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6 Crucial Yet Overlooked Elements of Editing Your Home Recording Tracks

(10/24/2017) Although it’s certainly true that independent musicians today can creative studio-quality recordings from their comforts of their own home, doing so is easier said than done.

If you find yourself slaving away in pursuit of that sort of professional, studio sound, you're certainly not alone. The fact remains that you can do just about everything right on the surface in terms of instrumentation and still have tracks that fall flat.

Sometimes the symptoms of less-than-stellar recordings are difficult to spot. That’s why we’ve outlined six of the most overlooked aspects of home recordings that could potentially transform your tracks with a bit of attention to detail.

So, where do you start?

Incorporate Some Sound Effects

Sometimes it’s not your actual music that’s lacking, but rather the background noise and ambience of your tracks. Think about the “little things” such as the iconic black chirping in The Beatles’ song of the same name: incorporating sound effects into your tracks can provide your songs with an extra sense of creative flair. Thankfully, you don’t have to record such effects yourself as there are plenty of resources out there such as this ultimate list of free Foley sound effects.

Adjust Your Velocity
 
If you’re working with virtual instruments, especially drums, there’s a good chance that the default settings sound anything but natural. Oftentimes the culprit comes down to velocity, otherwise known as the variance of how each note and every note is hit.

Think about it: no drummer or guitarist hits notes with the exact same strength every single time. Varying the velocity of your virtual notes can be a game-changer toward making your virtual instruments sound more realistic.

Quantize Your MIDI Tracks
 
On a similar note, quantization of your MIDI tracks is likewise important to providing a human element to your virtual instruments. In short, the “quantize” feature of your DAW allows you to incorporate small timing shifts that most listeners won’t pick up on but ultimately keep your tracks from coming off as robotic. Nobody plays in perfect time for an entire song and quantization helps achieve the effect of a real person playing versus a computer.

Delay and Reverb
 
When working with vocals, slapping on some delay and reverb can help emulate a thicker, fuller sound when your tracks come off as a bit flat. As a side note, don’t abuse your reverb effects to the point where they get totally lost in the mix. A bit of ambience is totally fine; however, drowning out your vocals is not.

Experiment with Your EQ
 
Although perhaps a bit more obvious, playing with your EQ can make a huge difference toward cutting out booming bass noises and eliminating sharp treble tones. Not only should you strive to EQ each and every individual track within your mix, but also the master of the mix as well.

Turn Up the Gain
 
Finally, sometimes bear in mind that it pays to “trash” your mix a bit. For example, adding a bit of gain or distortion can actually help you improve your vocal recordings similar to how reverb gives you a thicker sound. In short, a bit out of loudness can go a long way toward giving your tracks that “larger than life” vibe.

Don’t panic if you feel that your past recordings are lacking. Instead, consider how you can use these six secret ingredients to spice up your catalog and breathe new life into your future tracks.