5 Rules of Recording
Recording can be a painstaking process, especially if you’re doing it yourself. It’s so easy to miss mistakes, lose objectivity or just not get the result you were hoping for, so in this post I want to share 5 really simple rules you can follow to make sure your next project sounds incredible!
1. Be in the right frame of mind
Before you start recording, make sure you’re in the right frame of mind. If you’re frustrated, tired or distracted, you won’t be able to get the best out of your takes, so do whatever you can to make sure you’re ready to go. Make a cup of coffee, light a candle and eliminate potential distractions - whatever gets you in the zone. If you’re just not in the right mood, it’s probably better to come back another time when you’re eager and ready to give it your all!
Every time you record something, listen back to it carefully and analyse the performance. Is the way it’s played right for the song? Does the tone sound good? How’s the timing? Don’t just settle for the first passable take, make sure it’s the best you can do in terms of performance and sound. It takes more time, but getting into the habit of listening regularly and analytically will make all the difference.
3. EQ with the Mic
One of the most powerful tools in mixing is EQ, we use it all the time to shape sounds and get to our end goal. However, you can start using this long before you start mixing. Every mic has the ability to “EQ” a sound source through its position. For example, directional mics (which most are) have the proximity effect, meaning the closer they are to the source, the bassier it gets. You can use this to get the tone you’re looking for from the get go. If the instrument you’re recording sounds too boomy, move the mic back. If you need more bass, bring it closer. Whenever you record, experiment with your mic position and try to get as close as you can to the sound you have in mind.
4. Get it right at the source
Get every sound as close as possible to your desired end result at the source. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but there’s a reason for that. Everything you do in music production is affecting the final outcome, so trace everything back to the source and make sure it’s perfect from the start. Is your guitar properly set up, intonated and tuned? Are your vocals warmed up? Is the sound you’re hearing in the room anywhere near what you want to hear on the record? Do the lyrics deliver the message perfectly? Mixing can patch these things up, but that’s no replacement for getting it right at the source. Record like there is no mixing.
5. Don’t overthink
Finally, as important as all of this is, you need to make sure you’re not overthinking and getting stuck in a rut over a particular part. Have fun with the process! If you feel yourself getting frustrated or spending too long on one little detail, take a break or come back the next day. Do everything you can to keep the bigger picture in mind. Ultimately, a good song needs to spark some sort of an emotional response from your listeners - is what you’re doing right now going to aid that or are you wasting time? Yes we want maximum quality, but if your music never gets finished and released you can’t move forward. It’s a fine balance!
If you can keep these 5 rules in mind every time you’re recording, I can promise that you’ll get better results. Write them down, stick them on the wall and make some amazing music!