Hoarding, Haste, and Hot Levels – falling victim to any one of these could take hours of precious time away from your main focus – making your best music at the best quality possible. Here are some tips to stay safe!

Hoarding. We’ve all done it, or been part of a project that has fallen victim. It’s when you constantly say “oh we’ll keep that take just in case” and “let’s lay down another version with a different sound.” While these may seem innocent enough, and even like good ideas sometimes, they can escalate to the point of track count mayhem and total mixdown confusion. It’s important to make decisions and choices in music making in order to move the process along. You mustn’t be afraid to commit to something and even possibly be wrong in your choice. That’s how you learn – by making wrong choices. Of course I’m not suggesting you say yes to everything or never A/B different takes, but when the time comes to choose you must choose wisely, remove the other options from your arrangement and move on!

Haste. This one can get the best of us, especially when we’re in the “zone”. It’s when we don’t take note of important settings, don’t record which mic through which pre, or the oh-so-common not labelling that new track in our DAW anything at all. The last one is the kicker. For each track that we create, record on and then label later (or never…) we add more and more files with names like “audio_423.wav” to our hard drives. Let’s say that you’re Logic session file gets corrupted somehow (like they do) and you need to piece together your song by importing the wavs into a new session. If you didn’t name your tracks well before recording onto them – good luck! It’s important to run a tight ship and that means taking the few extra moments to properly name your tracks before recording and taking note of important settings before you tear down (in case you need to re-do a section with the same sound the next day.)

Hot Levels. Oh, the joyous sound of digital clipping! It’s one thing if you’ve made the choice to capture and use it, but it’s another thing altogether if you were just trying to record a good vocal take and now at the climax of an otherwise excellent vocal take there’s an extremely unforgiving “CRRRAAACK”. So now your emotional peak has to be redone and of course it’s not so easy to capture a good moment. You’ll want to be ready when that performance happens but how do you do it when a song has whisper quiet vocals and flat out screams at the same time? Well, if you’ve got another identical mic pre, invest in a little XLR splitter cable and run the same mic into two preamps and record that onto two tracks in your DAW. Set your first pre up with a good healthy level that’s suitable for the song, and set the second pre up with similar settings at a good 12 decibels lower (or more). 9 times out of 10 you won’t need that second vocal track. But on that 10th time – when the vocalist is just feeling spontaneous in the moment and unleashes a wail the likes the world has never known, you’ll simply be able to go to your second vocal track. Moment: captured.