Home Recording Tips - Use Your Eyes AND Your Ears

Updated On
13-Jun-2013
By
Ken

Home recording tips are so easy to implement these days due to the fabulous capabilities with have with computers.  In the old days of audio recording, when tape was the medium and pretty much everything was analog, you really had only your ears to rely on when recording and editing audio.  Even in the early days of digital recording this was the case.  Some may argue that was a good thing, and I can see (no pun intended) their point on one hand.  But modern pc audio recording allows us to get our eyes involved as well as our ears, and I just think that is awesome!

Nowadays, we can see the audio waves on a screen and it is now possible to glean a LOT more information about the audio than using just one sense.  This makes audio editing much faster.  For example, it is and always has been a common practice to comp (short for composite) multiple takes of a performance into a single track consisting of all the best bits.  If you had 3 or more takes to choose from, you really had to take a LOT of notes, as in writing stuff down with a paper and pencil.  I know, right?!  I used to have a million little post-it notes (and any other piece of paper that was handy) with start/stop times in minutes/seconds/milliseconds written down to identify a particular passage of audio.  Using a mouse to drag and drop passages from one take to another is now sooooo much faster.  Plus it's greener, since I don't have to waste so much paper;).

So for audio editing, I think using your eyes as well as your ears is one of the biggest advantages of modern pc audio recording.  But I do want to offer a bit of a warning.  It is possible to use your eyes too much, at the expense of your ears.  One example is in tuning a performance like, say, a vocal recording.  One of the other great things about recording nowadays is that there are cool tools like Auto-Tune, that allow you to correct pitch.  But boy-howdy has this been over-used!  Without going into specifics (which you can find in another of our posts about Auto-Tune), these tools allow you to see where the recorded pitch is on a grid representing the correct pitch.  It is very easy to simply drag the actual notes to the grid if they are a little off, even without listening!  This is a mistake.  You really need to listen BEFORE you correct, because humans are used to slight imperfections and variances in pitch.  A lot of times a sung note can sound perfectly fine even though the picture shows it to be a bit off the grid line.  If so, leave it alone.  If every single note is snapped to an exact note, it starts to sound unnatural.  It's kinda like that line from the first The Matrix movie when the agent says "Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost." You may even have noticed this in modern pop and country music.  And if you watch the TV show Glee, you hear Auto-Tune over-used every Tuesday night.  I still love the show though;).

Anyway, my advice on the use of audio editing tools on pc recording studios is to fight the urge to rely too much on the visual aspects of the tool.  Otherwise you could make too-perfect recordings that sound mechanical and, well, a bit like Matrix 1.0.

Ken

To get started recording on your own studio in the next hour (assuming you have a computer;), come on by Home Brew Audio for a visit and get some awesome audio recording tips and tutorials.

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