Archives For Recording At Home

Guides for successfully recording music at home.

double tracked gutiar

Recording the same guitar part twice, and then combing them in the mix is known as “double tracking”. It is a simple technique which can be very effective, and is easy enough to try in a home studio – no matter how basic.

Why Double Track Guitars?

If you have a guitar part which needs more substance without making it any more complex, double tracking is an ideal technique. It can also help to pad out a mix that needs to stay simple, or help give a solo more character.

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adam a77x

Choosing a high quality pair of monitors to mix your home recordings on will give you a much more detailed and accurate look at how your recordings sound. Active monitors are a good choice for home studios, because you don’t have to worry about a separate amplifier to power them, you just plug them into the mains power directly. Since they don’t need a separate amp, they are also easier to store, mount, move around etc. and you can leave the difficult process of choosing an amplifier to match the speaker to the manufacturer.

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How To Use Saturation

Andrew —  May 23, 2013 — 2 Comments

saturation

Saturation plugins model analogue tape saturation, which sounds a bit like very gentle and soft overdrive. It is often used on lead vocals, and is a useful effect for buss mixes, and even on master mixes. If you don’t have a dedicated saturation plugin to try out, have a look at our Taphead review which is a free saturation plugin from Massey and very easy to get to grips with.

Here are a few ways that you can use saturation in your mixes, on lead vocals and drums.

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Double Tracking Vocals

Andrew —  May 16, 2013 — 3 Comments

double tracked vocal

Recording “double tracked” vocal parts are simply two vocal recordings of the same part played back simultaneously, a simple technique but very reliant on the ability of the singer. Here’s our guide to double tracking.

Why Double Track Vocals?

Double tracking is used as an effect similar to a vocal delay, to add weight and texture to a lead vocal part and blend it into the mix. You could use this to add some substance to backing vocals – but unless it’s for a specific effect with its own place in a mix, the effect isn’t prominent and can get lost easily.

You can use it to highlight sections of a song, such as a verse or even shorter phrases. This works really nicely as it’s fairly subtle and your average listener probably won’t notice a big difference – just more ‘presence’ of the lead vocal.

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vox delay adv

Following on from our guide to using delay on vocals, we are going to look at a few more advanced uses of delay on vocals. Aside from the basic echo which repeats and dies away, there are a couple of things you can do with delay to give more texture to vocals, and lead vocals in particular.

Slapback Delay

This is a short delay with usually just one echo of the vocal part, it almost doesn’t sound like a separate delay but more like a reflection off of a hard wall in a small room. With the delay channel setup from the vocal delay guide already running, all you need to do is bring the delay time down to about 100-150ms, and reduce the effect of any low-pass filters or eq you have put in – as we want the delay to be crisp and punchy.

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Recording Vocals

Andrew —  April 24, 2013 — 2 Comments

vocals

Recording vocals really well can add a lot of colour and interest to your mixes, especially considering lead vocals are almost always the focus of your listeners. We have put together some guides on vocal recording to help you improve your technique.

Lead Vocals

In most modern recordings the lead vocals are likely to be very the centre of attention, as they carry the melody and the lyrics. For this reason, if you are using a guide track, make sure it includes a decent vocal take for the rest of the musicians to follow and perform alongside. I prefer to leave the final vocal overdub to very near the end of a session, because then the singer has a more complete and balanced mix to listen to, and will usually give you a better performance for it.

Backing Vocals

Backing vocals are often recorded to bring depth to a track and help support the lead vocal part. They can also be used to add a harmony or contrasting melody part to a recording, and vary from accenting single lines of the lead part to more gentle support throughout a song, more like a string pad. How you intend to use the backing vocals in the finished song will determine which recording method you use initially, so here’s our complete guide to recording the different types of backing vocals such as harmony parts and choirs.

Vocal Effects

Our guide to using a delay on vocals explains why it is a useful alternative to reverb, and how it helps the vocal track sit better in the mix without taking up too much space. Here are some more advanced vocal delay techniques for you if you to try out once you’ve got the hang of the basics.

Double tracking vocals is a common process in professional recordings, and has a very distinctive sound which you can easily use in a home studio recording.

[image via amador]

Recording Backing Vocals

Andrew —  April 23, 2013 — 1 Comment

backing vocalist

Backing vocals are often recorded to bring depth to a track and help support the Lead Vocal part. They can also be used to add a harmony or contrasting melody part to a recording, and vary from accenting single lines of the lead part to more gentle support throughout a song, more like a string pad. How you intend to use the backing vocals in the finished song will determine which recording method you use initially, so here’s our complete guide to recording the different types of backing vocals.

Single Harmony Part

This is probably the simplest of all the different types of backing vocals, because you can treat them very similarly to the lead vocals. Usually with a single harmony part you will want it to be fairly prominent in the mix, so a large diaphragm condenser microphone like a Rode NT1-A positioned around eight inches away would be a good choice to give the voice clarity help it stand out.

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How To Use Plugins

Andrew —  April 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

plugins

Knowing which plugins to use for a particular sound, and how to use those plugins effectively will improve your mixes and help you work quickly. Plugins are the most versatile tools that are available for mixing, as they come in a vast range of sounds, shapes, applications and in varying levels of complexity. Here is our guide on how to get the best from the different plugins used in the majority of digital mixes.

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How To Use Reverb

Andrew —  April 9, 2013 — 1 Comment

reverb

Knowing how to use reverb effectively is one of those things that really comes with practice, but we want to help you a get ahead, as poorly balanced reverb is one of the most obvious signs of an inexperienced engineer. So, here’s our guide to how reverb works and how to use it effectively. In this article we will use natural reverb on solo piano, and plate reverb on vocals as two examples.

Reverb Overview

Put simply, reverb plugins simulate acoustic spaces like cathedrals or concert halls, and reverb equipment like spring or plate reverb units. There are no hard and fast rules as to what type of reverb sounds best on which instrument, so experiment will all the different presets you can find, as they are all distinctive and useful in different ways.

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