8. THE ROOM
9. HYGIENE IS KEY.
This is a corollary to item 7: One of
the best investments you can make
in your digital tracks is to acousti-
cally treat your recording and con-
trol room. You’d be surprised how
much the sound of the room affects
what you do, and digital captures
all that roominess with perfect clar-
ity … so make sure the space you
are working in is doing the job.
In the analog days, you had to
demagnetize tape heads, clean the
tape path, wind the tape for proper
storage, and perform other routine
maintenance tasks at the beginning
and end of every session. The same
is true with digital—the tasks are
just different. Lots of takes and
edits can result in a ton of files
scattered around your computer
and slowing down your system.
Unused mixer channels and plug-ins can end up hiding in the system, weighing down the project,
and eating up CPU and memory
resources. Lots of small apps running in the background on your
computer will also sap it of precious processing resources. Keep it
clean and organized, and your system will always perform its best.
But basic maintenance extends
beyond this to installing current versions of software, having
plenty of space available on your
recording drive, installing plenty
of RAM in your computer, and
otherwise optimizing your system for maximum performance.
However, don’t do those things
the night before a critical session—give yourself plenty of time
to learn and test new versions of
software or plug-ins before you
put them to work for real.
The room still matters. The iconic drum track from Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” has been sampled innumerable times over the years, and a huge part of its classic vibe is due to where it was recorded. In this scene from the
2009 documentary It Might Get Loud, Jimmy Page stands in the foyer of Headley Grange, the East Hampshire, England,
home where Zep recorded tracks for four of their most famous albums. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
10. DIGITAL DATA
The virtual ones and zeros that
make up digital data are not robust.
One small mishap and your hard-won tracks can vanish. For this reason, it’s imperative that you save and
back up your data constantly. By
habit, I hit the save command in my
DAW every time I make a change.
And when I’ve made a significant
number of changes, or I’ve gotten to the point where it would be
extremely painful to have to recreate
my work, I save a new copy under
a different name. (Project 1, Project
1a, Project 1b, Project 1c, and so
on.) This way, if a project file gets
corrupted, I can always step back to
the last version and work forward
again without losing everything.
Likewise, at the end of every
work session, I back up the project
to a separate hard drive. That way,
if the hard drive in the computer
goes down, I’ve still got my work
on a second drive and can quickly
recover and begin working again.
Digital data is fragile. Saving multiple versions of a project
under new names provides some protection against corrupted
files—and it’s a great organizational tool—but for real protection,
you must back up your work regularly.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE OUTCOME.
Digital has been a true godsend for musicians who want to capture and distribute pro-quality recordings without waiting for some major label
to finance the dream. It’s made super-powerful recording tools available to pretty much anyone. But it’s about more than just the tools. Keep
these 10 simple tips in mind during all your future recording adventures, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much the quality of your
digital projects improves as a result of such straight-ahead measures. More than that, you’ll find they make studio life easier and less stressful—
which can only portend good things for your creativity and performance quality. Good habits are good habits, whether you’re working with
analog or digital, and in the studio, good habits lead to great recordings!