Not since the days of classic radio has audio been such a popular media method. Today, we have podcasts, Youtube channels, and self-published music on Soundcloud. Back in the day, the barrier for entry to record an album was quite high. Between the expenses of renting a recording studio and hiring a professional audio engineer to master the tracks and run the recording, it was quite difficult for independent albums or audio recordings to get produced outside of a record label, or at least without the help of an experienced producer.
However, today, technology has created a democratic wave of music production that makes it possible for anyone with a good concept and executable talent to get an album out to the world. With just a little bit of technical knowledge, you can be on your way to producing the next hit internet album, viral podcast, or Youtube stardom from the sanctuary of your own basement. However, you won’t get anywhere unless your audio is clear and polished. Here are some tips for producing professional-sounding home audio…
Use effective equipment
Let’s be clear, the equipment that you use isn’t going to make or break your album. Whether an album is good or not comes down to the content of the songs and the emotion of the music. However, if you want to give that content the best chance, then you want to use recording tools that capture the nuance of your work, so that a rich sound comes through in the recording. If you want to keep down on the equipment, this means finding a good microphone that can capture a wide variety of sounds, efficiently. For guitarists and vocalists, the Earthworks SR20 cardioid condenser microphone is a solid option.
Professional recording software is accessible
There are excellent audio programs for free on the internet that enable you to record and edit your music with a variety of digital tools. One of the most popular of these is Audacity which is both open source and works across a variety of platforms. Audacity, and free software like it, opens up a variety different audio editing tools that used to be exclusive to advanced, expensive software.
Don’t try to save it in the mix
While it is very exciting how accessible so many of these recording tools are to the general public, in today’s world, this doesn’t mean you should expect these tools to make your music great. One of the worst mistakes that you can make is assuming that if something doesn’t sound right when you are recording it, that you can go in and save it in the mix.
While there are tons of things you can do to smooth out mistakes in mixing programs, you can’t manufacture the emotional resonance of the music. If you aren’t feeling a recording when it happens, you’re never going to feel it in the mix.
Record certain instruments separately
If you have a minimum amount of equipment, such as only one really good microphone, then it can be difficult to record a variety of people, if you are trying to record as a band. Picking up different instruments with one microphone isn’t always the best idea for a finished product, since it will leave many of the instruments sounding hollow.
If you have a good audio editing program to mix with, you can record different instruments, separately, by having the players listen to the other band members play through headphones. This enables you to get a clean recording on every instrument by recording sequentially, so that every instrument delivers a rich and fulfilling sound.
One mistake that lots of beginners make when they begin playing around with powerful mixing software is by giving into the feeling that they need to be using all of the tools in front of them. Just because a program can do something, that doesn’t mean you need to use that feature on your album. Overproducing an album leads to work that sounds fake and unauthentic. There needs to be something that sounds organic in a final mix, and trying to micromanage and over-perfect something is going to leave that lacking.