#1
So i decided to compile all the guides i made into one thread. Please anyone who has additions or suggestions speak up and i will add it and credit you.


NOTE: These are guides and tips, they don't have to be done in any order (Except what you need and mic positioning of course) but don't take them as hard and fast rules because there are none.



What do i need to record? Recording 101

Note: This is the basics to make decent recordings in an all digital studio.



Before we begin i'd like to go over some basic terminology that isn't explained below and may be thrown around in the forums.

Preamp: As you guitarists may well know, a preamp does all your eq, fx etc before hitting the power amp to blow it out a speaker. Mic preamps are pretty much the same, they bring the sound up to a useable level before sending it through.

Coloured: This is pretty much when something changes the sound of your source. It is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that whataver you send it through has added its own character to the audio.

Transparent: This pretty much means what you hear through your ears is pretty close to what you hear through your speakers when recorded. The sound wasn't coloured and its about as true as you can get.

DAW: Digital Audio Workstation, basically think of it as a tracking screen (where you see all the audio files) a mixer (where you adjust levels and add fx) and anything else you need to mix and (if you have the right tools) record music.

Compressor: In a nut shell, a compressor squishes the sound making the loud bits quieter and the soft bits louder. Say you have a recorded piece of audio that has a dynamic range of 20db, 20 db between the loudest and quietest sound. A compressor is used when you wish to make it 10.

+48v Phantom Power: Condenser mics need phantom power to work, it is the way that they are designed and i won't go more complicated than that. DO NOT USE PHANTOM POWER ON RIBBON MICS UNLESS SPECIFIED!


#1 Read This, its a rules and faq thread.


#2 Do a search, chances are someone has already asked or answered your question

#3 Read the other stickied threads which can be found here (Recording software list) here (Gear and accessories thread) here (Audacity FAQ) and for some helpful videos by moody, here

#4 Can you make a professional studio with $10k? No. Can you with $30k? No. Can you with $50k? Sort of, that will only buy you the basic gear you need (Good preamps, good compressors, good mics, good a/d converters) and this would be for a digital only studio.
Before you go out on thoughts of grandeur, and i don't mean to crush you, you will need to spend ATLEAST $100k on a studio and that is ONLY if you have a good room. You need to acoustically treat it, buy the gear, possibly even build a room inside a room. But that is for a professional level.
Can you get good results for less? YES! You do not need a million dollar studio to get good results, you need decent gear, a bit of mixing knowledge and a decent sounding room (lounge rooms tend to sound decent).

But now onwards.

Why this is for digital not analogue? Frankly because digital is cheaper, more convenient and for us a hell of alot easier. For analogue you need to chuck in a mixer, reel to reel tape machine, outboard gear for ANY effects you want etc. That being said you still may need some analogue gear to run a digital studio (for preamps etc).

Now that you've done your best to find the answers you seek, or even just aware of how to find them lets get onto the basics. I will repeat a few things that have been posted in the threads i listed above for the sake of keeping everything together.

This is what you will need.


A computer or Multi Track Recorder (MTR).
Computer wise, Mac, PC, Laptop, Desktop, it doesn't matter what you have as long as you have a decent amount of ram (1 or 2gb min) and a decent processor (dual core should be able to run nearly anything these days) and believe it or not, depending on your program/sequencer/DAW you will actually need a semi decent graphics card to display the program (despite not being a recording program, Mainstage that is bundled with Logic Studio will not run on a 2 year old macbook well because it simply can't handle the graphics)
Multitrack recorder wise, it doesnt matter what you have, there are many solutions from many companies and i would only recommend these if you are doing VERY basic recordings where you move around alot or don't care about the end product just hearing yourself is good enough.

A sequencer/DAW.
Check the software list, there are many solutions at many affordable levels depending on the scale of the recordings you wish to make. Also make sure it can do what you want it to. (Pro tools is only recently decent for midi where programs like cubase and logic have had a strong focus on it for a long time)

An Interface or A/D/A converter. This basically converts an analogue signal into a digital signal your computer can interpret. These most commonly come in USB, Firewire, Spdif, PCI and ethernet. An interface will generally have line inputs or preamps built into the unit where an A/D converter will generally only handle the signal conversion.

A microphone (unless recording direct line in). Guitars you can get away with a dynamic mic like a sm57. Acoustics and vocals you will need a condenser/s such as the mxl 990/991 pack which comes with both small and large diaphragm condensors. You can use dynamic mics on anything or vice versa but certain things are geared towards certain things, condensers to generally work on everything though. For drums, there are many ways to record a drum kit, generally you use dynamic mics to close mic the kit and then condensers to room/OH mic the kit.

Monitors. A good pair of monitor speakers is essential to making a good mix, yes you can mix with headphones but your mixes WILL suffer. Don't cheap out on monitors by any means. Krk make extremely good monitors for the price, another one to look out for is the yamaha ns-10 as it is very well known for translating onto other speakers well. On the higher end scale you have brands like genelec which are truly amazing. I can't stress how important it is to NOT cheap out on monitors.

Headphones.
You will more than likely need a good set of headphones while recording to a click, prerecorded track or even just listening to how your instrument sounds through the microphone. Try to get closed back headphones (such as the Sennheiser hd280pro) unless you do have to resort to mixing on headphones in which case you should get open back (such as Grado Labs SR80). Do NOT track with open back headphones as there will be alot of audio bleed through the mic.
#2

So what does all this do? Recording 102



I see many questions on what certain things are and what they do so here is a brief overview of some of the many pieces of gear found in studios.


Preamp:
This brings up the microphone to a useable volume. Usually has a gain control and a phantom power (+48v) switch as well as an indication of the volume (typically in dB)

A/D/A Converter: Aka A/D converter or AD Converter, pretty much converts an analogue signal into a digital signal and also vice versa (depending on the unit) so you can record onto a computer.

Interface:
This is generally a cross between a preamp and A/D/A converter as basically what it does is gives you an all in one bundle to record into the computer. They typically have mic or line ins and a way to connect it to your computer. In short, instead of buying a preamp and an A/D converter, you can just buy an interface that does both. (Typically something that does one job does it better than one that does both though.)

Bit Depth and Sample Rate: Bit depth is basically how many bits that can be captured in a certain frame of time, sample rate is how many times the sound can be captured a second. Low bit depth and sample rates sound bad because if you look at the audio waveform (physics is fun) it will look like stares going up and down. The higher the bit depth and sample rate the smoother it gets and the more natural and higher quality your digital audio will sound. Cd's are 16bit 44.1... if you got a cd that was 24bit 192kb sample rate i guarantee you if you play that on a good stereo, you WILL hear a difference in quality.

EQ: There are many types of eqs i won't go into because it doesn't really matter to most people. An eq boosts or cuts a frequency or bunch of frequencies surrounding the core frequency. (more bass, treble or mids but a HELL of alot more detailed than on an amp)

Compressor:
In essence it does what its name suggests, it compresses... but not in a bad way, what a compressor does is lower the highest volume which is set by the threshold control typically so what it hits a certain volume the sound gets quieter depending on the ratio that is set (2:1 will halve the volume of any sound that goes past the threshold 4:1 will quarter it and anything past 20:1 effectively stops the volume dead) And then the lower sounds are brought up (so you can hear them better) with the gain control which also compensates for the volume loss that the compressor creates.

Limiter:
As soon as the sound hits the limiters threshold, stops dead and doesnt get louder. Simple as that.

Noise Gate:
Once a threshold is set, the gate will only let pass sounds that reach a volume above the threshold (great for kicks and snares to isolate them from the rest of a kit).

Condenser Microphone: Without getting technical, comes in Large Diaphragm (LDC) and Small Diaphragm (SDC, aka pencil mic) These need Phantom power to run and are generally much more detailed and sensitive than their dynamic cousins. Two of the most famous Condenser mics are the AKG c414 which can be used on anything and has a switchable polar pattern (I'll get into that later) and the Neumann KM84 (or the newer KM184) which is considered one of the best mics ever for recording Stringed instruments including acoustics as well as cymbals.

Dynamic Microphone: Doesn't need power to run, most commonly used in live situations or in recording situations where using a condenser would break because of the sound pressure levels (like in a kick drum) or where it would just pick up too much noise around it (like on a snare). The most famous dynamic mic is hands down the Shure sm57, which is the industry standard for guitar, snare and even toms, with uses expanding to cymbals, bass and vocals.

Ribbon Microphones:
These uses a delicate ribbon to pick up sounds and for most, phantom power WILL damage them. Ribbon mics have a very unique sound and not everybody likes them, good on guitars and sometimes on voice as well ribbon mics are often used as room mics for drum kits. One of the more famous ribbon mics is probably the royer r121 which is used by many bands including Matchbox 20 as a guitar cab mic.

Microphone Polar Patterns: AKA pickup pattern. This basically means where the mic picks up its sound from.
Unidirectional mics are
Cardioid ( the pickup pattern (where it picks the sound up from) looks like a mushroom without a stalk)
Super Cardioid looks like a mushroom with a stalk with a bit of the sides chopped off (but still rounded
Hyper Cardioid is similar to super cardioid but even less pickup response from the sides

They are called uni directional because the spot with the highest sound capture is in front of it, and as you go up it gets more and more directional (picks up less from the sides) but picks up from behind a bit as well

There is Figure 8 which like the name sugests has a polar pattern of an 8, and it picks up from opposite sides but not the adjacent ones (up and down but not left or right, or vice versa.

Then there is Omni Directional which picks up everywhere, mostly used for choirs or groups standing around the mic, HORRIBLE for live use yet school teachers who think, oh her this picks up from everywhere thats great! Think its great until they use a PA and wonder why its feedbacking like hell.

I won't go into FX because theyre all pretty much the same as guitar ones.
#3

How do i make it sound good with EQ? Recording 103


Now before i continue i must say, this is just a general outline of what frequencies do what, it is not an EQ bible and I'm not saying its all 100% correct but its a damn good way to start off.
I'll say a couple of things before i start though. Try not to sweep your EQ (raise the gain and then change the frequency, because it doesn't help it just sounds weird and actually desensitizes your ears to what your trying to do, raise the gain, if thats the wrong thing, put it down, move it, check it again, only sweep if its small amounts not from 100hz to 10khz.
Second This is for a graphic EQ or at least an EQ with a adjustable Q (width of eq "lump" though its not necessary) and gain.

Now there is one thing i must stress. DO NOT CROWD FREQUENCIES, THEY ADD UP!
For example, say you boost your kick drum at 100hz by 5dB and your Bass guitar by 5dB and also your Floor Tom by 5dB, now by themselves they sound great, bassy and full, you put them together and that becomes 15dB of 100hz ON TOP of whatever was already there in a mix, some people wonder why their master faders are clipping when all their instruments are not. This is why, a better solution would be to boost the floor tom at 150hz, the kick at 100 and the bass at 50, or whatever you prefer. That way you wont have too much 100hz.

Ok lets start with some general EQ

50Hz (For Power)


1. Increase to add more fullness to lowest frequency instruments like foot, floor tom, and the bass.
2. Reduce to decrease the "boom" of the bass and will increase overtones and the recognition of bass line in the mix. This is most often used on loud bass lines like rock.
3. Cut for vocals to reduce pops.

100Hz (For Fatness & Fullness)

1. Increase to add a harder bass sound to lowest frequency instruments.
2. Increase to add fullness to guitars, snare.
3. Increase to add warmth to piano and horns.
4. Reduce to remove boom on guitars & increase clarity.
5. Cut for vocals.
6. Boost to help add "thump" to kick drum.

200Hz (For Fatness & Fullness)

1. Increase to add fullness and warmth to vocals or guitar.
2. Increase to add fullness to snare and guitar (harder sound).
3. Reduce to decrease muddiness of vocals or mid-range instruments.
4. Reduce to decrease gong sound of cymbals.
5. Boost/cut to control 'woody' sound of snare.

400Hz (For Ambience & Clarity)

1. Increase to add clarity to bass lines especially when speakers are at low volume.
2. Reduce to decrease "cardboard" sound of lower drums (foot and toms) and add warmth.
3. Reduce to decrease ambiance on cymbals.

800Hz (Clarity & Quality)

1. Increase for clarity and "punch" of bass (adds a knock at 1KHz).
2. Reduce to remove "cheap" sound of guitars.
3. Thicken Vocal tracks

1.5KHz (Clarity & Quality)

1. Increase for "clarity" and "pluck" of bass.
2. Reduce to remove dullness of guitars.

3KHz (For Projection)

1. Increase for more "pluck" of bass.
2. Increase for more attack of electric / acoustic guitar.
3. Increase for more attack on low piano parts.
4. Increase for more clarity / hardness on voice, reduce for smoothness.
5. Reduce to increase breathy, soft sound on background vocals.
6. Reduce to disguise out-of-tune vocals / guitars.

5KHz (For Presence)


1. Increase for vocal presence.
2. Increase low frequency drum attack ( foot / toms).
3. Increase for more "finger sound" on bass.
4. Increase attack of piano, acoustic guitar and brightness on guitars (especially rock guitars).
5. Reduce to make background parts more distant.
6. Reduce to soften "thin" guitar.

7KHz (For Brilliance & Clarity)

1. Increase to add attack on low frequency drums (more metallic sound).
2. Increase to add attack to percussion instruments.
3. Increase on dull singer.
4. Increase for more "finger sound" on acoustic bass.
5. Reduce to decrease "s" sound on singers.
6. Increase to add sharpness to synthesizers, rock guitars, acoustic guitar and piano.

10KHz (For Brilliance & Clarity)

1. Increase to brighten vocals.
2. Increase for "light brightness" in acoustic guitar and piano.
3. Increase for hardness on cymbals.
4. Reduce to decrease "s" sound on singers.

15KHz (For Brilliance & Clarity)

1. Increase to brighten vocals (breath sound).
2. Increase to brighten cymbals (adds sizzle), string instruments and flutes.
3. Increase to make sampled synthesizer sound more real.


And now for some more specific EQ.

Vocals


General: Roll off below 60-150Hz using a High Pass Filter. This range is unlikely to contain anything useful, so you may as well reduce the noise the track contributes to the mix.

Treat Harsh Vocals:
To soften vocals apply cut in a narrow bandwidth somewhere in the 2.5KHz to 4KHz range.

Get An Open Sound:
Apply a gentle boost above 6KHz using a shelving filter.

Get Brightness, Not Harshness:
Apply a gentle boost using a wide-band Bandpass Filter above 6KHz. Use the Sweep control to sweep the frequencies to get it right.

Get Smoothness: Apply some cut in a narrow band in the 1KHz to 2KHz range.

Bring Out The Bass: Apply some boost in a reasonably narrow band somewhere in the 200Hz to 600Hz range.

Radio Vocal Effect:
Apply some cut at the High Frequencies, lots of boost about 1.5KHz and lots of cut below 700Hz.

Telephone Effect:
Apply lots of compression pre EQ, and a little analogue distortion by turning up the input gain. Apply some cut at the High Frequencies, lots of boost about 1.5KHz and lots of cut below 700Hz.

Hi-Hats

Get Definition:
Roll off everything below 600Hz using a High Pass Filter.

Get Sizzle: Apply boost at 10KHz using a Band Pass Filter. Adjust the bandwidth to get the sound right.

Treat Clangy Hats:
Apply some cut between 1KHz and 4KHz.

Bass Drum

General: Apply a little cut at 300Hz and some boost between 40Hz and 80Hz.

Control The Attack:
Apply boost or cut around 4KHz to 6KHz.

Treat Muddiness:
Apply cut somewhere in the 100Hz to 500Hz range.

Thump: Boost around 130hz to get a low end thump (the sort you feel in your chest if loud)

Guitar

Treat Unclear Vocals: Apply some cut to the guitar between 1KHz and 5KHz to bring the vocals to the front of the mix.

General:
Apply a little boost between 100Hz and 250Hz and again between 10KHz and 12KHz.

Acoustic Guitar

Add Sparkle:
Gently boost at 10KHz using a Band Pass Filter with a medium bandwidth.

General


Apply some mid-range cut to the rhythm section to make vocals and other instruments more clearly heard.

Note: I compiled this list using http://www.recordingeq.com/Subscribe/tip/tascam.htm and my own knowledge as well as other bits and pieces i picked up. This is here for your benefit so don't complain.
#4
How do i make my recordings sound good? Recording 104


So you have all the gear you need, you know how to use it and what it does, but you still can't quite get it sounding good, more than likely its your sound source or the initial recorded sound before mixing.

Firstly, if your gear is crap... and your sound source is crap... then your recording will sound, you guessed it, CRAP!

If you're wondering how to tell if the mic placement is good, try turning up your headphones and listening as you move the mic, or if you have the time record different positions, put a square of electrical tape where you put the mic, write down the rough angle and listen back to it all then just put the mic back where it sounded best.

So lets begin.

#1 Make sure your instrument is tuned, you have the right settings dialed into your amp, and your vocals are warmed up.

#2
Try moving stuff around your move to see if it sounds better somewhere else. You'd be surprised how much difference 2 metres can make, especially for drums, walk around hitting the floor tom and listen to where it sounds best etc.

#3 Stick your ear to where you would put the microphone (WATCH OUT ITS LOUD) because that's what your microphone will pick up.

#4 Don't be afraid to experiment!

#5
Phase. When something is perfectly out of phase with something else it cancels out the sound, if you zoom in on 2 waver forms (e.g. top and bottom snare and you see the waves are going opposite ways, it is out of phase, if they go up and down together it is in phase). If something is partially in phase you can get funky scooped or strange sounds, which generally isn't a good thing.

#6 Don't just think to yourself, oh ill fix it up when I'm mixing. BAD! you can make an ok recorded sound sound good in mixing, but you can make a good recorded sound sound amazing the same way.

Mic placements! There are no hard and fast rules to this just suggestions i can make.

Guitar or Bass Cabs: There are no rules when recording guitar cabs but the way i do it is i point the mic at a 45 degree pointing at the cone. Sometimes pointing the mic straight at the cone works. Move the mic closer to the edge of the speaker or closer to the middle until you find the sound you think is right (use headphones while you or a friend play guitar) try having it pointing straight and at 45 degrees. Distance from speaker is generally 2-12 inches away. Generally use a dynamic mic like a sm57 (or akg d112 for bass but you can use the sm57 for bass too) though you CAN use a condenser but its generally not necessary unless you are using 2 mics to mic the amp (be careful of phase problems).

Snare (also toms): Dynamic mics are generally the best use for snares. Keep the mic 2-6 inches away from the snare head, at about a 45 degree angle. Point it more toward the center for more attack and body and closer to the rim for more resonance. Just move the mic around til you get your happy medium. You may also want to mic the bottom of the snare using the same angles, but you will probably have to invert the phase on one of the tracks as there will be phase cancellation. Snares and toms are more of a taste thing than anything else, some people like things sounding certain ways and I'll keep saying it over and over, experiment til you get a sound you like.

Kick: Pretty simple really, the closer you get your mic to the beater the more attack you'll get, the further away, the more resonance. Same deal is if you point it towards or away from the beater. If you get too much resonance all the time try sticking in a blanket or towel to dampen the heads. You will need a mic that can handle the high sound pressure level a kick drum makes and faithfully reproduce the low end., some examples are the AKG d112 and the Audix D6. You can also pair it up with another mic outside the kick (be careful of phase) to get an even huger sound. Condensers with pop filters are good for this (you might damage the mic if too much air hits it. And some even stick an sm57 next to the kick mic to get more of the attack and click.

Overheads: There are 3 main ways to record cymbals. Having 2 mics set up on the left and right side of the kit. If you do it this way make sure for every 1 metre above the kit the microphones are they need to be 3 metres apart for phase issues. This is great for definately capturing a good stereo image of the kit.
You can use the XY method which uses a XY bar to hold 2 mics at 45 degrees angles to each other (adjeacent to each other) that goes above the kit, the closer to the kit you go the wider the stereo image, the higher, the more it captures. This is what i personally do as it saves on mic stands, but i like the first option best.
Or if you don't have the luxury of as many inputs or mics, you can just stick one micriphone above the kit directly above the drummers head. This won't give you a stereo image at all but it will capture the cymbals and the rest of the kit.
Condener mics are best suited for use as overheads as they pick up the subtleties better as you are not just recording the hats but the whole kit.

Individual Cymbals: There are so many ways to do this its not funny, once again condensers being the best to use. You can point them straight up from the bottom of the cymbal, Straight down from the top, at angles, closer or further away from the bells. This is really just try moving it and seeing what happens. You will only ever really need to do this for rides and hats though (unless you go crazy and close mic the ENTIRE kit) so its not too important. The way i do it is for the ride angle it slightly to the edge of the bell on the bottom of the ride about 4 inches (10cm) away, unless the drummer is crazy and uses the ride like a crash and sits on the egde alot. For Hats generally just a 45 degree angle down at the hats aimed slightly above the seperation between cymbals, or for less sizzle and more ... ding? try just have it pointing straight down about halfway across from the middle of the cymbal. If you're feeling funky try micing the bottom and see what happens.

Acoustic Guitar: The 2 easiest ways to record acoustics are probably either using one microphone pointed at the bridge, sound hole, or 12th fret or angled at any of these points. My favourite to do with this method is angle the mic (condenser being the best choice) at the soundhole/bridge from the 10th or 12th fret so it picks up the treble and string sounds aswell as the bottom end from the bridge.
The second method is to use 2 microphones, one pointing at the 12th fret and another at the bridge then blend them to get the desired sound. This is generally the better options but not all of us have the options of using this many mics. You can use a SDC (Pencil condenser) at the 12th fret and LDC at the soundhole, that works quite well.

Vocals: Vocals are the easiest to record, use a condenser mic with a pop filter (even if its stockings and a coat hanger). You can either get the singer to sing directly into the microphone, or just over it. You could also sing at a 45 degree angle to it. Personally i think singing directly into the mic works fine. Vocals are the easiest to get sounding good as generally, if the mic sounds good and the singer sounds good there is no way to get it wrong.

NOTE: Some people like to mic the air hole on toms and snares (if you look at your drums you'll find it on the side somewhere). Personally i think this is just weird and more of a, "oh look how many mics i can stick on a drum kit to increase the chance of phase problems!" than an actual viable solution, but if it works for you, who am i to stop you.
Also these are just suggestions for mic positions, go nuts, mic an acoustic from the back.. or an amp! If you want really trashy screwed up drum sounds and you dont care if your mics get beaten up, close mic your crash cymbals about an inch away from the cymbal so when the crash gets hit it smacks into the mic (NOT RECOMMENDED!!!)

Go crazy guys, if you discover some awesome way to mic something up (Micing an amp head as well as cab is not an awesome way to mic a guitar amp) then tell me and i'll add it in and attribute it to you!

NOTE:
Don't forget, try different rooms! If you want nice ass reverb on your vocals, record in the bathroom, try different rooms for different things, you might be recording indie rock which recording guitars in the bathroom will sound awesome. Recording in your living room general is a good place to record for a nice roomy sound.
#5
So i have my recordings sounding good, how do i mix? Recording 105



So I probably shouldn't of put the EQ guide as number 3 but i did so hey.
So you've used these guides (or just yourself) to capture a good sound with your gear, your recorded sound is decent to good and you want to make it sound as good as possible, so whats next? Mixing!!
Now don't get confused with mastering, mastering is what you do AFTER everything is mixed, bounced down to a stereo track and is in preperation for a cd. You get a professional to do this because how can you improve something you've just mixed? You can make it louder, maybe discover some stuff on eq you forgot to do but thats about it.

Mixing is the process of setting levels, setting dynamics, automation (if digital), EQing, reverbing etc etc etc.

So lets go to it.


What i'm assuming you already have in your DAW (recording program) is a graphic EQ where you can select individual frequencies the Q (discussed earlier) and the gain of the eq. A reverb (there are so many free plugins out there its not funny just search google), a compressor, a limiter (you can use a compressor for this), a noise gate (once again not necessary but does help alot) and the ability to use busses and aux channels (not essential but you need it for a few of my tips). An EQ analyser always helps aswell as a delay for some cool effects.

So lets start of by theoretically saying you're mixing a song with a full drum kit (3 toms, one mic on snare, kick and 2 overheads), 2 guitars in the verses then an extra one in the chorus, Bass, Lead vocals and 2 backing vocals. This would be a rock song as that's what most people here want to do.

The reason i say such a big project is because that way i cover everything.

NOTE: This is the way I personally do things, as with all my guides, they are just that, guides not hard fast rules.

NOTE: Make sure you clearly label everything so you know what's going on.

NOTE: Don't mix for 7 hours straight, take breaks, give your ears a break. I guarentee you when you come back to it, even a day later, you'll hear something you missed or that you can improve.

NOTE: Cutting frequencies helps just as much as boosting them.

IMPORTANT!: One thing to remember about compression is that it multiplies not adds, so if you compress the kick at 4:1 then compress the drum bus track at 10:1 then the end result will be a 40:1 compression. Don't over compress if you don't need to.

So what i like to start with is the drums.

Drums

#1 Send all the drum outputs to its own aux channel (bus) which then goes to the master. Why? because this simplifies your workflow, if you want to JUST hear the drums, you just solo that bus. If you want the entire drum kit to go up or down in volume, don't adjust all the seperate channels, adjust the bus!
OPTIONAL: You could also send the overheads to its own bus which output then goes to the original drum bus., and add a stereo widener (if you have one) to make your kit sound bigger and wider.
OPTIONAL: You MAY also wish to add some reverb to your drum bus if they sound a bit dead or not roomy enough.

#2
Start with the kick drum. Use the EQ guide but a good beginning is to cut around 200-500hz boost around 130 and boost around 3-10khz. Next Gate the kick, make it so the kick comes through but nothing else, have the release just so it doesnt sound like a crappy sample, make it sound natural. Don't forget the overheads will fill in the gaps. Experiment around a bit and you'll get it. Generally start around -15db threshold. After you have a pretty decent sounding kick, time to add compression and a limiter (if you get clips at the volume you want). If you use the next technique just have a very light compression, if you don't use around a 4 or 5 to 1 ratio. If you use Logic then your compressor has a limiter built in.
OPTIONAL: My personal favourite way to do a kick is using parallel compression. Use a send to send the kick to a sperate bus (not the output just the send) and crush the bus channel to death with a compressor (really high ratio with a threshold around -20-25db) then eq a touch of boost around 130, and alot between 3-10khz. Adjust the levels of the bus til you get the right amount of punch and huge sounding kick. You MAY want to add reverb to this bus to get an even bigger sound its up to you. But if you want a clicky but punchy kick drum with a tight bottom end this is how i do it.
As with all the drums, use the eq guide to get your desired results and experiment til you get YOUR sound YOU want.

#3 Snare drum. Snares are pretty simple. Once again look at the EQ guides for ideas, but what i personally like to do is add or cut 200hz to add more woody sound to the snare, and add between 3-10k to add the crack and attack of the snare. Try and keep an eye on your EQ analyser if you have one (you generally can't clip heaps by adding higher frequencies its usually the lower ones. but still be careful that you don't crowd the frequencies between the kick and snares, just play around til you get a happy medium and crowd them only if you have to. Next Gate the snare, same as the kick, nice an easy and have a bigger release time so you get the resonance of the snare as well. Now you add some reverb to the snare, i like plate reverb on my snares personally but you can experiment with room or spring as well. Just mix in the amount you want depending on if you want a modern fairly present snare or a huge 80s snare.

#4 Toms. Toms are probably the easiest next to overheads. You CAN gate the toms, its up to you but it can make it sound pretty weird as when the toms get hit (you obviously need a long release to capture the resonance) it will also capture things around it so when the gate gets cut it may sound like sound is randomly coming in and out of the drums which isn't too pleasant. EQ to taste, you may want to EQ the fundamental that your toms are tuned to, if it has too much slap, EQ some high end out, too much boomyness, EQ out some low mids. Toms are really a taste thing and i can't really suggest heaps to do with them, if the toms are recorded well i don't even bother eqing the toms unless they need that extra bit of resonance. You MAY want to compress if the toms are too loud and too soft in parts, compression will even that out. Or if its just the occasional clipping, just slap a limiter on it (or compressor with a very high ratio and a threshold of -0.5db and no gain. I'll say this again and again, just look at the eq guide and play around with it to see if you find something you like.

#5 Overheads/Cymbals. Ok OHs are the easiest, just cut everything below 600hz with a high pass filter (you don't have to but i like to). You shouldn't need to compress anything, but you MAY need a limiter. generally you should be fine though. You may want to cut somewhere around 1-4khz and boost around 5-15khz to get that sizzle. Usually don't have to do a huge deal with Overheads because it should already have most of the sound captured already. I generally just EQ as i said before and set the levels. That's me though.

#6 Now for panning and level setting. Start with the kick drum and then adjust all the levels to that. Then the snare, followed by toms, then the overheads to taste. If something is clipping then try lowering all the levels. Just play around with everything until you get your levels exactly how you want them. Panning wise, i like to pan the drums like I'm sitting behind the kit. Kick in the center, snare slightly to the left, toms arrayed left and right, and the overheads panned hard left and right.

After all this you should have a pretty killer sounding Drum sound.

Ok this post is gonna be pretty big.

Bass


#1 Bass is the same as everything else, if your recorded sound sounds good, the less you have to do the better. Make sure you eq different frequencies than the kick so around 40-100 hz if you use my guide. You may want to eq some 3-5khz to add some punch or some 10khzish to add some more top end and string noise. Once again, if its boomy try cutting some frequencies and see if that helps. Low mids are evil!! :P not always but you'll see what i mean. You then will want to add some compression just to even out the bass, try around 4:1 but depending on the dynamics and style its all very up to you.

#2 Now just adjust the bass to the drums and where you want it to sit in the mix. And Pan dead center.
#6
Guitars

NOTE: In my opinion guitars need to least work because if its been recorded well you shouldn't need to do nearly anything. Go over my past guides to record it well before you decide to try to "fix" it with EQ. Add what you need to and cut what you need to you don't need to do much radical work. (If anyone has anything to add here please tell me and i'll add it)

#1 Make sure your base guitar track needs EQ first, if it was recorded well it shouldn't need anything, it might just need a touch of high end between 5-10khz and less around the bass frequencies because the bass guitar will make up for that, if your guitars sound boomy cut some bass frequencies and just remember, the bass guitar will fill out the bass frequencies.

#2 Lead guitars obviously need a bit less bass and more high frequencies and more mids to cut through the mix.

#3
Adjust the third guitar in the chorus to fill out the sound, use the past EQ advice.

#4 Adjust all the levels to sit in the mix, you may want to pan the lead and or extra guitar somewhere off center to make the mix sound wider, or just keep it all in the middle, its up to you really. You shouldn't need to compress any of the guitars but do so if you need to, use your discretion.

Vocals


#1 These are the same as guitars, the less you have to do to the recorded sound the better, but subtle EQ is good for vocals. Maybe a bit of top end to around 10khz, maybe a very tight cut at around 5khz for sibilance but be careful. Boost around 200hz for adding a bit of bass and cut around 500hz to get rid of a bit of mud if there is any. You will want to add some compression at around 4:1 ratio and 6db gain with a threshold around -15db, add more compression if you need the vocals to cut through the mix more or if the quiet bits are too quiet and the loud bits too loud. Don't forget to increase the gain if you compress it more. You may want to add some reverb and delay to the vocals also. I personally like to add some echo onto the vocal tracks as i personally sounds awesome in the quiet bits because you can really hear it, then in the choruses it really fills out the sound nicely. The reverb gives it a nice roomy feel.
OPTIONAL: This is a cool little thing i like to do sometimes, add some chorus to the vocals in the choruses to make it sound like a bigger vocal line, only very subtle but it can sound pretty cool.
OPTIONAL: If you have a tube distortion plugin, you could add a touch to the vocals to make it sound grainy and a bit more edgy.
OPTIONAL: Another cool thing i sometimes do is make an aux track with lots of delay or reverb (or just a little depending on the song) and set up a noise gate BEFORE the delay/reverb. Send the vocals to that aux track and then set it up so when the singer is belting or singing louder in the choruses, the gate opens and then the delay and reverb kicks in, then when it goes back to the quiet bits its gone. This can also be done with automation.

#2 Use similar EQ for the backing vocals as for the lead though perhaps cut the mids a touch so that they dont take over the lead vocals but whatever works for you is good. You'll also want to compress it about the same, maybe a touch less. Also add some more reverb and delay as to make it sound less present. Don't add too much otherwise it could get a bit overbearing.

#3 Mix the vocals to taste, add the backup vocals in underneath the vocals once again to taste. You may want to pan the backup vocals left and right (if you have two) to make the vocals sound very big.

Finishing up

#1 Take a listen to the entire mix together, adjust any levels that you need to and touch up anything that needs touching up. Make sure that your mix doesn't sound too bassy or trebly, too middy, too muddy, or anything. Make sure everything sits well in the mix and remember, DON'T CROWD FREQUENCIES! Also make sure nothing is clipping. Volume can be fixed in the mastering process (whether you just compress/limit it yourself or you actually get a mastering engineer to do it.)

#2 Remember, this is how I PERSONALLY mix, as with everything I've written, it's not hard fast rules but rather guidelines, tips and suggestions. As always I'm always open to additions anyone wishes to make.

#3 Don't be scared to try different things, add distortion to the drums to make a really trashy garagey type sound. Add delay to the snare to get a close slapback. Use automation (if your daw supports it) to change the levels, FX or EQ mid song.

Here are some suggestions from Axemanchris
Here are a couple of things I do:
-I leave the drum overheads out of the drum bus. The reason for that is I compress the drum bus just to help it all gel together a bit better. Compressing the overheads is usually problematic, particularly because of the cymbals.
-just as it is important to not have things compete for space in frequencies, you can also separate things with similar frequencies (especially guitars) by giving them their own space in the stereo field. (ie panning)
-remember that making each thing sound awesome on its own won't make the whole mix sound awesome. Sometimes, for instance, an otherwise thin sounding rhythm guitar can really appear to fatten up when combined with the bass and the rest of the mix.
-for vocals.... duplicate the track, and move one ahead some value less than 20ms. 12ms is generally a good place to start, but adjust to taste. Pick one of the tracks and pitch shift it up just a couple of cents or so. Pick the other duplicate track and pitch shift it down a couple of cents or so. Pan to taste. I did this on Unsaid and Like This in my profile. Very easy, but very effective, without being obvious or intrusive.
#7
So i've finished.. now what? Recording 106


This is going to be the last and smallest of these little articles. I'll just go over what to do now that you have a finished product.


Ok So you've finished mixing, your happy with your mix and you've eliminated any boomyness that may have been in the mix, happy with the levels, etc etc etc. Your mix is done. Right? Maybe, now this technique is largely for if you want a really professional/semi-pro recording, if you just want a demo, these next tips are optional.

Firstly i'll just explain the difference between a Demo, EP and LP (full length album)

A demo is generally a cd that is NOT mastered, that is used exactly for its namesake, to demonstrate your band to people/venues/record labels etc.
I have found that typically record labels ask for an unmastered cd with 4-6 songs on it not a mastered copy due to mastering CAN make you sound better than you are. Not always, but it CAN.

An EP is a 6 song cd that is occasionally a lead up to an LP or just a cd for when you don't have enough songs for an LP or you're just starting out with a band. Its usually advisable to release an EP before an LP even if you just re-use the songs on the LP later. An EP IS mastered as it is a commercial release.

A LP is what everyone knows and loves as an album. Once again, most DEFINATELY mastered. A 12 song un-mastered CD is still a demo.

And now onwards to finalizing your cd.

#1 Bounce your tracks down to 44.1khz 16bit wav (or aiff) files for maximum cd quality sound. If you can't dither or bounce down to these specific settings, just bounce it down to the wav (or aiff) file and then just burn the tracks onto an audio cd (the program will automatically convert it for you.

#2 Listen to the cd where you would normally listen to a cd, in your headphones, your car, your stereo, your dvd player, little crappy speakers, and if you can just one mono speaker (make sure it is actually mono not just like the left channel).

#3 If you heard anything bad while listening to it all go back and fix it in the mix (if you only heard something bad on ONE source, it could just be that speaker etc) Then repeat steps 1 and 2 again. This is generally a lengthy, cd wasting process but it's so worth it.

#4 This is where the demo and EP/LP split. For demos just do step 1 again in the order you want the songs. If you are going for a commercial release, this is where you want to bounce the bounce the tracks to the highest quality wav files you can. So if you recorded at 48khz 24 bit then bounce it to that, don't decrease the quality at all. After that burn the individual files onto a cd, take it to a mastering engineer and let them work their magic. They'll do everything that needs to be done, well before you need to distribute it. So when you get it back from the mastering engineer, you either need to go to a cd duplicator, find a distributor or burn the copies yourselves! Then you need to start selling.

Here are a few links for you to advertise or distribute your music.

https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZLabel.woa/wa/apply (for submitting your music on itunes)
www.purevolume.com (music promotion)
www.myspace.com (it's myspace... no brainer)
http://www.tunecore.com/ (submitting your songs, mastering service and don't forget to read the tunecore guides they're really really good)

So hopefully by the end of all this process you have a great sounding commercial release (or demo).

Thanks for reading these guides and i hope they've helped in some way form or fashion.
#8
Nice guide dude. Very thorough and open-minded.

Just wondering though, have you ever used a Sub Kick(http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/Yamaha-SubKick-LowFrequency-Capture-Device?sku=444623)

I can't live without it after hearing the difference it makes on a kick drum. It adds an amazing "push" factor without losing/muddying the attack. I'll usually pair it with a D112, but it works great even by itself.
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Last edited by USAPeavey at Feb 7, 2009,
#10
I don't have any recordings for a good comparison, but I might be able to get some.

To give a very rough comparison of using them together, I like to mix the D112 for the "click" and the subkick for the "thump". You can almost get an 808 sound out of a subkick with a little experimenting.
Quote by jackbauer
playing by yourself is like masturbating, sure it feels great, but it's nothing compared to the real deal.


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Oh Shit! I Have A Weird Growth On My Body!

To The Pit!



JOIN MY GROUP plox

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#12
Quote by llanafreak44
If you wanted "click", you shouldn't have gotten the D112.


I think the D112 performs very well for the type of click that I want out of a kick drum. To each his own though...
Quote by jackbauer
playing by yourself is like masturbating, sure it feels great, but it's nothing compared to the real deal.


Quote by guylee
Oh Shit! I Have A Weird Growth On My Body!

To The Pit!



JOIN MY GROUP plox

http://groups.ultimate-guitar.com/tonelife/
#14
i had a read through your guides and your EQ section helped me out massively. You might remember my thread the other day with the sample. Well i had another go at a different track and followed the your guide and now i'm getting far better results and not just one big bassy mess!

Cheers