To Click or not to Click

By October 14, 2014Engineer Tips!

Should your band record to a metronome or not?

This is a pretty debated topic, but for those of you who aren’t sure, or are at least open to it, here’s some thoughts. (Even if you aren’t open to it, read on, you might change your mind!?)

The big debate is usually between having a solid consistent tempo to your music, vs having a natural, musical and human flow to the music. Some people might take the other angle that using a click is a good stale, mechanical boring way of recording music. Then the flip side might say not using it is out of time, inconsistent and crap. Now all of these arguments have their merit at various times, but the style and type of music you are tracking will often dictate the answers.

Added benefits of using a click:
– It’s worth noting here that people feel tempos differently on any given day, so using a click to track with, or at least get you started is definitely a good idea, and it makes the whole group agree on a tempo.
– if you do record to a click it will make editing and arranging your song a great deal easier. Quantising is and fixing timing is also more time consuming without a click and the grid that comes with it.

Some more things to consider.
1. First question is, are you comfortable playing to a click? If not, it’s probably not a good idea to even consider it, especially testing it out in the studio. Sure, you might find its easy, and if you do.. Great! Go for it! If you don’t, this could be a great deal of wasted time and added frustration to the day.

2. Having it at the right volume is important. For loud drumming/drummers, it’ll need to be SUPER loud for them to hear it enough to stay in time. It’s also worth automating the click quieter in the quiet sections, and completely off at the end of the song. This will prevent spill through the mic’s.

3. If you do use it, you will rush ahead and have to pull back to stay in time. Finding the right tempo helps, but encouraging everyone to not push ahead of the click will make the band sit better, and stop the drummer getting all the blame.

4. If you don’t use a click, especially if it was annoying the band and not working (which often causes tensions to rise) then don’t fret.. It’s still possible to edit and get your music to a grid afterwards. It’s not as easy or as quick to get there, but it’s possible. Check out our upcoming blog on how to do this called “post apocalyptic gridding”

If you’re in Melbourne, and you need a recording studio, Debasement is your home studio with the lot.
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