Why You Need to Prep Your Session for a Professional Studio

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As an artist or a producer, you will at some point bring an unfinished project to a professional studio to do some work. Whether you have booked time to lay down vocals on a finished track, or are utilizing the studio’s instruments or live room to add to an unfinished track, there are ways in which you can incorporate your project that are better than others. Lets take a look at types of sessions and the appropriate uses for each:

1. Two track
2. Stems
3. Full session with all tracks and processing

Two track: If you are coming to the studio and have a mostly finished song that just needs vocals, for instance, there is no need to bring in a large session with every track and multiple audio files. Why not? Large sessions can bog down computers and make it difficult to do simple recording. Also, it is possible that the studio at which you are working does not have all the same plugins(processing) that your producer does. This can make a good mix sound completely wrong and keep the singer from getting the correct vibe of the song.

****More times than not, when you are doing any type of over dubs, a simple two track mp3 or WAV will do the trick.

Stems: Stems are bounces of the tracks that will include all processing. Most of the time, there will be group comping. This means multiple tracks are grouped together and bounced as one stereo or mono track. This can cut down on overall track count and processing usage. This is effective if you are bringing a song to a studio to be mixed. There will be no plug-in compatibility issues, DAW issues, and can make a song much more manageable during the mix process. Another advantage of stems is use during overdubs. For instance, if you are replacing instruments in a song, its nice to have the ability to mute each part as it is being overdubbed. This will also retain the original mix, just as a two track would. Anything you can do to cut down on time in the studio will save you money.

****I’ve noticed, it can be nice to have a two track and stems handy when coming in for overdubs or a mix session. During overdubs, if there is a part in the two track that is conflicting with the overdub, you can mute it to help the musician or singer. Alternatively, it can be nice to have a two track reference when mixing with stems.

Full Session: This is really only necessary if you are coming to a studio to do actual production on a song that maybe partially finished. It is recommended to bounce any processing that you can commit. Understand that most producers will tweak every aspect of the mix until that final bounce, but remember what you are coming to the studio to do–do you need to be able to tweak all five plug-ins on that kick to record scratch vocals? No. No you don’t. If you can, create a session with as much bounced info as possible, and also bring a copy of the full session. It wouldn’t hurt to be in contact with the studio to see exactly what instrument/plug-ins they have, too.

Miscellaneous Tips:

When bouncing stems, make sure to bounce the stems with the same sample rate and bit depth as the session. Converting can decrease the overall fidelity of a mix.
If you would like to leave the studio with mixes, copies of your sessions, audio files, video, remember to bring a hard drive or flash drive of appropriate size.
Transfer time: If you have been tracking all day and would like to leave the studio with all of your sessions and files, remember to account for transfer time. Your engineer should be on top of this, but transfers for large sessions can take up to an hour.

 

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