Updated: Aug 30, 2021
As they say, the Devil is in the details. Recording sessions can often be an exhilarating ordeal where everyone involved has an opportunity to creatively contribute to the production. However, there are tiny details that are taken for granted in each session. Attention to these details is what makes an Engineer stand out.
Setting a Session Up
Before a session starts, it’s a must for an Engineer to completely understand the architecture of a song. Working with templates in a Daw can make things go faster and would add a unique look to your sessions. Working at the speed of light and knowing the ins and outs of the session we set is imperative. While working, using the features at our disposal like proper naming the tracks, track coloring, maintaining the option takes, etc. can make a session be organized and accessible. An organized session is an efficient session.
Hello! Mic Test!
The time before a session is a time for us to keep everything ready. This includes setting up the mic, connections, deciding the signal chain for starters. Make sure to check all the signals and that there are no noises, glitches, or latency in the signal chain and everything is ready to go. One can even keep a cup of tea ready for the artist and the client. Once the session is underway, the musicians will be in the zone and wouldn’t want to be interrupted with signal issues or glitches in the system. So make sure to clear these before the session starts, because creativity shouldn’t be hindered by technicality.
Managing The Crisscross
No one likes a messy setup. The cables lying all crisscross and tangled is stressful to behold. Whereas, a neatly arranged set up with cables properly managed and untangled can be a soothing sight for the sore eyes. The cables shouldn’t get in the way of the artist and there must be enough slack provided for the initial placement and further adjustments. Small things matter.
The Headphone Mix
The mic is set, the signals are clear, the artist is in the booth. Now it’s time to set the headphone mix. The headphone mix to the live room cannot be taken for granted. The headphone is a key element in the studio. Making the artist comfortable and giving them the level they want all the while considering the headphone leakage and avoiding other disturbances plays a vital role.
Investing time and money in giving a proper headphone mix isn’t a bad idea. The artist should have a degree of control on setting the levels they want from the control room. The concept of the hear-back system is amazing in this aspect.
Yes, we deal with electronic equipment and digital platforms. An occasional glitch showing up is unavoidable. We must always try to be a step ahead of such occurrences. If there is a technical hiccup, take a deep breath and handle it with a smile.
A skilled Engineer is one who can handle these issues without the artist or the composer even knowing about it. One should do this without encroaching on their comfort zone and creativity.
When to Talk & When to Stop
Not all clients are the same. One should know where to draw the line. Some artists or engineers would encourage hearing your input and using it in their production. There might be others who have a vision that they’ve set in their mind and won’t be too welcoming of third-party input. Throughout the session have an occasional look around the room and analyze how things are going. If they’re more likely to request your input, then don’t hesitate; go for it!
You’re done with a productive session, you’ve handed over the files, the clients and the artist have left happy and satisfied. Now it’s time for the pack-up. Keeping the equipment back where they belong after a session is as important, if not more, as setting them up for the session.
The live room is a fully air-conditioned and enclosed space. The chances for moisture developing on the body of the equipment here are high. After the session, wipe down the body of the mic and the stands with appropriate pieces of cloth.
This session is done, now let’s get ready for the next one. It’s a never-ending and wonderful journey!!
It's the little details that make the big difference
· Attention to detail is critical for an Engineer
· An Engineer must completely understand a song’s structure.
· A fast and efficient workflow is important.
· Check the signals and clear technical issues before the session.
· Make the artist and client comfortable.
· Proper cable management goes a long way.
· Giving a proper headphone mix to the artist is crucial.
· Handle technical issues without affecting the artist or the client’s comfort zone.
· Know where to draw the line.
· Clean and pack the equipment properly after each session.
· Have a tea and get ready for the next session!
The Grantha has much more to reveal. See you in the next chapter!!