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Tips On Recording and Mixing First Album

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by SFSErik, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. SFSErik

    SFSErik New Metal Member

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    Hey, everyone. I am a noob to these forums and to recording in general, so I will forewarn you: my knowledge in this area is certainly NOT extensive. I am posting here because I am looking for some helpful advice with recording and mixing my band's first full length album. I have recorded some tracks for our pre-production using Reaper, POD Farm, and Addictive Drums, but I haven't seriously sat down and focused on the quality yet, even though I definitely think that what I have recorded, for how little experience I have, sounds pretty solid. Due to lack of time and money to visit a real studio, we really want to record this album ourselves. Of course, I don't want to do anything unless it sounds right.

    So, first off, where do I start? What things do I need that are pretty essential? Right now, I have Reaper for recording, which I am more than happy with, POD Farm for guitars and bass, Addictive Drums and EZ Drummer for drums (of course), a Shure SM58 mic for vocals (if theire are better one's you can suggest, please do), and, all in all, that's about it. We have a couple of mixing boards as well, but I'm really not sure about the specs on those. Is there anything essential that I need besides all of the stuff that I just named?

    Also, my biggest concern with all of this is the vocals. I want them to sound full, clear, and, all in all, not crappy. I know that a good mic is not the only thing that will produce good vocals, so what tips can any of you give me on this? Please include essential gear and things I need to do, such as where vocals need to be recorded and under what conditions. Lastly, what programs can any of you suggest for mixing and mastering? Any tips or advice will be GREATLY appreciated.

    Sorry to sound like such an amateur....but, sadly, I am. Anyone's help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. Sloan

    Sloan Sounds like shit!

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  3. sickgod

    sickgod Sickgod

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    maybe you should search the forum first.. the best tip that anyone can give you on this forum
     
  4. KHE

    KHE Member

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    just be prepared to spend WAY more money and time than you ever imagine. i was (or i am ;)) in the same situation as you with more or less the same motivations. it took me nearly a year to bring the project to the point where i wanted to be.

    cheers!
     
  5. Skinny Viking

    Skinny Viking ¯\(°_o)/¯ How do Lydian?

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    By cancelling the 1st part you're kinda cancelling the 2nd

    I'm not really understanding though ... you don't have the time to go visit a real studio with a real engineer?

    You'll NEVER have the time to track & mix something proper on your own then ... the amount of time you'll spend just learning the basics by using the search function Sloan showed you will make you wish you had not even wasted the time writing your initial post
     
  6. Skinny Viking

    Skinny Viking ¯\(°_o)/¯ How do Lydian?

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    by the way ... my last comment was meant to be kinda funny even though its also pretty much true :)
     
  7. Trevoire520

    Trevoire520 Member

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    You don't have the time to visit a real studio but do have the time to learn how to record and mix from the ground up???
    By the time you've bought all the equipment, software etc to record with and spent a year of your life trying to learn how to do everything yourself you'll have probably spent more money and definitely used MUCH more time than you would have in a real studio, and chances are the end result will disappoint you.

    I hate to sound like a spoil sport, just trying to be realistic. It's kinda like saying "I want a new car but I don't have the money, so I'd like to build one myself"
     
  8. crillemannen

    crillemannen Member

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    Hire an engineer. You think you could engineer, doing a proffesionel album without having any experience to begin with haha.

    Good luck!!! Pm me when your album is done, i'd bet it will take you a couple of years.
     
  9. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    thats a great analogy.

    unfortunately all these guys are right - if you are willing to make the sacrifice to spend all the time learning how to record an album, then you (as a band) should be willing to make the sacrifice to save the money are record with someone to do it properly.

    its going to take you years to get as good as a professional, and even then you wont have the studio they'll have. plus you'll get to do real drums, real amps, and you'll actually make yourselves far more interesting to listen to.

    you'll probably learn a shit ton working with a pro too. fuck the 'home recording' idea off and hit up a studio.
     
  10. StefTD

    StefTD Member

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    I did almost the same thing when I started visiting this board frequently, a few years ago...
    In the end, it took us over 1 1/2 years to finish the album, the band than quit and we never released anything of it!

    My new band is recording the stuff by itself, but everybody in the band has at least a bit experience, drummer and
    lead guitar player a bit more and I got the most experience, we already got all the equipment together and so on,
    still took us about 9 months to get to this point now and we still are going to need about 3 months until everything
    is finished.
    Hiring somebody is way easier and probably cheaper in the end (it's a bit different in our case, but that doesn't matter
    here)-all the guys are right, especially the analogy with the car.

    In the beginning you might think "yeah, just some tracks, pan them, put a comp and eq here and there-going to sound
    great"-NO! that's not how it works, believe me! And I am one of the most amateurisch guys on the whole board...
     
  11. Jordon

    Jordon Member

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    These guys are right on the ball. Hire someone to engineer your record. If you want to learn, go for it, but don't let one of your records be that learning process.

    To this day, I will not record or mix my own music, other than quick demos. I can't do it. I can't separate myself from it and look at it objectively, so I either end up spending too much time on it and hating it, or spending too much time on it and not-quite-but-almost hating it.
     
  12. Seth Morris

    Seth Morris Member

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    I have a feeling that the upfront cost is more of an issue than time. As starting from scratch will certainly take much longer.

    I pretty much started recording a few years ago solely for myself (my own music and demos) and have gradually moved to working with other people. Yet I'm still not up to what I would consider "good enough" to get a good sounding mix, but I certainly have come a long way. I can't stress enough that the search link given above is your best bet for getting knowledge as it has really helped me way more than trial and error could have. But you have to know what to look for.

    In your current situation, I would say that you need help from a professional engineer to see your project to fruition. But that doesn't mean that you have to pay for a ton of studio time to get your album tracked.

    First, I'll assume that you will be using MIDI drums for this as you have mentioned Addictive drums and EZ drummer. If this is the case, you should start by looking into the best ways to get the drums for your album programmed and sounding the way that you want. In the beginning, I found that it helped to have a drummer with a good sense of meter to help with my programming.

    After your drums are programmed, invest in a good DI box. Begin tracking bass and guitars until you have a collection of the best possible takes that your band can achieve. Be sure to tune after every take, change strings often,and have your instruments setup up and intonated properly for the parts that you will be playing. Listen very closely to your takes. This is the time to nitpick about playing and sonic quality. It is important to get the best possible performances during this step. It will make editing/mixing much easier and cheaper if done by an outside source.

    Now, you have to track the vocals. You can get away with doing this a couple of ways. But honestly, for a pro sound, you need a pro vocal booth and a pro behind the board. If you simply cannot make this happen, go with what you've got. Use whatever you can to dampen sound around the vocalist as much as possible. You may need to do some extra research on this aspect to find an option that best suits you.

    Now that you've gotten this far, it's time to decide if you want to wait the YEARS it will take for you to have an understanding of the art of mixing an album or if you want to bite the bullet and send it off to a pro. At this point, it certainly seems to me like the most cost effective way for you to get a good sounding album for the least amount of money. So, make a quick demo mix. Find and engineer and send him your DI tracks, vocal takes, and drum midi.

    That being said, spending the money upfront and having an engineer will save you a TON of time and produce much better quality results in the end.
     
  13. SFSErik

    SFSErik New Metal Member

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    There is a reason more than just not being able to afford a producer or having the time. The biggest issue is quality producers in our area. There basically are none. As a matter of fact, we recorded our first EP with a producer who has actually worked with some quality artists. However, in the end, the result was not so great. First of all, we received an album that, overall, we didn't have much of a say in, seeing how the producer basically was more concerned about his end result then our own. Due to this, we were not happy with what we got. Creative freedom is what we want most and setting up set studio time for about a week or two is not enough achieve the actual sound that we want. Time wise, seeing how we don't have good producers in our area, we don't have the freedom in time (or money) to drive hundreds of miles to shack up in a studio for months. We all have full time jobs and school, which is the reason why periodically sitting down in a place near us when we want to record a song or two would be the best bet.....for all of us. I am more than happy to let a professional mix and master the album, but, as far as recording it, I would definitely like to do so. That's the only reason I posted here. In our situation, we really have no other option. In the end, we want to produce an album that we have full freedom over, which, after working with two engineers in the past, we have had no luck in getting.
     
  14. Skinny Viking

    Skinny Viking ¯\(°_o)/¯ How do Lydian?

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    ^ I think you don't even know the difference between an engineer and a producer which just further emphasizes everything that has been said to you so far
     
  15. SFSErik

    SFSErik New Metal Member

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    Btw, thanks for your reply, Seth. All of that was extremely helpful advice. Like I said in my last post, im pretty sure that we will be sending the mix off to someone to master it. My concern is in recording, really. I want to make sure that everything sounds as good as it can. The engineer we send the product to can always polish a turd, but he certainly can't fix something that is horribly recorded. I should have specified this from the start. I know the process will be tough, but, in the end, by self recording and being able to have full reign over the whole process, I know that we can eventually have something we can all be proud of. I will go ahead and contact a engineer I know who has pretty good experience and see how much his prices are for mixing and mastering.
     
  16. SFSErik

    SFSErik New Metal Member

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    I actually do know the difference; however, it just so happens that everyone that we have worked with up to this point was both an engineer and producer, which is what I'm normally used to when working with professionals. Forgive me for throwing both words around. Careless mistake.
     
  17. StefTD

    StefTD Member

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    No-not at all!

    Sure, somebody who's good at what he's doing might be able to get it decent, but you're not able
    to fix it in the mix or the master, that's a myth (hey mythbusters :wave: -there's a myth to bust...)

    If there really aren't any quality guys I would try to do it the following way:
    Record anything as good as Seth mentioned, try to get the best possible takes out of everyone.
    It has to be tight, it has to be in tune, use new strings and do whatever you can to play it well!
    After you did this-send the dis, the midi drums and the vocals to a someone to mix it, believe me,
    it ain't fun to learn the challenging art of mixing on your own stuff (or worse-your bands stuff)
    so get somebody to do it for you.

    After he mixed it-send it out to somebody to master it, if you recorded it in a decent quality, got a nice mix
    from the other guy there should be a good chance to get a nice sounding master back-not 100%
    professional sounding, but way better than everything you will achieve if you do it your way.
    I did it that way, twice actually and I am still disgusted by the work I've done (and like I said before
    the stuff I am doing now is still pretty amateurish, after like 5 years).
     
  18. Skinny Viking

    Skinny Viking ¯\(°_o)/¯ How do Lydian?

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    ^ there's all your answers and a game plan as well
     
  19. StefTD

    StefTD Member

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    I love you my little spanish viking! ;)
     
  20. Genius Gone Insane

    Genius Gone Insane http://www.¯\(°_o)/¯.com

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    Also: heed this warning: recording music is like crack. A lot of forum members (myself included) started off exactly like you, and now we are hopelessly addicted to engineering audio. We are a lot more ugly, poor, bitchy, and smelly than we would have been had we just recorded at a professional studio that first time. And I fucken love it.
     

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