Monday, 12 October 2009

Recording, Mixing and Mastering.

I've been mastering a number of projects recently and decided I'd share a few thoughts on the various processes in getting to the finished product. It can take lots of effort, trial and error, but here's how I see things. There are 3 basic stages, firstly the recording stage, then mixing and mastering.

Part 1: Recording
With recording its important to take time and set things up right and if you can, experiment with different mics and different mic positions. If something sounds good in the room then providing you are recording it properly it will sound good in your project. A badly tuned drum is a badly tuned drum and all the eq' in the world won't fix it. An old drummer friend of mine used to say "you can't polish a turd" meaning if it sounds terrible in the first place then that's what you'll be stuck with as an end result. A cheap set of drums tuned properly will often sound far better than a badly tuned, more expensive kit.

Try your best to get the sound of each instrument (including vocals) the best you can in the first place and things will fall into place much easier when you come to mixing. A quick note on vocals, try and give the singer confidence, relax and encourage them as much as you can, rather than say things like "that wasn't very good". Build them up and they will deliver a much better performance. You can also try out different mics (if they are available) as certain types of mics will suit certain voices better.

For the bass I use 2 tracks if possible, one for a mic on the speaker cabinet, the other for DI straight into the desk or through a processor then into the desk, giving you options when you come to mix the 2 signals.

Again you can experiment when recording guitars. For acoustics I have used 2 mics to record the sound hole and to record the sound on the neck, or if the guitar has a pick up, record the di'd signal as well. Move the mics around to find the sweet spots and do some test recording to see what positions sound best. You can do the same when mic'ing up the electric guitar amps. Move the mic around and find out where it sounds best rather than just sticking the mic in front of a speaker cone. You'll be surprised at the difference in sounds.

I tend to use a click track with my own recordings so I can easily sequence keyboards as I'm not a great keyboard player and the quantize button is a great tool if your playing is not quite as precise as you'd like it to be. I love the soft synth "Reason" for keyboard sounds.

Its also great to record a band all playing live in the room as more often than not, if they are quite well rehearsed you can capture a great performance, once you have settled them into the environment. Again its important to help them relax and enjoy the experience especially if they are not used to a recording studio.

Anyway there's a few very brief points and I hope its of use to anyone reading. Just remember there are no rules and experimenting with different ideas will, with a bit of luck help you come up with something fresh and original. Good Luck. Parts 2 & 3 to follow...
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