Production Levels

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by agreatheight, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. I am working on an EP that will quite possibly be released on a label and get distribution. I am very excited about the prospect - I will be working with some actual pros, and I am recording 5 of my compositions! However, we are working on a mostly remote basis and I will be doing all of my own bass recording at home (Bass -> Avalon U5 -> Motu). My question is this:

    In this time of spanking, ultra-produced recordings, how much studio technique (editing, time stretch, quantization, copy and paste, tuning, etc.) do you do? None, mild, moderate, heavy? Where do you set your level of perfection? Where do you set your level of production?

    While I usually appreciate every and all voices on a matter, I am really looking for honest feedback from people who have recorded at this level. Please, no soapboxing about the purity of the recording process or whatever. I am working with the guitarist now in pre-production to come up with a level of studio scrub that we are both comfortable with.

  2. I work at a big studio and have worked on some huge albums (in the uk) in the last year or so so hopefully I have a working perspective of these processes..

    so, anyway, why are you asking? thats an important question, do you feel that your tracks will need killer beat detectiving to get them up to standard? for the most part I believe that most don't, and if they do then you are either aiming for a specific sound or you are not ready to play at this level!

    I'm sure you are not the former, and I can safely say that MOST albums, even those from the likes of top players, involve a little bit of editing along the way. I am writing this listening to the final mixes of a new, mercury prize tipped album on the NME website, it sounds great, the band is great but I myself had a hand in editing the album to an 'acceptable' standard.

    acceptable to who? well mainly the band, the label boss is a great guy who is aware of capturing a performance not a machine, but the band were so focused on it sounding as good as possible that editing was welcomed if it would help them achieve that. by editing I mean nudging the odd note here or there or copying the best 'other' take to the master track for a bar or so.

    so I guess I would say I am a 'moderate' modern tool user. I think that in a time of reduced budgets and reduced studio time these tools are a necessity but any big album I have been involved in has used little or none quantizing, and only the smallest amount of copy paste editing.

    this is at the near highest level, however (not Mariah Carey thats for sure, thats HIGH level!). I have done a lot of sessions where the band was NOT going to sound any good for 4 weeks work without a hefty dose of beat detective. its unfortunate, but when your task is to make a great record no matter what you have to do it.

    the thing is the less beat detective'd recordings that featured good bands fall into the category of the ultra produced recordings of the now. listening to this record it sounds perfect, but I know we were fairly conservative with fixes, and this comes through. If the recording is of a high enough quality then the sound of the band comes through no matter what. Often recording a band in lower quality spaces with lower quality gear FORCES you to make every take perfect. use GREAT gear with a band and they will sound great no matter what, as long as they can play of course.

    so I guess in my experienc its a personal thing, leaning to the side of LESS editing, but with enough to save an otherwise perfect take. It takes a VERY VERY good editor to maintain the feeling in a heavily edited track, but it takes a good musician to say 'yeah thats fine' to a slightly messy but brimming with character track that will make the record fly.

    I'd like to discuss this more so please ask any questions you feel I may be able to answer!

  3. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    I never understood people droning on about the "purity" of the recording process. People have been making tape splices and overdubs since before I was born. If the band can't get absolute perfection down on tape, I have no qualms with quantizing, pitch-correcting and note-by-note inspecting. I'll take a good record over a "pure" record any day of the week.
  4. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
    Depends on the song in question, mostly (you know, "crushing-beat-groove" vs "drowsy ballad"). You have pros with you, so mainly it's about getting the right feel for the song you're working on.

    I don't like "editing-just-to-be-safe", and I've seen it destroy many a great piece. Yet it's very common today, especially with the younger generation of engineers and recordists... Ultimately, it's a production decision, supposing everybody involved are at pro level, performance-wise.