A Studio And Engineer:
recording studio worth its weight will offer a comprehensive list of
equipment and services, such as a quiet, well tuned recording environment capable of
recording several instruments at once with some degree of isolation. It should have at
least 24 track capability, a decent selection of high
quality studio-grade microphones, mic. pre amps, compressor/ limiters and other effects
processors. If the studio is using a disk based recording platform, ie Protools, then find
out what plug-in effects are offered in their system. A good studio control room will have
a neutral playback system that reproduces an honest representation of the mix. Its a
good idea to take home a copy of something that was mixed in the prospective studio to
determine if the mixes done in their control room translate well on equipment that
youre familiar with(your car stereo, home stereo, boombox, etc.) .
consideration that affects both the project cost and ultimately the overall quality of the
recording, is the person who will engineer the project. Youll need to establish who
the engineer will be and whether or not
he/she is included in the studio rate. This
decision is much more then just a monetary one, as the engineer will have a great impact
on what the project will ultimately sound
like. Make sure you have the opportunity to hear several different examples of the
engineers previous work to
determine if he/she is well suited to mixing your type of
music project. If what you hear doesnt instill confidence in his/her abilities then
look for someone who does. This is probably the single most important decision youll
make in planning your
greatly depending on the caliber of the recording studio . If your planning on recording
the project at a home project studio, then naturally, the cost will be considerably less
than if you rent a commercial facility. However,
the services offered and often the caliber of equipment used will also be reflected in the
costs. So. make sure
that you consider carefully what it is your getting for your money.
The old adage you get what you pay for definitely applies to recording studios
in general. Keep in mind that theres more to recording a quality CD than merely having multi track capabilities.
dont forget to ask about the hard costs, such as multitrack tapes, Dat tapes, CD
media, etc. . Studio rates are usually based on an hourly rate and vary greatly depending on the services and equipment offered. Its not
unusual to get a flat daily rate for use of a studio which can be an advantage, especially
if they allow you to lockout the room. This means that all of your equipment
can remain in place for an extended number of days, if the project requires it .
It is vitally
important to do some advance planning prior to the recording session.
imperative that everyone involved in the project be intimately familiar with the songs to
be recorded. This would seem obvious enough but I have seen many sessions where it was
clear that the band never discussed some key issues before booking time and ended up
wasting time, money, and energy trying to pull together their ideas in the studio.
Its also important to practice playing the material without
the lead vocal to
become accustomed to playing without it. Some studios offer a vocal booth to accommodate a
singer for a guide vocal but if many takes are required to get
a good performance it may
wear out the vocalist in the process. So, learn to play the songs without a vocal so
youre prepared either way. Another thing thats vitally
important for recording
the basic rhythm tracks (drums,bass, etc.) is being able to play to a click track.
The click track is the electronic equivalent of a metronome and is fed to the musicians
headphones to keep the everyone playing as close
to perfect time as possible. Most people struggle with this until they acclimate to
hearing it, so, I suggest practicing with a click before going into the studio.
keyboard sequencing is being used, it is general practice to first record the drums, bass
and possibly one other rhythm instrument live at the same time . If necessary,
a singer can sing a scratch track to guide the rhythm section through the song
by isolating the singer in a booth and sending the voice through the headphones to the
band. As stated before, the singer must be prepared to do as many takes as necessary to
get an acceptable performance from the band (perhaps many, many takes). This guide vocal
will eventually be replaced, usually after everything else is recorded. After the rhythm
tracks are finished we add all of the other instrumental overdubs, such as additional
support parts, solo parts, etc. Finally, the track is ready for lead vocals and eventually
background vocal parts. One of the best ways to capture a great lead vocal part is to do
what is commonly called comping. The
idea is to have the lead vocalist sing several (sometimes many) complete vocal
performances from start to finish, on different tracks. Then, all the lead vocal tracks
are played back, one at a time, and the best parts of each take are assembled into one
seamless performance. This can best be accomplished using a digital editing system such as
Pro tools or some other Digital Audio Workstation (be sure to ask the studio manager if
the studio has this capability). Background vocals can also benefit from this technique by
singing one good chorus section and then simply copying and pasting to subsequent choruses
(very handy indeed).
Once all the
parts are recorded to everyones satisfaction, its time to mix. This part of
the process is probably the most challenging and requires that someone be in charge. If
the project is a self-produced project then someone (whoever is deemed most qualified
represent the band) should be present to help
guide the engineer during the mixing process. If youre confident in your
engineers abilities, its a very good idea to allow
him/her to build the
beginning stages of the mix on his/her own. Then, when the engineer has a good mix going,
the person acting as the bands producer can suggest any ideas
have for adding to or spicing up the mix. I personally feel that
its not a good idea to have the individual band members present during the mix, as
this committee style mixdown session is
usually chaotic and tends to become a breeding ground for disagreement. Perhaps one or two
members at the most should work together with the engineer to finish the mixes. Its
also a good idea to take each mix home
and listen on a familiar sound system before
signing off on a final mix. If possible, try
to schedule a lock-out block of time to mixdown , and mix one song a day and
take it home and sleep on it. That way, if
you leave the mix up on the console overnight its easy to come in the next day and
change a few things before moving on to the next mix.
Admittedly, this is a luxury
but a very worthwhile one, as it allows the engineer and
producer to get away
from the mix for a while and come back with fresh ears the next day.
*Buy a tuner and use it!!!!!
*Bring snacks and stuff to read while the
overdubs are being recorded.
*Change guitar and/or bass strings the day before the session.
*Bring guitar picks, lyric sheets, gaffers
tape, drum sticks, extra drum heads.
*Vocalists should bring some tea or some
other warm non-sugar based drinks.
*Take regular head-clearing breaks.
*Pray before each session!