Recording with or without effects

“Jim, Should I record with effects like reverb or delay on the track?”

recording-with-effectsAs a Music Producer and audio Engineer, this is another question I get frequently. Typically, the answer is no, but it comes down to personal taste.

Personally I record a lot of my guitar effects thru the guitar amp as if the player is performing live. Why? Because I LIKE THE SOUND of guitar effects thru the amp while the guitarist is cutting the track. “But Jim, then you cant change it”. Correct, but I LIKE IT… I have made a production decision.

That being said, my preference is to record vocals dry with no effects and adjust them later according to the mix. I do however record vocals with some level of compression. The amount of compression I use is dictated largely by the genre of music the track is for. Pop music is very compressed so I’ll use some compression while tracking and maybe a bit more when I mix. When recording and producing a Jazz record, I will use much less compression while tracking as this genre dictates that.

A lot of keyboards have built in fx. Again, If I like the sound, I’ll use it. If I don’t, I’ll have the player remove them.

When recording Bass guitar, I’ll usually take a direct line straight from the bass and maybe a line from the amp so I can add dirt or distortion if need be. Both of these will get a bit of limiting (high ratio Compression) and I will blend the two later.

When recording Drums, I rarely ever use delay or reverb while tracking. BUT I use a fair amount of compression on the overheads and rooms. Why? Because I love the sound of compressed drums. I will also put a bit of compression on the Snare and kick when tracking. You need to be very careful with this as snare compression can pull unwanted hi hat into the snare mic. We will pay very close attention to mic placement so we usually don’t run into the bleeding hat problem.

A lot of how I record is based on my opinions, preferences and experiences. Some engineer/producers prefer to do all effects/ compression at mix. I do a combination of both. The point is, if you love the effect or sound ….record it. You may not get a chance to get it back later.

Hope this helps, Jim

Recording with or without effects

What Music Recording Software is Best?

Hey Jim, What music recording software should I get?

As a record producer, I get asked this question all the time. Most of the Dominant music recording software such as Pro Tools, Nuendo, logic, Digital Performer, Ableton, etc… All have their strong points and are touted by the people that use them. As to which one sounds best, this is a matter of opinion and anyone who says different is usually pimping what they use.
You want to make sure that it will record into a WAVE file format as this is what most
Studios and engineers use. Almost all systems do this by now but just check before purchasing.

So pick your poison. Ableton and Digital performer have extensive MIDI capabilities if you’re looking to do a lot of MIDI recording, other softwares have MIDI recording as well, some better than others. If you’re looking to use what most of the world use’s, get Pro Tools. Pro Tools is not the cheapest but it’s the industry standard and what most studios and Producers use at this point.

Mixing can be very powerful in Pro Tools as well. Pro tools comes in a light and Pro Version. If you have a computer (Mac is more desirable with Pro tools) that meets Pro tools specs, I recommend getting it and learning it, then you can go into most studio’s and Mastering houses and load right in.

Logic is another great music recording software and made by Mac/Apple. Just an opinion but , I think someday Logic will overtake the market. If that were to happen, it would still be years away.

Now that I’ve said all this, the guy down the street might say “I use Reaper (another music recording software) for $100 and it works great”. That’s fine, but it’s not what most of the world uses. There is no wrong answer, do your research, hit up friends who make music at home and decide whether you need compatibility or not.
The other good thing about learning Pro Tools is if you look for a job in the music/film industry, you will have a head start with your knowledge of Pro Tools software.

As for the self standing systems from Korg, Roland, or Yamaha or other box’s that carry all the stuff you need, I’d be leery. From my experience, each system speaks it’s own specific language and in my opinion they are difficult to learn and hard to transfer files out of. That’s Just my opinion.

Good luck, it’s a party out there.


What Music Recording Software is Best?