Recording levels are of the utmost importance when you are producing your music. This pertains to the level for the racks or the mixes. There has always been a common answer for this being to set the level at max just below the digital zero. Referring to the top of the meter. Unfortunately, many of the experts will most likely tell you this is wrong.One of the things you may want to keep in mind with this industry is not to believe everything you hear. (No pun intended). There are those in the industry that will tell you anything in order to get you to buy their wares. Anyone that has been in the computer music realm will tell you that digital audio has just gotten to the point where sound quality is acceptable.
Remember one basic factor about your quest of composing music and that is the purpose of recording sound. Which is of course so we can listen and enjoy it. You need to learn and be able to determine what parts of the music must be louder than others. For example, a pop ballad should be lower on track than a thrash metal. A guitar solo should be above the normal background playing.
Your first inclination may be to use only your digital meters and record these separately. On the surface, it sounds logical, but in fact, you could end up with the very opposite results. Reason being the digital recorders use peak meters, whereas music listeners use their hearing meaning they utilize average characteristics when judging the levels. If not done correctly then it means the listener will be forced to turn the volume down.
You can prevent your frustrations if you just record everything at the proper levels right from the start. It would be right to share one track between two instruments at least. This should only be done when the two specific instruments are not playing at the same time. So you would record these instruments at the correct level that they would be at when physically playing the song. Use your estimation qualities to get the results that are right. You want to hear what the end listeners should here. They won’t be using meters they will be using their natural ability of hearing.
Stay consistent with your entire album, if the listener has to keep getting up to adjust the volume you can bet they won’t be too impressed.
If you try and do your sound recordings according to all the information that various people give you then you will soon become discouraged. What may work in one song will certainly not work in another. Then there will be all the controversy to sort though. Learn the basics, follow your judgment and trust your ears. Composing music is suppose to be an enjoyable event even if its your livelihood, if you didn’t have passion for music its unlikely you would even be involved in computer music.