I listen vey often various opinions on how you must record so you can have a good signal flow and you can work more efficient in your mix afterwards.
I Have clients that send me their songs to mix them, and they think that a good recording is a loud one! No, my friend ,this is a very big mistake! If you want to get a very good mix you must get better recordings in the production phase. We are going to discuss on what you really need to have the desired result.
It has to do with the production stage of a song. Except the instrumentation, arrangement and programming, a very important step is the recording procedure. Many of you think that a good recording is a loud one that nearly hits 0dB or a bit less round -2 or -3dB.If a recording is too loud,then how can you get a good mix? Will you have the required headroom for editing and mixing your song? NO.
The better your recordings are ,the less mixing you have to do. It doesn’t mean that if you spend hours and hours in mixing a song you will get the best mix you ever had. And you shouldn’t think that everything that sounds not so good in recording ,can be fixed or improved in mixing. No, you have to overcome this theory! It’s so old fashioned and it takes so much time. I suggest you spend more time in your recordings and you will get much better results.
A few days ago I was with a friend and also my student and he asked me this one thing that everybody has the same question: “In what level should I record?” This is the starting point. The level of your input signal must be conservative low. I suggest not to go above -8dB. And you should be careful your master output not to go above -10 or -8dB. If you think it’s too low ,just turn your speakers on! You don’t have to exaggerate on your recordings. If you use a conservative level ,then you can have more headroom for adding your plug ins, so you can color and the width that your song needs. All this procedure and with the mastering process will get your song to the desired level and your song will be radio ready!
I am going to give you some tips on how you can get better recordings in your home studio.
If you use midi recording in your sessions, don’t edit the velocity of each instrument,so it can be heard louder! I did it myself as well when I first started in my home studio,because I thought that every midi track can be heard much better,louder! Yes , maybe you hear the specific instrument louder,but you are losing the feeling of the performance. Velocity represents how loud you played this note on the keyboard.as you understand if you want to perform something on a piano ,you can’t have the same velocity on each note.
If you are recording audio ,and you are on recording guitars( acoustic or electrics),please tune your guitars very well. It’s something that is skipped very often by so many musicians ,or they don’t pay so much attention on this. You must check the input level in your DAW and in your sound card.Try to keep a conservative level as I told you earlier!
If you are about to record vocals ,you have to check the level of your input signal,and the best way to check this out is on the highest notes of the melody.Another one that is crucial is to get a good headphone mix.Before you start recording ,put both,you and the singer your headphones on ,and try to to get a good level between the playback and the singer. If the singer doesn’t hear the playback very well , then he will probably have tonal issues.If he doesn’t hear his voice very well ,then he can’t perform as you expect him to do!
Use your microphone properly so you can diminish outer sounds on inner sounds like the pc fan.
I have a very interesting blog post that covers this subject how you can use your microphone ,so you can get better results.
Spend more time in the recording phase and you will get a balanced mix! Mixing starts from the production of your song!