5 Hot Tips to Make Sure You Record Audio Right the First Time
Whether you are a seasoned professional or an indie artist recording in your home studio, recording audio can be a hassle. Recording audio right the first time avoids extra costs in post production when your engineer has to somehow mix out the dog barking in the background or has to work around a singer’s lisp.
Record like the pros with these five tips that every musician, sound engineer and even producers should know:
1. Location. Location. Location.
Before you record a single note, you need to choose the right location. For industry pros with access to high-quality studios, this is not a big deal. However many indie artists are recording in makeshift studios, sometimes their own living room! This brings on extra recording issues that could potentially cost time and money.
Some things you want to avoid:
- Trains and planes
- Barking Dogs
- The Air Conditioner
- Areas with high traffic
This might seem simple, but having worked with lots of indie artists and filmmakers, in particular, it is amazing to me how much extraneous noise could have been avoided if a different location was chosen. Indie musicians can avoid this by choosing the right place to record.
2. Microphone Mastery
Do a little research before choosing a microphone. Some folks like to do podcasts with their built-in computer microphone. That might work for a podcast, but it will wreak havoc with your music audio. You want the right type of mic for the instrument or voice.
If you aren’t sure what to use, head to your local music store and talk shop with the owner. You’ll learn a lot quickly. Or check out our article: Microphone Buying Guide.
3. Thou Shalt Not Clip
When I’ve worked with singers recording themselves for the first time, I have found that many of them didn’t know that they were clipping like crazy when they recorded. Sometimes this can be fixed quickly by simply moving the microphone away from their mouths or adjusting the volume. Other times they need different recording equipment and someone helping them that can watch levels as they perform. Watch the levels, and when it goes in the red, you will need to record that section again. If possible, give yourself some headroom to work with.
4. The Power of the Pop Filter
Some musicians insist that they don’t need a pop filter, but I never record vocals without one. The pop filter will catch air and excess sound, cleaning up your audio quickly and saving you time in post. You also will avoid that notorious “POP” you hear when someone pronounces the letter “P”. While there are many tutorials on how to make your own pop filter, professional ones are very affordable. You can purchase a pop filter for the price of a pizza.
5. Don’t Tire Out Your Performers
This might seem obvious, but some musicians will keep trying for the perfect take well after they sound exhausted. Best bet? Keep water close by, take regular breaks, and if it seems like the quality of the performance is suffering, you might need to save yourself for another day. Vocalists especially can run their voices ragged, and sometimes the first few fresh performances sound the most natural.
Save yourself time by only working on smaller chunks. If Take 7 was good except for the chorus, then just run through the chorus again instead of the entire tune. If your vocalist is tired, then maybe take the time to record the drummer, some background vocals, or extra instrumental riffs for post. Rest is important!
Taking these few simple steps to ensure that you get the recording right the first time will save you more than a few headaches in post production. Be sure to have the right equipment, from microphones and headphones to a pop filter. Avoid clipping by being careful with the levels and watching mic placement. Stay fresh and hydrated for optimum performance. Finally, be sure that you put Fido in the kennel, so he doesn’t inadvertently solo in the middle of your tune. Any musician can master audio recording – do you agree with me?
You may also like to read:
- How to Record Vocals: 8 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid
- Simple Recording Tricks For A Better Mix
- How To Prepare For a Great Vocal Session
- How To Record Best Guitar Sound