The Complete Process of Recording Even though it seems like we only learn about the actual recording of instruments, then see the result through the CD, there is an entire process that is hidden behind the curtains in order to get the sound of the CD exactly right. This includes a variety of steps that are linked to engineering a CD and producing the right sounds after the instrumentation is complete. The first step of the process after the recording is the pre-mixing. This is the point in which the instruments will become neutral and even. The main part of this particular step is to determine the sound waves and what their peak points of loud and soft is. This can be automatically set up through a normalization tool, which will average out the sound frequencies for the individual instruments. You can also find mathematical formulas if you want to customize the normalization tool to build the top and bottom peaks of the recording. Within this part is also the ability to make the instrumentation sound just a little bit better. You can add in the extra sounds as well as the effects that you want with additional instruments. This will take the deadened sound that was created from the recording and move it into a live sounding performance as well as a space which is more effective in defining what is being played. After this point, you will move into the mixing stage. This will focus on the individual instruments and what they need in order to be completely enhanced. The first part of this is to move through each of the individual instruments and create envelopes for them. These are areas in which they will have lows or highs as an individual instrument. You can add in dynamic effects during this point in time as well as things such as compression, which will help to normalize the peak points of the piece even more. During this time, you want to make sure that everything is even and sounds right when picked out individually. This will then move you into the pre-mastering stage. During this point, you will move from working with individual instruments and into the arrangement of all of the instruments. You will want to make sure that the low and high frequencies of all of the instruments are balanced at the same level. This should move not only into the peak points of the sound waves, but also into the volume control. The pre-mastering stage will include industry standards as well as individual preferences for balancing out. Many software packages will come with analysis components so that you can look at the amount of low frequencies to high frequencies and adjust it to balance out. This will depend on the software that you use, as well as the preferences that you have for the blending of the instruments. As long as you keep in mind that the most important part of this is blending together all of the instruments with high and low sounds, you will easily be able to maneuver with the pre-mastering stage. The last step in putting together the mix for recording is the mastering. This will take the songs that have been made over all of the tracks and make sure that they balance out evenly. Like pre-mastering, this can be done by checking all of the levels and making sure that all of the songs balance out and are even in their volume levels as well as high and low frequencies. You can check your volume levels not only by the mathematical formulas, but also by comparing your volume levels on CD players. The sounds should reach the industry standard volumes, unless you have an alternative preference for your blend of songs and instruments. Once you know the major concepts for each step of placing a CD together, you can find the best way to blend and change everything that is needed within the CD and songs that you are producing. If you are looking beyond recording, you want to look into the engineering of a CD and how you can effectively put together the instruments, every step of the way. Getting Your Recording Right You finally have finished recording your piece, front to back and think that you are ready to mix everything together. But, before you start, you notice that there is one little glitch right in the middle. Before you start over again, or start to give up with your song, find the tools that will work so that you can get the recording right. Software that is designed in recording is always designed with the human element in mind. This means that you can play the instrument the way that you best know how, then create a way to get the exact sound that you want later. While you want to be exact while you record, you can be somewhat merciful in knowing that this sometimes doesn't happen, then find the right tools to put it back together again. One of the greatest software tools that can be used are punch ins. This allows you to flag a certain area that you want to re-do. You will be able to go back a certain number of seconds and replay. You will then move into the area that needs re-done and record over what was already recorded. You will be able to continue to play afterwards in order to fade back out and put everything together right. With this option, you want to make sure that you can put all of the sound waves next to each other. With some programs, the punch ins will slightly divide once starting. Giving yourself enough room to prepare for the punch in as well as creating a seamless tie together of the two will help you to put everything together. Once you have all of the instrumentation exactly right, you can start putting in the right sounds. This is often times called the pre-mixing stage and is used in order to make your instrumentation have the right effects and resonance within your instrument. You always want to do this before you reach the mixing stage as it will often times make a difference in the volume as well as the way in which the instrument mixes with other instruments. The pre-mixing stage will always begin with the normalization process. This is simply taking the setting of the waves and making it so that it peaks out in both ends. When you normalize something, the frequencies will go up or down. You should see the waves change in order to reach maximum and minimum peaks at both ends. If you have your volume set correctly, everything will normalize to be around the same peaks, allowing you to mix together the sounds easier. After this, you can set the sound that you want in the end for your instrumentation. This moves into reverb options, flange, effects, fades and other instrumentation effects that adds in extra color to your instrumentation. When you do this, you should make sure that you work with what will sound the best with your instrument and how it will change the sounds within your song. Once you start to hear the right sounds for your instrumentation, you can preset this part and allow for time saving options when getting ready to mix. After this stage, you will be ready to start your mixing of instruments. Your check list for the pre-mixing stage is to simply make sure that your individual instruments has the right sound that you want for the entire mix. This starts with the smoothness you will want from the song and moves into the options for getting the sounds that add a little bit extra into the mix of your individual instrument. Tips and Tricks for Recording Your Voice It's finally time to put the voice into sound wave format. Before you start singing your favorite notes, you will want to make sure that everything is set up correctly. The voice is the trickiest part of recording as well as the very last step to getting everything in correctly. Before you begin, know exactly how to approach your notes. Your first step to recording your voice is to not record your voice. This means that you will want to have everything else exactly like it should be. The rest of your instrumentation should be completed, including everything from the layering of instruments to the mixing. Putting the voice in before you have anything else done will cause slight confusion in the end from all musicians and may cause some parts of the track to be off. After you have everything set, prepare your recording studio in the correct way for voice. This means that you should have an enclosed space to record, which doesn't cause the voice to bounce off the walls from the resonance. The microphone should be set in place to pick up all sides of the voice, but should be able to muffle the rest of the sounds in the room. The more enclosed and deadened the sound, the easier it will be to capture the voice. One of the important parts of recording the voice is linked to the peaks in the voice. It is easy for a vocal sound to peak, meaning that the sound wave goes past the maximum and into a 'red zone' of volume. You will want to prevent this from happening and keep the voice condensed in a specific area. Remember, it is always easier to get louder, but it is harder to get softer. For this purpose, compressors have been created. This is set into the microphone and compresses the sound wave before it is recorded into the software. Always check the compression of the voice and the peaks that it has so that you have room to work with the volume. From this point, it is a matter of putting the right mixes in for the voice. Equalizers, or EQs will help to get the right sounds of the high and low frequencies in and should always be set on the mixer as well as within the software. You will also want to consider things such as noise gates, which stops the sound from resonating before it is recorded. If the voice naturally resonates, the noise gate will have a cut off point where the resonance will stop, making everything clear instead of sounding like it echoes. After the voice is recorded, you can use it like you would any other instrument. This means that you can normalize the sound waves so that it matches with the other instruments in volume and gain. This also means that you can allow the volume to mix properly. One of the greatest sets of tools for the voice is being able to manipulate the sound, which can be done after the normalization is complete. Reverb, flanges and other vocal tools can add back into the voice what is taken out for compression. This will depend on the type of voice and the effect that you want to have. For example, if the voice has a slight accent or already has a strong resonance, reverb will make it sound like an echo. A clearer voice; however, will add in a little sparkle to the mix. You will want to analyze the type of voice you are working with before you add in the mix and will want to take some time to experiment with your options. If you follow this simple sets of rules, recording the voice can move from being the hardest and most complex part of recording to being the simplest step in putting together all of the sounds. Giving yourself room to experiment with the voice and understanding what it needs in order to work right will allow you to get the exact results every time. Tips and Tricks for Laying Down Tracks Arranging and putting together a recording sometimes takes something a little bit different than getting a band together and mixing in all of the music. There are now more options available for piecing together your songs, making sure that everything is in the right place and keeping the sounds together correctly. Tip #1: Take advantage of repeats and patterns. Everything musical is built off of a pattern. If you have patterns in your song, don't take the time to keep re-writing them into the music, especially if you are not playing it live. Creating a loop with that specific musical phrasing will be much more effective and will save you time. Tip #2: Know where to find loops. Most recording packages come with pre-made loops that you can use for general patterns. This is especially effective if you need a rhythm pattern or a general beat. While loops shouldn't be the basis of your song, for the general back ground songs, this is a great thing to use. Tip #3: Always think in layers. Whether you are using patterns, loops or recording live, the best way to get through the recording process is to think in layers. This should be happening from the arrangement of the song, but should continue to the actual production and mixing. Tip #4: Know what to put in first. There are logical and effective ways to put down tracks to the different instrumentation. You will always want to start with the rhythm track because of the ability to have a repetitive loop and to keep everything on the right track. You will then stack from lows to highs, starting with the bass sounds, moving to mid range, and then high range. Tip #5: Vocals are the icing on the cake. Even though the singers are the front of the stage, in recording they keep to the back. Before you bring a vocal person in to record, you will want to have the layers of your instrumentation completed, including the mixing. The voice can then be compressed in and will blend in nicely with the rest of the instrumentation. Tip #6: Familiarize yourself with more than one program. Most recording studios will have a preference of their favorite programs to use for everything. However, the more versatile you are in your recording software, the more capabilities you will have to find the right sounds, arrangements and capabilities within the software. You will want to ask around to see what software is best at what. Tip #7: Know the background from the front. One of the largest mistakes made in recording is having the balance and the back arrangements as the foreground. This all comes back to the volume control in your pieces. You will want to research what the standards are for each volume setting before you start recording. Tip #8: It's easier to get louder in volume than softer. If you are just starting the mix, start low. Typically, you will want to test each instrument or pattern. They should be set around -6.0. From this, you can move up. You never want your volume to get to 0 when recording, especially before the vocals as it will cause the sound to be too loud, to peak with the waves and to be imbalanced. Tip #9: Testing. When you test each of the sounds you want to look for volume control. Each of the instruments should not max out into a yellow or red zone. The volume should show a nice half way point with all of the instruments. Some can be higher than others for the mix, but if you keep this general rule in mind, it will be easier to keep the instrumentation fitting together with volume. Tip #10: Know when to pre-set. If you have a certain sound you are going for, know what needs compressed or put together in a certain way, don't hesitate to do it before you begin playing. This is especially effective with the mixing. However, you don't want to experiment unless you are ready to lay the track down several times with different settings. With these tips, you can build your pieces more effectively and with less time. Knowing what to use when with your computer, as well as what to set in the right place will help you to get the exact sound that you need. To Play Live or To Use the Computer The digital age has not only led to revolutions in new software and capabilities, but also an entirely new set of sounds for instrumentation. For those who are familiar with music at all, they also know that it is no longer necessary to have live instruments to play everything or to have a person present. The computers have the capacity of substituting for any type of instrumentation you need. However, before deciding to digitalize everything, you should consider the differences between playing live or using a computer. There are several sounds that are now becoming capable of taking the place for real instruments. MIDI was the first set of sounds that were produced which were the same as real instruments. The packages in MIDI were taken by recording live instruments on every note and turning them into a digital sound wave. As this particular type of package has evolved, so have the sounds and the ability to make the sounds seem more real and less electronic. Most MIDI packages are used only with Mac computers or as added on plug ins to what already exists. The second type of digital effect is known as VST's, or Virtual Sound Technology. This is a generalized term that includes a wide variety of instrumentations, loops sounds and electronic effects that can be used in almost any software program. Like MIDI, VSTs take live instruments, copy the sounds and reproduce them using digital effects. The result is a wide variety of instruments, sounds and certain measures of general arrangements that can be used almost anywhere. When you are recording, the question becomes whether to use the electronic capacities that are there or to move into recording live instruments. While the electronics progress, the sounds become better and somewhat capture what is being done. However, there are things to listen for and to familiarize yourself with before moving into using electronics. The first part of the electronics that is missing from the picture is the idea of resonance. With live instruments, each note carries harmonics over it that can not be heard, as well as resonance from the strings and vibrations. The vibrations come from the strings or air hitting other air and hitting the sound. Because the MIDI and VST packages are digitalized, it will be missing this capacity and won't be able to carry this same vibration. This is one of the largest cons of VSTs. Even with the progressions in copying the sounds, it is impossible to find ones that add in the resonance of a real instrument. If you have no choice but to use a VST or MIDI package, you will want to consider finding ones that can play as closely to the real instruments as possible. Many of the older versions of electronic sounds carry the electronic sound to them and sound like synthesizers or man made instruments. You won't want to use a package that doesn't have a resemblance to the real thing. Most musicians and listeners can still tell the difference. If you want your sounds to be electronic, than this will work fine. However, if you are trying to portray a real instrument, you want to make sure that it carries a sound that closely resembles the live instrument. The major way in which you can tell whether the packages are resembling live instruments is in how you hear the instrument. You may want to compare how the packages sound to the real things. For instance, an electronic sound will sound muffled and will be closer sounding to a synthesizer than to an instrument. Unless this is the exact sound you are looking for, you will probably want to check into newer versions or updates that use better technology options. No matter what you decide with the instrumentation to use for your recording, the most important thing to keep in mind is what you want the end sound to be like. This means that you should keep things in mind such as resonance, resemblance to the real instrument and the electronic equivalent of that instrument. While both can remain just as effective in your arrangement, it is the small differences in sound that make a difference in what is being played. Setting Up A Recording Studio Having the right equipment for a recording studio isn't enough in order to get the right sounds for your CD. If you want to make sure that everything is in the right place, you will also want to think about the way in which things are spaced out and how you can work with that in your recording studio. The first thing you will want to consider with setting up a recording studio is how much room you will need in order for everyone to be comfortable. This means that you will need to have plenty of room to fit an average of five to ten people. If you want more people to come in, space out how much room each one will need in order to feel comfortable within your space. The size of the room as far as feet will not change the way that anything sounds, so if you think bigger space, it is probably better. The second part to this is dividing the space between the engineering and the playing. While this is not as important as it used to be, it helps for monitoring as well as mixing the sounds while others are playing. Typically, you will see one room that is divided in two. One space is for the musicians while the other is for the sound board, mixing and mastering while those who are working are playing. This creates a better sound proof area for your recording. With the engineering area, it is expected that everything will be in a range where you can quickly get to it and change the sounds as it is going. Having everything within your arms reach, such as the mix board and the software, will help you to be more consistent and effective while recording other instrumentation. The area in which the musicians are will then need to be built in a specific way. It is best to have very thin carpeting or wood floors, as this causes the sound to not be absorbed. Lower ceilings will also help to keep the sound compacted. If you have wood flooring or no carpet, you will want to consider buffering the ceiling or placing an area rug around the space which the musicians are working. This will help to keep the sound from bouncing. On the side of the walls should be foam in order to keep the sound deadened as well. You will only want to foam certain sides, depending on the shape of the room, it's size and how it is built. If the noise becomes to deadened, it will be harder to get the right mix when recording. Another part that should be kept in mind with the musicians area is with the voices. If you are planning on putting vocals on any CD, you will need to have a separate area for the microphones, again, depending on the size of the room. Often times, vocal boxes will be used in order to trap all of the sound. For home recorders with a minimum budget, things such as closets will work in order to keep the sound in the right space. Of course, each recording studio will differ according to the best way that you work, the type of instrumentation that you have, who you plan on recording and what your needs are at the time. Before you start with your recording studio, it is best to plan out the most legitimate way to organize your equipment and your needs so that everything can be effective once it is set up. No matter what your budget, needs or playing capacities, having a recording studio that allows you to produce professional CDs is an important factor in creating the right sounds and mixes. The more you plan out for your studio, and the more capacities that you have with dividing the spaces correctly and with having the right equipment, the easier it will be to create the right sounds. Choosing Your Mixing Board The realizations that have grown in the studio for mixing are ones that have also led to new applications and ideas for putting together the right mix of instruments. With this, has come a variety of technologies and options in order to ensure that every type of studio can easily change sound waves within the recording area. These options are allowing for better mixes and blends within each piece of music. Knowing the characteristics of different mixing boards can help you to decide what is your best option. Number of input devices. Each mixing board comes with a set of number of channels. Each of these channels will allow for one instrument to be placed within the mixing board. You may have heard of concepts like the '24 mixer' or '36 mixer'. The numbers that are being referred to are the channels used, each one allowing for an instrument to be in it's place. Before you get a mixing board, you will want to think of how many channels you will need at one time, dependent on how many instruments you want or need to record at once. Different uses for different environments. There are different innovations that are used for different areas of mixing. Because a sound board has to be able to adapt to both the software for recording and for the mix of instruments, different types of mixers will be available. Some of these will be focused on performance mixing while others will be strictly for the studio. You can determine which is being used according to the level control features and the way in which the sound board is built. Analog or Digital. Technology innovations with mixers are constantly re-defining the best and latest types of mixers to use within recording. This has quickly made a transition from analog to digital mixers. Analog mixers are defined by wired controls that mix in changes and live sounds. Digital mixers; however, will use a digital interface in between. Typically, the mixing difference can be heard in the sound as well as the options for mixing. Because digital is using later technology, it is now moving into innovations such as audio streams, all in one editing options and more possibilities for controlling volume and input of the sound being used. Extra effects. No matter what type of mixer you are looking into, you always want to pay attention to the little knobs that are a part of the mix. Depending on the mix and make of the sound board, you will also have different signal options as well as volume control options, dependent on the mixer. The more complex you want to make the mix, or the more instrumentation you have, will also help you to decide on what effects you want to take place in the mix and before the sound recording. You should keep in mind that, with these effects, they can not be undone if they are recorded that way as sound waves, meaning you will want to be cognizant of what is working and what doesn't in the mix. Interactions with software. Your mixing board not only provides you with options for pre-recording, but also should have options with how it interacts with the software. Not only does each mixing board have different features within the board itself, but can also interact with the software in certain ways in order to mix together the sound waves in a certain way. You will want to make sure that you have a mixing board that compliments your software system. If you keep these things in mind with the right mixing board, it will save you time, money and will allow for the right sound to be developed from what you are creating. Your end option will be the ability to customize your sound and to create certain controls within your music that best fit what you want to do. By understanding the different qualities of mixing boards and how they can work for you, there will be the ability to have the perfect recipe for your instrumentation mix. What Equipment Do You Need for Recording? The improvement of technology and the capabilities within digital music not only allows for different sounds and formats to be available, but is also creating a space where musicians can record for themselves. If you are ready to record, you can set up a space that works for what you need and start moving towards getting your sounds on CD. Following are some of the must haves in order to get your recording studio up and recording. Software and a computer. There are a lot of options that are available with software, but you want to make sure that you have it. This is the brain center of your recording studio and will do more for you and your music than anything else. With your computer, also make sure that you have a lot of memory and power that can easily store and keep up with the recordings. Foam. One of the most important parts of your recording studio is to make sure that it is sound proof. It's easy for your instruments or voices to bounce off the wall, causing an echo when you record. Recording foam will deaden the sound and allow you to record what you need without the bounce back. Keep in mind that, depending on the room size and the acoustics, you may not have to foam the entire room. Mixer. In order to get the sounds from the instruments into the computer, this is your tool. Make sure that you have enough inputs and outputs to record all of the instruments that you want at once. Pre-amps. If you really want some good sound, don't just plug your instruments into the mixer. Instead, you should get pre-amps into the mix. This will allow for instruments, such as guitars and basses, to keep their best sound, then go into the mix board. For example, if you want a bass to have a certain resonance, you can set it up on the pre-amp, without it changing the main sound of the guitar, as it would if they were both plugged into the mix board. Monitors. You will need special speakers for after the recording in order to make sure that you have everything set together right. Monitors will help you to hear both the high and lows of your recording and make sure that it all blends together correctly. Some prefer headphones over monitors; however, if you choose this option, make sure that they are recording head phones, designed in the same way as monitors. Microphone Equipment. It would be nice if you could just set up a regular microphone for recording, but it doesn't work that easily. You will need to get a recording microphone, which will catch all of the sounds from the voice on every side. Attached to the microphone should be a popper, which will stop the hard consonants from recording and muffling the recording. Compressor. This is an option for recording, but shouldn't be overlooked. This is specifically used for vocals, and allows the waves in the voice to not reach certain peaks. Instead, it is compressed to equal the rest of the waves. You can then adjust the voice to match the other instrumentation as you go. Starting with this equipment will allow you to have the basic boosts that you need in order to cut your first recordings. Of course, you can always add in extra equipment, or take away other equipment, but with the above, you can get a good start to a basic and complete home recording studio. What's That Buzz? 'The Buzz' is something that happens a lot in a recording studio as one of the syndromes of recording. If you are setting up a recording studio and notice that there is white noise coming from somewhere in your equipment, you will want to make sure that you check some things out, reorganize your options and figure out where the buzz is coming from. If you don't find the buzz, or white noise, that is taking place in the studio, it can cause problems with the recording. The white noise, like everything else in the studio, will automatically be recorded as part of the sound wave. While some of this can be taken out with a filter during the mixing process, the sound will not be as clear and can cause problems by the time you get to the mastering process. If you hear a buzz, the first thing to check is the spacing of all the instruments. Often times, the cables or the amps will be too close to each other. The frequencies will begin bouncing off of each other and will cause the buzz to happen. You will want to move the instruments away from each other or will want to turn them in a different direction so that the frequencies don't hit. Not only can that sound come from the instruments, but can also come from monitors. Your monitors, like the instruments, can create a buzz from the sound frequencies hitting the electrical part of the monitors and bouncing off. You will want to fix this by moving the monitors into a higher area or mounting them against the wall so that this doesn't happen. Crossing the monitors on both sides of the room so that they are far away from each other and give a complete sound will also help to prevent the white noise and will allow for a better sound to be heard. Another check point for the buzz is with the cables that you are using. If a part of the cable comes loose or has some problems with the wires, it can easily start to create some extra noise. Cables that are crossing each other may also sometimes have this problem. If you want to make sure that you are stopping this type of noise from happening, get three prongs to plug into the amps and sound boards if possible. This is more stable than the single prongs and will prevent extra noises from slipping into the recording. If you still hear the noise, you might want to check the sound board. Often times, the wrong levels on the mixing board can cause problems as well. If the volume is too high on one, for instance, it will cause feed back to occur in the rest of the room. Checking balances, frequencies, volume levels and trims on the mixing board may lead to preventing the background noises and allow the instrumentation to go into the software needed. The setup of your studio as well as the way in which you proceed with your equipment should help you to get a handle on any of the extra noise that you hear. By checking all areas and keeping everything ordered in the right way, you should be able to prevent the extra buzzing sound from going into your recording. Understanding Acoustics With every turn of the knob on a mixer or mastering tool is also a certain application of acoustics with the recording. If you can grasp the acoustics of recording and how it works with the development of your particular sound, you will also have more capabilities in recording and how you are able to portray the audio sounds that you are creating. Acoustics begins with the vibration of air, or in some instances, an electronic device. With natural acoustics, the air moves through a certain compartment, such as an instrument or the voice. The more the vibration of the air moves, the more sound it is able to create for the instrument. This is what leads to the sound waves, which are more re-creations of the vibration of air that is moving through the space that it is in. The vibration of air is what causes various acoustics to respond in a given space. It is also the simple concept of air vibration that leads to specific ideals about how to set a recording studio in order to take in the right sounds to record. Understanding how to control acoustics becomes the basis for setting up a recording studio as well as the main concept in controlling sounds as they are recorded. When a sound is made through an instrument, it has a variety of levels of air that it hits and causes to vibrate. At one level, we hear this as a note that is played through the sound. However, the acoustics can take on different capacities in producing different sounds that are not heard. The first sound that is produced comes from the environment in which the sound is played. If the room is larger, has further ceilings and is spacious, the sound will bounce against the walls. This will cause the sound to move faster, become louder and to resonate throughout the area. For recording, this is why the walls are deadened and smaller spaces are created. If there is the echo effect in the song, it can begin to sound like the beats are off. Another way in which acoustics change the sound is through resonance. This is when the vibration of the sound is heard, even when the note is no longer being sung or played. This resonance can continue to move as long as the vibration of air continues to hit the particular area. Most of the time, resonance will be a filtering off of the initial sound as the vibration of air continues to slow down. In recording, this resonance is also muffled through the sound proof rooms in order to create a clearer sound. The last part of acoustic sounds is the concept of overtones. Even though we only hear one note that is being played or sung, this is not the only note that is in the air. Acoustics create a vibration of sound waves that continue to resonate and vibrate at different levels. These will be pitches that are created above the original pitch, with specific spacings in the pitch. While they are not heard, they still create an effect on the ear with the sound vibration that moves through the air. This also makes a difference in recording, as the overtones can create a different effect and can be recorded as a wave file. This may cause differences in peaks as well as basic sounds that are heard in the piece. With the understanding of these acoustic ideas is also the ability to control it within the recording studio. Each of these areas are 'sound proofed' at certain levels. This is to allow the audio to move into the recording area as a pure wave file, which will then stop the acoustic sounds from muffling, echoing or changing the sound that is intended to be heard in the recording. When defining acoustics and recording, there are a variety of perspectives to consider that relate to sound waves and how they work. By understanding these perspectives, you can create a recording area that is more conducive to muffle certain acoustics and to let others resonate through the air. Turn Up the Volume! Industry Standards for Recording Volumes Many of you have been in a situation where you are watching your favorite program. It is interrupted by a commercial break where you have to turn down the volume of what you are listening to. Then, when the show comes back on, you have to turn the volume back up. This scenario is not a mistake of the television program. This is a controlled function in the industry to control volume levels at different ratios. The result is that it causes individuals to listen to the music differently. At this point, many are calling the industry standards for volume at a louder frequency, which is changing the instrumentation, the way that the music is played and even the listening capabilities of those who are tuning into their favorite CD. When the recording industry started, the volume levels were closer to negative numbers, around 2 or 3. Records would be at this lower volume because it was considered to be more pleasant listening. It would also allow for the ranges of the instruments to be heard, such as loud and softer dynamic levels and high and low instruments that would blend together. The use of these lower levels for volume allowed the industry not only to show off the instrumentation, but it also gave them room. When you are recording, your volume is a space where the noise can be increased or decreased. When you are moving into the negative numbers, usually -6 to -1, you have room to increase the volume in order to allow it to balance out. This is always a part of the volume levels within instrumentation. As time went on, the frequencies of these volumes continued to increase. The industry standard now is close to 0 for music. This means that they are at one of the loudest points of volume that they can get to. Most don't notice, and simply turn down the volume on their stereo or in their car. However, this particular decision by the industry to change the volume levels to the maximum is changing everything within music. Not only is it changing the musical concepts, such as dynamics, range and instrumentation, but it is taking out a lot of the traditional and innovative ideas that are musically based. If you listen closely to music, you will notice that the music does not usually have a lot of ranges, changes in musical instruments or pace that is going. This is because the volume level has been maxed out. Because this has changed, there is no room to put anything else in that is musical. Of course, the volume controls and the mastering process that causes this will also differ according to the format that you get. For instance, there is a standard for radio playing that is very different than CDs, which is also different than MP3 players. For Indie musicians and those with specialized and custom recording studios, there is also a difference in preferences according to their musical tastes and style with volume as well as the arrangement that is being used. If you are recording, deciding on your preferences for volume that fits to different formats and style will be important before going to the industry standard or producing the CD. One of the main concepts that should be kept in mind with recording is to know the volume capabilities and the differences that they make in music. You don't want to compromise the music for the volume, but you want to get close to industry standards. Knowing what you need to do with your volume, how it relates to your instrumentation and your concepts within music will help you to create a volume that is worth turning up and listening to. Tips to Getting Everything Balanced Correctly The entire process of recording a CD is based on one thing; balance. Whether you are recording, mixing, mastering or putting in the final touches, this is always the perspective that you will be using to piece everything together exactly right. By keeping some general concepts in mind every step of the way, balancing your songs can become an easier process during recording and engineering. Following are some tips that you can use as you move through the process. 1. Volume levels. If something seems off with the instrumentation at any stage, check the volume levels first. This will allow you to hear what is really going on and to balance it out correctly. This goes for certain waves that can have volume envelopes as well as instruments and the mix of all of the instruments together. 2. Frequencies. If you are stuck with sounds in your process of recording, check and see if you have checked your frequencies lately. Every wave comes with low, medium and high frequencies. If one of these is distorted or too high, it can through the rest of the instrumentation off. 3. Automated Set-ups. One of the popular ways for engineers to become frustrated with finding balance or not finding balance is what is glanced over. Often times, software allows you to create automatic settings for instrumentation. Make sure that this is turned off if it doesn't fit right so that you can have the right balance. 4. The waves. In the end, everything comes down to the wave files. Balancing will always include where the waves peak, where they are too low and how they can reach a normalized sound. Making sure that your waves stay leveled at every step will keep everything even throughout the recording process. 5. Keeping it simple. One of the mistakes of new recordings that are still experimenting with the tools is to go too far with what is being done. As nice as it is to add in the extra effects, make sure that this doesn't throw off any part of the balance or cause you to loose the right sound with your song. 6. How close is it to the middle? This is along the same lines of frequencies, but has to do with the overall effects. Whether you are working with sound waves or with the entire line of instruments, make sure everything is close to the middle with your sounds. 7. Check the instruments. One of the ways to make sure that the balance is on is to make sure that everything is even with the different instruments. Many times, it will be one instrument that throws the other instruments off and causes the song to sound too high or too low. Using formulas and balances within the individual instruments first will help you to get the right balance later on in the recording process. In the end, checking your balance within your recording will help you to get the right sound for your instrumentation. At all levels, balance with the wave files applies and helps to make the correct end product. Checking some of the basic parts that are in the recording process will help you to get everything in order and to keep it in the right space with the recording track.
Software Options for Recording Once you get into the recording studio, there are several options for software that you can use in order to get your sound exactly right. Knowing what your options are for software and finding those that best fit what you need can help you to produce the CD that you want and get your sound waves in the right order. Following are options that you can use when deciding what the best software is for your recording. 1. MIDI. This is a basic software application that is used for recording needs as well as for sound fonts. It comes with the sounds and orchestration patches for the recording with a digital audio area that is built into the system. Because this is lower budgeting, it has some inabilities for editing and for the stereo sounds that you might need. 2. Adobe Audition. This is a basic application that can be used for the entire process of recording. While this specific software option also has some limitations, it is accessible with it's ease of use and can provide accurate results for professional mixing and mastering. 3. Band in a Box. This is a Macintosh application that is known to work well for beginners or for those who are limited in what is being recorded. This is because it has the capability of creating immediate tracks once a certain chord or set of chords is entered. This allows those who have not put together arrangements to use these basic structures before progressing to the next part of the recording. 4. Cakewalk. This specific type of software was created for Macintosh, then evolved into a separate application for Windows. This is known to have the basics for mixing and mastering as well, and carries it's audio options through MIDI. 5. Fruity Loops. If you are into DJ tracks, loops and patterns, this is the specific program to use. While this has some recording capabilities, it works better as a loop mixing area for the musical pieces you are putting together. 6. Vegas. This program is similar to Adobe Audition in the way that it pieces together separate tracks as well as the capabilities for mixing and mastering. The tracks in this program are easy to pre-mix and mix, especially with individual track options and configurations that you can use for the program. 7. Cubase. The large benefit of this particular program is the ability to have unlimited numbers of VSTs, or orchestration patches. It also offers more tracks than the programs such as Cakewalk. One of the other benefits of this program is the ability to add on other programs in order to make it more conducive to your particular music. 8. Studio Vision. This is another Macintosh program and is known to be one of the high end options in software. It's capabilities include a variety of writing for music and allow you to control every part of your musical pieces. 9. Reason. This is another program that is built around finding rhythms, loops and specific tracks. While it offers a wide range of capabilities in placing together pieces of music, it has become more popular among Djs and those who are looking for defined back beats. 10. Pro Tools. This particular choice is one that is known among most professionals as the best software out there. It contains a wide variety of VST options as well as the ability to completely control and manipulate the music that is being worked on. If you move into Pro Tools, you can expect to go through a longer learning curve as there are a wider variety of details and choices for recording. It can be seen that each of these options carries choices in terms of how much you control the music you are making, strengths and weaknesses, sound options and tools that work the best. By knowing the applications, you can easily begin to use the software in a way that best fits your production. Newer Options for Recording Studios Recording is moving above and beyond the old fashioned tapes and the need to perform everything live. The recording industry as well as technology individuals are beginning to produce new capabilities within the industry that are creating opportunities, not only in the sound technology, but also in the abilities to record. Overall, recording capacities are moving into better and simpler characteristics. Before, having a recording studio would take thousands of dollars worth of equipment, each which was specialized and would not offer all of the capabilities. Today, recording equipment is moving into condensed capabilities with sharper abilities to use equipment in an effective way that captures sound. One of the innovations that is at the forefront of recording is digital capabilities. This includes the ability to record everything through a digital sound, typically produced from the mixing board. The concept of digital sound is one that captures the sound waves at a faster rate. The result is that it creates a clearer sound and allows for more to be picked up with the sounds that are being captured in the area. With the digital capacities are also new mixing boards that are being used. This is effective for those who are building home recording studios and need compact options. Some of the mixing boards contain capabilities to record, mix and master without the software or computer. This allows for remote capabilities in recording and the possibility to have a simpler process in the recording process. Not only are these options growing in recording, but so are the electronic capacities of instrumentation and instrumental sounds. As more is found out about the way in which recording works, newer options for capturing the right types of sounds that sound either electronic or digital are also coming into place. There are continuously newer options to get the correct sound, grow with the right capacities and have more options for putting together an arrangement. Along these lines of improvement are the new capacities for equipment. Microphones, amplifiers, pre-amps and the equipment that stabilizes the sounds, both in the recording studio and to capture the sounds, are now coming in more condensed packages as well. You can now find all in one amps or microphones, all which are built specifically to record and to capture the right sounds without the problems of playing live. The way in which the equipment is being built is becoming divided into two categories. This is either for the studio or for performance. This is occurring because of the acoustics that apply to both. In a studio, you want to dampen and deaden all of the extra sound vibrations that occur. With performance; however, you want to capture the smaller sounds and allow for resonance. This, as well as capacities among electronic instruments with easy to use options are quickly moving into the market. If you are building a recording studio, keeping the newer options in mind and how they can affect your recording process will help you to build the right type of studio with the best capacities. You will then be able to create more options in capturing the correct sounds, putting together the right mix and saving on time with the CDs that you are able to put together. Legalities of Your CD Now that the recording is done, where do you go? Even though you have all the right mixes together and everything is placed in the correct place, there are still other things to put into the right area before you are able to completely finish your CD. Knowing what to do after the recording can help you to move in the right direction towards a successful CD. The first thing that you want to do after you have completed your CD is to send it to the copyright office. This will stop others from stealing your music and will allow you to keep a track record of what you have put together. Typically, you will need to fill out a copyright sheet for the office as well as send a copy of your CD with the copyright fee. This will last for a certain number of years before you need to re-register your copy. After this step, you can set up a variety of different ways to keep your music licensed and registered. One of the options to look into is ASCAP or BMI. Both of these areas keep track of music that is composed by individuals. If these musical pieces are ever performed, the area will send a performance fee for the music that is composed. If your CD isn't finished yet, you should consider registering with either one of these groups for musician rights and you should make sure that you send them all music that you have done so that a track record can be kept. The third area that should be considered is royalties for others using your music. For instance, if someone hears your song and wants to use it on their own compilation recording, you will want to get royalty rights. There are certain businesses, such as Harry Fox, that keep track of your music as a publishing license, and allow you to gain royalty fees for every CD that is sold on someone else's compilation. Along these lines are different licensing options that are being used. Typically, these will become an important factor if your music is used for something like a television show or for a band. Every time someone uses your song for mixed media, they become responsible for paying you a mechanical licensing fee as well as a royalty fee. This means that you still own copyright to the music, but are allowing them to 'lease' the song for their own purposes. Typically, ASCAP or BMI can help you to keep track of your CD songs that are played in other places, as long as it is registered through them and the individual goes through this company in order to get the proper requests completed for the music. After this point of registration, you have options of how you want to proceed with preparing your music, dependent on what you need. With the growth of technology, are two main ways in which you can approach your CD sales. The first is through the Internet and the second is through physical distribution. The physical distribution can include publishing areas such as on demand printing as well as online portals or physical areas that are able to support the music that is moving through their area. If you move into digital distribution, you can look into several areas that consolidate sales. This is typically done through a space such as CD Baby, SnoCap or IODA. Both of these will take your CD music, turn it into MP3s and distribute it to online spaces and jukeboxes that will play them. All you will need to do is register your CD or your music through this area for a small fee, and allow the portal to handle the rest for you. No matter what type of music you are piecing together and no matter what your intent is for use, you should always consider the options for legalities and claims. In the long run, this will help you to not only approach your CD as a product that you are selling, but will also provide you with more options for getting your music into the public eye. Keeping the Balance: Equalizing Instruments If you are rehearsing or performing with a group, you automatically know that the last step before getting onto the stage is to make sure that everything blends. There is nothing that kills a performance of music more than not having the right fit. I'm sure many of you have experienced going to a performance and hearing a female voice taking over the entire band or noticing that one of the mics stopped the rest of the instrumentation from getting into the right groove. Recording is no different in terms of finding balance. There will be two areas in which this happens, one which is with the physical recording, and one which is balanced through the EQs, also known as equalizers. When you are working in your studio, you want to make sure that you are aware of both of these sound levels for your recording, as it will make the entire difference in how your sound turns out in the end. The first part of the sound balance comes from the physical presence. This will be done through the mixing board. With this, there will be the need to balance the instruments as they will be recorded into the tracks so that the volume does not peak too high and so each individual instrument can have a natural sound to it. When building this part of the equalization, you will want to pay attention to both the input into the computer as well as the output that the individuals hear through the monitors. The main concept during this part is to make sure that everyone is equal. This means that the volume levels should be about the same on everyone. Remember that the lower it is, the more room you have to change the mix later. You don't want anyone to peak with their instrument during any part of the recording. Sound checking will help with both the input and output part of the recording. The EQs are the next important part of getting the right mixes together. This is something that will be done from the mixing to the final mastering. During every step of the way, you will want to make sure that you have a balance between the high and low sounds and that one does not dominate over another. There are a variety of standards that are followed in order to keep EQs in certain levels. This will be based on personal preferences as well as industry standards that are divided by genre of music. The main thing to keep in mind; however, is to not let one frequency be too loud over another. This means that the low part of one instrument should be about the same as the high end. This should be the same for the instruments that are blended together. Unless you want some extra bass boost that comes through the recording or want the piano to dominate over the other instruments, make sure that everything is at about the same volume level. Not only can you do this through the normalization, mixing and mastering, but you can also place envelopes throughout the individual instruments. This will allow for certain parts of the song to be kept at a certain level then move back up to a normal dynamic level at another part. The best way to check and see if all of these components are working correctly is to see how the monitors sound. Your monitors should be placed up high and on both sides of the room so that you can hear how the sound is bouncing back. The low ends on the bottom of the monitor will tell you if the bass is too high and the high ends will let you know if the high ends are too high. You can then adjust according to your preference until you have a fit. Whatever your style of music, never start without getting the balance between individual instruments and the whole put into place. The more you know about this mixing process and EQs the better your CD will come out and the more professional it will sound. Finding your preferences and looking into the standards will give you a head start on keeping everything balanced. It's All in the Mix You can play all day, but with recording, the real sound is all in the mix. Mixing a CD with the different sounds, can help you to achieve a variety of things, and is one of the most important tools for putting your CD together with the different instrumentation and capabilities. Defining the process of mixing and how you can use it effectively will make all the difference in how your CD sounds in the end. The first thing to recognize is that there are two areas where mixing takes place. The first is before anyone records onto a track. All of the mixing that takes place at this point happens between the musicians and through the sound board. This type of mixing will help to define the instrumentation for the computer software programs as well as for the musicians that are working with the mixer. The most important part of this type of mixing is to make sure that all of the instrumentation is leveled and even with each other. It is not necessarily finding a blend, but instead, creating similar volume levels and even balance between the different instruments. This also helps to prepare the tracks for the final recording, which will include noise gates and deadening the sound so that the waves are able to be manipulated. This stage of mixing is then redefined after all of the tracks are recorded. The mixing process after this point is dependent on finding the individual instruments, their strong areas and making sure that they sound right with those areas. By the time you begin mixing within the software program that you are using, all of the instruments should be normalized. This means that the peak points of the waves will be at the same number that is calculated through the noise levels of the wave. Mixing then becomes a way to enhance the individual instruments through the piece. While doing this, you will want to be thinking of the other instruments and how they link to this; however, this is not as important as the need to bring out the best in the instrument that you are using. There are a variety of components that you can use to do this and to make sure that your mix in the end has a better sound. The first part of the mix that you can use is enhancing the sound through special effects. Each of the instruments can have their own, or can have equal effects that allows everything to sound unique. Things like creating effects for a certain type of room so that there is more resonance to building reverb around instruments are all effective parts of the mixing process that enhances the instruments. After you have the effects, you can take the wave files and make sure that the necessary areas of each instrument are enhanced. You will want to create things such as volume envelopes throughout the piece in order to bring out individual instruments in some places and to let them be in the background in other areas. This will help you to define what you want to come out the most in the song. You will also want to create levels of highs and lows within the waves of the individual instruments so that everything remains balanced within the song and with the specific instrument. The last step to the mixing process is defining the volume level and figuring out whether you want to move the levels up or keep them the same. Remember to always give yourself room with the volume levels so that you can balance out the levels during the pre-mastering and mastering stages as well. By the end of the mixing process within the software program, you will be able to have all of the instruments equalized out with their volume levels, effects and different areas of sound. This will allow you to begin to blend in the instruments, first individually and then as a group. By understanding the details of mixing, you will have more abilities to create the exact sound that you want for your piece. If the Formatting Fits Even after the mastering is done, the ability to get your CD out into the right places and to have it meeting the necessary standards still has to be a priority. There is more than one way to get your recording into the right place, but the engineering and technology has to come first in order to get it into the right arena. The general concept to keep in mind with each of the areas that your recording formats can and should be is that each of them is based on two things. The first is the way in which the mastering is done with the instruments, allowing each one of them to blend together with the lows, mids and highs in the right places. What this means is that too much bass in one area is just enough in the other. The second consideration is the volume levels that are used. The overall volume format that you use will be different according to where you decide to put your music. The way to follow each of these formats is to test it through your monitor speakers. This will give you an idea of the high end and low end sounds and how they are impacting the song. You can also look into industry standards and concepts with some of the following formats. CDs -- The major capability of CDs is to be able to create your own unique sound and volume consideration. There is an industry standard for CDs in terms of volumes and mix; however, you have the choice of whether to follow this. Within this, you can master things according to your style. For example, if you play rock music, you will want the rhythms and the bass to be slightly higher on the low end than they would be in a country piece. MP3s and Downloads -- Thanks to digital media, there are entirely new ways to listen to music. With this are also different volume checks, standards and mixes that are incorporated. This is important to follow because most of the digital media that is downloaded will be going onto a computer or a smaller digital device. This makes it so that the mix is different, specifically with the need to have low ends on a computer or not to have the high ends taking over the smaller speakers. Radio -- The radio has a completely different standard than any other type of format. This is because the music must be processed through the radio's player and then into the speakers that move into a home stereo. Typically, volume control for radios is going to be slightly louder with mixes in the low ends being more quiet than the high end. This allows for the format to be played on anything from an alarm clock to a car radio without a bad mix. Of course, more formatting options are available, all which specialize in the volume control options as well as the high end and low end mixes. You can easily find your options through looking at the industry standards or looking at plug ins in your software that may already have the current industries recommendations as a plug-in. When it is time to change your wave file into a format, you will want to make sure that you know the formatting that fits. Getting To the End of the Road If you have a home studio or a small set-up for your recording studio, you are probably familiar with the blues of the recording process. It includes the down times of having to listen to the same things over and over again, trying to hear the different levels and parts of the instruments several times and spending hours just to get to the end of the road. It's the recording blues that stop hundreds of small bands from completing a CD and taking ten years to get their next album out. The difficulties that come with recording and the process that has to be done can be tedious, frustrating and can cause to burn out of either the songs, members or others who are working on the CD. If you are recording, and even if it is by yourself, you don't want to stop until you complete the CD. The levels of satisfaction that can be achieved can help you to do greater and better things and can help to influence those around you to do the same. There are several perspectives that allow for the benefits of finishing the CD to be a part of what you are doing. Sticking with the process, learning what you need to and plowing forward will eventually get you to the end result and allow you to be even more effective with your music and creativity. If you're feeling down about your recording, keep in mind your end goal. Keep visualizing yourself at the end of the road and how this will affect everyone else. This begins with the achievements that this is able to bring you and what you have accomplished with the CD. This is something that many don't have the will power, desire or capacity to do. That already puts you ahead of the game. More than that, never stop thinking about what your fans or potential fans would think if you have a CD out and how this will influence them. Finishing the recording process and getting the CD into the public opens doors for you to make connections in a positive way and to do what you need in order to share your creative process with others. Whether it is one person or fifty million, this part of the process is one that can be effective and make you want to set the next date to record your next CD. In recording, it is not necessarily the end goal of the CD, even though this will bring rewards individually and towards those around you. It is also the process of being able to hear your pieces in a different way and to manipulate the sounds from an engineering point of view, instead of just a performance point of view. If you haven't stopped to enjoy the process of putting together your CD, start listening a little bit differently for the way that things fall together within the process. The main advice for recording your CD is to keep the different perspectives in mind. While the entire process may be tedious and difficult, allowing yourself to enjoy the process and think of the end benefits can help you to further your career as a recording producer and engineer as well as a musician who is able to share creativity with others. Getting the Right Mix: Mixing Boards and Recording The most important step from the instrument to the recording software is the mixing board. This particular part of recording is one that allows you to put everything together the correct way, before you have to manipulate it in the computer software. If you want to make sure that you are putting together everything right, you will also want to know exactly how the mixing board can benefit you. A mixing board is also referred to as a sound board and is responsible for taking the instruments and mixing and routing them into the computer. As soon as an instrument is plugged into a mixer, it will then turn into a digital signal, which creates sound waves. A mixer works by allowing each instrument being recorded to have one area in which the signal is received. These individual instruments can be changed with volume levels, depth of the sound and other features through the mixing board. For example, if you are playing with a piano and a bass, they can both have a different input area in the mixer. One can be louder and the other can be softer, with the bass having less treble, or high end sound, with the piano balancing out with more mid-range sounds. It is these volume levels that then move into the software and allow for the sound waves to be recorded with a specific balance. When defining the different parts of the mixer, there is also the ability to combine different types of volumes, depending on the knobs that are being used for the right mix. These are known as input controls, and contain everything that allows for the specific sound of the instrument. This starts with defining the volume through this one instrument. There is also a trim or gain control, which defines the level of sound within each wave. From here, the mixing board will allow for details of the sound waves to be defined through an EQ, which means equalization. The main responsibility of this part of the mixing board is to change the frequencies within each range. For example, if the EQ of the bass is too high, the higher frequencies can be boosted in order to balance out both ranges. The EQ frequencies can be referred to with some general preferences that work within instrumentation as well as personal preference to allow the sound to be as low or high as you want. When the instrumentation is received into the mixer and begins to be balanced, other options can also be put into the mix. For example, the amplitude of the sounds can be defined through specific parts of the board. There are also noise gates, which stops the sound from echoing before it goes into the recording area, or allows for some resonance to be in the mix. There is also the ability with some mixers to compress the instruments, meaning that the sound waves will be shortened if they reach or go over a certain peak number, allowing you to keep control of the volume before it gets into the computer program as a sound wave. After all of these options for individual instruments, the mixing board will then move into mixing the physical space. Main volume areas as well as controls for outputs are used in order to ensure that everything is balanced while recording and remains equal in sound to those who are listening while recording. Like the instrumentation that is moving into the software as sound waves, these areas have a variety of options for making the sound balance within the studio. The idea with a mixing board is to make the right mix for both the internal software so that the sound files can sound the same, as well as the external area, so that all of the instruments can blend together while recording. The different devices that are used within the mixing board help to achieve this through the different options for volume control and mixing options. When you are looking into a sound board, you should always consider the options for getting the mix right, including the number of instruments that you can hook up to the different functions that the mixing board contains. When you start to put together the recording with the right mix board, you will have a better blend of sounds and will allow the end result of the recording to mix together exactly right. Getting Rehearsals Ready for Recording Going into a studio is something that is different than practicing or from performing. It's a different art form in music and takes some different steps in order to get your tracks exactly right. In fact, it's become such an art form, that there are now several musicians who are simply studio musicians because of the different techniques that are used. If you are getting ready to record, you will want to make sure that you rehearse in a way that gets you ready to record. The number one rule to remember about recording is that you can't miss a beat. If you do, it will cause everything else to be off. Because everything is typically recorded in layers, it combines the need to stay exactly on tempo with the song that is being recorded. Make sure that you know the tempo and don't miss it when you are practicing to record. The second rule of thumb for recording is to rehearse with layers as one of the options in mind. While most studios will allow you to record all of the instruments at once, your instrument will still be singled out in order to get the rest of the process right. This means that you want to make sure that you can move around with your instrument and know the song forwards and backwards. Along those lines, always have starting and stopping points that work well with you in one song. If there are any flaws while recording, they can be punched in. You will want to have specific points that you know you can start at again so that you can record over any mistakes that you did make. Dividing up your pieces and learning them in segments will help while you are recording. Another aspect to keep in mind with the rehearsal before recording is to know what to practice and know what can be plugged in. For example, getting louder or software can be manipulated by the production process, as well as the sound and resonance of what you are playing. It's not necessary to put in the extra ornaments and marks that are often times found in music for a performance or practice, unless you definitely know you want it to stand out. With all of these concepts in mind as an individual, you can then begin to think about how the blend will change when it moves into the studio. Even though every instrument will be on a different track, you will want to determine how this will best fit in, what the possibilities are for balance and what you want the end product to sound like. This will help you to get used to the right sound and build the correct balance from the concepts that you think fit best. With these different tips and tricks, your recordings will go much smoother and you will simply be able to follow your musical script to get what you want laid out on the right track. If you prepare in this way, you will find that your abilities to record will be much easier than if you go in without having any preparation. It will save time and space, and will allow those who are producing the CD to have an easier time putting your CD together. Defining Signals for Sound In recording, there are a variety of ways to capture the sounds that you want and to filter out the ones that you don't want. These are all done through the capacities of equipment parts known as signal processors. Typically, signal processors will be used during the pre-mixing and mixing stage as well as the set up of instruments. They are also used as a combination of defining what the instruments need to turn into a wave and what the mixing can do to make the instruments sound at their best. Following are some basic signal processors you should know. Equalization. This is also known as EQs and is used in a variety of places of the recording process. The main part of this is to create a balance between the ranges that are within each instrument, from the low to the mid and high ranges. Equalization processors can be found in mixing boards as balance knobs as well as specialized functions in different types of software. Filters. This is done to take out the extra sounds that don't fit into the song. For example, if you have a buzz or white noise that you can't get out physically, you can filter the sound and allow for only the clarity to come through. This is done by isolating the wave and recalculating the wave instead of the noise underneath. Reverberation. This is an effect that is used after the instruments are recorded into the software. Reverb allows for the resonance that would be heard in a natural setting to be implemented into the song. This type of setting works best for sounds that are already clear and need an extra effect to them. Delay. This is the echo effect of signal processors. Delays come in a variety of formats, ranging from changing the room to a larger room to an echo effect that stops the sound from occurring by milliseconds. Depending on the technique and sound you are trying to create, you can use this specific tool to create a completely different sound in your music. Dynamic Processing. This consists of a variety of options for recording, all which take place at the very beginning of the process of recording. The first type of processing is compression in which the wave will be limited to certain peaks on both sides, allowing it to stay closer to the middle. The second type of processing is expansion, in which the waves move to higher peaks that are away from the middle. Limiting is the third option, and stops the notes from sounding for a longer period of time. The last type of dynamic processing is noise gates, which stops certain sounds from being recorded, especially if it is based around the resonance of an instrument. Noise Reduction. This is done in order to dampen the noises that are being heard through the recording process and is typically done at every step of recording. Noise reduction will include the ability to limit sounds and to reduce the lows or highs that don't need to be heard with certain sound effects. These main signal processors are used in order to control the recording process and sounds as well as to create the desired effects for the end result. By using these different components at different times, it becomes easier to effectively create the sound you want through your recordings. A Wave File Is A Wave File Software products, theories and preferences within the recording industry have taken over the best to the worst options in what to use in order to get the perfect CD. Recording engineers and specialists always spend their time thinking about the best way to mix and master a wave file and the way to really get the job done. However, the need to have specific measurements for different software and hardware is one that is not necessarily important. No matter what you record with, the brand that you use or the software that is a part of your studio, there is only one general rule that you need to remember. That is that a wave file is just a wave file. The sound that goes into the computer from your instrument will always be that same wave file, no matter what you try to use, change or create to make it the perfect wave file. This means that the software that you use, the way that you plug in your information for recording and the type of instruments you use will all lead to the same thing. The sound wave. No matter how many theories or ideas cross over into what the 'best' is, it always comes back to this one general term. This is important not only to not become overwhelmed by the amount of information available, but also to recognize that the entire process of recording is based around this one concept and how you can use it the best. What one should be looking at in terms of the wave files is what can be done in order to create the best sound. You want your mixing and mastering to lead you to the sound that fits you as being a unique and creative sound. You also want it to keep a certain level of control with volume as well as clarity. With every step in the mixing and mastering process, this is what should be in mind first, not necessarily what you go through to get it there. Beyond this, your rule of thumb should be how to make the wave files to perform at their best. This relates to taking care of the peaks and the low points so that it sounds in a way that is best suited to whatever format you are putting it in, as well as the abilities to create a complete sound to the ear. The reason why these should have priority is because it is the demonstration of the wave file to the ear that becomes the most important thing in the end. If you can remember this as your end goal with the recording, you can go through whatever is needed in order to make the correct associations with the songs that you are playing. The importance of the wave file is that it is your communication of music. Because of this, you want to make sure that you use the correct tools and the ones that are best suited to what you need. This isn't something that needs to be associated with the instrumentation, software or amount of things that you have in your studio. If you know how to use a wave file and how to create the best sound, than you are on your way to making a professional CD. 10 Tips to a Better Song If you are getting ready to step into a studio to record, make sure that you start thinking before you ever put foot close to the microphone. While recording has allowed for new wonders and expectations to be met with music, there is still the need to do some old fashioned needs to make sure that your songs are worth the extra track. Following are ten tips that you can remember to make sure you have the arrangement correct before you begin recording. 1. Balance. Is your instrumentation balanced? You should have an even amount of ranges, from low to high. If you have too much of one and not enough of another, your recording might not sound so great. 2. Harmonies. You want to make sure that there is some good support going into the melody of your song. Without the right harmonies, or alternative sounds to the melody, it will sound like your song is missing a piece of the puzzle. 3. Musical arrangement. This is based completely around the ability to organize the instrumentation in the song. Not only should it be balanced, but it should also include contrasts and similarities in how the music follows what you are trying to say. If you are stuck with creating instrumentation that fits, get into some basic theory concepts to assist you. 4. Spacing. More important than all of the melodies and harmonies, is the room that you put in between each. This means that you don't want to rush through your song and you don't want to take too much time. Make sure that you give some breaks with melodies and change up the harmonies enough to keep it interesting and moving correctly. 5. Tempo. Often times, it is assumed that there is a specific tempo and that is it. However, you want to make sure that your tempos are defined and everyone follows them without missing a beat. Once you get into the studio, you don't want anything to be off by a second, as it will cause the recording to become difficult to lay down. 6. Form. The easiest way for a listener to relate to your song from the beginning is to have the right form. If you are focused on lyrics, this will be the hook that is used during the chorus. If you are experimenting with form, make sure there is always a place in the music that goes back and keeps the attention of the listener so that they can relate to the music. 7. Variety. One of the overlooked parts of arranging is the variety that is in the song. This means that, even though you are repeating choruses or verses, make sure that you have some different movement or instrumentation in your recording. 8. Movement. The movement of the song goes beyond the tempo and into the extra small things that you do with a recording. This is what will make or break a song. Things such as louds and softs, ornamentation and other small add ons will help to move the song in the right way. 9. Consistency. Along with the variety of the song should be a certain consistency that lets the song fit together. This partly is related to the form of the song and also links to things such as tying the song together with the right lyrics and musical concepts. Within each of these areas, you can have some variation, but make sure that the frame work allows the listener to follow what you are doing. 10. Creativity. Of course, this should never be left behind. All too often are musical ideas that are heard that are close to what was heard before. The first rule to a good song is always to let yourself go, follow your creativity and to let the rest fall into place. With these simple tricks are ways that you can improve your song and get it recording ready. From this, you will be able to make sure that your songs and pieces are polished, stand out from the crowd and get your voice heard among other musicians. The History of Recording The abilities to record may seem to be more recent, especially with the capabilities of technology and the understanding of how sounds are used within a recording studio. However, there is a longer time frame of recording that has been used in order to document audio areas and to put music on track. By understanding the progression of recording, you can also find ways to implement similar characteristics and routines within your own studio. The beginning of recording dates back to the 1890s. During this time, most of the recording was done through acoustic means. Recording equipment consisted of a tape that would allow for the audio to be documented into the tape. This would then go through a horn which would record the sound frequencies that were being played. This would then be documented by putting grooves into the recording through the waves and how they were translated. This type of recording also included limitations on the sound rooms and how the sound was recorded. Upper scale recording studios consisted only of a sound proof wall so that the audio noise would not bounce. The ability to mix, master and edit the audio information; however, was not available. Those who were interested in recording would also take the records outside of the studios to do things such as field recordings, where natural sounds would be placed onto audio. This became a second popular means of creating recordings to share with the public. By the 1930s, different options and equipment began to be popular for recording. This started with amplifiers and microphones that were added to record more sound frequencies. This was followed by a mixing board and by loud speakers so that the sounds could be manipulated and changed while recording. This caused for most of the acoustic recording that was done in the past to be replaced by the new technology so that more accurate recordings could be done. Up until the 1970s, these combined methods were the popular way of recording musicians and artists in the studio. The acoustic rooms were combined with the microphones and were recorded live through the mixing board and straight into the disc or recording tape. This left little room to re-record or edit. Most of the recording that was done would be done with complete bands, orchestras or groups that would place everything onto the disc at one time. The change that occurred during this time combined the ability to monitor the sounds more effectively and to move into editing. It was during the late 1960s and 1970s that analog recording moved into the field, allowing for more complex machinery to be at the forefront of recording. The analog recording consisted of a magnetic tape that would carry the sound waves and read them back through the recording. This could then be written over and revised according to what was recorded. This time period not only allowed for advancement within recording, but also created experimentation with new equipment, sounds and effects that became popular for individual recording studios, now considered to be signatures of various recording industries. Those who were working within the industry found not only new technologies for recording, but also developed sounds that were unique because of the ability to process the mixing and mastering in a different way. It was the movement into analog recording that changed recording into an electronic and digital set of capabilities as well as industry standards that are now accepted as the normal setting among all recording studios. Because of this experimentation and new technology, those working within the industry came to certain conclusions about what worked better with recording and how the production could be effective. This progression shows how recording has become a mainstream through innovations, creativity and experimentation. By the recording industry creating the effects of recording, it has allowed for new arenas of development in recording music to be explored.
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