Home recording is all-the-rage right now for new musicians and seasoned professionals alike. That said, achieving a professional, polished sound can be a frustrating endeavor for those new to recording.
First thing’s first: don’t throw money at your problems by assuming you need better gear.
You don’t necessarily need a full-blown studio to create tracks that sound professional; however, there are certain and recording tricks can help bring your flat, lifeless recordings back to life. Consider the following six tips to ensure that you aren’t sabotaging the quality of your own tracks.
Perfect Your Presets
Fine-tuning your recordings to match the sound or quality you’re looking for doesn’t have to be rocket science, nor should it be a totally time-consuming process. There are tons of free presents and sound banks out there which you can apply to your tracks to achieve a more professional sound. From guitars and synths to drums and beyond, there are presets for just about every instrument and style you can imagine.
Slap on Some Reverb
A little bit of reverb can go along way if you feel your recordings sound too subdued or lack any sort of ambience. Most “big,” area-style recordings rely on reverb to make themselves seem larger than life, so why not play by the same rules? Simply don’t overdo it, though: too much reverb and echo can drown out your recordings and make them unlistenable.
Experiment with Your Mic Positioning
When dealing with vocals or instruments, many newbies make the mistake of placing their mics way too far away. This results in a quiet sound and way too much background noise during mixing. Take the time to record yourself using different mic placements until you find that “sweet spot” that works for your desired sound.
When in Doubt, Play It Loud
On a related note, there’s no need to hold back when it comes to volume while recording or mastering. While you don’t want to blow out your tracks or cause them to peak, there’s nothing more amateurish than a recording that you can barely hear. Likewise, recording at a higher volume can reduce distortion and static sounds that occur when you have to boost the volume manually in your DAW.
Double Down on Your Tracks
Layering tracks, especially guitar and vocal tracks, is a smart move if you want a fuller, fatter sound on your recordings. Some musicians and minimalists may feel like layering is “cheating,” but keep in mind that professional musicians can rely on hundreds of layers within a single song. Layered tracks are simply an expectation of modern recording and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doubling down on your tracks if they make your recordings sound more legit.
Rethink Your Recording Room
Finally, the acoustics of your recording room is often the main offender of poor quality when it comes to tracks you put down live. Try to avoid rooms with tile floor, for example, and likewise take the time to look into some home soundproofing ideas to cut down on unnecessary noise or echo.
Although there are a million moving pieces to any given recording, these subtle tips can arguably make the biggest difference to a track that just doesn’t seem to have the “it” factor. Rather than give up on achieving the sound you’re looking for, be willing to experiment accordingly.