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What Do Recording Engineers Know That You Don't? (Part 2)
By Scott Daugherty
In part 1, we covered mic placements. In this article, we are going to cover mixing down tracks. This is considered by some to be the hardest part of the recording process because it does typically take longer to mix the tracks than to record the tracks.
Scott Daugherty is a performing guitarist and studio engineer. For hot deals on music equipment, visit this store.
For a free guitar lesson visit http://www.superguitartab.com
First of all, when you are mixing down the tracks, if you recorded your instruments and vocals much like I do in my studio, you only used mics and possibly a preamp for the mics. This is the way that I like to record much of the music in my studio because I am using ProTools and use the plug-ins during the mix down phase. If you don't use ProTools (or other computer based multi-track recorders) but rather use a modern multi-track recorder, I would recommend using in addition to the pre and the mics a good compressor during the recording phase.
Now when mixing down the tracks, you are going to edit the volume level. You are also going to edit the panning or left or right of the track. You will also place effects on the track during this phase. As a general rule, when recording the guitars or bass, you should already use the effects in front of your amplifier that you would under normal live conditions. This is strictly so that you won't have a problem recreating the sound live in the future. But if you didn't and you need more, using the plug-ins of your multi-track is perfect.
You should also run a compressor on all tracks along with a limiter if possible. This will keep the track from clipping and keep the volume of the track pretty constant. It also tightens up the sin waves of the sound and keeps your sound from jumping from one place to another.
After you get your all effects on your tracks you should focus on mixing the sound. You will set your levels to where you need them. If you use computer based software you should be able to automate the tracks. This is where you actually set the track to write and adjust the levels throughout the playback of the song. Once you complete the playback set the track back to read and the levels will increase and decrease at the intervals set by you during the writing process.
Once you get this done and if you are using a computer, you will want to create a master track where once again, you can write the master fader. This will control the total volume of the song. If one track is too loud, you have to go back to that track and adjust it. In addition, you should never use effects on the master track.
Once you have written the master fader, you should bounce the file to disk or record to cd if you are using a stand-alone recorder. If you are using your computer, bounce the file to your harddrive and you are ready to record it to disk or to master the track yourself, if you have the software to do so.
If you don't have the software to master your song, send it to a company and get it mastered. It depends as to who does as to how much you will spend. Generally speaking getting a good company to do it for you costs as little as $50-$75 per song and can run you up to thousands.
If you do have mastering software, you should either load the wav file of the song in from your bounce down or load your cd in to get started. After you have mastered your track, you will immediately see a giant difference in the sound quality before you started and after.
These are a few of the tricks of creating a great sounding demo disk at home without spending a lot of money.
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