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 project?

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 quality master.

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 available CD
You won't have to make excuses for
You can continue to be proud of and market for years to come

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 business aspects.

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 master.

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 and record.

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 pictures!



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