How To Prepare For A “Smooth” Recording Session

The pre-session phase is one of the most widely under-utilised time periods before a recording session but yet is essential for avoiding mistakes.

Preparing for common issues that can occur during the recording process will not only save you from unwanted stress but allow your session to run smoothly and keep surprises at bay.

So why aren’t we doing it?

Well, to be honest, most engineers are just lazy (sorry if that’s you)

But the ones that do stick their thinking caps on before a session, this is just a few of the things they do to avoid any mishaps and keep recording fun!

1. Session Arrangement

session arrangement

Ensuring your session is arranged before musicians arrive can be a real time saver, If you’re good at your homework and have had plenty of communication with the artist beforehand you should know exactly what your recording!

If the session is for drums, prepare your drum tracks! If the session is with a full band prepare every track and organise how you’re going to record every band member, Is it individually? All at once? (If you have the facilities for that)

Session Arrangement includes properly tracking out each element within the project as well as:

  • Labelling every track allowing for easy navigation
  • Jot down your ins and outs for each track and then configure them within your DAW

To save yourself heaps of hassle in the future, most DAW’s allow you to save session templates, Not every recording session is the same, save yourself a template for any kind of recording eventuality and you’ll minimise the chance of any tedious bullsh*t happening.

2. Saving Presets

How to prepare for a smooth recording session

Do you work with the same vocalist a lot?

Saving presets can also be a HUGE time saver, Most singers don’t like their voice to be completely dry! find the right reverb setting for the vocalist, save it as a preset and name it by the name of the vocalist.

This can also be great for when you need to pull up your EQ, (I feel a little bit wavy about saving compression settings, but f**k it the only rules in this game are your own.)

3. Test Your Equipment

How to prepare for a smooth recording session

It’s amazing how much this one is forgotten, how many times have you been in the studio about to start a session and your vital bit of kit turns to shit?

Yep, I’ve been there!

PLEASE PLEASE make sure you test your equipment a few days before any session, not the night before, not the morning of, give yourself time to sort out any issues with malfunctioning equipment.

Sometimes gear can just become aged and that trusty bit of outboard gear you’ve been using for years can take a turn for the worst and turn into your worst nightmare.

Just taking good care of your stuff sometimes isn’t enough, prepare for every eventuality including the worst.

4. Make Your Artist Feel Comfortable

How to prepare for a smooth recording session

In my experience, artistic people can be very introverted.

Make sure that your artist feels comfortable, tell a few jokes, have a smoke or two, get to know each other a little before you get down to business.

The more you artist feels comfortable, the better performance they’ll give.

On the flip side, If you’re dealing with an extrovert, you’ll be in for quite a different ride.

You know them one of those overly confident people that they don’t need to warm up, it’s up to you to make sure that they do.

It’s your job as an engineer to make sure everyone Is loose as loose women (If you’re not from the UK, that’s a TV Show, I’m not being rude). 

Be cool, make the experience fun, that’s it,  after all, that’s the reason we do this right?


George Matthews
George Matthews

With 17 Years music production experience, George Matthews is the CEO of Your Local Musician, he also makes music under the name Grimmm and releases Lo-fi music.

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