In the last article, I shared with you the first three tips for finishing your album. Today, let’s look at the last four.
4. Get it right at the source.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again many more times I’m sure, but no matter how good your editing and mixing skills are, your mixes will only be as good as the tracks you record. It’s imperative that you place a high level of importance on making your recorded tracks sound as good as possible.
Speaking from experience, I’m really proud of my album, and I’m excited for you to hear it soon. However, I could have done a better job of getting things right at the source. Those of you who joined Mix With Us have heard the raw audio tracks from the album. The acoustic guitars, in particular, could’ve been recorded a little better. The mics were too close to the guitar, so there’s a lot of unnecessary bass in the raw tracks.
I was able to wield some EQ magic to make them sound okay, but all in all I could have done a better job of getting it right at the source.
5. Don’t insist on perfection.
This may seem contradictory to #4 above, but let me explain.
While the guitar parts I recorded weren’t perfect, they still worked. I could have re-recorded everything, but that would’ve taken more time, and would have likely delayed my album by months.
Ask any recording/mix engineer, and he’ll tell you that he never feels finished with a project. There comes a point where you just have to turn it in.
There are plenty of things I could’ve tweaked and changed on my album. There are places where I played out of time. There are a few notes where I sang out of tune, but all in all, I love the feel of the album, and the imperfections are almost endearing to me.
Besides, if I insisted on perfection, and it took me 5 years to finish my album, there’s no guarantee that it would really sound any better, and I could finish 3 albums in that time (which, to me, sounds like more fun).
6. Step Away
This is a really important step. After I had finished mixing the album, I stepped away. I took a few weeks off and didn’t listen to the songs. Then I came back and did a final listen-thru before handing the mixes in to my mastering engineer.
This allowed me to approach the songs with a relatively “fresh” set of ears. It let me make some final obvious tweaks. AND it got me excited about the songs again. If you never step away from the music, you sometimes loose sight of what you’re doing. Stepping away lets you listen to the album as if you’re a new listener for the first time. Pretty fun stuff.
7. Have someone else master it.
I disagreed before, and now that I’ve listened to my finished, mastered album, I wholeheartedly disagree. My mixes sound balanced. The bass is consistent from one mix to the other. The songs are louder, punchier, but they still have dynamic range.
In short, they just sound polished, finished, professional. I’m thrilled with it. If you have the means, spend a few hundred bucks on a good mastering engineer. You’ll be glad you did.
What about YOU?
What do you think? Do you have extra tips for us? Leave a comment below.