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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Basic Tracks Session Checklist

Basic Tracks Checklist image
There are more and more small recording studios than ever before, but many of the owners don't yet have the experience of doing a session beyond their own bands. Here's some help in prepping for that first outside session that I took from the latest 3rd edition of The Recording Engineer's Handbook

Before you can prepare for the recording you need some essential information first. Here’s a list of the minimum that you must determine in advance of the session.

This will usually be provided by the producer, artist or band leader, and assumes that you’re unfamiliar with the act. Here’s what to ask:
  • What type of music will be recorded?
  • How much recording time to do you think you’ll need?
  • How many songs do you expect to record?
  • Who are the musicians (If you know some of them it might affect your setup)?
  • Who’s the producer (if you’re not talking to him already)?
  • What time does the session begin? Does that mean the downbeat of recording or when the musicians are expected at the studio to load in?
  • How long do you expect the session or sessions to go?
  • How many musicians will be playing at once?
  • What’s the instrumentation?
  • How large is the drummer’s kit? How many toms will he be using?
  • Will the guitarist(s) be using an acoustic or electric? 
  • What kind of amps will the guitar player(s) and bass player be using?
  • Do any of the players expect to use house gear like drums, guitar amps, or keyboards?
  • How many cue mixes will be required?
  • Will there be a scratch vocal tracked at the same time?
  • Will they bring any special outboard gear or mics that they’d like to use?
  • Will they be tracking to a click or loops?
  • Do they require any particular instruments, amps or effects?
Determining the above before the musicians arrive at the studio can go a long way to achieving a quick and easy setup and an efficient session. 

TIP: Don’t ask for the setup information too far in advance since much can change by the day of the session. Getting the info the day before the session is usually sufficient.

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