Home Recording and “Fixing it in the Mix”
DAWs are so powerful these days that we tend to forget a very essential rule: the primacy of a quality audio recording. The quality of the source is a crucial factor for the overall quality of any body of work. Low input signal and/or distortion can considerably reduce the quality of your work regardless of the quality of your audio interface, recording software and selected bit rate and sample rate.
Spontaneity and productivity are very important, but should they come before the audio recording quality? Are you spending too much time “fixing things in the mix” rather than putting in the extra time needed to get a quality audio recording? Are you spending hours EQing, compressing and editing tracks before you finally realize that whatever you do you are unable to rectify your original source recording?
It all comes down to the source. Spending time setting up and testing is a long and tedious process, but in the end, you'll save yourself hours of re-recording sessions or mixing craziness.
Do not be afraid to spend the extra time needed to position your microphone(s) to find the sweet spot or move your recording location - to the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, closet – whatever helps! And, make sure you carefully monitor your input levels – not too weak and not too hot. Remember that most digital audio interfaces have a little bit of headroom on their digital virtual mixer, so even if your digital meters are on the red, it doesn't mean that you are necessarily recording distortion. You should always shoot for the highest possible input signal without distortion.
You should also monitor your audio takes at low and high volume, through headphones and through your speaker monitors. In the end, you'll be glad you did.