In Home Recording Tips
Some of the artist we work with want to record some of their own material at home and or they sometimes have tracks they bring in from home that are acceptable to use in the final production. Here are a few tips to help ensure that what you record at home will be usable come time to enter the real studio.
1. Watch Your Meters!!
Recording a signal where the meters are going into the red means one thing: distortion and clipping. This is bad. Any distortion you want should be BEFORE the computer/interface etc. Safest bet is to find where the meter hits red (at the top) and set your levels to go no more than half that high. The studio guys can always turn it up when they get the tracks. Note also: you will play softer when you test than when you actually play on the recording.
2. Kill the Room.
If you are recording vocals or any type of instrument that requires using a microphone be aware that you are always recording 2 things: the instrument and the room the instrument is recorded in. With your vocal, acoustic guitar, shaker track or percussion part there will also be a very obvious stamp of the sound of the room itself. This “room stamp” will rarely (never) sound good in the final mix. Engineers and producers put a lot of effort into making the soundscape / room space of the whole song cohesive and flattering to the listener and any prior room sound in the recording will make this soundscape very difficult (sometimes impossible) to achieve.
The solution: Before recording place a heavy blanket or duvet in front of the wall the microphone is facing. You can clap to test to see if you still hear the room significantly. If recording vocals or acoustic guitar etc. hang the blanket behind you (as that is the direction the mic is facing). If done correctly this will create a (hopefully) very dry sounding recording. This will be very useful come mix time as the producer / engineer can add their own blends of reverbs and echoes to make the track sound right.
Recordings done in an “untreated” home environment can still be pleasing and professional. The whole goal is to obtain a performance that Primarily has groove and soul (thats always first) but technically has a good clean non-distorted signal level and a neutral (ideally non existent) room sound.