GIRATS — what is that all about? What does it stand for?

It stands for something that you should print out and plaster all over your studio. It should be on your computer desktop and screensaver. It should be the motto behind EVERYTHING you do in your home studio.

What is it?

GET IT RIGHT AT THE SOURCE.

I’ve said it plenty of times before, but I can think of no better way to begin 2013 than this.

Get it right at the source. Don’t have a “fix it in the mix” mentality. If you don’t like the way the recording sounds, FIX IT NOW. Don’t assume you can do some clever editing and EQ-ing to make it sound great again.

Trust me, your recording life is infinitely better if you really focus your efforts on getting it right at the source.

4 Ways to G.I.R.A.T.S.

1. The Source – Make sure your source sounds good to begin with. Who cares if you’ve got a killer mic and preamp if the singer is absolutely horrible! If that acoustic guitar won’t stay in tune or if that guitar amp has horrible tone, do everything you can to fix the source BEFORE placing a mic in front of it. (Sometimes this means getting a different musician, instrument, or both.)

2. Mic Choice – Whether you only own one mic or twenty, mic choice plays a HUGE part in determining how good your recording sounds. If you need a nice breathy vocal sound, you probably shouldn’t reach for a dynamic mic. Take the time to learn what your mics sound like, then you’ll be better equipped to choose the proper mic for each source.

3. Mic Placement – People tend to over-emphasize the mic choice at the expense of mic placement. Don’t just throw the mic in front of the source and assume it’s fine. In my opinion, mic placement is almost MORE important than mic choice. Get it right. Take the time. I’ve found that a single microphone can sound radically different by simply changing its placement.

4. Trial & Error – When possible, make it a point try at least two different setups. Either two different mics or two different mic placements. Yes the first choice may sound fine, but moving that mic a few inches might make it sound 10 times better. You’ll never know if you’re not trying things out and comparing the differences.

Get it right at the source.

Get it right at the source.

Get it right at the source.

I cannot tell you how much more fun I have during the entire recording process when I make sure my source tracks sound as good as possible from the beginning. Editing becomes more enjoyable. Mixing becomes a fun challenge rather than a frustration. Give it a shot on your next project.

TAKEAWAY POINT: The more time you spend on the recording phase, the less time you’ll have to spend “fixing it” later.

Happy recording!

[Thanks to Production Club member Patrick Bonier for sending me the GIRATS drawing at the top of this article. :)]

  • famouspatrick

    1) Credit where credit is due: the artist of the GI RATS sketch is the extremely talented Cian Conlow, a painter (walls, not canvas) who works with me. I suggested the subject, and he dashed it off on his break!
    2) In my studio (spare bedroom), I have that picture, and a sign that says, “Have Fun” (Graham’s advice). These are my guidelines for this year, and I have never felt more inspired.

    • Awesome. Great to hear from you Patrick!

  • great advice, although I may have to settle for “get it almost right at the source”, or maybe “try to get at least one take that isn’t completely hopeless” if I ever want to progress to the mixing stage.