Easy Recording Techniques
to Make Your Demos Shine!

Need some quick and easy recording techniques to make your demos sound more professional? Look no further!

Here are some very easy-to-implement recording tips that can make a world of difference. Some of them will cost a little money, but the investment you make will be well worth it.

Install Some Wall Treatment

Installing wall treatment in your home recording studio will make a huge difference in the quality of your mixes.

Chances are, you are recording and mixing in a square or rectangle room.

The sound reflections and standing waves will totally distort the sound that is actually coming out of your speakers.

This is often the main reason a recording can sound so different in your car.

The use of studio foam is one of those recording techniques that is often overlooked by the average home recording buff. But it is so important.

You don't have to spend a fortune. (Of course, you can if you want!) But you can buy studio foam kits rather inexpensively. They often come with the glue you will need and are very easy to install.

If you don't want to mar your walls, and want to be able to keep your foam intact when you move, do what I did: Buy some thin backing material and cut to size. Then glue foam onto that, and hang it on your wall with screws. It looks cool too!

Check out Acoustic Design for the Home Studio by Mitch Gallagher for more on this.

Mix at Low Levels

It's a good idea to do the majority of your mixing at low volume levels. Ears are very sensitive, and will quickly start to get tired listening to loud music. Of course, you will want to turn it up occasionally to make sure the power's there!

Also, walk around the room now and then. Even walk out of the room and into the hallway. This can be a good way to pinpoint a problem you may not otherwise have noticed. Take regular breaks to give your ears a rest. Coming back the next day with fresh ears often gives a new perspective.

Build Your Mixes from the Bottom Up

The most obvious way to build a powerful and punchy mix is to start with the bottom end. The combination of drums and bass is where you will get most of your power.

I like to start by listening to the drums by themselves, and balancing all of the elements of the drum kit. Then I add in the bass guitar and work on making the drums and bass sound as powerful as they can be.

EQ Conservatively

This is one of the those subjective recording techniques. Equalisation is a broad and personal subject. Everyone who records has their own methods and tastes. Each song has its own needs. But before you start twiddling knobs, listen to the track. It may be fine as it is, or may need just a little tweaking. Be careful not to overdo it.

Remember that it's usually better to cut rather than boost. And please understand that you can't "fix it in the mix." If you EQ a bad-sounding instrument, you will end up with a bad-sounding EQ'd instrument. So always start at the source.

Get the instrument to sound as good as it can before recording. Experiment with mic placement. And always listen to your EQ'd track with the entire mix. Just because it sounds killer on its own doesn't mean it will work with the other tracks.

Check Your Mix on Different Speakers

I think this is one of the more important recording techniques. Periodically check your mix on different monitor systems. If you have more than one set of studio monitors, that's great. If not, you can still check your mix on your headphones, home stereo system, or in the car.

Since I listen to the majority of my music in the car, that's the first place I go to check my mixes. I end up throwing away a lot of CD's, but it's worth it.

By the way, you definitely need to invest in a good set of studio headphones for your home recording studio.

There is a world of difference between pro headphones and the ones you'll find at Radio Shack.

You don't have to spend a fortune, but make sure you get decent pair.

These recording techniques will go a long way toward producing more consistent and professional-sounding recordings. But above all remember this:

The most important aspect of a great recording is a great performance. No matter how good your recording is, if your performance is mediocre you will have just that: A good recording of a mediocre performance.

You can also go one step further. Make sure you have a good song to record in the first place. That is the single most important element.

Make the best recording you can, of the best performance you can produce, of the best song you can write. Whew! That was a mouthful!

Further reading:

Understanding Audio by Daniel M. Thompson

Home Recording For Musician For Dummies by Jeff Strong

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