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The Perfect Guide To Make Your Recording Life Easier

While focusing on specific techniques and more complex recording methods is a great way to build your skillset.

The Perfect Guide To Make Your Recording Life Easier
While focusing on specific techniques and more complex recording methods is a great way to build your skillset, it is never a bad idea to revisit some of the more basic ideas that can help make your life much easier as a recording engineer. For this reason, I came up with a list of easy and cheap ways to make the recording process run more smoothly and much more effectively.

In my experience, it's always the little things that make the biggest difference -and so without further adieu, here you go

10. Take Care Of Your Equipment

I know it seems silly to say, but you've got to keep up with your equipment! That not only means being careful while handling your gear, but it means consistently checking up on everything to make sure it's all in working condition.

In addition, it is imperative that you keep all of your instruments tuned properly. Make sure you tune up immediately before recording because there is nothing worse than hearing an out of tune stringed instrument in a mix. This simple step will save you countless headaches and make your life much easier during the post-production stage.

9. Make Sure Your Recordings Aren't Clipping

One of the most effective ways to ensure that your life as a recording engineer is a living hell is by having the gain turned to high when you record. This causes "clipping," which basically means the sound source was too loud for the microphone to handle, which in turn, causes harsh scratching sounds in your mix.

 It is very easy to avoid this by simply recording a small 5-10 second demo and playing it back to listen for potential clipping issues. Most recording interfaces these days also have a small LED light that lets you know if your signal is clipping - the light would flash green if the gain is set properly and red if there is clipping. If you discover that your signal is clipping, simply cut the gain as needed.

8. Use A Tempo Track With A Metronome

Using a tempo track with a metronome is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY when it comes to creating a professional quality recording. Not only does it entail a more precise and tight sounding mix, but it also is essential for the post productions stage because of the flexibility it provides. Recording to a tempo track will line all of your tracks up measure by measure, making it super easy to edit them in any way necessary.
Although it may take extra work and a bit more practice to learn how to efficiently record to a metronome, it will make a world of difference in your sound and will ultimately pay off in the end by making things a lot easier during post-production.

7. Use Good Headphones

One of the most annoying and frustrating things to deal with during the recording process is bleed-through from your headphones into the microphone. The reason for this is because it is very little you can do about it other than turning down the volume on your headphone monitor channel, which may not be an option depending on your situation.

I highly recommend investing in some good quality studio headphones that offer great sound isolation. This will allow you to record with minimal bleed-through and make for less stress when you're trying to mix the song in the future. I personally recommend the Shure SRH440 Studio Headphones, as I have had a great experience with them. Although they are a bit on the pricey side at $100, they are an investment that you won't regret.

6. Record As Dry As Possible

What I mean by "as dry as possible" is that when you are recording, you want to try your best to capture the true sound of whatever instrument you are using. A lot of factors that affect this are beyond your control - unless you are in a professional studio, you will have to deal with the quality of the room and natural ambiance of the space around you.

But, there are some things you can do to prevent unnatural tones from affecting your sound. When you are making an electric guitar amp, make sure all effects except distortion/overdrive are turned OFF (reverb, delay, chorus, etc). You can add these effects later during post-production. Putting a pillow or blanket inside a kick drum is another commonly used technique to enhance your tone. 

Another tip: When you record acoustic guitar, pay attention to the type of pick you use. There are no right or wrong picks - it all depends on the tone you are going for. But the thickness and quality of the pick will affect your tone more than you think. For example: If you find your acoustic guitar tracks are coming out with the too much low end, then try switching to a lighter/thinner pick!

5. Take Breaks

I know that this isn't a "recording technique," per say, but I think it is both relevant enough and important enough to mention. It's so easy to get caught up in the process of recording and, if you are like me, you can get carried away and spend more time than you had planned on a project. While this isn't a bad thing in of itself, it can lead to your ears becoming so used to your song that they render themselves useless.

I know that sounds kind of silly, but I know from experience that it happens! If I stay up excessively late working on a project, I find that if I shut it down, go to sleep, and pick it back up the next morning, my ears are refreshed and my mind is cleared. You'd be surprised at the things in your project that you missed from the night before!

4. Eliminate Extraneous Noise As Early As Possible

Recording engineers always have to deal with unwanted noises - it's basically part of our job description. The good news is - most of the extraneous noise problems commonly run into can be avoided with certain precautionary steps. First thing's first - invest in studio headphones that can provide good sound isolation. For more information on that, refer to tip number 7 in this countdown.

Another trick is to cover guitar amps with a blanket. This will help isolate the sound and eliminate outside noises from creeping in. Also, make sure all fans, air conditioners, phones, and other loud devices are turned off.

For recording heavily distorted electric guitar, I'd also recommend investing in a feedback eliminator pedal. I currently own the ISP Decimator Noise Reduction Pedal. This little puppy is one of the most useful things I own. It eliminates feedback, hum, and buzz from your electric guitar signal, which helps so much in getting a clear distorted guitar track.

3. Choose Appropriate Microphones

Microphone choice plays a big role in how your recordings turn out. Choose the wrong type - and you won't get the frequency response that you need.

Use dynamic mic's for "point and shoot" type applications. By this I mean use them only to gather audio signals from the direction that the mic is facing, which makes sense because dynamic mics are often unidirectional. Use ribbon mic's to process sounds from two opposite sides, These are useful for getting great stereo imaging and for creating sounds that are very accurate to what we as humans hear live. 

Use instrument mic's for guitar amps, snare drums, and even kick drums because these types of microphones have a very broad frequency range and can pick up sounds that would cause normal mics to clip. Lastly, use condenser mics for very sensitive recording applications, such as vocals, drum overheads, or pianos. This mic's over a great dynamic response, making them perfect for picking up subtle changes in volume and intonation.

2. Record In The Right Order

While there technically isn't a specific order that you HAVE to follow when recording, it just makes sense to do it in a way that will make it the easiest and most efficient as possible. In my experience, I have found that it is better almost 100% of the time to start with drums/percussion.

By doing this, your drummer can record his/her performance to a metronome, which will set the backbone for the rest of the recording and make everything else smoother. After drums, I generally record bass. After that, I do rhythm guitar, followed by piano. To finish up the instruments, I record lead guitar along with anything else - strings, harmonica, horns, etc. I find that this works best for me, and honestly, I think it just makes sense to do it that way.

Regardless, the point of this tip is to say find an order that works for you and try to stick with is so that you can produce consistent recordings with consistent results!

1. Make The Most Of What You Have

Last on my list is making the most of what you have. I believe that this is the key to success in not only amateur recording but also in professional recording. In fact, I think this is so important that I'm gonna write an entire blog post just on this topic! That being said, I'm not going to go into detail about it in this post. You'll have to tune in next week to find out what exactly I have to say about it, along with my advice on how to do it!

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Chrisville Beats: The Perfect Guide To Make Your Recording Life Easier
The Perfect Guide To Make Your Recording Life Easier
While focusing on specific techniques and more complex recording methods is a great way to build your skillset.
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