Top Ten Recording Tips

Hello everybody. Meet Guy. Guy is Red Dog Music’s very own Recording Specialist. He knows a thing or two about a thing or two, so he often regales us with his golden nuggets of tech wisdom, which we then include in our weekly e-newsletter. Below are TEN* of Guy’s most educational, highly informative and downright HILARIOUS tech tips…

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

1. Way back when, it was quite easy to identify the ‘Makers Mark’ of certain studios or producers in the tracks that they put out. Whether it was a peculiar EQ, a defined reverb sound or a mixing habit (hard panning certain instruments, for example.) This is certainly much harder to do now; the musical world is full of ‘industry standards’, presets, copycats and sound-alikes. The more unique you make your recording style, the more easily identifiable your work will be. I’ll make you famous one day, I will.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

2. It’s inevitable that, at some point, a piece of your equipment will stop working. Such is life, unfortunately – but you can still make the best of a bad situation!

Often you’ll find that recording equipment such as effects units or preamps start making strange glitches, garbles and goobles that make them useless for their intended purpose… but a bit of creative re-purposing will open your ears to new sonic possibilities. Used conservatively, these crazy glitches will add a lo-fi, nasty edge to anything you care to add them to! How long are your nails? Nine inches, perhaps?

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

3. A fun mixing method to try is to group channels together according to what they add to the track, not by what kind of instrument they are. Try an “attack” group with stuff that has a fast, hard attack sound like snare drum and acoustic guitar, fill up a “warm” group with big, wide keyboards, electric guitar and vocals, and maybe something like a “boom” group with bass guitar, kick drum and deep synths.

Get the balance of each instrument right in each separate group, then whack a compressor on each of these separate groups to tame them a little. When you start mixing using the groups you’ve set up, you’ll realise you’re mixing “feels” rather than groups of instruments. Cool, eh? I know, you love me. Mutual, my friends. Mutual. If you want some suggestions for group names to get the ball rolling, try these: Mmm, Meh, YES, huge, bouncy, wobble, spiky, shiny, boing, RAWK, the mighty unknown, death from above, shazam, spacey, fun times.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

4. Meet your new best friend: “CTRL-Z”! Never be afraid to make ridiculous mixing or sound processing choices, they can always be undone if you hate them but sometimes you may just STRIKE GOLD! Here’s an example: Ever [TAB] flipped your Reason console around to look at the back of a synth and seen all those crazy patch ins and outs? Start firing them into each other like Red Dogs in heat, some will kill the sound entirely, some might give a crazy squelchy sort of sound, but sometimes – just sometimes – you’ll dial up the BEST SOUND IN THE WORLD. EVER.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

5. Put your phaser pedal away, Uncle Guy’s gonna teach you how to phase it OLD SCHOOL! Lay your guitar cab on the floor, face up. Get two dynamic microphones and dangle them a few inches above the cone of the cab. Set them swaying around with a little flick of the hand (be careful not to bump the mics into each other!) When these two signals are panned centrally you’ll hear a lovely rich, subtle swooshing noise that just can’t be replicated with pedals!

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

6. One of my colleagues’ (Andy is his name) favourite phrases is “RTFM”, which I think means “Read The Fabulous Manual”. You can save yourself a LOT of future hassles and embarrassing situations by familiarising yourself with ALL of your gear’s special features before you start using it. I know it’s boring and tedious, but you might discover some secret musical super powers! I’d like to relay some more of Andy’s favourite phrases, but I fear for some of our younger readers.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

7. Master as you go! “Are you crazy, Guy!?” I think we’ve already ascertained that one, dear reader! Put a stereo compressor and limiter (or your favourite mastering plugin) on your master buss and get a rough idea of what your mix is going to sound like as a finished product. When you think you’re at the final stage of mixing, de-activate your master bass plugins, make sure it’s not clipping and export your mix. You’ll now know roughly what this mix will sound like at the final mastering stage so you’ll hopefully reduce any unwanted surprises like overpowering drums or crowded mids!

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

8. What happens when melodic inspiration hits, but you’re not ready? Do you fumble around your gear finding a microphone, setting up a stand and rummaging in a box for an XLR lead? You could do that, OR you could jam your headphones into the line in on your desk and whack that gain up! VOILA! INSTANT MUFFLY RECORDING GOODNESS! Your headphones will capture your voice when you sing into them because dynamic microphones and speakers are technically very similar, magnetically speaking. Also, it’s a pretty awesome way of capturing a ‘radio sound / lofi’ sound on vocals! I did it while performing live once. I’m so awesome, it hurts.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

9. Ignore good advice! Are you recording dry signals and adding effects later? BORING! Have some fun and take some risks. Too much reverb? Poor baby. Is that flanger slightly out of sync with your beat? Kiss it, make it better. Some of the best records in history feature engineering ‘errors’ that would make modern producers’ hair stand on end. If it’s good enough for Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (mad), Joe Meek (madder) & Phil Spector (maddererest), then it’s good enough for you!

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

10. This tip is only for the super adventurous!

!ot ti ylppa uoy revetahw ot dnuos yltsohg ,gnipeews looc yllaer a evig dluohs sihT .gniht elohw eht esrever neht dna kcart wen a ot nwod ti ecnuob ,dnuos ruoy ot yaled ro brever gnol a gnidda yrT

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

If you’d like these golden nuggets of wisdom sent directly to your inbox, remember to sign up to our mailing list at www.reddogmusic.co.uk

*We had to edit these down from a grand total of around 50. It’s been a long and arduous day.

The following two tabs change content below.

Red Dog Music

Red Dog Music is the UK's friendliest musical instrument retailer with branches in Edinburgh, leeds and London and an awesome website at www.reddogmusic.co.uk.

One Response to “Top Ten Recording Tips”

Read below or add a comment...

Join the discussion! What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.