Things That Suck/Are Awesome About Being in a Band: Recording

We had our first show in about six months last night and we played really well.  One guy even hit us up for a CD.  Sadly, we haven’t recorded one.

I like recording.  Or, I should say, I like a certain kind of recording.

I know lots of people who have gotten into home recording.  At this point in the digital age, if you have the time and the skills, you can record at a more or less professional level for very little money.  I don’t know the names of the programs but I do know you need to buy a good microphone, which will set you back a couple hundred dollars.  That’s not a ton of money relative to what you’d pay in a studio.  But I’d rather pay for the studio.  All the new technology is great (I couldn’t care less about the analog vs digital debate- I can’t even tell the difference), but it does take someone with knowledge and skill to make a good recording.

Early when I started doing bands, I tried home recording.  The first time we did live takes of the songs we wanted to record.  Into a single microphone.  It took us hours to be happy just with the placement of the microphone.  And then we had to play each songs dozens of time until we had a take that wasn’t marred in some tiny way.  I was pretty happy with the sound, but I’ll never do that again.

The second time a friend recorded us.  We did most of the tracks- drums + bass, guitar, vocals- separately and then mixed them together.  It was much easier than the first attempt, and it came out OK.  That recording didn’t blow me away.

We’ve recorded twice at a studio, and paid $35 an hour, which I hear is pretty cheap.  But the hours go by fast.  The first time it took us 12 hours to record and master a 4 song demo.  That’s a good chunk of money.  But it was worth it.

In a studio we have an engineer/producer.  Our guy has helped dozens, maybe hundreds of bands record.  He’s great for bouncing ideas off of.  If we want a certain sound, he can help us get it- it helps that there is a ton of great gear lying around the studio that we can use.  He also keeps us on track- by the time someone is starting to put their instrument away, he’s got the next person lined up to record.

In a studio we are on the clock.  We went in for one and two day sessions and came out with finished recordings.  I know guys who have spent months recording demos, because the temptation to just keep tinkering is too much.  We would go in, play record our stuff, get a rough cut to take home, listen to it for a couple weeks, and then get one more chance to fix things.  That’s it.

In the studio we’re paying for a professional.  I like that and probably won’t bother trying to home record again.


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