Oct 12, 2012
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Home Studio Recording Basics: The Ultimate How-To Guide

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Paying for professional recording studio services can be rather pricey and a lot of people are attempting to set-up their own home studios. Even so, you may not have the years of expertise of education to fully utilize the studio to produce high quality radio-ready recordings right off the bat. The initial step of the home recording process is to get the music, whether you create it yourself or have someone else create a beat for you. The next step is music production and recording. Finally, you will want to mix and master your track. If you plan on having a music career, music promotion and distribution will be an additional step to consider.
 
Professional engineers are skilled at sound design, using plug-ins, initial recording studio setup (logistics), among many other things. Therefore, becoming a professional engineer is not a feat that can be achieved overnight. Even if you don’t plan on being a professional engineer, you still want to understand, as a singer, what is going on in the back-end so you can communicate effectively with your engineer while in the sound booth. In any collaboration process, ideas and concerns of all involved should be addressed.
 

Music Production & Recording

 
One of your initial steps before even beginning to record your music is to set up and sound proof so that the current room acoustics are just right for recording. It is important to think about setup to avoid potential feedback or phasing. Adjust your microphone and instrumental feed input gain staging levels so that you don’t clip or distort, going as “hot” as you can go. If a microphone is set up at a 45 degree angle, you might be able to minimize popping or hissing. Depending on whether you are recording one soloist or many, may depend on the microphone you use. Dynamic microphones vary from condenser microphones in a couple of different ways that you will want to know about. Generally speaking, dynamic microphones are meant for more live performances and condenser microphones are usually used for recording in a sound room. You will also want to learn about the appropriate filters, de-esser, or compression limiters so your recording comes out the best it can initially.
 
Getting good template settings for different genres and styles before you start can save you time having to figure it out in the long-term, but adjustments in software settings may change, accordingly to your individual preferences and needs. One very important component of any collaboration is that the musician feel comfortable enough to really give him or her self over to the performance. Artists will want to work with someone who is patient, but also very honest with constructive criticism on how to get the sound they are looking for.
 

Audio Engineering & Song Mixing

 
A lot can go into a good mix from EQ adjustments, adding a bit of reverb on the more soft piano parts, fading out at the appropriate time, to overlapping vocals for a more full sound. If you want to eliminate nasal or increase clarity, this can be done with EQ adjustments. There are even pitch adjustments that can be made so you don’t have to go back and record the whole entire piece for one problem area. A skilled audio engineering professional should know how to do all the above well, without cutting off any portion of your dynamic range or performance.
 
Don’t get too excessive with the adjustments you make. Sometimes minor adjustments can make all the difference. It really depends on what genre or style of music as well, so you will want to be familiar with different mixing techniques for those different genres and styles. For instance, when it comes to dance or electronic music, you may use more effects on your vocals. You may find it more acceptable to have a live performance quality to a classic jazz recording than you would for a Top 20 pop hit. After mixing is complete, you will want to look at mastering and bouncing your track.
 

Music Recording Studio Remixes

 
There are many different programs one can use to remix like Ableton, Mixcraft, or Pro Tools (industry standard for recording). Not only do the types of programs have minor distinctions in their capabilities, but it is also important that the person remixing have the knowledge of how to do so quickly and still produce a high quality track. In an era where dance, trance, and dubstep are coming back into mainstream, remixing has become even more popular. Many radio stations like to keep interest in a song by playing a remixed version of it. If you come with an original and remixed version of your song, you are already one step ahead of the game.
 
When remixing, you have to have a strong understanding of timing and structure, just as you would for original song mixing. Placement of where section repeats and layovers happen can make or break the best of songs. You can slice, dice, make faster/slower, or reharmonize. Remixing isn’t as easy as it might look with so many things to consider. For instance, themes, sounds, and effects can all be added to add a little extra personality to the track. A skilled remix engineer will look at melodic and rhythmic elements both separately and together, making sure that the foundation of the piece stays in tact while they play around.
 

CD & DVD Duplication

 
Once you are done with your track, you are going to want to get your name out there by passing out free promotional CDs at your concerts or to be distributed in your press package to the top labels via your management company. This means that you will probably need CD or DVD duplication. It can get quite costly to duplicate CDs on your own but if you get them done in bulk, it can save you a bit of money.
 
From singles, limited edition albums, to full length albums, you can cover all the basis. You can start building up hype now with just a few songs for your full-length album to released soon after. You can also provide your biggest supporters and fans with a DVD showing off some of your performances and backstage interviews so they can really get to know the band or singer, and grow their personal connection with you and your music.

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