Pre-production: Intro

"Pre-production? What is that pretentious sounding crap?

I will admit that "pre-production" sounds opaque and high-faluting. But it actually describes well what we're up to (besides practicing) before we record this thing. When you're making a record, there are nearly one zillion choices you can make about what gear to use and how to use it - all independent from the actual performance of the songs.

(Some shmucks will say "GOOD MUSIC - that's all that matters" and it's like yeah, okay, I get your point, but good music recorded faithfully through well-tended gear will sound better than a sloppy and technically screwy recording job. Would you trust a dentist whose advice to your toothache was "a strong, beating heart - that's what's most important to physical health"? No you would not.)

(You wouldn't. Doesn't matter how much he talked about the Beatles.)

But when we are actually recording, I don't want to worry about anything other than 'hit record and play the songs well'. All those technical decisions that can be settled ahead of time should be sorted out. And that sorting out process has a name: pre-production. And that's what this is all about. Nice!


I did a more comprehensive version of this when we recorded our last EP and documented most of the stuff that I figured out. You can start reading that [ here ] or just go back and read through all of them [ here ].

Since then I've gotten a few new things for the studio that I'll compare. I've also learned a bit more about recording. So this will be the place to conduct and record comparative options. It's not going to be exhaustive - I'll be sticking to most of the same microphone placements I settled on last time. But it should be a nice update (or even a first step) where I can methodically figure stuff out and share it with anyone interested.

Here's how it's going to work: I'll be working with a new song of ours - Song 30. It's got a decent range; goes from kind of quiet to very noisy. I'm going to line up comparisons of quick clips of the song by repeating the same spot over while switching between choices. So, if I've got two different mics on a bass cabinet, I'll post a recording of one of the mics recording a small part immediately followed by the second mic playing the exact same thing (at the same level). I'll usually have a computer audio voice labeling these "one" and "two". Sometimes I'll also add in the rest of the parts playing in the song so we can hear the choices in context.

This is the best way I can figure to make a real comparison. By quickly jumping back and forth to different things playing the exact same music, I should be able to pinpoint differences to see which is better.

The other difference from the past is that I'll be using Soundcloud to post clips (rather than embedding an .mp3). Soundcloud is a 3rd party thing and will die someday so that means some future obsolescence on this site. And it only plays at 128 kbps - you can hear the limits of that, especially listening to cymbals. But it's really easy to use and lots of folks are used to it so I'm going to give it a shot.


So here's the target schedule:

1. Drum machine preamp

2. Bass guitar mics

3. Bass guitar preamp

4. Guitar mics

5. Guitar preamp

6. Vocal mic

7. Vocal preamp

8. Vocal compressor

9. Room mic placement

10. Room mic pickup pattern

Recording starts on 11/1/13. Let's see if I can nail all of this down prior to that.


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I am disappointed in this picture. The odd angle of it makes it look like there's wires everywhere. We keep a clean shop, honest. Anyway, this is what I do for fun when the rest of NYC is out at 2AM on a Friday.

"Jesus your timing sucks! Again, from the top and nail those eighths or I will obey every straining fiber of my evolution and slurp you up like 175 lbs of bass-playing chum. Yeaaagh!"


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