Audio engineers are crucial at three stages of the music production process. Recording, mixing, and mastering are the three components.
These elements are sometimes completed individually by three distinct engineers, each specializing in a distinct area. The distinctions between the three stages might become hazy at times.
Regardless, having an excellent mix aids the mastering step. Similarly, having a quality recording aids the mixing step. As a result, keeping the larger picture in mind might be beneficial.
I mentioned some ideas for mixing with mastering in mind in a recent blog. I’ll look at the recording procedure in this piece.
I feel there are two frequent faults to make in the recording procedure.
The first error is to believe that anything that was recorded incorrectly may be corrected during the mixing process. True, signal processing technologies are very powerful and can address a wide range of issues. They have the ability to make even the worst things seem nice. Those same strong tools, on the other hand, may make excellent things sound even better. Nothing beats beginning with a solid recording when it comes to getting the greatest results.
The second recording blunder is focusing on the song’s individual sounds without considering their place in the overall mix. This might indicate that you’re concentrating too much on making one instrument sound great without considering how it interacts with other instruments. For example, you may spend a lot of time and effort getting an acoustic guitar to sound “clear” and “full” on its own. When the acoustic guitar needs to mix in with a complete mix of other instruments, however, this might be an issue.
The mixing engineer’s primary task is to put all of the components of a song together. However, if the original sounds were recorded with the goal of fitting together, this may be performed more easily.
If you wish to record with mixing in mind, here are some things to think about:
It’s typical to want certain instruments to be viewed as “near” to the listener and others to be regarded as “far” from the listener if your mix has multiple distinct instruments.
There are a variety of mixing methods that may alter the illusion of depth. However, there are other recording procedures that might provide identical results in a more natural and straightforward manner.
Recording using a microphone near to a sound source is one approach to produce the sense of proximity. A microphone should be placed within a few inches of a vocalist’s mouth. Place a microphone at the top of the snare drum. On a speaker cabinet, place a microphone adjacent to the grill cloth.
Set up microphones far away from the sound source if you want an instrument to seem distant. It may make a tremendous impact to move a microphone a few inches away from a guitar amp. It may be necessary to place microphones several feet distant from the sound source in certain cases.
2) Width of Stereo
In a stereo mix, there is plenty of room in the horizontal plane. Not only can you pan mono signals to the left and right speakers, but you may also utilize various approaches to fill the stereo width imaginatively.
Many stereo recording methods may be utilized to capture anything from a broad to a narrow recording.
Double-tracking a performance is another frequent way to fill out the stereo breadth. If you’re recording an electric guitar, make two copies and pan one to the left and the other to the right. Take it a step further by recording each take with a different microphone so that each side sounds distinct.
Similarly, using three distinct unison takes the same section to generate a broad voice recording is a technique. Begin with the best take, panned to the center at a level that allows it to stand alone in the mix. Pan left and right with the last two takes. To discreetly notice the width, mix the amplitude of these additional takes.
Another item to think about when recording is the mix’s spectral balance or tone. Do you prefer a light or a dark overall mix? Do you want certain instruments to be warm, while others should be clear?
A microphone angled off-axis instead than on-axis may quickly modify the tone of a recording. Another option is to go with either a condenser (brighter) or a ribbon (warmer) microphone.
The microphone’s position in relation to the instrument may also make a big effect. If you want to record an acoustic guitar with a “full” and “tonal” sound, place a microphone precisely in front of the sound hole. If you want to make a “crisp” and “percussive” sound, place a microphone right on the 12th fret.
4) Effects of Printing
Creativity and inspiration may strike at any moment. You could stumble across the “signature” sound for a mix if you’re playing with effects while recording. It might be a certain delay, reverb, or modulation effect you’re looking for.
It can’t hurt to print “dry” and “wet” copies of the signals rather than leave it up to the mix engineer. You never know whether your mix engineer will be able to polish a beautiful effect you developed.
This concept may also be used to re-amping guitars. Even if a mix engineer intends to use re-amping after the initial recording session, having a reference (amped) version might be useful. Perhaps the original version will turn out to be superior than the updated version.
Keep in mind that having both the raw and processed versions after the recording process might be advantageous. Only employ destructive editing if you’re confident you want to go for a certain impact.
Finally, before you begin recording a song, you should have a clear idea of how you want it to turn out. It may speed up the recording process while also saving time in mixing and mastering.