If you’ve ever been in a recording studio, you have probably heard the engineer say, “Don’t worry, we can fix it in the mix.” Well, some of that is the truth. If you have all of the right tools and a good recording engineer, you are able to cover up most of those minor mistakes in a mix.
When you go into the studio to start recording, you are going to start out by laying down the tracks for the rhythm section. This would be your drums, bass, rhythm guitar and scratch vocals. The engineer will make every effort to get this all recorded within the first three takes. You start to lose the energy of the recording quickly after that.
The most important thing the engineer will listen for is a great drum track. A minor flub in the bass line can be worked out in the mixing of the tracks. It has to do with the fact that a drum set is actually many instruments with different microphones on separate tracks. For example, a sloppy kick drum that slows down a bit here and speeds up a bit there poses a different problem than if the bass player did the same thing. If the bass strays from the beat, it’s fairly simple to chop up the offending notes and put them back into time.
The problem is that while the kick drum was played, often other drums and cymbals were hit or still ringing out. When we cut and slide all the drum tracks a few milliseconds to correct the kick timing, now we introduce gaps in those other tracks which have to be fixed by manipulating them individually.
So, basically if you want to be able to make easy fixes in your mix, you should practice a lot before you step foot in the studio. You should also try practicing with a click track to reduce the error of bad timing.