What is your workflow?

Practical tips for recording, editing, and mastering.

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mongrol
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Joined: Fri May 01, 2015 4:23 am

What is your workflow?

Postby mongrol » Sat May 02, 2015 12:24 pm

Hi All,
Having been a guitarist for 20 years I've decided to get into piano, synths and computer audio. I'm enjoying jamming with my Volca Keys, TE PO-12 and my vintage Roland A-90EX. I've spent the last couple of weeks experimenting with Ardour, Hydrogen, QTractor and various plugins. Tweaking softsynths drive me nuts so I've got a mini midi keyboard with knobs to tie onto various pots on the softsynths and some drum pads.

What I'm struggling with is devising a basic workflow to actually producing tracks. I'm constantly being thwarted by various issues. midi-sync, Ardour4 segfaulting, Hydrogen being out of time, no "count-in bars" before realtime recording. I spend ages routing various things here and there only for one plugin to crap itself, cause jack to hang and tear the whole lot down. I believe experience will get me past this point.

In the interim, what is your workflow for producing finished tracks? How do you lay down drums, bass tracks etc?. Do you record midi, then sequence and play back? Do you record and master a track at a time or attempt to sequence the whole song and play/record audio in one go? Do you jam live and just record until you have something worthwhile? What tools do you use? What issues do you face and how do you work around them?

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English Guy
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Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:28 pm
Location: England

Re: What is your workflow?

Postby English Guy » Sat May 02, 2015 1:38 pm

I find it helpful to produce a skeleton guide track, say vocals, guitar (my main instrument) and a basic drum beat with synced hydrogen.

I would then add parts, program/ play any synths, and gradually make my hydrogen program more complicated (I usually add the humanisation at a late stage). I also replace the guide tracks with performance quality ones, properly recorded and rehearsed.

I usually produce a lot of rough mixes along the way as the track evolves to help decide what takes to keep and what to dump. Mixing is still my weak spot.

I have not been happy enough to share anything I have done here (yet) but hope to as I learn and improve.

Frank Carvalho
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Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:36 pm

Re: What is your workflow?

Postby Frank Carvalho » Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:27 am

Hi

Being a rock musician first and foremost, the primary thing is to get the basic feeling of the track right. So me and my mate usually record drums and bass together first, using 10-15 microphones and acoustic isolation of the bass amp. I use Ardour, and always record in 48kHz, 32-bit float.
Before I upgraded my PC I usually made a submix of the drum track to stereo, that I would import into another project for overdubbing, but after I got more CPU horsepower, I keep the entire tracking session in one project. Overdubs usually take place with assorted physical synthesizers, organs, guitars.
If I ever need MIDI, I usually build a tempo map of the original bass/drum recording, including time signature changes etc., so I can record and quantize any MIDI in time with the pre-recorded music. MIDI plays a very small role in my recording work. I use physical instruments. But if I use MIDI, I find that Rosegarden works well as an editor, while Qtractor is really good as a stand alone lightweight MIDI player, synchronized through JACK. I have not yet tried to use Ardour directly for MIDI playback, but next time I need MIDI I will.
I mix to 48kHz, 32-bit. Beginning with the basic drum sound, I use a combination of short delays and polarity inversion to get all the drum mics in phase. Gating or gain programming is used on individual drum tracks to get better isolation, and then some EQ'ing to make the kit sound good. Then drum hits and bass attacks are aligned for tightness. Then I adjust the rest of the instruments. I usually have subgroup busses for drums, bass, keys, guitars, vocals, effects into master bus. It is much easier to get a good balance that way.
Then I import the mix into a separate mastering project. So far I have used Jammin for mastering, but I think that maybe I should use separate plugins instead.

/Frank
Vox, Selmer, Yamaha and Leslie amplifiers. Rickenbacker, Epiphone, Ibanez, Washburn, Segovia, Yamaha and Fender guitars. Hammond, Moog, Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Crumar, Ensoniq and Mellotron keyboards. Xubuntu+KXStudio recording setup.

emarsk
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Re: What is your workflow?

Postby emarsk » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:55 am

15 mics for drums and bass? :shock:
Please, avoid some common spelling errors:
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling

Frank Carvalho
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Posts: 363
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:36 pm

Re: What is your workflow?

Postby Frank Carvalho » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:59 am

Overhead-L, Overhead-R, Small Tom, Large Tom, Bass drum center, Bass drum kick, Snare, Hi-hat, Ride, Side toms. Sometimes we add a snare bottom mic, and usually we have one or two room mics for ambience.
Bass SM57, Bass Sennheiser, Bass line signal. I think this is pretty much a standard closed miced setup in studios. :D

/Frank
Vox, Selmer, Yamaha and Leslie amplifiers. Rickenbacker, Epiphone, Ibanez, Washburn, Segovia, Yamaha and Fender guitars. Hammond, Moog, Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Crumar, Ensoniq and Mellotron keyboards. Xubuntu+KXStudio recording setup.


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