Do you record guitar?

Editors' Blogs

What Makes a Great Recording?

June 11, 2012

It's not really the EQ, the effects, or the way the instruments are panned... It's not the computer you use or the software you run. It's definitely not the plug-ins, the samples or the outboard gear.

What really makes a great recording is YOU.

If you give Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Prince, or Stevie Wonder a tape recorder (not a fancy stereo-HD-with-video recorder) just a cassette-tape recorder, and ask them to go into a room for one hour and record something, ANYTHING, they will emerge 60 minutes later with a great recording; perhaps not a masterpiece, maybe not a Grammy contender, but a great recording. And they will have done so without any bells and whistles. They might even do it using only their voice, hands and whatever they can find in that room (spoons, a lamp, a box of nails).

We've come a long way from the first recording devices, and the more technology advances, the more we seem to be losing one crucial aspect: the human factor. 

So the next time you are standing in front of a music store clerk, facing rows upon rows of gear and software, ask yourself the following question: Is any of this really going to help me make better recordings, or is there anything I can do to become a better source? Because not amount of pitch correction, DSP power or processing speed is going to make you, the human in the signal chain, sound better. Not really.

So what can you do to improve the only thing that can really make your recordings great? Be a student of the greats. Explore your parent's vinyl collections; re-visit your old CDs, and learn. Be humble and learn to listen to what makes a performance great. Because without a great performance, there can never be a great recording.






9 Responses to What Makes a Great Recording?

Brent says

June 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Hear hear!

Glenn says

June 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

The best advice and only that matters

Glenn says

June 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

The best advice and only that matters

Shaun says

June 14, 2012 at 12:20 am

Respect +1

Mike says

June 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm

It's all about the music.

Alejandro Alonso Motta says

June 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Músico profesional autodidacta. Flamenco-blues-rock/funk/punk,

Alejandro Alonso Motta says

June 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Sorry I comes to make mustake writing that before. Only want to say all thath about human interface we knowa at the moment we are good artist/listeners. Thanks

Barry Gilmour says

October 10, 2012 at 8:34 am

This should be posted in large print in every studio and and also made as maditory reading and signing for anyone wanting to rent studio time!!!! It is a difficult concept to get across to many clients. Even Abbey Road can't help you if your performance is bad. Great Advice for all !!!!!!!!

RonniePistons says

September 27, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Great article. I think if you can accurately capture the essence of the song you're recording, then it is successful.

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