A four-track, also known as a multi-track, is used to record music through separate and discrete sound sources. Later on, these discrete sound sources will be harmonized and recorded into one single tape. Nowadays, multi-track recorders are used along with digital equipment and computer software. Multi-track recorders are used either to record instruments and vocals separately, or to edit sections of each. A four-track, as the name implies, can be used to record four different soundtracks, unless it is coupled with other four-tracks. One of the actions that can be done is to prepare a vocal track playback.
- Have the necessary equipment. Consider whether you want stand-alone multi-track equipment or those that work with digital systems and computer software. The stand-alone option is the old-fashioned option, working with analogue equipment such as cassettes and sound mixers. It’s great to use if you want to do away with cables and high-tech gadgets. You could just tinker with the knobs and faders to get the sound that you want. On the other hand, multi-track systems integrated with computer software offer a greater range of editing possibilities, such as computer plugin effects and audio editors.
- Consider whether four tracks are enough. Count up the number of instruments plus vocals that you want to record separately, and use this number to help you decide if four tracks are enough. You can “bounce” or combine up to three different tracks to one, in order to contain all the tracks in your four-track recorder.
- Record the vocal track. Have a cassette tape ready to store the vocal recording. Put in the instrumental track and play it, so you can create the vocal recording while playing the instrumentals. At the same time, push record so that your vocals are registered accordingly. Make sure that you record inside a room that has good acoustics, and that you use a high-quality microphone. The general rule is that you record the vocals last so that they mix in well with the rest of the tracks.
- Know some techniques for vocal recording. It’s best that you stand about eight to twelve inches from the microphone while singing, as this can effectively eliminate the popping s’s, p’s and b’s. Avoid using foam covers on your microphone as this causes unpleasant hissing sounds.
- Listen to the vocal track playback. Once you’ve recorded your vocals, press the rewind and play button so you could listen to it again. You can play the other tracks at the same time, so you can get the feel of how all the tracks will be unified and mixed later on. While listening, check to see if any one track dominates another.
- Check how the vocals sound on other equipment. Some recordings may sound different when played on other track machines. You should also write down everything that you do, especially during mixing, so that you will know how to replicate the effects when necessary.
Preparing the vocal track playback is one of the simplest procedures involved with multi-track recording. Read up also on mixing techniques, such as how to eliminate sources of hiss in your recording and how to do noise reduction.