If you want to make your recordings sound professional, the number one aspect to work on is your sound source. The sound source is the actual sound that you make in the room. In this video, I’m going to give you 4 ways to improve your sound source so that you can get better recordings. Remember, if your sound source isn’t good, it doesn’t matter how great your gear is. Your recording will never sound “professional”. You might be able to get a good recording of a crappy sound, but that doesn’t help you make the end result better.
The first aspect of your sound source to focus on is your player. It may seem obvious but your player has a great impact on the sound of your recording. Maybe you’re playing the instrument and recording it yourself. Maybe you’re recording for a friend. Either way, each player has a unique touch on the guitar, drums, or otherwise. Different players playing the same instrument can make them sound wildly different. If you’re not happy with recordings, I challenge you to think critically about your playing, singing, etc. How consistent are you when you hit the strings or the drums hit to hit, note to note? When you practice, do you practice for speed or do you practice for tone? How closely do you listen to your instrument when you’re practicing? Spending some time to focus your attention on your tone will enhance your recordings in a major way. There are tons of other youtube videos out there to help you with your specific instrument whether you want to control your breathing better when you sing or you aim to make your guitar ring out more fully.
The second aspect of your sound source to focus on is your room. You can imagine the difference between recording in a small bedroom with lots of pillows and fabric laying around. The way your instrument projects will change greatly based on the materials in the room, the size of the room, and where in the room you’re set up. Think about what you want out of your room. Do you want a huge John Bonham drum sound? If so you may want to think about raising money to go to a more live sounding studio. Do you want your vocal to sound very close and intimate? If so you may want to deaden the reflections in the room. Once I find a room to record in, the first thing I do before I set anything up is to walk around the room with the instrument and see where it sounds the best. You’d be surprised how big of a difference a foot can make to the sound. If you’re using this method but are recording drums, carry around the drum that is the most important to the song. For most songs, this will either be the kick or snare. See where you hear the low end sit the best and then set up the other drums around it.
The third and final aspect of your sound source to focus on is your instrument. When is the last time you changed your strings? Your drum heads? Are you in tune? If you don’t have access to a nice sounding instrument, are you able to borrow one from a friend just for the recording? What does the genre and vibe of the song call for? These are all questions to ask yourself when you’re thinking about your instrument and how it relates to sound source. Think about your amp, think about your pickups. Think about how the instrument sounds in the room. If you don’t like the sound in the room, what can you change in your instrument to get it closer to what you are imagining? For example, if you’re recording an acoustic guitar and vocal if your guitar is thin sounding, you may want to consider borrowing a guitar that has a fuller tone. If your guitar is too dull sounding, you may want to consider changing the strings. Also, the tone of the guitar will change based on whether you’re playing with your fingers or a pick. Likewise, using different types of drum sticks, brushes, etc will change the tone. You already know this, but consider it especially during the recording process. Also, if you’re recording drums, how are the drums tuned? Are the toms tuned to the key of the song? How would that change their overall impact?
For the video covering this topic, check out my YouTube Channel, StephDurwinRecording. Next week I’m going to be doing a mic position demonstration that will show you the dramatic effects of placing your mics in different places on your instrument.