Adding effects when recording or mastering

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Mikka, Oct 9, 2003.

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  1. Mikka

    Mikka Guest

    I've been told there are two philosophies....

    1. Add effects when recording a track, leaving minimal work for mastering ie. get it right on the way in.

    2. Record dry and do all the effect selection when mastering.

    I expect it depends on what works for each individual, and the complexity of the piece.

    I'd like some feedback. I'm running a Creamware Pulsar2 card which sounds very good. It's great for one/two tracks at a time but won't give me the DSP's to use a lot of effects on each track when mastering.

    I also have a Yamaha FX500 effect unit which sounds good to my ears..)although I haven't compared it side by side to anything). My recordings are fairly sparse singer/songwriter material using samples, (drums and percussion, bass, piano, organ, synth strings) with live recording of acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar, vocals.

    If YOU were to add effects while recording, which instruments/voice would you select as safest?
  2. Active Member

    Mar 6, 2002
    Tampa, Fl
    Hey Mikka let me see if i can help. This is the consensus I have found at all the studios I have ever been in and my way of doing things. No one I have seen ever adds effects durring mastering, usually what happends in that stage is compression limiting and EQ of the stereo image. You wouldn't add effects (like delay ,flanger etc...) here unless you want it on EVERYTHING. I assume you meant to say to add effects durring mixing as an option and that is the way to go in my opinion. You have the unprocessed piece of audio preserved that you can either process in the box (plugins) or converter back to analog and run though the effects unit of your choice. This gives you the ability to tweak the sound after the entire recording is done and you will never be stuck with a reverb or delay or what not that doesn't fit the mix. If that were to happen you have no other choice but to do it over or live with a sound you are unhappy with. Sometimes less is more also and you can end up with sonic chaous if theres just to many things being processed. Hope this helps I'll let the other more seasoned people chime in . ;)
  3. white swan

    white swan Guest

    Doug, I'm pretty sure from the context that Mikka meant to say "mixing" whenever he actually said "mastering". Mikka - you should research the difference so you don't confuse everyone! :p

    A lot of people I know only record effects while tracking if they are an integral part of the sound of the instrument - like guitar pedals or synth effects. Although even in those cases, if you have some doubts you can often split off a dry signal and record that simultaneously on another track.

    Processing (compression, eq, etc.) is another story, and often has a lot to do with self-confidence. I don't have any problem tracking with light compression, or using a good quality EQ to get the sound I want from the start. But that wasn't always the case.

    The fact that your hardware/software has limited processing power should not solely determine how much you add during tracking vs. mixing, since you can always "print" effects to a new track while mixing, thereby freeing up DSP to work on something else.
  4. Rob de Boer

    Rob de Boer Guest

    I agree. You should make a distinction between effects that the player of the instrument uses for expression (like a wah wah on a guitar) and those that you as a mixing engineer can use to spice up the sound. Recording a totally clean guitar or one with some chorus does not make a hell of a lot of difference for the guitarist, but is does make a hell of a lot of difference for the guy who has to work with the recorded track, sabby?

    With regard to processing 'on the way in'. I usually don't do that, in order to be as flexible as possible 'on the way out'. But you should know that this comes from someone who is not a hardcore pro recording engineer, but then again, you are prolly not one either. (I draw this conclusion from the misunderstanding regarding the difference between mixing and mastering.. :D ) I think you should be confident to know what you're doing before squeezing and eq-ing when recording.

    Anyway, hope this helps.

    Regards, Rob
  5. Mikka

    Mikka Guest

    Thanks for mixing/mastering...I now understand a bit more....I bought my wife what I thought was a "Mixmaster" but she told me it was just a fork.

    I appreciate both your tolerance and wisdom...
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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