...And Why Editing Won't Suck The Life Out Of Your Music
In our last episode we’ve helped you find out how tight things need to be and what you can do to improve your performances. But it doesn’t end there.
If you’re brutally honest with yourself, while comparing your best raw takes to your favorite records, you will probably still notice quite a big difference in the quality of the performance.
Chances are your timing and intonation are still not 100% where they should be. And besides the fact that you’re probably comparing yourself to outstanding, world class musicians, the main reason for that is called editing.
Now, most people have at least some idea of what editing is, but they either
- don’t understand it completely
- doubt that it’s really necessary
- or they even believe that it hurts the music!
We want to debunk that theory, demystify editing and explain why it is such a crucial step, no matter if your music is supposed to sound organic or super accurate and polished. If you want to end up with a professional sounding record that resonates with people you need to understand the importance of editing.
You gotta understand how powerful it is as a tool to ENHANCE the feel and vibe of your songs, not destroy it.
In this episode we explain what editing can do for you, the different ways it can be used and we give you some practical, real world examples that might or might not surprise you.
This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.
People Mentioned In The Podcast:
Steve Jordan (Drummer), John Mayer, Chris Lord-Alge, Thomas Krottenthaler,
TSRB Podcast 044 - Why Your Tracks Need Editing (NOT REVIEW FOR MISTAKE)
[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] Always be intentional. I think you shouldn't ever edit something just because, and you shouldn't leave the mistakes. And just because you need to know why this is the self recording band podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are, DIY stuff. Let's go.
Hello and welcome to the show. Self recording band podcast. I am your host. Benedick time. And I'm here as always with my friend and cohost Malcolm Owen flood. How are you,
Malcom: [00:00:33] Malcolm? Hello? I'm great. Benny, how are you today?
Benedikt: [00:00:37] I'm fine. Thank you. Last week you asked me how I was. I told a little bit about what was going on now this week.
I want to know. What did you do on the weekend? How are you? How's you've been,
Malcom: [00:00:47] I think good. Yeah. What did I do on the weekend? I just hung out with my fiance quite a bit because that's all you really can do. Um, yeah. Got some, did a Costco shopping [00:01:00] trip. It was invigorating stuff, right? Yeah. Um, yeah. Sounded like an old man, but, uh, it was actually awesome.
It was very relaxing. I, I didn't work. I resisted the urge to go into the studio and I went into the studio one time, almost, almost about to work. And then I said, no, and I grabbed a video game controller and play video games and stuff, which sounds counterproductive, but it was the best thing I could've done.
I like it too. I was, I've just been like really grinding and enjoying it, but, uh, For people that haven't mixed too often. If you mix for too long and too much, you, you hit a wall and then you have to take a real break. So it's, it's more productive to take the forced yourself to take breaks along the way.
Benedikt: [00:01:50] totally. You have to. And it's sometimes you are way beyond the point where you should have actually taken like that break and you [00:02:00] don't even notice. So, yeah, it's hard to, to notice when that happens, I think, and not really sure. Sometimes I have great mixing sessions that go on for hours and days sometimes, but, and, and sometimes I don't really, I'm not really able to make great decisions anymore after like two or three hours.
So I don't know, there seems to be a number of factors that play into that, but typically I think most people agree that. Without a break more than like three or four hours is almost not doable. And then with a break after a full day of eight or 10 hours, it's definitely over. And if you've done that for a week or so you definitely need to have a longer break it's.
Malcom: [00:02:43] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's like, not just your ears. It's a lot of mental stuff too. You gotta like keep creativity there and just like perspective and, and energy. Um, and then yeah, your ears are another thing entirely though. Cause they do play tricks [00:03:00] on you. Oh yeah.
Benedikt: [00:03:01] Oh
Malcom: [00:03:01] yeah, they do. Yeah. I'll be vulnerable and honest here.
I had a few weeks back. Like one of the worst mixes I've ever done in my life I sent out and it was abandoned, very comfortable with, uh, like very comfortable with I've worked with them a ton. And so they know what my work should be. And, uh, and I was like, Oh yeah, this sounds cool. Just like, you know, for some reason I'm monitoring twice as loud as I normally do.
And I'm just like grinding it out just the end of like a long day. And I'm like, yeah, this sounds super bang. And I'm, I'm in. Send it off. And then it was like an immediate, like, Whoa, something's wrong here. And then I was like, Sure. That sounds awesome. Um, but then I did, uh, you know, get myself some time away from it came back and I was like, Oh, thank God.
It's like my friends that I mixed this one for. And, uh, I know I wouldn't have sent it to them if it wasn't, I almost always do. Uh, I like finish it one day and then don't send it till the next day kind of move, which is very wise by the way. Uh, [00:04:00] uh, but this time I didn't and uh, Oh my God, it was bad. Yeah, but then it ended up awesome.
Okay. The remix was like, okay, I know where I went wrong. It's fine.
Benedikt: [00:04:12] Yeah. Yeah. To appear as Malcolm said. Um, always, absolutely always. If, if the deadline allows, um, just let it sit there. Go back to it the next day and then confirm that it's good and then send it. That's something I struggled sometimes with, because I'm so stoked on what I do, usually that I just want to want to get it out and get the feedback and I just want them to have fun with it and listen to it.
So the second that I consider it finished, I just want to send it out. But I always need to convince myself to not do that. Even if I think it's really rare, just wait and the next day go back to it. And almost always, I find something that's really worth tweaking. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:04:51] Sometimes it's not even worth, you know, like, cause you're like, Oh, I just got to go in there and like micro adjust the snare 0.02 DBS.
No. And it's [00:05:00] like, okay, why did I do that? That's not bad, but like that's, that's normally yet it's just minor little tweaks and, but you're, you're. Yeah. For the most part, it's like, okay. Yeah, this is good. Awesome. Um, but every once in a while, it's like really glad I gave that a day to December. Um, and, uh, like I was in the middle of like a string of like of home runs, like the send off the mix, no revision requests off we go.
I'm like, And then this one mix was just guarded. I don't know what happened. And this is just what we're talking about. It's just, my ears were probably fried. I was the end of the weekend. Uh, yeah. Yeah. So just, uh, that can happen. That can happen happen. Nobody bats a hundred. Nope.
Benedikt: [00:05:44] I have, I have a similar story.
I have a similar story story two weeks ago. It was not because of ear fatigue, but I made another, um, like very common mistake. And like, if you are sharing such a story I to share, [00:06:00] um, I ruined the mix as well, but not because of fatigue. But because last minute, like just before I got, I finished the mix, I decided to reference a couple of tracks.
Uh, and I was happy with the mix as it was, and I just should've just left it there, like leave it that way. But, um, I decided like one of the references that the band gave me where, or some of the references they gave me were CLA mixes, like really radio rock, Big sort of mixes and that's not my typical white vibe that I'm going for.
Like I re like it a little more raw and organic and like, I don't know, not so scooped. I like to have a fuller, mid range most of the time. And, but then I listened to those CLA mixes and decided that I was going in totally in the wrong direction. So I tweaked my mix to match those CLA mixes more. And that completely ruined everything I should have just left it as it was.
I tried to mimic something that was [00:07:00] just not right for the songs. And I should've went with my gut feelings, but I decided to go after the CLA mixes and I sent it to the band and we both decided that this was not good at all and not, not the right thing to do with these songs. So we changed it. And what we ended up with was pretty much my first version of the mix.
So yeah, that can happen
Malcom: [00:07:21] as well. Yeah, that is, uh, that is part of been, there is all I can say to that. It's like you pull in the reference mix and then it's like, it just like flips what you thought was awesome. All of a sudden, like, you're like, Oh wow, this is, this is so different. It must be wrong, but that's not necessarily the case.
It might be so different than that. Right. Um, so they're needing to choose good. Like accurate references is almost a skill that you have to develop. I feel like, like what, what is a good reference reference for one band might not be for another song or another band? Um, yeah, I've got like a whole catalog of references and I'm pretty careful about what I drank in, um, [00:08:00] to the session, because it can like really mess with you.
Benedikt: [00:08:03] Yeah. Yeah. And sometimes like, in this case, the bank gives you a reference, but even those references might not be right for a product project. They just don't know.
Malcom: [00:08:12] We'll hit up bands sufficient of what their song should be was wrong.
Oh my God. That's never happened in my life. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So, yeah.
Benedikt: [00:08:25] That's and they, they agreed with everything that I said, so they didn't want the CLA mix in the end, but they thought that they wanted one. So
Malcom: [00:08:33] no, they liked the songs. That's what they liked. Almost every reference I get is that they liked the song and.
Um, occasionally there's something there. Like, you know what the factor is, you can tell when they, they are sending a proper reference because they're like, I like this about it. Like they talk about it, not just this song's great, you know? Um, they're like that, like the [00:09:00] drum sound is very on par with what we're doing kind of thing.
And like, stuff like that. And you're like, okay, I can take this.
Benedikt: [00:09:05] Yeah, you're right. Yeah, absolutely. That's that's actually something you could tell. Bands, or you can communicate within your band, um, that if someone wants to use something as a reference, have a reason for it and try to describe why you want to do it.
And yeah, that's absolutely good. Okay. Well, uh, we should go get to today's episode, um, which is sort of part two of what we were talking about last week. So it's all about the performances. It's all about, um, yeah, the songs. And, uh, how they are being played. And, uh, we, last week we were talking about what is actually tight enough, how tight is tight enough, because people seem to struggle with that.
And we figured that it is, uh, it's a combination of performance and also editing. Um, so if you want to get something [00:10:00] really tight, you need to play it. Well, you need to decide, first of all, what is actually tight enough, then you need to learn how to play it. You need to analyze your. Your recordings of what you do, and you need to try to get it as good as possible, but then there's another step and that is called editing.
And that happens after the performance has been recorded. And it's almost always necessary contrary to popular belief. Um, editing is almost always necessary and helpful for your music. It doesn't hurt your music by default. So, uh, that's, that's what we're trying to talk. And explain, um, the talk about unexplained to you today in this episode.
So why do you need, do your tracks need editing? What's the number one reason, in your opinion,
Malcom: [00:10:48] there is a misconception that. Editing removes feel, uh, from, from music. Um, and I would argue quite the opposite. I would argue that usually when we're editing, we're actually trying [00:11:00] to correct feel or, or reinforce feel, um, and make sure that the feel is what this getting across and not technical deficiencies.
Um, so the first reason I'm doing that is to reinforce the, the, the kind of core aspects of the song. Which, uh, in the modern recording environment is almost always starting with rhythmic stuff. Um, so we're kind of creating a groove, I guess, first and foremost.
Benedikt: [00:11:29] Yeah, I agree. And, um, to me, the biggest reason for why in tracks need editing is that I think the level.
Of quality or the level of not perfection. That's, that's what people will, will take and, and use against us, but not perfection, but the way modern recording sound and the way. Them, uh, we, yeah, the ma the way modern recording sound and what we like about most [00:12:00] records and not, not only modern recordings, but great recordings in general, because editing was a thing in the past as well.
Many people aren't aware of that, but it's, it's always been the thing basically. Um, the way professional record sounds, I put it, that's put it that way. Is usually not only achieved through playing, and if you compare your best raw takes the best possible thing, you can, you can do the best. You can pull off and to take that and compare it to your favorite records, you will probably still notice quite a big difference in the quality of the performance.
And. One reason for that is that you probably comparing yourself to like outstanding unicorn musicians. But the other reason for this is called editing. So one reason, one, the biggest reason for why your tracks need editing is if you want to compete with your favorite records, if you want to have a professional sounding record that.
Doesn't distract the listener that lets the listener focus on the song on the music, on the lyrics, on the melodies without [00:13:00] getting distracted, that evokes the, the emotions, um, that it's supposed to. Then you, you will probably need some editing. It's just part of it. It's not possible to do it without it.
With the exception of a very few genres that are very loose. By definition, but
Malcom: [00:13:20] yeah, there's uh, this reminded me, um, uh, one of my favorite guitarists is John Mayer. Who is pretty polar polarizing. As far as music fans go, a lot of people love him. A lot of people don't. Um, but he's definitely a fantastic guitarist, but I grabbed one of his albums a while back and in the credits, he actually gave a shout out to the editing engineer on his album.
Um, and it was like a, like a custom little, like it said something like, like a special thanks to so-and-so who personally touched every note on this album. Um, and it was like referring to somebody going through. Literally every little transient on every track, you know? Um, and it's like [00:14:00] John Mayer stuff is very high quality productions.
Um, but have a ton of feel. Yeah. So what's going on there, right? Yeah. Like somebody going through every detail on those albums and they're huge budgeted albums, you know, these very, very massive, um, especially like he came up in like the, the golden era of big budget. Stuff as well. Uh, or just after anyways, but you know, millions of dollars being spent on this stuff.
Yeah. Somebody going through every detail, but he's got like some super groovy rhythm tracks going down. Um, and it he's editing everything. It still feels vibey. And he's using the best musicians in the world. Like he's literally using Steve Jordan who was as legendary. Has they come as far as drummers go.
Um, and things are still getting edited. So. What really Benny and I are talking about is that a lot of bands get started in this and want us to record him and thinks that they don't need [00:15:00] to. Um, and it's like, okay, why could an inexperienced span not need it? But the best musicians in the world are embracing it.
Yes. There's a, there's a kind of a weird divide there. Um, and it kinda like, we talked about click tracks, so it used to be the thing of like, Don't use click tracks, but it's like, but all your favorite bands do. Um, uh, so it's kinda the same thing. Um, and editing has that kind of thing to it as well, where people think it's cheating or, or something like that.
Um, I just don't agree.
Benedikt: [00:15:34] Nope. And you just said it basically, they are not the best misters musicians in the world. They not only are okay with it. They embrace it because they know it makes the performances even better. They know that by the end, every single note will be there. Intentionally, every note will be exactly where it's supposed to be to create the perfect, like emotional reaction.
And like when people listen to the music and they embrace it because [00:16:00] all they want is to make the perfect record and not in a technically perfect sense, like perfect record doesn't mean that every microsecond is like, you know, everything's on the grid to the microseconds. Not that it's perfect for the song, for the sound, for the music, for.
The emotion that the content of the songs. So all they want to do is make the perfect record and make what they make sure that it turns out, um, the way they wanted it to. So, yeah, that's why they embrace it. And I think that. It many people know what editing is, but I think they either don't understand it completely.
And so they are afraid of it, or they doubt that it's really necessary because they believe that those big records have not been edited. Right. Or they even believe that it hurts the music, as you said, like, um, but all of that I think comes from a lack of knowledge and [00:17:00] understanding, and I think most people would be surprised.
When the C word, when they solid, like what went into that favorite records as perfect. And the John Mayer is a perfect example for that, because I bet when they went through this record and edited it, they were not looking at the grid and like, they were not putting the acoustic guitar on every like bar or every, um, Every beat, but they were listening to the music and they made sure that when it's supposed to be early, it was earlier when it's supposed to be late, it was late and by the exact right amount, you know, and that's an art in and of itself.
Malcom: [00:17:34] Yeah. Like another little perspective is that they could have recorded that album without any editing. And it would still sound tighter linear band, you know, that's the level they're at. Um, but they are still trying to get further. Um, so I feel like for, for bands that aren't super experienced with studio proficiency, uh, not editing is like, you are really doing yourself an extra disservice because they're competing against [00:18:00] bands that are on another level that are also using these tools.
Just kind of a weird way to think about it. Um, yeah, I think like you said, it's not about always just putting into the grid. I think a lot of, bit of editing and being a good editor, um, and being a good producer is choosing what not to touch. So that fellow went through every little transient on the John Mayer album, but he didn't touch everyone.
Like he just looked at everyone, you know, um, some stuff didn't need to be moved. I'm sure, probably a lot of stuff in their case. Um, but it was considered and I consider that part of editing.
Benedikt: [00:18:35] Yes. Agreed. So yeah, we kinda, we are on our way of like, uh, to debunk that theory, demystify, editing. And, um, we're trying to explain to you again, why this is such a crucial step and I don't know why we, I don't know, have we talked about this before?
Like we are 44 episodes and we [00:19:00] didn't have a dedicated editing episode. I think we, every once in a while it came up. But we didn't really, um, yeah, dedicated a whole episode or a huge part of it to this topic, but it's just, it, I feel like it is really, really important. And the thing is every, every time I mentioned this topic, be it in a conversation or an F in a post online or in a Facebook group or whatever, immediately a discussion starts because I don't know, it's just.
Some people immediately jump on the conversation and tell me, or tell others that editing is the devil others, um, jump in and like defend editing. And, but it seems to be a topic that's polarizing and sort of important to people, but most of them don't really know what they're talking
Malcom: [00:19:46] about.
Benedikt: [00:19:48] So, yeah. So I really think it's important to talk about it and to clarify.
What it can do, what it can't do and why most songs just need it.
[00:20:00] Malcom: [00:20:00] Yes. Um, what's the, is the Hippocratic oath. It's the doctors have to like swear to do no harm. Um, yeah, above all, do no harm. That is a very good rule of thumb with editing. Hopefully you're not doing any harm. Uh, and you know, actually that's like only somewhat true.
Sometimes you do have to make things sound like an extreme situation. I will be okay with. Like an artifact from something being stretched, if it is worth the benefit of like the timing being correct or whatever. But, uh, for the most part do no harm is, is the goal here for sure.
Benedikt: [00:20:38] Yeah, absolutely. And we need to make clear once again, that editing is not about removing the field or.
Any thing organic about your music or like sucking the life out of the music. That's not what it's about. It's that the opposite is true. It's about removing what is distracting, what doesn't serve the song about doing no harm has not come sad. And [00:21:00] it's about leaving that stuff in and, and even putting more focus on the stuff that's really contributing to the emotion and the impact of the song.
And. That, that it's the opposite of what many people think it is. So you want to remove what's what's distracting and what doesn't serve the music. So actual mistakes, then things like noise of course, and stuff that just doesn't belong there is that is also part of editing. Just cleaning everything up, you know, but then removing obvious mistakes.
That's the most basic level of editing, I think. And, but then it goes further and it goes into the, you know, when you want to improve the performance and that's what Narcan was, was talking about, what, what you were talking about when you said, um, even the best musicians in the world, benefit from that beyond just removing mistakes, which probably doesn't happen as often with those kinds of musicians.
Um, there's still editing to do, because [00:22:00] we want to take their. Almost flawless performances and make them really flawless. No,
Malcom: [00:22:06] yes, exactly. You know, what is just occurring to me? Uh, that there's, again, weirdly some people are like strongly against editing for whatever reason, but nobody's against like compression or limiting and, and like using compression on like a drum kit is just as much as editing as, as editing is like we're, we're totally changing the dynamics of how they played.
Um, and, and very intentionally, so it's like, it's the same thing we're we're editing is mixing in, uh, in a way. Yeah. Um, because how it kicked drum sounds when the bass is early on it or synced up to it is totally different.
Benedikt: [00:22:46] Absolutely. That's actually a great way to look at it. Like we are constantly, we've completely okay with.
Pretending that a drummer hit harder than he actually did, but we're not okay with pretending he was [00:23:00] early or late, but like the complete, the same thing. Um, we've just been the policing, the performance to serve the song and to make it better. So, and what's also interesting is what you said about the bass and the kick.
Um, that's actually one of the points here on our, on our outline is that you can actually change or improve the, the sound of. The recording of the song, not only the performance, not only how it or the performance feels, but it will sound better and different if it is edited or performed properly.
Absolutely. Because things add up, you know, if there's, if on the first beat of a part, the cake, the bass and the rhythm guitar are perfectly together, the part will hit completely different and sound completely different than if it's like a sloppy beginning of that part.
Malcom: [00:23:51] Yeah. Yeah. I really like that.
It's just editing is mixing it's like pre-mix. Yeah. And then like it's no wonder [00:24:00] that like really loose recordings are harder to mix.
Benedikt: [00:24:05] Yes. I would even go as far as to say that some bands, some people would be better off if they had to choose, they would be better off choosing editing instead of mixing.
Then the other way around, because I think if you edit properly, if you really do an awesome job editing and performance, like let's say you have an okay performance and you really do an amazing job editing it. And then you just do a rough fader balance and panning and no real mixing. That will probably sound better than.
The unedited performance, like made sound like th that's been made. Um, yeah, that's been mixed. I've made sound good. You know, like I think the edited great performance with a well let's just with the fate of volume balance will sound
Malcom: [00:24:49] better. It definitely could. I think it's on some situations that could be totally true.
I've definitely had some situations where I've had to make something and it is a mess [00:25:00] and I have to like figure out what is the strongest thing in like strongest performance. I've actually that, like, that's a weird thing. It's like, okay, to salvage this, I have to draw attention to whatever is. Like the least crappy.
So maybe that's the drums. I can make the drums sound awesome. Cause the player was okay there, but everything else, the guitars are really bad, they know to tune. So I got to like draw attention away from them and that is such a compromise. Um, think about how much better that end product would have been.
If the guitars had been in tune, I wouldn't have had to try and hide them. Um, so yeah, it's like that kind of goes back to both just editing, effecting the mix, but also the emotional impact of the song now as well, because, uh, I don't know. Do you think about songs as like sustained based versus rhythmic based.
Um, I know, like that's something I picked up from Joel wine, a sec, uh, a mixer we're both familiar with. Um, and, and he kind of like labels things in ways like that. Like going with a more transient, heavy mix, which is more like, you know, drum centered [00:26:00] centric, um, or a more sustained one where you're using more like keys or guitars and stuff like that.
Uh, it's kind of an interesting way to look at both, uh, productions, like and mixes, um, off topic. But
Benedikt: [00:26:12] yeah, I know in a way I do, in a way I do that definitely informs some of the decisions that I make.
Malcom: [00:26:18] So was not my usual kind of perception method, but it is a fun way to look at it every once in a while.
Benedikt: [00:26:23] Yeah. Yep. You're right. Yeah. And in a way I do like totally off topic, but the way I shaped the low end for example depends on that a lot, I think. And yeah, it's definitely interesting. Um, yeah, I mean, so you can definitely improve the performance you can remove what's what's distracting. You can remove mistakes also.
That's also an interesting thing I think is even if you have perfect individual performances, let's say you have super good musicians and everyone did their part. Like if you listen to the Parsons solo, they'd just be perfect [00:27:00] performances and touching. And like the vibe is there and the emotion is there and everything, but that doesn't mean that together, they create the perfect version of the song.
Maybe they still need editing because the individual amazing performances. Need some help too, too. So they will work together. Well, yeah, that could, that could just be the case.
Malcom: [00:27:18] So it is so important to understand the, the not editing thing. It works a lot better if things are played together, if they're overdubbed, it's a fricking disaster.
In my opinion. Um, there's there is a difference in how people gel together when it's overdub versus played together live. Um, and I've, I've definitely, actually, I just had a band and the poor bassist had a great take on the second take, but the drummer's take. Came like three or four after, and we were getting bets live.
So he's like, well, I got it on the second one. And I'm like, I don't care about that. Take man. Like I'm drums first here. And you're whatever gel to that is going to be my priority. And if we need to overdub to [00:28:00] those drums, it'll, it'll be what it is kind of thing. Cause like his perfect take. Is not, not to those drums.
It's like, it won't work together at all. Um, so yeah, it's like this connection thing is important to consider and most recordings these days are of course overdubbed so you're losing that. Um, so we're using like a reference, like a click and play into the, you know, the previously recorded instruments. So maybe trumps.
But it's still just different and it needs the helping hand of, of us manually going in and just making sure it's all how, how we intend.
Benedikt: [00:28:35] Yeah, totally. Totally. So what would you say to the people who buy now will still say well, but my favorite records definitely have mistakes in them. And they're definitely not perfect and they don't sound edited and all the modern recordings, I don't like them because they sound too perfect.
So I'm against editing.
Malcom: [00:28:57] So down at the bottom here on our outline, I wrote [00:29:00] editing as a time-saver. Uh, and that's, that's pretty important actually, because what your favorite band might have done is maybe really good, but does have some mistakes and maybe they didn't edit. I'm going to say they probably actually did have some editing, but, uh, but, uh, But maybe you're right.
Maybe they didn't, but they probably had a lot of time to play that in the studio. Um, and time is something that most bands don't have a lot of, if you're in a, like a rental studio, like a commercial studio, you have very little time I'm sure because it's very expensive. So editing can be the difference between, uh, like, uh, uh, pretty much to throw away, take and to keep her take, if you're under a time crunch kind of thing.
Um, you can really salvage some stuff with that. So I think it's important just, uh, like if you want results that are even up to like that level in a short amount of time and, and your ability is not there, editing is really going to be the clutch, um, that, that makes that [00:30:00] possible for you, but okay. That didn't really answer your question.
Benedikt: [00:30:02] I'm not sure in a way that's part of the answer differently,
Malcom: [00:30:07] but then yeah. To the imperfections, like being okay. I mean, it's, it's something we've said before. It's like it's, despite them. Not because of them. Right. Um, it's, it's like, there's always going to be examples of that, but like, that's not why the song was successful.
It's an amazing song for sure.
Benedikt: [00:30:28] Yeah, absolutely. And I also think that these famous records that we all like, that we all love that may might have, or definitely have some small mistakes or imperfections in them. First of all. Yeah. Despite them not because of them, because they didn't have the tools we have today.
Now you might say, okay. So, but that's what makes those records, those recordings special. And if they would have, like, if they had the tools, they would have ruined it. I don't think they would have, but, um, other than that, I [00:31:00] think. Those musicians, especially back then when it was so hard to become like a professional musician, when they were gatekeepers, when not everybody was able to go to the studio and record a record with a budget, those people were almost always like really exceptional artists and musicians.
So comparing. Ourselves to those musicians and assuming we can do the same and if we leave our mistakes and it will be the same, the same magic will happen. That happened back then. It's just dangerous because it's not likely that it will, we are not like those are like really unicorn outstanding musicians.
And those were also moments in time like that, that would just captured and that were. It's not that every band that enters the studio is able to capture that moment. It was the right time for that song, with the right people in the right room. They've probably been in that studio for months or years, working on that record and suddenly clicked.
And this happened in this second and they captured it. It's not something you can just [00:32:00] reproduce by like setting up a bunch of microphones and interface in your practice room and doing it for two weeks. That's not the same thing. So you can't assume that this will happen. And I also think that most mistakes that end up on our records today.
Are, they are not intentional. They are not magical. They are just the result of us not being able to do any better. And so there's no reason to keep them. There's really no reason why would they, the songs, you know, it's, there's nothing magical about them. So I think you should always, and that's what it comes down to.
If you want to have mistakes in your songs and imperfections, because you think it helps the music. You should question every single one of those mistakes and like look for a really good reason to keep it. And if there's no good reason, if it's just because you think mistakes are good, then you should probably remove it.
Like you better have a really good reason to leave those in. [00:33:00] Sometimes it, they could help. Sometimes it is cool sometimes. Being a little late or early or whatever, or having a little, like, I dunno, sometimes noisy things or whatever can be really cool. Can, can add vibe and character to a record, but you better have a reason for keeping
Malcom: [00:33:19] it in.
You'll know as well, lightning strikes. It's like, for sure, like I've got a dog barks in the back of like a vocal take on, on a song I did. And I was like, Oh, that was like, that was so perfect. Like how it's timed everything, like, listen to that. You can like, it's just snuck in there and yeah. Bands like, yes, absolutely.
That's so cool. Um, but, uh, If it had been like on top of the word like that they're singing and like distracting then probably not. Right. Like it just, it happened and we could, we knew instantly it was awesome. Um, but most of the time, if my dog's barking, I'm like, all right, stop the tape. I can't have dogs [00:34:00] barking in every album.
Benedikt: [00:34:01] Exactly. And by the way, the same is true for the other way around. If you decide to edit something, you better have a good reason for it as well. So yeah. Like natural feel that actually fits the song is something completely different than a mistake. And this should be removed. Of course this shouldn't absolutely not.
So, um, it's the same unit. You need to think about it, the exact same way. So if you have a performance that's right, Misty. Great. And you decide to edit it just because you heard that you should edit your music. That's not what we're trying to say here. You should have a reason for it. You should. If you think it will be better after it's edited because you want it really tight, then do it.
But if you think, um, and you need to have the experience to really be able to tell that that's the hard part, but if it's not better, if the song is perfect, as it is, the performance is perfect as it is, you might ruin it by editing. That can totally be the case. [00:35:00] So when in doubt, just try it. Maybe make a copy.
Edit the drums to the grid or edit the bass and the guitars to the drums. Make it perfect. Compare the two versions and you will immediately know what feels better. Show it to others if you're still struggling, but like do some experimenting, do some tests and then use whatever is better. But in both cases always be intentional.
I think you shouldn't, you shouldn't ever edit something just because, and you shouldn't leave the mistakes. And just because you, you know, I need to know why.
Malcom: [00:35:31] Yeah. You'll find that as you develop your skills as an editor, Um, which is part of the tool bag of a DIY recording that cause editing isn't we just said that editing is mixing, but it is not the mixers job.
It is. It's like along the way process, right? Um, that, that has to happen. So it's gotta be, whoever's like, it's, it's just gotta happen. But generally, if you're a self producing self recording band, Um, which you obviously are. If you're listening [00:36:00] to this, you got to develop these skills on your own or, or be willing to hire somebody to do it.
But in general, it's pretty wise to develop these skills. I think a very good tool set to have at your disposal. Um, anyways, I lost my train of thought entirely talking about that.
It's talking about something, uh, Sorry guys. Two cups of coffee. Wasn't enough.
Benedikt: [00:36:29] Like editing is part of the two black over DIY engineer. Um, that's what you said.
Malcom: [00:36:35] You're trying to remind me of time. Can we go again? Oh yeah. Okay. Yeah. It's back. Um, yeah, as you develop these skills, yeah. It'll become like the, the different types of tightness will become different tools that you can use based on the situation you're in.
Um, like you'll know what those guitars could sound like. If you went really crazy with like the doubles and made them really sync up. Um, versus what they are when [00:37:00] they're with the players' ability, just doing it naturally kind of thing. You'll know what it would be like if you just kind of slightly aligned them you'll they kind of becomes like a color palette that you can use.
Um, and that might be like something you're making a decision on, like with each step of the song, like, so you might have super tight drums, but leave guitars loose or you might have the opposite, you know? Um, and, and it's like, yeah, it's a very conscious and active decision making going on. It's not just, this is my move go kind of thing.
It's like, it's a taste decision, but until you've done it, it's really hard to know. What that will be like. So you have to develop the skills and try it out and go to these different extremes, um, to kind of find out what's pop possible and learn what that sounds like. Yeah. Um, I remember until I've talked about this before, but when I, my band did an album with Eric rats, a big shot producer over here in Canada.
And until I'd done guitars with those guys, I had no idea that guitars could get sound that good. [00:38:00] It was like, I was not even in the ballpark of what I thought was tight, um, was, was so far off what tight can be. And, and for like that big modern rock kind of sounding guitar tone that's I learned how to get there through that process.
Um, and what I like, how vigilant I need to be to pull that off.
Benedikt: [00:38:18] Yes, absolutely.
Malcom: [00:38:19] It's a lot more vigilant than you think.
Benedikt: [00:38:22] Oh yeah, it is. It is. It absolutely is. And I think, yeah, same for me. Nobody has an idea. Uh, of what, what professional editing actually looks like until you like, see it and it's, it was a big aha moment for me as well.
Yeah. And it took quite a while. Actually, even when I thought I knew what editing was, I was still blown away by the, by the amount of detail. That like professionals put into that. And even today, I'm not doing much editing anymore because like I have Thomas who does a lot of editing for me and outsource, editing to other people, but I know how to do it.
And I've edited a bunch [00:39:00] of myself, but every time I get edited tracks back from someone who's taken it really seriously. I'm still kind of blown away by it. I'm still kind of learning. I'm still, I don't know. It's like, there are some people who do nothing but editing every day, day in, day out, they're real editing specialists and the speed, the confidence in their decisions, their ability to judge, if something needs like needs some correction or not.
Is, it's actually pretty fascinating. That's a really mindblowing skill to have, and it can totally, it's an integral part of making a record. It's super valuable to have those people and to have these skills. And if you are DIY engineer or band recording themselves, as Malcolm said, Absolutely a skill you want to develop.
You don't need to be the best edit, but you, you, I think you should at least know some basic editing, just, yeah, just so you know what it is all about, just so that you can talk about it with your engineer, it mixing [00:40:00] engineer, whatever. And, um, yeah, it's just, it's just a value, very valuable skill to have also it kinds of it, kinds of it kind of tells you, and that goes back to the last episode.
It kind of tells you. When something is tight enough or not because once, you know, what can or can't be done in editing and how tight something should be after editing, you can make a decision about whether or not your take that you just recorded. Your performance was actually good enough.
Malcom: [00:40:29] Absolutely.
Yeah. That, uh, segues here. Most of what we've been kind of referring to. I think anyways, a lot of it's been referring to like timing editing. Um, where we're like, you know, nudging clips around the timeline to sync stuff up, but there's, there's kind of like a, I can kind of think of like four spots. There's like timing, which of course.
Um, but there's also pitch, right? So tuning stuff, um, usually vocals, but you can also, you can do it all sorts of stuff. Bass guitars, guitars. I mean, Just even like [00:41:00] polyphonic tuners that can tune like individual notes and chords. I've never had to do that, but appealing. Um, and, uh, and then there's like noise repair stuff, which is actually super important.
And, uh, like that, that, that happens, uh, more often than you think, but like click bleed getting through in something. Um, and needing to like, be able to pull out the sound of a metronome, bleeding into something, or like weird clicks and pops that pop up and recording, um, getting rid of like clipping distortion sometimes, you know, like there's noise, repair editing, and then there's of course, like we said, there's kind of like mixing, editing where you're editing for Sonic decisions.
Um, like. For example, I just did a pretty like modern rock, new metal song. And I chopped the end of like the notes for these like Don, Don, Don, Don da, da, da. And it's like various Ricardo, like inhumanly staccato on every instrument. Like literally just deleted all the audio from the timeline in those little shots.
And, uh, that was a [00:42:00] Sonic decision, not a performance decision. Really. I needed like there literally to be a lack of noise there.
Benedikt: [00:42:07] Yeah, totally.
Malcom: [00:42:08] Um, so yeah, what you get, you gotta, like, you should develop skills in really pitch and time it for, for the DIY recordist. Who's trying to kind of just learn the, like the bare minimum of, uh, skills that are going to really help you get by and making a record.
I think timing, editing and pitch editing are the two I would focus on noise repair is like, you kind of get to get specialty software and stuff like that. So, yeah, probably don't do that. Just work, make sure that you don't have bad noises in your recording, so it's better. And then the mixing thing, that's, you know, that's mixing things, but there's also kind of production.
Um, but yeah, to develop those skills is first off timing and then a pitch. Um, some does do have pitch software, some don't, uh, so I guess that could be tricky if you have to buy something like that. I don't think anybody can become a truly good [00:43:00] vocal recordist, like recording engineer until they've tuned some vocals.
Benedikt: [00:43:04] Yeah, absolutely. And that's also ends now. People would say what tuning vocals, you can't do that. Like it's. Okay. You know, um, there is an episode of our podcast it's, um, episode 17, it's called vocal tuning. Isn't just for T-Pain and, um, yeah, just listened to that episode because vocal tuning same as with editing, editing in general, uh, is not supposed to ruin your recordings, but it can really help you get your recordings to sound like they should.
And once you've played around with. Tuning vocals, editing, vocals. You, I think only then you'll know what a great vocal recording actually sounds like. This will help you record so much better takes. It will help you make, become a better singer actually. And, um, yeah, I totally agree with you, human and Malcolm that you need to at least.
You [00:44:00] need to at least try and manipulate some vocals and correct the pitch. If you want to like find out what is actually tight and what is actually a good, a good performance and good intonation.
Malcom: [00:44:12] Also another benefit that you kind of just alluded to in learning to edit. It's that, I mean, it forces you to look your takes in the eye and assess how well you're actually doing.
Um, so that can be pretty disheartening to sometimes you're like, Oh man, I'm really having to work hard to get this to sound tight with my editing. That means that obviously you could work harder on the performance side of things as well. Um, and like same with like pitch and all that for singing. Um, But it also like encourages you, like it's inspiring too, to try and get things better because editing for most people, isn't considered fun.
It's like a time consuming, tedious task, you know? So it's going to push you to like figure out ways to track smarter and more efficiently and get better performances. And, you know, to just like practice, I guess, as well. Um, and it can be really illuminating, [00:45:00] like, uh, I've had drummers that have like, kind of come to see what I'm doing to their drum track and be like, I'm really ahead.
Aren't I I'm like, yeah, you just, you play a little ahead and they, they work on that then. Um, you can finally visually see what your bad habits are. Uh, and that's pretty useful
Benedikt: [00:45:14] so much. Absolutely. So I think we need to be, the last thing we need to do is we need to make clear that editing and we kind of failed to do that in the beginning.
That editing is not part of mixing its own, like step of the process, its own step of the process. And it's partly correction, like removal of mistakes and partly enhancing the performance. And it's like, it's got nothing like it, it does something to the Sonics and to the audio quality to the way things sound.
But it's not like using cue and compression. That's all mixing stuff. It's manipulating the, the recording and preparing it so that it can be mixed properly. So [00:46:00] it's the step between recording and mixing if you want. And, um, So we need to clarify that and what's happening there. Oh my, I didn't expect that.
And you can see that if you're listening to the podcast, but my little boy just came into my office here. I
Malcom: [00:46:21] guess he can't hear me. No, he can't hear,
Benedikt: [00:46:23] but he can't see you and he looks kind of fascinated by.
Malcom: [00:46:28] This screen here is the guy that looks like he just woke up. Yeah. Kind of.
Benedikt: [00:46:34] And he kind of probably thinks it's disturbing that I'm talking to a language he doesn't understand.
Malcom: [00:46:39] Right.
Benedikt: [00:46:42] But yeah. Um, we were about to wrap it up anyway. So it's its own step between recording and mixing and, um, I just want to clarify that because I don't know about you, but I I've had the request a couple of times from people that sent me stuff to mix, and then they are actually wanting me [00:47:00] to edit stuff and they don't realize that this is not mixing because it is not, you know, it is something different.
Malcom: [00:47:07] Yeah. I, I, I'm totally, that's too funny. Um, Yeah, the same has happened to me, of course, as well. I think it's happened to everybody in the biz. Um, there's just a misconception. Um, and it's just a different mindset. You actually don't want your mixer to be doing the editing right before they mix, because it takes them out of the emotional side of their brain, um, which is where you want to be mixing from more so.
So I, even if I do end up doing editing and mixing on a song, I tried to put like a serious gap of time between those two tasks. Um, it, it's not uncommon. Like if there's like, I'm cutting in a single with a band, we go and record it. And, uh, like I added a psychotic. So by the time we're finished recording where we're edited for the most part.
Um, but then like a week between that date and me starting to consider mixing is pretty standard for me. Yeah. I want to like pretty much, I want to [00:48:00] forget that I worked on the song by the time I get it to mix. Yeah,
Benedikt: [00:48:03] totally, totally. Same, same here. And what I like the most is just outsourcing, editing and prepping.
Completely so that I don't have to deal with that and just worry about the creative decisions. That's what I like most, it's just a separate step, but just know that if you are making a record, the editing needs to be done by someone. So you can either do it yourself, or you can hire someone or you can ask your mixer if he, or she can include it in and the project rate or whatever, but it needs to be done.
You can't just skip it. And even if you don't think your song needs editing, it probably does. And even if it's just subtle editing, some moves, you just can't skip this step. So just consider this, think about it. Um, have some budget for it or the time to do it yourself, but just know that it needs to be done.
And this is just so important to say, because not everybody knows that this is the case. Yeah, [00:49:00] definitely. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:49:01] Also you have to like, When you send it to a mixer, they're assuming that you're, you've delivered what they want mixed that the decisions have been made, you know, like we're trusting that these, like, it was how, how you intended.
So you can't really expect them to, to call it out either because the PR that's the producer's job. Um, and that's their role too. I mean, like I do occasionally say like, Hey, this is pretty like this. This would be a lot better, you know? But, um, in general, that's not really the, the mixers duty, right? The mixture is there to, to mix the decisions that were made by the producer.
Benedikt: [00:49:40] I will, I will totally call him out just because not in every case. If I know that there has been a producer in the studio and whatnot involved, I, um, I definitely know my place in it. I assume they, they know what they're doing, but if it's a DIY band and. I feel like the song could be much better.
I [00:50:00] just say it, even if I risk, like, um, I've never had like really bad experience doing that, but it's of course, like you're basically telling the band that the recordings are not good enough, but I will. I'm just fine doing that. I, if I th I think my job is to give them the best thing I can possibly give them.
And if that involves telling them. Or asking them if they could fix a thing or two, then I'm happy to do that. So yeah, a good mixer, I think will, or should have at least a conversation about this with you. So
Malcom: [00:50:37] yeah, you can always check, right. You can always be like, is this how you want it? You know? Cause I would like it to be another way.
Um, and it's always like, I've done the same thing. I've actually. Had just told bands to redo it. Um, and like, you know, it doesn't happen. So it's like, okay, well that gig is lost because of that. But did I really want to spend time trying to mix this hot mess? [00:51:00] No. Right. It's not worth it
Benedikt: [00:51:01] it's even even go that as far as like, I have this conversation before I even listened to the music.
Um, not that I'm telling them it's not good enough before I have listened, but
Malcom: [00:51:12] I could tell from your band that you suck. No,
Benedikt: [00:51:18] but um, sometimes like sometimes I think I can.
Malcom: [00:51:22] No,
Benedikt: [00:51:23] no, but, um, what I'll do is I'll have, I'll ask them questions when we start talking about working together. And one of those questions is, are your tracks edited?
Um, do you still need help with editing? Are the performance, are you happy with your performances? Is there something you're not happy with, but just don't know how to fix, you know, it's stuff like that. So I figure out before we even start, I figure out how they like their performances. If they think it needs some work, if it's, if they considered it edited.
And, uh, so that's, I think the way to go and. Yeah. And then, um, when they tell me it's edited and I listen to it and it's clearly [00:52:00] not, or not enough, then I'll just let them know and we'll go from there. And I even go as far as like, if I don't think it will be a product in the end that I could be proud of proud to have my name on and like that I'm proud to share with the world then I chances are I'm not going to do it actually.
So I don't know, like at the beginning, I think you say yes to everything, but at some point. I realized that I only want to do something that actually helps spans and helps people. And I think paying a lot of money for a mix knowing that, or they don't know, but like taking a lot of, for a mix in my case, knowing that what I will give them Zack will not help them reach any of their goals because it will not sound professional or the way they want it to sound.
Doesn't help them. Doesn't help me if people know that I did this, this sort of work. So yeah. That's how important editing is. If it's, if you're not willing to do it, I might not [00:53:00] even want to mix it.
Malcom: [00:53:01] Yeah. Yeah. Cause people won't want to listen to it. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yep. All right. Did we drive that point home?
Benedikt: [00:53:10] I think so.
Malcom: [00:53:12] Great. Um, we should mention that if you, uh, are looking to find somebody to edit your music, like you don't want to learn to do it yourself. So just like, you know, some people you're not, you're not going to be good at everything. Um, you know, I, for example, I'm pretty slow at vocal tuning. If I'm honest, uh, I think I'm good at it, but I kind of get caught up in the details too much.
Um, so I usually outsource it. I just got Melodyne. So I've been doing it myself lately because it's kind of fun, but, uh, but, uh, like before, well, I'm still, I, I usually outsource it, um, and it like, it's just because I needed to get done quicker. And maybe you. Don't have an ear for pitch, but you do have an [00:54:00] ear for timing.
So you need to have sorts of that. But anyways, well, what I'm saying is try it all, try and learn it. If you can't, don't feel bad about it, just outsource it and get the job done. Um, but if you need to find somebody just reach out to Benny or I, we know a lot of editors, um, and we can, I mean, I don't know if Thomas is available even, uh, but he's our podcast dude, and Benny's guy.
Um, and I've got, uh, uh, people I use for all sorts of jobs as well. So reach out and we can set you up with somebody. Absolutely.
Benedikt: [00:54:27] Absolutely. We can. Cool. That's it for today's episode again, check out episode number 17, the self recording band.com/seventeen. Um, it's about vocal tuning specifically. So, if you want to learn more about vocal tuning, uh, listen to that, it's a deep dive into that special part of editing.
And other than that, just experiment, try and see if you can compare and be honest, get feedback, everything we've been talking about and your music will definitely [00:55:00] turn out better. Your recordings. Turn out better. All right,
Malcom: [00:55:02] take care.
Benedikt: [00:55:03] Take care. Thank you for listening. Bye .
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