How To Be Your Own Tracking Engineer
If you're planning on being your own tracking engineer, we have to get you up to speed how to function at the highest level needed to make this work. If you're even contemplating doing this yourself, you should have a proficient knowledge of the necessary hardware and software needed as well as the basic ability to track, comp takes, crossfade, and consolidate tracks. If you don't, there's no time like the present to start. Also, this guide is just how I do it and how I'd like tracking engineers I'm working with to conduct themselves. This is not to assume that my way is the only way, this is just the most universally acceptable way to track yourself and prepare your tracks for editors, reamping specialists, mixing engineers, and mastering engineers as of this publication. As we all know, technology moves at lighting speed and all info within this guide could be obsolete within 6 months. We know you may have different recording techniques, different hardware, and different software on your end. If you need any help troubleshooting, diagnosing, or testing methods just let us know and we'll help in any and every way we can.
SESSION SETUP *We'll be tracking all songs in a single project for easier reamping and exporting while leaving a minute of silence at the beginning of the project and in between each song in case of any last minute additions.
Open an empty project
Skip forward 1 minute, set the tempo, and track Song 01
Continue through all songs leaving a minute between each song *Place tempo changes half way between songs, not at the beginning of songs
GUITARS/BASS Guitars and basses should be taken to a professional to be properly set up Strings should be changed once per song for guitar and once every 3 songs for bass Tuning should be checked between every take Track using a high quality DI box instead of plugging directly into an interface Consolidate and crossfade takes (See: Editing) DRUMS If not wanting to use sample replacement for the shells, every head should be replaced on the day of tracking. Replace all broken cymbals and repair any noisy hardware. Spend twice the amount of time necessary capturing takes that require little to no editing. VOCALS Track in as dead a room as possible and use a pop filter. Turn off your monitors, turn headphones down, remove shoes, and turn off any fans or HVAC if needed to make it as silent as possible. Spend twice the amount of time necessary capturing takes that require little to no editing. EDITING All takes need to be consolidated and crossfaded without accidentally cutting off the transients. Every guitar/bass note, drum hit, and syllable should be time stretched or slip edited to the grid or someone should be hired to do so.
EXPORTING RAW MULTI TRACKS
Place markers where applicable to label the verse, chorus, bridge, etc... Export Tempo Map Export MIDI *Double check to see if your DAW has the ability to export tracks RAW without having to do these next 3 steps Turn off all plugins on all tracks, busses, and your master out Return volume to zero on all mono and stereo audio tracks Return panning to center on all mono audio tracks
Export each track as a Mono WAV file Exporting 1 Song - Set export markers to 1 bar before the song begins and 1 bar after the last note of the song is complete
Exporting an album - Set export markers to beginning of project and 1 bar after the last note of the song is complete
* When exporting tracks, please label: 01 Drums - Kick, 02 Drums - Snare, and so forth. Keep instruments grouped together numerically. Open up a brand new empty project in your DAW, import the tempo map, MIDI, and audio tracks If everything lines up and the tempo is functioning properly and you've listened through each track for accuracy, you're ready to send your tracks off Upload the tracks along with any notes you may have
This guide may not line up exactly with your experience or software, but it's a good place to start. These few words are no substitute for 6 months worth or research, education, or trial and error. Reach out to your editor or engineers to find out how they would like you to do things to guarantee as much success as possible And above all else, triple check your tracks before sending off to be worked on by another person. Good luck!How