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Music Beat

October 6, 2012

Make the most of your time in the recording studio

Today many musicians record on their own using predominantly computer-based systems. The price of that recording technology has been reduced in recent years so that the only investment truly needed is the computer or mobile device itself, and it is easy to distribute home recordings over the Internet and consequently throughout the world.

Some bands reach a point in their development when they feel it’s time to make recordings in a professional studio, using the services of a recording engineer and sometimes a producer (we won’t get into the producer’s role here, but many engineers fill the role of both an engineer and producer). How can those bands make the best use of their time in the studio? What can the bands do to help the studio and engineers make the best possible recording?

To answer those questions, I spoke with Oneonta-based recording engineer, Andris Balins. Balins has been recording music for more than 15 years and is a partner in Dryhill Studios, in the West End of Oneonta. Nels Cline of Wilco, Sean Lennon and Greg Saunier of Deerhoof are among Balins’ more well-known clients. He is hired on a regular basis to make recordings for the Chimera label, and is becoming known as an engineer that specializes in analog recording. He has also been active as a teacher at a number of local colleges, and is teaching recording techniques at the State University College at Oneonta. He was the sound engineer at the West Kortright Centre and the Roxbury Arts Center for many years, but his freelance work at studios throughout the Northeast keeps him too busy to work full time at those local venues.

* Balins’ advice about studio recording

An important part of completing an album by yourself or in the studio is having the end product in mind. What will be your budget for the recording and manufacturing process if you do plan to have a physical album release? You want to create the best possible recording to present to the public, and having a plan of how to do so will maximize the use of your time and money. You may decide that you can record the guitar, bass and vocals on your own, but that you’d like to use a studio to track the drums and do the mix. Keep in mind the reasons that you want to go to a studio in the first place. It may be for the sounds that you have not been able to capture, or the often invaluable experience of having someone else listen to your music and help make the final recording a reality.

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