To DAW or not to DAW?

While the cost of digital audio workstations (Digital Audio Workstation = DAW) and recording equipment has declined significantly in recent years, many musicians have been able to record and produce their own songs regardless of their income level.

Unfortunately, this does not guarantee that every project is now being done qualitatively. Money still matters when it comes to quality studio equipment, software and computers. And no less important is the experience and professionalism of musicians and recording sound engineers.

For some musical genres, a low standard of quality is sometimes quite acceptable. For example, some varieties of rock and foil are quite simple in arrangements, rhythmic and instrumental parts, so that they are quite grabbing the most basic level of recording.

And from this their quality does not suffer, and the listener still enjoys it. As for modern heavy music, such things will not pass here.

Badly recorded metal almost always sounds vague and illegible. In this case, it is impossible to evaluate the quality of the material being recorded. Basically, poor quality of recording in general is largely determined by the recording of drums.

Fast, complex, saturated drum parts cannot be heard when recording is poor. Double drum is a significant element of the genre. Fast patterns and a variety of groupings of notes – this is an important element of style along with the dynamic and complex play on the small drum.

It can be difficult to transmit the energy that comes from the drummer. Recording iron, in particular, is very difficult. If the drums are poorly recorded, no editing or mixing them up will save them.

The main difficulty in recording heavy music – to transfer to the tape all its weight and power and not to lose clarity, legibility and clarity. Many novice sound engineers often make mistakes and get results that are far from perfect.

Your budget and the importance of drumming

The most important thing you have to learn is that a bad drum recording means a bad record of the whole group. Poor handling of recorded drums is the same.

Part of the problem here is the fairly wide range of the drum kit’s sound. Human hearing distinguishes between frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz (this range is narrowed with age and as different hearing aid injuries occur). Unlike other instruments in the mix, the drum kit sounds in almost the entire range.

It happens that the bass drum gives out 40 Hz, and splashes – frequencies close to 20 kHz. Unlike electric guitars, bass guitars and vocals, which are usually recorded from a single sound source, the drum set can consist of 10 drums, including 2 barrels, one small, four floor volumes, four suspended volumes, etc.

Don’t forget about the iron, everything is limited only by the fantasy and budget of the drummer. With all this variety and splendor it becomes very difficult to control the sound of each of the elements.

The recording at the studio

You have the money. Well, congratulations. If you can afford to record in a professional studio, consider yourself lucky. However, there are plenty of pitfalls here as well. Modern metal requires instruments to sound very clear and legible in the general mix.

With this in mind, avoid studios with strong echoes, as any additional reverberation makes the sound cloudy during the recording phase. You need a studio that is well soundproofed and has a reverberation time of about 0.3 seconds. In such a studio you will get the most orgue sound and easily controllable results, especially when recording drums.

Many studios have a special room for recording drums. This is a very important moment for the sound engineer you will be working with. If your budget allows you to record only part of the material in an expensive studio, record the drums there.

When you choose the right studio, make sure the recording room is properly prepared and they have all the microphones they need to record the drums.

High-quality microphone preamplifiers also play a very important role. If you’re going to be recording other instruments at home or elsewhere, make sure you get the drum tracks you want to record in the right format (Pro Tools, Nuendo) or as audio files (wav or aiff) that you can easily import into your music editor.


Once you have your drum files in your hands, you can start recording other instruments. If the budget does not allow you to continue recording in a professional studio, you can achieve a cool result at home with a good preamplifier, direct boxing and plug-ins.

High-quality preamp or di-box will allow you to record guitar and bass directly into the computer. After that, you can use a variety of plugins, emulating amplifiers, cabinets and effects.

You can also reamp already recorded tracks. Rumping is the transmission of a recorded signal through a guitar amplifier. At home, you can do a million takes at home in a relaxed environment until you’ve recorded the one you’re completely satisfied with.

Once all the tracks are ready, you just take them to the studio, steer the sound, and when you find what you need, play all the material through the amplifier, taking the signal off the microphones.

It’s a very efficient and effective method of saving very serious amounts of money. Just as with drums, good microphones, preamplifiers and proper acoustic processing of the recording room are all good for you. And because the tracks are already recorded, you can spend time in the studio looking for the sound you want, instead of worrying about recording every take.