I love going into the studio. I love the feeling you get when you play back something for the first time, amazed at how smooth and professional it sounds.

I have had this feeling many times, only to go home, stick my recently recorded tape in my stereo system, and cringe at what I hear. What is it that gets lost in the transfer? Why is it that all my optimism and joy turn into utter horror? Four times I have gone into studios over the course of several years to make my debut album perfect; on the fourth time I succeeded. While I'm extremely happy with the final fourth-try album, the other three experiences are marked by poor decisions, poor preparation, bad luck, and anything else that could have gone wrong. The following is a recounting of those sordid details, and I hope they will help you avoid the same mistakes and make your debut album just that -- your first-time recording.

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