What are the Steps Involved, and What's Next?

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The basic steps are outlined in our page on recording an album, step by step. That page can give you a broad overview of the process. In the studio, the first stage is typically Basic Tracks. This is when drums and bass are recorded, usually to scratch guitar, vocals, and a click track. After all the drums and bass are completed (sometimes in two separate stages), artists typically move on to the other rhythm instruments. It makes the most sense to build from the foundation up, laying down the strong timekeeping elements first, and then progressing on to melodic instruments. Usually, little filler parts such as percussion and key parts are added last to help fill in any unwanted space.

This of course assumes a typical rock band. For singer-songwriters, the entire process might be recording the guitar and voice live, or whatever combination of instruments performed. What we feel is the best method, regardless of instrumentation, is to lay the strong timekeeping elements first, and then move on. In today's drum-machine perfect world, a click track makes a lot of sense - and we often recommend recording with one. It keeps time square, and allows more options later down the recording process.

Once basic tracks are recorded, additional parts are Overdubbed, meaning they are played to the existing tracks. Again, progressing from the strong time keeping parts to the more melodic parts is always best in our experience. We feel that recording the main melody line, often a lead vocal, is best done with the track as full as possible. This gives a singer the best possible chance of developing the emotion everyone has worked into the track. However, be careful of recording background vocal parts before the lead. Some people can do this quite well, but usually, it gets constraining to try to lock the lead vocal to the BGVs timing.

After all the tracks are recorded, a cursory check should be done on a rough mix to make sure everything is complete and correct. Often, engineers and producers will perform a few final edits, create composite tracks of vocals and leads, and then prep for mixing!

Mixing is the stage where all the elements are combined to deliver the final track. Mixing can be very straightforward, almost pushing up the faders and printing, to very complex mixes taking a few days per song. It's really dependant on the nature of the production. Something with more tracks takes longer to weed through, and every time during tracking someone said "we'll just take out whatever we don't want in the mix" add at least an hour to the mix. Seriously!!!

After all the songs are mixed, typically the mixes get Tweaked, or little revisions, perhaps a word is too low here or maybe the solo should be a little louder. We also like to spend one last day running all the mixes in the sequence of the album to a final master, and then listen to the whole print start to finish.

At Mixed Emotions Music, we can deliver audio on 24 Bit or 16 Bit DAT, CD Audio, or various data formats such as Sound Designer II, .wav, AIFF, or MP3. It's important to call your mastering facility to determine which format they accept before you decide to commit!!! Often, having the mastering house call us (or vice versa) will help remedy any possible confusion, and helps us to determine the highest quality format to deliver your master on. We don't perform mastering services here at Mixed Emotions Music, but we're happy to provide you with the phone numbers of quality mastering facilities here in Boston and also in NYC.

Every project should have the material mastered at a competent facility. Often times, this last step is the biggest difference between albums of similar scope and budget. By not skimping on this crucial final step, you can present your material at its very best.

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