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Sound Advice

David Bottrill’s Three Essential Tips

When PS caught up with Grammy-winning producer David Bottrill, he had these bits of advice for budding producers: 

1. Make sure your power is sorted out: “The first thing to sort out in any studio is power. If you’re plugging into lousy power, your recordings are going to be messy. Not only are you going to have bad clocking, because the clocking often goes off, but you’re going to have equipment that doesn’ t run well; there’s going to be buzzes. Sort out your power, even if it’s to the point of having to get some sort of power conditioning system. That’s first and foremost.”

2. The cleaner the signal path, the better: “It’s all about signal path. The cleaner and simpler,
the better. Microphone into mic preamp into compressor, straight to [DAW] or tape; don’t fuss about with lots of different things in the middle. The cleaner the recordings you have, the less you’ll be fighting during mixing because your signal will be as clear as it can be. It will take EQ a whole lot better.”

3. A great performance is more important than a great sound: “Make sure you can set the scene so that everybody feels comfortable – like they can do their best work. That’s less of a technical thing but still very important from an artistic standpoint and a performance standpoint – even if you have to bring the singer to stand right next to you and record right there with just headphones and quiet speakers. Do whatever is going to get the best performance because that will sort out your sound. Your sound will be dramatically improved by the quality of a performance. A great performance with a mediocre sound will still sound better than a bad performance with great sound.”

David Bottrill is a three-time Grammy-winning Canadian record producer. His extensive list of credits includes work with King Crimson, Muse,
Tool, and Peter Gabriel. www.davidbottrill.com.

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