The purpose of the recording
You want a good result, which requires the best conditions. Not by making haste or accepting poor musical, technical or acoustical solutions.
With good working conditions you can save time in postproduction, use less "make-up", editing and mixing and have a cheaper, better sounding record.
Some of my favourite records are of the late 1950´s – early 60´s, good example of the great environments (studios, concert halls), microphones and engineers who were used to record in mono just a few years before, now equipped with vastly better microphones, preamps and tape machines. Not to mention the commercialy spreading of stereo recordings. They used little to no effects in terms of equalizers (or rather, they were just that), their keen ears knowing where to put the microphones to get the best result.
I´m not a vintage equipment geek (quite the contrary), I just fancy the way they used to turn great music into great records with rather sparse but well used stuff, the sheer craft.
It´s the beauty of genuinly good music in it´s right environment. I´d like to combine the old ways with new technology to achieve this.
The ”performance” state of mind. You should practice before going into recording, but leave practicing behind when the recording session starts. It sometimes helps to record yourself (there´s lots of simple equipment for making simple recordings) to get a more objective perspective – what details needs adressing? You will most probably be doing this job in editing later on and what can be done before recording will save us time and money later – and maybe sort out some hard-to-die errors. Don´t go too hard on yourself, otherwise there´s not going to be any recording in the end anyway.
Playing the material for a select audience (maybe even make a small tour?) might help you relax a little before recording. You get some healthy feedback and maybe get some ideas on changes you´d like to make to your performance – applause can sometimes be enough mesurement of what material works best!
When performing (live or in the studio) you should reach out and feel a strong connection to your fellow musicians – something that usually happens after performing your program a few times. That´s when you stop thinking too much on your own part and lose yourself to the music and the mutual contribution of your ensemble.
Comfortable setup – you need to be able to have auditive and visual contact within the group to feel connected. The acoustics should be helpful, not in the way. Same goes for technology – headphones, microphones, cables – they need to be in a good place to get the best sound but out of the way of the performance. Oh, well, and the engineer, too.
You need the right balance of food, sleep, breaks and whatever other requirements you have, to stay focused. Even the engineer have these needs…
What´s your best location for recording – a concert hall or your granny´s livingroom with boarded floor and the nice sparkle of a fireplace? Does your kids need to be picked up from school or daycare? It all goes into the planning. Only you can decide what´s needed.
What´s your story?
Are you doing a demo, a CD or a concert recording?
If you put time and effort, not to mention money, you should make yourself proud of the product, whatever the purpose of it. Can you sell the left over CD´s along with your next album, or will it be too embarrasing? Will you order another run of CD´s when they sell out, to maximise the revenue?
Or worse – will a bad product hurt your credibility in the future?
Do it right the first time.