RiverBend Recording Studio, Chicago IL
About NAV
This is the RECORDING page
Rates NAV
Listen NAV
Gear NAV
News NAV
Links NAV
Contact NAV
Home NAV

The Recording Process

The recording process consists of three phases: tracking, over-dubbing, and mixing. Each phase of this process is very important in the creation of a quality recording.


    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 items.

    One of the most important parts of the over-dub phase is the recording of the lead vocal. It is critical that the lead vocal performance obtained is emotional and conveys feeling. Having several takes of a lead vocal performance is always a good idea. The best emotional takes can be spliced together to form a composite take in the mix-down phase.

    After the over-dubbing phase is completed and all of the parts of the song have been recorded, the mix-down of the recorded material can begin.


    Mix-down is where the engineer blends and enhances the recorded sound. After fine performances, this is the critical part of the recording process. The very first part of the mix-down process is for the engineer to get the input and ideas of the artists. The engineer at this point should have a good idea how all of the parts fit together. The band can also provide some albums for mix references.
    When mixing starts, the engineer has a multitude of tonal decisions to be made.
    • Each track is listened to and cleaned up. Blank spaces on tracks containing only noise are cleaned up.
    • If there are 24 tracks recorded, then there are
      • 24 choices about panning (left and right in the stereo image)
      • 24 volume choices for each track
      • 24 equalizer decisions to be made
      • 24 compressor choices to be made
      • Delays, reverbs, echo, chorus, gating choices to be made for each track. These items help the sense of space and depth to the music.

    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.
    After the recording process is over, you can take your CD to be duplicated or to a professional mastering studio to be assembled and sweetened for duplication.

site by ideas to reality