Planning Your Recording Session
Each recording is unique, and requires careful
planning to guarantee the best sound quality and the most
appropriate use of time and finances for your project.
Here are some guidelines to help with your planning..."
How much time and money should be budgeted for your recording
Most of our projects at Judah Studio Ministries are
a release quality recording. This is a product that
will be similar in sound quality to a record store product,
suitable for radio airplay and marketing to the public.
Such a production will normally be about 45 minutes
in length, and include from 10 to 12 songs.
The studio recording process for release quality
production normally involves:
1. Basic tracks -
The initial recording process in which the rhythm and
chord instruments are recorded. Time is spent setting
up, maximizing the sound quality of each instrument,
adjusting microphones, mic placement, preamps, etc.,
and finally getting the performance down to the satisfaction
of the musicians and producer.
2. Overdubs - Additional
components of the music are added to the basic tracks,
(lead vocals, harmony vocals, percussion, strings, solo
guitars, midi/keyboards, etc.)
3. Mixdown - When
all the parts have been recorded, the mixdown process
blends each sound with the others, massaging the sound
into a composite stereo image.
4. Mastering - Preparing
the final product for replication. This involves putting
the songs in the correct timing and sequence, balancing
their overall volumes, tone, and dynamics to flow from
one song to the next, and putting the final “polish"
on the master. This is the least understood part of
the process, but can make the difference between a good
product and a fantastic product.
Typical budgets for projects
For most artists, a release quality production
of 10 - 12 songs can often be done live in the studio,
and will usually require only basic tracks, a few overdubs,
mixdown and mastering. This type of recording generally
takes between 40-100 hours of studio time, and may range
in cost from $3000 to $5000 or more for a finished release
Remember that a release quality production
is one that:
Is suitable for radio airplay and marketing
to the public
Will have the sound quality you expect from a commercially
You won't have to make excuses for
You can continue to be proud of and market for years
You could spend less on a recording, or you could spend
more, but you should always get the best-recorded product
for your dollar. Remember that a cheap hourly rate at
a studio does not necessarily mean you are getting a
good value (see our CHOOSING A STUDIO web page). The
reason that experienced artists and producers record
in the better studios with the more experienced engineers,
is that the recording quality is consistently better,
the actual value is much higher, and you'll always get
that major-label-sound and more bang for your buck!
For some good ideas on how to raise funds for your
recording and to find out how your CD can be used as
a fundraiser, see our Fundraising
web page. For more information on Judah Studio Ministries
rates, see our RATES web page.
Your music is unique. Judah Ministries can help you
with the individual attention and planning your project
needs to guarantee a successful product.
The Role of the Producer
At all sessions there is one person who has
the final responsibility for the music and the production.
It is the producer's job to oversee the recording project
as a whole, including the creative direction and the
The right producer will greatly enhance the quality
of your project because he/she functions as an objective
partner. The producer's job includes ongoing evaluation
of the recorded performances with respect to how they
fit together to create the best, highest quality end
product. With the "big picture" in mind at
all times, the producer is able to take the project
from the first run-through all the way to the final
Preparing for the sessions
Guitars and basses: Bring your own instruments
to the sessions. While Judah Ministries has many instruments
available, your own equipment is a part of your signature
sound. If you are an electric guitar player be sure
to bring your own guitar and amplifier and favorite
effects to the session. There is no guarantee that you
will be able to get "your sound" on different
equipment from what you normally use. Bass players generally
do not need to bring their amp and speakers because
they usually record direct through one of our direct
boxes. Put new strings on your guitars one day before
the session so they have a chance to stretch out. Make
sure you tune guitars several times so that they get
used to being at the correct pitch. Check your 12th
fret notes vs. harmonics and adjust your bridges accordingly.
Keyboardists should bring their own
keyboards and keyboard stand. Bring your owner's manual,
power supply, pedals and cables. We have loads of midi
gear and voice modules available if you wish to use
them, but your own sounds will be much faster to setup
Drummers do not need to bring their
own sets unless they desire to do so. We have a professional
5-pc Yamaha drum kit that is available. Most drummers
however usually prefer to use at least their own cymbals,
snares, pedals etc….. If you wish to use your
own kit, remember that microphones will be very close
to each drum and the smallest rattles and buzzes can
ruin a take. Make sure the heads are reasonably new,
and the pedals do not squeak. While we can mic your
kit in twenty minutes and have it sounding pretty good,
be aware that most release quality recordings takes
considerably longer of fine tuning the drum setup for
optimal sound on an album project. This extra time is
always a good investment into your overall project,
and can bring your overall sound to a much higher level.
Vocalists: Know your vocals. People
singing background vocals that do not sing any lead
vocals, must rehearse the pronunciation and intonation
closely with the lead vocalists. What sounds perfectly
acceptable live can sound pretty ragged when exposed
to the intense scrutiny of the recording studio. Rehearse
group entrances and the cutoffs at the end of long held
notes. The lead vocalist should direct the cutoffs,
with the other singers watching the leader's lips.
Don't bring friends to the session who are not directly
involved with the project. They will take your attention
away from the recording, and cost you quality and dollars.
Know your music completely. The more prepared you are,
the better your recording will be. The studio is not
a rehearsal hall. The best sounding recordings are generally
the best prepared. Do your rehearsing at home. If you
have a home studio of any type, record your entire project
on your boom box or 4-track at home. Doing this will
reveal unforeseen problems and will provide a good reference
for the engineer to hear your direction when you get
to the session.
Remember, recording should be fun. Relax and enjoy
your Judah Ministries recording experience. Take some