So, we are planning an Album Production Challenge with your finished album due December 1, 2017! Full details are here, http://fiftyninety.fawmers.org/content/album-production-challenge (HUGE THANKS to @tcelliott!)
Anyone wanna share some tips or horror stories about Recording, Mixing & Mastering? I'll start with a few things I do to start every mix...
- decide on tempo and always record everything to a click track or a backing track
- record everything in mono to better control where I place it in the stereo field
- always record several takes, especially vocals, and then comp them together for one best-of track
- I record my vocals in a homemade, portable recording booth like this, https://i.pinimg.com/originals/3a/7e/a7/3a7ea7d3a5688cfe10e29295656a91d1.jpg
- just add a homemade pop filter to your DIY recording booth using a cheap embroidery hoop with nylon stockings stretched over it
- I always use a pink noise generator (I think mine came with Reaper?) as a reference to set initial volume levels for every track (https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/mixing-pink-noise-reference)
- for simple songs (guy and guitar) I will usually record one strummed track and one picked track and pan them hard left and hard right with vocals up the middle
- for more complex songs I center bass and drums but I have heard some folks pan them each just a little left and right...any thoughts on this?
- also for more complex songs I try and have more tracks in the chorus and make each chorus a tad "bigger" to try and build up...I am rarely happy with my results but I intend to keep working toward this
- always use reference tracks to compare to your mix/master. there used to be a great loudness wars article online with a bunch of recommended albums to use as references for various types of music and I bought a bunch of the recommended albums. I am seeing the site is no longer online but you can still view it using the Wayback Machine here, https://web.archive.org/web/20120414150913/http://www.digido.com/honor-roll.html
- I mix in headphones but that is not ideal. I plan to buy a good set of monitors to complement the headphones.
- check your mix in several places...headphones...cheap earbuds...your car...your home stereo...that one friend's really expensive stereo...I have even walked into the showroom of various electronics stores carrying a freshly burned CD feigning interest in their wares in order to listen on their systems (unfortunately for me, I have also ended up purchasing lots of stuff this way!)
Below is an overview of the plugins I use on most mixes. Some of these let me be way too lazy as the presets are pretty good but this time I am hoping to use those only as a starting point and customize a lot more before finalizing the songs.
- first, I use Reaper as my DAW because it is powerful and cheap (like me...at least the cheap part!)
- I almost always use Waves Vocal Rider on my vocal tracks to keep them fairly level
- also for vocals I use Izotope Nectar 2 and I am in the bad habit of using their presets (but as I said I hope to break that habit)
- for reverb on any instrument track I also use Nectar's reverb as it is quite good
- for other instrument track processing I sometimes use Izotope Alloy 2
- for mastering I use Izotope Ozone 7 but again rely a bit too much on presets
A few resources...
- Recording Revolution has some awesome free tutorials and an inexpensive paid set that I actually prefer because it is more comprehensive (and without breaks every five minutes!) https://www.recordingrevolution.com/5minutes/
- even if you don't use Izotope tools check our their free tutorials, https://www.izotope.com/en/learning/music-production.html
- and grab a copy of their free mastering PDF https://www.izotope.com/en/support/support-resources/guides/mastering-with-ozone.html
- I also love the tutorials at Groove 3. they are affordable and usually pretty thorough https://www.groove3.com/
That is all I can think of right now. I hope other folks add more to this to make it a useful resource for us all!