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An Introduction to Equalization - A free download from Audio Masterclass

Equipping Your Home Recording Studio - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An Introduction to Compression: Basic Compression - A free download from Audio Masterclass

Demonstrating the Waves J37 analog tape emulation plug-in and comparison with a real tape recorder

What is production? Part 1: A&R

What is production? Part 4: Mixing

Three types of musician you'll prefer to work with in the studio, and one type that you won't

How complicated do your monitors have to be?

Make an attention-getting lo-fi introduction for a track

Can you hear the subtle effect of the knee control of the compressor? (With audio and video demonstrations)

Two microphone preamplifiers compared at Abbey Road Studio 2 - tube and transistor

How to become a better singer

Audio demonstrations of distortion produced by compressor plug-ins

I'm going into a studio to record my song. The mixing won't take long will it?

"My producer did the tracks at his home studio. We are doing 2 songs and my producer is bringing the tracks to Studio Chicago and I'm going to record the vocals. The mixing won't take long will it?"

Question from a Audio Masterclass visitor...

Well, I don't plan on becoming an engineer or music producer but I do sing. I'm going to be recording vocals at Studio Chicago.

My producer did the tracks at his home studio and we are doing 2 songs at Studio Chicago and we are doing two hours of vocals and my producer is bringing the tracks to the studio and I'm going to record the vocals.

We are going to do some takes of each song and pick the ones we like.

The mixing won't take long will it?

Rebecca Becky Raisman

David Mellor replies...

Singers are welcome here! (Good ones who take direction well!!)

OK, seriously. Firstly, one song is enough, you don't need two.

If you have two songs, one is bound to be better than the other. You should concentrate all of your resources into that. Just like old fashioned singles had an A-side and a B-side. How often did you hear the B-side (or want to)?

Two hours of vocals is probably enough time to get set up, do some rehearsals to 'explore' the song thoroughly, then go for some takes. maybe five or six.

It's best to have a good listen at this stage to be sure that the approach is correct.

The next step is usually to select the best take, and fix up any problems using parts of the other takes. With a good singer, this should be a straightforward process. However, making decisions and doing the editing takes time, which could easily take up an hour. So you are three hours into your two-hour session by this time.

Even at this point it might be necessary to do some punch-ins to fix any remaining vocal problems.

One of the paradoxes about vocals is that they are the most important aspect of the recording, but you don't want to work too hard on them otherwise the expressive potential significantly starts to decline. So spending a whole day on vocals is not likely to be day well spent.

Now mixing...

A demo mix could well be achieved in two hours. But people don't do demos any more - everyone is making masters.

Professionally it typically takes a whole day to mix a song, and even then it's likely that further modifications to the mix will be made in the cool, clear light of the next morning. (Or when the A&R manager adds his two cents worth).

But you have to be an expert in mixing to be able to spend a whole day productively. So that's another part of the learning process.

I'm getting the feeling that I haven't really answered your question. But a good question throws up many possible answers. That's why writing, recording and production are so fascinating to us all.

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By David Mellor Thursday August 4, 2005
Learn music production