Recording plan for a learning engineer (written by a learning engineer)

Writing

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.
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