5 Ways to Improve Your Tracking Sessions | Soundways

Tracking with The Core Production Bundle


 

Start 14-Day Free Trial

 

The Soundways' Core Production Bundle helps recording, mixing, and mastering engineers deal with the painful problem of mix translation.  Often times things will sound great in the studio, but won't on consumer listening systems.  Engineers need a way to ensure that their mix will sound great on every speaker system.  That is why Soundways developed the Core Production Bundle.  

In the past, engineers used smaller monitors, like NS-10's and Auratones, to test how their mix would sound on home stereos.  This technique may work for some.  However, these monitors can introduce distortions and non-linearities.  The Soundways' Core Production Bundle allows engineers to focus on the audio core while using their main monitors.  The core is the frequency range which the human ear finds most sensitive, 2kHz - 5kHz.  Balance in this range is critical in order for a mix to translate properly.

During tracking, the Core Production Workflow will ensure that engineers get great results on the front end.  This means less time spent mixing, with better resulting quality.  Here are some ways to use the Core Production Workflow during tracking.

Find a Guitar Tone


Try using the Core Production Workflow when in search of a great guitar tone.  When setting a tone, it is important to focus on the audio core.  Some microphone and guitar cabinet combinations can produce significant proximity effect.  At times this may be desirable.  However, low end resonances can mask problems in the upper harmonics.  Use the Core Production Workflow to ensure that you are getting a great sound from the source.

Place Reveal on your DAW's master bus and turn on Critical Listening mode.  Now place your guitar microphone facing the speaker cabinet.  Adjust the microphone's position until you find a tone that is suitable for the recording.  

Once the microphone is placed properly, adjust the high and mid frequency settings on the guitar amp.  Now turn off Reveal's Critical Listening and adjust the low frequency setting on the amp.  Using this technique, engineers can be sure that their tone is harmonically balanced and will sit perfectly in the full mix.  

Set a Vocal Chain


Setting up a vocal recording chain can be a big challenge.  Each singer has a unique sonic timbre.  This means that a recording chain can sound great for one singer and horrible for another.  Use the Core Production Workflow to ensure that you get a great vocal sound from the source.  

With Reveal on your DAW's master bus, turn on Critical Listening mode.  Now listen to the singer at various mic positions.  Small changes in positioning can result in big changes in sound. If the singer's voice is harsh or sibilant, try placing the microphone off-axis.  For most mics this will reduce the high frequency response, creating a smooth, warm tone.  Find the position that you like and try to keep the singer as close to this as possible throughout recording.  

With Critical Listening mode engaged, listen in context of the full mix.  You may find that the voice is too bright or dark.  If this is the case, use some EQ.  

To tame an overly bright vocal, use a wide bell around 3kHz.  Reduce this frequency range by 1dB - 3dB.  For a vocal that is too dark, try boosting some high frequencies.  Place a wide bell around 20kHz with a 2dB boost.  Now adjust the filter's Q until the desired sound is achieved.  This will work to boost high frequencies in a transparent manner.  

Now turn off Critical Listening mode and listen to the vocal sound.  Make any necessary adjustments to the low-mid frequencies.  This workflow ensures that you are getting the best vocal sound possible.  

Place Drum Mics


Placing drum microphones can be a time consuming task.  It can be difficult to balance the levels of close and room microphones.  Low end resonances will often mask problems in the audio core.  To avoid these issues, use the Core Production Workflow.  

First, roughly place your drum microphones in the appropriate positions.  This should be as close to the final position as possible.  Measure distances between any overhead or room microphones to ensure that phase coherency is maintained.  

Once you have placed all of your drum mics, listen carefully for quality assurance.  Place Reveal on your master bus and engage Critical Listening mode.  Adjust the relative microphone levels within the mix.  Now listen to the tone of the drums and make any necessary adjustments to microphone positions.  After carefully placing microphones, apply any necessary EQ or compression.

Now turn off Critical Listening mode.  Listening in this context, make any necessary adjustments to the low frequency range.  This technique ensures that your drums translate beautifully to any speaker system.  

Select a Bass Guitar Tone


 

Start 14-Day Free Trial

 

Recording a DI bass guitar is a great opportunity to use the Core Production Workflow.  Plug-in your bass guitar and find a rough starting tone.  Now turn on Reveal's Critical Listening mode and listen in context of the full mix.  Make any necessary adjustments to the bass guitar settings and preamplifier.  Afterward, you may find that your bass still doesn't sit properly in the mix.  If this is the case try using LowLeveler.  

Place LowLeveler on your bass guitar.  With Critical Listening mode engaged, make adjustments to the Upper Bass (Harmonic).  Once the desired sound is achieved, turn off Critical Listening mode.  Now make adjustments to the Low Bass (Fundamental).  Working in this way ensures that your bass is harmonically balanced.  

Apply Distortion


Setting distortion levels can be cumbersome.  Achieving the appropriate amount of grit, bite, and aggression while maintaining a pleasing sound is a difficult balance.  Luckily, the Core Production Workflow can help.  Whether its a guitar, vocal, drum room, or bass guitar it is important to focus on the upper harmonics.  To do this in the most accurate way, engage Reveal's Critical Listening mode.  

Now, make any necessary adjustments to the distortion settings.  Be sure to listen to the full mix when making adjustments.  If you find that your distortion sounds harsh when placed at the appropriate emotional level, try using some EQ.  Use a wide bell between 2kHz - 5kHz.  Cut frequencies in the range until the appropriate balance is achieved.  Using these tips you will craft better recordings, resulting in better mixes and happier clients.

Don't take my word for it, try the Soundways' Core Production Bundle today and hear the results yourself.  Start your 14-Day Free Trial today!