What to Expect in the Studio
Once you enter the studio, there are many steps that take place during the recording process. Here is a brief overview of what to expect when you record at the Audio House.
Overdubbing / Layering
Overdubbing is the process of recording parts one-by-one to build a complete multi-track recording. For an average band this would typically mean recording the drums first. A DI (Direct Input) of other instruments can be used to create reference / scratch tracks to help the drummer with the song layout. Because the other instruments are being DI’ed, the drum sounds get recorded without bleed from other instruments. If needed, a vocalist can be placed in a separate recording room creating a scratch track to also help with general song layout.
Once a keeper drum take has been recorded other instruments (guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals ext.) can be recorded one-by-one building on the drum track. Each instrument is properly mic’ed and sound adjusted to create a final track replacing its previous scratch track.
Additional song enhancement can then be done by adding additional guitar tracks, backup vocals, ext.
This method is the best way of capturing each part to the highest standard. Individual instruments and vocal performances can be focused upon getting the best sound from the source without acoustic bleed from other instruments. Mistakes during performance can simply be addressed by doing another take without affecting the other parts of the arrangement.
Editing can be an important step in the recording process. Often after the drums (and or other instruments) editing can be done to enhance timing and fix imperfections in the performance.
Vocal Pitch correction
Pitch correction is an important part of modern recording. At the Audiohouse.ca we go threw each note of the vocals and check for places needing pitch correction. Manual pitch adjustments are made where needed creating a very polished final vocal track. When done correctly this process is completely transparent to the average ear. “Autotunning” can also be done as an effect when desired which greatly exaggerates this process.
Mixing is the process of taking all of the individually recorded tracks and blending / balancing the volumes and frequencies to create a coherent and pleasing piece of audio.
Some of the things done during mixing are:
- Balancing relative audio levels
- Spatial positioning (the placement of a sound within a stereo or surround field)
- Equalization (affecting the relative frequency balance to help keep tracks from competing with each other so that they sound clear and work together as a whole)
- Dynamics processing (controlling the volume dynamics of tracks so that they fit better within the over all mix)
- Effects processing(adding reverb, delay and/or other effects creating depth and space to tracks and the overall mix)
- Sample blending to make drums and other instruments sound bigger and cut threw the mix better.
Mixing is a very important step in creating the final result and an appropriate amount of time should be spent mixing. As with the recording process, mixing time depends on several factors including: the length of the piece of audio, the number of parts involved and the complexity of the material. A very basic mix of a single vocal line and backing track may only take an hour but a more complex mix of many tracks can take eight or more hours. Generally, for a basic 3-4 minute rock/pop song at least 3 hours of mixing is required.
Mastering is also an important step in creating a finished song or album.
Generally, individual song mastering includes frequency adjustments / balancing and layers of compression / limiting to control dynamics and optimize volume.
Album mastering is the process of turning a collection of songs into a final product by making them sound like they belong together in tone, volume and timing. In essence it is the process of smoothing over any level and spectral imbalances and to present the final recorded project for its intended media form.
Another result of mastering is achieving the overall optimum volume level. Traditionally, the industry as a whole tends to set the average level of a song at the highest possible level without distortion.
In order for Artists/Bands to have a successful studio experience, it is recommended that musicians be very well rehearsed on all songs they wish to record before coming into the studio.
Click Track Practice
During the recording session, it is recommended that drummers record along with a metronome to keep a steady tempo throughout the song. This is not always necessary but is highly recommended. Drummers should practice playing along with a metronome and know the tempo/time signatures for their songs before coming into the studio.