Good to hear. Just out of curiosity, what questions do you wish you’d have asked ahead of time (now that you are looking back). Also what went right?
– what’s in your mic locker?
– what pres?
– could I see the patchbay or a picture of it?
I knew our songs, tempo etc inside out because we made a ”demo record” with my own setup about two weeks earlier. When we got there/to studio the assistant engineer/walkthrough person was very kind, I told him what we need and when/where we need it (all instruments, headphones/monitoring etc) and it was quite clear that everything’s gonna go ok. He helped to setup everything, including every instrument and voc mic in the booth etc. He asked me what I wanted (mic, pre etc) and told me what the studio had in the locker.
The studio had no Reaper installed previously, but they were kind and downloaded and installed it. I jumped to the seat and with the assistant engineer set up the basic template with routing and I/O, tracks, headphones/monitoring etc. After that we checked where the session media was to be, run some soundcheck and from that point it was loud and clear. After some general chitchat he left, clock was about 6pm and we went to sauna. After that we set up the basics for every song, checked tempos (did some adjustments) etc. I knew what the coming days required conserning tracks etc so everything was ok for next days to come.
I had some minor problems, the other one was headphones/monitoring to the vocal booth, it wasn’t routed. He gave me the instructions via whatsapp message and I figured that one out. The other one felt more tricky: lead vocal signal wasn’t holding up, it felt ”wrong”, signal felt weird and couldn’t handle higher SPL. Our singer is LOUD but not that loud.. I was messing with the API pre and LA-2A and I knew something wasn’t right. The assistant (again via whatsapp) told me to bypass the LA-2A in the patchbay. Ok, figured that one out and it was smooth sailing after that. There was also a third problem with signal(s) and that was in the Amek board itself. Floor tom channel had some problems in it (it was a known problem in the studio) and I had to turn the gain knob and some EQ knobs to find the ”sweet spot” i.e. it wasn’t crackling anymore. Same with the talkback mic, I had to bypass the desk pre and route it to second channel in Api pre and then to board (line in IIRC) – problem solved.
I got the sessions with me, tracks sounded amazing in the studio and when I listened the tracks in my home setup.. Again, sounded amazing. It was a rough week but what an experience and the most important thing – I know the final tracks will sound really really good, just plain tracks without any FX sound super duper good at the moment.
We need to do the backing vocals with my setup, we ran out of time and somehow those turned out to be the toughest part in the studio. It’s ok with me, those won’t sound as good as in the studio but we have the proper time to arrange/record in peace. And with a relaxed schedule. We tried to record BV’s in the studio but I figured out quite soon that it’s better to fine tune the existing tracks and do some overdubs with the guitars etc. It was the right decision.
Studio had no MIDI recording possibility that time, so that was the biggest ”problem” for me. But in the end, keyboard tracks were not that hard and numerous in quantity, our keyboard player replays those at home and sends the MIDI-tracks to me. I don’t know if we ever need those but you never know. The final tracks will be mixed in our home town studio (not the studio we tracked in) and he’s (mixing engineer) quite famous keyboard player and has helped previously with the MIDI-stuff, he has quite good softsynths etc.
So, maybe we could have a better product in the end IF we had a producer and a pro sound engineer with us during the week. But, you can’t have it all. I’ve seen and heard raw tracks during my albums and how they turned up to be. Right now I’m smiling because I know this time I’ve got some really outstanding (in my view and experience) stuff going to the next phase in the process.