Recording music in our Sydney Recording studio is an involved process. Few people realise what is involved when they first come in to record; they don’t understand what it takes to make a record really sound fantastic. In this article, I hope to give people who are considering working on their music in our Sydney Recording Studio some insight into the processes required to make your record sound amazing.
Pre Production in our Sydney Recording Studio
The first step is pre-production. This is something that varies considerably from client to client. Pre-production is the process of preparing for what will be recorded in the Sydney Recording Studio. This may be as simple as rehearsal at home, or it may involve one of our producers being closely involved with the client. Talking to them about what they want, preparing them psychologically, organising a time frame and budget, and much more.
Pre Production in our Sydney Recording Studio
The next step is the one that people are most familiar with: recording. The problem is that everyone thinks that it starts and ends with this part of the Process. It doesn’t. The “tracking stage”, as I like to refer to it, involves setting up the microphones, getting the right levels in the signal chain, and setting up instruments. Once everything is set up (depending on what is being recorded, setup can take some time), the actual recording of sound happens. This is where the musicians record their parts. Often they will need to do multiple “takes” of each part.
A “take” is essentially an attempt at recording a part. We see a huge variation in the quality of musicianship and skill in our Sydney Recording Studio. Often multiple takes are required for each part. Once the takes have been recorded, they need to be chopped together to make one single part that is correct. This is called “comping”. It derives it name from the fact that it is a composite of multiple takes. This is part of the next process that we call editing.
Editing in our Sydney Recording Studio
Editing involves many different corrective processes. At the most basic levels, we perform edits of multiple takes and create a comp. Often there are serious rhythmic edits that need to occur. This is where clients have had trouble playing in time and we need to edit the rhythm so it sounds correct.
The spectrum of detail that we can go into is extreme and it varies from client to client. Often we are asked to go to extremes to make sure it sounds very rhythmically correct. Other times the client decides that they want to leave a lot of material unedited. However, the majority of the time rhythmic editing is a big part of making a record sound world-class. If you do a rough calculation of the time it takes to do one track, or part, and then multiply that across to every other instrument that is in the mix, you quickly gain an understanding of why it takes so long to edit just one piece of music.
But that’s just the rhythmic editing. In our Sydney Recording Studio we do a lot of pitch editing, too. This has a huge amount of stigma associated with it but it is now just a fact of modern recording life. Most vocals are pitch-corrected either with Autotune or more advanced programs, like Melodyne.
Autotune is quite straight forward and non-time consuming to implement. You just need to insert the plug-in and choose the key and it sounds corrected. Unfortunately, Autotune doesn’t always do the job in our Sydney recording studio. This is because notes can be sung or play so far off the correct pitch that Autotune “corrects” the note to the wrong note.
Melodyne gives us more control and it ultimately sounds more natural. It is more surgical regarding the detail in which we can fix poor pitch. The downside is that it takes more time.
Mixing in our Sydney Recording Studio
Once the tracking and editing have been completed, it’s finally time to mix the songs. This is really where the fun begins and is one of the most important parts. This involves balancing the sound across the stereo spectrum, making sure that every instrument has its own specific window in the audio spectrum, and giving depth to the mix. We also need to compress signals to make sure they are not hyper-dynamic and jumping out at the listen. The mixing process can literally take as long, sometimes longer, than the tracking and editing stages. It is the core process in our Sydney Recording Studio that truly makes the record sound professional.
Mastering in our Sydney Recording Studio
Finally, after all the songs have been mixed, it is time for mastering. This is the process whereby we work on the mix as a whole. We bring up the level of the mix and we also balance the mixes of songs so that they all fit together sonically on the one record. There’s no point in having one song on a record super loud and bass-heavy, while another is soft and the listener has to turn the volume knob up. A good record should have soft songs and loud songs that can all be listened to in a linear fashion and still feel like they flow. Mastering can take a little while to do and it is often preferred that the mastering engineers work alone. This is because the detail of listening is extreme. Someone breathing quietly behind your ear or walking around can be a huge cognitive distraction.
Summary of our Sydney Recording Studio Processes
In conclusion, it is important to understand that the recording of instruments is only a small portion of what happens in a Sydney Recording Studio. Editing, mixing and mastering are all equally important parts of the process. They take time and we understand that time is money, but to get the best results there is no way around it. For further questions on production processes in our Sydney Recording Studio, please contact us and we would be happy to answer your questions.