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Recording Basics

LGM PRODUCTIONS

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The room you record and mix in has as much of an effect on your finished product as any of your gear and choosing a room to record and mix in can be very difficult. Sometimes, the choice is already made in the case where you are using a spare bedroom or office. If you have the flexibility to do so, try to pick a room that is not square, has higher than normal ceilings and is well insulated. The bigger and taller the room, the better. My home studio is in my 16 by 20 foot garage which is just over 8ft tall. The previous owner installed central air and heating ducts to the garage so comfort is not a problem except on those 100+ degree days we get in Northwest Louisiana during the summer months. I was able to scam a pretty good bit of carpeting so that took care of the concrete floor.

†††† If you are not so fortunate, there are remedies. Orienting your listening position in one of the corners of the room will help immensely. This keeps the sound waves from bouncing back and forth between parallel walls which can result in standing waves that will fool you into thinking that your mix is much bass-ier than it really is. If you can, hanging heavy drapes on the walls will cut down on reflections (many older studios were known to use surplus army blankets for both wall treatments and as isolation). There are also many commercially available foam products that are specifically designed to dampen reflections. If you should decide to use a non-commercial product, make sure that it is fire-retardant. Cardboard or plastic egg containers are excellent at scattering reflections but extremely flammable.†

†††† In a tracking/mixing room combination, you want to strive for as neutral a space as possibleónot too live (lots of reflections) and not too dry (no reflections). There are tons of books written about this subject and you can get as detailed as you want but donít go crazy and do something thatís not easily reversibleóespecially in a bedroom or interior space. NonĖ reversible but effective solutions include another layer of drywall on all the walls or actually building another room inside the existing room that is isolated from the outside by using special construction techniques and products

†††† Also required in the setup of your home studio are near-field monitors or special speakers designed to be listened to at close range They will allow you to mix at a much lower volume level. These range in price from $200 per pair to $1000+† each. They should be placed at the same level as your ears and ideally, be an isosceles triangle with two sides of about 3 feet and the other side (distance between the two monitors) long enough to cancel out any phase problems. Many times a studio will have several types of monitors so that they can get an idea of what the mix will sound like on different types of speakers.

†††† If you canít afford near-field monitors right away, consider investing in some very good headphones. They wonít take the place of good monitors but theyíre a reasonable substitute for the short term starting at about $100. Make sure you check your mix on several other sound systems (car, small system, large system, etc) before committing to it. Iíve made the mistake of not doing this early in my career and it can be very embarrassing .  After a while youíll be able to listen to your monitors and predict what the mix will sound like on other systems. Many producers like to mix their songs for the most common denominator, that is the playback system that most of the people that listen to song are likely to be using.

††††† The last crucial component is your workspace. It should be large enough to allow you to work comfortably but not so large that it intrudes into the tracking area. Your gear needs to be arranged so you can reach everything without moving much. You may have to build something custom for your space if you canít find anything that will fit. It should go without saying that you should have a comfortable chairóitís the one piece of equipment in your studio that will be in almost constant contact with you.

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ROOM DYNAMICS AND SET-UP

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