Virtual & Software Instruments
As mentioned earlier, there's an unbelievable selection
of virtual instruments (VI) and soft-synths available for music production and recording. Virtual instruments and software
synths are great because instead of using keyboard and drum machine hardware to produce sounds, you are basically just using
your computer to create and playback the sounds. I grew up in a generation that had the original Mini Moog, Fender Rhodes,
and other synths, and I know how these instruments sounded. And with these new virtual units - I can honestly say that the
sound of many of these digital soft-synths and virtual instruments are excellent. These virtual and software synths are also
great at emulating acoustic instruments, and many are also samplers. Basically, the main limitations to this technology is
your computer system's CPU speed, and the RAM (Random Access Memory) you have available. Other than that, the virtual instrument
world is pretty powerful awesome technology for musicians and producers. There are also hardware controllers that work great
with the virtual synths, and also have some of the features found on the instruments they are emulating.
A recording studio does not have to have all of the latest
gear and "toys" for you to have success in the facility. The success of your session is more determined by having
a capable engineer with workable tools - and your talent, patience and heart. So don't panic if the studio you can afford
doesn't have the latest "Pro Tools Version 23x Super-Duper XT-RA". As long as the studio has the capability to take
an accurate "picture" of your recording (if you are tracking), and develop that recorded image into a beautiful
representation of your finished performance (mixing), then you'll be just fine. Now, I am not trying to say that Pro Tools
or any particular brand audio recording/mixing environment should or should not be regarded as the way to record your project,
but, I will say this, "Pro Tools has become the standard to recording and mixing." So what this means to you is
that if you are planning on working in Cubase, Logic, Fruity Loops, Reasons...whatever, then if you plan on mixing with an
engineer that prefers Pro Tools, then make sure you have the tracks imported into Pro Tools before you take it to them. Or
consolidate the audio so that it may be imported into any audio program. You're going to pay extra for everything that you
don't have ready at mix time - and it's a lot cheaper to do this in a pre-mixing stage.
Make sure you have your tracks organized. Know which tracks
are actually going to be needed and used for the mix. Good organizational skills in the studio are the engineer and producer's
responsibility, so it doesn't hurt to maybe make some notes about what you need to edit or use in the mix, and since you have
this new world of recording where so many tracks can be recorded, it will help you to keep up with what parts you are keeping
- or at least what parts are possible important considerations for the final mix. Trust me, I know of sessions where a high-priced
mix engineer was being used, but the mix engineer had spent ½ day working on a mix that a lot of the tracks he was
working on were not even the correct tracks for the song. This happened because the producer had sent the engineer the wrong
version to be mixed. So it's good to keep good notes.
One thing that is very helpful for producers and engineers
preparing their music tracks to be mixed in Pro Tools and other mix software is to save a copy of the song as consolidated
tracks. This basically takes all of your track regions, and then combines these individual track clips as individual single
audio tracks. This way, you will basically have each audio track starting from "0" and there is no guess-work involved
with the mix engineer trying to figure out what's going on with the various clips of audio that play throughout a song. This
is also sometimes referred to as "bounced" audio tracks.
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