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Some of the easiest ways to improve your recordings are also the cheapest. In fact, the most effective techniques require no money at all. Here’s a collection of tips you might find helpful the next time a pricey piece of gear stands between you and great recordings. Help from others Have a friend perform: Home […]

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The process of normalization often confuses newcomers to digital audio production. The word itself, “normalize,” has various meanings, and this certainly contributes to the confusion. However, beginners and experts alike are also tripped up by the myths and misinformation that abound on the topic. I address the 10 most common myths, and the truth behind […]

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The easiest way to move a track “back” in a mix is to lower its volume. This works because in our everyday lives, sounds get quieter as they recede from us, so we’re accustomed to the effect. But our brains also use other cues to determine distance. For example, human hearing excels at matching a […]

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My apologies if you tried to reach Hometracked earlier and saw a 503 error. The site got a little busy – visitors from Digg, Reddit, and the awesome AbsolutePunk – and Dreamhost throttled my bandwidth. (So much for the 10Tb, I guess.) No matter, everything looks to be running again, and the hate-mail from angry […]

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Here are some tips and techniques for treating vocal tracks with EQ while mixing. Most importantly: Every voice is different, and every song is different. That advice bears remembering, even if you’ve heard it dozens of times. When you find yourself approaching a vocal mix on auto-pilot, applying effects “because they worked last time,” consider […]

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Pitch correction software has applications from restoration and mix-rescue to outright distortion of a voice or instrument. I’ll discuss some of the more tasteful uses of these auto-tune tools (whether the original from Antares, or a variant like the free GSnap) below. But first I thought I’d highlight their misuse to illustrate the effects we […]

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This tip arises in most discussions of good equalizer technique: “Use narrow adjustments when cutting frequencies, and wide adjustments when boosting.” There are some great reasons to heed this advice. But they’re not immediately obvious, especially if you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with parametric EQs, and they’re rarely fully explained. I’ll explain and demonstrate below, and […]

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A few Homerecording.com regulars debate the merits of dithering. The conversation could easily have devolved into a flame war, but the participants kept it civil, and offered some great food for thought. Some engineers even argue over which type of dither is best, claiming this algorithm is more airy sounding that that one, and so […]

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I keep a collection of audio samples designed to help check my monitor setup. Test tones, essentially, that I use after I’ve moved my speakers or desk, to ensure the speakers still behave as they should. I’ve included 4 of the samples below, and I hope you find them useful – and possibly enlightening. Each […]

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Over time, I’ve noted several questions that arise repeatedly on the web’s home recording forums. Each question reads as though it should have a simple answer, but none of them do. And indeed, the questions themselves betray their askers’ lack of experience with the subject. In effect, posing one of these questions tells the world […]

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As a songwriter I’m (far too) familiar with writer’s block, and when my creative energy wanes, I’m not above using outside help to keep fresh ideas flowing. In particular, I own and love Naomi Epel’s Observation Deck. If I sense a creative lull creeping on, I pull out a card and ponder its message (for […]

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For most home recordists, working with cheap microphones is a fact of life. “Amateur” and “budget-constrained” are practically synonymous in audio engineering. But cheap doesn’t have to mean bad. With a little effort, even the most cost-conscious mic owner can capture great sounds. To that end, here are 7 tips for getting the most from […]

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I’m amazed when I compare Glyn Johns’s early mixes of Let It Be with Phil Spector’s final release. The music and performances are the same, but the mixes couldn’t sound more different. Shouldn’t these men, both professionals practicing a time-honoured craft, have created similar mixes with the same material? Of course, no two listeners hear […]

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From Gearslutz: How can I treat nasty snare drum ringing? usually a “ring” isnt in one frequency…it’s a complex combination of frequencies. so you may need to eq out 2-3 different places. if you find a resonance, and eq it out, but still hear a ring, then repeat the process till all rings are gone. […]

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To play sound our ears and brain understand, a digital audio system must emit an analog signal. The switch from digital to analog is handled by the digital-to-analog converter, usually just called a DAC. Under specific conditions, which I describe below, the DAC can produce an analog signal that momentarily exceeds the level of the […]

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I apologize for the dearth of updates on Hometracked this month. I’ve been busy with a few things, and one in particular that bears mentioning. A local radio station songwriting contest recently caught my attention, mostly because of the sizable cash prizes: $10,000 for the winner, and a total purse of over $26,000. (This is […]

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Inspired by Jason Kottke’s awesome digging in the newly-opened NY Times archive, here are some items from the archive documenting music and recording history. The first reference to Edison’s phonograph seems to be this satirical piece from November, 1877. At least, I hope it’s satirical: There is good reason to believe that if the phonograph […]

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“Reference tracks for better drum mixes” included a few drum-only passages captured from commercial recordings. The ideal drum reference tracks feature few other instruments, as musical instruments tend to mask frequencies in the snare and kick drums. But since drums aren’t often featured solo in pop and rock recordings, it can be tricky to find […]

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Ben Goldacre writes the fantastic column Bad Science, in which he takes journalists to task for reporting poorly researched conclusions. I wonder if he’d consider expanding his field to include bad audio technology writing. He might start with Lee Gomes’s article in the Wall Street Journal, Are Technology Limits In MP3s and iPods Ruining Pop […]

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Like most folk, I enjoyed the recent NY Times’ article on Rick Rubin and Columbia Records. And while the portrayal of Rubin as larger-than-life-messiah borders on caricature, the article still advances some sage thinking on Columbia’s woes: Columbia didn’t want Rubin to punch a clock. It wanted him to save the company. And just maybe […]

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After my discussion of ribbon mic mods, Michael at OktavaMod sent me some pictures of sagging ribbons, something you might encounter while working on your mic. The most common symptoms of a loose ribbon are low output and decreased low-frequency response. With your mic open, it’s easy to see if the ribbon sags. But with […]

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I spend as much time as any guitar player tweaking knobs to find great tones. Here are some links that have helped me in the quest: First, the effect of pickups on guitar tone: Even though we each have different ideas about our ultimate tone, I think we’re all looking for a rich sound – […]

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Inspired by “engineering screw-ups” on Gearslutz, here’s a list of recording and mixing bloopers that made it past the mixing room onto the final release. These aren’t performance missteps, where the band missed a cue, or the singer came in too soon. There are certainly countless examples of those but most were included intentionally, to […]

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David at Digital Audio Insider wrote an interesting article on using Last.fm Statistics to Quantify Audience Devotion. Audience devotion here refers to how many repeated listens a band’s tracks receive. Basically, do people keep listening to the band?: I thought it’d be fun to use Last.fm statistics to try to devise a measure of “audience […]

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I discussed a simple modification to an Apex 205 ribbon mic, and recorded samples to illustrate the change. Here are some concluding thoughts, and helpful resources for anyone planning to tweak a ribbon mic: Should you do this mod? Whether or not you should modify your own ribbon mic depends largely on your answers to […]

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It’s easy enough to play with mic placement on your guitar amp, but it’s not always practical, especially if you record by yourself. This video highlights the main miking positions, and how each affects the guitar’s tone.

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Yesterday, I described a simple modification on the Apex 205 ribbon mic. To show the results of the mod, I recorded samples using both the modded 205 and a stock version of the same mic. Methodology I recorded each pair of clips below simultaneously, which makes A/B comparison easy: Line up the beginning of both […]

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I have two Apex 205 microphones, the cheap Chinese ribbon mics appearing in amateur mic collections everywhere. Even out of the box, these microphones (and the equivalent mics from Nady, Thomann, SM Pro, et. al.) sound decent. But a DIY’er can easily make 2 changes to improve the sound: Remove unnecessary screening from the mic […]

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In what FutureMusic dubs The Waves Ultimatum, Waves has been spying on studios to gather evidence against software thieves. Complete with hidden cameras. (There’s more on the campaign in this Gearslutz thread: Software Police on Patrol.) Waves is targeting professionals, not home studios. That’s probably a good thing for the dozens of web forum posters […]

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Watch for “the wall”: Marathon runners hit a wall somewhere around the 20-mile mark. Mixing engineers experience something similar: After a point, mixes don’t get better, they just get different. Learning to recognize when you’ve reached this point is crucial to improving as a mix engineer. Unlike runners, however, engineers who hit the mixing wall […]

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Here’s a classic thread from Prosoundweb with some of the pros sharing their thoughts on getting a thick guitar sound: It’s a lot of things, but most importainly[sic] it’s the blend of guitars and bass in the arrangement. If you listen closely to your fav guitar sounds, the guitars aren’t really that big on their […]

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A custom reverb can add a unique signature to your recordings. And since practically every space reverberates, a home made reverb often requires no more than a speaker, and microphone to capture reflected sound. Understandably, then, reverb units are popular do-it-yourself projects for musicians and recording engineers. Spring and plate reverbs are the easiest designs […]

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I previously discussed the best bit rate for the MP3s you distribute. (Short answer: Probably 128KBps or 160KBps, but test your own music to be sure.) There’s a more important bitrate for most home recordists, however: The number of bits you use to record raw tracks. In all likelihood, your recording system gives you two […]

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In audio, a transient is commonly defined as “an abrupt or sudden change in level.” We associate transients with sharp, harsh sounds: Think of cymbal crashes, hard-strummed acoustic guitar, and a singer’s T’s and CH’s. A microphone’s ability to accurately capture these transients is known as transient response, and it’s an important property to consider […]

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While it has nothing to do with music, this story of Lego’s success with Mindstorms hints at some powerful lessons: Lego […] realized that their proprietary code was loose on the Internet and debated how best to handle the hackers… Some Lego executives worried that the hackers might cannibalize the market for future Mindstorms accessories […]

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From homerecording.com, a collection of approaches to mixing: First thing is to do the faders up listening. If you’re a member of the band, or the engineer, or even worse both (as well as the song writer and the overall aranger of the songs….like I am), then TRY REALLY HARD to forget that. You have […]

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A couple of weeks ago, Avril Lavigne found herself facing allegations that she’d plagiarized a 30 year old song. (Here’s some quick background.) It’s old news now, but worth revisiting because some aspects of the case could be important for amateur producers and home recordists. … Lavigne and her co-writer didn’t rip off The Rubinoos. […]

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Here are a couple of sites I’ve enjoyed recently that you might not have seen: Homemade noize, a growing collection of DIY projects and software plugins, mostly aimed at amateur recording enthusiasts. And Spinmeister’s Extreme Mixer (eMXR) site, which focuses on online collaboration and remixing. From the site: Long held business models for recorded music […]

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Storm Recording Studio has disappeared off the internet, taking with it the only source of drum sample replacer Drumtrig. I mentioned Drumtrig in the list of drum replacer plugins. It’s a free, dressed-down alternative to Drumagog: Only one sample per track, but incredibly easy to use. As with the similarly-fated Paris EQ, I saved the […]

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Michael Dean and Chris Caulder have released a CC-licensed (and free) eBook about making music digitally: Digital Music – DIY Now! The book claims to be “for people who want to record their own compositions and get them out to the World” and “for people who want a career making music for films, TV, and […]

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I’m Canadian, so I glaze over in most discussions of U.S. domestic policy. Accordingly, I have basically ignored the debate over Internet radio royalty rates. But my interest has increased after reading two well-reasoned opinions on how the debate bears directly on independent musicians. The first, in Business Week: The outrage against the CRB rates […]

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(With all due props to Brad, who had the idea first … ) I link to a lot of great home recording sites, so it made sense to combine Hometracked’s outbound links from Live.com with Google’s Custom Search Engine tool. The search includes all the reference sites I’ve ever linked to: Blogs like CDM and […]

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Steve Albini (yes, that Steve Albini) hangs out on the 2+2 poker forums, and decided to entertain music questions from the poker community. It seems an odd location for that discussion, but the thread has some great Albini quotes: Well, mixing isn’t the magic bullet it’s purported to be. A recording is about 90 percent […]

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I’ve been away from Hometracked for the last week because I had a chance to record in a great space: A Muskoka cottage with 14-foot cathedral ceilings and all-pine interior. Perfect for recording drums! I was certain the space would yield a better drum sound. Still, I thought it would be interesting to hear how […]

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For a sales video, this “recording guitar” primer from Presonus is surprisingly effective, especially if you struggle to get a usable tone from acoustic or electric guitar:

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I ask most people I talk to where they listen to music: On a home stereo system? Through headphones? In the car? While I haven’t tracked the answers scientifically, I’d say the breakdown looks roughly like: Headphones or earphones: 60% PC speakers: 20% Car speakers: 10% HiFi speakers: 10% A recent CEA study adds that […]

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For a full band mix, restringing your electric guitar probably won’t, by itself, much affect the overall sound of your recording. Especially if the guitar’s a little crunchy. Ditto for changing the snare drum head. Or tweaking the piano’s tuning. But taken together, small changes like these add up, and can really bring a mix […]

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Music sales widgets are the Flash based “mp3 players with built-in music store” we see appearing across the web. SNOCAP is arguably the best known vendor, thanks to high profile deals with EMI and Myspace. But there are at least half a dozen other companies offering similar tools. Why use one of these widgets to […]

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This collection of home recording studio pictures might give you some ideas for your own space. Or cause drool-inducing envy.

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Some recent articles you may have missed: … I daresay most indie artists experience a visceral glee while reading these words in Rolling Stone: Just a few years ago, many [music] industry executives thought their problems could be solved by bigger hits. “There wasn’t anything a good hit couldn’t fix for these guys,” says a […]

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I spend a lot of time, in and out of the studio, with my ears covered, plugged, or otherwise shielded from loud sounds. I do it to protect my hearing, of course, but I wasn’t always as diligent as I am now. The motivation behind my (possible over)use of earplugs was my discovery a few […]

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Double-tracking a vocal is a tried and true technique for adding character to (or covering flaws in) a vocal track. Here are two threads from homerecording.com on doubling vocals: [Thread 1], [Thread 2]: Double tracking really depends on the vocalist being in control of his/her performance. Some people are good at it and some people […]

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Home Studio Bootcamp in this month’s EQ magazine has some great tips on improving your home studio’s acoustics (or at least making the best of the existing sound.) … for the truly broke, a rug on the floor, a bookcase on the wall, or even a strategically placed sofa between the source and the walls […]

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Over the last few months Andrew Dubber, on his site New Music Strategies, has compiled a list of things you must know about music online. He deals with changing realities in the music industry, and the strategies indie labels (though the advice applies to the major labels too) and artists will need to succeed in […]

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Characteristics of Musical Keys: Composers through history have associated various moods and colours with each of the 24 major and minor keys in Western music. From the link “This document contains a selection of information from the Internet about the emotion or mood associated with musical keys. It is not complete nor does it include […]

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I changed the web site to a 3-column layout today, and added a “live preview” feature to the comment form. If you see anything that looks out of place, I’d appreciate a heads-up. You can leave a comment, or email des at hometracked.

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Butch Vig discusses mixing Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Cobain with his “vocal cords … starting to come right out of his throat.”

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Generally it’s best to avoid the use of heavy reverb on bass and kick drum tracks, since the extra reverberant low frequencies can quickly lead to a muddy sound. (Remember: Excessive bass causes amateur sounding tracks.) But when used sparingly, a tight short reverb effect can add body and punch to a dull kick drum. […]

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Some instruments, guitars especially, sound great when double-tracked and separated in the stereo image. Hard-panned electric guitars are a standard in modern rock mixes, and engineers have used the technique on acoustic guitars too for decades. Double-tracking is straightforward: Record a part twice, both takes as similar as possible, and pan one take hard left […]

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Linkin Park’s singles often inspire the question “haven’t they already written this song?” An mp3 that does the rounds from time to time mixes Numb (on the left) and Pushing Me Away (on the right) to illustrate this with almost comical effect: All Linken Park Songs Sound Exactly The Same. As shown below, and forgive […]

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Make a cassette loop for about 6 seconds: As some of the commenters note, this could be used for old school loop-based effects. Exactly HOW you’d do that is not covered, of course. The Time Correction Wiki: Described as a website “dedicated to the study and practice of time correction techniques in audio engineering and […]

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Brad posted a great article this week on which CD sales approaches pay independent artists the most. His experience mirrors mine: Direct sales are the most profitable, followed by CD Baby, then the various online distribution methods. Says Brad: No big surprise, buying direct from me is the best (for me). Direct digital sales… is […]

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A quick note: Create Digital Music hit their sponsors up for a pile of music hardware and software to give away (to U.S. residents.) Free stuff is good, free music stuff better.

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As an amateur recording engineer, you’ll likely run into the name Recorderman when learning how to mic a drum kit. Recorderman’s approach to placing overhead drum microphones is recommended for beginners because it’s easy to set up, and yields good, sometimes great, results in practically every situation. The name “Recorderman” comes from a user on […]

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Whether or not you’re in it for the money, making a few bucks with your music is a great feeling. I’ve been writing songs most of my life, and recording for the better part of the last decade. And while I’m not a professional, I’ve still earned enough over the years to warrant paying taxes […]

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In Mix It Like A Record, Charles Dye recommends several methods of checking a mix for mono compatibility. The simplest: Put a finger in one of your ears! There may be slightly more to it, however. Lifehacker recently featured a list of body hacks, and it included this great tip about using our ears: If […]

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A web search for “best VST EQ” turns up dozens of pages that mention the Paris EQ VST, but for reasons I haven’t been able to figure out, the plugin and its author Matt Craig have dropped off the face of the Internet. That’s a pity, because the plugin is fantastic. Although it’s colorful, so […]

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Electronic Musician just added an old interview with Bob Clearmountain to their web site. Clearmountain is one of my idols (his work with Radiohead notwithstanding.) And while he’s arguably the most famous mixing engineer on the planet, he doesn’t mind sharing advice with us amateurs on how to mix: I mix at various monitoring levels, […]

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Boy do I ever have a huge backlog of links to post. Here are a few stories from the last few weeks relating to indie artists and the music industry. Can Music Survive Inside the Big Box, from the Wall Street Journal, discusses the increasing power of Walmart, Best Buy, and Target over the (traditional) […]

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What are some reasons that a mix collapses when summed to mono? It sounds like you are not switching back and forth often enough. Don’t wait until you are committed to a balance to check mono. Make it an every-five-minute-auto button-push thing. After a while, you will get the hang of it. Things to watch […]

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I haven’t updated Hometracked regularly the last few weeks because I’ve been busy working on a project with my frequent collaborator Rich Brewer. Rich and I realized a month ago that we have a lot of unrecorded and unproduced material between us. Enough, we hope, for a decent album. So we’ve decided to record the […]

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A good general rule for EQ: Make your cuts narrow and your boosts wide. That is, when removing frequencies, remove only what you need to. On a parametric EQ, use a high Q value, and identify specific problem frequencies. The less you cut, the more natural the result will sound. Conversely, when you boost a […]

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Whether via search or link from a web forum, every few months I find myself back at the fantastic Sound On Sound article Using Equalisation. And as with Equal Time, the Electronic Musician I linked to before, I get something new from the Sound on Sound piece every time I read it. The article covers […]

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The EMI/iTunes

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Here, Mark and Howard from The Turtles educate us on dealing with a record label: Now, aren’t you glad you’re an independent artist?

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Most often, we use compressors to tame the dynamics of a recording. Like all recording tools, though, compressors have less-obvious uses for shaping sound. A compressor raises the level of quieter elements in a signal. This tends to “fatten” the recorded sound, which can add a lot of character, especially on drums and vocals. However, […]

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Unless they have cheap wireless internet on the cruise ship, it’ll probably be quiet around here for the rest of the week …

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For those of us on a budget, “cheap” ribbon mics (referenced in the last post) make for a great introduction to recording with ribbons. Most of the cheaper ribbon mics are manufactured in China. Among the most popular: Apex, Shiny Box, and Nady. I have a pair of Apex 210s that make great drum “underheads” […]

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The cheap ribbon mic thread on Gearslutz features recorded samples from a few of the different “cheap” ribbon mics that have appeared recently: There are three main things that make a ribbon mic sound good or bad – The ribbon motor – The housing – The transformer With a cheap ribbon, you can easily alter […]

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Some weeks, I can’t get enough Bob Lefsetz. Here are his thoughts on why CD sales are tanking, and what we should do about it: 4. Embrace The Indie Stores – They survive, they’re loyal. Boost them because that’s where acts develop. I think the CD is dying a quick death, but until it does, […]

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Mixing always takes longer than you expect: We lose track of time when we’re enjoying ourselves. So allow for this, and give yourself lots of time to record and mix. For example, don’t put aside a single day and plan on recording and mixing four or five songs. Instead, set more realistic goals, and you’ll […]

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This interview with Chris Lord-Alge is short, but packed with tips on recording electric guitar and bass. you’re going to get a better sound recording electric guitars on analog than digital. If you’re going digital, you may want to use a bit more compression than normal, maybe dial more low-end because digital is like a […]

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For indie artists and producers serious about marketing their music in the coming decade, Bob Lefsetz has another great rant about the impending collapse of the major labels: unless you make mainstream pop or hip-hop music, WHY BOTHER WITH A MAJOR LABEL? They’re not interested in artist development. Hell, EMI won’t EXIST by time you […]

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The Top Ten Tips for Sonic Excellence features an interview with mastering engineer Art Sayecki. Art offers advice, from a professional’s perspective, for indie artists looking to improve their own mixing and engineering skills: Keep your mixes balanced and not too bright or too bassy. Shoot for soft highs and tight basses. Don’t try to […]

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Some quick recording links for a Friday night: What the Experts Say About Recording. 3 pros discuss some of their studio techniques. On recording vocals: “It’s a big mistake letting the singer record their own vocals. They’re not the best judge of their own voice. They’ll think they sound bad, when everyone else is saying, […]

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Here’s a collection of web forum topics related to recording drums. Many of the tips apply to mixing, however, and you’ll find them useful even if you’re working with a drum machine or drum samples. First, some drum recording suggestions from ProSound: here are some of the few really useful things I can tell you: […]

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These two videos (15 minutes in total) are excerpted from a fascinating documentary about the recording studios in London during the 1960s, including Decca and Abbey Road. Most of us take multi-track recording for granted. But as noted in the video, until the early 1960’s “musicians had to be note perfect” once the tape rolled. […]

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Is the FCC’s Radio Payola Settlement Really a Watershed Moment for Independent Music? While it’s nice lip service from the FCC to request that radio stations program playlists based on “merit,” the reality is that program directors have to make money. And they make money by playing what’s familiar. They’ll sacrifice some low-rated hours to […]

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I advocate checking a reference CD while you mix, to keep your ears honest. The concept works for more than just balancing your final mix, however. Along with my collection of reference CDs, I have a small collection of drum breaks and instrumental sections that I’ve lifted from songs with great drum tones. While I […]

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Most great recordings start long before the tape rolls. Better sources lead to better recordings: It should go without saying, but the “garbage in garbage out” principle applies to recording as much as anything. If the performance you’re recording sounds bad to your ear, there’s not much chance it’ll sound good to a microphone. So […]

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William Whittman (who produced and engineered the track) discusses the recording of Cyndi Laupers’ Time After Time: IN the mix I took the shaker (I just realised we always CALLED it a shaker, but actually it’s the Linn Cabasa), through an Eventide Flanger to make it dance around in stereo a bit and get it […]

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Hometracked’s most-visited pages in February: Great FREE vocal plugin chain 10 hallmarks of amateur recordings The RIAA is not evil Use Tape saturation for better mixes

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The Secrets of Mixing – from John Vestman. Vestman’s “Secrets of Mixing” page is more a collection of tips than a mixing tutorial. He starts with advice to get yourself properly set up for mixing (like “organize your files,” “allow extra time,” and the ever-important “check reference CDs while mixing,”) then moves onto compression and […]

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Lava lamps may not improve your mixes, but your recording space really isn’t complete without one. Here are 1300 lava lamps on Flickr.

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The Toast of MySpace Tries the Music Business Tila Tequila, born Tila Nguyen, became famous last year for having the most friends — currently about 1.7 million — on MySpace.com… She is now trying to break into the mainstream music industry. Her single “I Love U,” which was produced by the rapper Lil Jon, will […]

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Gizmodo is calling for a boycott of the RIAA in March. Gizmodo is declaring the month of March Boycott the RIAA month. We want to get the word out to as many people as humanly possible that we can all send a message by refusing to buy any album put out by an RIAA label. […]

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I re-watched the Wilco documentary, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart last night, and I’d forgotten how good it is. If you’re a Wilco fan, of course it’s required viewing. But even if you don’t like or are unfamiliar with the band, the indie artist and producer in you will find I Am Trying […]

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Here are some pages open in my browser that I haven’t had a chance to write up: Backman is a free VST (Windows only) plugin that “Reverses incoming audio signal in sync (it will follow host BPM)… especially useful on live gigs to make that ‘back spin’ effect.“ Grammys exclude popular independent artists. Yet there […]

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A poster on Gearslutz asked the pros to share demos of hit songs. The Killers demo (on page 2) is a study in the role played by a great producer. a VERY VERY old demo of the Matchbox Twenty song “3 AM”. This was recorded around ’93-94 and is from the Tabitha Secret days, which […]

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Don’t reflexively reach for EQ: If an instrument doesn’t sound right, try changing the source. Move the microphone, adjust the amp, or try different equipment. Small adjustments can make a big difference. And the less processing you need to do, the easier it’ll be to mix. Have a goal in mind: With a plan in […]

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Gearwire has a 3-part interview with Dave Huizenga, who scores and records the music for Cold Case Files (part 2, part 3.) Dave discusses his equipment, techniques, and philosophies, offering lots of great behind-the-scenes details, especially for those who dream of adding Music Director for National TV Show to their resume. (It could happen! Dave […]

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Terry Howard, Ray Charles’s engineer, offers some tips on mixing professional singers: Electronic Musician magazine interviewed Howard last year, and he shared his thoughts on working in digital with Ray Charles: That’s the whole thing: when you get into working a microphone with the proximity effect and knowing when to get close and far and […]

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Independent Artists Embrace Technology The other highlight for me was a fireside discussion with Terry McBride, the founder and CEO of Nettwerk Music Group… Here is [sic] some of the points he made during the discussion: On the subject of DRM: • DRM will go away this year. • If the major labels get rid […]

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From Mix Magazine, here’s a great interview with Andy Wallace, the engineer who essentially defined the modern rock mix (with bands like Nirvana, Linkin Park, and System of a Down.) The Pro Tools thing is a mixed blessing. The younger guys who have never had to cut tape or edit by bouncing on analog have […]

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Here, Stevie Wonder takes us through the recording of I Wish. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process (and on a much grander scale than my experience with Gert.) However, it also illustrates the importance of talent in a creating a great record. The lesson for amateur producers: Capture a top-notch performance, and […]

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As amateurs, learning to use effects like reverb and compression, we’re often told “bring the effect up until it’s just noticeable in the mix.” Sometimes, this is easier said than done. We’re amateurs after all, and often we haven’t yet learned how an effect is supposed to sound in the mix. How can we judge […]

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Did you watch the Grammys last night? Did you find the whole affair a little self-serving? You’re not alone. Peter at CDM sagely advises against upgrading to Vista just yet. Microsoft’s own developer tools for Vista are still in beta. Basic hardware drivers are missing… Unless you have drivers in hand for your computer, your […]

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I mentioned Charles Dye in the post on using distortion for better mixes. Dye turned his Hard Disk Life series of articles into a (highly touted) video tutorial called Mix It Like A Record. Here’s a clip from the video, with Dye discussing his use of channel-strip emulators, which add distortion, to achieve a more […]

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Some thoughts on double-tracking vocals for a better vocal sound: Also, there is a whole LOT of room between center and hard pan. Many a hit has had vocals panned just to one side of center or another – perhaps 30% or so – in order to balance a call and response with a guitar […]

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Digital equipment simplifies most aspects of recording, yet high profile studios still work in analog, often recording to magnetic tape. Why stick with the older, more expensive technology (especially with the panic over Quantegy’s decision to stop making tape?) Ethan Winer offers some thoughts on the matter in his article Gaining an Edge with Subtle […]

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Newsweek has a good summary of Steve Jobs “jeremiad” (available here) against DRM in digital music: Jobs is far from the first insider to argue for this. His essay is only the latest contribution to a growing movement to drop DRM from legally purchased songs. The RIAA’s response today seems to have missed the mark: […]

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Focus on noise: Even if you record digitally, electrical equipment in your room can cause interference in your analog gear. 3 common sources of noise: Lights, mobile phones, and monitors. Try recording a track normally, then re-record with your lights and phones and monitors turned off. If there’s a difference, you’ve got noise to eliminate. […]

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I follow the tribulations of the major music labels with something akin to glee. It’s partially the petty satisfaction of watching a bully get his just desserts. But as an indie artist, I also have practical reasons for rejoicing. With the traditional business model failing, it seems that future success in the music industry will […]

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The optimal sample rate at which to record is a matter of considerable debate. Proponents of recording at sample rates above 44.1 KHz typically claim that the higher frequencies yield greater detail. And while there’s a tradeoff – tracks recorded at 96 KHz need more than twice the storage space of those captured at 44 […]

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How can I give my mixes that organic ABBA sound? ABBA is not an organic sound. Quite the contrary. Their sound relied heavily on layered vocal tracks, heavy use of digital verbs, and lots of synths. What do we know about getting that Big Star drum sound? The earliest Big Star tracks were recorded for […]

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Hometracked’s most-visited pages in January: Great FREE vocal plugin chain 10 hallmarks of amateur recordings Gert’s process for online musical collaboration DIY portable vocal booth The importance of checking a reference while mixing

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[updated 06/06 per poorsod’s comment below] Mike at Garagespin brought my attention this morning to Lightspeed Audio, a company promising real-time internet musical collaboration. Lightspeed claims: “[Our] media collaboration technology platform allows musical enthusiasts to create digital-quality audio over the Internet in real-time.” Their technology, as described (it’s not available yet,) differs from existing offerings […]

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Here’s a tutorial on grabbing your own samples, and building a beat in Acid:

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It’s Vista Launch Day, and Create Digital Music has the shortlist of music software with full Vista compatibility. I certainly would not make Vista my primary system at this point, but a dual-boot might be very feasible (and will probably remain the best option for some time). We’ll track compatibility here; I expect to have […]

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You could spend $1000 having Bob Katz master your CD, or you could save a few bucks, like Ry Cooder did, and simply entrust the job to iTunes: Then Mr. Cooder noticed something else: When he burned a copy of the album using Apple’s iTunes software, it sounded fine. He didn’t know why until one […]

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Mix Magazine’s Classic Tracks looks at Phil Collins, and the recording of Face Value: The famous drum fill, Collins contends, could have been anything. What is on the record is what came out at the moment. “When people talk about the ‘Phil Collins drum sound,’ that is actually a huge variety of drum sounds,” Collins […]

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Some quick tips, for recording on a Saturday night: Monitor through different sources while mixing and mastering: As you work, periodically check your mixes through near-field monitors, HiFi speakers, computer speakers, headphones, even an old boom box if you have one. As the mix nears completion, you’ll be much more confident that your work sounds […]

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How does one capture that transparent acoustic guitar sound? I like to record steel stringed acoustic guitars with two mics, one aimed at the bridge and one aimed towards the neck, just about where the neck meets the body. The mic aimed at the bridge will get the bright stuff and the one aimed at […]

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Toys for making noise While the U.S. recording industry continues to slide under pressure from illegal downloaders and file-sharers, the other side of the music world — businesses catering to those who create the music — has nearly doubled over the last decade to become a $7.5-billion industry. Indies aim to grab share of online […]

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Self-recording artists often focus mainly on the instruments in a mix, and pray the vocals will somehow take care of themselves. This is understandable, as many of us started our learning on guitar and keyboard, so it’s these instruments we’re most comfortable mixing. For a guitar player, vocals are sometimes a necessary evil, rather than […]

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Make your own paper CD holders. Advice from Diskfaktory on hassle-Free CD Pressing. Some short thoughts on duplicating and distributing your CD.

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It’s been quiet around Hometracked for a few days. Was I at the Winter NAMM show? Well, no. But lots of people were. And while I like to focus here on technique and tips, it’s hard to completely ignore the importance of technology in the lives of home recordists. So, for those who aren’t yet […]

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C’mon, we all wish we’d thought of this:

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Recording violin and fiddle is both art and science: In almost every situation, I would be at LEAST 4 feet further away with the mic than in those pictures. the harshness comes from the fact that the instrument was never designed to be heard from that close. Do you need your ears cleaned? An audiologist […]

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While it’s sometimes considered bad practice, there’s no reason you can’t serve as your own mastering engineer. This article from Music Tech Magazine covers (in flashy detail) everything you need to know about mastering your own material: One of the reasons people take their music to professional mastering engineers is that they bring a ‘fresh […]

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Here’s a short video showing how to layer in Reason for fatter drum tones. Of course, you can accomplish the same thing in any DAW, if you use midi-triggered drums, by duplicating the midi track and sending each copy of the track through a different drum synth.

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Basements Become Recording Studios But advances in computer equipment have made it easier to set up a high-quality music studio with a relatively small budget — for teenagers with a couple of guitars and a drum set as well as entrepreneurs with professional aspirations. World’s first 1 terabyte drive Hitachi’s storage division has unveiled what […]

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Vocal recording and effects chains include, depending on the performance, a de-esser, a noise gate, an equalizer, and a compressor. Frequently, engineers also add effects like chorus, delay, tape saturation (unless recording to tape, of course,) and reverb, to enhance the sound. In a pro studio, most of this treatment is handled by expensive hardware […]

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From Revolution Audio, 5 ways to speed up your work. Tips on improving your efficiency without upgrading your hardware. [A] disorganized studio is no help to anyone… The first key to organization: making a space for everything. Do you have a place to hang your mic cords? Do you store your mics and stands when […]

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Brandon at RecordingReview.com has developed the Home Recording Soundcard Wizard, “the easiest way to find a soundcard that is right for you.” As a newbie, it’s tough to get straight answers as to what you really need. You have to do a month of research just to figure out what you need to research. Well […]

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This thread on homerecording.com has some good advice on finding inspiration to finish writing a song. I think you’re stuck on a mental fixation. Perhaps the anxiety of creating a good song is getting in your way. The difference between a veteran songwriter and begining songwriter is that the veteran has developed his own system […]

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Lars Ulrich & crew discuss some of the techniques used when tracking his drums on Metallica (i.e. The Black Album) The secret to Lars’ sound? Cut’n’paste … and plywood.

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Here are detailed instructions for building your own plate reverb: Typically, the plate is a large sheet of steel suspended in a tubular steel frame. In theory, the plate simulates a large concert hall, or church, with a decay time of approximately five seconds at approximately 500 Hz. A driver attached to the plate excites […]

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Music biz hopes to profit from consumer content Rather than just suing YouTube and its ilk for how their sites are used, the music industry can now profit from them, not to mention reap the promotional benefits. Musical mash-ups, once fought by record labels, are going mainstream Some record companies are moving from suing mash-up […]

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Equalizers are mysterious beasts for beginners. And the advice most commonly offered, “try different things” and “use your ears,” is meaningless when you don’t know what you should be trying, and what your ears should be hearing. John Vestman’s EQ Settings That Will Make Your Mixes Come Alive has just those types of getting-started tips. […]

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Digidesign (makers of Pro Tools software) published an extended special on recording vocals in 2004. The series focuses on using Pro Tools to produce polished vocal tracks, but 2 of the articles deal with plugin effects, and the techniques are much more generally applicable. You can use the advice from these articles with any DAW […]

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Bob Lefsetz has compiled his predictions for the music industry in 2007, covering ground from Rhapsody, to Bono, to the future of the Grammys Sometime in the next twelve to eighteen months CD sales are going to decline so precipitously as to cause the major labels to rethink their digital strategy. With the iTunes Store […]

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AllofMP3.com Ignore RIAA Suit? AllofMP3 countered the music industry’s claim, stating the service is completely legal in Russia as all necessary fees have been forwarded to the Russian royalty collection firm, ROMS Year’s chart-topping album fails to crack 4M sales … in a sign of how piracy, a la carte single sales, the closing of […]

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What is “harmonic balancing” and why should I care? (Or more appropriately, why should I ignore the hype?): Peaks and valleys in your spectrum don’t determine what’s “good” or “bad,” your ears do… And what causes records to sound different in different listening environments is a poorly balanced mix, again something you fix with your […]

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From PCRecording.com (though the advice applies equally to recording on a Mac,) here are some basic things to consider when mixing: One major mistake many make is to mix by addition rather than subtraction. That is, if you cannot hear one track well enough you turn it up. In addition, the level changes are oftentimes […]

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Music labels have to prove sharing With today’s ruling, it appears that the record labels will have to demonstrate that someone actually infringed on their copyrights by downloading music from Lindor’s computer. That’s a step beyond the RIAA’s argument that making files available for download constitutes infringement. Beatlemaniacs publish books on their own Now, if […]

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While a cheap reverb can hurt your recordings, some of the best-loved reverb sounds in history were happy accidents. Electronic Musician has a great article on finding your own distinct reverb sound in the space around you: … for all its wonders, digital reverb is not indispensable, nor is it always the best way to […]

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If you made your first recordings on a 4-track tape machine before migrating to a computer-based DAW, chances are you have dozens of old cassette tapes lying around. These tapes won’t last forever … Magnetic tape degrades over time, and if you keep them long enough, those old 4-track masters, and the mixed tapes you […]

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Recording harmonica: i’ve also had decent results with the harmonica player playing straight into an sm58/vocal mic, and driving (overdriving?) the preamp a little/lot. it’s an entirely different sound–more immediate and “direct” sounding (and can get brittle if you don’t watch out)……but one that may work depending on what the song/production calls for. Some thoughts […]

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We’ve all experienced it: 3 seconds into a track you’ve never heard, you know instinctively that it was recorded and mixed in someone’s bedroom. Amateur recordings often sound “amateur.” But what differentiates these hometracked opuses from professional recordings? It’s not just fidelity or sonic quality: Many competent engineers produce lo-fi or distorted mixes on purpose, […]

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Ticketmaster Invests in Music Site Ticketmaster hopes to use links to iLike.com to help ticket buyers learn about new music, while iLike hopes Ticketmaster can help its users find out about scheduled concerts. Record Labels Finally Sue Allofmp3.com It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit turns out — as it was filed in […]

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Paul White (the editor of Sound On Sound) gives us the A Concise Guide to Compression and Limiting, a great introduction to the subject. When it comes to individual tracks, it is pretty much routine to compress vocals, bass guitars, acoustic guitars and occasionally electric guitars, though overdriven guitar sounds tend to be self compressing […]

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Here are a couple of great articles on recording better vocal tracks. Successful Techniques for Recording Vocals from Electronic Musician covers the entire process, from preparing the singer, and microphone selection, to compressing the final track. The 10 tips on page 6 also make a handy reference. I want to dispel the myth that large-diaphragm […]

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Unless your recording room is acoustically treated, you probably capture “room sound” in your recordings. This isn’t necessarily bad: Some rooms have a great ambience which adds natural depth to a mix. But the room sound in smaller spaces, like most bedroom and basement project studios, usually hurts rather helps a track. Ethan Winer outlines […]

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From the film Before the Music Dies, this is basically “anti-Hometracked”:

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Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions, so an omni mic on a guitar cabinet or vocal will capture more of the room sound. Depending on your recording environment, this can be both good and bad.

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What is parallel compression and when should I use it?: parralell[sic] compression is when you double a track and compress one copy very hard, and mix it under the original. It preserves the dynamics of the instrument but makes it sound more solid. Help me learn to properly mix tracks. The key lesson I learned […]

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Regardless of your comfort level with EQ, it’s worth setting aside 15 minutes to read this fantastic article in Electronic Musician: Equalizers: Equal time “The Bonham kick drum is the quintessential rock drum sound,” Martin explains. “I usually obtain it by boosting the frequencies between 120 and 240 Hz by about 4 dB or more. […]

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Net Music Makers acquires My Virtual Band The website will allow bands and solo artists to create personalized websites, join a band, collaborate, and mix tunes. The new site will also provide a multi-channel internet radio station to showcase original songs. iTunes sales ‘collapsing’ While the iTunes service saw healthy growth for much of the […]

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A few weeks ago, I discussed Gert’s experience collaborating online. Peter Wolf offers another perspective on virtual collaboration in his article The Care and Feeding of a Virtual Band. You all know how difficult it is to find the time to get together and rehearse, write, record and produce, but, nevertheless, it usually works out […]

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Many of us learned the basics of compression from books and magazines, but compression can be difficult to grasp this way, especially for hands-on or visual learners. If you’re in that category, you might find enlightenment in these videos (with minimal sales pitch) from t.c. electronics. Straightforward overviews of compression, expansion, limiting, and parallel compression.

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Here are 5 things you can do right now to improve your recording and mixing skills: Stop worrying that you don’t have a major label sound: You also lack the mics, preamps, converters, and tracking rooms of a major label band. But that shouldn’t hold you back. Remember: listeners want to hear songs, not production; […]

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Stripping away digital rights management could shake up online music. Last February, Yahoo Music chief Dave Goldberg told Music 2.0 conference attendees that record labels should try selling music online without copy protection.It has taken nearly a year to see that sentiment put into play because content owners are hesitant to open up music files […]

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Tips and suggestions for faking the sound of an upright bass with an electric bass: You’re probably not going to fool anyone but it might be enough to imply the sound of an upright by having (or exaggerating) a few of its distinguishing traits. I think the decay is important. Uprights seem to have less […]

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The DAT-Heads Microphone FAQ, while no longer actively maintained, is a great repository of information on microphones. Much of the information targets DAT recording, but the descriptions of mic selection based on venue, microphone response patterns, and stereo miking techniques apply to all mediums.

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Guitar players think of distortion as “that pedal I stomp on to add crunch!” But in signal processing, distortion has broader meanings and uses. Harmonic distortion, in particular, is of interest to recording engineers. Aural exciters, such as the industry-standard Aphex 204, use harmonic distortion to alter the sound of recorded tracks in (hopefully) pleasing […]

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This instrument/frequency chart from The Independent Recording Network (and Southside Productions) is the most detailed I’ve ever seen. It shows the fundamental and harmonic ranges for more than 25 instruments (including drums,) along with the perception each creates (“boom”, “warmth”, “crunch”, etc.) in various segments of the audio spectrum. Tufte would be proud. You can […]

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Music Labels Smell Money in Second Life Sony BMG has cast the longest musical shadow in the virtual world so far, purchasing an island in Second Life called Sony Music Media Island, where residents can listen to music and watch music videos. Music lovers mourn ‘whole universe’ of jazz history destroyed in Katrina These deeply […]

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One thing unites engineers of all skills and backgrounds: The need to show off our gear. Here are some threads from gearslutz and hr.com with pictures of: studios drum setups miked guitar cabs It’s pure studioporn, but you’ll probably see some things that make your 2 mics and 4-track look like Abbey Road. Previously: Home […]

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From the Muse’s Muse: “Singing and playing a great song is almost as good as getting a lesson from the person who wrote it.” With recording and mixing, lessons from experts come even easier when the engineers and producers volunteer to share their knowledge. Michael Tretow, the engineer for all of Abba’s studio albums, offers […]

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The definitive takes on the loudness war are probably The Death of Dynamic Range, and Rip Rowan’s Over the limit. Most articles on the subject, though, are addressed to engineers, by other engineers and producers fed up with the hammering their mixes receive at the hands of overzealous mastering engineers. For the average music consumer, […]

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Apple gains control of critical digital download patent With this patent in hand, Apple will eventually be after every phone company, film maker, computer maker and video producer to pay royalties on every download of not just music but also movies and videos ‘Before the Music Dies’ Diagnoses an Ailing Industry In fact, the business […]

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In the age of DAWs and firepods and CD burners, it’s easy to forget how good we have it:

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Some treatment ideas for a mono overhead drum kit mic: I drive it hard at the preamp ( I usually use an old Trident Preamp for this) and then Nuke it with a Distressor. It all depends on the feel of each individual song as to how much if any of it gets used in […]

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From Gibraltar Hardware, this page on drum maintenance and repair is handy for addressing annoyances that pop up while tracking drums. If nothing else, the page advances the maxim that drummers (and the engineers who record them) should always carry duct tape. Excessive Footboard Movement If your bass or hi-hat pedal footboard suddenly begins moving […]

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Some failed experiments in audio technology, including the head-mounted turntable and the oxygen-free listening room. If oxygen-free copper is a good thing, then clearly oxygen is a bad thing for audio. The largest quantity of oxygen the sound is likely to encounter is in its passage through the air from loudspeakers to listeners. The only […]

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I’m a member of the band Gert. Until we played together in person this summer, our year-long collaboration was entirely virtual. 6 song writers, a continent apart, connected by musical tastes and the Internet. We’re still a band in the general sense, but in place of schedule conflicts, angry neighbours, and ego clashes, we deal […]

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Nashville tuning (or “high stringing”) a guitar involves replacing the heavier strings with a lighter guage, and tuning them an octave higher. Chord shapes stay the same, but the guitar produces some notes an octave higher (somewhat like a 12-string.) Without the lower strings, the tone lacks body, and as a standalone guitar track a […]

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For critical listening, like mixing and mastering, your speakers are obviously important. Often overlooked, however, is the importance of the stands on which the speakers sit. For best performance, monitor and hifi speakers should be level with the listener’s ears. Good speaker stands improve the bass response of just about every speaker, and a good […]

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Royalty checks not in the mail for artists In September, SoundExchange announced a Dec. 15 deadline for collection of fees generated by Internet plays between Feb. 1, 1996, and March 31, 2000. The company made public a list of the artists with unclaimed funds. Digital music market to reach nearly $14.9 Billion by 2010 The […]

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There’s lots of chatter in this discussion about whether or not matched mic pairs are worthwhile, but lots of great information too. Keep in mind that, if the mic’s specifications are +/- 2dB, that means that there’s a possibility you will find two mics that are 4dB apart at some point in their frequency response. […]

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Sigur Ros discuss their studio in this Sound on Sound article. The Mosfellsbær building is comprised of two levels, the lower of which once housed a public swimming pool and later, an art gallery. “It’s a really peaceful place…” Jonsi recounts. “We had to tear the roof off the house to get the mixer in. […]

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Practical Mixing – from sound On Sound magazine. This article focuses on tracking and mixing via console (with an aside to address the importance of checking a reference CD while mixing.) But Sound On Sound caters to the masses, so the information in this article is broad and still generally useful. It is important to […]

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RIAA president speaks out on Fair Use Sherman took an accusatory stab at the CEA and Digital freedom stating that their campaign is not only based on false and incendiary rhetoric, but tries to sully their name saying that the CEA is not concerned at all with consumer rights. The Beatles will go online ‘soon’ […]

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Ryan Hewitt contributed to the tracking and mixing of the Red Hot Chili Peppers album Stadium Arcadium, and is happy to share his engineering experiences: In an interview with EQ Magazine: “What makes mixing this band so hard is that you have three musicians who are all laying down serious stuff, and the balance between […]

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This graph, developed by Dan Richards of the Listening Sessions, plots the brightness and color characteristics of more than 50 microphones. As noted in the Studio Forums discussion it spawned, the graph says nothing about each microphone’s relative quality (note the proximity of the MXL 603 to the Neumann U87.) However, it’s a useful tool […]

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In this clip from the Nevermind edition of the Classic Albums DVD series, Butch Vig discusses the track Drain You, which had more guitar overdubs than any other track on NeverMind: … a clean sound on the intro with Kurt’s vocal, as well as 1-2-3-4-5 guitars, 2 tracks of the Mesa Boogie, 2 tracks of […]

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Need a good reason to justify not accessing the Internet with your DAW? What Slows Windows Down and the follwup article What Really Slows Windows Down? come to an important conclusion: Antivirus programs tether the performance of your computer [to] that of one three years its elder. In other words, anti-virus software will kill the […]

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A short thread discussing some approaches to “over the shoulder” mic techniques: What is happening when you put a mic ‘over the shoulder’ is that the mic is hearing pretty much what the ear is hearing… except that the ear is able to distinguish between reflections as distinct events and a microphone does not have […]

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What happens to your recording when it’s played on the radio? Add this to the list of reasons to avoid crushing the dynamics out of your mixes: Hypercompressed material does not sound louder on the air. It sounds more distorted, making the radio sound broken in extreme cases. It sounds small, busy, and flat. It […]

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Mixing, from a producer’s perspective – On the Humbucker Music web site. As the article states, many of the mixing tutorials on the web are engineer-centric, focused on tips an engineer can use to create the perfect mix. But more often than not, a great mix starts before the first track has been recorded. If […]

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The Home Recording Pool on photo-sharing site Flickr has great shots of home recording setups all over the Internet.

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Some of the mastering engineers on homerecording.com discuss their approaches to mastering: One reason to use EQ post compression is so that you don’t have to keep re-adjusting the threshold of the compressor when making EQ changes. This insightful thread on ProSound addresses the consequences of mixing and mastering in the same room: Bob Ludwig […]

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After reading the importance of checking a reference while mixing, an obvious question is: “What are some decent reference mixes?” John Vestman answers the question with his list of commercial reference CDs. Bob Katz also provides a CD Honor Roll Previously: The importance of checking a reference while mixing

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You generally shouldn’t record vocals without a pop filter (also called a “pop screen,” “pop shield,” or “popstopper.”) The bassy pops that result from plosive sounds are difficult to remove once a track has been recorded. But unlike most studio gear, you don’t have to spend lots of money for a professional quality pop filter. […]

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Ronan Chris Murphy thinks home studios are killing music: … I have seen home studios wreck a lot of people’s careers. For the most part, if you are a performing songwriter that puts a fancy studio in your home, if that does not stop your career dead in its tracks you are the exception and […]

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On homerecording.com, some tips for getting the kick drum to stand out in a mix. Make sure your bass and kik drum center on two different notes on the bottom. Often I’ll like my kik to center at around 80Hz and the bass at either 60ish or 100-125ish. See also this related thread with some […]

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Basic Mixing Method – from the Department of Music at Columbia University. This page outlines a straightforward approach to mixing rock tracks: Start with the drums and bass as a foundation, and build on that. Once the fundamental groove is established the vocals or lead instrument should be added. We work with these two elements […]

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Bruce Bartlett’s article on stereo microphone techniques describes 4 methods of capturing a sound source in stereo. The article focuses on recording ensembles, but the techniques he details can be used anywhere a stereo recording is desired. One goal is accurate localization. That is, the reproduced instruments should appear in the same relative locations as […]

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From the article Mixing and Mastering Tips for Your Music, Record flat with no effects and instead find the right microphone for the singer. In the mix, roll off everything below 100 Hz and above 12,000 Hz. Add 2-4dB at 160Hz for male vocals or 320Hz for female voice for warmth. Notch out the mid-range, […]

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This thread on hr.com is packed with information about the business of running a small studio. Slapping up a web page and hope people come is not going to benefit you short term, don’t let your ISP fool ya Word of mouth is by far the best method in which to acquire new customers, because […]

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John Scrip wrote a great article earlier in the year describing how to avoid online mastering scams. If you listen to a “before” sample that’s completely monaural and muddy and then the “after” sample has a wonderful stereo spread with clearly panned instruments and voices and sparkly highs, you’re listening to a fake. That’s not […]

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Here are 25 tips to help tune Windows XP performance for recording and production. The site is geared towards Cubase SX users, but the tips will help performance no matter what platform you use.

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It’s almost 10 years old, but Ethan Winer’s article Dispelling Popular Audio Myths is still essential reading. … logically speaking, just because a large number of people believe something does not alone make it the truth. Even more important, all the audiophile tweaks in the world are meaningless compared to such basics as installing proper […]

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On the Songfight discussion forum, I posted a before & after mastering comparison for some tracks on Waking Up In August the difference in the mastered tracks is most obvious in the extreme low and high frequencies. Listen to the bass guitar in the High Enough extro, and the string noises at the start of […]

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Habituation is the name for our tendency to respond less to something the more we’re exposed to it. While the concept is academically important to psychologists and biologists, it also has enormous significance for anyone serious about mixing or mastering music. We likely come by this tendency through evolution. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors relied on habituation […]

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Drumagog is the granddaddy of drum replacement tools, and it’s certainly hard to beat for quality and features. However it also costs several hundred dollars, which is a deal breaker for many home studios on a budget. But there are some great free alternatives. I’ve listed them here in order of my preference, though several […]

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This “ambience clinic” from Electronic Musician has some food for thought about creating sonically interesting spaces with reverb and delay: Another way to save CPU resources is to use two instances of a power-efficient mono reverb plug-in to create a unique stereo effect … That approach offers interesting sonic possibilities and also works with hardware […]

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Some details on the recording of Ryan Adams’ album Rock And Roll. Candiloro used Neumann U47s on all vocals … For guitars, Candiloro always settles on two Shure SM57s, positioned on the amp right where the cone and paper meet. For bass, the L.A.-based engineer miked an Ampeg B15 cabinet with a Sennheiser 421. Drums […]

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Terry Manning (yes, that Terry Manning,) posted a great breakdown of his vocal tracking and mixing technique on ProSoundWeb: I like to build a special area for the singer, moving tall baffles into a “squared-off U shape” behind and to the sides of the singing area, not only for the purpose of controlling unwanted reflections, […]

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Are you tired of folks constantly asking why you haven’t been signed yet? Wish they would leave you alone to focus on your music? Here are 8 reasons why you might want to avoid a major label record deal. Many contracts still apply deductions for packaging, free goods and returns reserves in calculating an artist�s […]

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This article from Sound on Sound magazine dissects James Brown’s I Feel Good to learn how we can add real feel to programmed drum beats. … the timing of each instrument in a live performance constantly changes from section to section, so a fixed one- or two-bar groove template will only ever provide a certain […]

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Musictech Magazine maintains a fairly comprehensive microphone reviews page, with reviews of many popular consumer class mics. The reviews are glossy and informative. (Note that you’ll need a PDF reader like the free Foxit Reader to read the reviews.)

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If you’ve read about Equal Loudness Contours, but have difficulty applying the concept, try out this fantastic application (Flash) from the University of NSW: This site allows you to measure equal loudness contours–the frequency response of your own ears. The flash script allows you to play sound files with a range of frequencies and sound […]

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If you record live drums in your home studio, proper setup of your drum kit plays an important role in capturing a good sound. Clearly, a poorly configured kit is harder to play which will affect the quality of your recordings. However, there are some less obvious issues to consider: Mic placement: A well arranged […]

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Elemental Audio offers a free Spectrum Analyzer [Mac/Windows, RTAS/VST/AU]. While you should use your ears to make important mix decisions, a spectrum analyzer is a great tool for finding problem frequencies (for example, where to set a de-esser,) and Elemental Audio’s offering is as straightforward as they come.

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An hr.com user gives a detailed description of his vocal “sweetening” technique, complete with examples: So, what is this “effect”? Simply, it is a stereo effect that pitch shifts one channel up 12 cents, and pitch shifts the other other channel down 12 cents, then uses a delay of about 25ms. The effect, again, is […]

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While he’s got a vested interest in assuring you that mastering at home is a good idea, Dave Moulton’s Tips ‘n’ Tricks for Mastering article is still a great resource for those learning the craft. I’ve taken you through this brief review because I believe it is essential to get and keep in your head […]

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The Web contains dozens of pages written for amateurs learning to mix. Some pages are simple collections of tips, while others are in-depth walkthroughs, containing advice of benefit to even seasoned engineers. I collect the best pages here, updating as I find tutorials with something of value. If you’re new to the science (and art) […]

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