Posted January 2010
Here’s some friendly tips on how to get the
best results recording. Remember that how you record it will
determine and limit how great it can sound when you send your stuff for
mixing… at PRIVATE RECORDS!
THE LITTLE THINGS ADD UP. So pay attention to the
NO EXCUSES. Nobody will care why it isn’t world
“Oh, well I didn’t have the kinda money I needed”. Your final
result has to stand on it’s own, without you making excuses for it. Pretend
you’re hearing your project 40 years from now, on the porch with your grandkids
Will you be proud and blown away, or will you wish you spent a bit more
time and money?
we’ll move on to some more technical pointers.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS record to a separate hard drive from your system drive.
record at the best resolution you can. If you can do 24 bit, do it. Bit depth is
It’s NOT the difference of 8 bits (24 minus 16 is 8). The
difference in resolution from 16 to 24 bit is 1024 times! You’ll hear
this especially in reverb tails and the sibilance of voices, also in the bottom
record to at least 48khz. This gives you more room to breathe
when it comes time to craft the illusions of space and effects in the mix. The industry
standard resolution is 24bit, 48khz. A lot of projects are going up to
24bit, 96khz, so if you can record at higher resolutions, do it. You’ll
probably lose track counts though. If you think you’re going to need lots
of tracks for your drums and over-dubs, keep it at 48khz. If you go
higher it will also take up WAY more space on your hard drive, so make sure you
have plenty of room. Also going higher will use up more DSP
for your effects. You don’t really want to use a lot of
effects while tracking anyway, but these are the facts about higher
recording, monitor ‘pre-fader levels’ on your DAW. This means
your meters are showing you how loud your files are, not how loud you’re playing
This is important because you want to try to record as ‘hot’ as you can,
but never, EVER, allow a clip. When you have a clip in a track’s
audio, it sounds like a loud snap in the sound. Not nice. Also it will
only get worse when you mix it. No matter how quick or small the clip
is, you can’t use it. Some people think that because you’re
recording digital there’s no noise, so you can record your tracks really quiet
and just turn it up later in the mix. While it’s true digital adds nearly no
noise, the real concern is the resolution of your recording. Imagine all
those bits lined up on top of each other. You won’t use all 24 bits if you don’t
record all the way up the meters!
record to a click track. This will ensure your timing is steady,
and will open up a lot of options for effects and edits when you go to mix. If your
timing is steady, you can actually change the arrangement of your song for a
U2 released the single “Stuck in a moment you can’t get out of” with a
whole bridge section edited out! How? Because their timing was spot on, so an
engineer can go in later and slice things up and still be on the
record through an effects unit. You want the recordings to be ‘dry’, so
we can control the type of ambience added in the mix. You can’t
take reverb off a recording! If you really like the sound of your
whizbang 3000 reverb, record it on its own track to be blended later.
closely for details in guitars, like fretbuzz or tuning issues. A guitar can
be in-tune down at the 2nd fret, but out of tune at the 10th. Fretbuzz is
not your friend. If you have issues with your guitars,
fix them now before you spend time and effort recording them. You can’t
‘un-buzz’ a guitar track!
you layer parts on top of each other, make sure they line up with
Sloppy guitars sound sloppy no matter what you do to them. Use the grid
in your DAW to make sure things are tight.
apply compression to an audio file. While there are ways to compensate for
something that’s over-compressed, it never sounds the same as something that
recording, the shortest signal wins the race. If you have a 100 foot mic cable and a
6 foot mic cable, use the 6 footer. There will be a difference in the
You want your audio on disc with the shortest possible traveling before
it gets there.
Even more important is to make sure you don’t go through adapters or lots
of solder joints on the way. Go straight in, as short as you
will add up to a better sound in the end.
you can hear 60 cycle hum in your studio (a low and annoying hum sound), don’t
even start recording until you fix it. The hum is actually the sound of your
This is probably coming from your cabling lying around in piles. Audio cable
is just plain old happier when it doesn’t touch power cable. If they have
to cross each other, tie them up and pin them down so they cross at a 90 degree
bring your cell phone anywhere near your DAW. When cell phones receive signal, your
DAW will hear it. Sometimes it won’t show up on your
audio, but sometimes it will.