So what is “Vibe”?
This time, our Studio Philosopher talks about a word that you will probably hear more than any other in a studio session, “vibe”. Very much an abstract concept, and one that some engineers avoid like the plague, it basically means that the energy and feeling in the room will influence the quality of the recording, in particular the performance. For some engineers this also extends to the mixdown.
Some studios and engineers use coloured or low lighting and special furnishings to create a vibe in their rooms. Studios are occasionally built in lush natural surrounds and have extra facilities like, housing, swimming pools, games etc that can all help to create a particular atmosphere for the recording environment (check out Real World Studios). Even in a small setup it’s a great idea to have some different lighting options (lamps, fairy lights etc) and a comfortable couch/seat for you client.
All of these superficial things aside, the concept of vibe, goes a little deeper… Most important is to create a fun, relaxed and comfortable environment for the talent. Key to doing this is not necessarily cool lighting (although it doesn’t hurt) but your manner as an engineer. Always be friendly and welcoming, make the client feel like a guest in your home and that if they need something they can feel free to ask.
Secondly, know your stuff! Nothing kills the vibe in a room more than you messing around because something has gone wrong and you don’t know what it is. Further to this if there is a problem that you can’t fix, be honest, the client will appreciate you being up front and can relax while you get the issue sorted, rather than standing around while you mess about. Third, be positive. Especially on long sessions, the ability to keep the mood up is essential.
If you are asked for feedback, make sure it is honest, but looks towards what is good and what can be improved, as opposed to what was done wrong. Lastly don’t be afraid to take a break. Even if you are on a tight schedule, often the best remedy for a trouble take or mix is to step back.