#7 Common Pitfalls While Working & Preparing For The Studio
For this article we want to address some common misconceptions that often happen when clients, artists, producers go to the studio.
The reason we want to put these up is so that our clients know what to expect and how to handle their projects to get the most out of it.
The last thing either party wants is to come out of the studio with an unfinished product or not reached milestone.
Whatever is the goal of the recording ensure the engineers/studio are aware of the goal. This not only helps them in envisioning the end goal, but also ensures we can make any preparations before u arrive at the studio.
If there has been informed drums are being recorded, u might be in luck when u communicate that it might already be halfway through setup before you or your drummer arrives.
Drum recording can easily end up taking more than an hour simply to setup and warm-up let alone soundcheck.
Any second that we can shave of of this is precious time saved & will give more time for a better end product and ensure a better end result.
It is of the utmost importance that before heading into the studio that all the parts have been properly rehearsed and prepared before recording.
Yes, it is possible to write new parts or change up parts in the studio, but it should always be taken into equation that new parts will cost extra time. If there is one thing that is most precious in the studio it is time itself.
3. SET CLEAR GOALS
Part of the hardships in the studio is also to be clear on what the goal is. It is easy to get in the mind set to do everything in the session.
There is nothing wrong with that of course during a session, but it is better to emphasize and focus on the instruments that require the most attention.
Drums, Vocals and other Acoustic instruments have far greater benefit on being focused on in the studio then electric guitars, synths, keyboards.
The reason behind this is that recordings have become far more accessible then they were before the early 90s.
There are for example dedicated audio interfaces for guitarists EG "Orange OMEC Teleport"
Sometimes it is even better to record guide tracks before hand and ensuring those have the right atmosphere and feel.
4. PUNCH-IN, OVERDUB, EDIT
Try to understand what the differences are between; Edit, Overdub & Punch-In.
Punch-In; is where we continue to record from a specific point over the previous recorded audio material. Now a great thing to about punching in is that it sound a lot more natural then simply redoing the take as you can listen back to the integrity of the performance before the point of recording happens.
Overdub; this is when we double the performance on a separate track for the performance. Common practice on guitar to make them sound
Edit; is where we manually correct the recorded audio to the music, this could be anything as simple as auto tune to a heavy edit to tighten the drums to be as rhythmically consistent as possible.
It is best practice to ask the engineer or producer if this would be possible to fix instead of spending ten extra takes
Which brings me to my next point!
5. KEEP IT NATURAL
It is easy to overlook that next to that it has to sound good & tight it also has to sound natural.
If there is a particular loud part in a song then it also has to sound like the drummer or vocalist is loud.
They should of course not break their equipment or scream, what we mean is it has to sound like there is a natural flow to the music.
An interesting study to read up on for a better understanding on how dynamics change the sound is.
"White Sjölander, P. (1998)A study of the effects of vocal intensity variation on children’s voices using long-termaverage spectrum (LTAS) analysis"
The reason why this is an interesting read is that the human voice does not equally increase in volume when we get louder over the full audible frequency spectrum, what is curious is that the ranges between 3 kHz to 4 kHz vary greater when the human voice changes in volume.
Another interesting note is that the volume to spectrum difference is larger for boys/men then girls/women.
But this does not only apply to human voices, what is astonishing is that the frequency spectrum on instruments also changes depending on the dynamics.
Great example for this is that a guitar if strummed hard & aggressive enough will actually slightly detune!
6. PICK YOUR STUDIO, ENGINEER & PRODUCER
All 3 factor in heavily when it comes to the end sound of your production, just like every person is different every studio you go to brings their own quirks and character to the overall sound of the production.
A good thing to research about your favorite artists is what studios did they work in, who worked on it and you might find out that a lot of the same people are in some way or another connected to each other for the sounds that they created.
One of the best examples would be "James Jamerson" Bass Player known for most if not all bass lines recorded and produced in the 60s and 70s Motown scene.
7. PLAY IT PERFECT
Even though in previous points we explained to make a pick between editing, overdubbing, punching-in. We still want to note that playing precise and accurate is still of far greater benefit and better for the music you are working on.
We do live in a day and age that a lot of mistakes can still be fixed in audio, but preventing them is far better an option then "fix it in the mix" as a good performance will translate far better when it comes to quality then a high-sonic fidelity studio with bad performance.