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Phase 1: Recording - Preparation for Your Recording Session

April 28, 2022
3 min read

I start preparing for recording session in my studio well before the artist(s) arrive - a day ahead if schedule permits. I star by making sure my studio is clean and neat, creating a comfortable space in which to work. I'll set up my recording template in my DAW if I have a good idea what the session will entail (drums, guitars, bass, keys, vocals, etc.) allowing 'extra tracks' for multiple takes for some instruments. I'll set the appropriate bit and sample rate in my DAW for the project.

Creating a Comfortable Environment for the Artists

I am going for a relaxed, creativity nurturing environment so the artist is able to focus solely on his/her performance. about 30 minutes prior to their arrival, I make sure my DAW is up and running, the correct template is loaded, interface and any preamps are powered up (especially important with tube equipment, it needs time to warm up to optimal operating temperature).

When the artists arrive and settle in I'll offer something to drink (soft drinks, water, coffee, tea). With vocalists, you want to avoid tea, iced tea, milk or anything that could act as an astringent (teas) or coat the throat (milk) which might affect their vocal performance. In an article I read in a trade publication years ago, they had done a lot of research on preparing a vocalist for a performance and they had concluded that Hall's Cherry Cough Drops were one of the best ways to prepare a vocalist who is about to record! I found it especially gratifying since I had a big bag of those very cough drops in my studio for just that purpose.

Providing Feedback

During the recording session give the artist honest feedback about their performance, the sound/tone of the instruments, arrangement, etc. The goal here is not to derail them and change their vision - it's to assist them in realizing their vision. If the vocal sounded flat on spots, let them know, let them listen to it. Suggest a redo of the take, or just punch in to fix the error.

Tuning Up

Be sure that guitars and bass or any other stringed instruments are in tune, a good performance on an out-of-tune instrument is a bad take! They will be happy knowing that 'you have their back' and are trying to get the best recording possible.

Make Sure the Timing is Good

Utilize a metronome for the 'foundational' takes - bass, drums, etc. Once you have a good well-timed bed, you may want to remove the metronome and allow the music to influence the timing from there. Discuss with the artist and find a comfortable way to keep everyone in time.

Save Your Session!

On location, I save the session to the internal hard drive of my laptop as well as to a USB thumb drive before shutting down the machine. Once back in the studio, I'll use the thumb drive copy to transfer the session to my studio tower. I'll back up yet again to the cloud as well to another external drive. I read an article in Recording magazine in which the writer stated "if you don't have it in 3 places, you don't have it!" I have tried to live by that rule ever since.

Rest Your Ears

Once you have completed your tracking, if the deadline allows, I suggest waiting 24-48 hours before starting the mixing process. Coming to the mix stage requires 'fresh ears'.

Next we'll talk about setting up templates and choosing the right Bit Rate and Sample Rate!

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