So many questions



Hey Everyone!

At this point, I have received some songs for PHL6.  The submission forms can come later.  I love the energy and enthusiasm!  The online submission form should be ready by the end of November at the latest.  If you are like myself and some of our other Catholic Metal musicians – you are just starting to blow off the dust , get some inspiration and start writing and recording with a renewed sense of  passion.

I have had some emails over the past month or so asking about some technical recording issues  – so the subject of this blog will be some essential ideas or tips for making awesome recordings!  I hope this article helps!

1. What is the most important piece of equipment in the studio?

Monitors, monitors,monitors! If you are recording at home try to get the best monitors you can afford.  Monitors are the only connection between your recorded music and your ears. The best solution is to get powered nearfield studio monitors; they provide uncoloured sound and flat frequency response. Tannoy, Yamaha and Adam are some of the monitors I’ve seen in many other studios.  If a room has acoustic problems this can make any monitor sound bad, but with the advent of room calibration/correction software you can compensate to a certain degree.

2.What type of preparation do you do before a recording session?

In my case, I make sure that the studio is clean and everything is in its place.  You can really waste a lot of time looking for that pedal, or that other guitar or any other practical piece of equipment (e.g., cables, picks, etc.).  Great ideas come quickly and time wasters can really stall your ability to get stuff done.

3. How much compression should be used when you are recording?

This question is a hard one to answer.  There are some tracks that people like to compress at the tracking stage and there are some audio people out there that record everything dry and refuse to “print” effect to tracks until the mixing is done.  When I’m recording an instrument with unpredictable dynamics (e.g., vocals, drums, bass, acoustic guitars), I’ll track them with compression to control any “spikes” in the volume.  When you do this you really have to use your ears and your meters to make sure you don’t go crazy and soar into the red!  Compression should not be a “crutch” for bad personal musical technique – most “seasoned” musicians know how to make a great recording performance – but if the dynamic range  really varies too much, this compression technique can help.  Settings??  I have written some articles in the past about this; but here is the short version of some general starting points: 2:1 ratio for vocals, 3:1 for bass and 4:1 for snare and kick.  Remember that lower ratios sound more natural than the higher ratio options.

4. Do things really get fixed in the mix?

This has to be the biggest myth in audio.  If you are trying to “fix” something it is a waste of time.  Why not record it properly in the first place?  When I’m working with a vocalist, I try not to make the sessions more than 2-3 hours long.  If a vocalist can’t do it in that time period, then they should give their voice a rest and come back in when they are “fresh.”  Take the time to get the sound right before you commit to it.

5. How loud should the bass be?

One of the biggest “tell-tale” signs of amateur recordings is that the bass tracks are way too loud.  Boosting the bass too much can make the whole songs sound muddy and the other frequencies are often made unwilling victims.  The lower frequency instruments (bass and kick) need to have their own “space.”  In terms of EQ, bass usually sits around 50 – 80 Hz and a kick drum can have a range of 80-100Hz.  Please keep in mind that these are just reference settings for the purpose of this article.  If all the other instruments stay away from these frequency ranges, the bass and the kick will sound more powerful.  With the other tracks, you can apply a high-pass filter to tracks individually if you feel they might get in the way of the bass and kick. Set the high pass cutoff around 80Hz and experiment by rolling along the frequency to find each tracks’ “sweet spot.”  You can even roll off around 150 Hz; you should notice that the bass and the kick are much more “clearer” in the mix.

I’ll have the second part of this blog up by the weekend!  Questions, comments?? Let me know what you think and as always, I’ll get back to you asap.


Yours In Christ!!




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