First time in the studio? Woohoo!! Here are some terms you may come across in the first few days of recording.
Think of EQ like a piano, low notes to the left (low end - bass), middle C in the centre (mid-range), and high notes to the right (high end – treble). With EQ we give all notes from left to right (low to high) a number value called Hertz (Hz) – the lowest being 20 Hz, and the highest being 20000 Hz (or 20 Kilohertz (KHz)). In practical terms, say your vocal sounds a little dull or thin. You could ask your engineer to add a little top end (treble/8-20KHz) to the recording, or give it to you in your monitoring cans*. Eg. “Hey ______. Do you mind brightening up my vocal a bit with some 10K?”
Or, your acoustic guitar may sound a bit muddy. You could ask the engineer to remove or pull out some low end EQ (20-200 Hz).
When you compress a sound you remove the peaks (really loud sounds) from your recording. The higher the amount of compression, the more dynamics you will lose along with the ability to go between really soft and really loud. Most singers I work with love the sound of a little compression and reverb while they are tracking*, but in some songs you may find while performing you can’t get as much expression out of your performance. There’s a balance here between what the mix engineer can do in the mixing stage, by turning the vocal up and down at various stages in the song. However, if you’re uncomfortable and it’s affecting your performance you could ask something like, “Hey_______. I’m struggling to capture the highs and lows of my vocal performance from verse to chorus. Can we leave the compression off till the mixing stage so I can get a more natural performance?”
Makes you sound like you’re in a big room, church or cave. You can sing/perform with or without it while tracking.
Sound has an echo, which can be very short or last a long time. Delay can give a track a sense of forward motion, but if used to much you may lose clarity of performance.
Most of the time you’ll be performing with a click track. If it’s too loud don’t hesitate to ask the engineer to "please turn down the click track until you find the sweet spot for performing along to”. It’s not the most pleasant thing to hear while you’re making music! Practise at home by downloading a metronome app on your phone and playing all your songs along to it.
OTHER FREQUENTLY USED WORDS
* Cans – headphones
* Monitoring/monitors - how your hear back your recording performance (speakers or headphones). Don't be afraid to speak up if something is too loud or soft.
* Tracking – another word for recording
* Take – “Can we do another take”, means let’s do another recording of that part of the song.
As a producer my job is to make you feel as comfortable as possible through the recording process, so you can get the best possible performance of your song. Please don't hesitate to speak up and ask questions if you're not feeling comfortable, or you don't understand some part of the process. Let's make hits!!! :)