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MARC SMITH IS OUR NEW AUDIO ENGINEER, who is experienced in recording and producing artists across many genres. He is able to deliver NYVC students with polished mixes that are expected in todays media landscape, using the highest quality equipment in a hybrid analog/digital recording rig. And this is done right here at the NYVC Studio during your lesson! Because computer recording technology has become so sophisticated in recent years, engineers like Marc can offer top quality recording with a much smaller footprint. So while NYVC may not be designed as a recording facility, your recordings will sound like it!
Marc wants to make the best use of your recording time once you and your vocal instructor agree you're ready to get in front of the mic. He requires at least one hour per song, which is typically divided equally between recording several vocal “takes” and mixing together the best parts of each for a final product. A more involved recording with background vocals or instruments will usually require more time or several sessions to fully complete. Let Marc know what your goals are for recording so he can give you the his best estimate on the time needed.
Audio engineers use tools to enhance a vocal performance within the musical arrangement (mix) but can't alter the character, expression and personality of your performance - that comes from YOU and your training at NYVC! Marc is skilled at coaching the best vocal takes out of you and blending them together seamlessly. But the final product has everything to do with your vocal delivery.
Yes, but…Auto-Tune is a pitch correction tool used on countless recordings and musical styles to correct notes that are out of pitch. Don't look to Auto-Tune to improve your singing though - it only masks what you aren't singing correctly! The results will be artificial sounding when over-used on a vocal that is consistently out of tune. When just a few notes go astray during the performance Auto-Tune is nearly imperceptible. But remember, presenting a demo that is heavily tuned is risky. Eventually you will perform live and only your vocal training will matter then.
Ever notice how all the instruments that are playing in your favorite song sound perfectly balanced and clear? Loud instruments like drums, a soft piano, a singer who is both loud and soft during parts of the song? Mixing is the process of blending and balancing all these individual instrument volumes and tones so that each is clear and present and placed appropriately relative to one another, pleasing to the ear.
Mastering is the final stage of recording an album whereby all of the songs are matched to the same playback volume so that one is not louder/softer than another when you hear them in sequence. Mastering engineers also apply tonal shaping to unify all the different songs into a similar dynamic “feel”. Since all the songs or instruments may have been recorded in different places at different times, each song my have been mixed in it's own unique way. Mastering helps bring all the songs together under the same umbrella to achieve the final listening experience, a full album.
These days, many mix engineers perform basic mastering on a song to raise the listening volume to levels that are suitable for CD playback or online streaming. Marc does this so your songs are playable on any device immediately following your session. If you plan on creating a full album, a mix engineer would provide you versions of each song without any volume boosting or other master effects. This way, the mastering engineer can apply his own unique “sound” and “feel” to your album to make it unique.
An instrumental (.mp3) version of a song downloaded from Youtube or elsewhere has already been mixed and Marc does not have access to the original session files that comprised the song. Therefore, he cannot raise or lower individual instruments within the music or do any rearranging. He can, however, balance your vocal performance against the entire instrumental song very well. By contrast, if you record live instruments with Marc during your session at NYVC, like a piano, a guitar, vocals, a violin, etc, then he has control over all these original recordings and can mix them to taste.
No! Computer recording technology has become so sophisticated in recent years that engineers can offer top quality recording with a much smaller footprint. Chances are some of the biggest names in music have recorded parts of their hit records in their living rooms using just a laptop and a few pieces of quality equipment. Some aspects of recording remain the same though, like quality microphones, pre-amps, speakers, and converters. Fortunately, Marc uses awesome gear, so while NYVC is not designed as a recording facility your recordings will sound like it.