Better Understand the Recording Process in 8 Steps

Recording Studio Jan 25, 2023

Get a good grasp of the recording process in a studio in 8 steps. Recordings  can be complex, but they're easy to understand when you know what to look for.

From recording to mixing, and mastering, there are 8 key steps everyone should be familiar with before entering the studio.

Knowing these steps and how they work will help you have a successful recording session and create the project you envisioned.

1.  Plan your recording session

Before going into the recording session, make sure you have a clear idea of what you expect to accomplish. This should include the songs (instrumentals) you will record, how you want to record them (style - use reference links), and how many takes you think you would need.

In most cases, from experience, artists take an average of 2 hours to record 1 song. This can vary depending on the features you might have and the level of preparation you made.

Having a plan in place will help you stay organized and make sure you get the most out of your session.

2.  Record with a Metronome

It is essential to have a metronome to keep the tempo of your recordings regular. Moreover, you must also be familiar with the tempo of your song. Practicing with a metronome without the accompaniment can be really advantageous in a creative way during the recording.

If you find it difficult to deliver while behind the microphone, don't be scared to ask for a metronome with or without the instrumental.

"Rhythm is everything in music. Without it, you have nothing." - Pharrell Williams

Photo by Soundtrap / Unsplash

3.  Understand Your Voice and Musical Ability

Prior to recording, it is essential to be aware of your vocal and instrumental capabilities so that you can adjust your performances accordingly. The person in the recording studio aiding you in creating your piece may push you to your limits to produce a combination you didn’t anticipate.

"You can't fake authenticity." - Quincy Jones

This is why it is always beneficial to practice your vocals with different tones, speeds, and octaves. Furthermore, consider and jot down some ideas of adlibs you can include.

4.  Always Have a Backup Plan

To prepare for unexpected issues during the recording process, it is important to have a backup plan.

Even if you have practiced and are sure of the outcome, sometimes recording doesn't always turn out the way you expect it to. Having a contingency plan in place will ensure you don't waste time and can stay on track. Have a second song ready to record for example.

5.  What about the Mixing Process

You've finished the recording stage, and now it's time for the mixing process. This is where the engineer will take all the tracks that have been recorded and combine them together to create one cohesive song.

Prior to this, it is important to have a clear idea of what you want the mix to sound like and make sure that you communicate this with the engineer. Share some examples of the type of music that inspires your creativity.

There are different ways to go about mixing, some prefer to have an upfront voice, and others prefer to be more subtle or blended with the music. The more detail you share with the engineer, the better.

6.  Take a Break and Listen to Your Tracks

Recording can be a long and tiring process, so it’s important to take breaks to keep your energy up. This will help you stay focused and make sure you don’t get too overwhelmed.

Grabbing a friend to come along and help cheer you up might be a great idea to immortalize your moment. Have them film it with their cellphone, and once you’re done recording, it’s essential to listen back to the recordings to ensure that it sounds the way you want it to. This will help you catch any errors, and ensure that the sound is the best it can be.

Breaks are also an ideal time to record some behind the scene footage that you'll be able to repurpose for social media strategy down the line. Think about it!  Film with your smartphone or if you're willing to invest a bit more you could have a camera crew with you.

"The best way to improve your mix is to listen with fresh ears." - Kevin "Khao" Cates

7.  Have Fun

When recording in a studio, don't forget to have a bit of fun with it. Don't be afraid to take risks and experiment. This is not an exam; treat the studio like it's a laboratory in which you can be creative.

As Dr. Dre would say, it's a place to test things out and see what you can come up with.

"Music is supposed to be fun. It's not a job, it's a passion." - Timbaland

8.  Have Patience

Recording in a studio can be a tedious and lengthy process, so it’s important to remain patient. From the initial recording all the way up to the final mastering, a lot is happening, and rushing through it can have a negative impact. To guarantee the best possible sonic outcome, usually it takes up to 5 business day time frame to deliver the finished mix.

Familiarizing yourself with the 8 tips will put you on the right track to having a successful result. Just remember to be organized, have a plan, and take your time. With the right attitude and preparation, you will be able to generate an excellent-sounding recording.

If you want to get more information or book a recording session, try looking at the Great Things Studios website. It's a recording and video production studio based in Montreal.


Jean-Addlaire Gaëtan

Bringing life to an idea is a question of using the right resources. Video producer and sound engineer at Great Things Studios in Montreal.