CHAPTER 2 : Getting Started
Focus on Your Instrument
Keep it Simple
Get it Hot
Target Your Frequency
Limit Compression & EQ When Recording
Avoid Phase Cancellation
Don’t jump to EQ
Sometimes, the low end or highs that you’re not
capturing (or that you have too much of) are a
result of poor mic placement, using the wrong
mic, EQ settings on the instrument or amp, or
the angle of the mic in relation to the instrument.
Adjusting any one (or more) of these elements
can make a big difference without having
to touch the EQ, especially if you’re trying to
capture more high end. Pushing the high end
on an EQ can bring unwanted noise into the
track and the mix.
Much of the art in recording comes from mic
use, placement, and angle. A lot can be accomplished simply by adjusting the angle of the mic. Testing multiple microphone placements, both in relative distance to the sound source and where the mic is pointing, will also provide a variety of tones and sounds to choose from.
Gain staging is another way to get different tones from the same source. One practical approach would be to take a microphone with a little versatility, e.g. a 10 dB pad and a bunch of pickup patterns, and experiment with the pad and pattern combinations.
If you’re cutting jazz or something orchestral and
you want something clean and natural sounding,
you typically won’t need to use a pad on the mic.
“For a different tone,” says Weiss, “try pushing
the preamp. Use the pad and crank the gain on
the preamp. Now it’s as if the preamp is waiting
for the sound, ready to suck it in like a vacuum,
and that recorded tone is vastly different than
if you aren’t taxing the preamp. One thing that
sets pro engineers apart is they know how to hit
their gear. They know they can get different
tones by having the gain in different places.”
Limit compression & EQ when recording
While many engineers will use some compression and EQ when going to tape, be cognizant that the decisions you make at the time of recording will remain with that track. Some things can be undone, but others can’t, and if you overcompress or over-equalize, you’re largely going to be stuck with it. When you’re recording, make it your priority to acquire the performance to the best of your ability. Then when you’re mixing, make the critical decisions regarding compression, EQ, and other effects.
“If you’re not making pop music or something
geared to the radio,” says Raison, “then none
of this really matters and you should follow
your own vision. But if you want the world to
hear your music and you’re working in a home
studio, I recommend you keep it simple. Minimal
equalization, and minimal compression at
the time of recording, because you can add that
later. Try not to make unfortunate decisions at
the time of recording.”
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