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So you're frightened of commitment? Well that makes you normal then...

Should you record each track dry, so you can consider effects during the mix? Or should you record each track complete with EQ, compression and effects as you go?


We're talking about commitment in the sense of making a decision and sticking to it. Sticking to it in the sense that you have burnt your bridges and there's no turning back.

So where does this happen in recording? During the track laying process of course.

When you record an instrument or vocal, it will undoubtedly occur to you that it needs processing or effecting in some way. At the very least it will call for EQ, possibly compression, maybe a little reverb. Maybe full scale pitch changing, flanging or who knows what else.

But you play safe and record the track dry, so that you can experiment with any processor or effect you like during the mix.

What you have done is demonstrated your reluctance to commit. You know you wanted to do something, but you didn't. You held back knowing that you could do it later. But when that later time comes, you will have a lot of other things to think about. And in the meantime you will be working with something that doesn't sound quite right and overdubbing to that.

There is no doubt that leaving your options open is a good thing. But sometimes as the options build up, there becomes such a bewilderingly vast array of them that you couldn't possibly consider them all.

The alternative is to print your processing and effects into the tracks as you go. And there's no turning back. You have to stick with your decisions. This might sound limiting, but in fact it is liberating. You can give your best to each track you record, and when it's done, it's done. Every overdub will now have to fit in with your committed decisions.

If you want me-too, same-as-everyone-else recordings, then don't commit. Leave your options open and keep on worrying that in the end you won't be able to bring it all together.

Or be bold, print your processors and effects as you go. You might make the odd mistake or misjudgment, but that can often be where true creativity can be found.

It's just a shame that some recording software doesn't make it easy for you to work this way. But taking the route less traveled is also a creative thing to do.

Browse sequencers for digital audio, loops, and MIDI...

By David Mellor Friday April 28, 2006
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