|A good recording is the foundation for an official mix and a juicy and powerful mastering. Subsequently, I'd like to clear a few things and give some advice, if you want to record your things yourself or want to rent a studio for your sessions and let the sound tracks mixing to myself.
I myself have the possibility to use certain studios and since 2011, I own a mobile sound-studio which is equipped with professional gear. It makes things much easier for you, cause we can do the sessions in your hometown. The only thing we need is a room with suitable conditions to record music..
Before recording your songs, they should of course be rehearsed and studied in as best as possible, since time in the studio is valuable and first and foremost expensive. Even if you want to record your album yourself in your rehearsal room with adequate equipment, you should be well prepared for the moment you want to record your songs on tape (or hard disk), so that the work can proceed quickly and efficiently, and mainly, that you have fun doing the sessions without having to get angry about insufficient rehearsing and get your teeth stuck into that deficiency.
Should you decide upon which studio to enter for your recordings, you should be able to assume, that the operators of the studio are acquainted with the choice of the right microphones, know their equipment and are able to provide you with helpful advice when recording. Meanwhile, a lot of young and new bands tend to use recording-software, which gets cheaper and cheaper and, on top of that, gets easier to handle, to record in their own rehearsal room themselves. In that case, there are also a few important things to consider, to record the sound tracks properly and to transfer your material in the best possible way. In the following, I will try to give you some helpful advice, if you can’t bring up enough cash to record in the studio:
Get some advice on choosing the right microphones! The choice of the right equipment is crucial besides good preparation for the quality of your recording. Generally, it is possible to borrow microphones from studios or music supplies-stores to use for your sessions.
And then you should decide if the room acoustics are favourable for your recording or if it is better to use the rehearsal room of friends, which might be better dammed. A basement with a stone ceiling for example, is rather unsuitable, but even there it is possible to remedy with blankets and insulating material in case of need, to attain a direct and dry sound whilst recording.
If you're working with recording software and multitrack-soundcards for the first time, then I advise you to ask help and advice of friends, which are already accustomed, to setup and setting. Bad recording with phase errors or overdriven signals on the tracks are mostly uncorrectable and then your anger might be huge, when you can't produce a good final outcome, after recording your material for days or weeks with blood, sweat and tears.
Be aware on your settings that the individual tracks are well controlled and there are no clippings. Prefer to give a bit less level and be sure, that nothing hits the red area.
Carry out by all means test recordings for every instrument before deciding to record the entire album (or demo)! You should take your time to position the microphones correctly! Especially the drums and all the drumheads should be correctly tuned (and, if necessary, glued on, to prevent the continued vibration of the floortom for example) and the microphones should be positioned as close as possible to the toms that are used. As a rule of thumb, the number of used microphones for a standard set is:
- bass drum (inside)
- snare drum (above)
- snare drum (below)
- tom 1 (above)
- tom 2 (above)
- tom 3 (above)
- overhead (left)
- overhead (right)
- ride cymbal
Should your room have a sound, that's good and has a powerful bass, then it's possible to position two more microphones to record the entire sound in the room. This helps creating a very natural sound and can be used pro rata in the mixing, to avoid the trashcan-sound.
After you've done your test-recordings of the drum set, it is recommendable to listen to every single sound track and check, if the signals have been recorded neatly and without much crosstalk (proportion of the actual recording signal to the audible rest of the set on the respective track). If everything is alright, then you might want to take the next step and regulate the bass. There are several possibilities to stage the woofer well. I prefer to record directly from the bass-amplifier with a microphone to reproduce the sound that the bass-player adjusted painfully. Furthermore, a DI-signal is recorded to give the possibility to mix both of the signals at the end or to give the DI-track a virtual amp later on. Please don't use compressors or limiters that are found on most of the bass amps. According to experience, they don't work very precisely and when playing quiet sections, only tend to draw the background noise and humming of the amp up. Works like compression ect. are the domains of the mixing and shouldn't interest you in your recording phase. It's only about recording a clean signal.
Now we've reached the guitars and there are countless possibilities for the choice and positioning of the microphones ect., but I want to recommend my variation first.
Use several microphones for the recording of the guitar amps! Then you have the possibility to decide whether to create a mixed signal out of all the tracks or to use the signal with the best sound. Following variation has proved its value in the last years for a 4 x 12"-box:
- microphone 1 (arranged directly towards the calotte of a speaker, 10cm space in-between)
- microphone 2 (arranged directly towards the board of a different speaker, 10cm space in-between)
- microphone 3 (placed in the room, 1 to 2 meters space to the guitarbox)
With this placement, there is the possibility to mix a sound out of all the three signals, which is quite similar to the one coming out of the box.
Please don't mix the three signals over a sub-group yourselves or even record them on a single track! It's possible that through the use of several microphones a phase-shift appears, that can't be corrected later on! The best thing is to create three distinctly named tracks for every guitar and then nothing should go wrong.
There is not too much to consider with the vocals. You shouldn't place your squaller just in front of a bare concrete wall, but surround him with insulating material (blankets, mattresses etc.) so that a clean and dry signal can be recorded. Besides, the vocals are basically recorded without any effects like hall or delay, because the signal will be compressed when mixing. My advice is to express your wishes concerning different effects in the correspondence or in an e-mail on how the results should be.
At last, I want to add, that the recordings will be done exclusively in uncompressed formats (WAV or AIFF for example). Please don't use formats like mp3, WMA or OGG only out of space-saving purposes! Too big is the loss concerning the actual track information and it would be a pity if there would be qualitative shortages because of that. The best sampling-rate and bit-depth for a CD-production would be 44.1 kHz and 24 bit respectively, for instance.
Should you have any questions regarding your recording, feel free to contact me. I am at your disposition with my long lasting know-how and am always ambitious to attain the optimum out of a session and to offer my assistance.