I thought I would give you a glimpse into my home studio during this vocal session. Tracking my little brother and producing his project. Hope you like. Subscribe!
I wanted to give a little advice to you musicians out there who plan on going into the studio in the future. Here is a check list of some of the more important things you should consider before ever stepping foot in the studio.
1. Have the music ready to go.
This might seem pretty obvious but a lot of younger or more inexperienced groups fail to have their parts memorized, or even written. They get in the studio and spend hours upon hours figuring out their parts, practicing their parts and arguing amongst themselves about which parts will be played. What a huge waste of money. Unless you have endless amounts of funding for studio time, have every part decided on, rehearsed, ready to be played and played well. Have all lyrics memorized. The end result will not only sound better, but the process of getting the end result will have been much more enjoyable for everyone involved. You’ll save money too!
2. Decide if you will be recording to a click.
Some bands do and some bands don’t. Just decide early on if this is something everyone is comfortable with. I always recommend a click track because it makes editing much easier, makes the music tighter and more professional sounding and also allows for some really creative post production techniques. That said, if your drummer can’t get tight with a click it will kind of work against you. Practice with a metronome until everyone is nice and comfy with it, like it’s part of the music itself. If it’s still an issue for someone and just won’t be possible, bypass it and move on. It’s better to play somewhat tight as a unit and have a natural, musical song than to waste time on several takes and punch ins yielding in a forced, unnatural tune.
3. Be sure your gear is in tip top shape.
Put new strings on all guitars, new heads on all drums, tighten all screws and anything else that can rattle on equipment or accessories. Fine tune your guitar’s intonation and action if needed. For guitarists, be sure all your effects pedals, amps and gear are operating properly and that all your connections are tight and proper. The last thing you want is for your signal to drop out in the studio and you’re down there troubleshooting loose connections and faulty power supplies. Basically, whatever instrument you play, be sure it sounds it’s best and is operating at 100%
4. Have the money together.
You will quickly make enemies in the music community if you stiff a local studio of their hard earned cash. Word spreads and you only want positive feedback floating around about you or your group. You want to appear honest and professional to your peers. Trust me it will benefit you in the long run. Aside from this, when you have all the cash in hand and pay for services promptly and in full you are much more likely to get your project finished on time, finished to your liking and sometimes even have special offers and discounts given to you for future projects. Above all, it’s the right thing to do.
So it’s not an extensive list but it is a few of the most important aspects of being prepared for a studio session. Don’t underestimate the small things. They can take you a long way, or cripple you.
I’ve worked with several clients this year who had trouble sending me their sessions or their audio for me to mix. Most of the time the audio is a jumbled mess once imported into a session. The reason for this is a lack of time-alignment between tracks. Here’s a brief video of how to properly prepare and export your audio, to be sent off for mixing.
Cut The Crap
There are a million different techniques and methods for EQing different items in a session, but most people would agree subtractive EQ is one of the best ways to clear up a muddy mix. Subtractive EQ is just that, subtracting frequencies that you do not want to hear. I’d recommend before you go through your tracks boosting all over the place, start cutting instead the frequencies that may be blocking or clogging your mix with muddiness. So I meant literally to cut the “crap” out of your mix.
A Kick Trick
I can’t claim the rights to this trick as I’m sure a million other mix engineers already do this but I saw Joe Gilder do this in a video once and I’ve been doing it ever since. Thanks Joe! The image here is a screen shot of my EQ curve for my kick track in this particular session. Keep in mind every recording is different. Depending on how well the kick was originally recorded and how great the kick sounded to begin with, I might take a different approach accordingly. For this particular session, the kick was all attack and no balls. The bottom end was missing and all I could here was the click of the beater so I needed a drastic EQ curve.
The “kick trick” I’m talking about is the giant cut around 120hz. Here’s why I recommend cutting before boosting: simply by getting rid of a good portion around 120hz, I opened up the kick to breath and allowed the lower range to heard a bit more. This frequency range is typically known as the “boxy” sound of a kick drum. I almost always do this on my kick tracks but obviously in different amounts based on how good it sounds to begin with. I’m sure you also noticed the 7.5 db boost around 60hz. The problem with this track began with the kick drum itself. This was a live concert I tracked and I didn’t have much time to setup so I left it up to the drummer to tune, or *not tune the drums. Anyhow I needed a major boost around 60hz to bring out the balls in this kick. Before you make any judgements you can have a listen for yourself how this mix turned out:
Be sure to let me know what you think and leave some comments below. Again you should always consider the track you are working with it and give it what it needs. Maybe you don’t need any EQ at, but many times this little EQ trick helps bring out the bottom of your kick. Cheers my friends!