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Help in the details.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by AndrewSteingrebe, May 5, 2004.

  1. After struggling for a while, sucking in all the info I can find and trying to figure out why my recordings don't seem to sound as professional as pro recordings (and I do have decent equipment) I've realised that, as with anything else, excellence is in the details. It's all the little things that I'm overlooking, or overhearing as the case may be that are adding up to a sub par result for me.

    I get it, and I've been trying to pay more attention the details, but I think I'm missing them because I'm not aware of them. So, my question is, what details should I be listening for? What are the little things that distinguish say, for example, a good sounding acoustic guitar track from a great one, or a great sounding drum track? Is it simply a matter of adjusting things like instrument placement within the space, mic placement, levels, etc. until the track doesn't just sound good, but great?

    What are the little things you pay the most attention to when tracking, mixing...and importantly, if you're not getting the results you want, not finding the details adding up to an excellent track, how and where do you go about making changes to get that result? What are you listening for that tell you you're moving in the right, or wrong direction?

    If anyone has advise, tips, anything, I will be gratefull.
    Thanks,
    Andrew
     
  2. jcnoernberg

    jcnoernberg Guest

    Recording is definitely an art that requires practice as well as learning. I don’t think anyone can just tell you what to do to make your recordings sound pro, just like nobody can tell you how to be a great painter or sculptor. You seem to be on the right track, the tiny details are critical. Allow yourself a few hours to screw around and try different things. Move the mics an inch or two at a time, move the instruments to different placements, etc.

    I hope I don’t seem to be talking down to anyone, I’ve been recording on my own for 2 years and am still very much a beginner. The good news is you’ve come to a great site of knowledge. I’ve been reading a lot of music oriented magazines, like “Recording Magazine”, “Electronic Musician”, “EQ magazine”, theres a million of them for 20 bucks a year. They have interviews with artists/engineers where they list all their gear and techniques they used on an album.

    Anyways…Why don’t you tell us what kind of gear and studio you are using, we might be able to help a little if we know what you’re working with…
     
  3. Yeah, I guess it was a pretty broad question.

    All the guitars, bass and vocal stuff I mic up and record into Samplitude, via a 2 channel neve clone and RME converters with various german, chinese and american made mics. Everything else is done with samples, with the exception of drums which I'm planning on farming out instead of programming. I'm never happy with my programming. ummm...tracking is done with akg headphones and mixing with the mackies. I don't even use the mackies until it's time to start mixing, so I really rely on the headphones for an accurate reference of what I'm getting on disk.

    The spaces I have available to record in are an 8x15 office w/a false ceiling and a wharehouse that's at least 30x50 w/20' ceilings. Haven't used the wharehouse yet, since I only recently set things up in this place, so I don't know how well it's going to work. there is alot of stuff back there, but I won't need much space and I'm thinking it will help to break up the sound a bit. Anyway, this is actually at where I work, so it's only until I find something more suitable.

    Well, not sure if this helps any but there it is.
    Thanks
    Andrew
     
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    The first thing you need to do is create an environment that you can actually hear in. Phones are only good for cue reference and should never be used for the most critical part of recording, tracking.

    Good monitors are a must too.. Mackie is not known for it's great monitors.

    Your listening room should be assessed for its suitability. Is it large enough? If so, it should be adequately treated for mid and high reflections, bass trapped to smooth out low end response and diffused. This part of the equation is something the folks in the acoustics forum here at RO can address for you.

    Try to listen to other records / CDs and identify what you think sounds good. Then try to replicate those sounds when you record. Sometimes these sounds result from techniques applied both during tracking and then again in mixing. For me, the best kick drum tones come from applying some eq when I record and then a slightly different eq at mix. It takes 2 steps. Same with compression techniques. A little compression at tracking and then some more at mix can have a a completely different sound that applying a bunch of compression all at once, either during tracking or mixing. Each of these approaches can yield different results. I can often return to a track, days, weeks or even months after recording it and match it up for a punch in order to make a change or repair a mistake, simply because I have developed these work habits, or methods that I use repeatedly. I know what I usually do as far as mic placements, eq and compression on different instruments.

    This is where you need to develop work habits and an ability to "envision" what you want as the final result. Once you learn some of these tricks, you will be able to apply them with confidence. It really is all about experience. You need to be able to work from authority.
     
  5. makes sense, thanks.
     

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