How to get an awesome sounding recording


Torsten Borg
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Torsten Borg
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09/30/2014 7:10 am
Hi,

I want to share something with people starting out with their home studios that will help them. This could also be a good reminder for more experienced people.

A lot of times i hear people record a song and then being frustrated with how the song sounds. People often assume that well, it can be fixed by mixing it better, so they try to learn how to mix better or gives the recording to somebody else to mix it for them thinking it will sound a lot better after that.

It's not going to sound better, i'm sorry.

The problem appears before the mixing stage. Yes, you can always record better and then it WILL sound better. Going even further than that by changing guitar strings and having nice sounding instruments, that works too. But i want to go deeper...

If you want to make your recording sound awesome you have to go back to the SOURCE.

If your PERFORMANCE on the recording sucks, trust me, it will suck even after mixing it. You can't change that in a computer.
When you record a song, you have to make sure that the structure of the song is right, that the tempo is right, that the right guitar parts are being played.

If you have great sounding recordings, the mixing will be so much more fun and it will always sound like gold.

Hope this helps.
-T
# 1
jamie.shields333
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jamie.shields333
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11/27/2014 5:12 pm
I always wonder how people get great home recordings. I have a Rode NT1000 and I'm thinking about saving up for the bluebird which seems to be very popular in my genre of female singer/songwriter recordings. I have a relatively inexpensive interface (Audiobox USB PreSounus) and a MacBook Pro. My mic broke and I had it fixed but haven't tried recording with it since, I've just been using the mic on my laptop and editing sound in Garageband.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the bluebird, but I won't do that until I understand more about recording. How do you set up the space? I feel like a lot more goes into recording a high quality track than what I understand at this point.
# 2
Torsten Borg
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Torsten Borg
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11/27/2014 9:04 pm
Originally Posted by: jamie.shields333I always wonder how people get great home recordings. I have a Rode NT1000 and I'm thinking about saving up for the bluebird which seems to be very popular in my genre of female singer/songwriter recordings. I have a relatively inexpensive interface (Audiobox USB PreSounus) and a MacBook Pro. My mic broke and I had it fixed but haven't tried recording with it since, I've just been using the mic on my laptop and editing sound in Garageband.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the bluebird, but I won't do that until I understand more about recording. How do you set up the space? I feel like a lot more goes into recording a high quality track than what I understand at this point.


Hi Jamie!

I would check the microphone to see if it works. If it does, i wouldn't bother buying a new microphone until you have a room in your apartment/house which is treated properly, and meant for recording.

See, it all begins from having a good sounding room. This is probably the most overlooked and underrated thing in home studios nowadays, which is a shame.

Recording in a bad sounding room is sort of the same thing as taking photos with bad lighting. It doesn't matter if you have a 5 grand mic, or a 5 grand camera, the photos won't just look as good as they could without that proper lighting, and the recordings won't sound as good as they could without proper acoustic treatment. And there's very little you can do in the mix about it, to make it sound better.

Giving it even one more example. If you record an acoustic guitar with the guitarist playing a D chord. You can't change that D chord to a decent A chord in the software. If you record in your bathroom, you can't change that room to the living room in a software.

What's my point? Getting it right at the source!

That's just one of many tips i could give you. But you want to start from where the sound is created.

I am in the process of making a home studio beginner course at the moment. It's looking like it's gonna be out in the beginning of next year. It's gonna cover the basics and be a very easy to understand course, and very exciting! Hope that doesn't sound too much like advertising (dear moderator, let me know if it bothers you and i'll erase these words).

If you'd want, you could send your email address to me as a personal message here on Guitar Tricks and i'll send you an email when the product is out!

Hope this helps,
Torsten
# 3
Svanholm
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Svanholm
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11/27/2014 9:25 pm
I live in a appartment, what is the best way to organize a room for recording?
# 4
Torsten Borg
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Torsten Borg
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11/27/2014 9:28 pm
Originally Posted by: SvanholmI live in a appartment, what is the best way to organize a room for recording?


Are you referring to how to organize your coach, bed, closet etc.? Or are you referring to something else?

Do you have multiple rooms or one big room?
# 5
Svanholm
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Svanholm
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11/28/2014 8:26 pm
I was refering to how you organize bed, closet, coach, etc.
I have one big living room and two bedrooms.
# 6
JeffS65
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JeffS65
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11/28/2014 11:33 pm
There is only so much you can change in your environment to maximize recording. While I agree with Torsten that you get out of a recording what you put in, not many people can rearrange their life (or house!) to accommodate recording.

With that said, I go to a blog called the Recording Revolution that is targeted to home recordists. Graham has a free blog he posts regularly on. He does have other products you can purchase that go deep but the free and frequent blogs are very, very useful.

Here are a couple of blogs that talk to your questions:

Stop Worrying About Room Acoustics

Bad Recording Environment? No Problem
# 7
Svanholm
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Svanholm
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11/29/2014 1:47 pm
That was acually awesome reading!
Why work for a good studio when you just need to work for a good sound?
# 8
Torsten Borg
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Torsten Borg
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12/01/2014 3:06 pm
Originally Posted by: JeffS65There is only so much you can change in your environment to maximize recording. While I agree with Torsten that you get out of a recording what you put in, not many people can rearrange their life (or house!) to accommodate recording.

With that said, I go to a blog called the Recording Revolution that is targeted to home recordists. Graham has a free blog he posts regularly on. He does have other products you can purchase that go deep but the free and frequent blogs are very, very useful.

Here are a couple of blogs that talk to your questions:

Stop Worrying About Room Acoustics

Bad Recording Environment? No Problem


Yes! Graham nails it every time. Another site which you may find very helpful is 'Home Studio Corner' which is run by a really great guy, Joe Gilder.
# 9
Torsten Borg
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Torsten Borg
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12/01/2014 3:09 pm
Originally Posted by: SvanholmI was refering to how you organize bed, closet, coach, etc.
I have one big living room and two bedrooms.


I don't think there's too much you can do to make the room sound better by re-organizing the room. Just make sure that your control desk (which you have your monitors on) isn't in a corner, that's a big no-no.

Choose a place against the wall where the distance between the right and left wall is equal. Then drag your desk a bit off of the wall to avoid for low frequencies to build up behind your monitors.

The only organizing tip i could give you is to not put any furniture between the walls and the monitors. But as JeffS65 already mentioned, you may not be able to do that depending on your situation. Do what you can do, that's always a start!
# 10
Svanholm
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Svanholm
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12/01/2014 9:46 pm
At the moment I dont have any monitors. Only a laptop, electric and acustic gutiars and a mic.
# 11
TheDukeWestern
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TheDukeWestern
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02/11/2015 6:55 pm
Im a fan of Grahams page.

One thing I would say if you are looking for a place to say - record acoustic in your house - or apartment - is to - well - walk around your apartment or house with your acoustic.

I can say that my acoustic sounds better in my living room than in my mixing room because of the space. However it does not sound as good in the middle of the room as it does in 1 section near the bookcase...

before you setup any mics... its a great idea to have a picture in your mind of how the track you are about to record will sit in the mix.
# 12
Torsten Borg
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Torsten Borg
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02/11/2015 7:22 pm
Originally Posted by: TheDukeWesternIm a fan of Grahams page.

One thing I would say if you are looking for a place to say - record acoustic in your house - or apartment - is to - well - walk around your apartment or house with your acoustic.

I can say that my acoustic sounds better in my living room than in my mixing room because of the space. However it does not sound as good in the middle of the room as it does in 1 section near the bookcase...

before you setup any mics... its a great idea to have a picture in your mind of how the track you are about to record will sit in the mix.


Exactly.

I see people putting their amps in saunas occasionally. If it sounds good, it sounds good, can't arue with that! :)
# 13
Svanholm
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Svanholm
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02/12/2015 12:38 pm
I heard that shower rooms are good for recording.
# 14


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11/30/2015 10:51 pm
Originally Posted by: SvanholmI live in a appartment, what is the best way to organize a room for recording?

buy a boss js10
# 15
bomt1999
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bomt1999
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06/24/2016 11:15 am
I feel like a lot more goes into recording a high quality track than what I understand at this point.
# 16
JeffS65
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JeffS65
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06/25/2016 4:17 am
Originally Posted by: bomt1999I feel like a lot more goes into recording a high quality track than what I understand at this point.


In a way, a lot more does go in to recording but the same can be said for guitar playing. There is way more to know about guitar playing that I would ever have the time to learn. I would not let yourself get discouraged about learning to record.

There is a lot to recording but in some respects, it is ver simple; you have an instrument, a mic and a way to record. Keep it simple and clean. The real key is to get it right coming in. I've directed a few people to the Recording Revolution and if you want to learn how to 'start', check out this series on Beginner's Mixing.

The reality, and especially in the digital DAW world, get a good signal coming in and the rest is just fiddling around...which I've often done.

Cleaner is better. Guitarist have the idea that their home practice and stage 'tone' makes for an ideal recording tone. My opinion is > not usually. Particularly if you are more of a home practicing guitar player than a performing player. When you have your 'this is awesome' practice tone, you are trying to fill up as much audio space as you can to fill your ears and particularly with heavy metal guitar tones.

When you record, your tone does not have to be as 'monster' as it is practicing. You're going to have more instruments to introduce.

Which leads me to one of the most important things to know about a good recorded mix: the bass guitar is your best friend. Period.

Unless you are doing a simple, intimate acoustic track, the bass is very important. Guitarists don't realize that in recording, a huge chunk of their awesome tone comes from the support of the bass guitar. Which leads me back to my 'monster' tone deal. A slightly cleaner tone meshes well with the bass. It doesn't have to be 'clean' tone. But you may want to consider removing some of the chunk.

A few other things to know:

-If you're home recording by yourself but it is to be a 'band' sounding song (bass, drums, guitar), recording two separate guitar tracks of the same thing. Why? Ever hear a great stereo guitar recording? This is the trick. When you mix each of these two guitar tracks, pan one hard left and the other hard right. Because you are physically not capable of recording exactly the same exactly the the same way twice, that little 'out of phaseness' is actually desired by your ear. What you can't do is copy-n-paste the same exact track and hard pan them...your ear will just hear it as one track in the middle.

-Less is more but more can be less....more or less. Ok, this is the opposite of keeping it simple but for consideration. Like a chef with spices, you always need salt and/or pepper but you have other tools at your disposal to give the recipe more flavor. You may listen to your mix and think. "Hmmm...just a little something missing", add a little spice. Maybe just a little upstroke on the riff, maybe add some acoustic guitar under a hard rock riff.

This was a short thing I worked up for a video project. If you ignore the unfinished guitar ride-up at the beginning, listen to the main guitar riff. It's actually 5 parts: (1) Main riff (2) main riff re-recorded (3) A more 'ringing' chords version of the main riff (4) A little upstroke of the high E and high B throughout (5) A cleaner, twangier open riding on the open A string throughout. When I recorded the two versions of the main riff, it just wasn't quite there...so ,no harm in experimenting and the other three tracks seemed to do the trick in filling in the riff...Yet, I don't think it really sounds like 5 tracks.

-It's all about frequencies. Instruments like to step all over each other because they often hit notes/sounds in the same frequencies. A good post-recording mix is really like being a traffic cop; you are directing the audio traffic to your ear. Your guitar tone may lose some of its precious 'beef' in order to make room for the bass guitar but the end effect is a cleaner and bigger sound. This is where EQing is a very important skill. That and learning how to effectively use High Pass and Low Pass filters...but now you're getting in to intermediate level stuff...so let's not get in to crazytown...

...so I've overcomplicated a simple thing but the point is, keep it simple and clean coming in, don't be afraid to experiment with adding tracks and twiddling stuff. The awesome part with digital DAWs is that you can monkey around as much as you want and if you don't like it, don't keep it.
# 17
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06/27/2016 4:47 pm
Originally Posted by: JeffS65In a way, a lot more does go in to recording but the same can be said for guitar playing. There is way more to know about guitar playing that I would ever have the time to learn. I would not let yourself get discouraged about learning to record.

There is a lot to recording but in some respects, it is ver simple; you have an instrument, a mic and a way to record. Keep it simple and clean. The real key is to get it right coming in. I've directed a few people to the Recording Revolution and if you want to learn how to 'start', check out this series on Beginner's Mixing.

The reality, and especially in the digital DAW world, get a good signal coming in and the rest is just fiddling around...which I've often done.

Cleaner is better. Guitarist have the idea that their home practice and stage 'tone' makes for an ideal recording tone. My opinion is > not usually. Particularly if you are more of a home practicing guitar player than a performing player. When you have your 'this is awesome' practice tone, you are trying to fill up as much audio space as you can to fill your ears and particularly with heavy metal guitar tones.

When you record, your tone does not have to be as 'monster' as it is practicing. You're going to have more instruments to introduce.

Which leads me to one of the most important things to know about a good recorded mix: the bass guitar is your best friend. Period.

Unless you are doing a simple, intimate acoustic track, the bass is very important. Guitarists don't realize that in recording, a huge chunk of their awesome tone comes from the support of the bass guitar. Which leads me back to my 'monster' tone deal. A slightly cleaner tone meshes well with the bass. It doesn't have to be 'clean' tone. But you may want to consider removing some of the chunk.

A few other things to know:

-If you're home recording by yourself but it is to be a 'band' sounding song (bass, drums, guitar), recording two separate guitar tracks of the same thing. Why? Ever hear a great stereo guitar recording? This is the trick. When you mix each of these two guitar tracks, pan one hard left and the other hard right. Because you are physically not capable of recording exactly the same exactly the the same way twice, that little 'out of phaseness' is actually desired by your ear. What you can't do is copy-n-paste the same exact track and hard pan them...your ear will just hear it as one track in the middle.

-Less is more but more can be less....more or less. Ok, this is the opposite of keeping it simple but for consideration. Like a chef with spices, you always need salt and/or pepper but you have other tools at your disposal to give the recipe more flavor. You may listen to your mix and think. "Hmmm...just a little something missing", add a little spice. Maybe just a little upstroke on the riff, maybe add some acoustic guitar under a hard rock riff.

This was a short thing I worked up for a video project. If you ignore the unfinished guitar ride-up at the beginning, listen to the main guitar riff. It's actually 5 parts: (1) Main riff (2) main riff re-recorded (3) A more 'ringing' chords version of the main riff (4) A little upstroke of the high E and high B throughout (5) A cleaner, twangier open riding on the open A string throughout. When I recorded the two versions of the main riff, it just wasn't quite there...so ,no harm in experimenting and the other three tracks seemed to do the trick in filling in the riff...Yet, I don't think it really sounds like 5 tracks.

-It's all about frequencies. Instruments like to step all over each other because they often hit notes/sounds in the same frequencies. A good post-recording mix is really like being a traffic cop; you are directing the audio traffic to your ear. Your guitar tone may lose some of its precious 'beef' in order to make room for the bass guitar but the end effect is a cleaner and bigger sound. This is where EQing is a very important skill. That and learning how to effectively use High Pass and Low Pass filters...but now you're getting in to intermediate level stuff...so let's not get in to crazytown...

...so I've overcomplicated a simple thing but the point is, keep it simple and clean coming in, don't be afraid to experiment with adding tracks and twiddling stuff. The awesome part with digital DAWs is that you can monkey around as much as you want and if you don't like it, don't keep it.


Great response Jeff! Thanks for your input!
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# 18
maggior
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maggior
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06/27/2016 8:44 pm
I follow the Recording Revolution blog and have watched the introductory videos. VERY useful. What's great about it is he focuses on getting things done. Starting with presets is fine. Using whatever gear you have on hand is fine. Using the built in stock plug-ins is not only fine, but encouraged.

He's very practical in his approach and gets outstanding results.

It has definitely helped me create better mixes and recordings.

Jeff has some great suggestions too. When "duplicating" guitar tracks, I like to play the same or similar part with a different guitar, or at least with a different amp. So not only is it that you can't play the same thing EXACTLY the same each time, which adds its own interest, your tone will be different. It creates a lot of interest in the final track.
# 19

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