The Professional Vocalist
First, we need to organise backing tracks. These can take many forms and you're welcome to bring your own, on CD, minidisk of MIDI-file. Alternatively, I'll be happy to provide tracks from my extensive library. If your material is original, I'll be happy to collaborate with you to make the backing track, either from your ideas or from scratch.
Next, we must find the most appropriate microphone for you. You're welcome to bring your own mic, or we have a selection of four professional vocal mics for you to try. If you use your own mic for live performances, then you may find it is not ideal for studio recording. To save time, we can record your initial performance concurrently onto four or five separate tracks, each using a different mic. You can then choose which one you feel sounds best for your voice. Normally I would expect to use the same mic for all your songs, though you can if you wish audition all the mics on every song.
Finally, there is the question of acoustics. Good acoustics, along with a good mic, are what makes a good recording into a great one. The small studio acoustics are fully adjustable and can be optimised for vocals. I would normally go for a relatively dry sound without too much natural reverberation. That way we can add appropriate reverb later to fit in with the overall sound of the track. Remember that, while it's easy to add reverb, it's pretty well impossible to remove it!!
I aim to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Even professional singers find the recording studio is an intimidating place! The microphone is the most demanding possible audience, no response and it never lies!! Make sure you allow time for rehearsal so that you settle into the process.
Depending on the nature of the backing track, it's usually possible to change both the key and the tempo of the song at this stage. Even if you've been singing the song for ages, a change may improve your performance.
Once we've settled on key and tempo, then it's over to you! We'll record as many takes as you need, so don't feel under too much pressure. We can compile your best performance from a selection of takes if you wish. This technique, known as 'comping' is used very commonly these days, though if you get do it all in one go, it's usually better.
How about some backing vocals? You're welcome to bring friends in to sing at this stage, but why not do some yourself? I can help with harmony structures if required and there are some studio techniques available to help. Backing vocals are another element which can differentiate a good record from a great one.
During the sessions, with your permission, I'll take some digital photos of you at work, which you may like to use on the CD cover.
At the end of the session(s), I'll send you home with a rough mix of your work on CD. Take time to listen to this before the next stage and if you need to make any changes, then we can.
The Final Mix
Once you've recorded everything to your complete satisfaction, we can start to produce your record! I normally reccommend doing this on a different day to the recording itself. It's helpful to bring a commercial CD that you know has been well-recorded in the style of your own work, which we can play occasionally to keep it in perspective.
I have a selection of high-quality equipment to assist in the mixing process, including a Lexicon reverb unit. Lexicon reverb is used on something like 80% of modern records, so you're in good company. I also have the infamous 'Autotune' product, which can correct intonation errors (wrong notes!!), if you need it. Autotune has had some bad press lately, so I've supplemented it with a competing product, 'Melodyne' on computer. This does the same job, but completely transparantly. Amazing....
The mixing process can be quite complex and time-consuming and not everyone wants to be involved, though I would ask you to attend at least the final session to approve the finished mix.
Presenting your CD
Finally, we need to need to discuss presenting your product, on the 'Packaging' tab...