Ready to Record?

A record that has clarity, fullness, and punch begins with getting the most out of your recordings.

 

Questions? Give us a shout.

I. SET UP YOUR SESSION
SET SESSION SAMPLE RATE. Choose carefully between 48kHz (or 96) for TV/film audiences, or use or 44.1kHz (or 88.2) for CD release. You must commit and NOT change the sample rate at any point going forward (there are rare exceptions–contact us).

USE THE SIMPLEST POSSIBLE RECORDING CHAIN to get the sound you like. LESS PROCESSING will give your mixes MORE CLARITY AND PUNCH.

II. PRE-PRODUCTION
EXPERIMENT FIRST. Make lots of test recordings. Find the places in the room where microphones sound best. A few feet toward or away can make a huge difference in harmonics and overtones. Try out different ideas, borrow/obtain additional gear, etc.

GET YOUR GEAR WORKING AND SOUNDING GREAT. Don’t just guess, make some test recordings and A/B them. Any electronics issues? What would help your sound–new strings, a different amp, different drum heads, etc. ?

PERFECT YOUR TECHNIQUE. You can’t change the performance itself later in the mix (just the SOUND of that performance). Listen carefully to all playing and singing technique and tweak your technique to reduce extraneous noises, ringing, harshness, etc.

III. RECORDING
RECORD all tracks at 24bit, 48k or 96k for theatrical release (or 44.1k or 88.2k for CD release).

WATCH BOTH AVERAGE AND PEAK LEVELS! Aim for AVERAGE recording levels between -25dBFS and -18dBFS (or use VU meter calibrated to -18 and rarely exceed zero). I also suggest that no track PEAK higher than -6dBFS at any point.

STORE all tracks as WAV or AIFF files – no MP3s or other compressed formats. Avoid sample rate conversions at all cost!

LISTEN FOR NOISE AND DISTORTION and avoid compression! Keep your levels MODEST with TONS OF HEADROOM so we can get you an awesome mix.

DOUBLE AND TRIPLE any vocals or instruments that you want to sound thicker or supernatural. Also, create alternate takes through different microphones or amps which might be useful during mixing.

REMOVE EXTRANEOUS TRACKS FROM THE SESSION as you build the song (but keep backups). Keep the session clean and neat.

COMMIT! GET AS CLOSE TO THE SOUND AS YOU CAN. Re-record weak parts if you can improve the sound and not hurt the vibe. Be bold! not precious, and get feedback when you’re unsure about whether a part is working for the song or not.

IV. MIXING
TRY TO USE ONLY BASIC PLUG-INS (EQ, COMP, GATE, etc.) to get the song in the ballpark of your vision for the track.

IF HIRING A MIX ENGINEER, DON’T OBSESS OVER MIXING. Just try to capture the best TONES you can and don’t worry about effects processing. You’re hiring mix engineers so that you can get back to writing and producing.

DIAL IN YOUR SOUNDS. Guitar and drum tones should be dialed in as if you were performing live (“unmixed”). When you use effects, print the effected track and archive the original (dry) track. Offer the dry tracks your mix engineer.

AVOID SAMPLE RATE CONVERSIONS. They ALWAYS degrade the sound. Upsampling at this stage is usually not helpful either unless you are using VIRTUAL INSTRUMENTS. You may choose to export these tracks from a higher sample rate session (e.g. 88.2k/96k). Contact us for details.

STAY ORGANIZED. Clearly label and organize all tracks NOW while you know what’s going on.

Good hunting!

For next steps, see this article: Get Ready to Mix

V. TRACK HANDLING
REMEMBER. Record on MONO tracks for single sources. Record in STEREO when you specifically want to capture a stereo instrument or environment.

Keep a logical NAMING and TRACK ORDER (like the one below) to set your mix engineer up for success.

INDIVIDUAL TRACKS FOR: SUB, KICK, SNARE, HIHAT, EACH TOM, CYMBALS, OVERHEADS, ROOM
INDIVIDUAL TRACKS FOR OTHER DRUMS (LOOPS, SFX, ETC.)
INDIVIDUAL TRACKS FOR ALL PERCUSSION INSTRUMENTS
ALL BASS -LIKE TRACKS
INDIVIDUAL GUITAR MICs WITH TONES DIALED IN
KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTS (DRY AND/OR EFFECTED)
SYNTHS (DRY AND/OR EFFECTED)
STRINGS
ALL HORN TRACKS
OTHER INSTRUMENTS (GROUPED BY TYPE)
SOUND FX
BACKGROUND VOCAL HARMONIES – INDIVIDUAL MICS
BACKGROUND VOCAL DOUBLES
BACKGROUND VOCAL AD LIBS
BACKGROUND VOCAL CHORUS/CHOIR/GANG
LEAD VOCAL
LEAD VOCAL DOUBLES
LEAD VOCAL AD LIBS
LEAD VOCAL FX

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