Top Five Mistakes I used to make Recording

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Top Five Mistakes I used to make Recording

Post  z on Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:25 pm


Here's a bunch of stuff I figured out how to do better over the years:


1. Too much reverb -- I used to add reverb to almost every track, and way too much on
vocals. Lots of my older tracks are muddy/muffled sounding because of that.

Now: I mostly do two tracks of vocals, with little or no FX on them (maybe a little reverb, or some
echo at the end of phrases). Rhythm Guitar is usually reverb-free (just mega-wide-chorused). The only
part I use a lot of reverb on is the lead guitar.


2. Burying the vocals in the mix -- I was very untrained, never sang before I recorded my first
tracks. So, I got used to having the vocals real low in the mix with a lot of FX on them since I
wasn't confident and they pretty much sucked anyway. Very Happy

Now: I sing better, so I leave the vocals high enough in the mix that people can hear them.


3. Recording guitar parts and adding drums later -- I used to record guitar parts I liked, but I didn't have
a good way to make drum tracks easily, so I would record the guitar and then program drums by hand to
match. OUCH! Not only did it take forever, it never really worked that good because the original guitar part
varied in speed too much.

Now: I always make a simple drum track in Logic before I record a guitar part. Then I play along with the drums.
I hate click-tracks, so I use a drum track (or multiple tracks). Usually I have at least 4 tracks of drums, since I
like having 2 different drum loops going at the same time, and then adding variations.


4. Singing too soft. I used to almost whisper-sing, because I didn't want to wake anyone up, and I record very
late at night.

Now: I belt it out a bit louder. It really helps with my confidence. I can get a bit further back from the mic which
helps with the boominess (proximity effect). And it's easier to hit the right note with some power behind it.


5. Too analytical with song construction. I used to plan songs out more before hand, and try to get all the timing and playing perfect.

Now: perfection doesn't make a great song. heart and soul do. I use my instincts, and lucky chance, and chaos to
just let the music come out the way it wants to. I have a method to my madness, and the method is madness.


I'm sure I will think of more.....

Z



















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Re: Top Five Mistakes I used to make Recording

Post  globaltrancemission on Sat Jul 24, 2010 5:46 am

Very good post Z,

We all make mistakes and that is how we learn to constantly improve. I learn things all the time and I fully expect to keep learning as there is no way you can reach absolute perfection. There are always things that can be improved even if others cannot hear them.

The part about reverb is interesting as it is a common mistake and some people never get it right. This is something that we all have to find our own way with . I like a lot of reverb and I use it in conjunction with delay as well but you have to be careful about the muddiness if you don't get the levels right.

One way to improve this and in fact to totally improve the entire mix is to make sure that each instrument or part occupies its own place in the stereo mix. This becomes easy with a good hardware mixer but is not so easy with the mixers on a computer.....in fact it is easily overlooked.
If the bass is too close to the kick drum you will get resonance problems.

When I am using synths I use different reverbs for each instrument too. If you have one setting for all that can cause on overall muddiness.

I like using delay with reverb. A dry delay does not sound natural but when you add a reverb tail it creates more space....especially good on synth pads and guitars. My mixer has a stereo delay option which gives a delay on the left and right hand channels and is adjustable for each so that you can have a different delay time on each. This can be confusing but if you mix it carefully it really adds space.

Delays are a science on their own. To make them tight and effective you need to sync the delay time to the bpm of the track. Good synths like the Virus and the Supernova have their own delays which you can sync using the midi clock.
You sync it by note interval 1/4 beat 1/8 beat 1/16 beat etc.
Most delays measure in milliseconds (ms) and you can sync these manually for guitars etc if you know the beat of the song.
There is a way of doing the calculation but here is a page which does it all for you:
http://www.thewhippinpost.co.uk/tools/delay-time-calculator.htm

Use this for your delays and hear the difference Smile

On some delay pedals you can manually set the bpm or use a tap to find it. The BossDD20 has all of these settings. It's not cheap but it is the best delay pedal overall.........I really rate Boss pedals. Not only do they perform well but the are built really strong and should last forever if you look after them Smile

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Re: Top Five Mistakes I used to make Recording

Post  z on Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:35 am


Good points about Reverb and Delay. They can be very effective when used properly.
Most of the reverb/delay plugins in Logic have a 'sync with tempo' checkbox. And if you
want to do other multipliers you can just look at the delay MS and multiply or divide (since it's
already synced)

I do like BOSS FX a lot as well. I've also had good luck with some Digitech delays, and ElectroHarmonix.
I prefer ElectroHarmonix usually, but they are all the money.

You reminded me I left 2 important ones out:

1. EQ! This goes along with your 'making room for everything in the mix. I used to just slam all the tracks
in there and hope for the best.

Now: I will use low-cut and high-cut EQ or parametric to make things fit better. For instance if the vocals are
too bassy, I will cut everything below about 120hz on them until they clean up.

One thing that really helped me on Reverb is thinking about it like this: The longer the reverb delay,
the further BACK in the mix that track will sound. The shorter the delay the more UP FRONT that track
will sound.
So you usually want the least amount of reverb on the vocals (unless you have additional
vocals underneath).



2. Panning. I used to pan stuff all over the place and have a lot of motion across the stereo field. This works
better for pure electronic tracks than for rock and roll.

Now: Less movement across tracks. And I have a fairly standard way of setting things up: rhythm guitar choruses
WIDE, so it sounds uber fat (but no reverb). Drums mostly centralized except for tom runs and cymbals. Lead guitar
in the middle but reverbed BACK. Vocals on both sides, but near the middle (-16, +16). Keys usually in the middle.
Extra synth texture can pan from side to side, or come in wide to one side.


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Re: Top Five Mistakes I used to make Recording

Post  globaltrancemission on Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:41 pm

Your settings for reverb seem pretty sound to me.....but I don't do vocals so I can't tell on those. What I've heard on your tracks though would seem to be right.

EQ is of course very important .....but sometimes when you record something right in the first place then you may not need to adjust it.

Quoting numbers on Pan settings is not too useful.-16 to +16 are the maximum figures used in my Yamaha Smile If you are at -16 on mine you are extreme left !!!!

The other thing to consider of course is Dynamics / Compression......again not always necessary.....and always confusing...a very complex subject.

Most of this comes down to the really crucial component.....using your ears !!!!
Yes.....experience is the best tool of all.

The other thing that can make life interesting is that on good synths like the Virus and Supernova you can set panning, reverb, delay, chorus effects, EQ all within the synth and save them for each sound. When you use a sound again then it a great timesaver if you want it exact. You can do this for individual sounds or for a multitimbral set ( a set of sounds that are used together on different midi channels).
You have to of course then be careful about doubling up your setting in the mixer LOL.

Speaking of pedals......somewhere in the house I have a couple of original Electro Harmonix pedals in full working order....these are original 70's American ones which are now collectables. I have a Small Stone Phaser and a Big Muff which also has a compressor in it.I also have an Electric Mistress but its not in working order and a Hot Tubes overdrive. Other old collectables are a Marshall Guvnor overdrive pedal and a Tokai Delay pedal which is analogue (bucket brigade style). I even have an original Copicat Tape echo which to be honest is Knackered !!!!
Hey......I think I'll start a museum LOL.

Oh ........nearly forgot to mention.....I have ordered an E Bow Plus. Been looking at what these can do and I really want to try to master one. I think it would be a great addition for my ambient works.

I am now immersed in experimenting with reverb/ delays and Frippertronics.
I want to incorporate all this into my style as I can already visualise what I want to do and this is just what I needed to get me started on my next album project. I should be able to create my own unique sound and style blending synths and guitars and I will mostly be aiming at an ambient / ethereal style.....but of course other things may change this along the way.

I have to thank you for inadvertently pointing the way as this all started with your Telecaster thread which led me to start to re-discover my Jaguar....something I kept meaning to do but hadn't got around to.

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Re: Top Five Mistakes I used to make Recording

Post  z on Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:56 pm


Oh yeah I forgot that about panning. In Logic it goes to -64, +64,
so -16, +16 is fairly close together.

Trust your ears! Always good advice!
Unless your ears don't know what to listen for--but that comes over time.

Those old EHX pedals are real nice!

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