The Recording Process
Bands: Tracking is where the core musicians: bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, and vocalist get together and record the basic rhythm tracks. All of the musicians are in the same room to receive visual cues from one another. Guitar amplifiers are moved into a separate sound proof room to achieve a clean sound on the drum track. Bass and keyboards are usually taken via a direct box. All the musicians have headphones and can hear themselves via the headphone system. It is usually a good idea, but not necessary, for the drummer to be fed a click track. The drummer locks to the click and the rest of the band locks to the drummer. The vocalist sings parts of the song to aid band members with their place in the song. Final vocals are recorded in the over-dub phase. Several takes of every song are performed, and the best take is chosen to build on.
Tip: In most pop rock music, the tempo of songs is critical to achieving the proper feel for the tune. It is recommended that before recording rehearsals include the use of a click track to lock down feel and tempo.
The Engineer: The engineer’s job during the tracking phase is to get a great starting sound on every instrument. Choices of microphones, pre-amps, equalizers, dynamics processors are set by the engineer. The engineer also sets the optimal recording levels on each of the pieces of recording equipment and the recording medium.
Soloist: If you are a songwriter who wants to record your song with a guitar, then the guitar is usually recorded first. The vocals are saved for over-dubbing. Both can be done at the same time, but a better sound can be achieved if these are done separately.
Tip: Playing with a click for soloist can be helpful for keeping a consistent tempo. The soloist should also rehearse playing the song on their instrument without vocals and with a click track.
The Over-dubbing phase is the time set aside to record all of the other
extra material that is part of the song. From the previously recorded
material, a basic mix is fed to the performers headphones. Material
is recorded in sync with the previously recorded material. Here are
the typical items that are recorded as part of the over-dub process:
Lead and background vocals, guitar solos, keyboard solos, extra percussion
Mixing is a very artistic balancing act. A good mix will hook the listener
into the tune. A mix that has not been given the proper attention can
cause the listener to stop listening. You have spent your rehearsal
time, tracking time and overdubbing, getting good material down. Leave
plenty of time for an interesting and quality mix.
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