Spend some time to examine the song. If you find that the song has a problem or deficiency, fix it before recording with the artist in the studio. This is a rule of thumb. One common mistake with home studio producers is hurrying on recording without thoroughly examining the songwriting aspect for further improvements.
Useful resources on this topic:
Recording and Mixing Aspect
The song starts with a drum beat. It’s OK on that part. However the moment the vocal starts to come in, I sense an imbalance on the part of the vocal levels, drums and the background instrumentation. Why?
The vocals are strong on that section while the background instrument rest sounds weak except the bass and drums. You should pay attention to the level balance to all of your tracks when mixing. For example, the vocals are too dominant and too upfront. You might want to push them a little back at the mix to attain the balance. This takes some experimentation and critical listening. You can also add a small reverb or EQ to your vocals to get that balance. The following are some tutorials that can help you:
3.) I also sense some clipping or distortion somewhere on the vocals. Probably you clipped it during recording or you are tracking too hot. You should know the correct method of tracking vocals.
4.) The blending of the backup and lead vocals is not properly done. The backup should sit at the back of the mix. So a little EQ and reverb on the backup vocals can make this possible. Checkout this article on mixing background vocals.
The stereo image of the mix is also very poor. I cannot sense instruments being panned left and right which are characteristics of professional music production. The reverb is also not properly being used. The song is too dry. Refer to the following tutorials for help:
5.) Some EQ problems do exist. For example, the bass is too dominant/strong in the mix. This can be hard to fix during the mastering process. Since your room is untreated, it will be harder for you to make accurate EQ judgment. Refer to the following tutorials for more details:
Also I find the arrangement boring and tiring. I only hear some drums, keyboards and that’s all. Why not add more instruments such as a guitar, additional keyboard arrangements? This makes the song very interesting and spacious to listen.
Mastering and Post-production
I also find some severe issues on the mastering as well. Guess what? Clipping and loss of dynamics; see the screenshot below of the waveform:
It clearly shows that some aspect of the waveforms exceed the maximum 0dBFS resulting to clipping and distortion.
The song is lacking in natural dynamics, almost all the sections are loud. This sounds bad and find out why.
The song really needs a lot of re-work particularly on the songwriting and production aspects. It seems that the production really misses a lot of important aspects and good practices for quality sound. As you can see, none of those problems are the results of low end hardware/recording equipments.
This is where a lot of beginners can go wrong or being misled. They blame the poor sound quality due to their low-end/cheap recording gears that in fact that the number one reason for poor quality lies in the skill of the songwriter, engineer, producer and the artist. This is the most important aspect where you will concentrate the full efforts for improvement.
Major recording label projects sounds good because they have great writers, experienced engineers, top producers and high caliber artist. Even if the production would take place in a home studio like yours and using your own gears, I bet the project would still sound great!
Content last updated on October 24, 2012