Tag Archives for " checklist "

The Pre-Session Recording Checklist

recording checklistOne of the keys to an initial basic tracking session running smoothly is the information that you receive pre-session. Here’s a recording checklist from my Recording Engineer’s Handbook 4th edition that shows the some of the info that really helps to receive in advance of the session. This will usually be provided by the producer, artist or band leader, and assumes that you’re unfamiliar with the act.

  • What type of music will be recorded?
  • How many songs do you expect to record?
  • Who are the musicians (If you know some of them it might affect your setup)?
  • Who’s the producer (if you’re not talking to him already)?
  • What time does the session begin? Does that mean the downbeat of recording or when the musicians are expected at the studio to load in?
  • How long do you expect the session to go?
  • How many musicians will be playing at once?
  • What’s the instrumentation?
  • How large is the drummer’s kit? How many toms will he be using?
  • Will the guitarist(s) be using an acoustic or electric?
  • What kind of amps will the guitar player(s) and bass player be using?
  • Do any of the players expect to use house gear like drums, guitar amps, or keyboards?
  • How many cue mixes will be required?
  • Will there be a scratch vocal tracked at the same time?
  • Will they bring any special outboard gear or mics that they’d like to use?
  • Will they be tracking to loops?
  • Do they require any particular instruments, amps or effects?

Following this recording checklist before the musicians hit the studio can go a long way to a quick and easy setup and an efficient session.

TIP: Don’t ask for the setup information too far in advance since much can change by the day of the session. Getting the info the day before the session is usually sufficient.

You can read more from The Recording Engineer’s Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.

November 30, 2016

Crappy Sound Checklist

Crappy sound checklistWhether you’re in a live situation or in the studio, things can suddenly sound distorted, or there could be no sound output at all. You can spend a lot of time chasing your tail trying to find out what’s wrong unless you have an orderly procedure to follow that allows you to troubleshoot the system quickly so you can get back making music in short order. If something doesn’t appear to be working or if the sound is noisy or distorted, here’s a checklist to help you get to the bottom of the problem.

If There’s No Audio:

  • Is the mic plugged into the correct channel?
  • Is the Mute switch on the channel engaged?
  • Is the input button on the DAW selected?
  • Is the Mic/Line control raised high enough?
  • Is the master fader at or near zero?
  • Is there an outboard device connected to the insert of the channel or interface? Disconnect it to see if the sound returns. If it does, the fault lies with the outboard device or its cables. Is the device turned on?
  • Is there sound getting to the output? If you have meter deflection but no sound, the problem could be with the amps or speakers. Are they turned on?
  • Try another mic cable
  • Try another microphone.

If The Audio Is Distorted:

  • Are all mics distorted or just one? If all are distorted, then check to see if the amplifiers for the sound system are overloading. Also, check to seen if a speaker is blown.
  • Is the mic input trim control set too high?
  • Is distortion occurring somewhere else in the console or signal path? Use a PFL (pre-fader listen) to check.
  • Are any overload lights on anywhere in the system?
  • Try another mic cable.
  • Try another microphone.

Follow the above checklist and you should find your problem with a minimum amount of time spent.

You can read more from The Recording Engineer’s Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.

The Drum Recording Checklist

drum recording checklistDrum recording is too often left to trial and error to when getting sounds. Here’s a checklist from the 2nd edition of my Drum Recording Handbook (written with Dennis Moody) that makes sure that the basics are covered (assuming that the drums sound great acoustically) before you open up the mics.

“Like the foundation of a house, the drums are the foundation of a recording. With a strong foundation, you can build almost anything on it that you or your clients can imagine. A little effort and time spent miking the drums and getting the sound just right can result in a recording that sounds better than you would have ever imagined.

Remember, take risks, experiment, take notes on what works and what doesn’t, be creative, and most of all, have fun!

Here’s a list of things to check if something just doesn’t sound right. Remember that each situation is different and ultimately the sound depends upon the drums, the drummer, the room, the song, the arrangement, the signal chain, and even the other players. It’s not unusual to have at least one of these things out of your control.

☐ Are the mics acoustically in phase? Make sure that tom mics and room mics are parallel to each other. Make sure that any underneath mics are at a 45° angle to the top mics.

☐ Are the mics electronically in phase? Make sure that any bottom mics have the phase reversed. Make sure that all the mic cables are wired the same by doing a phase check.

☐ Are the mics at the correct distance from the drum? If they’re too far away they’ll pick up too much of the other drums. If they’re too close the sound will be unbalanced with too much attack or ring.

☐ Are the drum mics pointing at the center of the head? Pointing at the center of the drum will give you the best balance of attack and fullness.

☐ Are the cymbal mics pointed at the bell. If the mic is pointed at the edge of the cymbal, you might hear more air “swishing” than cymbal tone.

☐ Is the high-hat mic pointed at the middle of the hat? Too much towards the bell will make the sound thicker and duller. Too much towards the edge will make the sound thinner and pick up more air noise.

☐ Are the room mics parallel? If you’re using two room mics instead of a stereo mic to mic the room, make sure that the mics are on the same plane and are exactly parallel to each other. Also make sure that they’re on the very edge of the kit looking at the outside edge of the cymbals.

☐ Does the balance of the mix sound the same as when you’re standing in front of the drums? This is your reference point and what you should be trying to match. You can embellish the sound after you’ve achieved this.

These are not hard and fast rules, just a starting place. If you try something that’s different from what you’ve read and it sounds good, it is good!”

You can read more from The Drum Recording Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.

The Producer’s Basic Tracks Checklist

Music Producer's Handbook 2nd edition coverThere’s always so much going on during a tracking session (especially one with a lot of players involved) that it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed with the details and demands and overlook some of the things that can really help the session along. Here’s a Basic Tracks Checklist from my latest  Music Producer’s Handbook 2nd edition book that will help things go a little smoother.

“Before the basic tracks even begin, ask yourself the following questions to make sure your players will be happy and the sounds will be great.

 Do the drums sound great acoustically in the room? If they don’t, change the heads, rent a new kit or hire a drum tuner.

 Are the drums tuned properly? Before recording begins, the drums should have new heads put on and have all buzzes and sympathetic vibrations removed.

☐ Do you have a variety of instruments available? The greater variety of instruments you have, the better the parts will fit together and the more interesting the recording will sound.

☐ Are all the instruments in tip-top condition? Is the intonation set correctly? Is the instrument clean of any buzzes, hums, and intermittents?

☐ Are all the players happy with their headphone mix? Can you give each musician his or her own mix? Is a personal headphone mixer available for each player?

☐ Does the click have the right sound? Does it cut through the mix? Is it musical enough that the drummer can play along? Is it so “musical” that the drummer can’t groove to it?

☐ Does the click groove? Does it work better as quarter notes or as eighth notes? Is there a different sound for the downbeat?

Is the click bleeding into the microphones? Can the drummer use isolating headphones? Can you roll the high end off so that it doesn’t leak as much?

☐ Do you have the studio talkback mic on? Can you hear the musicians in the studio at all times between takes?

☐ Is the control room talkback mic always on? Can the musicians hear you at all times in between takes?”

There are other issues when cutting basics as well, but following this Basic Tracks Checklist will go a long way to keeping everyone happy and providing a very efficient session.

You can read more from The Music Producer’s Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.