What is a Good Recording?
Musicians practice scales as a prerequisite to finding their own style. A similar prerequisite for an aspiring audio professional would be learning to make simple, technically and artistically correct recordings prior to exploiting more creative stylistic techniques.
“Technically correct” means free of any undesirable technical artifacts. So what makes a technically good recording?
• Good sounding sources and musicians are a prerequisite.
• Appropriate microphone choice.
• Good mic placement and mic techniques.
• No noise or distortion problems created by incorrect or inappropriate use of any of the equipment in the recording and mixing chain.
• Good balances and use of the stereo soundstage.
“Artistically correct” means that the recording and mixing styles are appropriate to the project, and musical style. By understanding how to capture, process, and mix sound using equipment technically correctly, you learn to:
• Use the equipment to control the sound.
• Really hear the effect of more creative, artistic use of the equipment.
• Anticipate how creative processing may benefit a project you’re working on.
BUT IT’S ABOUT THE MUSIC, NOT THE RECORDING!
Let’s not forget one important thing – the music creates a hit song, not the recording! Many hit records are not technically perfect – there may be minor engineering mistakes and errors because a great musical performance trumps a little distortion on a killer vocal take!
Excerpt from Mic It! by Ian Corbett © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author
Dr. Ian Corbett is the coordinator of the Audio Engineering Program, and Professor of Music Technology and Audio Engineering at Kansas City Kansas Community College. He also owns and operates “off-beat-open-hats – recording and sound reinforcement” which specializes in servicing the needs of jazz and classical ensembles in the Kansas City area. Since 2004, he has been a member of the Audio Engineering Society’s Education Committee, and has mentored, presented, and served on panels at local, regional, national, and international AES and other professional events. Ian has also authored articles on audio recording related subjects for Sound On Sound magazine.