The mixing puzzle isn’t just a panning issue, but also a frequency issue. What frequencies are overlapping? It’s common with people who are inexperienced, you’re going to take each instrument and solo it, and you’re going to EQ and add effects and say, “Yeah! That’s the bass sound I want!” Then all of a sudden you put it into the track, and the bass sounds terrible. When you’re dealing with EQ and effects, you need to listen to it among multiple tracks to help you to carve out the space. Read more.
Depending on the genre of music, if you’re doing a live performance, or you’re recording the entire band or ensemble simultaneously, sometimes you can get away without a click – especially if you have a really solid drummer. But 80% of the time in a studio recording – especially if we’re just cutting drums and bass – we’re playing to a click. Read more.
I’ve had drummers who won’t take off their front head, and refuse to cut a hole in the front head. I’ve had to work with that. They had gotten the tuning to sound amazing, or they were purists and didn’t want anything inside the drum. The biggest issue you have when you don’t have the mic in the drum is you’re going to get bleed – bleed from the cymbals, and from the other drums – which can be a real problem for the kick, because it’s driving the entire song, and a lot of times when you’re mixing you want to gate your kick and snare. Read more.
I want to hear a combination of the drum – the hit of the drum – and the snares almost equally as loud as the drum. In a standard 4/4 set up, you’re hearing the snare on the 2 and 4. That snare has a space to fill – it’s the answer to the space the kick drum is filling on the 1 and 3. The snare and the kick have to work together to pull the song forward. If you have a great kick sound, and the snare isn’t matching it, you’ll have this imbalance. Read more.
Sometimes you have to push to get the best take out of a singer. The artist and the band might be satisfied with a take, but you as the producer or the engineer might feel like there’s something better you can get. So you say, “OK. We’ve got a great take down, let’s roll down the track one more time, and let’s get one more on tape.” Sometimes that’s when something really special happens. You always have to be an encouraging presence. Read more.
Let’s face it, if you’re recording in a home studio, chances are the room acoustics in your recording studio aren’t exactly ideal. There may be some instances where capturing the room’s ambience and resonance is just what you want, and other times where isolating your sound source and divorcing it from the room is your better option. Read more.
There are just so many factors to consider with a piano. Pianos are incredibly dynamic instruments, more so than any other instrument I can think of. They’re very percussive and they resonate a whole lot. A lot of microphones tend to get overdriven when recording a live piano, and when you’re using microphones that don’t have a pad, you might find you’re overdriving the microphone, not the preamp – though there’s a potential for that too. Read more.
What’s the most important thing to focus on as a music producer? Enthusiasm. Even if you’re telling them it’s not a great take, be enthusiastic about the fact that you think they can do a better job. You have to be good at focusing the artist and getting them to do the best they can. You have to make sure that nothing is condescending and that the tips and feedback you give are constructive. Read more.
When you’re recording an electric bass guitar, blending a direct injection (DI) line recording with a mic’d cabinet is the safest way to make sure you’re going to get the tone you’re looking for. If you have the preamps, mics, and tracks to do it, you might want to record as many as four bass tracks – a DI and three mics – and somewhere in the blend of those four individual tracks, you’ll find the tone you need for each song. Read more.
When considering how to record brass and reed instruments – and when recording saxophone in particular – the player and the tone he’s able to get from the instrument are vitally important. If you’re recording a professional with a lot of studio experience who knows how to get certain tones out of the instrument, you’re going to have a very different approach than if you’re in a home studio recording someone who’s new to the instrument and playing stacked notes.
“Take Grover Washington, Jr., for example,” says Jon. “I had the good fortune to record sax with Grover on a session in the mid 90s. He was as good as it gets. His tone was amazing. You could pretty much put a mic anywhere and it was going to sound good because he could resonate his sax really well.” Read more.