Multi-tracking is an essential skill set that any engineer must have. But it’s not quite as easy as it might seem.
It’s a lot more than just hitting record.
It can be a stressful situation, even when you’re just multi-tracking with three musicians. Let’s go through 5 steps to a successful session:
1. Set up the cues perfectly and make sure they are ready before the musicians arrive.
That means go through each set of headphones and make sure that they work and that they sound good. They should be set to a decent level, though keep them low and tell the musician how to turn them up if they want to.
2. Set up the station with everything the musician might need.
This is where the session gets off to a bad foot if done poorly. Have a music stand, bottle of water, connection for DI/plug/input, mics, and talkback mic set up. The talkback mic is essential to ease communication during the session.
3. Make sure that the musicians can see each other.
This is another step that is easy to forget. If the musicians can’t see each other, it will be almost impossible for them to play very tight with each other. Keep communication open for musicians for a seamless experience for the musicians.
4. Make sure that you let the musicians warm up and get in the groove before you hit record.
Don’t hit record until the musicians are ready. Once they are sitting down, let them go through the song until they are ready. A warmed up musician is always better than a cold one. You’ll spend more time and create more frustration if you hit record right away before they are ready.
5. Always listen back once you think you’ve got the final cut.
A somewhat simple thing to do, but an essential step. This is where you want to make sure that there aren’t any fixes that need to be made – if there are, it’s better to make them right there rather than having to do a crazy edit or have the musicians come back in.