It happens to all of us. We’re trying to recording a sound source and for some reason it’s just not happening. What to do? It’s easy to just try a bunch of random things but sometimes that makes you more confused than ever. That’s when to try this following recording checklist when all else fails.
The “When all else fails” Recording Checklist comes from the 3rd edition my Recording Engineer’s Handbook, and it’s a sure way to set you on the right path the next time something just doesn’t sound right. Here we go:
☐ Change the source, if possible (the instrument you’re miking)
☐ Change the mic placement
☐ Change the placement of the instrument or vocal in the room
☐ Change the mic (don’t be afraid to try something that you think won’t work)
☐ Change the mic preamplifier (again, the most expensive isn’t always the best choice)
☐ Change the mount of compression and/or limiting (from none to a lot)
☐ Change the room (the actual room you are recording in)
☐ Change the player
☐ Come back and try it another day
The last point is really important and often overlooked. Unless you’re on a tight deadline and just have to get something recorded (in which case you won’t be picky about the sound anyway), sometimes it’s just better to pack it in and come back and try it another day. You’d be surprised how much different things can sound on fresh ears and a fresh mind.
This also applies to playing as well. Many times a player just can’t seem to get a great take with the right feel even though he’s playing the right notes. Once again, coming back the next day with a fresh mind does wonders, and often times you’ll get it in the first or second take.
You can read more from The Recording Engineer’s Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.