Recording Tips and Tricks
Getting Started - Ok, you've got the mics, cables, preamps, recording medium and you have all the instruments set up. You'll be tempted to skip ahead and start recording. Resist the temptation at least until you read this one last page, then you can come back after the recording process to learn how to mix down and master what you have recorded if you like.
Eliminate any outside noise - Eliminate nuisance noises like air conditioners by shutting them down temporarily during recording of if you can't try to put the fan on the "continuous" or "on" setting so that the fan will run and there will be no abrupt starts and stops of the fan. Also many noises can be eliminated with the judicious use of partitions made of heavy cloth or other absorbent objects. If you are picking up noise from outside cars or foot traffic then close the windows and drape them with heavy fabric.
Equalizers or EQ - If you choose to Eq your track before the recording process remember that any frequencies you eliminate can not be restored so use Eq sparingly if at all during the recording process, especially if you have the option of adding it later as with computer or DAW recording. Remember that what sounds good now may not sound as good in the context of the entire song so be judicious in the use of EQ at this stage. If you plan to Eq before you record use a high quality Eq and check with the mixing section for specific frequencies to try.
Double Tracking - To thicken acoustic and electric guitars, vocals, and string parts, record two identical tracks and pan one left and one right. For an interesting effect play similar but differently phrased guitar parts, possible one on acoustic panned left and one on electric panned right. For a more pronounced effect add more layers to create that wall of guitars sound. For vocals it is very rare that they aren't at least double, triple, or quadruple tracked. In the hands of a skilled engineer multi-tracked vocals sound like a single voice but the composition tracks are thick and rich compared to a single voice. Called comping the technique is very effective in strengthening a weak vocal. Remember to save the original tracks in case you want to remix later when you get better gear.
Unique Vocal Ideas - Nothing completes a great song like a stunning and original vocal. There are many ways to add some spice to your vocal so as always experiment. Try heavy compression or reverb to a track to give it a unique sound. Also try singing into a megaphone, over a telephone, through a guitar pedal, a guitar amp, a wah pedal, or anything else you can imagine.
Giving you Recording Depth - Create the illusion of space by using different types of reverb on drums, guitars, vocals, and other instruments. I don't personally recommend putting reverb on bass heavy tracks as it tends to muddy them up. A little compression and Eq on the bass at the mix down stage is usually the best bet but as always experiment, experiment, experiment.
Vibe - Don't underestimate the power of the vibe in a recording. Sometimes that not quite perfect track with tons of emotion and feel is better than the perfect but sterile track. Go for emotional content first and then technical expertise.
Demo verses Broadcast Quality - Many people are confused about what makes a recording a demo quality recording and what makes it a broadcast quality recording. I wish I had an easy answer for this. It is really like trying to define art verses craft. Its just something you know when you hear it. There are some things you can do to avoid traps that will land your project squarely in the demo category. First the recording should sound clean and free of unwanted distortion. Don't confuse unwanted distortion (hiss, popping, etc.) with good distortion (guitar amps, intentionally overdriven vocals, etc.). Remember to set you recording levels very hot and use a compressor to eliminate hiss as much as possible. Another pitfall of the demo quality recording is that most of the time they have not been mastered and the audio levels are too low to be broadcast on the radio. The most important factor in the demo versus broadcast quality dilemma is to get professional help if you can afford it. If you are using a multitrack tape recorder it is almost impossible to produce a broadcast quality project but if your budget doesn't allow for anything else don't despair. Make the best quality project you can. If you wish to you can send that demo to producers and record labels and perhaps someone will assist you in remaking the project once they see the potential in it.
Drums - If you need help or tips on recording acoustic drums then this is the place to check out.
Electric Guitars - If you want help recording a electric guitar then check out this page.
Acoustic Guitars - If you want help recording an acoustic guitar then check out this page.
Piano or Keyboards - If your band has a keyboard or piano player we offer a few tips for you here.
Bass - Need help capturing that electric bass we offer a few options for you here.
Vocals - Vocals can make or break a project. Get some nice tips for recording vocals here.
Other Instruments - Want to add that saxophone, cello, or flute to a project. Get the facts here.
Mixing - Need help mixing those tracks to get the right sound from your mix. We can help here.
Mastering - Need help mastering your songs. Get the low down here.
Other Items of Interest - Also while your here feel free to check out our record label Silver Dragon Records and see what we can offer your band in terms of recording and other services. Also check out Lazarus X Houston's hottest local band and their new CD release Weapon of Love or download a free mp3 for a limited time.
Thank you for your interest in Houston Rock Record Label Silver Dragon Records. Below is some information on our record label and website catering to rock fans and musicians.
Houston Rock Record Label Silver Dragon Records presents rock band Lazarus X and the their latest independent CD release Weapon of Love. Lazarus X's combines determined hard hitting rock with haunting and soulful melodies which struck a chord with many underground rock music fans. Some fans received a preview of the publicity photos and underground rock CD WOL at a rooftop listening party a day before it was released and the response was amazing. Check out Rock Band Lazarus X merchandise like The Weapon of Love Tour T-Shirt and the Weapon of Love CD or preview one of their songs by downloading a free rock mp3.
Silver Dragon Records is a Houston rock record label producing and promoting experimental, hard rock and alternative metal albums. We provide 24 bit digital recording in a quiet private studio free of distractions. If you think we are the label for you submit a demo to our record label and let us tell you how we can help your band with artist promotion, publicity, marketing, recording, mastering, help in marketing a demo or shopping for a major label deal. We are happy to offer musicians our online resources like our musicians toolkit for recording audio, our museum of rock music history and our Houston rock music resource.
Thank you for checking out SDR's audio recording resource and enjoy the above links.