85% Done with Recording and….I’m Starting Over Again

Dear Reader,

So, I’ve hit a bit of a snag. As some of you may know, for the past month and a half, I’ve been working on recording my debut album. I was making what I considered to be fairly decent progress. Up until yesterday night, I thought that I was 85% finished with the record. But then I had a friend help me do a rough mix of one of the songs. (And when I say helped, I mean I gave them the tracks and let them do everything for me.) When I played back the mix, I thought that they had added in a bunch of effects, because I kept hearing what sounded like footsteps in the background and excessive popping noises in the vocals. Then I played back the original take and realized that it had nothing to do with special effects, I just have a really bad microphone. Don’t get me wrong, for the $19 I paid for it, the mic works well. But in terms of something I’d want to release, it just has too many problems.

In truth, I knew from the start that it was not the best product. Anytime I heard a popping noise in the vocals, I told myself that I would just go back and fix it later during the mixing stage. But, after listening to the rough mix, I went through all of the songs I had recorded and realized that almost all of them have these problems.

This left me with three options:

1.) Be lazy and keep on using the same microphone.

2.) Get a professional engineer to clean up all of the audio and potentially pay a whole lot of money that I don’t have.

3.) Buy a better microphone.

For an extended moment, option one seemed like the way to go. But then the lazy side of my brain and the rational side got into a big fight and the rational side won. (I hate it when that happens.) So, after some research, I went down to the nearest music store and bought a new microphone. I started fiddling around with it and can already tell that it works much better than what I was using before. Since I want the album to have a consistent sound to all of the songs, I’ll have to re-record everything, but if that means that the album will actually be listenable (and that’s kind of an important part of any album), then I’m hoping it will all be worth it in the end. Either that, or I’ll just come back later and rant about how much time I wasted. Then I’ll have a mental breakdown and move to Europe, because Europe seems like the perfect place to go after a breakdown. So, either way, I’ll try to keep you entertained.

Have you ever had to start over on a project? In the end, was it worth it? Let me know in the comments down below!

Sincerely,

Charlie

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13 Responses to 85% Done with Recording and….I’m Starting Over Again

  1. I hate to say it – but quite often the quality will show in the end – whether it’s equipment – or indeed people – and sadly, but understandably, quality often costs more. That said – you can also be ‘lucky’ or quite skilled with cheaper bits of kit and still create a fantastic sounding track.

    My advice, save your pennies (or cents) and move (temporarily) to Europe to work with one of Europe’s most creative producers – hello 🙂

    I’m kidding – the mic is a good purchase – now you just need to put in the time and effort to record it well and tidy it up 😉

    • That’s true. I think that a lot of indie/DIY musicians are always trying to find the balance between quality and cost. And quality usually costs more than a few dollars.

  2. Have I ever finished a project and had it be exactly the way I envisioned it in the beginning….nope…seems projects have a way of evolving and bending to fit the organic need they have to full fill the purpose we have asked of our project, no matter what the materials you are using….music is tricky…I recently read an article about one of John Lennon’s songs and he was so happy that the recoding actually picked up his son in the background playing and singing along…so is it an accident that your microphone picked up ambient noises, or is it??? Is it better, does it give the music more depth, add something more than you thought should be there…..sometimes accidents are the best thing that could happen to our projects, don’t be so hard on yourself…listen again with your eyes closed and feel what you put on tape…who knows, you may hear it different…enjoy your projects…I do know the sweat and frustration you are putting into your finish project…and I am sure it will be wonderful….

      • Not sure on your system; I’m in the old school world on a mixing board. I’ve heard from fellow musicians working on computers that input signals don’t show up when recording on a lot of systems. Hopefully, yours will show something. What you’re looking for is double line LED lights that fluctuate while you record. It may be a small display if you’re working on a computer, which I assume you are (most people do). The lights should show as yellow first, then green, then red near the end. Yellow is too quiet; red is too loud. A strong green signal is what you want. If you don’t see any signal on your input, you’ll need to use your ears as best as you can. A ‘red lining’ signal will cause natural distortion. This can sound like a distortion effect on the track, excess noise, or a lot of popping. If you think you’re getting this, try turning down your input or moving slightly away from your mic.

        • Ah, I see what you mean. I’m actually just using a four-track recorder for all of the songs. It doesn’t have a yellow or green signal, but it does have a red signal if I ever get too loud. My voice is pretty soft, though, so it never has flashed red before, but I will keep an eye out for it. Thank you!

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