Knowing the audio services your music project needs
Updated: Jun 19
Audio services aligning with a project’s intent
Recording studios offer a variety of audio services. Because no project is the same, the needs are always different and no two engineers will approach a project the exact same way.
When making arrangements, consider the different services you might need to complete the project:
These audio services are unique but come with variations depending on several factors. This includes differences in genre, engineer/studio offerings, expertise, and production budget.
The pre-production umbrella of tasks
Any creative or logistical work that's done before full-scale production begins lives here. Read more about making the best of your next recording session here.
On the creative side, this takes anywhere from days to months mostly depending on budget.
Artists book this as a means to write and finish material and demo in the studio. This is also helpful when a dedicated producer is involved.
If the budget doesn't allow, consider doing pre-production tasks at home or rehearsal space. In cases like this, renting a mobile rig could be another available option.
Tracking instrument, MIDI and vocals performances
Tracking is the audio service of capturing (recording) an instrumental performance. Whether this is done digitally or analog depends on your preference and what the studio offers.
There are analog studios that continue to offer the ‘straight to tape’ audio service but it can be a rare find. Among other reasons, the cost of working in the analog format is much higher compared to digital.
You may find studios offering analog/digital hybrid setup, tracking to tape, and later transferring it to digital. There is certainly a debate there but lets continue!
Editing and tuning performances for a polished sound
Editing is the process of making corrections or enhancing performances in relation to timing, pitch, and other miscellaneous things. Things that come to mind might be editing drums, tuning vocals, or other instruments.
Although there are variations of this workflow, the editing stage generally takes place after tracking and before mixing.
Mixing all signals for balance
The mixing stage is where the recorded audio sources are blended to create a stereo mix.
Each track can be attended to, processed, and revised individually to refine and strike a good balance.
The balance of sonic elements of a mix (often stereo) to optimize for playback across several different sound systems and media formats.
This is the final step in production before the record is either released on streaming sites or sent to distribution for mass copy.
Keep in mind, the detail can go as in-depth as time and budget allows
Each service comes with its own decisions of ‘how far do you want to go’ path, all of which depends entirely on what you need and what the budget allows.
It’s valuable for artists to know the difference between these services as it's easy to mistakenly lump these services as a single offering.
This will help you choose the right engineer/studio for the job, as each have an expertise in one or several of these categories.