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How are sound recordings made?

4 min read

The process will vary from creator to creator.

There are different ways to make a sound recording, and there can be many different roles involved.

is the legal term for a recorded of a . That recording could be made in professional and home studios, live, or elsewhere. The sound recording is usually then made available on and for streaming and download platforms, for radio, or physical retail stores.

Example of how a sound recording may be made, and which roles may be involved at which stage. Note: All roles can be performed by the same person. There is no fixed way to do this.

How is a sound recording made?

There are different ways to make a sound recording, and there can be many different roles involved. The process will vary from to creator. For example, it could be performed or recorded by:

  • One of its creators, such as a

  • , such as or or both

  • Given as written or to one or a group of musicians to record

  • Recorded as a to be given to a recording artist to perform and re-recorded

Sometimes, of an earlier recorded musical work can also be included in the making of a sound recording.

Once the sound recording is made, it is typically sent to a and then the to it. This is usually the final step in creating the ready for release as a . But creators may do it differently. There is no right or wrong. Head over to our Mixing and Mastering topic to learn more about this.

This type of recording is intended for various purposes, such as distributing it commercially to be streamed and downloaded, playing it on the radio, or synching to a TV show or movie.

During studio performances, creators can be recorded together in one room or separately in different booths/studios to produce a high-quality sound recording of a musical work. Recording separate sound sources, often at different times, can then be used to create a single sound recording. Within this process, each instrument or voice is recorded onto an individual track, which provides greater flexibility.

An example of this would be recording a performer's vocal on its own and afterward recording the accompanying drum beat for that same sound recording. Both parts would then be combined during the mixing stage.

There are a few different techniques creators can use during recording sessions in a studio to best capture performances.

For example, multiple microphones could be used to capture different angles of a performance, and and tools can be used to adjust levels, add effects, and create a final mix that is balanced and polished.

Each sound recording can also be mixed to the correct volume through a mixing desk, and a variety of audio effects, such as , , , etc, can be added during the process, which offers creators and an opportunity to simulate natural acoustic environments and manipulate different qualities of the sound.

There are a number of advantages to a recording, including:

  • If a performer makes a mistake during a recording, you can re-record a new part to fix any errors

  • Being able to use only the best performances from each band member

  • Recording individual sections of a musical work with multiple takes, if necessary

  • Individuals can record independently of one another

  • It's faster and easier to edit individual performances than an entire live band recording

Performances are most often recorded with the intention of later editing the different vocal and instrumental parts of the recording, also known as , and polishing them into a professional final product.

Another type of recorded performance can be a live recording. This could be a recording of an acoustic performance or a live performance of a larger group, and sometimes in the presence of a studio audience.

Because studio performances are often used for purposes, they're also subject to laws and agreements that govern the ownership and in the sound recordings.

Image credit: Tiffany Orvet