Friday, December 29, 2006

Studio Tips from David Pell

Judy would like to thank David Pell for guest posting these studio tips. You can find David on the internet at Now here's David's post:

"So let's make some history today".

Twenty years from now or the day the recording session is completed that recording and performance will be the same. Every session is history. This should motivate not discourage.
You really can't explain to the producer and or recording engineer what you like or dislike unless you have some understanding of the recording process.

I've always recommended that singers invest in themselves not only in vocal lessons but learning the studio since it is an extension of their art.
  • Take a recording class.
  • Read liner notes on the LP,s, CD,s, magazines that describe what microphone, mic pre-amp, recording console etc. were used for that artist. That combination in conjunction with your voice makes a performance average and or special for the yourself as well as the listener / fan.
  • Go and book some time in a studio that has a good microphone collection. Sing the same verse, lyric melody into every mic the studio has. Yes, this is expensive and boring but you will truly hear the difference from microphone to microphone. The expense is well worth it since you'll learn a lot about microphones and studio session time plus a networking opportunity. Who knows who might be in the studio that day.
  • Judy can recommend the best way to chose a verse and or melody to best represent your vocal range for this testing. Make notes of which microphone made you sound good, great or bad. Make notes on what microphone pre-amp, EQ, compressor / limiter they used as well.
  • Regardless if the studio is recording into a DAW or to tape, what you sing into before the recording device makes a difference. Many artist will go out and purchase this equipment and travel with it from studio to studio. Always trying new stuff along the way. I hear the same thing from all artist when they are in the studio for the first time. "Boy, that microphone hears everything"

Other helpful hints:

  • Wear comfortable clothing that is not to tight. cotton is always a good choice. When you move as you are performing your clothes move as well and ruins many a take. You'll find yourself disrobing to lower your acoustic nonmusical noise. This can be a good or bad thing for the recording staff. (Judy agrees enthusiastically!)
  • Jewelry rattles so take it off.
  • Please let the recording engineer know how you hear the track / band and your voice in the headphones. If your voice is to loud, you'll sing too soft and thin. If your voice is mixed way-back in the headphones, you'll sing too loud and you lose the magic of your voice, plus blow it out which in turn cuts the recording day short.
  • P-Pops are bad: Big rush of air before your voice comes out resulting in a big ugly bump or thumping sound on the recording. Consult with Judy on how to correct. (Check future posts for solutions, Judy says)

There is much more to this process and of course it is all subjective. That's a good thing because recording is an art form in its own right. Remember it needs to sound good before it hits the microphone. Don't trust "Fix it when you start mixing." In most cases it can't be fixed in the mixing process if it wasn't there to begin with.

Hope this helps you get a start on better understanding of the recording process.
Go out and make some history! -dp

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