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"All The Right Gear In An Atmosphere That Incites Creativity"

Hot tips & cool tricks

...to get the most out of your time in the studio.

Plan ahead- Develop clear goals about what you want to accomplish during each session. Have your arrangements charted, lyrics written out, keyboard parts sequenced, leads figured out, everybody practiced up and everything ready to go. The studio can be an expensive place to write lyrics or figure out a lead part. Careful planning can help you avoid waste and maximize your studio time. 

Get your gear in top shape- Record with the best instruments available. The art of recording is capturing that certain sound. The better the source of that sound, the better the recording. Re-string guitars several days before the session; keep them tuned up and play them enough to get them broken in. 

A whole different animal-  In most cases, you will find that the drum sound you have for live performance (head selection, cymbals and even tuning) isn't necessarily optimized for work in the recording studio.  For this reason, New Renaissance Productions TM  maintains a "house" drum kit.  This top-of-the-line Fortune Drums 5-piece maple drum kit is already set up, tweaked, mic'd, and optimized for studio recording.  Taking advantage of our house drum kit can save you lots of money on studio time spent setting up, tuning, miking, and optimizing your live performance kit for recording.  See our Drums Percussion and Instruments page for details on the NRP House drum kit.  And while you're at it, be sure to visit the Fortune Drums web site at www.fortunedrums.com.

    Of course, you may prefer using your own kit.  If so, new heads on your drums are a must (when selecting types of heads, keep in mind the tone you are after).  If you don't know how to tune and/or set up your kit for studio recording, seek advice from an experienced studio drum tech to help you with your drum set up, head selection and tuning.  Take the the time you need to work out the rattles and buzzes BEFORE you bring the kit into the studio.  For many, having multiple snare drums on hand is a another essential.  Doing so affords a broader sonic palette and flexibility when it comes to choosing a snare sound that best serves each song.

Bring equipment manuals-  Even if you're certain that you know your gear inside and out, bring the manuals!  It is quite possible that you'll be interfacing it with unfamiliar gear in an unfamiliar way.  There's nothing like a session coming to a grinding halt when taking a few brief minutes referencing the manual could have saved the day. 

Bring spares-  Extra strings, picks, sticks, batteries, instrument cables, reeds, drum heads- you certainly don't want to shut down or delay a session while someone is out chasing down a broken string or a dead battery.  Not sure if you'll need it?  When in doubt, bring it out.  Which is easier, to step out to your vehicle and grab an amplifier, or drive 20 minutes to your rehearsal hall just to find out that the door is locked you forgot your keys? 

Know your limitations-  Have reasonable expectations about what is mentally, physically and emotionally possible to accomplish during each session.  Remember that music is mostly about feeling and emotion- allow yourself the space for good things to happen  (see 'Take care of yourself' below). Almost without fail, when the artist pushes past "the point of diminishing returns" the parts lack sparkle and energy and end up being re-recorded anyway.

Take care of yourself-  Get plenty of rest in the days leading up to your sessions. Eat right- drink plenty of water and have fruits and other nutritious snacks readily available during the sessions.  Pace yourself, take breaks, relax and HAVE FUN!   By the way, there's plenty of great tasting ultra-pure (by Reverse Osmosis) drinking water and ice on tap in the NRP commissary.  We also keep a variety of soft drinks, herb teas etc. available for a minimal charge (50 cents each).

Appoint a representative-  If you don't have a producer, designate one person as the official contact between your group and the studio.  That person should know what the group consensus is and have the latitude to make decisions for the group.  This person doesn't even necessarily need to be a band member or producer, just one who knows what the band is after and has the authority to make critical decisions.

Keep your entourage to a minimum-  The studio is a professional working environment and it is important to maintain the focus on the project at hand.  Only the essential players should be there.  Anything more only serves as a distraction for everyone.  Distractions invariably have a negative effect on the overall outcome of the finished product.  At best you'll end up wasting studio time; at worst the quality of your project will be compromised.

Practice-  It goes without saying that you should know your parts "forward and backward".  Practice doing each part individually... by yourself... solo... from beginning to end... with a metronome.  The recording and overdub process can be quite a different animal from live performance and can seem rather disjointed at times.  Your level of preparedness will determine how well the recording process progresses.  If you are well prepared when called upon to do overdubs, punch in a part, record a section without a vocal to follow etc, it'll be no big deal. Here's a link to an excellent article by Rob Gravelle:

 http://www.guitarnoise.com/lesson/how-the-pros-practice/

It's intended for guitar players, but the principles are applicable to all musicians.

Remember the basics-  Keep practiced up on the basics... running scales, long notes, arpeggios, whatever is applicable to your instrument.  This will help you stay in top form without getting burned out on the material you'll be recording  (keep in mind that you are likely be hearing this material umpty-nine times before the recording process is completed).  It won't hurt a thing to practice a piece that's totally unrelated to the material you are recording.  It might be just the distraction you need to relax and get on top of your game.

Archive-  The goal for your finished project is most likely a 16 bit 44.1khz two-track CD master. But what about 5.1, surround, DVD audio, SACD, and all the other myriad of formats currently available, not to mention all of the yet to be thought of future formats? It's wise for you to carefully consider archiving your multi-track masters.  It's a relatively small investment that will enable to go back to your original 24 bit recordings in the future and re-release them in whatever new format you desire.

37 Recording Tips-  New Renaissance Productions TM  is proud to be member of the DISC MAKERS Studio Partner Program.  Among the many great offers and helpful resources made available through this program is the brochure '37 Recording Tips- a valuable guide to making the most of your time in the studio'.  This is a great no-nonsense resource produced by DISC MAKERS- one of the world's premier disc manufacturers, and is available to you through NRP at no cost...  just call or email your request.

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