You and your band mates have written 10 of the greatest songs ever written. The world needs to hear your music. So you decide to record your music. You picked up a set of drum mics specifically designed for drums. You bought some other mics you heard were good for guitars and bass. You bought the nicest budget vocal mic you could afford and you started recording into the audio recording software you downloaded for free. You’re so excited you can barely stand it! You place all the mics exactly where you saw them in some photo that was in some recording magazine. You stand back and everything looks just like in the movies. You’re ready to record. You play through the whole song with minimum mistakes and you’re ready to listen to playback. The problem becomes apparent immediately… It doesn’t sound quite like you think it should. This is confusing as it sounds great when you play it live. Well maybe we can fix it in the mix you think to yourself as you get ready to do another take.
You sit down to do the mix. You start with the kick drum since you find that it seems way too dull and wimpy compared with everything else. You know that EQ is used in your car stereo to make the low end sound fuller so you put an EQ on the kick and boost the low end. Now it seems too big and overpowering. The rest of the drum kit seems further away. So you turn the kick down and now all you can hear is a dull rumble instead of a thick attack and meaty low end. You find that you have similar trouble with every other instrument. So you decide to put a compressor on a few things. You heard that compressors were used to make things sound punchier and more in your face so you try it on the kick drum. You use the kick preset and start turning knobs. Now the low end is gone and it’s sounding even worse than before. When you compressed the snare the hihat got super loud. When you compressed the floor tom it started resonating loudly every time the kick hit. After hours and hours and days and days and months and months, you still can’t get the songs to sound as good as they do on the radio or your favorite albums. You can’t even get close.
You spend more time and money over the years buying better equipment and better gear and learning everything you can about recording and mixing. You even built a room to record in, with acoustic absorbers and deflectors. You spend hours a week reading everything you can about recording and mixing. You spend hours a week looking up YouTube videos on mixing techniques. You read equipment guides even though you can’t afford most of the items. You seem to be getting better but it still sounds nothing like the professional recordings you hear everyday. You decided to take up an internship at a “real” studio to see how they’re getting those sounds. You learn a bit more and still you can’t quite get the songs to sound the way you want them.
A few more years go by and you’ve been doing everything you can to make the recordings sound exactly the way they do in your head. You’re close. You’re even producing stuff that sounds better than alot of what you hear on the radio. All of the work and effort you put in over the last 8 years has finally started to pay off.
At least that’s my story in a nutshell. Now you have a choice. You can either choose the same road I did, or you can focus on what you’re best at: writing and performing music. If you don’t want to spend years of frustration going through what I did, I highly recommend investing in a studio that has someone who spent the time and effort to get really good at what they do. They are there so you can focus on the creative process and not have to worry about all the technical stuff. If you’re looking for a great studio at reasonable rates, check out RCR Recording Studios. Let us take care of you so you can take care of your music.
Cary Crichlow, Senior Producer and Engineer
RCR Recording Studios