Category: Recording Studios

Recording Studios: The Process

Recording Studios: The Process

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

If you’re heading into your first recording session, you might not know what to expect. To help, we’ve assembled a basic outline of the recording process below.

Please note: each recording session is unique, and preferences will vary from one band or recording studio to the next. Some artists do as many takes as necessary to obtain the elusive perfect version, then carefully blend the tracks together. Other artists use software as their recording studios and do only one sitting, adjusting it digitally as needed. Other artists prefer to record live performances, including variations, flaws, and audience interaction. For the sake of simplicity, we’ve looked at the basic process using organic instruments.

The Backing Track

This is the skeletal framework of the song. Start with the drums, then the bass, then record the rest of the instruments. Remember: not everyone nails it their first time out of the gate. In fact, the unpredictability of artists is one of the things that makes recording so exciting. Tip: you may want to use a metronomic click track to help your rhythm section keep time.

The “Scratch” Vocal Track

Once the backing tracks are set, you will likely record a reference or “scratch” lead vocal to serve as a guide for backup singers. This also provides a preview of the finished product—which is often encouraging and inspiring.

Backup Vocals

How do you want the background vocals to sound? Like the Beach Boys? Like ELO? Or do you want something a bit simpler? While your music should be ready before you enter the studio, this is when you officially decide what path the song will take.

Solos and Overdubs

Consider this the “season to taste” portion of the recipe. Does the song need a little guitar solo here or some extra oomph there? Listen to what you have so far. What is it calling out for?

The Lead Vocal

Time to give the performance of your life. You might get it in one take, or you may nail it on the thirtieth. Give it your all, and be patient.

The Mixing Session

If you thought you were done when the recording wrapped, think again. Mixing is the art of squeezing a studio full of music into a space the size of a human ear. Scrutinizing every square inch of the track and making sure every level and sound is perfect takes time. Put the coffee on and get cracking.

It’s that simple. Now, all you have to do is repeat the above ten or twelve times, and you’ve got yourself an album.

Have you been through the recording process? Did it flow like we described, or was it different for you? Do you have any advice for first-time recorders?

...Keep Reading
Recording at a Studio?

5 Questions To Ask A Studio Before Recording Music

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Recording your music is an exciting, important, and often expensive step in your music career. If you’re ready to take that step, here are some questions you should ask the studio before you start recording:

Does the recording studio specialize in genres?

There are potential benefits and disadvantages to finding a studio that specializes. A producer or audio engineer who pairs their skill with an understanding of and passion for your style can make the experience and the final product much more enjoyable. On the other hand, you want to be sure the final result still sounds like you, not the hundreds of other bands this studio has worked with. Finding the right balance is essential.

How does the studio charge?

Recording studios usually charge by the hour, but some studios might be flexible and charge for a block of time, such as a day, week, or month. Ask if there are any fees for running over, or if time costs less if you book more.

How long on average does it take to record one song?

There is no magic formula to calculate how long it will take to record your song. There are factors, though, that can help the studio give you a better idea of the time needed. A band that is prepared and well-rehearsed will likely need less takes to get a song than a band that is still deciding on an arrangement. Likewise, a complex song (say, with a gospel choir, lead singer, and ten instruments) will probably require more time and takes than a song with one singer and three instruments. Talk to the studio and see if they can give you some idea on time-frames.

What should you bring to the studio?

Bring your instruments and lyric sheets to the session. If you are not performing the instruments yourself, ask the studio if they have musicians and instruments available or if you should hire some ahead of time. If so, make sure the lyric sheets include chord progressions. The ideal producer is an all in one musical talent who can handle every phase of recording and understands various instruments. Ask if you need to bring any other equipment, especially if there is a certain item you want to use (if they don’t have it).

What happens after the recording is finished?

Usually, but not always, the session fee includes the cost of recording and then mixing and mastering the music. This is an intricate process which involves EQ adjusting and audio sweetening. Remixing is often necessary for refinement. A studio with a talented audio engineer is priceless.

If you have recorded with a studio before, what advice do you have for those heading into their first recording experience? If you are thinking about recording with a studio, what questions do you have?

See also: The Right Recording Studio For Your Music, Recording Music: Pros and Cons of Creating a Home Studio, Recording Studios: The Process.

...Keep Reading