Understanding the audio recording process

THE SET-UP

If you’ve ever done any of this work you know that the clock starts ticking when you walk into the studio, actually no; it starts when you were scheduled to be at the studio!  So be on time. All of my sessions include a 1/2 hour of free set-up time. Which means I spend at least 1/2 hour preparing the studio prior to your arrival.

The 1/2 hour of set up time we do in advance provides us with more time to get the recording you want, rather than having you stand there while I run cables. It’s simply more efficient.

What this DOESN’T mean is that EVERYTHING will be set up prior to your arrival. It will all depend on what the session requires. Either way, I will always spend at least a 1/2 hour before your arrival setting up for you. Free.

RECORDING TIME

This is where we will hopefully spend the bulk of our time. The first piece will be sound checking to make sure we are getting the sound we want. We’ll record small ‘takes’ and listen back to ensure it’s the sound you are looking to get. Once that is done we will record your music. It’s typical to record a song one to three times so you can choose which one you’d like mix-down for your CD (more on mixing later). Much more than that and you may be getting too picky, so watch out for that. You’ll really want to have a good idea of the songs you’ll be playing, as well as their arrangement. This is where it gets very easy to spend (RE: waste) time, when you should really be recording your song and moving on to the next one. So BE PREPARED with your music. If you are going for the live feel and have a handful of people recording with you, be sure to spend ample time rehearsing together before coming into the studio.

MIXING

This is the part of the project that helps refine all the raw tracks into a cohesive end product. This is where slight (or dramatic) effects are added, any musicians mistakes are fixed (as good at they can be), volumes for each instrument are adjusted, etc. Also, panning the instruments/voices so that the overall track has a bit of a spatial feel, all these things are key aspects of the mixing process. This process can easily be an endless task and is often limited (thankfully!) by budget.

At first, a raw mix must be done. Depending on the project, I usually do this part on my own and is very important first step before we start focusing on the ‘final’ mixdown. This ‘raw mix’ step includes melding multiple takes together, ‘cleaning’ up any potentially noisy tracks, creating basic volume leveling, assigning buses, etc. Some artists prefer to have the engineer manage this part without having to be present themselves, or other artists like to be more of an active part of during it.

The final mixdown process can have the artist as involved as they’d like to be. Sometimes this will mean that we get what we feel is a good final mixdown and pass it on to the you, the artist, who listens to it and comes back with detailed notes on what they’d like to change, and so on. Other times, the artist might want to be a part of the mixdown process every step of the way. This often takes longer, but if the artist wants more of a hand in their creation, that is another way to do it. Keep in mind, this is something that can easily be endless, so having some discretion when we begin this process is best.

FINAL MASTER

Once we’re done and you have the final mix you want, the rest is up to you. If you really want to go the extra mile and plan on printing up 1000′s of these, you may want to send it off to a Mastering studio to do their magic.  If so I can suggest a few.  If you plan on doing a small production run, you may save your money and simply duplicate the CD’s yourself and sell them on your own.

My services offer free consultation on whichever direction you go. We can figure out the best avenue to take based on whatever intention you have for your music.

I look forward to working with you.


E-mail: info@thomasislandstudio.com

Phone: 413-281-6511

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