• Phil McDonald

A few quick Home Recording tips

Lockdown and its aftermath has meant more and more people are recording themselves at home as commercial studios are either unavailable or have shut up shop altogether. Advances in technology mean that a home recording set up doesn't cost the earth and is now within the reach of most people. Coupled with the fact that the software is easier than ever to use home recording has never been more popular. So how do you make your self produced records sound like professional releases? There are a few simple things you can do.


Firstly, make sure the space you're recording in is treated. By this I mean no large reflective spaces which allow sound waves to bounce off multiple surfaces before hitting the microphone. This will make what you capture sound muddy and echoey and no amount of fiddling in the mix stage can fix this. Invest in some acoustic panels or foam tiles or if you're really on a budget, hang some duvets or blankets on the walls. This will deaden the room and make recording easier.


Secondly, don't record too loud. With a digital set up there's no need to try and record as loud as possible. Keep an eye on the meter and try and aim for somewhere between -6 to -3db. If you start getting up towards 0db you're in danger of clipping which won't sound good. A nicely recorded sound can be boosted up afterward if needs be but you can't do much with a clipped signal. One to avoid.


Make sure you're recording your tracks as mono inputs. If you're tracking multi-instruments and have the inputs set as stereo, you're going to end up with a messy, muddy sound as there's too much going on in the stereo spectrum. By flipping your input to record as mono you'll get a much better sound and this will give you much more to play with when it comes to panning in the mix. You should only really use a stereo input if you were using two inputs and two mics on a piano for example.


The next thing you should always do is use a high pass filter on your EQ plugin. A lot of instruments such as guitars have a natural mid to low end which when combined on a multi-track record can produce a muddy low rumble you don't want to hear. It's a tricky one because a nicely recorded guitar will sound great when played back on its own but in conjunction with other guitars, keyboards, vocals, etc the mid to low end might be too much. The high pass filter removes these frequencies meaning a cleaner, clearer sound.


Lastly, mixing in mono is a great tip to achieve a great mix that will translate onto any sound system. Most DAW's have a simple function on the master fader which allows you to do this. The benefit of this is so you can hear clearly what's going on from a single source and anything that's too loud or odd frequencies will jump out at you. By getting your mix sounding clear and level on a single speaker will mean it will sound great in stereo and won't sound different from sound system to sound system.


I talk about this in greater detail on this week's podcast which you can listen to here or via your preferred podcast app. What problems have you come across when recording at home? Feel free to comment.


Thanks for reading


Phil






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