoustics with 30 ft high ceilings, hand made microphones with some of the world’s best audio engineers, and those albums have been mixed, mastered and polished by some of the world’s greatest engineers for months at a time, at great cost. It’s just not realistic to expect the same results at such a price reduction, but that doesn't mean you can't get great recordings quickly and cheaply. It’s not meant to compete with professional studios, it’s a perfect compliment to them.
Types of Recording Session available
Here's the kind of sessions that you can do with us.
1) Full Band Live 8 track recording.
The band all plays live, just like you normally would in your session, and each individual instrument is recorded as follows. You can either have the vocals coming out of the PA system, or being monitored by the band in their headphones. Of course, each band will have different set ups depending on what members you have, but here are some examples of how the band can set up the recorder. In this set up there are no overdubs at all, everything is recorded live, and raw. You can then put these recordings on all of the distribution platforms out there, including Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, etc for a one-off £30 fee, and start connecting your music with people.
2) Full Band Overdubbed 16 track recording.
In this scenario you record the drummer first, using this set up to capture the drums:
Once you have the drums all recorded, you can then overdub the following instruments over the drums, which you can do in the following ways, depending on your set-up. (The recorder is actually a 16 track recorder that can only record 8 inputs at once, so this set up is very easy to do.) In this set up you can have multiple microphones on different instruments, allowing you to blend the different signals together for a more layered sound, or you can even layer different takes of the same instrument over each other, for a "wall of sound" recording.
3) Drummers Solo recording.
Drummers can record themselves playing drums alone, and use the recording when applying to join bands, when advertising their skills as a drum teacher, or even just for them to have a permanent record of their drumming skills. If you want to record the visuals as well we can also provide you with some mobile phone tripods free of charge so that you can also record the video of yourself playing on your phone, and later you can synchronise the sound that you capture from the 8 track to the video recordings that you make. Most people have a video camera built into their phone that supports 1080p or even 4K recording as standard. If you can borrow phones from your band members/friends or family you can record something like this, which has an 8 microphone, 4 camera set up.
4) A band live session with audio and visuals.
Most bands just accept that they’ll have to wait until they “make it” before they record their own live sessions, but why? With a combination of our studios and equipment, and your songs and mobile phones, you can record your own live sessions. We can provide 4 video tripods along with the 8 track recorder so that you can all use your mobile phones to record yourself individually, and then along with the 8 track recorder you can record a “live session" recording to either put on YouTube to send to record labels, promoters, publishers, or just to connect with you potential fan-base yourself, directly. You can use the individual footage that you all record on your phones to edit into a multiple-camera set up, much like the video below, which has the exact same set up that we'd have, 8 track audio with 4 cameras, the only difference being that your camera shots will be from a fixed position, as opposed to having a cameraman. You can add interviews, different versions of your songs, covers, whatever. If you never go on to become commercially successful then at least you’ll have this recording, and if you do go on to become commercially successful just imagine how excited your fans will be to see this footage of the band before their ascent through the music industry!
In this case our 8 track facility doesn’t replace a better recording studio, it’s the perfect compliment to one. By using our facilities you can record the band as a whole, and then take the stem tracks home and the guitarist, for example, can mute their guitar playing and try out new ideas, or they can work out some new guitar lines to overdub later. You can also use the recordings to approach a producer and say “this is what we sound like, did you want to help us get a better recording?” They’ll be able to use the stem tracks to see what each member of the band is like, and it’ll likely have a much better chance of success than sending them a recording from a mobile phone.
Q - So what can I expect to get out of the sessions?
You can expect to get a great recording, with everything miked up individually to allow you to balance out the levels of all of the band members/instruments, and where you have a huge amount of control over how the music sounds. You can EQ the guitars to make them cut through the mix, or have the rhythm guitar panned to the right and the lead guitar panned to the left. Tricks like this means it’s much easier for the individual guitars to be heard, such as in the video below. (To get the full effect of this recording technique it’s best to listen to these recording samples on good quality headphones.)
You can EQ or compress the bass drum so that it sounds punchy, you can make it louder, you can take out the high end on the hi-hats to let the cymbals cut through, add reverb to the main vocals, add a low cut filter to the bass to make it sound tighter and have a lot more control over how your music sounds. You can do whatever you want.
Q - But I don’t know how to record a band's music……
And most likely you haven’t tried to either! In the same way that the only way to learn how to drive a car is to get behind the wheel and drive that car, the best way to develop your skills in how to record music is to do the same – to actually record your music. There’s no substitute for actually doing the thing that you want to do, and with everyone having access to a computer at home with widely available music recording software for free, the only limits that you have is how much time you're able to spare.
Q - What does is cost?
For £39 on top of what you pay for your rehearsals you can rent the recording equipment within our studios as many times as you want to within a month of that first session, an unlimited amount of times. So if you used it on 8 sessions within a month it could be less than £5 per session. Or you can rent it once for a single session and pay £20, as a flat one-off fee. Pay that fee and it turns your rehearsals into a basic recording.
Q - What do you get for your money?
- The use of the 8 track recorder.
_ The microphones, cables, microphone stands, SD Card, and active speakers so you can hear what you're recording afterwards.
- x4 mobile phone tripods so that you can set up the mobile phones to record the visuals of the band.
- Everything that you usually get in your rehearsal session, such as the PA system, the amplifiers, the drum kit, the cymbals (if you need them), exactly the same as you’d have in a rehearsal session but with the added benefit of being able to record your session onto an 8 track recorder.
Q - What microphones do we get included to record our session?
Here are the microphones that we provide you with. We've linked each of them to the Thomann page, so that you can see the specs and reviews of them all.
x 1 Shure Beta 52 Kick Drum Mic - Bass drum and bass amplifier.
x 2 Sennheiser E 602 II -Bass drum and bass amplifier.
x 1 Lewitt LCT 040 matched stereo pair – Drumkit overheads.
x1 Rode M3 Condenser - Hi Hats, or distant guitar amplifiers.
x2 Sennheiser E609 Silver = Close guitar amplifiers.
x4 AKG Perception Live P4 = Snare drum, rack toms.
x2 Shure SM58s – Vocals.
The keyboards and bass guitar can also be plugged directly into the recorder.
Q - What speakers can we use to monitor the music?
We provide you with a pair of Presonus Eris E3.5 to make sure that the recorded signals are well recorded.
Q - How much help will I get with the recording?
You'll only get help with technical aspects of the equipment. We'll provide you with the gear and show you how to set it up, and if you have any problems with the equipment then we'll help you with that, but otherwise you'll engineer/record the songs yourself, or you have the option to bring your own sound engineer with you. Usually you'll just set the recorder up at the start of the session and then you can either just let it record the whole session as one single track and split the audio up at home later, or you can press record + play before every song you record, and stop the recording at the end of every take. The recorder comes with a 32GB SD card, which will record 530 minutes (8 hours 50 minutes) of 8-track recording possible when recording at highest quality, 24 bit/44.1 kHz and WAV format setting. If you use the 16 track function then you’ll double the amount of tracks, which will halve the amount of time that you can record for, which brings it down to 4 hours 25 minutes of 16 track recordings. However, we’ll have multiple SD Cards in the office, so you can also keep on swapping them over, and so long as you bring a large enough external hard drive, you can record as much as you want to. We've included photos below of the kind of recording set-ups you can use. You'll need to set up the gain levels and everything like that, and you'll be provided with extensive guides that you can use to make sure that you get the most out of your sessions. This is the biggest reason why we're able to offer this service for so cheap, where you can have everything that you need to record your music for the price of a round of drinks.
Q - Do you have any examples of stuff you've recorded with the exact set up that we'll be using?
Not with this EXACT set up, no, but they're on the way! However, this was recorded at Bally with an 8 track set up, years ago back in 2012, but with one difference - the signal was sent down the multi-core first, into Studio 5, where Jimmy recorded it to 24 track, but we've only kept 8 of the tracks in this mix. More microphones were used in the recording, but those recordings were then discarded to leave only 8 tracks, which we did to demonstrate what was achievable with 8 microphones.
This is what the whole band sounded like without any post mixing at all, with the whole band playing live in the room at the same time, raw, with no separation between the band members, with absolutely no processing at all, complete with fuzz box on the bass.
This is what the bass drum sounded like, without it being compressed or EQ'd.
This is what the snare drum sounded like, again, with no treatment. We mic'ed it up from underneath it to capture more of the snare wires, to make it cut through the mix a bit more.
These are the overhead microphones, recorded in an XY method, with the microphones placed above the drumkit, about 80cms above the drummer, in stereo.
Mix the drums together and they'll sound like this:
Again, the only reason that you can hear the drums and not the other instruments in the same room is due to the microphones being directional: they're being pointed at the drum kit, and not at the amplifiers, so you'll hear the drum kit a LOT more. The other instruments are still playing within the room, you just can't hear them as much. Here's what the bass was playing, we recorded it with a bass drum microphone and a DI input as well, and the band preferred the DI signal, so they kept that instead.
We then captured this signal for the guitar amplifier, using a single Sennheiser microphone draped over the amplifier, as shown below in the page:
And this is how it sounds when it's all mixed together, with us only adjusting the volume and panning of the instruments. No compression, no EQ, no treatment at all, just mixing the levels very roughly. In this session we recorded 40 minutes of songs in 3 hours, and mixed them in less than 30 minutes, just doing a single mix for one song and applying the same mix to the rest of them as standard.
Here's another recording session that we did where we recorded a 63 minute live album in 3.5 hours, including mic'ing up, preparing the room, with the band going through their set in front of 12 friends who were present and watching the session, and then doing a rough mix, before then posting it on the internet. At 12pm we turned up to the studios, by 3:30pm the sessions had been shared on social media. Is it a perfect recording? Nope. Was it worth the 3.5 hours and £55 of investment, including the 3.5 hour rehearsal? Absolutely. The band had their songs recorded, and between the 3 band members and their 12 friends they'd had a great day with a live album recorded over some beers. In this scenario the sound of the vocals was also coming out of the PA at the same time as it was being sent to the recording device, so in this example there were much more considerations to think of, like trying to work out how to make it so that the PA vocals weren't picked up in the drum microphones, but still, we managed it all.
This is the kind of set up that you'll have, which is the exact same set up that we used above, microphones draped over the guitar amplifiers like this: (this is for illustrative purposes, we will update it late with an actual photo from our studio.)
The overhead microphones are placed above the kit, like so: (again, not our image, we will update this later with an actual photo of our studio.)
We will provide all of the bands that book with an extensive list of resources that they can use to get the most out of their sessions. There's literally HUNDREDS of videos out there that you can use to learn how to record your band, such as this one, where Glyn Johns talks about how he recorded the drums for bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Eagles, Bob Dylan and so on:
Here's a video with Steve Albini about how he records guitar amplifiers with bands like Nirvana, The Pixies, Manic Street Preachers, Iggy and the Stooges, etc. There's hundreds of people out there that have been able to pay their mortgages off for years from these skills, and here they are sharing them with the whole world for free. Why pay someone else to record your band, when you can take the time to learn these same skills yourself? If the answer is that you can't be bothered to do that, and that you'd rather leave that all to someone else then fine, in that case you probably would be better getting someone else in. This set up may not be best for you. However, if you want to roll up your sleeves and get on with it yourself, there's no better way to start that than to actually get on with it.
Q- Can we do recordings over consecutive days?
Sure! If you book sessions over consecutive days then you can leave the microphones set up overnight, no problem at all.
Q - How do I turn the recordings into a finished record?
The songs get recorded direct to SD card, so bands can either
a) Bring their own laptop to the session, and you can take the recordings off of it onto your laptop by drag-and drop. You just plug a USB cable into the recorder, plug the other end into your laptop and then drag the files to your laptop that way.
b) If your laptop has an SD card slot you can safely switch off the recorder, then insert the SD card into your laptop and then drag them off of that onto your computer.
c) You can safely turn off the recorder and then bring the SD card into the office, along with your external hard drive and we’ll put the data onto your USB device for you.
Q - How do we mix the music we’ve recorded? Do you do that?
No, I'm afraid not, but these are your options.
Mix it yourself.
Just load the music into your DAW/Music mixing software and away you go. If you don’t have the software already there’s loads of free options out there, from Garageband, Audacity, Pro Tool First, and many more. Here’s a link where you can compare all of them.
Pay someone else to mix it for you.
There’s loads of people out there that will be happy to mix it for you, you can send it to them online, at full fidelity, and they’ll send you back the finished mix. Easy.
Put the stem tracks online to allow people to mix it for you, either for a very cheap price or even for free.
There’s loads of resources out there now that allow bands to put the stem tracks of their music online so that people who are building up their skills in producing/mixing music can mix it for them, either for free or for a very low cost. Here's a link as to where you can find them.
Q - What benefits does this approach have over going to a professional recording studio with a trained producer/engineer?
Again, it’s not meant to directly compete with going to a professional studios, and unless you’ve had lots of recording experience and everything falls into place then you’ll not likely better the results of going to a professional recording studio, but you’ll come close to it. Here’s some of the extra benefits of recording your music this way yourself, as opposed to getting a hired hand in.
a) It’s actually a realistic, lower risk option.
Sure, many professional studios are “only” £300 a day, but we’re living in times where some bands haven’t made any money at all for a year or two, inflation in high and money is tight. For many bands they can’t justify spending £1,500 for 5 days in a studio, and if you only buy 2 days of studio time in a professional studio then you risk rushing the whole process, leaving you £600 poorer with a recording that’s a compromise in itself, since even two days is a very quick turnaround for a recording session. When you spend that kind of money on a recording then you need to hit a certain standard in order for it to be justified, which brings with it an element of risk and pressure. By comparison this is a £39 investment, that’ll get you 8/10 results for a minuscule fraction of the costs. There’s a huge difference between throwing £39 into a project and hearing the odd squeak here and there, and spending £1000+ on getting the same results.
b) You’ll hit other limits before you hit the limits that this set up has.
A recording signal chain is only as good as it’s weakest part: the microphone, the exact positioning of the microphone, the cable connecting it to the recorder, the gain input level, the recording bit-rate, the performance of the playing, the sound quality of the instrument being played, the processing of the recorded sound, the final mix, the mastering, the speakers that the listener uses, the listeners musical ear; all of these are factors that will determine how good the final music sounds. If any one of them is off, then the quality of the music won’t be conveyed as accurately as possible to the listener. 95% of the chain could be amazing, but if the strings of the guitar are knackered and rusty then it won't matter how amazing the microphone is, it won't sound good.
Any good sound engineer will tell you that all recording projects are about accepting what your biggest limits are, and understanding that if you can’t progress past that factor then the other factors won’t make much difference. If you have an amazing microphone and an amazing pre-amplifier, but the cable that links the two of them in really crackly, then this weakest part of the chain will limit your recording more than the positive parts will improve it. It doesn't matter how good other parts of the signal chain are, it is only as strong as it’s weakest part. As a band you need to work out what your biggest limitation is, and understand that this is the factor that will hold you back the most. With this setup you’ll likely bypass other factors that would have otherwise limited your recordings, which will mean more than the limitations that this set up has.
For example, the biggest factor to hold many bands back is "cost". If there’s a studio with amazing microphones, amazing acoustics and a world class producer, but it costs £1000 a day to rent, and if you can’t afford that, then the price is the factor that holds you back the most since it means that you can’t do any recording at all. Using £1000 microphones could be amazing, but if you’re using basic instruments then you’ll be recording an average sound with an amazing microphone, which will capture that average sound perfectly; giving you an average sound. Many people will be surprised to hear that Spotify has a playing bitrate of approximately 96 kbps, and many people listen to their music when on the move, in an atmosphere such as in a vehicle or on the street, meaning that there will be added noise pollution when they listen to the music, which they may do so by using the free headphones that come with their phone. Or they may listen to their music on a radio in an office, which is likely to be set at a volume that doesn't allow the listener to fully hear every single aspect within the music, in a room that isn't set up for good acoustics. They may have the music on in the background, or they can’t concentrate on the music fully.
All of these factors will limit what people get out of the recordings more than the limitations that the equipment puts on the music. By all means, if you want to record an album that gets listened to on £2000 speakers, in a room with perfect acoustics, to a listener that sits perfectly between the speakers with no distractions on a lossless format then they may notice that there’s a bit of rattle from the snare drum, but that’s not the circumstances that most music is listened to. The circumstances that music is usually listened under has factors that means that the subtleties within the music are missed, most of which will cause a greater limitation to the music than this recording set up will.
c) You can learn your technique, and what suits your music best, so that you can get the most out of a more expensive, future recording session.
This is by far one of the biggest selling points. Sometimes it’s only once you put yourself into a recording session that you learn what works best for you, and what doesn’t. I’ve been in sessions myself where a band says that they want to play to a click track, and they just don’t prepare for it. It’s an afterthought for the band, and particularly the drummer. I remember times when a drummer was playing the same song for 6 hours at a time, as they just couldn't get the hang of playing it to a click track, and this was at £40 an hour back in 2004. The whole process just felt so unnatural to them, and they were more focused on hitting the right drum at the exact right time than they were at getting ‘the feel’ of the song right. If only he’d learned that lesson in a cheap recording session.
Likewise, I’ve seen band members that just froze in a studio; they’d never played in a studio with 6 people gawking at them before. A few days into the process they’d gotten over their nerves, but again, it’s was a shame that it cost them so much money to learn that lesson. I’ve seen bands that tried to play with just drums and bass guitar, that after about 8 hours suddenly worked out that if the guitarists play at the same time as them, even if the guitars are not recorded, it made the other members play so much better. I’ve seen guitarist forget to check all of their pedals before a session, and miss 45 minutes of a session trying to identify mistakes in it, and vocalists who wanted to get their vocal recorded as quickly as possible, first thing in the session so that they can get their parts over with, who only learned later that their voice is a lot better later on in the day, once it’s had a better chance to wake up. All of those morning sessions needed to be wiped and re-recorded. There are factors that will limit your band, and other factors that will make your band deliver their best performance, and the more recording sessions you do the more of these factors you will learn. Recording your sessions on an 8 track multi-track recorder will not only move you forward as a band, but it’ll also make your future recording sessions more productive and your future recordings better.
e) Music recorded to a compromise is infinitely more productive for a band than music that hasn't been recorded yet.
This is a HUGE benefit that cannot be underplayed. No matter how good your music is, until it’s recorded the only people who will hear it are the people who come to see you live, and if COVID-19 has shown the music industry anything, it’s that we can’t be relying on this method to connect with your audience. Even then, recording your music and putting it on streaming services is the best way to get people along to your gig in the first place. Even if the recording hits that 8/10 standard, that's good enough to pique the interest of music fans. Once you've built up your fan base a bit, these recordings can then be re-recorded at a later date. It doesn't matter how good those songs are until they're put down in code and listened to by the listener.
e) You can keep the full control and ownership of your music yourself.
f) You have a full creative control over your band.
We've had over 1000 bands pass through our doors in the last 32 years, and the biggest mistake that bands make is thinking that they are in competition with every other band out there. It's a flawed approach for so many reasons. The music industry isn't like conventional business or sports, where your success comes only by overcoming or beating your competition, or where the success of others comes at the cost of yours. In the music industry the success of one band feeds into the success of others. In 1977 some punk bands helped to create a new market for that music, which in turn helped create success for other punk bands. The same happened in the late 1980s for the baggy scene, the mid 1990s for Britpop, the early 2000s for the new garage revolution, and so on. The success of many bands was only possible due to the success of other bands who played a similar style of music, with them creating a demand for that music that another band could capitalise on.
There is no direct link between how good a band's music is, and how successful they are. There's a rough link, but it's never directly proportional or absolute, which is why so many record labels/band managers/PR companies/radio pluggers will do everything that they can to insert themselves into a band's career, taking their cut of the bands earnings for their services. The necessity of these roles depends on there not being a direct link between how good and how successful a band was, as if such a correlation existed then their services wouldn't be needed. In doing they're so whittling down the income that the band earns, so no wonder it's so common to have bands barely being able to make minimum wage salaries, despite having millions of plays on Spotify. Bands turn to these people precisely as they realise that they need as much help as possible, and if the band becomes successful then it's seen as a solid business move; if the band is literally unable to turn their great music into commercial sales without any outside help, then they feel that it's better for them to sign most of their control away and earn 10% of the rewards for the vast commercial success that other people create for them. Their logic is that keeping 10% of a huge pot of success is better than retaining 100% of nothing.
The problem is: how does the band know that they can't create the success themselves? The truth is that they don't, but they fall into the trap of thinking that they don't have enough time to meet people, to build up the contacts within the industry that they need, to learn the skills of how to record themselves, how to market themselves, or how to get their music into the right hands. Since they aren't making any money from their music they need to work a day job, leaving them with insufficient time to build up the band to the level of success where they don't need to work that day job. It's a vicious circle.
Some bands also make the mistake of making perfect the enemy of good. We've met bands that have blown £20,000 on recording a debut album, and then seen how the stress of putting themselves in that much debt has torn the band apart. We've seen bands that spent over half a decade putting the "perfect" setlist together for their album, before realising that they were in their early 20's when they started putting it together, and by the time they finished the album they were in their late 20s with children, and suddenly those songs about "drinking all night with no regrets" suddenly aren't so accurate. They're no longer playing songs that are about who they are, but about who they were. They're too far down the road to throw these songs away though since doing so would be to "waste" those years developing those songs. The songs have a burden on them that was the antithesis of what they were meant to originally represent. We've met bands that had incredible potential that never realised it, and bands that could name 100 reasons why they could have made it, but didn't. Even the best excuse is just that: it's an excuse.
The common denominator in all of the successful bands that we've ever had through our doors - and we've had 8 Mercury Prize Nominated bands, other Brit Award winners, Grammy winners, etc - is that they didn't follow these traps of overthinking their approach. They made continual progress at each and every opportunity, and that progress built and built. They learned from their success, they learned from their failures. They learned. Sometimes they made huge leaps, but when they couldn't do that they made painstaking progress. Few of those bands recorded their definitive music here: instead they recorded demos within our walls before going on to better studios to flesh those songs out to their definitive versions, and we're as proud of that as we would have been if we'd been the new Abbey Road. The later success may be more visible, but the early work lays the foundation for that success.
This is why we are proud to offer now with our new 8-track recording. You want to record the band live, and raw? Great! If you want to make overdubs afterwards in the studio, you can add another 8 tracks if you wish to. You can also make unlimited overdubs at home on your computer with vocals, percussion, guitars, bass, etc. If you don't currently have a recording of your songs, having any recording is progress; there's no more important factor in the success of the band than that. If you make a better recording at a later date then this recording may have played a vital part in that, and you'll then have a basic recording of your seminal work that you can bundle with the album for it's 20th Anniversary Edition as a bonus disc. If you never make a better recording, you'll be glad you made this one. In every possible scenario, this recording is progress for your band. No perfection, but progress, Even if the whole experiment is a catastrophe, that's still progress. Why make your mistakes in the studios when paying £50 per hour when you can make them for £5 per band member?
If you make an amazing recording, congrats, you've made a great album for the same amount of money as a round of drinks. If you don't make a great recording, then the lessons from why you weren't able to will be worth multiples of the money you spent in creating this recording. Literally every single reason as to why the recording session didn't go well gives you the obvious answers for what the band needs to focus on next time. You didn't play very well? You need to rehearse more. The microphones weren't in the correct place? You need to learn about better microphone placement. The songs weren't good enough? You need to write better songs, or become a covers band. You weren't focused and productive enough? You need to sharpen up your act. You underestimated what you needed to do to create a great recording? Now that you know what a recording session entails you'll be better prepared next time. The drummer kept on speeding up/slowing down? That needs to be addressed. In each case, you've traded making a great recording for learning a valuable lesson, and becoming a better band as a result.
There is no better way to get an insight into your own music than playing your music to someone else, and nervously laughing and saying to them, "wait a bit, wait a bit, the song really kicks in in a few seconds.........." You'd never realised how long it takes for that song to kick in. Up until that point you've only heard it through your own ears, but at that point you're suddenly listening to it though other people's ears. Progress. Congratulations.
So many bands sign the control of their music away to a record label as they don't have the money to record their album, or they don't possess the knowledge to know how to record their album "properly", or how to market it. They don't try to make a basic 8 track version of their album for £100, with the aim of getting 100 fans; not because this is beyond their limitations, but because they don't know what to do after this. If you are able to get your band to the level of having 100 fans, that's all that you need to concentrate on. Deal with today's problems today, and tomorrow's problems can wait until tomorrow. 100 fans in a room makes for a fantastic atmosphere at a gig, which makes for better gigs. Everything builds from that. Initial success generates the small income (£1,000 or so) needed to hire the professional help that they need to move past their limitations, but both success and failure will help to guide them in their future approach - in what they should be moving towards, and what they should be moving away from. The pains of failure will be tempered by the lessons learned, the rewards from success can be used as the launchpad for future success. It's all good.
You're not in competition with every band out there. You're in competition with the ones that actually make that leap of faith, not the 95% of bands that have the potential to but never put that plan into action; the ones that want to, but never quite manage it. Make that recording, and make progress.