Category: Recording Studio.

It’s been easy at the studio!!

We are working on a new film and are recording new music, it’s shaping up really well and I’m quite excited about the final product coming your way.

Today’s post is the follow up to Part 1 , which describes how I go about the tracking process. We’ll be looking at editing, mixing and mastering. These 3 processes are basically post production. If you hear someone say “We’ll fix it in post (please hit them)”, they are basically saying they will use one (or all of the above) to make a performance that wasn’t quite up to the mark acceptable. Let’s dive in.


EDITING: Usually the place to start in post, editing deals with making corrections in the recording. Editing is basically ‘Cut, copy and paste (and delete)’. It can be used to fix or mangle performances depending on what kind of music you are making. As an example, let’s say we have 2 takes of a drum recording where the snare hits are a little ahead of the beat, the drum roll isn’t great on one of them. Using our basic cut and paste tools, we can take all the snare hits (look up strip silence and tab to transient) and push them behind in time to make them feel right. The drum roll at the end we can cut from one take and paste it on to the final one. This process is repeated for all the other elements in the song until everything sounds right. There are a variety of things you wouldn’t want on your recording, like a bad note, an out of time hit, an out of tune vocal or a friend who walks yapping just when you’ve finished a take you’re happy with. You would be surprised by how much editing happens to make a song feel right, that is if the performance isn’t good. If the performance is actually amazing you’ll find yourself just editing out the ends of the audio file to take out clicks and pops!! It can also be used to change the arrangement of a song. Say your song structure is Intro – Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Outro and the singer is about to record. You feel the 2nd chorus should be twice as long. You can copy and paste the elements of the chorus to make it longer. Mischief managed.


MIXING: This is what one of my mix sessions looks like in Pro-Tools.

Mix Window Pro Tools with all the tracks Laid Out

All the tracks that I have arranged and edited in pitch and time are now laid out, ready to be mixed together. This is the part where we go from what sounds like a collection of sounds to one cohesive sounding song. A lot of newbies expect mixing to be this magical process that fixes any and every mistake. This is a myth. Garbage in, garbage out, this never changes. Mixing is all about making the most space for the most important elements, and accommodating every other element of the song. It’s the process where every element of the song is balanced in amplitude(volume) and tonality to with respect to the others. In a mix, the engineer changes various parameters on every track. Let’s take a look:

• Volume – Pretty straightforward, the engineer sets the levels of the instruments relative to each other. For example if the vocal is the main element that drives the song, the mix engineer creates a balance where the vocals are the loudest with respect to the other tracks.

• Panning – It’s where the placement of the track is decided in the stereo spectrum. Tracks can be placed dead center, hard right, hard left and in between. Using panning creatively helps you create a sense of size of a song. For example, everything might be dead centre in the intro + first verse of the song. When the chorus hits, you open up the stereo spectrum by placing your guitars (or synths) and the listener will perceive it as the song having more energy and excitement than before.

• Timbre – Say you have a dull sounding voice that lacks ‘the brightness and sheen’ and is pulling the song back. You can use an equaliser to add some highs(I.e higher frequencies) to taste until it sounds right. An equaliser is mostly used to make sure all the instruments work together well tonally.

• Compression – IS THE MOST MISUSED TOOL EVER !!!!! Let’s say you have a singer who goes from very soft to very loud in the same line. You could bring up the volume up on one or down on one. But now this is happening in every line in the song. This is where compression comes in. You can use a compressor to ‘compress’ or reduce the dynamic range of the singer bringing forward the quiet bits and controlling the loud ones. There is a lot more that compression is used for in modern music, we’ll be looking at some of these tricks later.

• Reverb – Reverb helps create a sense of space in the mix. You can take all your instruments and change the perception of where the performance happened by tweaking the reverb settings. Your options will usually be halls, chambers, plates, small, medium and big sized rooms.

• FX – You can use effects such as distortion, delay, pitch shifting, auto-tune, chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo to make the sounds interesting. There are many ways to use these effects, which cannot be listed here. A good place to start is by finding out what effects were used on your favourite songs, and applying the same ones to yours. Youtube is a great resource for this.

• Automation – Automation is the process of automating certain parameters of the above over the course of the mix. Say you want the reverb on the vocals to increase during the chorus, you set the parameters for the verse and chorus and automation will make this change automatically for you when you go from the verse to the chorus. Most parameters in almost every plugin can be automated, giving you endless possibilities for sonic manipulation. If you spend some time with this, you will find that you are only limited by your imagination.

MASTERING: The final stage of the production process. The mix is tweaked using analog/digital tools to make sure that it translates well across all types of real world listening systems ranging from the cheapest earphones to the most expensive sound systems. This is done by tweaking the same parameters as above, though there is a marked difference in how the tools are used. This is a fairly complex process, and takes a fair degree of expertise to carry out. However, we will have a more in depth look at this process in the future. We’ve taken a look at the 3 core processes of post production and I’m hoping this has been helpful to you. Yes it is a lot of work, but with the right kind of engineer and team it does get easier. As I always say, do what you do best, Outsource the rest.


It’s been a very busy year for me at Gray spark audio, and this holiday season has been particularly rewarding. As a studio we’ve built up to a point where we have a steady clientele of established studio musicians, up and coming artists, as well as new musicians taking their first steps towards a career in music by being resourceful and dedicated to their craft. Being in the studio, I get a lot of questions from a lot of people about how to go about how to build songs, how recording works and what my process is. Today’s blog post is the first of many that will help you understand the recording process, from my perspective as a music producer and engineer. Let’s dive in.

We’ve come a long way from the early days of audio recording. What started off with a handful of studios with just a few tape machines and mics and driven recording engineers experimenting with electronics for the next big breakthrough, has now morphed into a multibillion dollar industry, with millions of studios operating worldwide, using a wide variety of microphones, fancy AD converters and even fancier analog equipment like EQ’s, compressors, reverb units, rackmount units that are more expensive than some Indian cars and all of this operated by ‘audiophiles’ who claim these units will change your music and your life by taking them both to the ‘next level’.

While there might be some degree of truth to that, all you need to know is that the act of recording is as simple as taking your guitar (or a mic if you’re a singer), plugging it into an audio interface and hitting the record button on your music production software (also called a DAW which stands for digital audio workstation). Once recorded, you’ll see your performance as an audio file, and will be able to play it back. That’s it. While there is a lot more that goes into capturing a performance and making it sound like all the music you love listening to, being able to record yourself is enough to turn that musical idea in your head into a song.

When I’m engineering for artists, I follow a certain process that I’ve learnt and polished up over the years.

It all starts with the demo.

What is a demo?
A demo is the basic recording of your song that you just made. Most of the things that are on the demo usually make it to the final cut of the song. A good demo consists of a melody that works with the lyrics that will be almost done, being sung (or played) on top of the rhythm section and the music (also called the harmonic section), conveying a sense of beginning, middle and end in the context of a song. When all these things are in place, everyone involved from the engineer to the performers know what where goes in the song, as well as the tempo and feel of the song.

Let’s build a house
The final recording of song is much like building a house. The demo is the digging before the foundation is put in place, the rhythm section (in most cases drums and bass) is the foundation, the music forms the walls, the vocal is the roof and the cleanup and painting is like the mix and master process.

– Foundation
As with building a house, you first need a solid foundation. Make sure to have the grooves for your song figured out, and if you have a good drummer (or programming skills, I’m looking at you dance music folk), getting a good sound is a piece of cake. Next, you get your bass in place, preferably something that ties the drums and the music together and is the right amount of busy or sparse depending on your song. These days a good bassline or lack thereof makes or breaks a song, so always remember, bassline is king.

-The walls
The music section comes next. Coming back to the house analogy, your music forms the walls that hold up your roof. A well written music section supports and elevates the vocal (or solo instrument), As one of my clients says, ‘melody moves the person, harmony moves the soul’. Your walls can be made of glass or can be thick stone walls. Lorde’s “royals” is a good example of glass walls, while a song like MJ’s “earth song” is an example of a dense one. One is minimal, the other intricate, but they both serve the same purpose. This is also the part of the recording process where you get to set the tone and aesthetic of the song, so figure out what kind of instrumentation & chords you like best for your song before building your walls.

– The roof
This is the centerpiece of your song and what your listener is going to connect with at their first listen. Your job is to write the catchiest melody for your song, and perform it in a way that is moving to a listener. I’ve seen a lot of artists come into the studio, and they all have unique approach to this. The important thing is to write something well and practice it well before you get to the studio (sometime artists enter the studio on their bad days too).

The contractor (I’m sick of using the house analogy repeatedly but this is the last bit, promise)
In everything we’ve covered so far, you are the architect and designer of this house, but a house also needs someone who’ll guide you through the process. The engineer is the contractor and the studio minions the labor that are the last pieces of the process. A good engineer is going to make sure your performances are well recorded by using the right mics for the job, and once the recording is done mix and master all the elements so that they have the maximum impact. In theory you could do all of this yourself, but having a dedicated engineer taking care of all of these aspects helps you focus on what’s important, which is your performance and your song.

In the second part of this series, we will talk about what happens after the recording process. I hope this post gives you some clarity about the process, and helps you plot and plan your upcoming musical projects.

We usually see a very high volume of people who come to the studio to record their vocals, but often enough, what seems like an easy/ fun job usually end up becoming a daunting task. This blog is written with the intention that clients know what preparation is required before they step into the recording studio and it becomes considerably easier for them to record their vocals. Gray Spark is one of the best song recording studio in Pune with diverse range of solutions and services for all your recording requirements.

  • Know your Vocal Range:

Yes, everybody wants to be able to sing like ‘Adele’ but not everyone has a vocal range like her. Knowing how high or low you can sing and what key is ideal for your voice is always a good idea. Knowing this information, you can inform your recording engineer about this and ensure that you don’t end up stressing your voice, in turn getting a better recording of your voice

  • Dynamics:

This is singlehandedly one of the things that sets apart the amateurs from the professionals. Recording inside the studio is like looking at your voice through a magnifying glass. Every small detail and artifact gets enhanced, unlike singing in the bathroom where it’s mostly just the reverb. Among the things that get amplified, the one thing that people miss out on most is Dynamics.  Dynamics essentially is the control you have on your voice in terms of volume and expression.  Imagine this, the microphone is like an ear that captures your voice, when placed in front of a voice that has a very big dynamic range i.e. can be too soft and loud, your ear will find this sound unappealing. But on the other hand, a trained voice will know how loud certain parts of the song should be, how loud or soft certain words should be so that they bring out the most emotion.  A good way is to look for the dynamics in the song you want to do and practice them over.

  • Pitch:

This one goes without saying, if you can’t sing in pitch it’s going to sound bad. Yes, there is always auto tune, but there is only so much even a computer can do. If you’re out of pitch and use a tuning plugin, it most definitely ends up sounding robotic. Usually, it takes time to be able to hear pitch and if you’re going sharp or flat. There is a very simple exercise to amend this; it’s called a ‘Tanpura’. Tanpura is an instrument with a drone like element that plays different notes from the scale that you choose. The idea is to pick out a note form the Tanpura and keep singing it so that your vocal chords get used to the note.

  • Expression:

This one is also equally important and usually left out. This is what defines your voice from any other voices out there. The expression of your voice is what gives your vocals a certain ‘goosebumps’ like character. It takes time to find your expression, but once you know which direction you want it to head in then it’s just a matter of practice.

If you need any further assistance with vocal recording, you can subscribe to our newsletter by dropping us your contact details at contact and we can keep you posted about workshops that we conduct at our music recording studio in Pune.

– Plan your recording with your Engineer / Producer:

When it comes to making a record, there are numerous approaches that can be taken to execute it, depending on if you want to record in a setup with the entire band or just produce a few ideas that you have in your head and record elements separate so that you have most control on the individual sounds. Communicating with your engineer makes sure that you can approach the process that is best suited to your song, making the whole recording process efficient.

Usually, most big studios have a huge mic locker so knowing the specifics of the recording also helps the engineer and producers choose the microphone and in turn the sound that they’re looking for. Also, planning your recording makes sure that you have dedicated time to record specific parts. Most recording studio in Pune usually bill by the hour, so managing your time is also easy on your wallet.

-Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse:

This one cant be emphasized more. Time in the studio is money, so if you’re under prepared the engineer/producer will keep asking you to do a better take until he gets what he wants.

Also, if you’re well prepared this gives the engineer and producer time to work on the more minute details than just fixing the performance and needless to say a well performed take will make your record considerably better. Our state of the art audio recording studio in Pune gives you a working environment that is calm and relaxed, allowing you to better concentration.

– Gear Up:

This one is equally important as the one above, making sure that your equipment is ready for the studio. You cannot get the sound you’re looking for if your equipment itself is not up to par. Things that you should prep before you come to the studio include:
a. Restringing your guitars (Preferably a day before your recording so that they have time to settle in)
b. Changing your skins ( Again, a day or two for the skins to settle in)
c. Vocals Warmups
d. Intonation

Make sure all the above mentioned things are taken care before you enter the studio, you don’t want to come in and spend 3 hrs trying to fix your guitars intonation. Working with the leading Music Recording Studio in Pune, we ensure that your sound mixing and recording experience goes smoothly and efficiently.

– BYOR (Bring Your Own References):

When it comes to the world of sound, lately, the terms to describe sound have become very subjective. Refrain from using words like warm, shiny, shimmery etc.
Instead bring a reference with the kind of sound you have in mind, make sure that the engineer understands what you’re going for in case you don’t have a producer working with you. This ensures that you’re both on the same page and the recording process doesn’t get hampered, cause like i said before a bad sound on the way in will sound bad no matter what you do to it in post production.

This way your definition of “Warm” is same with the engineers definition of “Warm”

Let’s talk about why home recordings and studio recordings sound so different.

The biggest difference in the home recordings vs studio recordings is the sound of the rooms. The recording rooms in the studio are acoustically engineered to absorb and reflect certain frequencies so that you get the purest form of the source. Untreated rooms tend to have more reflections of sound (higher rt60) which leads to an undesired sound. Sound waves are like light waves. Imagine standing with a flashlight in a dark room where all the walls are made of glass. You would end up seeing multiple reflections of this flashlight bouncing off of the walls. The same applies to sound, when you generate sound in a room the sound waves move outward reflecting from the surfaces of the wall, these waves keep on reflecting till they are devoid of energy.

Now imagine placing a microphone in front of a sound source, when sound is generated from the source it will directly reach the microphone as shown in the diagram below.

Best Recording Studio in Pune

Similarly, there are these reflections that are bouncing off the walls, but since they are traveling a long distance they will reach the microphone a little later. With a lot of Untreated rooms, these reflection times are longer which end up muddying the sound of the source even more. On the other hand, the live rooms in a studio are designed acoustically to have the right balance of the direct sound to the reflected sound so that the source is captured in its purest form possible.

– Equipment:

This is an obvious point of difference between the two, recording studios usually tend to have a higher quality Analog to Digital and Digital to Analog convertors. They also have a number of varied microphones in their mic locker which can be used for specific voices.
Professional recording studios also use Digital Audio Workstations like Pro tools to record the source in the right way without any artifacts, which the engineer can then use to manipulate and use various tools like Compression, Equalization or add effects like Reverb and delay to get the desired effect.

– Engineer:

The final and the most important point that sets these two apart are a seasoned set of years. What most people fail to under is that although the recording is not rocket science, in order to make professional sounding recordings one needs to take care of the smallest details like figuring out what microphone to use, what is the right gain staging, how to use the compression, EQ, FX etc.

It’s best to do leave these tasks to a professional so that you can focus on the performance. Another thing that an engineer brings into the picture is perspective, usually, when working on your own projects for a long period of time one tends to lose perspective and you get seasoned to what you’ve been working on. The right engineer will help guide you on how you can tweak your performance, so that you can sound your absolute best.So when should you go to the studio and when should you record at home? Home studios are the best to practice your performance and gauge how you sound on record. Home studios are good to create a basic demo that you can further take to the studio to refine.

So in the first part of the blog we discussed how we go about the recording process inside the studio. In this blog we’ll discuss of the post production aspects that go into making a song.


This is the first step in the post production process, in this step essential the recording engineer goes through the tracks and aligns it with the rest of the performances. Let say we have a drum recording where the Drum roll ends just a little early in time, in this stage such files are time aligned and edited so that all of them lie exactly where they should be.

This also means editing (aligning) the bass file and the rest of the instruments with each other, many a times during the recording process you can get a performance that is accurate upto a certain point, essentially in the editing stage you can correct the accuracy of the performance in pitch and time.

PS: There is no replacement to a good organic performance, if you cant perform right, no amount of editing can fix it. Unless you have the right engineer

Other tasks like comping and arrangement are also done during the editing stage. Arrangement is self explanatory, it means arranging certain elements and sections in the song in a sequence that sounds most exciting for the song. For eg: Intro, Ver1 , Chor1, Vers2, Brigde, Chorus. This could be an arrangement for a song.


Once all the above mentioned process are done to the session, it moves on to the mix phase.

This is what a typical mix session looks like

All the tracks that you have arranged, comped and edited in pitch and time are now layed out so that they can be mixed together to sound like one cohesive unit.

A lot of newbies expect the mixing to do magic to their song and make it sound different, but like the other stages a lot of it depends on the source that youre recording, if its recorded bad on the way in. Its going to sound bad no matter what you do to it.

During the mix the engineer changes various parameters on every track like

  • Volume
  • Panning
  • Timber or EQ
  • Dynamics or Compression
  • Reverb
  • Automation

Volume is pretty self-explanatory, the engineer sets the levels on the instruments with respect to each other. For eg if the vocals are the driving instrument for the song the mix engineer creates a balance wherein the vocals are the loudest with respect to the other tracks.

Panning is where the placement of the track is decided, for eg some tracks are placed either to the right to the left of the center depending on how the engineer wants to shape the sound of the mix. A lot of the sound of the mix depends in the decisions that are taken during all of these stages.

Timber or EQ is where the use of tools of various equalizers is used to change the timber of the instruments. This tool is mostly used so make sure that all the instruments that are recorded are working well with each other tonally. For eg lets say you have a dull sounding voice that lacks the brightness or treble and sounds uncharacteristic, this is where the engineer uses the EQ to add that missing sound to the voice.

Compression: To put this in layman’s term this tool is used to control the dynamics of the song, if the instrument is very loud and soft then this tool lets you control the dynamics of such instruments so that they don’t stand out more than they should. There is a lot more the Compression than this, but for now let’s keep it at that.

Reverb and FX: Pretty self-explanatory again, during this phase the engineer sets the Effects that need to be added to the track, it could the reverb effect on the drums or the voice or the delay on the guitar part.

Automation: Automation means automating certain parameters of the above mentioned tools as the track moves along the song. Say if you want to reverb on the vocals to increase during the chorus, you can use automation to do that. Any parameter can be automate, imagine, so many permutations and combinations. Phew.

TLDR: Mixing is like cooking a perfect meal, you have all ingredients (recorded parts) available to you. Now you make a meal out of it. You might like your food spicy, some might like it zingy. It’s a matter of preference and taste. Basically, you add in all these elements in just the right amount and voila, you have a mix. Sorry a meal.


This is the final stage of the songmaking process, in this stage the mastering engineer decided the final compression and the overall loudness of the song. Here the engineer also makes sure to add finishing touches to make sure that the song that is mixed translates well to the real world listening systems. Various analog or digital tools are used to add a finalizer before the song goes out into the world.

That does sound like a lot of work yeah ? Well, it is. But with the right kind of engineer and team all of this becomes easy. Like I said in the first blog. Do what you do best, Outsource the rest.

We often get questions from people about how the process of recording works. Today we are going to try and breakdown the process of how a song takes shape and how it is built from an idea to an actual song.

I will try and address these points from a layman’s perspective.


Things have changed drastically over the past few decades about how the recording process works. From just using two microphones and tape to record to AD/DA convertors, variants of mic preamplifier to multi-tracking capabilities. I know all of this technical jargon sounds very confusing, but it really isn’t.
Simply put…

In today’s world we record everything digitally in a software that is called the Digital Audio Workstation or D.A.W.

A DAW gives you the capability to record multiple instruments and multiple tracks together into one session.

Essentially, a microphone (or a 1/4 Jack in some cases) is connected to a system which records the signal from the microphone into the computer as digital data. Once recorded this system can play the recorded data back in time for you.

In fact, not just that, you can also maneuver the placement of this recorded data in the session.

Now lets breakdown how a song is created from an idea.

Step 1: Demo!

This is pretty self explanatory. You need to record a guide track. You can either record this on your phone or your home recording setup or also in the studio before you start. This is just so that it gives the artists who will be performing in the song a guide as to where certain sections of the song come in. For example, without the guide track it would be hard for the drummer to just figure out where the chorus or bridge of the song would come.

The guide track also gives the recording engineer or producer what the tempo and the arrangement of the song is.

Step 2: Rhythm Section

As most of you know, the rhythm section is the foundation on which the song is built. In most cases it is best to record the drums first on the demo. Reason being, this drum recording is what the rest of the musicians will follow to record. Imagine a recording session where the musicians are recording to different references, the entire recording would sound out of sync.

TLDR: Everyone follows the Drums and the bass. So we record that first.

Step 3: Record the Harmonic section

Once you’ve built a solid foundation with the drums and the bass, then comes the Harmonic section. This is where you add chords using different instruments like guitar, piano, horns or strings depending on the genre of the music you are trying to create.
You can record multiple harmonic sections using various instruments to highlight the sound that you are looking for.

Step 4: Record the Melodies

Once the outline of the song is laid down, then its time to record the main instrument which will be leading the song. It can anything from Vocals to lead guitar to a violin.

Usually recorded last since this has to sit on top of the arrangement that we have already created.

Step 5: Finishing touches

This is where you add icing on top of the cake, where you add small tweaks and bits and pieces here and there like shakers and small percussion instruments. This could also mean adding an extra guitar layer on top of the arrangement to bring out certain elements.

In theory all of this sounds simple enough to do, but having a dedicated engineer taking care of all of these things makes life easier, like they say: Do what you do best, outsource the rest.

In the second part of this blog we will talk about the stages after recording like editing, comping, mixing and mastering.

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