New member
I just have a question about Recording giitars and vocals. When we record at this local studio our guitars sound lost ( i.e they don't sound dynamic like they hit you in the face - listen to C.O.C.'s Voting with a Bullet or Testament's Low ). Also, the vocals sound like our vocalist is singing in another room. Honest to God, it's not us because we play well and we have good equipment. Is it the engineer or maybe his equip or the choice of mics ?
You know, it may be all the above. Who knows. Just because a guy starts a studio doesn't mean that they can get great sounds out of it, even with the best of gear.

Here is something to consider though, just don't go back to that studio if you are not happy with the product. Maybe consider mixing the songs somewhere else.

Let me share a little story though. I recorded and mixed a two song project for a really heavy band awhile back. They were kind of going for the Fear Factory sound. I listened to some CD's of the stuff they really liked and away we went.

First off, the drummer and bass player had really lousy gear. We ended up using an Alesis D-5 on the kick, and the drums needed some serious editing just to keep the tracks somewhat in time. Yikes!!!

Anyway, when it came to the guitars, they were using ESP's with VHT amps and speakers. Nice stuff! They plugged in, I put a mic in front of the cabinet and listened. Oh boy! Here each guitar player had a setup that was worth like around $3,000 apiece, and it sounded lousy! I moved the mics around everywhere in the room. Spent about an hour trying different mics, positions, pre-amps, etc.....Still couldn't get a good sound.

You see the problem was that the guitar players had nice stuff, but were using it all wrong. They had that scooped out midrange thing on their amps. There was no possible way to get those guitars to sound good on tape. I suggested that they reset their amps for the good of the recording. They thought they sounded just fine. I explained that there was no way that the guitars would fit in the finale mix and deliver the sound they wanted. They thought not, and preceeded.

Now, I don't claim to be Bob Clearwater, or any other top notch producer/engineer. But, I like to think that I know my business. I spend more hours in the control room in a month than most local musicians will spend in their whole life. I feel that I know what it takes to get great sound on tape. So here I have a client that wants a certain sound, but doesn't want to listen to the engineer who is suggesting that they do something a bit different than they normally do to achieve that sound. Now remember, I am not being paid to produce these songs. Most recording engineers do not produce unless they are paid to do so. If the client likes what they are hearing, well then the engineer assumes that the client knows what they are after (even though we can tell they might not have the experience to know any better) and gives the client what they want. THAT IS JUST DOING BUSINESS PROFESSIONALLY. Engineers are not, by job description, obligated to assume the producers chair just because there is no producer. Some will (like me to a certain extent), most won't though.

So here is what happens next. We go to mix. I spend a great deal of time trying to make the guitars, which sound terrible, fit in the mix. The client more or less is very pleased with how the drums and bass sound. After much time, the client is still not liking what they hear. Finally I suggest that they take a crack at 'fixing' the guitar themselves, and show them how to use the console, processors, and effects. They spent the next hour playing with it, came out and got me, and informed me that they thought this new sound worked better.

We were mixing with a Yamaha O2R which has scene recall of all the settings on the console. I preceeded to compare the two sounds, and the client was shocked that the original sound that I came up with was much better than what they did. Interesting huh?

To make a long story short, the band finally had to take responsibility for how it sounded because they made decisions that made it that way. Through all of this, they learned to respect and trust what I have to say about getting sound to tape. They will be clients of mine for a long time to come.

So many things could have contributed to the bad mix you got on your project. The equipment, the engineer, maybe even the musicians themselves. Hard to say as you didn't give many details about production techniques used, the equipment (hey, some people still think Crate amps rule....LOL)or the experience of the engineer. Was there a producer? How long did you spend recording and mixing? All of these things can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of your project.

I wrote an article which I have posted on my studio's website, <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank> which is entitled "Recordings That Rock" which deals with many of the issues a band should address before, during, and after recording a project. Check it out and see if it helps at all. If it turns out that maybe the band made some bad decisions in the studio, well, live and learn. Chalk it up to experience, and hire a producer next time..... :)

Good luck.

Ed Rei
Echo Star Studio</A>

[This message has been edited by sonusman (edited 09-10-1999).]

[This message has been edited by sonusman (edited 09-10-1999).]