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6 Tips to Create a Workflow in Spire Studio

by Charley Ruddell, iZotope Contributor October 1, 2019
An easy and simple workflow is at your fingertips with Spire Studio.
An easy and simple workflow is at your fingertips with Spire Studio.

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A steady workflow is essential when optimizing productivity in music production. Creating order in your flow makes the creation process easier to manage, less overwhelming, and more fun. Whether you’re doing work for a client, producing on a deadline, or just tracking your own passion project, a solid workflow is the difference between sanity and utter chaos. 

Before attempting to organize your entire process into a cohesive workflow, it’s important to understand a few things. A workflow won’t succeed without the following: you must have a basic understanding of the tools you’re working with, and you must have an idea to build upon.

Spire Studio is ideal for creating a streamlined workflow. Spire Studio’s easy-to-use hardware features and app make for the perfect companions to your process. However, there are many recording effects and features to be creative with, so finding a productive workflow can be tricky to establish effectively.

We’re here to help you find your groove in Spire Studio with some helpful tips to get you started. Try these six tips to create a workflow in Spire Studio so you can jump right into your process.

Understanding your environment is step one of a good workflow

1. Understand your surroundings

As mentioned earlier, it’s imperative to understand the tools you’re working with, and Spire Studio is no exception. When you’re working in Spire, you’ll need to understand the lay of the land to establish the foundation of your workflow.

You’ll need to know where to find your recording effects, where your metronome lives, and where to mix your tracks. You can find all three below:

Effects, metronome, and mix in the Spire app

Your recording effects are split into three categories from left to right: amp simulators, Spaces, and Pedals. The amp simulators are pretty self-explanatory, but the Spaces and Pedals are more nuanced in their functions.

2. Soundcheck to start, Enhance to finish

Once you’re comfortable with Spire’s layout, you can start tracking. 

Soundcheck and Enhance are two functions in Spire Studio that are extremely important to starting and finishing a track. Soundcheck is software that detects your instrument, sets the input level to avoid clipping, and sculpts your tone to make your instrument sound its best. Simply push the Soundcheck button on your Spire Studio hardware and play your instrument—Spire Studio will do the rest for you. 
 

Top Tip: A great way to establish a workflow is to Soundcheck every track before you push record. It creates a habit, as well as a uniform collection of levels. 
 

Enhance uses intelligent analysis to improve the clarity of your mix while boosting its loudness by analyzing and correcting your tracks for mix imbalances, frequency levels, and loudness. You should always use Enhance when wrapping up your project to make your audio top quality. You can find Enhance in the export screen below.

Enhance in the Spire app

3. Track from the bottom up

It’s easy to get lost in your process if you’re tracking instruments as inspiration strikes. It’s wise to track your instruments from the bottom up. Track your more grounded instruments first, like rhythm section instruments and percussion. This gives a better foundation to build on, and allows for less messy experimentation later in your process.

Reserving your first track for drums is a great way to start. If you are having trouble mapping out your rhythm track without a harmonic accompaniment, record your harmonic instrument first with a click track, and then track your rhythm track (keep that harmonic track rough, you’ll want to delete it after and record a cleaner one separately). If your rhythm track is a drum machine or is being played by another person, you can also record along simultaneously by using both inputs on the back of the Spire console. 

After drums, track your bass track, then your rhythm guitar track or keys track. Reserve your leads and textures for the end—that’s usually where the experimentation comes into play. 

Stacking your instruments like this gradually speeds along the recording process by building on a foundation. You’re creating a snowball effect by working in this way. 

4. Lightly mix as you go

When you record a track in the Spire App, the mix console automatically places the track in the middle of the stereo field. So, if you record eight tracks in a row without any mixing, all eight tracks are stacked on top of each other, thus making the final mix a difficult process of sorting and placing.

After laying down your rhythm section, try lightly mixing your tracks as you record them to give yourself a better idea of the stereo field you’re working with, as well as the balance between your instruments. For example, after recording your first rhythm guitar track, pan it left; after recording your second guitar track, pan it right, and so on. Of course, your mix will be subject to change at the end, but at least you’ll have a better idea of how each instrument sounds in the stereo field when you get there. 

It’s also not a bad idea to keep everything in mono while tracking, and then converting your tracks to stereo in the final mix. 

5. Dry effects first, saturate second

When you’re writing parts that call for big, wet sounds, like the Vintage Dub Echo or the Purple Phaze, save the tracking until after your dryer parts have been recorded. Wetter effects take up more space in the stereo field, so it’s preferable to get a strong mix between your dry tracks to then add your wetter tracks after to mix in appropriately. 

When you get your dry tracks recorded, you’ve effectively completed a large chunk of your recording process. Keeping those tracks organized first creates a checkpoint for you to layer on the wetter tracks and experiment with their various tone options. You’re staying organized while allowing yourself space to be creative.

6. Trim, label, and name

Where producers tend to get lazy is in the fine details of a project. Every producer has their own language and understanding of their flow, but this can often be a hurdle in the event of collaboration or work for hire. 

It’s good practice to keep everything as organized as possible by trimming your tracks, labeling them, and naming your project for export. It’s an effective way to cap off your workflow by giving yourself some closing tasks. In this way, you’re ensuring that your project is complete and ready for export. 

Trimming your tracks is an effective way to eliminate any excess noise from your project and to save space. To trim your tracks, select the trim icon in the tracking page, select the tracks you want to trim, and place the trim handles around the section you wish to delete. If you hold a trim handle in one spot, the Spire app will play the few moments leading up to it to make sure that you’re in the right spot. When your parameters are set, press the trash can icon to delete the section.

The trim menu in the Spire app

The labels that the Spire app offers for your tracks are instrument icons (drums, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboard, and a microphone). You may notice that Soundcheck has already detected and labeled many of your tracks. To label your tracks, click and hold the track number on the left-hand side in the tracking page. The icons will pop up; select the corresponding instrument icon to label your track. This will subsequently label your tracks in the mixing page as well. 

Label your tracks with the appropriate instrument icon from the label page

Naming your project can be done in the tracking page as well as the mixing page and export page. Simply click the title at the top of your screen to name your project. The name you give your project will appear on the initial Spire projects screen, and will carry over when you export your project to Soundcloud, Google Drive, or wherever else you choose to export.

Name your track in the Spire app

Conclusion 

Creating a workflow begins and ends with efficiency to maximize your productivity. Most of what goes into creating a workflow in Spire Studio is discipline and repetition, as seen in using Soundcheck and Enhance, trimming, labeling, and naming your tracks, and tracking from the bottom up. By establishing your foundation early, you can also allow yourself to experiment and be creative within the parameters you’ve created for yourself. Next time you’re feeling the need to dive into Spire Studio, remember to first create a solid workflow to optimize your experience. 

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