The Music Recording Process

While working on microphone placement, which actually take longer to experiment with, we’ll walk briefly through the recording process. Disclaimer: I am still reading into the recording process, so I might have some thing wrong ;). Basically, the recording process comes down to recording, overdubbing (more recording), mixing and mastering. There are other aspects as well (sequence editing for CD’s, marketing & sales), but we will not go through them here.

On to recording then!

Note: With ‘song’ I mean the whole song and with ‘track’ I mean a single instrument, vocal or effect track within the song.

Recording

The most obvious one in the whole process is recording the music. Depending on the composition of the people making the song, the first step is to record a first take. If you are in a band, this means recording the song with the whole band. If you’re alone, it means recording one instrument first. It looks like a good idea to select a tempo first. MIDI tracks can be edited in tempo easily, but recorded tracks are not. If you are alone and do not have a drummer for the tempo, you could use the metronome of the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation, in my case Cubase). Now you should have a base song to work with. Remember with the technology of these days nothing is permanent yet!

Overdubbing (more recording)

So the base song is ready, but the vocals were not perfect yet. Now you can re-record the vocals by recording only the vocals while playing back the rest. You can keep doing this until you have the recording you like. Of course, you can also use this to record new tracks. If you only have one instrument track recorded, e.g. piano, you can record the drums or guitar while playing back the already recorded piano. So now you keep repeating this until you have all instruments and vocals how you want it. It is a good thing to keep in mind that when recording with a microphone, it is useful to use a headphone to playback the already recorded music. If you use speakers or monitors, your microphone could pick up this music as well and you do not have a clean track.

Mixing

So now that all the insruments, vocals, MIDI tracks and effects are there, you can start mixing the song. This means to run the song through your DAW’s mixer and setting the levels of all tracks correct. Also, you can put in effects (like reverb or delay) to a single or multiple tracks. It’s also a good idea to equalize. If the guitar contains too much bass, you can equalize the guitar track to fix that. Another thing is the localisation of your tracks. This means panning an instrument to the left/right or creating a stereo image of an instrument to give the sense of the instrument being in a virtual space instead of a flat mono sound. When finished with mixing, your song is as good as finished!

Mastering

Honestly, I do not really understand the mastering step yet. Mastering means more level, spectrum and equalize tweaking of the whole song to make it perfect. You can hire a recognised mastering engineer or do it yourself. So I’ll follow up on this one if I know more about it.

Of course I still have a lot to learn and I might reflect on this differently later in time. But, this should be the basics of the recording process!

Stay tuned!

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