Have you ever cooked something and it did not taste like you remembered it? Something was missing? Yes, it should be sweeter. Maybe, more chocolate. If only you could figure out what the missing thing was, your problem would be solved. This was the problem that I encountered when I went to record my songs. Something was missing and I was on a search to figure it out.
We have entered the digital recording age. No longer are folks recording on analog tape. Analog tape involved actual tape like a cassette tape or a reel to reel. To get rid of a bad section they would cut the tape and splice it back together. In the digital world you can erase a section, or cut and paste like we would do in a word document on our computers. It is so much cheaper and quicker but it does loss so of the warmth of the analog process.
As a songwriter I want my songs to sound great. I bought a Tascam DP-01 about fifteen years ago. It was a DAW. Digital Audio Workstation. It had sliders like you see on a mixing board. It had a forward/backward button, a play button, a stop button, and a record button. These buttons were like the buttons we all used to control our old cassette recorders in the eighties.
My goal was to achieve the perfect sound. The Tascam DP-01 gave me an accurate sound but not the perfect sound. The next problem was to figure out why my sound didn't match the sound in my head. Digital recordings can be harsh. My guitar which sounds sweet to my ears did not have that same sweetness on the recordings.
I needed to find out what the problem was. Let's just talk about the guitar for now. I play a Martin D-28. Martins are known for having a deep low end. I love the bass sound that my Martin delivers. My recorder doesn't. It makes is sound boomy. Not a good boomy. This can be adjusted by the EQ frequencies. A real life example of this is the old am/fm transistor radios. They had a knob that said, Tone. Turning the tone knob would give it more treble or more bass. If you found the sound that you liked you would leave it set in that position.
Another way to make you guitar sound better is to put on new strings. I love new guitar strings. I used to change my strings once a year. After changing them I would think, "I should of done this sooner. It sounds so good." I change my strings about every two months. I am due to change my strings now. A simple fix that made my guitar sound better was using a thinner pick. A thin and more flexible pick took out a lot of the harshness.
A more expensive way to get a better sound it to get a better microphone. Shure 57 and Shure 58's are great for live performances and electric guitar recordings. If you really want a good sweet sounding acoustic guitar you will need a condenser microphone. I bought my 57 and my 58 for around a hundred dollars each. A condenser mic starts at two hundred dollars and goes up. Usually higher price equals better quality and a better recording.
Are you starting to see a trend here? It is expensive to buy the equipment to get the great sound. You will need a quality recorder or a computer software program, mics, quality musical instruments, new guitar strings, and the list goes on and on. Currently, I have a set up that works great for me. I have a Roland 2480 (DAW) Digital Audio Workstation. Fifteen or twenty years ago it was a Cadillac. A great piece of equipment but technology has kept improving. I use it to make rough demo recordings. The rough part is my singing. I am not trying to record a perfect demo. I am trying to get a good enough recording so I can send it to a professional studio to reproduce my song but better.
It is amazing how much better my songs sound with a great singer. I wish I could sing like that but I can't. That is not in my skill set. Maybe the singer wishes that he could play guitar or write songs. We all have different talents and abilities. It is up to us to figure out what we can and can't do. The stuff we can't do we need to get someone who can do it better than us. This is how to get a great performance instead of an average demo.
I am still working on a way to do this cheaply. I don't want to spend a lot of money on a song that doesn't make money. I know that most of my songs will not be hits. The hard part is figuring out which ones could be and getting them done professionally to help them reach their full potential. What If I wrote a big hit and a producer could not imagine it because my singing was off key. I have heard songs that sounded great because of a great singer but the lyrics were terrible. So it can go both ways. The magic is when you have a great song and a great vocalist.