In any case, this video is well worth the 5 minutes. This simple tip might really help define some of your more HUGE sounding mixes. I'd definitely recommend checking it out. Here's the link to it, hope that you enjoy.
Like everyone, I'm always trying to improve when it comes to mixing my recordings. Whether you're a working pro or a late evening amateur enthusiasts recording engineer, we all want our efforts in the mixing stage of the process to improve the sound of our projects. Often times however, our inexperience and our over zealousness to utilize all of the awesome (included with our software) plug in processing power causes us to take a nice, natural sounding song and turn it into an over produced, badly mixed disaster.
The static mix starting point approach is an excellent way to start the process of mixing. Basically, a static mix is nothing more then your song mixed using only volume and panning, no effects, no dynamic procession and no automation. The premise is, if you can get your song sounding pretty good by just adjusting the volumes and panning, it will be much easier to then adjust EQ, add effects, automation etc. Also, it follows that by starting with a decent sounding mix you might stand to fuss with processing a lot less, resulting in a more natural sounding mix.
At first glance, I have to admit that I thought that this advice was a bit overly simple but after watching the video I realized that while I do start my mixes this way, I might not be spending enough time on my static mix before diving into the world of processing trying to fix all of my recording mistakes. Perhaps a bit more time and attention to my static mix might help improve my final mixes and reduce the amount of time I need to spend getting there.
Might help you as well… The video about this topic is here on YouTube, check it out .. it's good.
I read, what I thought was a good article today about EQ as it pertains to mixing your recordings. It suggested a way of approaching EQ in a way that I hadn't really (consciously at least) thought of. In the past, I'd often ask my buddy Ken (studio owner) questions about EQ and how to set it for various instruments. He'd always give me a general suggestion, what frequency to adjust etc. but would always say .. "it depends on what else is going on".
This article kind of took that same approach. First of all, sounds obvious but the first rule is that just because we all have tons of EQ plug ins at our disposal doesn't mean that we must use them. Sometimes a track just doesn't need any EQ. Next, it suggests listening to each track on its own to decide whether you like the sound of it or not. Sometimes, EQ can be used to add gain to various frequencies to change or enhance a track. Other times you'll want to reduce the gain on a frequency or two. Once you get your tracks sounding good on their own it's time to try them together. It's at this point that you can start to determine problems in terms of over crowded frequency ranges. Remember, if all of your tracks sound good on their own yet combined there are frequency crowding problems it follows that you'll have to adjust one or more tracks to thin out some of the frequency ranges.
A good suggestion is to start with your bed tracks. Drums first, then add bass. If that's okay add in any rhythm guitar, then keyboards .. etc. Don't change anything (EQ wise) until you hear a problem. Fix each issue as you add tracks until you have a nicely balanced instrumental track. Then add in your vocal tracks. Now, if they sound muddy, you can EQ them to sit more nicely into your mix.
It's totally a game of hit and miss but you can approach it in a bit of a logical fashion and narrow down problems (EQ wise) one by one. Trying to listen to the entire mix together and identify EQ problems is best left to the pro's with years of experience. Even those guys have basic tricks like these ones that they rely on.
Good Luck and I hope this helps your mixes .. Bill
As almost each week goes by, I learn more and more about shooting video and recording live audio. I'm sure that I've still got tons to learn but I have come a long way in my ability and the quality of the results in the past few years. One area that we have made big improvements is in our audio quality. We are routinely now getting really good sounding guitar tones in our videos. Not so much in our earlier videos. There are a few practical reasons for this. One, we are using more and better mic's as well as a much better audio interface. One less physical reason is the volume that we are recording our electric guitars at. Many of you know one of our managers Lou Roppoli. Well, Lou builds amps, plays guitar and is a student of the school of 80's rock, loud and proud. When we would shoot our videos, Lou and I would often argue about his volume. I would (wrongly) protest about his insane volume. In the early days, I simply didn't know how to properly record a really loud amp so Lou would turn down. The result, a kind of wimpy tone, definitely not what we were going for.
Recently, we redesigned on of our studio's to be used, in part as our video set. This room is much bigger and has really good acoustics, similar to that of a recording studio control room. In this room, we could crank up the amps a lot louder. The result was a way better sounding tone in our videos. Why I wondered? So I did what everyone does when they need an answer, I called my mother in law … okay not really, I Googled it. Turns out that bass frequencies our attenuated as much as -42dB in relation to mid and high frequencies when played at low volumes. In other words, the lower your output volume, the less bass you would hear. As you turn up the volume, the bass volume rises and the overall tone tends to thicken and become nice and smooth. There's more to it then just that but that is the general idea.
So, the take away is this … If possible, when recording electric guitar get your amp up as loud as possible and adjust your input gains on your audio interfaces pre amp to compensate for the louder signal. You will need a room with relatively controlled acoustics, otherwise your ear bleeding loud guitar will be bouncing off all of the walls and windows creating a bunch of unwanted reflection harmonics that will completely defeat the purpose of cranking your amp. We have achieved this by constructing wall baffles that really deaden up the room acoustically, total cost about $300. Well worth the investment and time not to mention a pretty easy DIY project. Your result will be a much more balanced and powerful tone. If you end up with too much low end you can always us your EQ to roll a bit off. It's almost impossible to add realistic sounding low end but taking it away is easy after the fact.
Ok Lou … your were right .. jerk:)
As most of you know, I subscribe to a youtube channel called recordingrevolution. The guy behind the channel posts all sorts of excellent videos designed to help people get better results from their home recording set ups. He does sell some instructional material but his youtube videos are free of course and more importantly, really good. He just put up a "new years" esq. type message outlining what he thought were the 3 big mistakes that home studios make. I found it pretty interesting but it also got me thinking that these principals also applied to other areas of the music business.
His number one mistake was .. "don't try to be a pro studio". What he meant was that too many people spend way too much time trying to buy exotic equipment and decorate their spaces like the pro facilities. He goes onto say that pro studios are doing business at such a higher level then the home studio that it is just really disproportionate to try to own the same equipment and have as fancy a facility.
His second mistake was .. "do try to be like a pro studio". Sounds like a contradiction to the first mistake but what he is referring to is how professional and organized a pro studio is. He is encouraging people to act professionally, schedule themselves effectively and conduct themselves like pros. It doesn't cost any more to act professional as it does to not.
His third mistake was .. "losing sight of our original motivation". We all get into music because of a love for some part of the art. Often, we can get wrapped up in either the finances or the technology such that we stop enjoying it. He, rightly maintains that the best musical results are achieved when the people creating it are having fun, not stressing about deadlines etc.
So, how does this relate to other areas of the business? I often see people in my travels who would love to skip some of the hard work of being a pro in the music business. I guess what I mean is, trying to become a pro in any field is a process and the development part of that process can not be skipped. For a player, that means really becoming a good enough player. Owning pro gear is not substitute for substandard playing. If you are good enough to be a pro in the music business, chances are you will become one. I'd concentrate on really being that good.
How many awesome artists do we all know who couldn't show up on time for their own funeral? Some of the greatest talents are complete bumble heads. Just about every pro that I know is extremely together and organized. You don't have to be a super organized person, just responsible and nice. You can really discount a lot of hard work and talent by simply not caring enough about being professional, courteous and organized. Being great at something is the hard part. Being organized and courteous should be easy by comparison, don't discount it.
When things are going great, it's easy to have fun with your work. It's when times are challenging that it starts to become less fun and more work. His last bit of advice about having fun with your work is applicable to just about anyone in any industry but good advice nonetheless. There is a reason the old saying " do what you love and the money will follow " is famous. It's because it's true in most cases.
So, there you have it, some words of wisdom from me, inspired by a guy named Graham from youtube :) Concentrate on being the best you can be, conduct yourself well and try to have fun doing it. I think I've just outlined my outlook for 2013.
Happy New Year everyone .. Bill
Here is a link to that video in case you'd like to watch it .. Click here
Recently I was involved in a recording project where we both video and audio recorded all of the bands in our Rock Band Experience program here at the store. It's a ton of fun to be involved in that type of project, I acted as the live audio engineer, a camera operator as well as the "wanna be" director. The real work came when I loaded all of the footage and audio into my computer at home and started to mix.
Did I mention that although I have lots of experience around mixing and recording, i'm not actually a recording professional? Nonetheless, I do my best and my years of experience observing others and doing some on my own serve me well and I can get a decent, although not really "pro" result. I don't often mix entire bands, more often I am mixing singer songwriter type projects and to be honest I found it difficult. I understand the concept of getting each instrument to occupy particular frequencies and to avoid layering multiple instruments in the same frequency range on top of each other to create a crisp, non muddy sounding mix. That said, I was spending tons of time futz'n with EQ's trying to segregate the various instruments to create a decent sounding mix, with limited success to be honest. In frustration, I asked my buddy Ken O'gorman .. Studio owner and mix master for suggestions. Without hesitation he started talking about high and low pass filters, a plug in that I had never used. Remember, I'm an amateur. Basically, a pass filter either allows your signal to pass either above or below a set frequency, eliminating the rest.
Well, when it comes to pass filters I am no longer avoiding them because I didn't really know what to do with them. In fact, they are my new best "plug in" friend. It is a lot easier to apply a high pass filter to a guitar track then it is to fool around endlessly with the EQ. By doing so, I was able to know exactly which frequencies I was getting and which I wasn't. This was really handy and easy when I was moving from track to track trying to not only make them sound good but ensure that they were not overlapping frequencies with the others. I'm probably using too many filters now but they are really useful and easy :)
The result was a really big sound with all of the tracks being audible without being too loud. Check out pass filters in your DAW software, they're easy to use and really helpful.. who knew?
Here's a link to a good video from our friends at the Recording Revolution that demonstrate a low pass filter on a drum track .. very helpful
Over the years I've accumulated some really good recording knowledge but my day to day world is spent predominantly outside of any recording environment. All that to say, I might have more recording experience then some, but a whole lot less than others. When I sit down to write a blog on some recording topic I usually consult the mighty world wide web for some info and some inspiration. Today I came across what I thought was an awesome website for people doing any type of home recording.
The site was called "The Recording Revolution" dot com. It seems to be a couple of things. Firstly, it is full of short but very informative blog entries on home recording techniques. Some of them are written while others are in the form of a video. Lots and lots of really good stuff. I killed at least a half hour watching videos. It also looks like the owner of the site, a young guy named Graham Cochrane has a line of more detailed videos to sell on a variety of home recording topics. Now, I have never seen any of the Pay Videos but I'd bet they are good judging from the quality of his Free videos.
In any case, this is a great resource for all of you home recording enthusiasts and one that I have subscribed to and will revisit often.
Check it out .. It's pretty good!
Some might say that we (and when I say we, I really mean me) spend too much time fussing with technology when it comes to our videos and some of the social media stuff that we do. Some days I might agree but most of the time I wouldn't. We set out some time ago on a direction to make our business stand apart from others in terms of what we offer our customers. Among many other things, this included the videos that produce for our customer's consumption, entertainment and education. When we started making videos 3 years ago we basically knew as much as the next guy, basically nothing. Since then we have been constantly learning and constantly buying new gear in an effort to improve the look and feel of our videos. This past week we tried a new format for the videos with what we think is great success.
Instead of shooting them in our store we moved into our large classroom. We employed a technique where by you black out the background, move the subject quite a bit forward from the background and then light the subject only leaving the background unlit. The effect is a very isolated subject and much better colour contrast, not to mention that the product becomes the highlight of the frame. Our hope was to improve the viewers experience by removing all of the distractions created by the motion in the store as well as all of the other products hanging in the background. Also, the sound was much easier to work with in the controlled environment of the classroom.
Bottom line, we think we may have taken our videos up a level our two and we hope that you enjoy the improvement. Best part of the whole thing, total cost $39 for the background paper :) You can check one of the new videos out here.
Thanks for reading, watching, shopping ... everything
Some of you might be a bit bummed out that although summer isn't "technically" over, the beginning of September definitely signifies that it is at least close to being over. It's true, the days are shorter, the temperature is not as hot yaada yaada yaada... Truth is, for some, me included, this time of year is one of the best for a bunch of reasons. For one, I love the temperature at this time of year. At my age (46) lets face it, I look a lot better in a pair of jeans and a sweat shirt then I do in bathing suit. I also heat up fast so sub 25c is more to my liking. Also, the summer is a time in our work that calls for a lot of hard physical work, which normally I don't mind but this summer I combined that with moving my family from one house to another. This made for double the hard work so I'm just as happy to be done with that for this year.
When September hits, we always kick back into full retail and education gear which is pretty exhilarating. This year, we have planned a whole whack of new video topics geared to share our mountain of knowledge with our customers more then ever before. In the coming weeks and months you can look forward to seeing a whole bunch of new "how to" videos covering topics such as amp set up, how to get a particular tone, all different types of pedals and their application as well as lots of new "how to" recording videos. We still plan on offering our customers a full diet of Gear Review videos but hope that these additional videos will help improve our contribution back to our customers.
Also on our agenda for this upcoming fall and winter are two separate "Songwriter Contests" as well as a number of "Performance Nights" for our students all geared towards getting our community out and interacting with us and each other. In the past, our videos have been very well received by people locally and world wide and last year our Songwriter Contest was very popular not mention inspirational so, we are really looking forward to stepping up our social efforts and we are anxious to see how they are received.
We hope that you like all of the new things! It is one of our main goals to be an industry leader when it comes to social engagement and building a fun community around our music store and school. If you have any suggestions for us, we would love to hear them. We can't promise to implement every suggestion but we will promise to listen to any suggestion and we are definitely grateful for any input.
Looking forward to another great year in the music business ... Thanks for everything .. Bill
I don't deal much with PA systems these days in my role here at KAOS. It is just something that our store does not focus on and not surprisingly, we don't sell much. That said, in my earlier days in the music retail business I used to talk about and sell PA systems quite regularly. All that to say, I'm not a super pro in the PA department but I do have some experience with it.
This past week I was installing a new PA in our studio classroom to be used for rehearsals with our various Rock Band Experience bands. We needed something that would deliver as clear a sound as possible without being super loud so as not to compete too much with the rest of our school. The challenge when you want to restrict volume is how to make it sound powerful while not ear bleeding loud. The answer was to add a sub. The sub gives you the powerful feeling while leaving the top speakers to deliver a nice crisp upper end to the sound. The result was fantastic. Using Yamaha's new DXR 8 speakers and their DXS sub we achieved a fantastic sounding set up that completely fills the room with sound without having to be "off the charts" loud. With 1100 watts at our disposal we did feel it necessary to test out the volume and YUP! it can go loud and still sound really clean.
So, for all those who are thinking of getting a PA for rehearsal or for a small live set up, consider smaller top speakers and a sub as opposed to giant all in one speakers without a sub. If you are trying to fill small to moderate sized rooms with sound, the sub will help your sound a lot more then having a 15" top speaker without a sub.
While I'm talking about powered speakers, these new Yamaha speakers really sound amazing. There are 2 series, the DXR and the DSR along with the DXS sub's. They are many different sizes but all of them have quite high output capabilities and all of them, even the least expensive sound amazing. They are mid priced in the world of powered speakers but definitely worth every penny in terms of a long term PA investment.
Play it loud, but only if it sounds good !