Recording samples for music, for foley use in games, film and any other media outlet is an extremely important part of the whole audio industry. Replacing a badly recorded snare in a drum recording, recording individual drum hits to create an electronic track, creating sound effects by recording every day objects are all examples of just how critical sample recordings can be to a project.
In this blog I will attempt to go through the steps necessary to successfully recording, editing, mixing and processing your samples.
First of all, you will need to decide the specifics of what you will be recording and how. If you are creating a sample pack, it is important to have extremely clean samples that have very little to no processing on them at all, as people who will be using these samples will need to edit and tailor them to their own needs. Therefore, recording with a good microphone and achieving a good level with no clipping is extremely important. This process can change depending on what your brief is or what you are aiming to record. For example, if you are recording atmospheric sounds of a forest, it may be a good idea to use an omni-directional mic that will pick up all sounds, where-as recording a clean snare hit will usually have only a cardioid microphone sitting fairly close to it so that there is little delay and the sample is as loud and ‘perfect’ sounding as possible. This video shows a really good process of recording a simple snare hit and goes into depth as to why you may or may not want to position it in certain places;
After recording your samples, it is crucial to now start the editing process so as to get these samples sounding clean and concise. Usually, the first step will be to import these into your chosen DAW. From here, it is imperative to start chopping these samples into individual hits or into the pieces in which they should be separated. When this process is being done, you must make sure that the transient or sample begins as soon as you press play. If there is dead space at the beginning or end of a sample, it will be extremely hard to get it to fit into certain time signatures and tempos. For example, if a kick sound is supposed to begin when drawn or placed into the session, if it starts even a fraction of a second later, the effect is often that the song or beat sounds off and pretty gross and the sample then becomes unusable to the producer. The image below shows a kick sample. As you can see, the transient of the kick begins immediately as the sample is played and ends as soon as the tail has become inaudible, creating a good solid kick sample.
Now that you have recorded and edited your samples it is time to process and edit them further. If you are after clean recorded samples, maybe applying an EQ and Compressor to the sample/s is now the only thing you’ll need to do, however, if you’re tailoring the sample pack to a specific genre, then some further editing may be necessary to make the samples sound ready for a dubstep/lo-fi/hip-hop track, etc. This video shows the process in which someone takes a generally good kick sample, and makes it into a snappier, dubstep type sample. The video uses FL Studio as the DAW of choice, however the process can be applied to any DAW that you are more comfortable with as the process stays the same.
From here, it’s time to export! Make sure that your sample and bit rate are correct and that you are exporting the samples as individual wav files as these will sound the best and be of the best quality most of the time. It is imperative that you export/bounce each individual sample, as you don’t want to export them all as one track. If you do, it means that the producer will have to manually chop and edit the samples apart, taking time and effort he/she could have spent producing and I guarantee you, a person will most likely choose any other sample that is a single hit/pluck etc. over something they have to edit themselves.
I hope you learnt something from this blog! Thanks for reading
Splice Tips: Introduction to Field Recording – Add Unique Samples to Your Music Projects. (2018). Retrieved from https://splice.com/blog/introduction-to-field-recording-add-samples-music-projects/