• Phil McDonald

Enhancing your recordings

So you've spent time writing and refining your songs. You've spent hours rehearsing, rearranging and finally gigging your creations. It's a long process but the time has come when you decide to get the tracks recorded and released. The feedback from friends and family has been good, the songs have gone down well at gigs. Time to hit the studio.

Hopefully, the recording process is enjoyable and everything goes as it should. You even stay within budget! So what do you do next? The tracking is complete, the initial mix sounds great but you feel the songs could benefit from a little something extra. So what do you do?

First things first, make the decision that the tracks actually do need something added. It's extremely tempting to make use of the box of tricks that is a modern studio. There are often extra instruments on hand, do you need to put anything else on the record? If you feel you're happy the song has turned out as it should, how you planned it from the word go, then leave it alone. Job done.

However, if you do want to add some extra parts, maybe a plucked guitar part or some subtle strings, try and keep it simple. Adding umpteen additional instrument tracks is unlikely to bring much to the song, it's more likely to muddy the water and move the song away from how you originally envisioned it. The other thing of course is it will cost more in tracking and mixing time. This is particularly soul-destroying

if you decide at the end of the process you don't like it and you strip it back to the original mix.

Ask the engineer or producer for their honest opinion. I'm always happy to give my opinion on the tracks. More often than not I say it only needs subtle changes or nothing at all. I could charge additional hours adding a virtual symphony orchestra but that would mean a crap final product with no one happy. Not the outcome we want.

So give it some thought, try and be objective and make sure the finished product is something you're proud of and will be happy to listen to years in the future.

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