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> How Do I Make My Recording As Good As A Commercial Recording..., Part 1 - compiling takes
Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 4 2012, 01:13 PM
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A lot of home and project studios have an ambition to be able to record, mix and master their audio so that it is as good as professionally released material. In this series of posts what I want to discuss is how you can improve your mixes in order to help achieve this.

Over the years as a mastering studio we've received and been asked to comment on mixes from a wide range of sources ranging from home/project studios through to commerical, professional multi-room mix studios. We're often asked by the home and project studios to comment on whether or not their material is of 'commercial' standard and if not what the difference is. Most seem to think that the major issues will be because of the difference in quality of the recording and mixing hardware. They are usually surprised whenw e point out that whilst this may be an issue that there are other more major ones, one of which is compiling.

Most home studios tend to send us material where each individual track will be composed of single takes. When a track is put together from more than one take it is nearly always because the singer or instrumentalist made a mistake an so sang some notes out of key/time or got some of the words wrong. Commercial mixes very rarely consist of main tracks that have been recorded in a single take/pass. Instead they are compiled from multiple versions of the same track. A lead vocalist may record their vox 8 times, one after the other, and the final lead vocal take will be compiled from parts taken from these 8 takes.

At this point you might think that the home studio and the commerical studio both compile the track in the same way and for the same reason. However, the commerical recording isn't compiled because some notes were out of key/time, etc.; in many ways these are a given for a professional musician or can be corrected at mixing anyway without any need to re-record. Compiling is done to record and feature things like the way a line is phrased, how vibrato is used, ad libs that can occur, whether one take has a different feel and groove then others and so on: it's about the musicality and the subtle differences between takes.

Before we had daws it was diffiicult and expensive for a home/project studio to compile becuase each individual take had to be laid down to multitrack tape, and a tape op would be required to prepare, align, splice and edit the takes in to a single whole. Now the cost of physically storing different takes on a computer is neglible and it is relatively easy to align, audition and compile a single version from multiple takes. So try it the next time you're doing a session - record multiple takes of the main parts and compile them in order to bring out those subtle but important differences that bring out the feel and musicality.


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mavel
post Jan 4 2012, 04:08 PM
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Great post! That was exactly what I was looking for. Big thanks!
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 4 2012, 04:22 PM
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Professional advice, excellent reading Tony


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Jan 4 2012, 06:20 PM
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Excellent stuff Tony! This is very important. A top level performance is the only way to get a top level record.


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Sensible Jones
post Jan 4 2012, 06:31 PM
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Great points and well explained Tony!!
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Todd Simpson
post Jan 4 2012, 06:59 PM
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Great post! I think this thread topic should become a wiki thread and subsequent posts added to it! It would be a shame if this thread eventually just gets lost in the shuffle.


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Andrew Cockburn
post Jan 4 2012, 07:03 PM
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Great points there Tony - in fact the workflow for this is very easy in today's DAWs - even back in the day with hard disk it was a nightmare!

In Reaper, to do this, I create a master track with all the vocal effects in I want to use (usually compression, some EQ, and a send to reverb, sometimes delay). I then create 2 or 3 folder tracks. in reaper, these tracks are owned by the master track, and feed back up to it but they all do so equally, and are able to use the effects in the master track. (Other DAW's will have similar abilities)

I then arm one of these tracks for recording and record a take, or part of a take. When I am happy with a particular part (I usually record in phrases) I will move that to a second "composing" track, and place it, and trim it appropriately.

The next take i am happy with, or next part of the phrase, I will again slide it up to the composing track and check crossfades etc with the previous part, and over time build up an entire track. This works especially well for guitar solos in a couple of different ways:

1. When composing you can try multiple riffs until you find pieces you like, and fit into the building story of a solo
2. Next, you can re-record your solo with the same riffs as before but this time around really concentrate on the phrasing, tone vibrato etc to get a more polished version

Its a really great way of working!


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 11 2012, 12:01 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Jan 4 2012, 05:59 PM) *
Great post! I think this thread topic should become a wiki thread and subsequent posts added to it! It would be a shame if this thread eventually just gets lost in the shuffle.


Thanks for the compliments everyone smile.gif. Personally I'm happy for the forum to decide if my thread/s sink or swim: if people like them and/or think they're important they'll bubble up to the surface. If they sink then no worries.




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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

Be friends on facebook with us here.

We use professional, mastering grade hardware in our mastering studo. Our hardware includes:
Cranesong Avocet II Monitor Controller, Dangerous Music Liasion Insert Hardware Router, ATC SCM Pro Monitors, Lavry Black DA11, Prism Orpheus ADC/DAC, Gyratec Gyraf XIV Parallel Passive Mastering EQ, Great River MAQ 2NV Mastering EQ, Kush Clariphonic Parallel EQ Shelf, Maselec MLA-2 Mastering Compressor, API 2500 Mastering Compressor, Eventide Eclipse Reverb/Echo.
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SirJamsalot
post Jan 13 2012, 06:13 PM
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Tony - this is invaluable!! Thanks for sharing this! You are my hero of the month!


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