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Recording Studio Basics

A Review By: Alphonso Soosay

Let’s look at the sessions of the top ten recording basics that can help you get the best tracks possible with your home recording studio environment.

  1. Always avoid getting into a rushed situation when hooking up your musical instruments and vocal microphones. It should be marked and connected properly. Make sure all connections are solid and use the best cable you possibly can. “Canare” and “Beldon” cables are quality and popular studio cables. Make-up your own studio cables to your requirements if the cost is an issue. It will be cheaper to buy the cables by the roll and solder the audio connectors to the cable yourself.
  2. Read the manuals of all audio recording equipment you are working with. Even if it’s just a quick read to get to know the terminology and ins and outs, give yourself the best shot at making sense out of your new audio equipments.
  3. Know your levels! Are you operating at microphone or line level? This is very important. Basically, line level is the language spoken by Blu-Ray, DVD, CD’s  Tape recorders, Recording consoles, Effects units and Compressor / Limiters.
  4. Microphones for acoustic Piano, acoustic Drums, acoustic Guitars and acoustic Bass do operate at microphone level. When using turntables it must go through a preamp to bring them up to line level and low impedance.
  5. Know what you need for your particular recording situation. Microphone preamp (found in a console or as a standalone). Turntable -Phono preamp (for inexpensive alternatives try). Electric Guitar and Bass if using a “DI” Box. (Direct injection)
  6. Always aim for the 0dB level of your recording device. Whether you are using analogue or digital equipment, make sure to get good level on CD, HD or Tape as possible. However, be careful with digital devices, sometime your meters may read in the “legal” area and you will still be overloading your converters. Judge your audio on playback not when you record. When you are recording on your own, you are seldom there to monitor the signal that is actually on your CD, tape/hard drive, because you are listening to input. Play-back your signal and assess it then. With determination, go over from the top so you can train your ears to hear distortion. Once you hear digital distortion you will never forget it. Analogue distortion is not linear, in other words there are grey areas where distortion can actually be a good thing. If you are recording in an analogue, experiment with various levels and see if you like what you are hearing at good high levels.
  7. Keep track of your audio recording projects by writing down what you record on a track sheet or on your screen. Knowing what’s there during the session is not as difficult as remembering what you did weeks or even months ago. Immaculate records keep you from accidentally erasing your precious tracks.
  8. Practice your tight punches-in’s before you execute them. If you have an undo function on your digital recorder please use it, as it saves you lots of time.
  9. Keep your sessions running smoothly by notating which parts of a song correspond to what track numbers on your recorder. Getting back and forth to the spots the artist wants to work on will keep things moving and fresh. A good performance is wonderful to work with and vital to a good track.
  10. Keep your recording equipment clean at all times! Cover your audio recording console when not in use, it will keep the dust out of the faders and electronics. Put your microphones away in a safe when you are not using them, when kept in the open, moisture can gather on the diaphragm and affect its performance. Remember, clean Audio equipments will always sound clean and will be kept away from errors.

Cheers

Alphonso Soosay
Audio Recording Engineer

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