Audio Advice

Prism Sound Titan

I’ve added a new flagship interface to the studio to add more clarity and depth to our production. I met Frank Oglethorpe at an event in San Francisco and got to hear the Atlas & Titan in action. The audio detail was giving me chills and put me in a space where the music was visual.

The Titan was in a small studio room that had treatment on the walls. It was an ideal situation to test out the ability of the DA and hear some recent mixes I’d just finished vs. mixes at the hosting studio. There was a difference in the low end where the frequencies had more depth without the mud. I immediately knew I had to demo a unit at my studio to hear if the mixes benefited from the converters in the Titan. 

 Engineer David Hughes at Shine On Studio.

Engineer David Hughes at Shine On Studio.

I connected with Jeff Briss from Cutting Edge Audio and got the approval from Frank to demo a Titan. When it arrived, I wasted no time connecting it to the HDX system. The first mix I played came to life and filled the room with rich detail and precision clarity. My eyes got large and my ears were saturated with excitement. This was such an amazing experience that I knew a Titan was the missing piece for the studio. 

I’ve had the Titan now for a few months and the response is exactly what I want to hear from my clients. Everyone loves the full sound and clarity that the audio has on every system they playback their music. This was a serious investment and it has already paid dividends that make it worth every penny.  

I highly recommend Prism Sound and their audio interfaces. Send me a message and I’ll hook you up with info on how you can connect with the right people to demo a unit for yourself.  

Mixing | Keyboards & Synthesizers

Mixing | Keyboards & Synthesizers

Keys and Synths are line level instruments that typically come directly into your console without amps being mic'd up. Let's discuss a little bit about running DI lines into your preamps or interfaces. 

Mixing Guitars | Solos

Mixing Guitars | Solos

Guitar solos need to pop and stand out in a mix. They're the pinnacle or crescendo of a song in many cases, so they need to have that grand finnale attitude. Let's dive into a discussion about mixing guitar solos. 

Vocal Mixing | Reverb EQ Secret

Vocal Mixing | Reverb EQ Secret

There are some great secrets that have been used by engineers over the years. Dialing in your reverb with the mix has always been a challenge for many young and aspiring producers. Here are some tips from the engineers at Abbey Road studios on how to get a tighter and balanced reverb level into your mixes. 

Recording Hip Hop Vocals Tips and Techniques

Recording Hip Hop Vocals Tips and Techniques

Getting ready for a big studio session? Then you will want to prepare for giving your best performance on the mic. Knowing what to expect and making sure that you get the most out of your studio time is essential to making a great album. Here are some tips and things to consider before you step into the studio.

Recording Drums | What Preamp to Use

Recording Drums | What Preamp to Use

Tracking drums is an art form that takes time to develop. Choosing the right preamp to pair with your studio setup is never an easy task. There are so many options out there and it can seem a bit overwhelming. This article dives deeper into some of the options available and I give you some personal advice on the preamps that I like to use for drum recordings. 

Podcasting 101 - How to start up a Podcast

Podcasting 101 - How to start up a Podcast

Podcasting is a great way to sharpen your audio production skills. You have opinions and podcasting is the perfect way to convey your thoughts in an engaging media. Here are some ideas and options for gear to get your podcasting career heading in the right direction. Click on the post title to view the entire article.

Producing Music - Where to start

Producing Music - Where to start

Producing is the construction of music. You have to make choices about the project as a whole and this will include things like EQ, panning, compression, lengths of the delay, when to delay, when to chop up the vocals, when to add guitar solos, how the song begins and ends, and everything else that happens in between. This is not an easy task, but it does have huge rewards that are long-lasting if you do it right.

Plugins - An open discussion

There are way too many plugins out there and you may feel confused on which ones to buy and incorporate into your workflow. Here is an open discussion for you to ask questions and get insight for all those plugins. I'll regularly post any new releases or deals that I come across for those plugins that you should consider adding to your system.

Using Playlists in Pro Tools

Using Playlists in Pro Tools

Learn more about how to get the perfect take for your vocal recordings using the playlist feature. Get your sessions more organized and utilize your engineering powers to be more efficient in the studio. Click on the post title for the full article.

Recording vocals right the first time

Vocals are the most important part of a recording. Over the years, I've heard some bad recordings that are wildly popular. It boils down to the vocals. If the lyrics and the emotion is just right, than the song will be a success. Now you should spend some time working on the music. I'm not saying that all you have to do is produce vocals, but do give the vocals the most attention. 

Start by recording a very rough scratch track and than take a few moments to listen to the context of the vocals with the music. Does the feel of the track have the flare that you're seeking? Do the vocals sound like they carry the listener through the song?  In some cases, it may be good to re-write some of the lyrics to convey more emotion or to mold into the music a bit more. This is a golden opportunity to figure out how the delay and reverb will be used to treat the vocals. Sometimes, the style of delay may lead you to a different style of singing or even slimming down some of the lyrics. 

Now of course this technique is dependent upon the context of the song, yet I've used this approach on many tracks with great success. Next post I'll discuss more about mic placement and tracking scenarios. 

The effort it takes to run a recording studio

The dream has been achieved! I am living the life I've always wanted and it feels great to work in my own studio everyday. The rewards are tremendous and there is nothing I'd rather be doing with my time. Being so immersed in my work on a constant basis has given me the knowledge and experience that is required to work at a professional level in this industry. I know many of you are looking to attain the same goal, so let me share just a fraction of my awareness with you.

First, running your own business, regardless of what you do, is no easy task. There are quite a few things you need to consider before diving into starting up a recording studio. Consider this, you'll need to cover your overhead and start up costs before you see a dime of profit. The initial investment is what overwhelms most entrepreneurs and that is just the tip of the iceberg. You're going to need a computer that is powerful enough to handle the processing, a DAW software program, an interface, lots of cables, mics, mic stands, headphones, headphone mixers, racks for gear or road cases, power conditioners, external hard drives, and potentially a studio space. This is just the foundation, there are plenty of other bells and whistles that you'll need to pull off a professional studio.

Now that that idea is rattling around in your head, tackle this notion, you will need to budget for electricity, water and sewage, garbage service, insurance, a security system, and rent. So your budget on a monthly basis is around $2,000 just to keep the doors open. That's the cheap end of the spectrum, which will probably not be adequate enough to compete in the market.

Now if you've invested a large chunk of change into an education in audio production, owning your own studio is the ultimate goal. These startup and recurring monthly costs are just scratching the surface of what you need to consider for operating a steady and reliable studio business. I just wanted to get your mind in motion for all that needs to be considered. Check back in soon as my next few posts will dive deeper into the elbow grease that is needed to keep a studio running smoothly and having the stamina to build a solid reputation to keep the machine well oiled.

How to mix reverb on vocals

This is probably the #1 question that I get asked by many of the students. This is one question that has many different answers, but one underlying theme. You have to listen to the music and find the right balance for the reverb within the mix. There are a lot of factors that go into the decision of choosing the texture and depth of the reverb so that it is audible and felt, but not distracting. If the reverb is meant to be huge, use your judgement to make sure the space is the right fit for the mood of the music. Let me go over a few examples of what reverbs should do to add to the mix and not destroy them.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is does the track need reverb. Not all songs need to have reverb! This is something that gets overlooked by amateur engineers and producers. Just because it is there does not mean you need to use it. The simple test, if the mix sounds really good without reverb, then it does not need any reverb.

If you decide that the track could use some texture, depth, width, or space, then try a few different reverbs as a starting point. I usually set up about 4 - 5 different reverbs to give options, but it is not uncommon for me to use a blend of all the different reverbs. Sometimes all you need is one reverb to achieve the sound that is needed for the mix. When one is not enough, then it is time to start experimenting with the audible pleasures of multiple reverbs. Start with two and bring the levels down so the effect of the reverb is not audible. As the mix plays back, slowly bring in the first reverb until it is just barely noticeable. Then bring in the second reverb until they two compliment each other. You may need to adjust the size or predelay to get that silky smooth sound, but make small adjustments as you go along. Just go with your gut and let your ears tell you when the level of reverb is right.

The main thing to keep in mind is that the reverb is not the main focus of the song, so it should be in the background and enhance the song. Keep a modest amount of reverb in your mixes and your songs will start to get more attention. Music is organic and has life of its own. Be sure to let the music breathe and compliment it with the space of your reverbs. When in doubt, less reverb is what will work.

http://shineonstudios.com This video is a follow up video for mixing vocals. Here you'll learn how to add different effects to your vocal tracks to help them blend a little better into the mix. Engineer David Hughes takes a female vocal track and adds a reverb, 2 different delays, and a tube saturation track to blend the vocal a little more into the track.

5 Steps to Getting Your Music Licensed | Step 3

 The New Position | Hard Rock

The New Position | Hard Rock

You should have a good song and a well produced recording of the music at this point. Now we need to wrap it up and present it to the world. This is where your creative ideas can come to life. Get a few good photographs of yourself that exemplify the attitude and image that you want to associate with your music. This is really half of the success of your music and career in the music industry. You need to be able to captivate the listener and get them to feel the emotion that is embedded in the music. Record labels and movie producers will take you seriously if you appear to believe in your own music, so you need to create an image that they can market with the music.

You don't have to go way over the top like Lady Gaga or Marilyn Manson, but it is very obvious that they succeeded in the music industry because their music was good and they had an image that captivated people's attention. I don't think either of them would have been such a success story if they took photos in jeans and t-shirt hanging out in their backyard. Now you don't have to get crazy with the editing in Photoshop, but I'd suggest that you hire a professional photographer and get some shots that have good lighting and are framed with an interesting background. Black and white photos are always classy and have a sense of professionalism to them. That's why so many band photos are black and white that accompany a press kit.

Once you have a few good photos, you need to get some sort of web presence. You can get a free band account on many different websites. I'd highly recommend one that offers licensing opportunities. There are a bunch to choose from, but I'd suggest starting with sonicbids.com or musicclout.com. Both of these sites allow you to upload music and create an artist profile. If you have about $10 to spare per month, I'd highly recommend you build your own website and have control over the design and look of your online presence. You can easily build your own custom site with squarespace.com or wix.com for about $10/mo. Check out some of the websites built by our studio clients: The New Position & Justin Fawsitt. Both of these sites were constructed by the musicians and only took a few moments to setup and live on the web.

This is a step that you cannot afford to overlook. You need to believe in your music and developing your image will be the foundation for the career you are going to build. Just as you got feedback from your friends and family for your music, you should also get feedback on your image. If you want to accelerate your career, hire a producer that has experience in developing musicians in the public eye.

5 Steps to Getting Your Music Licensed | Step 2

Now that you have chosen the best song to market, you need to prepare it for presentation. This next step is definitely the most important, it's time to record your music. The "sound" of your music will be the foundation of your marketing campaign. So this is where you need to slow down and evaluate the best option for moving forward. You need to invest and believe in your music, so you need a quality recording with a producer that shares your vision. Cutting corners on recording your music will hinder the success of your efforts and only wind up costing you more money in the long run.

The main focus is to get a high quality recording to exemplify the ingenuity of your musical abilities. To achieve this, you need to make sure that you're recording is done right the first time. Saving a few bucks on a unprofessional recording will only add to the cost that you'll wind up investing when you go to a professional studio and get a higher quality recording. If you want to be the best at what you do, then you need to work with professionals who can give you top quality production. Project / budget studios are great for demos and hashing out ideas, but when it comes to making the final recording, you need to invest in quality. You will only get one chance to make an impression, so there is no time to waste on mediocre sound.

When you spend all your time trying to get licensed, the music has to be spectacular. If the recording is sub-par, it will reflect poorly on the content of your music. A good engineer / producer will have the skills and knowledge to ensure your music pops! Choose a studio with a proven track record and an engineer that has serious interest in your music. A good engineer will encourage you and support you along the way. Getting guidance from someone who has experience in the industry is a wise choice. This will help you avoid common pit-falls an maximize the efficiency of your production time.

Stay tuned for step 3. We'll cover the advantages of preparation and time management.

Building a Home Studio | Top 10 Microphones

Thinking about getting a microphone to start or build on your home recording studio? Here are 10 mics you should consider. Ranging from Dynamic to USB mics that are great for singing or podcasting.

Building a Home Studio | Part 2

PC or Mac, this is the ultimate question. If you're unsure of which one to get, you can always get a Mac and install parallels to run both platforms. A PC will ultimately be a little more affordable and have multiple options for a decent DAW.

I have personally had both computers and over the years have settled on a Mac. I started with a G4, then moved to a G5, and now I currently use a Mac Pro. If you're going to run a ProTools HD system, you'll need a computer that can handle PCIe cards. You can buy a chassis to house the PCIe cards, but then that is one more cable and device on your desk.

Be sure to get a computer with a fast processor and at least 8 GB of RAM. The i5 & i7 processors are excellent options for audio production. If you're not quite sure what to choose, call a specialist. I work directly with Joseph Secu at Sweetwater.com (800) 222-4700 x1232.

Also be sure to get a good monitor. With all the mainstream TVs having the ability to connect via HDMI or VGA ports you can have a large selection of monitors to choose from. Being able to see what you're working on is very important. You're going to be staring at this computer screen for hours on end, so it would be a good idea to invest in a screen that doesn't strain your eyes.

Tomorrow we'll cover microphones.