Are you in the middle of a recording project? Do you want the best sounding tracks possible? Then listen up. While there are literally thousands of things we should all be doing in a recording session to ensure success today I want to highlight five of the big ones that I try to implement every time I’m recording. If you do these five things, you’ll see better results, gauranteed.
Via Marc Wathieu
1. Setup The Perfect Monitor Mix
One of the absolute best things you can do for your artist (which could be yourself) is to take the time to get the perfect monitor mix in his or her headphones. This one simple step can be the difference in a lack luster performance (and recording) and a stellar one. Musicians need to hear things perfectly not only to play their parts well but to be inspired.
No matter what the talent says, probe deeply about their mix until you are certain they are loving it. Ask specific questions about the level of tracks, including the click track if you are using one. Let them rehearse a bit with it and gauge their performance. Do not rush into recording until they are so comfortable and loving their mix.
2. Don’t Settle For Your First Mic Placement
Ok, so this is actually something you should NOT do. Never settle for your first mic placement for a given instrument or vocal. Always try where you think you want to mic something. Record a bit. But then be sure to tweak the placement just a little. Even if the original placement sounded good to your ears. Give yourself something to compare it to.
You might just stumble upon a better placement that brings out the best in the instrument. Or at least you’ll confirm that your first placement sounded solid and you can go back to it with confidence. This is just as much a mental thing as it is a sonic thing.
3. Listen Back To Your Tracks On Speakers And Headphones
If you’re like most home studio owners, you record and monitor in the same room. This means that you can’t really be listening to the tracks while they are being recorded. You have to track a little bit and then listen back. No big deal. What’s critical, however, is that you take the time to listen back on both your monitor speakers and a set of studio headphones.
You want to confirm that you have the best mic placement (see point number 2) and that there are no sonic artifacts affecting your sound. It’s worth taking the extra few minutes to dissect what you’re hearing before you actually lay down the tracks for real. Take your time and listen on two systems, speakers and headphones.
4. Record Two Takes Of Everything
With just about everything I like to record two solid takes. Two takes of the drums. Two passes of the bass guitar. Two takes of vocals. You get the idea. Keep both so you have two performances to choose from (or comp together) later. When it comes to guitars, piano, or other instruments I tend to just punch in till it’s right and keep one solid take of each. This is usually because parts are repeated enough that I can pick from another pass later in the song.
Why not more than two takes? Because I don’t like to waste my life away editing. Most of us can’t handle more than two options anyway, so don’t kid yourself into thinking you’ll gain something by keeping a third, fourth, or fifth take. Simply a waste in my opinion..
5. Take Breaks Every Hour
One of the absolute best things you can do for your recordings is to take care of yourself. Take at least one 5 minute break every hour to step out of your room, get a drink of water, use the restroom, or even see that thing they call daylight. This simple act of restraint will give your ears the break they need and bring you back to reality.
It’s all too easy to lose sonic perspective when recording that we need to step away so we can come back with a vengeance. Obviously if you take too long of a break, you’ll lose momentum and never get anything done. You’ll find a balance that works for you. Just don’t think you’re the exception to the rule that you can go all day. You can’t, not if you want your work to actually sound good.