5 Mistakes You Made on Your Last Recording
By Robert Honablue
1. You didn't book enough studio time.
- Artists: Today it is common to book a "lockout" of a studio where you have one or a few days in which to accomplish everything. Invariably the beginning of these sessions are relaxed, but when you realize that the mixing or editing is going to take longer than you planned it can make the end of the sessions very stressful. Make sure you consult with an experienced engineer or producer for the amount of time you need to do your project without rushing it.
- Engineers: Make sure your artists remember to plan for mixing. Often this takes longer than the actual tracking. Also, make sure your clients plan for doing multiple takes during tracking and that they allot time to listen after each and every take. The recording equipment is never perfect and is prone to failure. Don't be caught when your pants down because you neglected to listen back to a take.
2. Lack of preparation
- Artists: Are your arrangements finished? Are your lyrics finished? Did you change your strings and put on new drum heads? When you are in the studio you are on the clock. Wouldn't you rather finish writing lyrics for free on your own time rather than paying the studio?
- Engineers: Are you truly familiar with your client's musical style? They are going to expect you to know what all their favorite bands sound like. Make sure that you do.
3. You mixed too soon after your tracking session.
- Artists: Remember that tiny little mistake you obsessed over? Guess what, it probably doesn't matter. Your producer's job is to keep track of the big picture. You do have a producer don't you?
- Engineers: At the end of the tracking session your ears are tired. Everything starts to sound good because you can't really hear it anymore. Was the session long, or late at night? The next day your ears are still not rested. Mix next week so you have a fresh perspective on the tracks.
4. You had the wrong input levels.
- Artists and Engineers: This is really the engineer's responsibility, but we know a lot of you are out there recording yourselves. This is very simple. Recording digital? Live in the green, touch the yellow, stay out of the red. Just like traffic lights. Recording analog? Go into the red always except on high frequency track like cymbals. -10 to 0 is a good range for those. This is how you get that fat tape sound without bad distortion.
5. You tried to make your mixes "loud."
- Artists: Remember that mixing is an intermediate step. It is not about getting the finished product. It is about balancing all the elements. Think of it like baking. Tracking is gathering the ingredients, mixing is stirring the batter, and mastering is the actual baking.
- Engineers: Did you put a compressor or limiter on your master bus? Do you really need that? We strongly recommend leaving this type of processing to your mastering engineer. If you take all the dynamics out, they he/she will have nowhere to go with it. Make sure your artists understand the differences between mixing and mastering.
Thanks for taking the time to read and we sincerely hope this will help you achieve better results in the studio.