Chapter 1 : Introduction
It's much more than powering up the equipment or getting directions to the studio. Dave talks about organization, communication, and planning-picking the right studio for your project and, if you're the studio owner, making sure you have the right tools in place for the music you're going to record.
Dave describes the process of getting audio into a recording system, processing it, and sending it back out as a final mix. Here's where you learn the difference between analog and digital recording and the basics of sampling and converters.
What does all that studio stuff do, anyway? Dave looks at various types of recording systems and analog hardware that is still necessary for a fully functional recording studio. Before and after the computer takes over, sound has to be converted to (and from) data. Here's an overview of the tools that do that.
The last but not least step in our introduction process. Dave talks about how to get ready for the actual recording session when it involves other musicians or a professional studio. Time is money, even when you're working in your own space, and these tips will help you be ready when the session begins. Dave offers his own thoughts based on his years of experience making hit records.
Chapter 2 : Connections
Now it's time for a deeper understanding of the gear we're working with, and the computer is the heart of the modern recording system. Dave introduces you to MIDI, the digital interface that started the computer-recording revolution, and talks about interfaces and connections that blend the music-making and computer worlds.
Whether hardware or software, the mixer is the tool that turns individual sounds into a cohesive work of art. Dave describes the functions and features-- channels, faders, aux sends and returns, subgroups-- that all mixers use to give you an endless variety of pathways to help you get your music where it's going.
You won't get very far in your recording project if you can't hear what you're doing and hear it accurately. Dave gives you valuable tips about choosing monitor speakers for your studio and explains why the ones that sound great in the gear store are not necessarily the right ones for your studio.
Every signal, whether guitar, drum, or vocal, takes a unique path into your final mix. Keeping aware of each signal's journey through different processors like equalization and compression circuits can affect its sound, enhancing or ruining your mix. It's important to understand signal flow, and Dave fills you in.
Pro studios still rely on classic hardware to provide unique sonic characteristics and functionality that enhances your computer's capabilities. Dave explains the functions of these processors to help you understand the way they're meant to work before tackling the DAW and plug-in versions.
Chapter 3 : Audio and Sound
Waves, frequencies, pitch, decibels, hertz-- the science of sound and the ways we measure it are never far away when you're making a recording. Understanding the displays of your DAW and plug-ins often require a basic knowledge of these concepts. Dave introduces you to these terms and shows how they relate to music.
When you want to buy new gear or evaluate existing analog equipment, you need to know some concepts beyond the basic. And as we turn those analog signals into data the computer understands, you'll want to know about the digitizing process and the terms that go along with it. Dave separates the bits from the bytes.
It's not just lifting grooves from records; it's the foundation for all things digital. Here Dave shows you the essentials about sampling rates, bit depths, file formats, and the other concepts we will put into practice in our EDM recording project.
Computers can handle a lot of the recording process, but they can't make a human being or a studio sound better in the analog domain. That's up to you, and making your studio sound better is one of the things you can control most easily. Discussing reflections and other conditions that can make it harder for you to get a good mix, Dave starts you on the road to making your studio sound as good as the ones the pros use.
When you're ready to invest in acoustical treatments, you have many options: absorbers, diffusers, bass traps, and so on. In part 2 of this discussion, Dave uses examples from his own pro studio to show you how to solve problems in your own space and help your studio reach a new level that will help your recordings sound better.
Chapter 4 : Microphones
Fundamentally, a microphone transforms air pressure into an electronic signal. Dave describes the process and explains the differences between mic types, polar patterns, and other features. In the Bass Hit vocal booth, he demonstrates setups for a few different mics and their operation in actual recording sessions.
Here we get into the details of the most common type of mic, the dynamic mic, as well as the classic ribbon mic, which has seen a resurgence of popularity in recent years, thanks to less fragile designs. Once again we watch Dave describe the functions of the mics in the vocal booth.
More detailed in frequency response (yet more vulnerable to high sound pressure levels), the condenser mic is the first choice for most recording tasks. Prized for its versatility in capturing a wide frequency range from longer distances and great detail up close, the condenser is king, and Dave shows you how to get the most out of it.
Just as a mic captures a sound and converts it into an electronic signal, so to does the electronic transducer. Most commonly used to capture the individual strings of a guitar and called a pickup, but also in other forms for other acoustic instruments. Dave gives you the basics of pickup designs and describes their differences.
Chapter 5 : The DAW
Dave gives you an overview of the DAW, describing all the features that come into play in a band recording session, including the tracks, editing, and mixing windows. He also discusses concepts like digital conversion, non-destructive editing, and essential features such as the undo command and automation, which revolutionized recording.
Here Dave begins the prep for a live band recording session. He sets up the DAW with multiple tracks, which are assigned to drums and all of the other instruments that will be used by the band. In the process, he discusses DAW features like templates, stereo and mono tracks, and file management. He also discusses instruments that are miked and those that are plugged directly into the system using a direct injection (d.i.) box.
Continuing with the setup for the live band session, Dave discusses the use of aux sends in the mixer window to set up headphone mixes for the individual players who will be in different areas of the studio. He shows you ways to keep your tracks organized on the mixer and how to keep your control room mix independent of the mix for the player(s). Finally, he adds some basic reverb to give the musicians some ambiance in the mix.
Before the actual performances and recording begins, we take a break to talk about effects; which will be used sparingly during recording and extensively in mixing live band and electronic dance music (EDM) projects. Dave explains the primary functions of reverbs and delays and describes the most common settings of these essential effects.
Dave wraps up his overview of effects processors by describing modulation effects such as phasing and flanging, and then fills you in on the basic structure of audio you create in your DAW. He explains the trade-offs and advantages of lossless audio file formats such as WAVE and AIFF and lossy formats such as MP3.
Based on the knowledge and experience of award-winning veterans of the music production and record industries, Recording Fundamentals with Dave Darlington provides all the essentials you need to help you make recordings in your studio that compare to those from the top facilities in the business.
Hosted and written by two-time Grammy®-winning recording engineer/producer David Darlington, and co-written and directed by producer and music-technology veteran Rusty Cutchin, the series covers all the fundamentals from basic sound and electronics to mixing, mastering, and distribution while providing insider tips and tricks gleaned from a combined 80 years of music making, recording, and educating with some of the biggest names in the business.
Recording Fundamentals focuses on the small studio and the way musicians get things done in the modern world, working “in the box” in spaces from bedrooms to full-blown pro studios. But this series shows you the full range of traditional and modern recording techniques. (Subsequent series include how to capture an entire live band in a smaller recording space and how to mix an EDM track like the pros.)
Along the way, Darlington provides great insight into what’s really important in getting the right sound, ensuring that your recording sessions go smoothly, and focusing on the important issues that will make you a better producer, recording engineer, or musician. Through the use of engaging graphics, time-tested instructional material, and contemporary audio examples, the series moves and cuts through the clutter with the right information to get you what you need to make great music.
Shot at Darlington’s Bass Hit Studio in the heart of New York City, Recording Fundamentals shows you the way things get done in a fast-paced environment without rushing you through the process or wasting time on esoteric data you may never need.
By the end of the series, you’ll have picked up the most important facts about preproduction, the components of a recording system, digital audio workstations (DAWs), monitor speakers, signal routing, outboard gear, converters, sampling, acoustics, microphones, guitar pickups, compression, reverb, delays, plug-ins, and much more.
More important, you’ll learn how to use these tools and techniques in the right way-- the way that makes the music sound better, which sometimes means not using them at all! With Recording Fundamentals, the emphasis is always on the music, with enough technology to help you make it the best it can be!
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