Neumann KH 80 DSP 160×600
DynPEQ 160×400

Welcome! Here you’ll find one of the most comprehensive recording information resources available on the web. We’ll continue to add articles, so make sure to visit often. Here’s to making the best recordings possible!

For Songwriters

A BASIC MIC PRIMER
The fundamentals of microphones and how they work...

The recording industry is changing rapidly, but there’s one area where the technology is pretty much the same as it always was—microphones. While it’s true that better mics are available at lower prices than ever, it’s also true that vintage models and designs are still the most sought-after options…

JUST LIKE DOWNTOWN
Getting that big.

We all want our recordings to sound like the Big Guys’ studios Downtown. Ocean Way. Trident. Muscle Shoals. Hit Factory. We want that big sound, that clean, clear, driving, high energy, smooth, alive, and suave sound that spells professionalism and (we hope) sells records. But too often we don’t get there. For reasons subtle and unsubtle, our productions sound wrong…

SONGWRITER BECOMES PRODUCER
Should you hire a producer or do it yourself?

In today’s world of piano sample libraries and synths that try to sound like pianos, you might wonder why anyone would want to mike a real piano. The answer is simple. Real pianos have a tonal complexity…

SONGWRITER'S RECORDING GUIDE
The basics of music production for songwriters...

Why is it that so few singer/songwriters make recordings that stand up to commercial standards? It can’t be due to a lack of equipment when there’s all this great and increasingly affordable gear out there. The answer probably lies in the fact that a singer/songwriter producing his or her own recording for the first time…

DEMOS INTO DEALS
Making a plan of attack to get into the business.

People record for a variety of reasons. Recording can be a fun hobby, or even therapeutic, but for many, it’s just another day at the office—a means toward the end of making a living. The simplest recording can be as easy as holding a pocket memo recorder up to your mouth…

THE MULTIPLE PERSONALITY RECORDIST
Getting the business side of your music on track...

As many major-label records as I’ve engineered and mixed over the years, I have to say that the projects I’ve found most satisfying were artist-funded independent ones. I’m a big fan of the underdog and there’s nothing I like to see more than an artist’s drive and desire paying off…

ANATOMY OF A DEMO SONG RECORDING
Preparation and problem solving result in a successful demo...

Home studio recording sessions can be an exercise in frustration—so much can go wrong. But when all works smoothly, it’s a joy. I recently completed a demo project with a client where all went well from start to finish. Let me share how preparation contributed to this, how my sounds were achieved, and let me offer tips and pictures showing how project studio obstacles like small rooms, messy mic wiring and outside noises were overcome….

RECORDING THE SUCCESSFUL DEMO FROM A TO Z
A demo recording checklist.

Home studio recording sessions can be an exercise in frustration—so much can go wrong. But when all works smoothly, it’s a joy. I recently completed a demo project with a client where all went well from start to finish. Let me share how preparation contributed to this, how my sounds were achieved, and let me offer tips and pictures showing how project studio obstacles like small rooms, messy mic wiring and outside noises were overcome….

Kef America LS50 – 728×90

For Your Studio

A Different Approach to the Startup Studio Part 1

This article is aimed at beginners—people new to this great adventure of home-based recording. But to the readers who have been doing this for a few years: stick with me, there’s plenty here that you can use too…

A Different Approach to the Startup Studio Part 2

Last month, we concentrated on the first and most important part of any Startup Studio: the room. Now we can finally get to the gear that goes in the room, starting with the second most important piece of the puzzle: the monitors…

KEEPING THE TIGERS AWAY
An ounce of prevention beats a ton of angry clients.

Once upon a time, a New York policeman, riding on a city bus, noticed that the gentleman sitting across from him was behaving oddly. Every block or so, the man would pull a salt-shaker out of his pocket and sprinkle a few shakes of salt out the window. The policeman watched for several blocks, until finally his constabular curiosity got the best of him….

THE STUDIO TOOL BOX
The tools you need in your studio...

What does your studio tool box look like? No, I don’t mean the software tools for your DAW, but real-life tools like screwdrivers. If you are like most personal studio owners, you probably can find your sequencer install disks faster than you can find a screwdriver. After all, who needs a screwdriver anyway when what you really want to do is record that vocal one more time…

THINGS FALL APART
Electronics will eventually fail. Learn how to protect yourself.

All electronic components will eventually fail. Mortality and deterioration are inevitable, but there are ways to postpone them. We’ll start by looking at the reasons behind equipment failure and then we’ll look at ways you can protect yourself…

AC POWER HANDLING
All about the electricity powering your studio.

Nothing in the recording field gathers as much misinformation and just plain nonsense as AC power issues. I’ve seen people spend huge amounts of money on power conditioning just because they thought they should—believing that they’d solve problems that, in fact, are totally unrelated to power issues…

AN OUNCE OF CURE
Studio setup considerations to prevent grounding problems and more.

Usually we collect a pile of equipment and over time figure out how to put it all together. The only exception I can think of would be that you’ve just won the lottery and are out to buy everything you’ll ever buy at once. In reality, people don’t get to plan their studios…

On Acoustics

AN ACOUSTICS PRIMER
Get Started With the Fundamentals of Sound and Acoustics...

The latest and greatest gear may get all the attention, but if the acoustics of your studio aren’t suitable, all the toys in the world won’t make for great-sounding recordings. Let’s examine the basics of acoustics, look at issues that can affect our recordings, and discuss practical approaches…

MONITORING: ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
The basic principles of control room design.

Most of the articles we read on acoustic design of control rooms and studios seem to center around materials we might use to treat wall surfaces, including some tips about using those materials for fun and profit. In this article, I’d like to take a different approach, and present what I believe to be some basic principles of control room design…

ROOM ACOUSTICS FUNDAMENTALS
Basics of nodes and standing waves...

Getting your music room to sound good can be a confounding and frustrating experience if you don’t take some basic physics into consideration. There are some fundamental principles of acoustics that apply to all small rooms with parallel walls. Once you are aware of the behavior of sound waves in these spaces, it becomes much easier to understand…

STUDIOS IN URBAN SPACES
Building a studio at home...

As the definition of “recording studio” has changed much over the past several years, we now find recording facilities in places we never imagined possible. Churches, radio stations, rehearsal halls, and of course musicians’ private homes frequently house some sort of project studio…

SUBWOOFERS AND BASS MANAGEMENT
Managing the low end in your studio.

When talking about speaker systems, once upon a time we would use words like “mono” or “stereo” or even “quad” to refer to how many individual “channels” or speakers were involved. Now instead, we hear numbers like 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, and even 10.2 and beyond…

On Mastering

DIY MASTERING
Thoughts and methods for approaching the mix.

In this issue of Recording, you will read about different aspects of the fine art of mastering, mostly from pros. Working with professional mastering engineers can be a rewarding and positive experience, but there are some instances where you may decide to do your own mastering work….

MASTER IT YOURSELF
Giving Your Music the Final Polish.

Mastering continues to be one of those tantalizing pursuits where we’d all like to do it, but aren’t sure quite what is needed. Meanwhile, we hear sage advice telling us to leave it alone. “Don’t do any fancy compression,” we’re told. “Leave that for the mastering engineer. He or she has very special compressors that will…

THE MASTERING MINDSET
Things to consider before sending your music to a mastering engineer.

With more than 20 years’ experience recording, mixing, and mastering, I have an in-depth understanding of the mindsets involved in each step of a project. The focus of the mixer is the balances of the individual elements and how they relate to create a song. By contrast, the mastering engineer focuses on the song as a whole…

PREPARING FOR MASTERING
Getting your tracks ready for the final tweaks.

So you’ve just spent the last few months or more putting the final touches on your new album. Recording went by without a hitch, and the mixes finally feel like you can live with them. Are you done? Not yet—not if you want to have a professional sounding and commercially viable record to sell. Welcome to the mastering process…

Neumann TLM107 728×90

On Mics and Miking

CAPTURING THE CAB
It’s the heart and soul of the rhythm section–track it right!

“It’s never wrong if it sounds right.” That was one of the first things I learned when it came to recording. It just so happens that when Barry Conley (Zakk Wylde, Black Label Society, Red Elvises, Bullet Boys, etc.) said this, he was placing two mics in front of a guitar cabinet at what seemed…

THE COMPLETE NON-GUITARIST’S GUIDE TO RECORDING GUITAR
Part 1: Electric Guitar.

Ahhh, the guitar. Just the thought of it conjures up the great bands, glitter covered rock stars with their favorite axes slung low, hitting the stage every night to a sea of screaming girls and adulatory young males. You see yourself there—the wall of Marshalls at your back, six stacks per side…

THE COMPLETE NON-GUITARIST’S GUIDE TO RECORDING GUITAR
Part 2: Acoustic Guitar.

Acoustic guitars are a completely different ballgame. There’s no amp to add tone or distortion (unless you play through one), and capturing the instrument in its natural beauty presents completely different issues. As with electrics (but more so), it’s hard to get the same tone your ear hears onto a recording…

DI RECORDING AND REAMPING ELECTRIC GUITARS
Recording the live amp after the fact...

The recording options for electric guitar players change constantly. Not long ago, the primary means of recording the instrument was to plug into an amplifier and mike the cabinet; everything else was seen as a poor substitute for “The Real Thing.” The last few years have seen new hardware and software come onto the scene…

ECLECTIC ELECTRIC GUITAR
Is there more to life than an SM57 and an amp?

So the Editor calls me up and asks if I want to contribute something to the guitar issue: “Well, how about an article describing my guitar recording techniques?” I sez. “Do you use any tricks besides the old SM57-in-front-of-an-amp?” Nick asks. “Oh yeah, sure, you betcha,” I sez…

GREAT GUITAR GEAR + GREAT SETUP = GREAT SOUND
You bought all this great gear; why doesn’t it sound like you wish it did?

I have been recording bands for more than a decade, working with everybody from major-label bands to high school kids around the corner, and I am always surprised by the fact that most musicians do not have a very good grasp of how their equipment works, or how to get the sound they want from it…

GUERRILLA GUITAR MIC TECHNIQUE
Short on $10,000 microphones to record guitars? Then start here...

In this article, we are going to take a “guerilla” approach to guitar miking techniques, using a small (but versatile) set of inexpensive microphones. It might be easy to discuss guitar recording in a vacuum, and I’m sure you could buy a $10,000 Neumanleyfunken microphone, glue it to a tree, and get an excellent guitar sound…

A GUITAR MIKING PRIMER
Part 1 – Electric Guitars.

Recording the guitar would seem to be among the most straightforward of tasks in the recording studio—just choose a mic, point it in the right direction, and hit the big red button. Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and, as with so many aspects of recording…

A GUITAR MIKING PRIMER
Part 2 – Acoustic Guitars.

Many of the same overall issues discussed in Part 1 (July 2013) with regards to recording electric guitars and amplifiers come up again when recording acoustic guitars. But, of course, now the devil is to be found in a different set of details. Without the amp factored in…

IS THERE A SHRED BEHIND THE COUCH?
Making the most of your spaces when recording guitar at home...

Recording a great electric guitar tends to be a lot of fun. Drums can be tedious, bass can be ho-hum, but guitar—lots of fun, even under less than favorable circumstances, like in my apartment…

NINE UNUSUAL GUITAR TIPS
For the holidays, how about trying something new with your axe?

Many guitarists fall into ruts, playing stale riffs for years on end. This can be detrimental both to them and to those listening to them! If you want to record something really great on your guitar, sometimes you have to “un-learn” the things you do all the time in order to make room for something new…

ONE AMP THREE MICS
How many sounds can you get with only three mics and the same amp?

Let’s talk about Guitar Tone (by this of course I mean electric guitar tone—who cares about the other kind? Just kidding). I’ve always had a thing about electric guitars and old tube amplifiers. I have a small collection of old tube amps. The oldest one is a 1959 Gibson Explorer. Solid pine, tweed covered, and, since manufacturers…

REAMPING SECRETS
Want a chance to do a guitar take over with different gear? Now you can!

Over the years this magazine has featured many articles on guitar cabinet miking (most recently in our May 2014 issue, thanks to Eleanor Goldfield). We’ve suggested comparing different mics, combining mics at the front, back, and even inside the cabinet, trying mics at different distances, mics pointing away from the cabinet…

RECORDING ACOUSTIC GUITAR
A producer’s thoughts on getting the best acoustic tone.

Acoustic guitar is perhaps one of the most played, and as a result one of the most recorded, instruments today. Knowing how to get a good sound on an acoustic guitar is an important skill; as with anything, some of it is intuitive, but there are some definable guidelines that can be helpful…

RECORDING THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR
An in-depth look at mic selection, placement and more...

There are lots of ways to record acoustic guitars. In the last 10 or 12 years, my approach to recording acoustics has changed quite a bit—as I’ve learned about the various tools and techniques that others use, I’ll try them out; if they work for me, I add them to the arsenal…

RECORDING THE CLASSICAL GUITAR
An in-depth look at recording the classical guitar...

Imagine that I am a typical pop music engineer, and I get called up for advice on how to record a classical guitar: Rrrrring! “Hello, AuldWor ks Recording, Bob speaking…

RECORDING ELECTRIC GUITARS
“Everyone does it”, but how? Here’s how to get started capturing great tones.

In this article I will talk about doing something that was once unthinkable: placing a microphone only inches away from a powerful amplifier to record an electric guitar. In the mid-1960s and earlier it was thought by many recording engineers that placing a mic so close…

RECORDING THE VOCALIST/GUITARIST
How to record acoustic guitar AND vocals at the same time...

The vocalist who also plays acoustic guitar is found in many recording situations, everything from a singer-songwriter doing a quick demo to a heavily produced rock album with a lot of tracks, and in most of these cases it’s impossible to track…

SCOTT PETITO ON GUITAR RECORDING
Perspectives on capturing guitars at their best – acoustic or electric.

Scott Petito is a bassist and producer who has produced and recorded a wide variety of A-list artists, often at his NRS Recording Studio in upstate New York, and frequently adding his bass playing to the project…

SPANK THE PLANK
Common problems and solutions when recording electric guitar.

When you’re recording guitar (electric or acoustic), you don’t want the strings to be too new. A set of newly-installed strings has a ringy-bright, fizzy sound that is bound to excite resonances in condenser microphones, resonances that in turn will bring out the worst in many preamps…

ULTRA HEAVY GUITARS
Getting heavy, rocking tones...

Back when defiance was the primary sponsor for monster guitar tone, outcast rockers earned every second of that sustain with an attitude that would go on to change the world. Turning against the very technology that was originally built for clean amplification, an overdriven guitar offered a…

UNDERSTANDING THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR
A look at the various types of acoustic guitars and how to record them...

The vocalist who also plays acoustic guitar is found in many recording situations, everything from a singer-songwriter doing a quick demo to a heavily produced rock album with a lot of tracks, and in most of these cases it’s impossible to track the…

CAPTURED A-LIVE
How to capture a live performance—on stage and in the studio.

As engineers, musicians and even fans, we’ve all seen it: a band has a live show that just absolutely crushes their studio album. Rock historians (yep, that’s a thing) like to highlight Cheap Trick as a classic example of this. Live at the Budokan sold better and was far better received than any of their previous…

RECORDING A BAND... AS A BAND
Old school methods for old school vibe.

Sometimes the best way to make a record is in stages: track drums and bass, overdub guitar and keyboards, then vocals, etc.. This lets you make sure each part is perfect before moving on; that’s great for songwriters fleshing out arrangements or for really awful bands that just can’t get through a song…

RECORDING THE BAND
Capturing a band’s sound in a home studio is by no means impossible... if you know the tricks!

You and your bandmates have spent the last several months writing, arranging and rehearsing your music and finding your own ‘sound’. You’re now feeling more than ready to take to the stage and share your collective musical vision with your friends and fans…

RECORDING THE GIG
Capture live music for fun and profit with these basic strategies.

These days, camping out in a studio for weeks on end is just not the way most bands operate—bands want to be recorded during live performances, not so much with a traditional album in mind, but rather for broadcast, internet streaming, concert downloads, for bonus tracks on albums and more. I can almost guarantee that if you are an audio engineer…

TRACKING STRATEGIES
Creating great songs starts with recording great tracks—and here’s how.

Before you spend long hours in front of your DAW clicking on plug-ins and editing tools, you have to capture the sounds that make up your arrangement. Tracking is mainly done “out of the box;” while there are modern considerations in computer rigs, many aspects of tracking haven’t changed in decades…

ATTACK OF THE 15 FOOT KICK
Carpet and creativity can yield some huge low end...

The great thing about the art of recording is that there are no rules. Recording is not rocket science and we are not piloting passenger-stuffed 747s. Whether a trade or hobby, recording should be fun and its goal should be capturing fabulous-sounding creative moments…

BASS BASICS
It’s the heart and soul of the rhythm section–track it right!

The bass is the mysterious glue that holds a song together, the riddle that can’t always be heard, but is always felt, the headache and triumph of many an engineer. Indeed, in the studio, recording and mixing bass can be one of the most challenging aspects of recording and mixing…

BETTER BASS
Techniques for improving your bass tracks...

The track sounded great when we originally recorded it; now it doesn’t work. The bass player’s not here. The rented synth module is no longer in the studio. The sound is weak and not very interesting. Wasn’t that part…

BETTER DRUM RECORDINGS THROUGH TUNING
Starting with the right sound in the first place…

An engineer/recordist with some basic tuning and damping knowledge can really save the day. Start a session with a mediocre-sounding drum kit, and you will in the end have to overprocess in trying to make up for the sound you didn’t fix in the beginning; or you’ll be using a sound-replacement program to bring in samples to try to fix your sounds…

THE DOOM OF THE DUMBEK
Recording dumbek, djembe, bodhran, tablas, and other percussion instruments...

For five years I’d been struggling to record a tricky small drum called the dumbek. You’ve probably heard it—while it has always been common in countries near Turkey and around the Mediterranean, these days it pops up in mixes of all kinds, from “world music” to smooth jazz and all manner of…

OUR FRIEND THE CONGA
Getting started with recording the conga...

The sizzles, snaps, cracks, boings, slaps, and booms of percussion make for some of the best recording fun. With the great variance in the sound and appearance of percussion, such sessions are always educational and never boring. From rhythm-centric Afro-Cuban salsa to rock ‘n roll’s mandatory tambourine…

RECORDING THE DRUM KIT
What you need to know to get started...

One look at a professional multitrack track list should make the complexity and importance of capturing a good drum kit sound obvious. Even the most conservative approach to a good drum kit recording will consume at least three tracks…

RECORDING THE DRUMS
From heads and tuning to mic selection, it's time to record drums...

As any engineer will tell you, the first step to getting a good recorded drum sound is to start with a good live drum sound—if the sound of the kit’s not happening in the room, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle all the way. As an engineer, you’re fortunate when a good studio drummer comes in with his/her own…

RECORDING THE SNARE
Getting a killer snare sound...

Criticizing the snare sound in someone’s mix is a lot like grading a class of kindergarteners during Play Dough hour. Sure, some sculptures are better than others—to you. But it’s rather subjective, and each kid’s parents can always comfort themselves with the certain knowledge…

RECORDING THE UPRIGHT BASS
One engineer's perspective...

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, someone told a recording engineer that all of the good sound in an upright bass came from the f-hole, and that a microphone should be placed only inches away from…

TAMING THE 5-STRING BASS
Managing the lower frequencies of the extra string.

My father, in his admirable attempts to not just maintain an interest in what I do, but to actually converse about it, has gone to great lengths to learn about the tools of music-making. In doing so he may have embraced some generalizations and oversimplifications, but these mostly serve him well…

FIDDLE FIDDLE BIG AND LITTLE
Recording violins and other strings...

Since their invention by the Persians several centuries ago, members of the viol/violin family have become ubiquitous. They’re central to symphony orchestras, of course, but they’ve also taken their place in vernacular traditions around the world, from India to Ireland, and the wailing fiddle and thumping bass are mainstays of…

HELLO CELLO
How to record the cello...

For the past couple of years I have been involved in an ongoing project featuring violoncello soloist Nicholas Anderson. Nick is in the process of recording the entirety of Johann Sebastian Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites, and I’ve had the privilege of being hired as his engineer for these twice-yearly studio sessions…

HORNS OF PLENTY
How to record brass, woodwinds and horn sections.

This article is about recording horns. Let me start right off by apologizing to the purists. When I use the term “horns” I’m using it in the colloquial jargon of the jobbing musician, not the literal vocabulary of the musical cognoscenti. In other words, I don’t just mean the French horns, but all manner of…

MIKING THE GRAND PIANO
What you need to know when tackling the ivories...

I started recording pianos before recording anything else, probably because I am a pianist. It is a notoriously difficult instrument to record, so when the editors of Recording asked me to write about miking acoustic pianos, I began by asking myself “What if I had known then what I know now?”

MIKING HORNS AND WOODWINDS
Approaches to recording the winds...

A horn section can give a unique emotional impact to an otherwise ordinary track. Hard to describe, easy to hear. Imagine the Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life” without the horn section that opens the song. Who among us has not been inspired to jump around like an idiot in a public place by James Brown’s horn section…

MIKING THE HAMMOND AND LESLIE
What you need to know to capture killer organ tracks...

I’ve always loved the sound of a Hammond organ. A B3 and a Leslie tone cabinet can produce a greater variety of sounds than any other analog instrument, including the electric guitar (which depends on added effects for most of the more outrageous sounds). The monster rock tones created by Jon Lord…

MIKING THE NOT SO GREAT PIANO
Recording the not-so-nice pianos...

In today’s world of piano sample libraries and synths that try to sound like pianos, you might wonder why anyone would want to mike a real piano. The answer is simple. Real pianos have a tonal complexity…

THE PS AND FS OF PIANO RECORDING
Things to consider when recording piano.

If the piano were invented today, it probably wouldn’t catch on. A good one goes for $ tens of thousands, has no MIDI jacks (usually), weighs a few thousand pounds, needs constant (and laborious) tuning, and doesn’t come in a rack version. Sure, it sounds great—from gloriously rich and complex…

RECORDING THE FLUTE
A flute walks into your studio. Are you ready?

Recording a flutist, either as a soloist or as part of an ensemble, presents unique and perhaps unfamiliar challenges. Here I’ll describe some methods I’ve used to record myself and other flutists in a home recording setting. I’ll also briefly describe some of the characteristics of the instrument itself that may help you achieve…

THE TOUGH ONES
A miking clinic on the uncommon and unusual instruments of the world...

Most engineers can cope with the normal run of instruments: guitars (amplified and not), drums, pianos, etc. They’re not easy and whole articles are written about how to record them, but the general techniques are widely known. The scene is changing, however. As “world music” becomes more popular, exotic ethnic instruments are sneaking…

A CAPPELLA IN THE HOME STUDIO
Recording a group of singers at home...

My film-composing partner and I needed to record some score ideas for an upcoming feature, a Disney-esque family film. We wanted an organic Americana approach—churchy, intimate, and acoustic….

BACKING VOCALS IN DEPTH
Recording background vocals.

The term “backing vocal” describes a large array of possible vocal configurations. It could mean one singer harmonizing with a lead vocal, or more than 100 singers in a large chorus, or anything in between. All of the techniques used to mix a lead vocal track can be applied to…

CHOIR IN A CLOSET
Can a choir be captured in a home studio?

I was recently recording a contemporary gospel tune, and thought wistfully, “Wouldn’t a choir sound great with this!” But, alas, where would I find a choir and the space to record them? While my home studio is adequate for small endeavors, I would have to find a choir…

CHOIR RECORDING (AND A PRIMER ON M/S)
Several different approaches to capturing a choir...

The term “backing vocal” describes a large array of possible vocal configurations. It could mean one singer harmonizing with a lead vocal, or more than 100 singers in a large chorus, or anything in between. All of the techniques used to mix a lead vocal track can be applied to…

HEARING VOICES
The basics of getting great vocal tracks...

The human voice—the universal constant. All cultures use it for music, for storytelling, for oratory. Why is it so tough to record? The answer to the question at the top of this page is in the question: it’s tough because it’s universal…

HOW TO RECORD GREAT VOCALS AT HOME
From start to finish, here’s how to get that keeper vocal track.

The human voice is easily the most recognizable of sounds, at least to other humans. Even before we are born, we listen for, recognize and respond to our own mother’s speech and inflections. In pop music, from Rock to Rap or Rhythm & Blues, we still find ourselves instinctively searching for that fundamental element…

PLUGINS TO THE RESCUE
Real Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks.

The human voice is easily the most recognizable of sounds, at least to other humans. Even before we are born, we listen for, recognize and respond to our own mother’s speech and inflections. In pop music, from Rock to Rap or Rhythm & Blues, we still find ourselves instinctively searching for that fundamental element…

PRACTICAL TIPS ON VOCAL RECORDING - PART 1
Everything from pre-production and ambience to communication and comping...

Though I kinda hate to admit it, the bass track isn’t usually the most important thing on the record. I’ve been a bass player for close to 35 years now, so that is a rather painful realization. But I’ve resigned myself to it, and reluctantly accept that the singer (well, the lead vocal) is what will determine the success…

PRACTICAL TIPS ON VOCAL RECORDING - PART 2
This time we look at mic selection, levels, headphone mixes and more...

A process that’s been written about at great length in the last few years is the ‘mic shootout’—where a number of different mics are tried out, to see which one sounds the best for any given singer. (Life was a bit less complex in the days when studios—even professional studios—had only…

RECORDING BACKGROUND VOCALS
Solid strategies for best results.

For this issue of Recording, with its emphasis on vocal recording, I’d like to teach you a bit about background vocals. I love arranging and recording backing vocals… it’s one of my favorite things….

RECORDING VOCALS—FROM AN INSIDER’S VIEWPOINT
A vocalist takes us into the studio to learn how to make a vocal session run smoothly.

“I guess you’re a cheap date,” he said, smiling. I shrugged my shoulders and laughed, taking a few more sips of water and honey tea before continuing. Yes, you’re reading the correct article. And, no, I don’t drink tea on dates… usually…

RECORDING VOCALS—FROM AN INSIDER’S VIEWPOINT
A vocalist takes us into the studio to learn how to make a vocal session run smoothly.

“I guess you’re a cheap date,” he said, smiling. I shrugged my shoulders and laughed, taking a few more sips of water and honey tea before continuing. Yes, you’re reading the correct article. And, no, I don’t drink tea on dates… usually…

THE RIGHT MIC FOR THE RIGHT VOCAL
Know Your Mics And You’re On Your Way To Great Vocal Recording.

Microphone technology has evolved a great deal over the last century, and throughout that history there have emerged a handful of “go to” mics that have dominated particular periods and genres. Many of your favorite modern bands are creating music…

STELLA A CAPPELLA
Recording great a cappella vocals…

There’s a great scene in the classic Andy Griffith Show where Andy asks his deputy if he knows how to sing a cappella. Barney says that of course he does, and proceeds to warble out some meandering musical phrases to the words “a cappella, a cappella”, then says he forgets how the rest of that song goes…

SUCCESSFUL VOCAL SESSIONS
Things you can do to prepare for a vocal tracking session...

Recording singers requires an attitude of love and understanding, a level of empathy to which one might not rise during the everyday death metal guitar overdub session with the boys. A singer who is nervous may tense up and sing out of tune, or develop an audible tremble…

VOCAL PERFORMANCE

In this issue, several of my colleagues have gone to great lengths to share their expertise on how to tweak your vocals to obtain the best possible sound using the gear you have. They’ve explained, with amazing detail, compression ratios, EQ settings, gain structure, and many other aspects. I would like to offer a perspective on…

VOCAL RECORDING—MY TAKE
A noted producer walks us through a typical vocal session.

Most of the vocal recording I produce or engineer is for pop/folk/rock, and as such this article is focused on techniques appropriate to these styles. My preference is for lead vocals to be robust, clear, and detailed—larger than life. For me, the magic in a well-recorded vocal lies in…

VOCAL RECORDING FOR SONGWRITERS
A top-down approach to recording vocals…

For songwriters who record and produce their own music, recording the vocals is probably the most important part of the process. Sure, a good arrangement will help, but it’s the vocal that, for better or worse, is going to carry the song…

VOCAL SESSION TIPS
A successful Los Angeles producer/engineer opens his bag of tricks.

Working as a mainstream music producer in LA, I’ve been fortunate enough to produce and engineer a plethora of vocal sessions with top-of-the-line singers and artists. I’m often asked about my vocal production techniques; I explain that it’s different for every situation I encounter. What I’d like to do here is focus on…

On Mixing

CAPTURING THAT PERFECT TONE
An in-depth look at recording electric guitar.

Let’s look at guitar recording methods, from common monophonic miking to more esoteric treatments and emulation technologies. To aid in demonstration, we conducted a special recording session, following the outline of the article and designed…

CREATING CONVINCING DRUM MIXES
Getting your drum mix right.

While this article is centered on mixing “in the box” using a workstation, these methods can easily be ported over for those working on a traditional or digital console…

EQ-ING VOX
Approaches to eq-ing vocals...

By definition, the vocals are the focal point of a ‘vocal’ song. But getting a good vocal mix and a good vocal sound that cuts through isn’t always easy—especially when a lot of electronic sounds are being used. So here are a few quick eq tips and techniques to help achieve a better vocal mix…

FROM COMPOSER STUDIO TO MIX STUDIO
Taking your tracks down the street may involve more than finding the car keys.

I recently completed the music for an edgy feature-length documentary. Music is prominently featured—there are about 24 cues, ranging from solo guitar to over-the-top, huge techno cues. Enough tracks to keep any engineer busy. Originally, I planned to mix the music myself, delivering two-track versions of the music to the film’s sound engineer…

MIXING IN THE VIRTUAL WORLD
Moving from console to computer.

Mixing…well, that’s a bottomless pit of a subject if there ever was one! As I sat down and thought about how my own approach to mixing had evolved over the years, I realized that the single biggest change I had made was moving from traditional console-based mixing (on classic hardware mixing boards) to the powerful but often challenging world of virtual mixing…

MULTIBAND DYNAMICS
Using a different kind of compressor.

Dynamics controllers—compressors, limiters, expanders, and gates—are among the most useful signal processing devices. We need them to add punch to a vocal track, increase sustain on cymbals, reduce extraneous background noise and hiss, or increase the overall apparent loudness of a mix…

OBSERVATIONS ON MIXING
Thoughts and methods for approaching the mix.

The art of mixing has been described in many ways. “Painting a picture with sound” may be one of the best. But just like a painter, a mixer needs knowledge, tools, techniques and an end result in mind to achieve good results. So just how do we go about this challenging and sometimes frustrating task? Each of us who sits down behind a console, DAW or control surface approaches a mix…

THE SOLID MIX
Learn the Basics of Mixing.

Mixing a song is a lot like building a house: you need to start with a solid foundation (bass and drums), then add support structures (rhythm instruments), make sure the essential utilities are in place (vocals and lead instruments), add walls to the frame (background vocals and percussion), and finish…

10 TIPS FOR BETTER LOW END
Get that low end tight and get it right.

When I’m mixing a song, nothing is more elusive than achieving a perfectly balanced low end. Bass frequencies present unique challenges, and if often takes experimentation, skill, and compromise to deliver a tight and deep mix. This said, when Recording received an email from a reader wondering how to get that “big bass sound heard on today’s recordings”, I set out to compile some of the tips I’ve picked up while trying to make professional mixes…

TRACKING AND MIXING FOR SOLID LOWS
How to get a great low end in your tracks.

The quest for phat low end begins with recording and continues through the mixing and even mastering processes. The end goal is a low end that’s round but tight, deep but punchy. Anyone can just eq up the lows, but this too often results is a soggy, indistinct mush underlying the track…

Kef America 55 Years of British Engineering – 728×90