I've decided to post some fundemental things about recording. I see a lot of guessing and missinformation being given in this thread.. not that this thread is thriving like it should be.. at any rate I'm going to post one or two subjects at a time and if you would like, feel free to ask any specific questions you have or suggest things you would like me to cover that you've been dying to know.. what qualifies me to be posting this info? Great question, and let me tell you.. I've been recording for ten years.. what is more significant is that I came up just like the majority of you here.. I started with a radio shack mic.. an external soundblaster.. CEP.. and no fundamental knowledge of what I was really doing.. only an ear to hear with and trial and error.. I built my own foundation before I had any professional instruction.. Currently, I'm completeing course work with a professional instructor.. my rig includes a creation station pc running PT 8.0 LE / neuman u87 / ma200 / digi 003 factory / FF ISA 220 / and the JBL lsr series studio monitors.. later this year I am upgrading to a ProTools HD system So, I want to save you all hours and maybe even years of wondering.. I can, and will provide you with a true reference to test your knowledge & understanding.. so let's get started.. Ok, the #1 mistake that people are STILL making around here is to think that you can find one chain.. one process.. that will work every time.. now.. don't get me wrong.. as sure as I'm saying this someone will come in this post and say.. "BS.. I use the same thing every time and listen to my quality it's good" This may in fact be very true.. but this is also the difference between an amature mix engineer vs a professional one.. If you are making demos only.. then great.. just use that one process that suits you.. however, if you want professional results every time then it's an absolute must that each song be given unique attention in the mix.. where this becomes so very important is to the overall energy level of the track... I mentioned in another post here that if you make the entire song sound the same.. even if it all sounds big and clear and punchy and all of those buttery words.. the energy of the track will be deminished.. If there is no variant then your ear doesn't have anything to decipher between.. nothing to compare.. no change up to emphasise certain parts where the energy of the song stands out more then others.. you're ear and you're brain will get bored very fast even if the track is overall big sounding and high quality.. so here is an example of a trick that is widely used and never fails.. use whatever method you would like.. either automating mutes, or removing notes via midi sequencing.. however you prefer.. but the trick is this simple.. for maybe 1 or 2 bars right before the chorus of a song.. mute or remove the kick drum.. maybe even just 1 or two kicks before the chorus.. so that the song drops the bottom end right before the chorus and then when the chorus drops back in with the kick it suddenly sounds twice as big as it did before.. this is because you are tricking your ears while they decipher the difference between the energy level of the two sections.. make sense? Another trick to use here is to add an extra insturment in the chorus that wasn't previously in the verse before it... now with rap music this is already the standard in most cases, but take it another step.. so lets say you have a horn in the verse.. and a horn and piano in the chorus... for the verse don't double the horn... for the chorus do double the horn so it's different in the chorus than the verse.. and coupled with the piano creates a whole seperate energy level.. The arrangement is of the utmost importance when making beats that you want to contribute to the song to gain this effect.. the arrangement is equally if not more important to get the effects you want, as say actual effects filters etc.. You've got to see the big picture.. recording is truly an art that is not unlike creating a sculpture.. you have to slowly and skillfully chip away just the right peices to be left with the desired end result.. doing the same process in recording every time would be like making the same sculpture over and over.. it would become boring, repetative, and old.. The second mistake I see is that a lot of people I see here don't grasp the concept of layers and steps.. People look to make an adjustement on an eq and hear a drastic improvement.. no once setting should ever make a drastic improvement.. in fact you should barely hear any audible change for example when you cut or boost in EQ in any one step.. think more in terms that you would miss it if it wasn't there, but otherwise you don't hear an audible change by the fact that it's there until you take it away.. the overall drastic improvement you're looking for is only ever acheived by a combination of many layers and stages contributing to the overall mix... a good excersize to try is this.. cut your steps in half.. so let's say you normally boost at 3-5K and that normally you would boost by 3db.. first of all.. understand in sound.. a boost of 3db is double the original level.. (even though it may not sound like it this is true).. so next time.. try 1.5 or less.. you can add more in other stages and you will get much better results if you do it this way rather than counting on one eq to work harder to acheive the same result.. it's like photoshop for example.. you can take one picture and adjust color levels one picture and it will look ok... or, you can combine 3 copies of the image with increments of different effect combined for a much more professional looking result.. think of layers in music like layers in photoshop.. (for those of you with photoshop experience that is) bottom line you will get better results using multiple layers and stages then you will applying all the same principles at 1 stage... So I'll leave you with this to ponder and I hope this is not hard to follow.. I will periodically add more to this post from time to time, because when I was the one who knew nothing.. there were very few people giving me the real low down.. It was so frustrating.. so out of respect for those who are in that spot I want to save you the trouble of what I went through to get here.. recording processes are buried in a secret society.. people are intentionally misleading like they are protecting a family recipe for busch baked beans or something.. and I understand why, but I love music most of all and good music comes from creative minds.. nothing curbs otherwise great musical ideas like the inability to record right or to learn how to record right.. I personally want to hear more, and much better music that is only limited by creativity and not ability to translate that creativity to an actual song.. so anyway, I hope this is helpful to someone and please ask any questions that you may have and I will get to them in short order. Best of luck!! Make that music!!!