Set your project quality to 24 bit and 44,1 kHz and use a metronome.
Record at a reasonable level (between -3 and -6 dBfs peak, and make sure it doesn’t clip). If you record at low levels, the background noise may become apparent after mixing.
Record your instruments dry (no reverb or delay). You can make an exception in the case of unique or important effects, but they should normally be added during the mixing process.
Trying to capture the perfect sounds on the spot is key. It is bad practice to assume that anything can be solved during mixing. The best recordings sound outstanding due to well-captured source tones! It is neither hard to achieve, nor do you need expensive equipment to capture great source tones. Experiment with your settings and your microphone placement until you are satisfied with the results!
Make sure your instruments are in tune at all times and, in an ideal scenario, you should also have your strings/ drum heads changed before recording. It is common to not notice out of tune instruments while recording, only to realise during mixing that there is dissonance between the stringed instruments or even timbre variation between drum takes.
Experiment with double tracking (especially on guitars and vocals). Rhythm guitars should be double tracked (two separate takes, not using copy – paste).
We advise capturing a D.I. signal when tracking bass or electric guitar. This way, if the tones are not ideal, they can easily be reamped. We recommend using a high quality D.I. box, while making sure your tracks are not clipping!
For instruments that need to be recorded with microphones, mic placement is an extremely important factor. Try to gather as much information on the topic before you start recording. We can offer you some piece of advice.
Try not to capture background noise! It is rather unprofessional to hear someone coughing in the background or that the floor is rattling during a recording.The only exception would be if this is an effect you intended to record.
Use a pop filter when recording vocals.
Keep the same distance between yourself and the microphone when tracking vocals. If you want to sing softer and are going for a more intimate sound, you should get closer to the mic. If you want to sing louder and are aiming for a more “airy” performance, you should step back a little. If you want your performance to sound consistent, keep the same distance. If you want the first verse to sound like the second one, do not change your position. The only exception to this rule is mic technique – the slight variation of your position relative to the microphone in order to obtain a dynamically consistent performance.
Tune your drums! Find the ideal sound for each song. If you do not like the resonance on your snare or toms, use moon gel or change the interval between the batter and resonant heads!
When recording drums, it is important to use two overhead microphones in order to capture a stereo image of the kit. If you only have 4 inputs, use a microphone on the kick drum, one on the snare drum and two on the overheads. In most cases, we find the priority of the drum mics to be following: kick, snare, two overheads, one mic on each tom, hi hat, rooms and additonal cymbal spot mics (ride, china, stack etc.).
At Grand Way Studios we use the overheads to capture the overall sound of the kit in 90% of the cases, as opposed to the remaining 10% when we use them to record primarily cymbals. In order to have the snare centered in the stereo field, position the overheads equidistantly from the snare. 1,2 metres is the starting point where the kit sounds balanced. If you position them too high, you will end up with a roomy sound, if you position them too low, you will capture too much cymbal swell, primarily when the crashes are hit.
Keep the hi-hat as far away from the snare drum as you can. Otherwise, the snare drum mic will capture too much hi hat bleed and, in the extreme case in which the hi hat is louder than the snare, we may not be able to fix it through processing.
Keep the cymbals high enough to avoid excess bleed in the tom mics.
Try to find the mic position where you get maximum rejection from all the kit pieces which you do not want to be captured. The pickup pattern diagram of the microphone is an excellent reference, which will aid you in doing so.
If you only have one microphone available for the kick drum, place it inside to avoid spill from the rest of the kit.
For acoustic guitar, place one or more mics pointing at the 12th fret. After you find the position that sounds best to you, try not to change it. If available, you can also record the piezo pickup. It is always preferable to have multiple options.
For guitar amps, if you only have one microphone, place it where the sound is most balanced and is neither ‘’harsh’’, nor “muddy”. Try to find the sweet spot where it best represents the amp and the tone is the clearest.
If you want to capture a sound source using multiple microphones, make sure they are in phase. It is worth doing research on this phenomenon and experimenting with techniques involving multiple mics (Fredman technique etc).
The same techniques and advice apply to recording bass amps. Try to find the sweet spot where the bass has definition and plenty of low end, but does not sound muddy. However, please bear in mind that, particularly in small rooms, room modes will often affect the low-end response of the bass. For this reason, we always advise recording a DI signal as well.
As we ‘ve mentioned before, we strongly advise tracking a DI signal when recording both guitar and bass. This way we can ensure that, if the wet tones are not ideal, they can be improved or reconstructed through reamping and/ or post processing.