Things You Need To Know Before You Record Your Band
23 October 18
10 essential tips for tracking guitar, bass, drums and vocals live
RECORDING WEEK: There are many ways to record your music, and you don’t have to be in a traditional studio environment to get good results.
Capturing musicians playing together can reap great rewards in terms of dynamics and practicality, and showcase your band’s chemistry together. Here’s our 10-step guide to getting started with it
Essential Item #8 Acoustic Treatment
Acoustic treatments are foam or fiberglass panels that soak up the natural reverb of the room.
When mixing and recording, you want to be using as neutral of a room as possible. That way your results arent being colored by the sound of your small home studio.
Im personally a fan of fiberglass panels. Rather than purchasing panels , Id recommend making your own for 1/5th the cost.
You should also make some bass traps if your low end is out of control
NOTE: Heres a great video on Acoustics terminology:
The Perfect First Studio For Newbies
With the following 9 items:
What you have is a simple working studio, perfect for anyone just starting out with home recording.
And heres why:
Now lets talk more about each item on the list
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What Microphone Is Best For Recording Acoustic Guitars
You can buy direct boxes and use amp simulators, but the most common methods of recording guitars typically involve at least one microphone. Some audio interfaces have instrument inputs and do not require a separate device to achieve useable recording levels.
If you want to get fancy, add a second mic aimed at the fretboard to pick up nuances of finger movement.
If youre recording an acoustic guitar, a go-to way to get a nice sound is to place a condenser microphone directly in front of the soundhole of your guitar, and angle it towards the twelfth fret. A condenser microphone is better than a dynamic mic for the acoustic guitar because of its greater sensitivity the twelfth fret placement allows your mic to record a good blend of low, mid, and high frequencies from your instrument. If you already have a condenser microphone for recording vocals, you can certainly use it for recording your acoustic guitar.
If you want to kick up the quality a few notches, you can make an X/Y stereo recording by touching two small-diaphragm condenser microphones capsules together at a 90-120° angle and mixing one as the left and one as the right channel. While this isnt necessary to make a decent acoustic guitar recording, it is especially helpful in creating an engaging mix if your song doesnt have a lot else going on besides guitar and vocals.
Stage : The Dedicated Home Studio
After recording music in a simple bedroom studio for a few months
Youll probably start to notice a few things that bug the crap out of you.
Besides the fact that your workspace is extremely cramped
Your biggest problem is probably that all your music sounds like it was recordedwellin a bedroom!
And after doing some research to figure out whats going wrong
You will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that you now need a dedicated room for your studio
Where you can cultivate both a creative environment that will improve your workflow, and an acoustic environment that will allow your recordings to at least sound semi-decent.
So when that time comes, here are the 8 KEY items you need:
Now lets take a closer look at each one
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How To Record Music At Home: First Steps
And thats how to record music at home. If youre new to this stuff, these steps will get you started.
External Or A Backup Hard Drive
An external or a backup hard drive in a home recording studio can serve various functions. I would advise you to get a dedicated hard drive to not only free your computers internal hard drive but to also back up your data in case of any eventualities.
You can consider several things before getting a second drive. If you are using a desktop computer, you can install a second hard drive inside your computer or get a portable one. If you are using a laptop, a portable or external hard drive is a convenient choice for you.
There are also other features such as the port , The speed of the hard drive, and finally the size of the hard drive.
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Whats The Best Way To Record A Drum Kit
Recording drums in a home studio recording is very difficult, especially if youre recording on a budget. This is chiefly because each individual drum often needs to be miked separately, some with two mics, and the kit at large needs to be miked as well. This is why unfortunately for most home studio recordings, an acoustic drum kit cannot be used.
Gabriel Barletta Because each drum is miked at the top, there should be no need to reverse polarity/invert phase.
If, however, you are determined to do this, you can get away with four microphones. Roughly speaking, this method worked for The Beatles. In editing, it will be more difficult to separate each drum and cymbal, but if you angle each microphone right you can reduce the amount of audio bleed.
- One dynamic microphone aimed at the snare
- One large-diaphragm dynamic microphone for the kick
- Two, ideally identical, condenser microphones acting as overhead mics. Place them on a T-bar and in an array that points them over the cymbals and toms in a Y configuration.
If you dont like the idea of playing drums with your fingers, an electronic drum kit may be the way to go. The one I have is the Alesis Drums Nitro Mesh Kit, which is affordable and lets you enable stereo output.
The Beginnings Of Music Production
Back in the late 19th Century, music was cut directly into a cylinder, usually made from aluminum, by a machine called a phonograph. At this time a producer was simply whoever was present to operate the machinery. Production duties, such as they were, amounted to no more than knowing how to work the equipment so the artist could record their performance.
This limited specialization continued through the early parts of the 20th Century with the music industrys adoption of the gramophone for recording and the wax master disc as the medium. At this time, all music was recorded live not necessarily in front of an audience, but with single-take performances. This limitation meant that one mistake forced the entire recording to be scrapped and restarted from scratch.
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Budget Home Studios: How Cheap Is Cheap
A studio can be cheap without sounding cheap. It is not about buying the cheapest entry-level equipment across the board. It is about budgeting and making smart choices. Spend when it is essential, and save when it is practical.
The flip side is that the process is daunting, especially for newcomers. Theres a dizzying list of options wrapped in persuasive marketing. You have to sift through lots of reviews and research. And, then there is an always-around-the-corner chance of the dreaded Gear Acquisition Syndrome .
Economical options and clever workarounds can save you a few hundred dollars. Luckily were here to streamline that process for you with a checklist of essential gear to set up a home studio and discuss ways to do it cost-effectively. Here is what we are looking at:
2. Computer 3. Audio Interface 9. Cables, Stands, and Hardware 10. Room Treatment
What About Usb Microphones
The only advantage USB microphones bring is their convenience. This makes it ideals for people who frequently run online meetings, webinars, or live streams.
However, as a music professional or producer, Id suggest going for XLR microphones. Think of buying microphones as an investment. Take care of them and theyll last you a lifetime.
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What Microphone Is Best For Vocal Recordings
There are many different microphones with a frequency response specifically tailored to vocals.
Vocal microphones should almost always have a cardioid pickup pattern. A neutral leaning frequency response is ideal, since you want to accurately capture the voice. When making a vocal recording in your home recording studio, its usually best to use a condenser microphone, like the Rode NT1-A, because its highly sensitive and picks up on treble detail. However, plenty of vocalists use and get great results from dynamic microphones such as the Shure SM58 or the Shure SM7b.
As for placement, your mic stand should be away from the walls of your room, but this matters less if you have premium acoustic treatment. You want to make sure youre not singing with your mouth right on top of the microphone, because this will likely cause it to pick up plosives , fricatives , create sibilant sounds , and fall victim to the proximity effect.
A pop filter ensures your voice sounds free from unpleasant plosives and sibilance caused by pops of air that would otherwise hit the mic capsule.
Gain Levels Are Very Important
Reaper Draw your attention to the lower green bars of the screen. Here is where your gain levels can be monitored aim for green. Red means youve introduced distortion in the form of clipping to the recording.
Once you position your microphone in front of your instrument or in front of your face, you should test the input level, also known as the gain. Your USB interface and your DAW will likely both have gain meters, which indicate through green, yellow, and red lights if the volume is good. Green indicates that the input level is safe and you are not at risk of clipping, or distorting, the sound. Yellow indicates that your audio will clip if your recording gets louder, and red indicates that you are clipping.
Test your gain levels by playing or singing the loudest part of your songit should be in the green, or just touching the yellow, at 50-75% up the meter.
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Tips To Optimizing Your Computer Performance:
To get the most out of your computers performance, install your DAW, plugins, and VSTs on the main drive. Place your audio and sample libraries on a second drive on your computer or an external drive.
Use solid-state drives whenever possible. Your productivity will skyrocket. And again, get the biggest drives you can afford.
Here are some SSD drives worth buying:
- SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD The new generation has sped up to 1,050MB/s which means your samples will load as fast as lighting. It also has a rugged enclosure meaning it wont break down so easily if you were to drop it.
- Western Digital 2TB WD Blue For desktop computers, the WD Blue SSD gives you space and speeds up to 560MB/s without costing too much.
Acoustic Panels Diffuser Panels And Bass Traps
These are one of the most important things youll need for a studio, as they directly affect the sound that you hear.
They can get pretty expensive but there are a few different companies that sell acoustic treatment packages with these items in them, which is usually cheaper than buying each piece separately.
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You Will Need Multiple Takes
When making any recording, its nearly impossible to get it right on the very first try, and patience is a virtue with this art form. To reduce the number of takes you have to record, make sure you rehearse your song a lot. The magic actually happens in the recording stage, rather than in the post-processing. Of course, post-processing allows you to add effects and adjust levels and panning, but if your original recording is bad, there isnt an easy fix.
Sure you can add effects in post-production, but getting it right in the initial recorded track is where it counts.
Make sure you leave about five seconds of dead air before and after your recording. This will make it easier to trim your recording, adjust the EQ of your tracks, and to hear the approximate level of unwanted ambient noise that needs to be removed in the mixing phase.
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- Home Recording Studio Guide What Do I Need?
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Music Production : The 4 Steps To Recording A Song
The world of music has changed.
You and your band played your asses off in bars and clubs every night
And prayed that some big-shot producer in the audience who would impressed enough to give you a shot.
But not anymore.
Today, the trend in music production is shifting more and more toward home studios.
Great music is being produced all the time in bedrooms, garages, and basements by normal folks like you and me
Record a song, post it online, watch it go viral..and youre famous overnight.
While its not that EASY, it is that SIMPLE.
But before any of that can happen, you must first know the process of how music actually is recorded.
And so in todays post, I break it down for you in 4 stepsfrom start to finish.
How To Set Up Your Home Recording Equipment
Setting up your equipment to record your own music is not difficult, but there are a few traps and pitfalls you can fall into. Hopefully, this section will help you avoid those. It is worth pointing out at this stage that it is a good idea to turn down all volume and gain controls on all your equipment until everything has been connected up. This helps avoid unpleasant popping sounds as you start to turn things on.
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How To Improve Your Recordings By Setting Limitations
In a creative space, endless options can drive us crazy.
This is especially true with digital music recording because theres almost no limit on your storage space. All the while, if youre like a lot of DIY artists, you dont have endless hours to spend recording, so time restraints amp up the pressure. In this environment, a limitation can be the very thing that keeps you sane.
In other words, it pays to make decisions as you go.
Have you ever seenThe Five Obstructions? Its a great film, and a great illustration of how arbitrary obstacles can help us focus and push beyond our habitual moves.
If youre about to open up a new session in your DAW, consider some of these creative limitations:
1.) Set a maximum track-count before the session begins: Its not uncommon these days for recording sessions to have 100 tracks. Sure, if youre recording the next #1 single for Doja Cat and really need to layer 15 kick drums, go for it. But if youre squeezing in recording time on the weekends, do you really want to have to sift through all those tracks every time you open your session?
Instead, set a rule for yourself: no song on this album will have more than X tracks. It could be 4, 8, 16, 24, whatever.
So put your minimal hat on. Itll force you to boil things down to their essentials, and save you lots of time and worry when you get to the mixing stage.
What Does An Audio Mixer Do
The job of an audio mixer is to route audio. It takes one and more audio signals, combines them and then provides outputs for the signals. An audio engineer could enhance the mix by adding filters, equalization, effects, adjusting individual levels and recording mixes.
The more individual tracks you record and mix simultaneously, means youll need a bigger mixing board. This is why traditional recording studios have such big mixers, taking up nearly the whole room, eventually coining the term mixing console.
Today, in our modern recording studios, the audio interface takes up the job of multitrack recording and the computer takes up the job of editing, mixing and mastering. The audio mixer then only fits in, if youd like a board to route audio to different monitors or once in awhile, plug in an input or two.
There are audio mixers that come with a built-in audio interface as well, like the Zoom LiveTrak L-12, which might appeal for home producers whod like the idea of having physical faders to play with. However if Id give advise, its often better to buy a specialized audio device rather than buying a 2 in 1 device.
The Mackie ProFx12 is a nice analog mixer that will do for most of your audio routing needs.
Get an analog mixer if you just want to route audio to a set of speakers, occasionally plug in a few inputs and do most of your arranging, recording & producing on your computer.