Advice for Recording at Home

Posted by on Oct 11, 2012 in How To's, Recording, Studio Advice | 2 comments

With widespread and easily affordable technology, more and more bands are trying to record at home.  Heck, if it weren’t for digital technology I wonldn’t be able to do what I do.  However, just because technology is cheap doesn’t mean the end user is going to make a great product.  Patience and knowledge still play the most important role in recording.  I mean, you could give Daniel Lanois a Shure 57, a Behringer preamp, and a dungeon and he’d still give you a great record.

So, for those of you who’d rather tackle the processes of recording yourself, here is some advice to get the most mileage out of your recordings.

  1. Patience is your greatest ally.  A good sounding anything will not come quickly nor will it come easily.  Move the microphone closer, farther, left, right, up and down.  If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, move the source…  move the amp, the drums, the singer… little changes can make a BIG difference.  And distance is almost ALWAYS better.  Your ears are NEVER 3 inches from the speaker or right up beside the soundhole of an acoustic guitar.
  2. If you STILL can’t find what you’re looking for, it might have nothing to do with the mic OR the source.  It’s likely the room.  Try hanging blankets.  Move couches.  Change rooms.  Microphones hear so much differently than our ears do and what you don’t notice with your ears might have huge effects on what the microphone hears.
  3. Further to the above…  if it doesn’t sound good with 1 mic, it won’t sound better with 2.  Keep things simple.  Once it sounds good with a single mic, THEN a second mic MIGHT make it sound better.  Analyze what you’re listening to.  Is it better because it’s louder or because it sounds better?
  4. Take the time to tune the drums.  You can get a great drum recording with just 1 mic if your drums sound great to begin with.  A quick help is something called MOON GELS.  Any music store should carry them.  They help drums sound punchier.  Just remember, think about the end product.  A floppy floor tom WON’T sound like a cannon recorded.  A floor tom that sounds like a cannon in the room will sound like a cannon recorded.
  5. The arrangement of the song is as important as anything you record.  Don’t be lazy and keep a part that could be played or sung differently to better suit the song.  Re-play it.  Re-sing it.  In the end, it is worth the effort.
  6. Take the time to learn about recording.  Ask questions or search the internet for tips, tricks, advice, or how-to’s.  There’s so much great information out there on recording that you really can make a great record at and potentially save yourself thousands of dollars in the process.

When it comes right down to it, you can record anywhere with almost anything and make a great recording.  Knowledge, patience and dedication are the key factors in success.  If you have all three of those, the rest is easy.