There’s no worse feeling than opening up a session to mix a song, only to find a problem that you didn’t notice when recording. Unfortunately, given that most of us are recording in the same room as the instrument being played, it’s not always easy to spot these things at the time. So here is a list of some of the most common problems to watch out for. Keep them in mind so that you don’t run the risk of having them compromise your recordings.
It’s not hard for the mix that the musician has in their headphones to spill onto the mic. I notice this most with vocal tracks. Always aim to use closed-back headphones, and keep the level of the monitor mix at a conservative level. This will help to avoid headphone bleed and will protect your hearing as well.
Another noise that can creep onto a recording is the sound of a squeak or creak from whatever the musician is sitting on. Whilst John Bonham’s squeaky kick pedal on “Since I’ve Been Loving You” might add a certain charm to the record, anything that squeaks is generally best removed from your studio. Chairs and stools tend to be the main culprits. So listen out.
The proximity effect refers to the increase in low-end that occurs when mics with directional polar patterns (e.g. cardioid, figure of 8) are moved closer to a sound source. It can be hard to determine just how much low end is being captured when an instrument is being played in the room with you. So record a bit and then listen back to the recording without the instrument playing in the room. Be sure that you’re not capturing a super boomy or muddy recording.
Whilst there are tons of other things that can compromise a recording, these three seem to be the most common in home studios. That’s why I try to keep them in mind whenever I record. If these things do happen to creep onto your recordings, then you can do your best to fix them. Sometimes you can edit things to cut out the bad bits. Or use EQ to clean things up. But where ever possible, do your best to get a clean recording from the outset!
Have you ever come across these, or similar problems when recording? Leave a comment below.
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