The Recording Process - Preparing For The Studio
We've worked with all types of clients from extremely talented and experienced in the studio, to those needing additional coaching or rehearsal time, and some who are basically new to the whole process. With modern technology, recording has evolved into a multistage process in which great care can be taken at every step along the way to assure great performances and high-quality for the final product. Less than a hundred years ago, if you wanted to record your music, the band would simply set-up and record into a microphone that translated the sound energy into grooves onto a drum/disc (to press your records). Everything had taken place in one step, and right then you had your master record. But, there wasn't a way of fixing an individual vocal or guitar (or anything), no way of altering the mix or sound of something later. Basically, what you recorded is what you got..
In today's world, all the instruments can be individually mic'ed and recorded to separate tracks, the sound can be manipulated and processed every which way, the mix and balance of everything can be changed, and all of this can be automated so that you can come back and pick up exactly where you left off with the project. We can assist you all along the way with the recording process. We can help you get from point A to point B (from an idea in your head, to a recorded high-quality CD in your hand).
Back to a little additional recording info...
At Wonderland, we are all about doing things your way, taking time to experiment, explain any part of the process and trying out any ideas you have. Something new is derived from every session, and we feel that it's a privilege to be involved with the creative process of others. That is the very thing we love about this crazy music business.
What you should do before heading into the studio:
To make a great CD, you will probably want to work on your recording in several stages (and over many days or weeks). Discuss a schedule with all band mates and map out a realistic time line of goals for the project. Also, make sure you're prepared and rehearsed and your gear is in good working condition (comfortable, sounding good, new strings, new drum heads, guitar and bass intonation etc.). If this is done beforehand, we can get started right away and move through the recording process more quickly. Instrument problems can slow down the start of sessions (guitars not going in-tune, guitars or amps or effects with crackling knobs, drums sounding dead or not in-tune etc).
The typical steps followed when you get into the studio:
Usually, you start out by laying down the basic tracks. What exactly these are depends on what type of music your band plays and your instrumentation. Often the order of things starts with beat/rhythm (drums and bass guitar, for example), along with the main rhythm (rhythm guitar) and then on from there lead guitar and vocals. Another option, is to record many of the basic tracks live, and then later build additional layers upon that. The basic tracks are extremely important, because if they're not solid, you're building on top of a weak foundation. Next, you'd likely work on additional overdubs (or icing on the cake, as we sometimes like to refer to it - harmony vocals, additional percussion, guitar layers, strings, etc.). Then we'd want to work on cleaning up the tracks, and preparing some damn good mixes. Mixing is a whole other process - getting everything to sit right in the mix and have the right balance with everything else in the mix (a combination of plug-ins, compression, eq, effects, editing, cleaning-up tracks and automation can all help in this process). We're very experienced mix engineers at Wonderland Studios (many songs that we've mixed have charted regionally, gaining significant radio play).
What happens once the studio work is done:
You'll want to listen to the mixes carefully, and usually on several systems (car stereo, home stereo, etc.). Then the mix might need to be fine-tuned based on how they sounded outside the studio environment. Once that is done, the mixes need to be Mastered. It is necessary to compile the individual mixes of each song and create the production Master. We can direct you to a few great Mastering people in town, or we can master your tracks here at Wonderland Studios. This Mastering step is the last chance you have for final equalization, compression and any other enhancements to the sound. And once that is done, it's time to work on cover art, liner notes, and manufacturing. At this point the demo, single, EP or album is done. Congratulations.
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