Tracking with Effects

This is more or less a response to another music blog’s post about whether or not instruments should be recorded with effects enabled. I always track my instruments and vocals with effects processing enabled. Why you ask? Because I want to get a good idea how my final track is going to sound. The only time I’ve tracked raw (adding processing at a later date) is when there wasn’t enough system resources to handle the VSTi or cpu heavy effect.

Here’s why you might want to record with the effect:

  1. Tracking  with processing forces you to pick a creative direction and establish a vibe for your song early on, and that’s important. Of course it’s easier to do if you have been recording for awhile,  know your gear, and know what kind of sound you are after.
  2. You can play along with the effect. Think about how your vocal tracks change when you sing along with a slapback reverb, instead of leaving it dry. Try it- you won’t go back. And if you don’t like the effect, just record another take (or import  a copy of your raw track and try a different effect). I’ve got a lot of different versions of the same song lying around. Each version brings something different to the table and has made me a better musician.
  3. Always keeping your options open by only tracking raw sounds can leave things open-ended too long. Lets face it- if you track on a modern DAW you’ve got choices. Perhaps too many choices and that’s not necessarily a good thing. You can spend so much time trying to find that elusive “magical” plug-in (you know- the one that will turn your track into gold) that you lose momentum. My advice is to track with the effect, but always keep a copy of the raw track in case you need to change it later on.

Before you even start to record, you only need to do one thing:

  1. Do your homework, and make sure your song is well thought out with regard to structure. Have all the parts in place, such as verse, chorus, middle eight, etc.. That way you don’t end up with a hard drive full of half finished tunes. Besides, you can always change the arrangement/move things around once all the parts are tracked.

Like I mentioned earlier- don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s how you learn and get better. And that’s the point of it all, innit?

Happy playing.


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