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Pro Techniques For Home Recording: Studio Tracking, Mixing, & Mastering Tips, Tricks, & Techniques With Audio

Pro Techniques For Home Recording: Studio Tracking, Mixing, & Mastering Tips, Tricks, & Techniques With Audio

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Pro Techniques For Home Recording: Studio Tracking, Mixing, & Mastering Tips, Tricks, & Techniques With Audio

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4/5 (5 evaluări)
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267 pages
3 hours
Lansat:
Mar 7, 2013
ISBN:
9781301706136
Format:
Carte

Descriere

Why do professional recordings sound "bigger than life"? Are there special microphones and secret techniques? Or is it somehow the magic of the "big studio"?

Learn how to improve your tracks (without spending big bucks on gear) with "Pro Techniques For Home Recording". This eBook covers every step in home music production from setup to mixing and mastering. Complete with audio examples.

Lansat:
Mar 7, 2013
ISBN:
9781301706136
Format:
Carte

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Pro Techniques For Home Recording - Joe Dochtermann

Pro Techniques For Home Recording: Studio Tracking, Mixing, & Mastering Tips, Tricks, & Techniques - With Audio

by Joe Dochtermann

Copyright 2013 Joe Dochtermann

Smashwords Edition

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Foreword

Thank you for purchasing Pro Techniques For Home Recording. This book will serve as a guide to making your home or project studio recordings sound as good as they can be.

Always keep in mind that some of the greatest recordings of all time were made using equipment that had a fraction of the capabilities of today’s recording gear. It is entirely possible to make a recording that sounds as good as (or better than!) a chart topping hit on a small digital recorder, personal computer, laptop, or tablet. Even an old four-track cassette recorder can create excellent quality recordings if used properly. In this book, we'll cover some of the gear available, and you'll have a chance to hear it in action so you can decide what is best for you.

It will take time and practice to develop your most important tool - a critical ear. This is the same when working in any media – noticing lighting and shading differences in photography, brush strokes in paintings, or choosing spices when cooking. I have provided some audio examples where the differences are obvious, others where they are rather subtle. The important thing is to listen carefully and critically; then you will develop a sense of hearing that will serve your creative goals.

You can download the audio examples as 320kBPS MP3 files by using the link provided at the end of the book under Author's Notes. Formatting conventions discourage publishing the link here, so just skip to the end to download by using the Table Of Contents.

Please use high quality headphones or your studio monitors to audition the examples - laptop/small computer speakers simply do not have a proper frequency response for critical listening. I do realize that MP3 encoding is not without compromises, but the newest conversion codecs provide excellent quality audio at their highest resolution, so I have chosen MP3 audio to allow faster downloads of the audio examples.

This book covers recording techniques from the barest of basics - from mic choice and placement, all the way to mastering your masterpiece. I have also written a somewhat expanded, printed version of this eBook for Course Technology/Cengage Learning called Big Studio Secrets For Home Recording And Production, which is available on Amazon and in Guitar Center locations across the USA.

A last thought before we start - There's an old saying in the industry;garbage in, garbage out. This is to say that even the best audio engineering cannot rescue a lousy performance. It also means that the engineer must make the best possible recording with the available gear, because a great performance that is poorly recorded is also a disaster...

There is no single technique that makes a recording sound fantastic. A great recording is the result of careful work on many small details, which add up to a great final result. Keep this in mind and you will always find a way to improve your tracks.

Table Of Contents

The Hierarchy Of Recording Quality

Important Terms,Good Gear, andBad Myths

Setting Up Your Studio

Acoustics

Monitoring

Microphone Choice and Placement

Equalization

Compression,Multiband Compression,Parallel Compression

Effects Processing and Design

Mixer Layout and Mixing

Mastering

Author's Notes

The Hierarchy Of Recording Quality

(Return to table of contents)

The first thing anyone who is new to the world of audio recording needs to understand is what makes a great recording. Think for a moment about your favorite recording; your favorite song. I'd be willing to bet that the most important thing about it is the song itself - the melody, lyric, and chord changes. This may not have much to do with the technical side of home recording, which is the focus of this book, but it is crucial to a good recording; the song has to be a good one.

This gives us a good starting point to look at a sort of Hierarchy Of Great Recordings, which will help us work effectively and set priorities when making great recordings of our own. Consider that, for example, a fabulously recorded drum sound is all but useless if the song is boring, rambles on, and loses the listeners attention after a half a minute. Those beautifully recorded kick and snare sounds are just so much noise. Such is it in our list of priorities; make sure that the points highest on the list are taken care of to the best of your ability before moving on, and you will produce good recordings.

The song. If you are justrecordingmusic for others, the first three points on this list are somewhat out of your realm of influence. This is a good way to determine if you are 'recording' or 'producing' a track. If you have influence on the song, the musicians, and the sounds/instruments being used in a track, then you are acting in aproducercapacity as well. In any case, for a recording to be good, the song has to have merit. How to do that is a topic for an entirely different book.

The musicians & arrangement. Even a great song can be turned into Mazak, but even that is a matter of taste (rather poor taste), so if you can help it, see to it that the best musicians you can get are playing on your track. 'Best' doesn't necessarily mean 'technically adept', either - go with your gut feeling and have someone play that drum, keys, or guitar part who you feel hits the mood of the song. If it is within your responsibility in the project, be critical of how the song is arranged - intros and outros, does it need a bridge, could the last verse be shorter, is the nose flute solo too long, and so on.

The sound of the instruments. At this point, even non-producing engineers have to step up and make sure everything is the best it can be. Learn to tune drums, if only to be able to recognize when drums are poorly tuned and try to save the situation. If you have ideas as to how things might sound better, always offer to record sound tests and play them back to the musicians. Hearing it back over the monitors - and best of all in the context of the song - may to help steer the guitarist into using less distortion, convince the drummer to switch snare drums, or let the keyboardist hear that those chord inversions are stepping too much into the lead vocal's range. Some studios have a few good instruments handy, especially those that are known to make themselves useful - a P-bass, a Fender Strat, a weighted keyboard controller, for example. Not a must for any studio, but can save the day when a punk band comes in with a bass so out of tune due to a warped neck that nothing can save it!

A capable audio engineer. This is where this book comes into play. You need to have your studio in working order - no buzzing monitors, intermittent cables, or one-eared headphones, and be ready to hit record at a moment's notice. Get to know your microphone collection, and which mics to use on which sound sources. Know your mixing board and/or DAW. Be prepared to bend and break the rules in search of new and interesting sounds.

The studio room & acoustics. If you have a great band playing a great song on wonderful sounding instruments, the next step is to get the whole shebang into a great sounding space! Of course, we are talking abouthome recordinghere, not Abbey Road Studios, so there are going to be compromises. However, there are some very easy and surprisingly inexpensive things you can do to improve the acoustics of your home studio mixing and recording spaces. We'll get into this in a later chapter, but let it suffice to say that a room with acoustic problems will cause far more problems than you can solve by picking the right microphone or by twisting a few knobs when mixing.

Monitoring. Even with the most basic recorder and a couple of microphones, you can make a great recording if you canhearwhat you are recording. Without that, no expensive gear can save you. Where you position a microphone is very often more important than what type of microphone you use, and the key is to set up, listen, and adjust before you go for the final take. Doing this is part of learning the room, an expression you may have heard if you have been in studios before; finding the great sounding place for a drum kit or guitar amp, or the right corner to set up to record vocals or a violin track.

Microphone, interface, and recording device. Finally, we get to the toys. I didn't aim to downplay the importance of the right gear for the job, but having the bigger plan is crucial to being able to use our toys properly. At the minimum, you will need a microphone, a way to get it into your recording device, and the recording device itself. In most cases, this is currently a dynamic or condenser microphone, an interface such as an M-Audio Fast Track, Avid MBox3, Apogee Duet, or maybe something bigger, like a MOTU 828, Apogee Ensemble, RME Foreface, or Digi003. In any case, this interface feeds your recording software, be it Reaper, Cubase, Pro Tools, Logic, or another program, the basic idea is the same, and they all function and sound very similar. Even if you use a standalone recorder like the simple, portable Korg MR-2 or SOS, or a larger integrated mixer/recorder such as the Roland VS-2480 or Yamaha AW2400, the process is all the same. There is certainly a lot to be learned about each piece gear, but the point is not to be blinded by the details, and remember that 90% of the task is to just catch the audio into the contraption, and then somehow get it back out.

The rest of the bells and whistles.Once we've got the whole mad circus undera semblance of control, then we can focus on the fine art of tweaking sound with all those fascinating playthings in both hardware and software plugins - compressors, equalizers, delays, reverbs, simulators, improve-i-fiers, and 'what-the-#&%*-was-that-ulators'. When all the other steps - from song to room acoustics to you your basic recording setup - are in order, your recordings will already be sounding awesome. At this point, you can consider picking up some fabulous mic-preamps or a great outboard compressor to push your sound that last bit over the cliff into nirvana.

A second opinion.When all is said and done, and captured on tape for posterity to the best of your ability, the most valuable thing you can get is another engineer to listen to your mix. By the time you've worked over a song to the point that you feel you are satisfied with it, you're often pretty well numbed to the whole production.

You can also use this list to make or prioritize your shopping list for your studio. Let's say that you play guitar and sing, have a room to record in, a computer with an interface to make the recordings, a Shure SM-57 microphone, some great song ideas, and a good set of studio monitors. What you don't have yet is a great vocal recording microphone, and your studio has a lot of pinging echoes, and a sort of boxy room sound. What is the next thing to invest in? Consult the list of priorities! The acoustics of the room trump the microphone, so it's time to get that problem under control. You shouldn't be surprised to hear, after you get the room acoustics treated

I must add that, in my opinion, gear companies work very hard to skew our opinion of what makes a good recording. It is in the interest of the industry to do so! Selling more gear makes the world go round for all the gear manufacturers, trade magazines, and websites (and yes, that include the forums, too) that have profited from the home recording 'revolution'. The 'revolution' started with ADATs and DA-88s during the 90's (arguably much further back with tape- and cassette- multitask recorders, but it was the digital boxes that brought the quality way up). We're now into a generation of DAW based recording where the power you have on your laptop or PC tops what most major studios had just 15 years ago.

Bells-and-whistles gear toys are honestly, and I speak from a fair amount of studio experience, relatively unimportant in the big picture. It is ultimately good musicians giving their best performance being recorded by a capable engineer that makes a great recording - even if the gear is an 8-track reel-to-reel and a boxful of Shure SM-57s.

Now on to the capable engineer part.

Important Terms, Good Gear, & Bad Myths

(Return to table of contents)

Important Terms

The very first thing we must do is to get you familiar with the lingua franca of the recording world. You don’t need to read straight through this chapter; you can use the search text function for an unfamiliar term, and the first result will be here in this first chapter. You might just scan through and see if a lot of the words seem familiar to you or not. The amount of unfamiliar vocabulary can be daunting at first, but you will get used to it as you go.

I will try to keep a balance between technically accuracy (kinda boring) and home studio practicality (what does the term mean for the non-electrical engineer). Honestly, there are some things about the inner workings of digital audio that just aren't that important for the layman/home studio audio engineer. It is good to have a basic understanding of the technical side so you don't fall for the marketing hype that often touts amazing 96kHz 32 bit float point low jitter audio wunderkind resolution as something you simply cannot live without!

Here goes:

¼" cable: The diameter of the connector of very commonly used audio cable, such as a guitar cable or balanced 'TRS' cable.

A/D: analog to digital. Refers to a process or device that converts an analog audio signal into digital information.

AES/EBU: A format of digital audio interface developed by the Audio Engineering Society and the European Broadcasting Union. This format is transmitted on an XLR (3 pin) connector and is a standard for professional audio equipment.

Amp: short for amplifier.

Amplify: to increase the level of. Example: A guitar amp increases the level of an electric guitar’s signal, making it strong enough to drive the speakers.

Analog: from the word ‘analogous’, meaning ‘the same as’. An analog signal is the same as it’s source, only different in level. Its resolution is theoretically very high, much more detailed than a digital representation of the signal.

Aux send or auxiliary send: a signal path through which a copy of a channel’s signal can be sent without affecting the output of that channel. A typical use for an aux send is to feed a copy of the signal to a reverb unit. The reverb unit’s outputs are then returned to the mixer via a stereo channel (or two mono channels). Some mixers have a dedicated ‘aux return’ – simply an input channel with no frills like EQ or compression.

Bit: In digital audio we often hear of 16-bit or 24-bit audio. These are the number of possible 'steps' of dynamic range resolution, with each bit increasing the signal to noise ration of the signal by 6dB. 16-bit audio has 2 to the 16th (or 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2 = 65,536) steps; 24-bit audio has 2 to the 24th, or 2416777216. Consequently, 16bit audio offers a possible dynamic range of 96dB, 24 bit of 144dB. Honestly, 16-bit resolution is more than sufficient for cleanly reproducing the dynamics of any pop/rock recording.

Bounce: Sometimes used to refer to the stereo mix of a song, both as a verb (Bounce everything down, and we'll have a listen in the car.) and a noun (That last bounce you made sounded ike the computer may have been on fire while it was made.)

Bus: a path for a signal in a mixer. The main outputs can be called the ‘main bus’. Some mixers have multiple busses that can then be sent to the main output. For instance, you can send 8 different cymbal and tom tracks to a stereo bus, so that you only need to adjust the bus fader to change the level of the whole mix of toms and cymbals. Busses also offer insert points for adding compression or EQ to bussed signals. This is very useful when mixing or processing tracks.

Brighten: to increase the high frequency content of a signal with EQ. The subjective result of this is that the tone of the audio seems clearer or sharper to

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