Limitless audio. That’s the beauty of digital recording. I can record a lead vocal as many times as I want. I can have a guitarist come in and play a hundred different versions of a guitar solo.
Then I can stay up until the wee hours of the morning, sifting through all the different takes to find the perfect one.
That’s a good thing, right?
Well, it can be. However, having all this hard drive space at our disposal can simply lead to more time-wasting than music-making.
It’s All in the Takes
Back when studios were primarily centered around analog tape, the engineers didn’t have the luxury of unlimited tracks or “copy and paste.”
When it came time to track lead vocals, for example, the engineer would be lucky to have a few empty tracks available to record several takes. By takes I mean recording multiple versions of the same part…
It wasn’t uncommon for there to be only one track available for the lead vocal. What next? They would record the part until they got a great take, then they would “punch in” any parts that needed to be improved.
Punching in required a lot of practice and skill. If you didn’t punch in at just the right moment, it could potentially ruin the track.
Now, with DAWs like Pro Tools, you can record as many takes as you want. You can have the singer sing through the song five or ten times if you want, then you can copy and paste the perfect “comp” after the fact.
Just because we have the technology to record a ton of takes, does that necessarily mean we should? Like everything in recording, it depends on the situation.
I’ll share a couple of examples from my experience where one approach made more sense over the other.