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.