3 Things That Will (Actually) Make A Huge Difference In Your Home Recordings

2015 Nov 23, 2015

The home studio revolution is in full swing, and it is now more possible than ever to crank out killer recordings at home with minimal monetary investment.

But then why do so many of our recordings sound bad? Is it really the “cheap” gear like many would like you to believe? Or is it something else?

Today I want to offer up three things you can focus on that will make the BIGGEST difference in the quality of your recordings, guaranteed.

Start Writing Better Songs

I’m going to be brutally honest in this article, so let’s dive right in.

Your recordings won’t be any good if they are recordings of mediocre songs. Period.

When it comes to making great recordings we have to come back to the very foundation of the recording: the song itself. Without a great song, you can’t have a great recording.

With the ever dropping prices of gear, home studio affordability is at an all time high. This means more people have access to “studios” than in any time in history.

This at its core is a marvelous thing. We should be thanking God that we were born when we were.

However, now that anyone can have a recording studio in their home – people are skipping the first (and most important) question: do I have any songs worth recording?

And I’ll take that a step further: do we have well arranged songs worth recording?

You see the arrangement (song flow, instrumentation, dynamics) can be the difference between a song that is OK and a song that jumps out of the speakers and grabs your attention.

Much like a movie with a great story can be simply OK, but pair that same story with a powerful screenplay (script) and a well thought out story board and you can have an incredible movie.

The best thing you could be doing for your recordings is working on your songwriting. It will come through in the final track, trust me.

Start Giving Better Performances

Now a great song with a lackluster performance is still not going to cut it.

So often in the studio we want to focus on mic choice or even mic placement, but none of that matters if what the mic is capturing isn’t amazing.

How much thought and attention do you give to the actual performances you are recording?

As an artist or band, do you practice and hone your performance? Do you warm up your voice before recording? Do you take voice lessons? Do you gig out to practice singing and honing the delivery?

In the studio have you created an environment that puts your musicians at ease and encourages them to perform, and not just “play the right notes?”

Two different people could play the same identical guitar part on the same guitar and get wildly different sounding recordings. All because of the performance.

A huge part of your job as the recording engineer in your home studio is to coach a great performance out of the talent. Work hard to get a performance worth capturing in the first place – and the final recoding will be just that much better.

Start Putting The Mic In The Right Place

If you have a song worth recording, and a performance to give that song life, then the best thing you could possibly do to get the most incredible recording ever is to put the mic in the best possible place to capture it.

So many of us breeze past mic placement as if it really doesn’t matter. We just want to capture it for now so we can “make it sound better, later.”

But nothing could be further from the truth.

So much effort is placed on finding the right mic, the right preamp, the right converter, the right DAW, and even the right plugins (for mixing) – and yet none of that can make as big of a difference as simply taking what mic you DO have and putting it in the optimal spot.

And guess what? That optimal spot will be different for every person, in every room, with every mic. Sure there are some great suggestions and starting places, but in the end you must experiment and do your due diligence.

What I mean is you must put in the work. And when you do, you will be rewarded with tracks that virtually mix themselves.

Where Is The Gear In This Equation?

Let me ask you a question: where in all of this is the gear? What role does it play?

A minor one.

It doesn’t matter what gear you have if you write killer songs, give killer performances, and put the mic in the optimal spot. Any basic $300 home studio setup will suffice if those three elements are in place.

But typically we don’t like to be told this.

Many of us would rather go on believing that we can “buy” our way out of bad recordings. We’d rather tell ourselves (and others) that we are likely one purchase away from great recordings.

But great recordings have little to do with what gear you use.

That’s bad news if you want a quick fix.

But that’s good news if you look at it from a different angle.

You already own everything you need to make killer recordings in your home studio. Now, all you need to do is put in the time and work to write better songs with better arrangements, practice your craft of performing, and master the art of mic placement.

Yes it’s harder than swiping your credit card. But it’s more rewarding and trust me, it’s more real.

Pick One Area To Work On

So let me ask you a final question: which of these three areas will you commit to working on right now?

Will you focus on writing better songs? Maybe tweaking the arrangement of your current songs?

Or perhaps you want to get better at your instrument.

Maybe you feel you have great songs and can perform them well, but you haven’t mastered mic placement in your studio.

Which one will you focus on in the coming weeks? And why? I’d love to hear from you below.

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