Graham Cochrane asks some great questions in this blog post http://therecordingrevolution.com/2013/08/09/3-questions-to-ask-before-hitting-the-record-button/ but the first one is the most important… “Do you like the sound you are getting?”
Here’s an old dig at drummers by sound engineers but it is applicable in many cases and not just drummers…
Q: Can you make me sound like John Bonham?
A: Play like John Bonham!
When the raw recorded track is played back, does it actually sound like you want it to? Does the bass guitar on your reggae track sound like it came off a Bob Marley album or a punk album?
Okay, if the sound you had hoped-for isn’t coming back at you in playback you have two choices: Either re-think the source sound to make it more like the way you want it, OR make the sound you have got work within its own context.
Sometimes there is just no way you are going to get the sound you would love to have. The instrument, the player, the room, any number of factors could put the sound you are hoping for out of reach. The best thing to do is to give up and go with what you have got. No amount of EQ or compression or sample replacement is going to fix the problem. In fact, the more effort you put into trying to make the sound you’ve got into the sound you wish you had is just going to make everything sound worse!
It is far better to make the sound you have got work within its own context. Make it the best that it can sound. No-one other than you knows what you wish it sounded like. In fact, other people might want to know how you got that sound so that they can copy it themselves!
The best sound available to you is the sound you have got. Either fix it at source or run with it.
© Mike Ellison.