When you start out wanting to record that first album it’s a very exciting time! It should be something to be thoroughly enjoyed and a great learning experience. At Four Doors Studios we love to see our clients come in as prepared as possible and for the repeat customers it’s wonderful to see their skills develop over the years.
In the past we have written some great tips for pre-recording preparation which can be found here.
Just to be clear, we wanted to let you know our top 7 most common mistakes made in the recording studio. Because at the end of the day, the artists and us all want the same thing and that is quite simply, a great recording! Here are the 7 most common mistakes below:
- Inexperience with click track
Time and time again we have seen, or heard stories from other studios, about musicians who have come into the studio and don’t know how to record to a click (metronome) and don’t know the tempo of their own songs. This is something that should be practiced months in advance. Work out the tempos for all the songs you are going to record. Then practice them to a click. There are plenty of metronome apps for free that you can put on your phone. If you come in prepared and can play to a click it means you will spend less money on the recordings and you will have the option of adding as many instrumental layers as you like. Alternatively, if you are already in the studio and haven’t practiced to a click, best just to play without a click track so as to not waste precious studio time.
2. No guide tracks
Guide tracks are a very important part of the recording process. What is a guide track? It’s a very rough demo, (eg vocals and guitar) recorded at the correct tempo of the song and is to be used as a guide only for when you record the rest of the parts of the song. This is a great way to help speed things up as you will always know which parts to record at each part of the song. Having that song structure as a basis to start off with will mean both the artist and engineer will work together more effectively as they will know exactly where they are and the foundations behind the song.
3. Creating the best source audio as possible for your room
Recording and acoustics setup is super important before you hit the red button! Remember it is always worth spending the time to enhance your space, for example having a vocal booth or vocal screen to record your vocals or using a screen or mattress between your drum kit and the vocal if recording them in the same room, so as to avoid too much spill. For electric guitar recordings perhaps making the room less damp and a bit more reflective to capture that extra punch in the electric sound. The type of room you record in, the artist skill set and the type of instruments are key to capturing a great recording.
4. Too many or too little takes
Again, we have heard stories and experienced this ourselves. Doing too many takes is going to cause many issues with the whole process. It means you are creating more work for yourself with mixing and editing down the track. With too small amount of takes eg one or two takes means you may not have enough to work with. If you have spent a good portion of time practicing and getting a really nice sounding room setup/mic placement then all you will need is 4 takes at most. This will mean you will be much faster in the editing and mixing process and in those takes you will likely have some gold to work with.
5. Lack of doubling
When it comes to the mix stage after recording and you haven’t done any doubles (this means recording the exact same part of the song again on a separate track eg 2 guitar takes or 2 vocal takes, Not just copying the same take!) it means you will not have the option of making parts sound bigger and wider, naturally without the use of processing/extra plugins. Doubling guitar parts in particular is a fantastic way of making them sound super wide and thick without the use of plugins. Also, vocal doubling is great as you can use it on some parts of the track to enhance certain parts. This is done in almost all pop songs and a great technique to make your mixes sound huge.
- Recording too hot!
This is super common. It’s fundamental to have the correct input gain settings to capture a great recording. So often we have heard or received stems that have been recorded too hot and are clipping. Digital clipping is a pretty awful sound and no matter what audio repair plugins you throw onto a clipped track, it still won’t be the same as a great recording with the correct input gain settings. To give you an idea, here at Four Doors Studios we use Logic Pro X and aim for an input gain of -12db. This gives you enough room for dynamics when the musician performs softer or louder and will not clip or go into the red. This is the best practice and you can always push up the volume later with compression.
- Poor quality instruments and instrument cables
We understand how expensive and how much time and practice it takes to make a great recording. This is why we always recommend using reliable instruments and cables. For example, it makes a huge difference if you have a cheap guitar lead compared to a mid-range or expensive cable. It means there will be less electrical interference/ pops or buzzes captured in your recording and with the higher quality cables and instruments the wiring is more stable.
So that’s our top 7 most common recording mistakes to avoid! We hope this helps you on your recording journey! Don’t stop researching here as this is only one opinion. To find more great tips head here.
Thank’s so much for reading our blog. If you’d like to book a recording session or have your songs mixed and mastered by Simon Paparo please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To hear a list of songs we have mixed at Four Doors Studios click here.
To learn more about the services offered by Simon Paparo at Four Doors Studios click here.