Friday, February 8, 2013

Microphone Placement for Best Performance

Have you ever come across the problem of mixing a band that you know sounds great but during the mixing process you find yourself pulling your hair out trying to find that perfect sound? Of course, all recording engineers have, but what is the problem? The problem could be a couple of different things, but most likely the problem lies in the way the music was recorded.

Recording correctly

The reason why where you record and where you place microphones is so important is it can be the difference between having an easy time mixing a recording, or having a hell of a time; it can also be the difference between a great final product or having something that sounds like poop. If you have tracks that need a lot of work to make them sound right, as the engineer you will have to use so much eq and so many different effects that the end result would be an unnatural sound. You would be better off just going back and starting all over by rerecording them again.

Here is an example

When I was just finishing school at the Recording Institute of Detroit (RID), I had a buddy who recorded a couple of songs with his band in his garage for me to mix at a later time. The band sounded awesome at the local bar but when they recorded a couple tracks in their garage the tracks were not even worthy of me taking the time to mix them. This is because a lot of people think that the mixing process is some type of magical process that can fix anything, but that is far from the truth. Eventually, we all got together, I recorded them in a more suitable place for music with correct microphone placement and before you knew it, with just a tiny bit of mixing work they had new tracks that sounded awesome.

How to Avoid This Problem All Together

If you are going to be the engineer recording a project or you are simply just recording your own band, here is the best way to get the best recordings: always make sure each instrument and all vocals coming through the microphones sound just the way you want it before you record. There is no room for error here, for the best results make it right from the beginning. Before recording, each track should not only sound good individually at the stereo-track but also while the band is all playing together.

While you're listening to them practice and you're checking and adjusting levels, take notes on what mics need to be adjusted and in which way. When you're done with the sound check, go back and make the proper adjustments. But don't make the mistake that a lot of other engineers make, don't assume its right just because you moved them; go through the sound check process again. Even if it takes you five or six times and the musicians or your band buddies are getting aggravated, trust me when it comes time to mix the tracks the outcome will make everyone happier.

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