In this article I will tell you something about the basics of homerecording. This article is intended more as a “jump start” for beginners than as a detailed elaboration with all kinds of sophisticated tips and tricks. We find that there is a lot to learn about this subject, especially in the beginning when you are not yet familiar with it, which can seem a bit intimidating at first. This article is intended to provide a starting point and is based primarily on our own experiences.
After having been to studios several times as a band and being able to get a lot of experience there in collaboration with producers and recording engineers, we decided to switch completely to homerecording for Glassback, as it makes us much more flexible in terms of time and therefore we can record new songs on a regular basis. Homerecording is also hugely easy on the budget.
The basic requirement for successful home recording is, of course, that you can record/sing all your parts well. Especially instrumentalists should practice their parts to a metronome at the tempo of the song to be recorded. This will ensure that you play “tight” during the recording and don’t have to edit too much, which is conducive to an organic sound.
The instruments also need to be well set up and tuned. Check that you’re using the right string gauge for bass and guitar, and that there’s no string buzz on the fretboard. Checking octave purity is also important. To get more information, just use the search engine of your choice, there is a lot of information material to read.
P.S.: Of course, this is not part of recording per se, but: Check if your song is well arranged and has no inappropriate parts. Be critical with yourself. Often recording problems can be caused by the fact that a part of a song simply doesn’t fit together properly in terms of the notes played and is overloaded. Always ask yourself, “Does this part make sense here?”
With a decent beginner/photo-advanced interface and microphones, you should be able to get good results these days. Interfaces from 100-500 Euro purchase price are much better today than the recording gear that some of your favorite bands from the 90s had available. For vocals and guitar/bass, for example, we use the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre in conjunction with the Shure SM7B.
Remember, one principle should be to record the sound at the source as well as possible. What does that mean? For example, if you record a guitar signal (whether DI or a recorded amp) from the beginning using the right techniques to make it sound especially good, so you won’t have to do much post-processing in your DAW to get good results. The same is true for vocal recordings, for example.
It’s also important to always retune stringed instruments like bass/guitar regularly so you don’t accidentally record the perfect take with an out-of-tune instrument and then have to redeliver it. We always like to use floor tuners like the BOSS TU-3 for this, which we hang between the interface and the guitar, because they don’t interrupt the workflow much and are more accurate than pure digital tuners from your DAW.
Mixing & Mastering: Be honest with yourself here! Do you trust yourself to deliver a really strong result or will the recording end up sounding rather mediocre? We can’t mix and master ourselves on the level we want to present to the listeners in the end. We do this process externally through mixing/mastering engineers. Listen around here a bit and check the references your chosen mixer has online, then choose the one that offers the result that suits you at a fair price. In the agreement you make with the mixer, also make sure to specify exactly how many mixing revisions are included in the price. Ask for the finished product as a .wav and .mp3 and consider whether you want an instrumental version for remixes or placement in commercials or the like. Platforms for this like Fiverr can give you a good overview here, but there are also many musicians in your favorite bands who also offer mixing jobs for other artists on the side…