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Artopium.com -> Library Index :: Tips On Recording & Mastering Music
Music Recording Tips
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www.pcmus.com
Choosing an audiocard - Stay away from anything which advertises "soundblaster" or SB compatible, AC97 (audio codec 97) or consumer in the description of the card. The audio codec or engine of the card is "rate locked" to 48khz. This means that the card resample's everything to 48khz for the dsp/codec chip on the soundcard.

www.desmastering.com
"Polish" your blank dat - "Polishing" simply means to fast-forward & rewind a new blank tape before recording on it. This will most often strip off any microscopic particles on the tape surface that can cause glitches. This is a recommended practice for any format of analog or digital tape, either audio or video.

www.australianmusic.asn.au
Listen to the subtlety of compressors, really attack the signal with high ratio and low threshold so it is really slamming then adjust attack and release. With compression, look at the dynamics of the needle so it looks like it is dancing to the music.

www.trinitysoundcompany.com
Effects of Equalization on Vocals - For the best control over any audio signal, fully parametric EQ's are the best way to go. It's important to vocal intelligibility. Too much boost between 2 and 4KHz can mask certain vocal sounds such as 'm', 'b', 'v'. Too much boost between 1 and 4KHz can produce 'listening fatigue'. Vocals can be highlighted at the 3KHz area and at the same time dipping the instruments at the same frequency.
The range from 1.25 to 8K governs the clarity of vocals. Too much in the area of 5 to 16K can cause sibilance.

www.recordingeq.com
Using Baffles For Isolation - Because of the reflective nature of sound we can usually achieve the best sound isolation by placing the absorbent baffle behind the very loud or very soft instrument. Directional mics are placed so that they point into the baffle; this rejects any sound coming into the area because the back of the mic doesn't pick up sound well. The sound absorbing baffles prevent reflections of sounds from bouncing into the mic. The musician is placed between the mic and the baffle, with the musician's sound projecting into the front of the mic.

www.dummies.com
Recording drum kits - Ask (no, demand) that your drummer play the cymbals quieter. Also use smaller cymbals with a fast attack and a short decay. Doing these things creates a better balance between the drums and cymbals and makes the drums stand out more in comparison.

www.tweakheadz.com
How to record vocals - The more dynamic (louder) the vocalist, the less sensitive the mic needs to be. Some condenser mics will distort like madness if the vocalist is too close when they scream and it is an awful sound, especially if you are wearing cans (headphones). There is nothing you can do to fix that audio either. Because the distortion happened before the signal hits the compressor, all the compression in the world cannot help. If there is a -10 or -20 pad on the mic, use it with untrained wild vocalists. Otherwise, use a dynamic mic which is less susceptible to break up under high sound pressure levels (SPL). Or you can have them take a step back before they commit their bellow from their personal living hell.

www.futureproducers.com
Making your Basslines Thump - If you want your bass to bang in a system with nice subwoofers AND in crappy home shelf systems, it is pointless to use a bass patch whose energy lies only below 40 Hz, because most home systems will not play sounds that low in frequency. You need to make sure bass has a lot going on in the 70-90 Hz frequency range.

www.feedback.nildram.co.uk

How to avoid hum - To avoid hum, where possible keep mains cabling separate from all equipment and leads. Where possible use screened mains cabling and screened leads. Where mains cabling has to cross leads of any sort then they should cross at right angles, since the least significant magnetic field is apparent that way. 'Mains hum' is recognisable to the trained ear since it generally appears at 50Hz frequency. If you have parametric EQ, then create a very small EQ bandwidth around 50Hz and cut that completely. Also try moving effects units away from other equipment since they can be particularly susceptible to the fields created by other things, and this can sometimes be the cause of 'effects hum'. Sometimes 'effects hum' can be due to the way the box uses compression- no noise when a signal is passing through but noise in between- and this is because the compression algorithm creates 'something out of nothing' by raising the weak (non-existent) signal. In this case reduce the level of compression on the effects unit if possible. Plus ALWAYS use 'oxygen-free' noiseless leads.

www.akg.com
Recording acoustic guitar - A great way to mic up a guitar is to place a cardioid, largediaphragm microphone near the sound hole and a smalldiaphragm microphone near the bridge or pointing at the body from below the rear. Find the desired sound by experimenting with the levels of the two microphones in the mix.

indyweek.com
Be careful with headphones - Headphones are kind of weird; you need to be careful about a headphone mix. It's ambitious to think you can go in and wear headphones never having worn them before and play like you normally do. They're a necessary evil most of the time, but I'd say practice over headphones if you can set up a little mixer. Get used to the headphones, because that will definitely throw you. It will throw your pitch; it'll throw your rhythm

www.colomar.com/Shavano/
When recording live - Use as much of the signal as possible from your PA system. Most PA's have a low level signal out that can be used for recording purposes. Use that to get first generation audio signals instead of putting a microphone(s) out in the audience. For signals not available from the PA, put a microphone no more than 12 inches (30 cm) away from the front of any speaker system an artist is performing thru.

www.home-recording-for-musicians.com
Mixing bass and drums - Intergrating bass guitar and drums can get messy sometimes. It can be counter-productive to add tremendous bass to each. Bear in mind that the bass guitar that stands out in a mix is usually around the 200-300Hz area. Increasing this area will give the bass distinction. We can then add low bass (60-80Hz) to the kick drum. This tactic will keep the bottom end clean, separated, and detailed.

www.music-tech.com
Using space in the mix - The key to a good mix is figuring out the proper space to put everything in so that sounds aren't competing for the same space in the mix. This will help to give your mixes more clarity and definition. The hardest part to get a handle on is the EQ space, which takes a lot of practice and is something that you will continually improve on no matter how long you mix songs. The low end of the frequency spectrum is the hardest to get right. You kind of have to decide which instruments/sounds are going to occupy the low end, and then filter out the low end from everything else. Typically your kick drum or your bass (and sometimes both working together) are going to occupy that very low end.... so you can filter out that really low end (usually everything from around 150 hz down) on just about everything else. Then you kind of work your way up the frequency spectrum and try to figure out what the key frequency ranges are of each instrument, and to figure out which sounds are the key sounds at any given point in the mix. Then, make space for those by carving out some of those frequencies in other sounds, or using some of the other two dimensions to get other sounds out of the way of the key sounds.

www.emusician.com
Using Subtle Ambience - One way to achieve a subtle yet effective ambience is to drastically reduce the decay time of a reverb patch. More intense presets such as churches, large plates, or concert halls — which typically have decay times of three to four seconds — work best for achieving subtle ambience. Decrease the decay time to 0.5 seconds, and increase the predelay to 100 ms or more to create a sound that's spacious without being wet. That technique allows you to retain the sonic character of the space in a shorter, more concentrated package, although you may have to increase your send levels to make those effects work in your mix.

www.guitarnoise.com
Monitoring the mix - As you review each mix, make sure you can comfortably hear on a small pair of speakers at an extremely low volume. Headphones are also very valuable at this stage, but don't base your final decision on them. You should be able to pick up each instrument even at this level.

www.slot-1.com
Pick a band spokesperson - Determine a band spokesperson ahead of time. An engineer getting five different opinions on how to mix will grow tired and might cause him/her to rush through the job. Ultimately, too many opinions will wreck your mixes.

www.recordingtipoftheday.com
Standing Waves - In your home studio, tuning your room can often pose a problem for you. Standing waves occur when low frequencies bounce around in a room and run into each other. To find out if you suffer from this problem in your studio, put on one of your favorite store-bought CDs and play it through your near-field monitors. Lean back and forth in the chair, listening to the low end. Does the sound change? Get up and walk around the room, still listening. Are there areas where the bass seems to double in intensity – and areas where the low end seems to disappear altogether? If it does, then you have a case of standing waves.

Recording Tips
When recording drums - The simplest improvement you can make is to raise your cymbals off the toms. You may have to get used to it but you'll have a better tom sound on your recording & best of all-it's free! Try to have new heads. The more you can afford the better. Top and bottom are great, but at the very least you should replace your top snare head. Tuning is essential.

people.lulu.com
A remedy for "thin-sounding" instruments - It is amazing what delay can do for some instruments. If for instance your violin sound is less than satisfactory strictly due to a thin sound, then you can try applying delay at about 30 ms. In some cases I have gotten away with a better sound just by using 25 ms on both right and left speakers. If you go too high with your delay, you will instead cause the standard delay effect. As with all processing, a little goes a long way.

members.aol.com/recordingi/sing.htm
How to stop singing flat - When music is played loud, a person hears the bass frequencies flat. How Flat? A lot flat - as much as the pitch difference of the next key on the piano and even more. In recording the singer hears the band through headphones. If these headphones are loud and bass-heavy, the singer will try to “tune” to what he/she hears and usually sing flat. The solution is simple. If the singer sings flat, reduce the headphone volume and reduce the amount of bass-frequencies in the headphones.

www.cuenet.co.uk
Use a De-Esser - A De-Esser is basically a compressor. The only difference is that it only reacts to high frequencies rather than all frequencies. This results in high pitched sound reduction in vocals. The result - 'Esses' are removed or reduced. Some badly recorded vocals can sound off putting because of the amount of level produced by the letter S. "Sally sells sea shells.." is a good test and without a de-esser can sound awful. So by reducing the amount of S level in the vocal the actual resulting vocal can be turned up in the mix without sounding bad. So, the vocal is made louder and cuts through the mix better. All professional vocals are recorded using both compression and De-esser units.

www.taxi.com
Dampen the drums - Dampen the drums to reduce ringing using a little bit of gaffers' tape or tape a piece of feminine napkin to the outer edge of the drum head using gaffers' tape. Generally speaking, the more mid-range you roll out of the toms, the better they will sound, to a point. You can roll out too much, and the result will sound hollow and box-like.

www.recordingtipoftheday.com
Sampling rates explained - The Sampling Rate of your digital recorder (or the one you’re looking at) refers to the frequency at which, or the number of times that the recorder will sample the incoming sound. (FYI, a Sample is a computer snapshot of the audio signal.) Generally speaking, the higher the number, the better the sound quality. Typical Sample Rates for digital recorders are 44.1 kHz (the sample rates for commercially available CDs) 48 kHz 88.2 kHz and 96 kHz (the sampling rate for DVD audio.) Remember this: all other things being the same, the higher the number for the sample rate, the closer your recording will sound to the original source.

www.humbuckermusic.com
Spaced pair miking for acoustic guitar - Spaced pair miking is when two mics are placed apart from each other at the same approximate height, one pointing at the 12th fret of the guitar and the other at the bridge. With this approach -- as with any miking technique that uses two or more mics that are spaced apart from one another -- always be sure to follow the "3-to-1 rule." According to this rule, the distance between two mics should be at least three times the distance between each mic and the sound source. This keeps phase cancellations to a minimum, resulting in a smoother sound that also translates well to mono. So, for instance, if you've got each mic seven inches from the guitar, the 3-to-1 rule mandates that you spread the two mics at least 21 inches apart from each other.

www.wendycarlos.com
Starting and stopping a take (very punny) - To start a take, establish a safe recording level. Then place the tape or recording medium into RECORD, and signal the "talent" in an appropriate fashion: mallet, strobe light, firehose, whatever. (This is termed: Cue the Miracle, and is a definition of an Optimist.) When each take is completed, stop the recording medium, and signal the performer either to prepare to do it again, or not -- your choice and tolerance. Try to write something down on a piece of paper. A pep talk is often given here (so you can GIVE before a TAKE.) Tell them it was great, except, perhaps, for a slight clumsiness when they passed out. Tell them you'll fix it in the mix. Tell them you're known as "MagicFingers" in the studio business. Tell them: "Stick with me, kid, and you'll wear diamonds!" Be sincere (but not too honest...) Smile a lot. Don't despair, tapes & media can always be erased. (Be sure to tell this to the performers -- often.)
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