#1
There are two extremes in recording in terms of reproducing what really happened as accurately as possible, and polishing everything up to the absolute pinnacle of perfection.

Ideally you would record accurately, but this requires highly trained professional musicians in a room that sounds good performing very well. Still, you want your recordings to "breathe" and feel alive.

Recordings that are "perfect" don't tend to sound real. And this is okay. The Beatles were criticized for using the studio to explore their music in new ways, and for doing things that were impossible to reproduce live.

The true art of recording is finding a balance. How can the "magic" of the studio be used to make a recording feel "alive"?

Here's an example of something I've done:

There are two guitar parts, each different. One exists in the left side of the recording, the other in the right, but they aren't panned hard right or left. Instead the "left" guitar is panned to about 80% left and a second take (the lesser of the two, in terms of the performance) is quieter, panned about 25% right.

Reverse this for the right guitar.

The stronger take is louder, and panned harder. The weaker (also good) take is panned softer, towards the middle and is quieter.

Well what if I mess up a note in the hard left track?

Assuming it's repetitive I can draw a better-executed version from elsewhere in the same track, or from the quieter, secondary track. Now this note will be heard twice, but will the listener know, or care?

No.

This saves time and preserves the honesty of the recorded work. I only replace gross errors - the odd misfretted note in an otherwise great take. The little mistakes, the ones I can live with, are left in!

This creates a very organic sound and takes advantage of some studio "magic," both utilizing the most energetic and "alive" performance (regardless of its perfection) and correcting one or two minor farts with some clever editing.

Using a beat quantize allows me to pull the note or two I'm interested in and replace the ones I'm not so hot about.

The goal? To save time, of course, but also preserve the energy of the performance. I could break every riff down and play and play and play to perfection, but that sounds different. The listener will not be fooled!

Is this an illusion? Sure, but so what? The art of recording is about creating an honest illusion, one that represents the performer and doesn't attempt to enhance or push the envelope of what is physically possible for them.


EDIT: yes, this is sort of an article, but I want comments and discussion about it. What do you feel about this technique. Do you think it SUCKS? Well, why? How could it be improved? Etc. What do you do to find this balance between "studio" quality and "live" feel? Or do you?

It's okay if you don't. Pop music is all about that, and I'm not knocking Pop! For me personally I'll live with a few burps in the final track if I feel the performance gets the point across.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

Last edited by Bubonic Chronic at Jul 29, 2011,
#2
i do this too from time to time. no matter what, i always have a second track (or third) recorded even if the first one was perfect. sometimes you dont notice mistakes until after compression for example and then you have to either piece in the part from a different track or just move on to a new one. and there's always the very real possibility of just recording a better take after this "perfect" one.

i totally agree with the realism though. i keep all the mistakes in there. any quirky thing that happened to a take i also keep in (a buddy of mine was dancing through a quiet part, and the mic picked up the strings from the head of his guitar flopping around, and we kept it in!!).

but i totally agree with you. if the performance is that special one that really portrays the thing you set out to do, its the one you keep, regardless of any flaws. if you can polish up some of the huge ones, the minor ones just add to the magic somehow
#3
My take on recording is that it's about the music. I want the listener to feel like as if they are in the song, in the moment. I want them to forget where they are, who they are listening to, and even forget the name of the song just in that moment. I wouldn't want them to fall out of the trance with a stale / wrong note in the song. Therefore, I'm all for correcting mistakes in the studio. I think it's perfectly fine to make music that can't be reproduced live. When people get upset about something like that, it makes me feel like we're in the middle ages where they had all sorts of musical laws and taboos like parallel fifths and such.

In comparison, I find live music to be more about the energy derived from the music. The performance is what everyone is looking for when they go to a concert.

Well that's my scope on it anyway.
#4
Parallel fifths are great!

They sound really menacing and weird. I love them for some death metal breakdown action.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#5
Don't take this the wrong way, by all means, but I can't really see the actual point behind the thread/article - is it your confession about preferences (or lack of, in this case) to studio 'touch-ups' or are you trying to share an idea/ideology?
Hey, look. Sigs are back.
#6
Quote by lextexrex
My take on recording is that it's about the music. I want the listener to feel like as if they are in the song, in the moment. I want them to forget where they are, who they are listening to, and even forget the name of the song just in that moment. I wouldn't want them to fall out of the trance with a stale / wrong note in the song. Therefore, I'm all for correcting mistakes in the studio. I think it's perfectly fine to make music that can't be reproduced live. When people get upset about something like that, it makes me feel like we're in the middle ages where they had all sorts of musical laws and taboos like parallel fifths and such.

In comparison, I find live music to be more about the energy derived from the music. The performance is what everyone is looking for when they go to a concert.

Well that's my scope on it anyway.

I agree with all of this. I am a perfectionist as our my band members. We use many layers of synths on top of our rock instruments. We love the huge sound in the "studio". But when we play live it's stripped down a ton and it's heavier and more fun and people love it. I believe recordings should be close to perfect but live to be fun.
#7
Quote by DisarmGoliath
Don't take this the wrong way, by all means, but I can't really see the actual point behind the thread/article - is it your confession about preferences (or lack of, in this case) to studio 'touch-ups' or are you trying to share an idea/ideology?

Why do people always say this? The point is that the majority of threads in the forum are question-based, like "How do I record my guitar 4 cheep?"

I thought maybe it would be helpful to someone (or everyone) to discuss the practice of editing/overdubbing and techniques that can make it seamless.

This is how I achieve a gross-mistake free rock guitar mix that still has minor imperfections that make it authentic. There are many reasons for it, one being that if I am not sweating every take then I can truly give it my all, even if I do miss a fret or something.

I don't know about anyone else, but I definitely play better when I am relaxed. A paying client will also appreciate getting done in less time because then it costs them less money!
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#8
I'm new to writing and recording... I think I understand what this idea is... Is is that you right two guitar parts, the main riff and a "sub-riff" sort of thing? then, the main riff is like 80% to the right, and the sub-riff is 75% to the right? but the sub-riff is quieter?

I don't quiet understand it...
#9
Within this question is the idea that different producers bring different philosophies to the table. Let's look at two examples:

Mutt Lange - produced Back in Black, but also Def Leppard's Hysteria, Brian Adams, Shania Twain, Backstreet Boys, etc. He is the epitome of type-A perfectionist. The studio is his laboratory. He'll quantize everything. He'll spend a day auditioning combinations of snare drums with different mics and different preamps - never mind actually recording anything. He'll have more layers than the listener can actually recognize in a reasonable number of listens, and creates a wall of sound with his backing vocals that is kind of his "signature" sound. You won't find a note out of time or out of tune anywhere. When he is done with it, it will be f**ing perfect. (personal bias - Hysteria, IMHO, is probably my favourite "production" album of all time)

Steve Albini - Recorded Nirvana's "In Utero." He is the organic guy. No click track. No fancy schmancy wizardry. Get the band in a great place, feeling good, and sounding great. Press record, and capture the glory.

There is much more "room" in In Utero. It *sounds* organic. It *sounds* honest. This shouldn't surprise us, of course, because what Nirvana was doing back then was a reaction to the Def Leppards of the world, and their stuff sold *because* it was seen as more honest and more organic. The recording needed to reflect that.

By comparison, back to Def Leppard... Hysteria was 1987. It was a time of excess. Technology was king. Presentation was paramount. Go big or go home. Big hair. Expensive videos. Fast cars. Guitarists were shredding and metal-heads were double-kicking. Hell, even Billy Sheehan got in the game with bass shred. Singers screamed unspeakably high. It just seemed fitting that the most successful recordings were larger than life and represented the same level of technical proficiency as everything else.

My second favourite producer is Bob Rock. He represents a great balance between the two, IMHO. Everything he touches (except St. Anger... don't get me started... grrrr......) sounds larger than life and crushing skulls. The edited perfection and wall of sound of Mutt, but the big, airy, aggressive "open-ness" of a more natural recording.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#10
Quote by DarrenReeder
I'm new to writing and recording... I think I understand what this idea is... Is is that you right two guitar parts, the main riff and a "sub-riff" sort of thing? then, the main riff is like 80% to the right, and the sub-riff is 75% to the right? but the sub-riff is quieter?

I don't quiet understand it...

Just a variation on the layering concept.

And yes, the tightest, most perfect take is up front in the mix. The second-best take, which would also be acceptable, is a little lower and on the opposite side.

Just one way to set it up. I'm not married to it, either.

Quote by axemanchris
My second favourite producer is Bob Rock. He represents a great balance between the two, IMHO. Everything he touches (except St. Anger... don't get me started... grrrr......) sounds larger than life and crushing skulls. The edited perfection and wall of sound of Mutt, but the big, airy, aggressive "open-ness" of a more natural recording.

I agree. I actually use the Black Album as a reference source when I test a sound system.

It's my "big rock" reference.

For Jazz I use Mingus or Miles.

The two of them, Black + a classic 60's Jazz record, pretty much covers it. If they both sound good on the system, I'm happy to show it to the client and go home.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

Last edited by Bubonic Chronic at Jul 30, 2011,
#12
Right now, I've been taking on a whole new perspective as a Studio Engineer. My Singer/Guitarist and I are currently in the process of mixing our bands first EP. Let me give you a little background on my singer/guitar player. Hes 40, studied Audio Engineering and studied at the feet of Bryan Bell. Bryan Bell has worked with Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana and Neil Young (I think it was Neil Young).

Anyways, he knows his shit, I know mine. One thing we both agree on which completely goes against everything you just said is "Mistake vs Art". I'm not talking "Oh, I played a solo in the wrong key, its art", I'm talking the subtle ****ups that the average person wouldn't notice listening to it. For instance, we were working on our bass players tracks, there was a part where he dropped out for a second. We only noticed it when it was soloed. We decided it was Art. Why? It fit, it wasn't something that ruined the song.

Its one thing I've always hated about the DAW world. We can sit here for hours making everything perfect. We can tweak the slightly offkey note, the one loud snare hit or the one wrong bass note but what do we have in the end? To me, a bunch of robots playing guitar. Whats going to happen in a live situation? If I cant play my guitar solos because I Auto-Tuned all of em (Done it before :p), what good is that?

I think I went on a bit of a ramble there and I have no clue what I'm probably talking about but yeah :p
Derpy Derp Derp Herp Derp
#14
Quote by Sympho
Ricki Rubin for the win


Any relation to Rick Rubin?

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#15
Quote by lockwolf
Right now, I've been taking on a whole new perspective as a Studio Engineer. My Singer/Guitarist and I are currently in the process of mixing our bands first EP. Let me give you a little background on my singer/guitar player. Hes 40, studied Audio Engineering and studied at the feet of Bryan Bell. Bryan Bell has worked with Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana and Neil Young (I think it was Neil Young).

Anyways, he knows his shit, I know mine. One thing we both agree on which completely goes against everything you just said is "Mistake vs Art". I'm not talking "Oh, I played a solo in the wrong key, its art", I'm talking the subtle ****ups that the average person wouldn't notice listening to it. For instance, we were working on our bass players tracks, there was a part where he dropped out for a second. We only noticed it when it was soloed. We decided it was Art. Why? It fit, it wasn't something that ruined the song.

Its one thing I've always hated about the DAW world. We can sit here for hours making everything perfect. We can tweak the slightly offkey note, the one loud snare hit or the one wrong bass note but what do we have in the end? To me, a bunch of robots playing guitar. Whats going to happen in a live situation? If I cant play my guitar solos because I Auto-Tuned all of em (Done it before :p), what good is that?

I think I went on a bit of a ramble there and I have no clue what I'm probably talking about but yeah :p


Thats a fair point and I know a lot of people that agree with you, and i do to a point..

But when I see someone/band live that I know and like, and I know a lot of their studio songs.. I get quiet annoyed when they play the same solo live as on the studio album... I like to hear something different, because its more exciteing..

its a bit like when you first listen to the alterntive lyrics version of "dont cry" by GnR... it sounds different, and thats great cos its different to what you usually listen to..

--

But, when it comes to solos, i like to hear something different, because its more exciteing IMO... rather than just what you hear on the track... to be honest, i think that having the studio track "perfect" or howveer you want to label it.. is great, beacuse it makes the live shows EVEN better, because they sound raw and great..

Most of my Alice Cooper albums on my phone are live version because they sound great... so, for that reason, i agree with you!
#16
For me it's about moving the process forward and dealing with what you have.

A) I am not in a market that cares about precision perfection.
B) Is there still a market for that anyway?

I could pull it off, but the law of diminishing returns applies. Do I sacrifice the feel, the groove of the song so that it sounds 1% tighter?

"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."