Friday the 13thIt’s Friday the 13th. Late-night TV will be riddled with all sorts of slasher films. In honor of that, I want to give you a recipe for how to ruin a recording session (so you canย  re-create your very own horror film right in your home studio!).

1. Sing into the wrong side of the microphone.

Yep. I’m guilty of this one. I sang an entire vocal take into the back of a microphone. I thought it sounded bad, but I went right ahead and recorded a full take of the vocal. Sadly, it took me a while to figure it out.

2. Don’t save.

If you’re into wasting time and making extra work for yourself, then this step is for you. Simpy work for hours on a recording session, and never hit “Save.” If you really want to stick it to yourself, turn off your DAW’s automatic save function. (For example, Pro Tools defaults to automatically saving your session every five minutes. Be sure to turn that sucker off.)

3. Never back up your files.

If #2 doesn’t sound dastardly enough, try this one on for size. Once you’ve invested hours and hours into a recording session, be sure to not back up the files to a backup drive. In fact, you really shouldn’t even own a backup drive. What a waste.

4. Use your eyes instead of your ears.

You’ll hear all sorts of engineers and music gurus tell you that you need to make all your mixing decisions with your ears. Forget that. Choose whatever EQ setting looks pretty to you. If you like the way the compressor looks when it pumps out 30 dB of gain reduction, go for it!

Also, don’t waste any time testing out different microphone placements during tracking, just throw a mic in front of the source and hit record as soon as possible.

5. Use as much reverb as you possibly can.

If you’re really new to recording, then you may already be a pro at this step. If you’ve gotten away from this, then you really are shooting yourself in the foot. You’ll never have a chance of making horrifying recordings if you don’t drown everything in reverb.

Your turn. If you have a lot of experience in ruining a recording session, please share your tips here. We all want to learn. ๐Ÿ˜‰

[Photo Credit: Double Feature Podcast]

14 Responses to “5 Ways to Ruin a Recording Session [Friday the 13th Edition]”

  1. Jake B

    You gotta make sure you’re exhausted, and you went to a rock concert the night before (that ringing? it’s the sound of success!). Also, space the concept of phantom power for the first few hours of vocal tracking, plug everything in with all levels maxed out, and last but not least, amps on first and off last. You wanna hear all your precious G.A.S. results explode at full volume. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Quaz

    Start changing the tube pre. Then get distracted and forget to put the new tube in. Oh and make sure you close the pre witout a tube. Then completly forget thats a big part of why your mic is “acting funny.” Call tech support, rant and fuss. Then hang up the phone as soon as you see the tube sitting on your desk.

  3. Sam

    See how many different versions of a track you can work on at the same time. That way, when you change something in one version, you won’t have to worry about the change happening in the other ones! Then, once you’ve spent tens of hours working hard on each one, you can spend twice as long trying to work out which one sounds best in each 10 second segment. Finally, you get to try to combine all of your favorite comps, signal processing chains, automation, and routing schemes into the same track without losing anything from the originals, but making sure they still flow together perfectly. Make sure not to take notes.

  4. Paul M.

    Let the artist you’re recording shift the pop filter out of the way, and put their mouth directly on the mic and scream into it. Oh yeah – that’s what I’m talking about. Oh, and allow them the freedom to just keep tightening the mic stand out of nervous habit. When they break the clamp and it falls in the middle of the take, it’s a hit!

  5. Artie

    Ha ha ha! This is awesome. Very clever. I can’t believe you could round it down to five!!! If I only ruin a session in five ways that’s a victory in my book. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Ian Shepherd

    Don’t bother to tighten the mic stand correctly. Then focus so intently on your computer screen for the first 15 minutes of a voice-over recording that you don’t realise the reason it sounds pants is that the mic has drooped all the way down onto the table. (Yes, I have done this… :-p )

  7. Brandon Morgan

    Spend hours tuning your vocals in Melodyne, then forgetting that you’ve got it set to 44.1 when your song was recorded in 48, and you export… makes for some fun horrifying vocal tracks!

  8. Jon

    Tell a story about how bad the previous client was. If you don’t have one of those, just tell a racist or sexist joke.

    Set up the mics where they look like they will sound good. Don’t worry about phase, or proximity effect, it just has to look cool. Oh and make sure you turn up the preamps all the way, or you waste bits.


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