A: Things to make your session go smoother:
You know your songs are great (and so does your girl/boyfriend, family, and pets), and you finally decided to record an album in a real studio. That's great! But what actually happens when you get there?
When you finally do pick the perfect studio, one that you feel comfortable with, there is a certain routine that must be followed in order to get the best performance and the best recording for your budget.
Many studios start charging their clients from the exact time agreed to in the contract. Just because you decide to show up late, doesn't mean that the studio should give up that time for free. Be early and be ready to go.
Tune Your Instruments
This also includes your drums and any tunable percussion instruments you may have. There is absolutely nothing worse in the world than to have a perfectly written song with a perfect performance be ruined because someone didn't take an extra 2 minutes to check their tuning. Tuning takes a few minutes; a recording lasts forever.
Be Well Rehearsed
You'll be surprised how many bands suffer shock when they get the final recording bill. The main reason for this is because they confuse rehearsal time with recording time. Rehearse at home, in the garage, at your uncle's house; anywhere but at the recording session. When you arrive at the studio, you should know your songs inside-out and be ready for the red light.
Practice with a Click Track
A lot of drummers aren't able to play with a click track. Make sure yours can. A click track is essential in getting a good basic rhythm track that the rest of the band can lock in to, and to sync-up loops and delay times.
Always bring spare strings, drum heads, bass strings, water bottles, throat lozenges, etc. to a session. You'll always need the one thing you forgot to bring, so bring it all and leave them at the studio until your recordings are finished.
Get the Sound Right
Never, ever, try to "fix it in the mix". It doesn't work like that. Take an extra few minutes to tweak the sound before recording it. Turn that knob, tighten that string, have another sip of water. Remember again, tweaking may take an extra minute, but the recording will last forever.
Know When To Quit
Recording often leads to diminishing returns. Spending 20 hours in a row at the recording session isn't going to make your song twice as good as spending 10 hours. This rule also applies to mixing. If you're tired, call the session and come back the next day fresh and ready.
Don't bring your friends, family, parents or anyone else into your sessions. As fun as it may be, you are there to do a job and record the best music possible. If you are a millionaire, then by all means, have a party at the studio, but don't count on getting anything done.
Mix and Match
After letting the engineer do the first rough mix alone (which he should) do an A/B comparison of your mix to some of your favourite CDs. Remember that the production CDs you are listening to have already been mastered. But it's a good way to compare levels and panning.
This is THE most important point of all. Creating and recording music isn't rocket science. Although there is a science involved, you should let the engineer worry about that. If you're not having fun, then you're in the wrong business!
B: When I'm done recording and mixing,should I master? Why do I need it?
From the final mix which is generated during the mixing session, the mastering engineer performs some or all of the following tasks during the Mastering Process:
Put tracks in order (sequence).
Edit within the music.
Remove unwanted pops, clicks or other noises.
Add sound effects such as crowd noises or cheers.
Place appropriate ID's and spaces between songs.
Make album or program sound consistent (equalize, compress).
Maximize music so it is as powerful as possible.
Create duplication master to meet technical requirements of final format(s).
What does mastering accomplish?
Mastering serves both the creative and the technical needs of the final audio program. During the mastering process, an album is made more powerful, polished and professional, always with the artist's vision in mind. If mastered properly with the assistance of specialized equipment, ears and expertise, the final version of an album should be competitive both on radio and disc with the levels and overall sonic fingerprint of the industry's major albums.
What is a master and why do I need one?
At the end of the mastering session, the mastering engineer creates a duplication master. This master represents the culmination of all the creative aspects of the recording process. The artist's performance and vision must, at this point, be fully captured. This master must also be technically prepared for duplication. The duplication house will make a glass master for pressing large quantities of discs, but if duplication is performed properly, every copy ever made should sound exactly like the master created at the end of the mastering session. (Say no more, right?!)