Recording (Studio Time) – Information regarding audio recording.

The Recording Facility

Our recording facility consists of a control room and a live room.  Each are correctly sound treated and soundproofed with double windows, doors, ceiling and walls.  The sound treatment in the live room is removable to create a variety of ‘feels’ from dampened to lively.  The area assign for vocal recording is heavily treated to deaden reflections, but again the treatment is removable if required.  Most of the recordings we do are carried out here, but occasionally we use other locations if we’re looking for a specific type of ambience.

The live room is equipped with monitoring and communication with the control room.

Recording

So how long will it take to record?

It’s hard to define exactly how long it will take to make a recording as it will come down to six things

  • The number and type of instruments to record.
  • How good the musicians are (so there’s less to errors during takes).
  • How many songs there are to record.
  • How polished the final results need to be.
  • How much layering and double tracking is required to achieve the desired results.
  • How much professional editing and added production is required to achieve the desired results.

The number and type of instruments
Obviously the more instruments there are, the more sound checking, balancing and recording there is to do. Drums and percussion take longer because of the setup and sound checking time needed for each drum and cymbal.

How good the musicians are
Another obvious one really. If you’ve got world class musicians, they’re highly likely to get it right first time. If you’re not a world class musician, but you want to sound like one, then it may take many takes and overdubs to get things right.

How many songs there are to record
The first track will take the longest to record as all the instruments need to be set up and sound checked. Further tracks will take a lot less time.  It’s much more economical to record a bunch of tracks at the same time.

How polished the final results need to be.
You need to decide what your track(s) are going to be used for.  If you just want a demo or a natural raw sound, then the process is going to be much quicker than if you want a highly polished sounding commercial track.  As explained next, there are many techniques used today to make artists sound like they do.  Layering parts during recording is one of them.  If you want to use those same techniques to get your sound really polished, then I can do that for you, but everything adds to the time.  A rock band may need very little of these extra recordings (or not?), where as a commercial pop track may need many more (or not?). If you want your band to sound like it does live, then not much layering is really needed. If you want to compete with tracks in the charts, then these layers must be considered.

How much layering and double tracking is required
This depends on ‘how polished the final results need to be’. As explained, the more layers, the more time needed. At a very basic level, vocals, backing vocals and rhythm guitars are typically double tracked at least. There may be more than just double tracking required to achieve the best results (3, 4, 5+ layers). It’s a production decision that needs to be made.  Let’s take a rhythm guitar part for example. You may want a double track of it (left and right) for the main chord inversion. Then two thickening layers at a different chord inversion. Then it may benefit from layering it with a picked melody line or another instrument like piano or mandolin. It may also benefit from layering it with a cleaner or more distorted version. The options are almost endless.

How much professional editing is required
Professional editing techniques can be used, and are used in all commercial tracks, to make the recording as near to perfect as required. During the recording phase of the process they are used to correct minor timing issues, selecting the best parts from each take, correcting phase issues and layering.  During the mixing phase, all the professional editing techniques are employed. Tracks that are released commercially have had many hours or even days spent employing these techniques to get them to sound like they do.

As a guide (and only a guide), recording times can be calculated as follows for a typical 4 minute track:

Drums and Percussion (Recording)
To rig up the gear and do a sound check (90+ mins)
To create a guide track for the drummer to use if required (30 mins)
To record one complete take including re-recording errors (30 to 90 mins)
To record each overlay or double track if required (15 to 90 mins)
To carry out editing during the recording phase to fix any minor issues (0 to 60mins). Zero would be for a band that wants to sound like they do live.


Solo Instruments and Vocals (Recording)
To rig up the gear and do a sound check (20 to 40mins)
To record one complete take per instrument including re-recording errors (15 to 90 mins)
To record each overlay or double track (15 to 90 mins)
To carry out editing during the recording phase to fix any minor issues (0 to 60mins). Zero would be for an artist that wants to sound like they do live.

Mixing Phase

This depends on how much time/budget is available.  The longer spent here (to a point) will reap better results.  It can take as little as 60 minutes for a basic mix of a four piece band (per single track) or it can go in to days for a very complex, perfectly edited and polished commercial track.  You will be advised about the necessary duration and will also be able to control it.

Mastering Phase

30 to 120 mins.

Summary

  1. Decide on your budget

  2. Decide on what the track will be used for and if it’s going to compete with major artists (i.e. not a demo).

  3. With both of those in mind, decide how many tracks you want to record for your budget.

  4. Discuss your project with me.

  5. Book some time.

Basically, the more time you throw at a track (up to a point), the closer you will get it to perfect, if that’s what your requirement is.

Remember, professional musicians spend months recording albums.  If the purpose of the track is to compete with them, then you need to consider this.  If the purpose of the track is for a demo, then you don’t need to throw loads and loads of time at it.  If the purpose of the track is to capture exactly what you sound like live , then standard recording methods are quite adequate.  It’s best to discuss your objectives with me first.

The general recording procedure for a solo vocalist

  • Locate the track that you want to sing and in which key and format you want to use.
  • Rig up the microphones and complete a sound check.
  • Record the vocals in sections until they’re bang on (multiple times usually).
  • Check through any multi-take layers and pick the best parts from each one to make one master take.
  • Edit/re-record any parts that need be even better.
  • Use professional editing techniques where required.
  • Set EQ, compression and FX to get the best sound possible (Mixing)
  • Use professional mixing techniques where required.
  • Mix it down to a final stereo mix.
  • Master the final stereo mix to give it a professional sheen.
  • Burn the track to a CD with the track/artist info printed on.

The general recording procedure for bands

  • Rig up the instruments and complete a sound check.
  • Create a guide track with the whole band playing together (if required).
  • Record the drums (replaying or editing errors where applicable).
  • Record each further instrument separately until they’re bang on.
  • Check through any multi-take layers and pick the best parts from each one to make one master take.
  • Edit/re-record any parts that need be even better.
  • Use professional editing techniques where required.
  • Set EQ, compression and FX to get the best sound possible (Mixing)
  • Use professional mixing techniques where required.
  • Mix it down to a final stereo mix.
  • Master the final stereo mix to give it a professional sheen.
  • Burn the track to a CD with the track/artist info printed on.