Mid last year after Nick Carver and I finalised recording and mixing the first Morrisons release I put together a little outline of how I’d like to approach my next recording, based on the experiences we had. I thought others might find it useful, so here it is..
Recording plan for a learning engineer (written by a learning engineer)
- Analyse properties of ensemble (instruments, voices, various percussion).
- Figure out in advance what a desirable sound for each instrument is. (identify reference recordings?)
- Figure out the gear (instruments, amps, mics, preamps, effects)/space (surfaces, dimensions, baffles) necessary to attain desirable sound.
- Do a sketch recording of song with simplest possible configuration of gear/space elements.
- Analyse structure of song.
- Figure out a mix narrative (points to tweak sound/instrumentation/arrangement to fit narrative of song).
- Amend gear/space plan if necessary.
- Figure out how the e.q. landscape is going to be covered (what instruments accentuate/are filtered out from what).
- Record a guide track of all instruments in one space.
- If optimal spaces for recording instruments are different, perform seperate recordings. (alternately and ideally record the instruments at the same time in their optimal spaces).
- Be prepared to re-record anything and/or everything.
- Figure out an order of focus for the various sonic elements (i.e. voice priority 1, drums priority 2, etc.)
- Consider aesthetic of recording before beginning to mix (does it need to be loud? clean? subtle? are there genre considerations?)
- Establish necessary buses/routing.
- Select effects according to specific sonic/narrative objectives.
- Achieve a satisfying mix on monitors.
- Test on a variety of speakers, tv, hifi, pa, large, small, etc.
- Identify corrections to be made, repeat.