Setting up and running a productive studio session is a question of being prepared.
Not just in terms of setting up all the equipment that you would expect to find in a typical audio recording production, (which would include a computer, a mixing console, a patchbay, various types of outboard gear, microphones, floor channels, XLR cables, and more) but also in terms of knowing how to act and when something goes completely awry.
Critical Thinking Skills Can Save Your Session
Being able to improvise on the fly is an essential skill, though it certainly doesn’t involve going batshit crazy and potentially alienating your co-workers and clients in the process if something goes wrong that you don’t know how to fix. If something does go wrong, accept it, and let your studio partners and clients know that something has indeed gone wrong so that they can take a break and let you and your team work on coming up with a workaround solution.
Great! How do you figure out a solution?
Start with a top-down approach and analyze your entire signal chain to make sure that there aren’t any kinks or details that you overlooked before hitting ‘record’. It’s okay; you’re still human after all, and you’re bound to make mistakes here and there from time to time. If say, for example, that you’ve done everything in your power to make sure that your signal path is as error-free and clean as possible for a clean and painless recording and you’re still not able to hear your vocalist on the other side of the booth.
Then the culprit could be a faulty XLR, a shitty microphone (or one that’s been a hapless victim of needless misuse and abuse by careless or inexperienced engineers), or even a malfunctioning floor channel.
Of course, while in a session with actual clients and are on a tight schedule and experience such a scenario, first replace the cable, then the microphone if there’s still no signal, and, if you still don’t end up resolving your signal flow issue, try plugging the microphone into another floor channel.
Make sure that there aren’t any signal flow issues in the control room by checking if signal flow is indeed reaching your console, because if you’ve been able to establish that sound is indeed reaching your mixing console, then all you have to do then is ensure that your setup is properly configured to record, monitor, set up proper cue mixes for your recording artists, etc.