Sunday, June 29

How to do a multi-track recording session?

Recording multi-track is very efficient. It is because it can saved a lot of energy of re-performing tracks to record. Say the song has only one guitar track. Using multi-track techniques will enable you to continue recording tracks of the guitar without repeating the whole recording process again.

If you want to play the guitar track from intro to the ending of the song without a mistake ,this is fine. But sometimes a mistake could occur when you are playing the guitar somewhere in the chorus. If you are not using multi-track recording techniques,that recording will be deleted and you will have to repeat the intro again. This will make you tired and will make the recording session very inefficient.

This is where multi-track recording sessions are very useful. It can saved you a lot of time and energy. Also there are different multi-track recording softwares available. I am using Adobe Audition 1.5. Frequently updating recording softwares or plug-ins is not recommended as a recording/mixing engineer as you need to fully master your gears (hence spending more time mastering it) to come up with the best quality. What is the use of frequently updating gears that you forget to master it and keep producing crap recordings?

Below are the fundamental steps to do a multi-track recording sessions, this can applied in all types of recording softwares:

1. Start recording the drums.Make it right the first time. Be sure to complete all the drum recordings before proceeding to the next step.

The drum is also the most difficult to record and arranged. The producer should have the idea what the song should sound like from start to ending (at this stage), and the drums should be providing good beats and timing of the song.

2. Start recording the guitars. Guitar recording needs creativity and time.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Thoroughly check the tuning of your guitar before starting the recording.

I heard a lot of noobies rush to recording the guitars only to find out after mastering stage the guitars are severely out of tune!

I really love this stage, because I can be as creative as I need to be. This is the stage where the producer needs to hear great riffs,and guitar licking performance from the guitarist.

Do not still do some panning at this stage, work out to get a clean recording of the guitar (of course noise free).

Some tips: If you are playing the guitar and made a mistake. Shift to another track number and continue recording the rest. This is where multi-track recording is very useful.

3. Record the bass. Bass guitar recordings can be done in DI. Again as a word of caution do not record a bass guitar if it is grossly out of tune. Always check the tuning of the bass guitar before recording it. Same tips with the guitar, do not pan a bass and if you made a mistake, always select another track number next to it and continue recording the rest.

4. Panning stage. Pannned the instruments according to their location in the frequency spectrum. I have written some useful articles in the blog in how to approach panning.In this stage, you will make a duplicate copy of your guitar track and pan them on left and right. Always panned the kick and bass guitar in the center of the stereo image.

5. Pre-mixing stage:In this stage you will start applying EQ and compression to all recording tracks. Your aim is to sound them as clear and strong as possible.

6. Finalize the minus-one: After the pre-mixing stage, the producer will then invite the lead singer or artist to sing or practice the vocal tracks of the song. This is where the producer decides if all tracks matched or good enough to be paired with the vocals. If there are adjustments, the producer can still change the arrangements.

7. Vocal recording stage: This is the stage where the vocals will be recorded. Basic multi-tracking applies but a pro vocalist prefers to perfect the vocal recording in one session only, not cutting it in tracks.

8. Final mixing stage: THis is the final mixing stage where all tracks are mixed for clarity in accordance to the producers request. After the mixing stage, mixdown will be performed and will be submitted for mastering.