Help with audio engineering resources
November 21, 2006 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find some good audio engineering resources.

I'm recording some demos with a couple of bands, both right now and in the coming weeks. We have access to a studio, but we will mostly have to do without an engineer, which is a royal pain in the ass.

I'm trying to do some reading up on audio engineering in general, and music production in particular, but I'm not having much luck finding good resources on the internets.

I'd very much like to know what I'm doing, and I'm not afraid of doing some heavy reading.
posted by Zero Gravitas to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Full Sail (which advertises in a lot of music mags and is an aud engineering training outfit) can probably help you out with a book-list. From experience, you don't want to learn this from scratch. Is there no way you could get a freelancer? There are tons of the radio stations with engineers raring for freelance work, and it can come cheap sometimes.
posted by parmanparman at 9:02 AM on November 21, 2006

the electrical audio
and tape op
message boards are full of good info.
posted by phil at 9:03 AM on November 21, 2006

will you be working in an analog or digital studio?
posted by phil at 9:08 AM on November 21, 2006

Response by poster: Digital, using Pro Tools.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 9:12 AM on November 21, 2006

The Recording Engineer's Handbook is an excellent book for recording. It covers everything you need to know to get things on tape, and is a pretty easy read.

I've also got a copy of Modern Recording Techniques, which is great.
posted by god hates math at 9:31 AM on November 21, 2006

Best answer: The thing about going into a studio vs playing live... is all you have to do is capture things properly. A proper mix and the like are all things you worry about later.

Make sure you spend time checking levels.. really the only no-no for in-studio work is having your levels too hot. Have your drummer smack the fire out of the snare when setting its levels.

Also never "print/record" EQ or effects, save all this for later... you cannot undo this.

Seriously, I have been doing this for 20 years. Just get it recorded proper and then all good things can come later. It's no sweat.
posted by Duncan at 9:51 AM on November 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Visit Digidesign's forums for lots and lots of great info, too.

Couple of caveats to Duncan's list:

Checking levels - yes yes yes. New info: if you're recording at 24 bits or higher, those levels can be WAY low, and still be far off the noise floor. Nominal recording levels (rms, not peak) should be approx -12 to -18 down from the top of the meter. DO NOT try to get close to the top - that's way too hot for most outboard equipment, including any mixers you may be using.

Re printing fx/eq: if an effect is integral to the sound of the track (guitar pedal fx, etc), definitely print it! You'll never be able to duplicate it exactly later on. If you're nervous about this, double-bus and print a wet and dry version.

If you're confident about your eq moves, or have obvious ones to make (i.e. high-pass on the snare, etc) then print those, too. When you're getting sounds for the tracking, twirl a couple of eq knobs (a bit) and see if you can improve things. Does it work? Print it!

I've never been a big fan of "fixing it later", although I've definitely done my share.

Good luck!
posted by Aquaman at 10:15 AM on November 21, 2006 [2 favorites]

The thing about going into a studio vs playing live... is all you have to do is capture things properly.

Uh, you'll also want them to be played well, especially if you're not an experienced mixer and/or you don't have all the plugins in the world. And why spend hours EQing when you could've just placed the mic right during the session?

Anyway, check out Tweak's Guide for a good overview of lots of stuff.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:33 AM on November 21, 2006 has alot of beginner material.

Also check out (though it seems to be down right now.)
posted by Artful Codger at 10:43 AM on November 21, 2006

I second Modern Recording Techniques. I used it as a text for the intro recording classes; it can take you from beginner to competent given enough time.
posted by tylermoody at 3:10 PM on November 21, 2006

check out, in addition to tapeop, the forums. I have a friend who used to own a studio and he's constantly there.

In short, some recommedations:

- overhead condensers through compressors for the drums.
- condensors through compressors for miking guitar and bass amps.
- print the guitars and bass through the best DI you have as well to mix with later
- record a guide track for the vocals if necessary and use your best mic(s) later for vox
- most compression should be relatively gentle.
- if you're recording to tape, you can go a little hot and let the tape do compression for you
- if it's direct to digital, under no circumstances can you expect your converters to compress for you
posted by jdfan at 4:50 PM on November 21, 2006

- condensors through compressors for miking guitar and bass amps.

Dynamic mics are usually fine for guitar amps, and I can't imagine needing a compressor in the signal chain very often. Bass is usually easier to do direct.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:43 AM on November 23, 2006

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