Much preparation work must be done before the recording process even starts. The band or artist must first rehearse all songs, making note of important transitions and working out any kinks in the individual songs that will be recorded. The layout of the recording space may be modified to accommodate several musicians and to isolate the sounds of each instrument without bleeding over into other recording tracks, and the musicians will be prepped on the overall recording process. All recording devices, such as microphones and cables, are set up and tested thoroughly to ensure they are working properly.
When the recording process is ready to begin, the engineer will adjust the sound levels of each microphone that is set up to pick up sound. The band or artist will generally warm-up during this time to allow the engineer plenty of time to adjust levels properly. This warm up period is important as well because it allows musicians to get used to the space in which they are playing; sometimes the individual musicians are isolated in separate rooms, so they must learn to play without having a direct line of sight on each other.
The recording process continues with the recording of basic tracks, such as rhythm instruments, drums, and so on. These tracks will provide the foundation for the rest of the recording process that will include recording the vocals, overdubs, additional instrument tracks, and so on. This phase of the recording process will vary in length according to the quality of each take, and the comfort level of the musicians. Some musicians can complete this phase in one take, while others will require numerous takes to get the track they want.
Overdubs are short tracks that are meant to fix any mistakes or add any accents to to the basic tracks. A recording may or may not need such overdubs, as the original tracks may be sufficient to complete the recording. Once overdubs are completed, the mixing phase takes place. This part of the recording process often takes the most time, as the sound engineer must adjust the sound levels of all instruments and vocals to work well together. Effects may be added or deleted from the tracks during this phase as well, and fading, panning, and other processes can be added at this time. This process leads to the mastering phase, which is the final phase in which the tracks are completed and prepared for writing on a CD or other format.