The Truth About Compatible Sounds and What It Can Do For Your Recordings

You’re listening back to your production after the final vocal is recorded. For some reason, you thought you’d like it better than you do.

You flip over to iTunes and play your favorite commercial record. For some reason, everything in that record seems to…fit.

Great productions all have at least one thing in common – the “sounds” chosen or created are all compatible. And once you know how to choose compatible sounds, your productions will improve drastically.

Let’s take a second to define compatible sounds. Compatible sounds are those that work together well, all driving the emotion of the production toward the same sonic goal. This may seem like an obvious thing to think about, but it’s really easy to forget when you’re in the studio.

So how do you actually choose these sounds? It all starts with the vision.

The vision for your recording is what should drive all of your choices in the studio – especially the sounds you’re using.

But we sometimes forget to even articulate our vision on the outset of our sessions. And this is the first step to choosing compatible sounds.

It is imperative to sit down and think about the overall goal of your recording before you even turn on your computer. Is it a song to dance to? Who would dance to it? Is it a ballad that is supposed to make someone cry? Who?

Determining a vision for your project is necessary to create a truly successful recording. And once you find your goal, you’re ready to start making the decisions to get there.

And this is where it gets a little more difficult to execute. There are almost an infinite number of sounds to choose from – guitars, synthesizers, drums, basses…

But what sound is going to be the right sound?

Use your ear to answer that. If you’re listening to the snare drum and it doesn’t say exactly what you want it to for the vision of the recording, chances are it isn’t the right sound.

This is the second step: constantly keep the vision of the project in mind. If your vision is a danceable pop song, a thin woody kick is probably not the solution for the dance break. If you keep asking yourself “is this the best sound for the recording” while you’re producing, you’ll end up with a much better recording.

The third key to finding compatible sounds is to think ahead. You must think about how the kick and the bass will work together. And how the piano will fit into those. And even how the piano will fit in with the vocal.

Everything is connected, so think about the way in which they will work together. If you follow these steps, you’ll be sure to create a great recording  with compatible sounds.