Over the duration of writing our album, we’ve learned a hell of a lot when it comes to recording. There are many things that musicians who are just starting out won’t think of when it comes to crunch time. Things like, I need to double track this guitar, I need to point the mic in this direction, I need to pan this far left, the vocals need more compressing’…the list goes on. Here’s a simple breakdown of our process of creating our songs from start to finish.
1. Demo’s – And we’re off!
Each song starts with a basic demo. As there are only 2 of us, the drums are created using a Drum Machine (Acoustica Beatcraft).
We both collaborate on the demos together, working on structure, chord progression and riff ideas. Usually, it grows into something completely different from what we originally started with.
Once we’ve nailed the structure of the song, we work more on the drum track (adding fills, crashes, rides, etc). Then we finally move everything into Pro Tools to start recording.
Beatcraft is a powerful, cheap and easy to use Drum Machine. Beatcraft features an extensive library of top-quality, professional drum sounds, sequencing and loop generation tools, and killer audio effects. You can even add your own sounds. This has been a key tool when writing our music and has helped structure all of the songs on our album. You can read more about Beatcraft here: http://www.acoustica.com/beatcraft/
2. Time to record
The recording process is carried out through a USB interface (UX2) and the POD Farm software, allowing us to connect the instruments directly into the Machine and Pro Tools. POD Farm has numerous amps, pedals and compressors etc, allowing you to create thousands of different tones and sounds.
POD Farm makes recording so much easier for us. We don’t need different amps and pedals spread out all over the room, they are all packed into this great piece of software. The Line 6 Community is great too where people upload their custom made sounds so that you can download and use them for your own productions. A very handy tool for musicians on a small budget.
After we record the guitar parts we go through track again, adding harmonies and any other guitar parts that improve the track. Once the instruments are done, we then move onto vocals. The vocals are recorded using an SE2000 Condenser Microphone.
It’s kind of tricky trying to figure out which microphone to buy. It depends on your budget, what sound you’d like and physical conditions such as the shape and size of the room. There are many discussions about this on the net, here are some great links to get you started.
4. Mixing and Mastering
Next comes the mix, taking all the individual tracks that have been recorded (vocals, guitars, bass, drums, samples, etc) and applying processing (volume levels, panning, compression, EQ etc). This will help to make sure everything sounds as good as it can. Then the tracks are exported to a 2 track stereo mix that is ready for mastering.
The mastering stage is the stage where the 2 track stereo mix has any additional processing that may be necessary. Good mastering creates a more ‘finished’ product that appears to have more depth and punch (at least we hope so!).