Once you have your planning all done, it's time to record! The process will really be the same, regardless of whether or not you're recording an acoustic instrument, an electric guitar, or vocals using the built-in microphone. Here are a couple tips to make your recording go as smooth as possible and achieve the highest quality audio you can get:
1. Set up everything before bandmates arrive
You don't want to waste anybody's precious time on trying to figure things out and getting things set up. So do it beforehand. If you're connecting your own microphone to Spire Studio, use a pop filter to eliminate the plosive sounds that are so particularly audible when singing words with the letters “t”, "d", "p" & “k”. Here are some great tips on microphone choice, setup, and placement.
2. Plug in your headphones
Since Spire Studio features two headphone outputs, make use of that. If you're recording a friend, connect one pair of headphones for them, and another for yourself, so you can monitor live what's being recorded.
3. Perform a soundcheck
The beauty of using Spire Studio is that it includes a super nifty Soundcheck feature, which will automatically set the perfect recording level for each instrument you record. So before you start your recording, press the Soundcheck button and play or sing at the natural level of the song for about 10 seconds. Your input will be calibrated to get the perfect recording balance.
4. Turn on the click track
You want everyone to stay in sync. Especially if you're recording people on different days in different environments. The Spire app has an included metronome. Before you start recording set the correct meter and tempo that everyone will be playing to.
5. Apply recording effects (optional)
If you're planning on exporting all your tracks for further editing and mixing in a DAW like Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton Live, etc, you'll want to leave your recordings as dry and natural sounding as possible. But if you prefer getting a great recording with effects all in one go, choose any of the included recording effects that are available to you through the Spire app.
If you want to give your vocal some beautiful reverb-y love, choose one of the Spaces. If you want to run your electric guitar or bass through an amp, run it through one of the included Amps. Check out our article on the different Spire Effects and how to use them.
6. Get a headphone mix
You may need to adjust the level of the previously recorded instruments as you go along. Sometimes a player may ask you for more of one instrument and less of another. Use the Spire app’s mixing panel to make these quick adjustments on the fly.
On occasion, you may find that it may help to actually entirely mute one of the previously recorded parts. This is particularly helpful if the rhythms of one of the recorded parts is so contrasting and complex that hearing it at once is throwing your player/singer off. Every time I've had a situation where a singer seems to repeatedly struggle with one section, I try to pinpoint what in the headphone mix is distracting them and I entirely mute that element. Like magic, things always seem to go better after.
7. Hit record
All engines, go? Hit record and make some music. I always recommend you start with 2–4 bars of silence at the beginning. That will give your players/singers time to focus, mentally prepare and take a breath.
8. Keep the noise down
You want the recording to be as clean as possible. A little hum and noise on one track might not seem like a big deal. But now multiply that by eight. Noise on eight tracks instantly becomes noticeable. It will make your mix sound muddy and will distract from the great performances that you captured.
9. Extend the recording
At the end of the recording make sure to leave about 10 seconds of silence to accomodate for the natural tail of various instruments. You don’t want that beautiful ring of the last guitar chord to be cut short.
Once you get the perfect take recorded, you can celebrate! Just don't celebrate too much, as you have plenty of other tracks to record. This is a great moment to edit the recording you just did. Although editing is part of post-production, it's never a bad idea to trim off the excess noise at the beginning and end of your recording. That way those additional noises of your player preparing to record don't distract the other players who will be recording later.
Once you're happy with how that first instrument is sounding, it's time to repeat steps 3–10 for all the remaining instruments.
Edit, mix, and share
This is where you get to bring it all together. Trim any remaining parts of the audio that need trimming. Then, use the Spire app's built-in mixer to place each of the individual tracks/instruments on a virtual stage. The higher an element, the louder it will sound, and vice-versa. Drag the individual parts left and right to pan them accordingly. You can even set certain instruments to stereo mode while keeping others in mono.