We all want a better recording. Who doesn’t? But in our pursuit of great recordings we ironically spend way too much money and effort on things that don’t make a huge difference. Some examples would include: more expensive microphones, new audio interface or converters, a DAW upgrade/switch, or even new studio monitors. If you really want to improve the quality of your tracks, focus on these big wins and you’ll get results.
Via Anthony Storo Flickr
The Tone Of The Instrument
Do you know why pro recordings sound so good? They do everything possible to get the absolute best tone out of each instrument before they ever hit the record button. Sound simple? It is. But why do we ignore this advice? Because let’s be honest we do. We jump straight to preamps and converters. What a joke!
If you take time to put new strings on your guitar, new tubes in your amps, new heads on your drums (and tune them), and take care of your voice and warm it up, you’ll be starting at the source in the best possible way. You’ll have already improved your sound significantly before it ever hits a microphone. Good engineers know this is true.
The Placement Of The Microphone
I don’t care what microphone you have, if you wield it just right you can get a great sound out of your instrument. Great recording starts with great tone, but that tone has to be strategically captured. And mic placement is the art of capturing great audio.
Is it hard? No. You simply place the mic, listen back, and analyze what you hear. If it doesn’t sound like your favorite record, then the mic is in the wrong place or at the wrong angle or distance. Move the mic, try again. Any better? Keep moving until it sounds right. Remember that mic placement is really your first opportunity to EQ.
The Musician’s Performance
Great recordings are about one thing, capturing a great performance. If the instrument or vocalist has great tone, and the mic is placed in the best place possible sonically, then you still are at the mercy of the performance. If the musician delivers something lackluster and average, all you’ll be left with is a sonically pleasing lackluster and average recording.
But if the musician feels comfortable, is relaxed, has a great headphone mix, and is allowed to record in whole takes or large chunks, you are way more likely to capture a fantastic performance. And performing, is ultimately what music is all about.
See The Trend?
Have you noticed something about these three big wins? A trend perhaps? The don’t cost you the studio any money. Beyond the cost of new strings, heads, and tubes, these are zero cost for you to implement. Talk about bang for your buck!
But sadly, most would rather throw money at a problem than think strategically about what will make the biggest impact. It’s a lot more fun to justify the purchase of a new preamp than it is to simply put new strings on your guitar. Don’t be like most. Be different and you’ll be rewarded.