Home   Contents   About   Links

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Common mistakes in home recording

Are you man or woman enough to find out?

I'd say it's...

Musicians who don't practice with a metronome. Most really need this big in their practice routine.

Singers who don't work on their diction, intonation and phrasing.

Too much reliance on condenser mics. Most would get more and better mileage out of a broader range of dynamics and ribbons in the mic cabinet.

Crappy mic placements. Listen to your placement rather than using some rule you got from a book or some online source.

Not listening to a broad range of music. People do not understand dynamic anymore. Listen to some music with dynamic in it and see what it imparts to the song.

Your amp sucks. If the guitar track sounds like crap, then chances are it's your amp moreso than anything else.

Six inch syndrome. This is where people magically seem to place the mic six inches from every source and then wonder why everything sounds like absolute crap at mix down. Geez.

Auteur syndrome. Everyone and their freaking dog thinks they are some kind of arbiter of taste in recordings anymore or that they've got some kind of vision. In a home recording project think of it sort of like a shade tree mechanic project. In the latter, everyone sort of does what they can do well as they want the car to run at the end of the day and to do so safely. Why this sort of logic is thrown out the window in home recording I don't know. But, imagine your home recording is your car. You would want the guy who has done a brake job to fix the brakes. You'd want the guy who knows a little paint and body to do the paint and body. Anyhow, you get the picture. If you got someone who can actually engineer, then let that guy engineer. Anyhow, anymore, usually every band has some guy who is an auteur who thinks he knows something special. I worked on a project recently with a local band where the singer was a self styled auteur. He went so far as to scrap some excellent tracks that were recorded early in the sessions to replace them with mediocre versions recorded later as they changed drummers. The new drummer was a good choice but the retracking with him lacked the magic of the originals. Also, auteurs are bad because they cannot keep their word. They will stab you in the back. They won't meet their obligations in the deal. Why? Because it's their artistic vision and that's what matters more than the truth and good faith and fair dealing.

Too much reliance on digital editing. Learn your parts people. Stop looping everything. Stop punching in and punching out all the time. Stop editing everything to death. Instead, start learning to play your part all the way through.

Use a real drummer. I get so tired of the question about making BFD or something else sound like a real drummer. There's this magical person called a drummer. He sounds like a real drummer because he's real. It takes a lot less time to work with a real drummer than it takes to edit fake drum tracks.

Using emulators to sound like the real thing. This sort of goes with the last one. Use BFD if you really don't want it to sound like a real drummer. Use a POD if you really don't want it to sound like a real amp. That's OK. But, if you want it to sound like the real thing, then get the real thing. I love the Flaming Lips for this reason. They use ROMpler keyboards obviously. But, they're using them to sound like a ROMpler rather than a real orchestra. And, it works fabulously for them. Very, very cool.

--Steven Langer

No comments: