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Multitrack Recording Basics

If you like, you can record lush, layered music without involving anyone else. In other words, you can multitrack. This is in contrast to as recently as the 1960s, when someone wanted to record a song, he or she had to assemble a band, rehearse, and then perform the song live. If one of the musicians made a mistake, the whole band had to start over and record the song again.

Not so anymore. You’re lucky enough to record in an age where you can not only write the song, but also record it yourself and play all the instruments.

Multitrack recording is the process of recording each instrument (or group of instruments) individually and keeping those performances separate until a later date. Consider the CD or cassette player that you have at home or in your car. All the instruments are contained on a pair of stereo tracks.

You can adjust the volume or equalization of these tracks, but you can’t adjust the sound qualities of the individual instruments contained on these two tracks. The multitrack recorder, on the other hand, allows you to keep all these instruments separate. Multitrack recording lets you do the following things:

  • Make adjustments to the sound of the instrument on each track

  • Adjust the levels (volume) of the instruments in relation to one another

  • Assemble a “performance” that never happened

    Multitrack recording lets you keep all the instruments separate, unlike a CD.
    Multitrack recording lets you keep all the instruments separate, unlike a CD.
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