In our previous blog we discussed how important it is to focus on the foundations of recording, where certain elements of your songs are given more importance than others, because they are the basis of the entire song. In this article, we’ll be exploring other stages in the recording process that can either make or break the quality of the album in its entirety.
The Editing Process
So, you’ve finished recording your tracks, now it’s time to freshen them up. No matter how careful you were in the previous step, there will always be some errors that can and should be fixed. Typically, editing is made up of 5 common tasks:
• Noise Reduction
• Time Editing
• Pitch Editing
With adjustment, you take a global look at everything you’ve done so far, to assess what works, and what doesn’t.
Then there’s the stage of comping: where you compare the duplicate takes of each track, and select the best one. You can even choose best phrases from each take and syndicate them all into one.
Thanks to noise reduction, you cut all sounds before, after, and in-between each segment of audio where the instrument is playing.
This means eliminating:
• background voices
• amp hissing
• chair squeaks
• dead air
To decrease noise further, you can increase a high-pass filter below the lower frequency range of non-bass music instruments, to remove echoing sounds. With time editing, you can amend off-beat notes, using one of two approaches:
1. The “cut and paste” method – which works perfectly on percussive instruments
2. The “time-stretching” method – which works well on almost all instruments
For pitch editing, shift any sour note back on-pitch, using Auto-Tune or any similar software. Usually it’s used on vocals, but it also works well on many melodic music instruments.
The Mixing Process
Once the tracks are arranged exactly as you like, the next aim is to make them merge as one unified piece, through the method of “mixing”. Mixing is an art form in itself, and can be done in various ways, there are still certain essential elements.
Balancing Faders – is done so that no instrument sounds too loud or soft compared to others.
Panning – gives each instrument its own space in the stereo-image
Equalization – crafts a unique space in the frequency field for each instrument, so that no two sounds compete for the same band of frequencies.
Compression – levels out the active range of an instrument so each note is heard clearly, and the mix sounds louder all together.
Reverb – creates 3-dimensional space for the mix, adding a sense of depth, and unifying the music instruments under one room-sound.
Automation – allows you to modify settings at different points in the song, giving your mix a sense of motion.
The Mastering Process
At this phase, all tracks must be re-recorded down to a single stereo file. Once that’s done, several mastering methods are used to fine tune your song, so it sounds even better!
Maximizing Loudness – through further compression and limiting, so the typical signal level over time is as high as possible, without forfeiting too many dynamics.
Balancing Frequencies – through further EQ, and a process known as multi-band compression, which can compress distinct frequency bands separately from the rest of the range.
Stereo Widening – with a special plugin devised to add an additional sense of “width” to the higher frequencies.
Once everything sounds perfect, the track is converted to its appropriate sample rate/bit depth and voilà, you’re well into creating your album successfully.
Undoubtedly, creating music is not only a skill but an art form. This is something that we firmly believe in here at Olimpus. If you’re in the process of creating your own album, or are an aspiring musician, pop by at your one-stop-music-shop, and we will give you more tips to keep in mind when choosing all your music instruments and equipment.