Carefully Crafting Your Sound can Yield Better Quality Recordings and Save you Time When Mixing

By: Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato

 

You’ve finally finished writing your song, you've tweaked and tweaked, changing phrases, a word here and there until it was just right. You can't wait to start recording and get this baby out into the world. If you want to make the recording and mixing as painless as possible, a little pre-production will go a long way. Here are some things to consider before you hit record.

 

What is your goal?

You should have a really good idea of how the finished product should sound.

 

Is your intention for the song to compete with the current pop hits? Are you recording electronic music or orchestral? Are you going to be the next big country sensation?  Whatever the answer is, this will guide your choices from instrumentation to tone and coloration.

 

Think about the arrangement.  Will there be space for the song to breathe or are you going after a wall of sound? What is the emotion and energy you are trying to express with...

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The Myth of Golden Ears

Are the best sound engineers and producers born with better hearing, a pair of  ‘Golden Ears’ as they say?

Not necessarily, but what they do have is a pair of well trained ears. 

EQ’ing is the manipulation of frequencies. In order to do that effectively, you need to be able to identify what you hear and what adjustments need to be made so you can achieve your desired result.

The first step in doing this is knowing how to listen.

Your ears are always on however, you’re not always listening. We use our ears all the time but exactly how much do we hear and how do we hear?

Hearing is different from listening.  How much of your environment are you tuning out on a daily basis?  If you live in the city, do you even notice the traffic noise anymore?  Sirens blaring, horns honking, garbage trucks emptying dumpsters? If you’ve lived in a noisy city long enough, my guess is that has all become part of background noise that your brain...

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What is the most important tool in your tool kit?

Your ears are the most important tool you have as a sound engineer, producer, or musician.  And the best thing about them is they are FREE!  They don’t require any software, measuring microphones, or computers.  They are with you wherever you go

I’m not saying that computer based tools and other measurement devices are not worthwhile, but they are just tools and should only be used as such.   The problem comes when you start relying on those tools to tell you how things sound.  After a while you just stop using your ears or simply forget to ‘listen’.

When I was very young I learned how to play piano by ear.  I was actually pretty good at it until I started taking piano lessons.  Once I learned how to read music somehow my ability to pick things up by ear got lost.  It seemed much easier to get the sheet music for whatever song I wanted to learn rather than spend the time plunking away at the keyboard to...

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