Advice on how to make good use of the meters in your DAW and learn how to properly read them.
You probably have an Amazon Echo or Google Home wireless speaker in your house. Almost everyone has a BlueTooth wireless speaker and they are only going to become more popular. The portability of these small sound systems is going to start setting new standards for music production. Now that music lovers can take music with them anywhere they go, you’ll have to consider what your mixes sound like on these little sound systems. So Yes, you will need to start using these little monsters as part of your post-production workflow.
One of the ways you can start to incorporate these speakers into your workflow is to mix down an MP3 of your track and load it up on your smartphone. You could also put it on a streaming platform that allows you to keep the track private. Either way, you want to try and recreate how others will potentially listen to your music once it is publicly released.
You’ll need to check levels and listen to how the compression reacts to the small speakers. I just listened to a few major award-winning tracks on 2 of my wireless systems. When the bass line came in on both of them, the sound got swallowed and started pumping the cones. It didn’t sound very good and I actually removed the songs from my playlists. Now these songs may sound good on a larger system, but they didn't not make the cut for the smaller wireless systems. This is a big deal! If your mixes do not translate well to these little bundles of joy, you’ll find yourself looking for another job. That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, so let’s look a few of the options that you can consider.
ANKER SOUNDCORE 2
I’ve had Anker Soundcore speakers around my home for a few years. They seem to last a long time on a single charge, so they’re good to have anywhere in the house or even in the backyard. You can now buy the new version and pair a few of them to a single source. This is good if you want to have sources to monitor in different parts of your home or studio.
They come in black, red, and blue. So you can pick a color that works with your studio decor. Right now there is a $5 coupon on almost every wireless speaker, so don’t wait and buy one today.
The wireless speaker system that is projected to be in every home in the USA by the year 2025. If you don’t already own one, it might be time for you to pony up and get one. To be honest, you could have more than one Bluetooth speaker in your studio to check your mixes. This line of devices will be the most common and probably should be one of the options you choose to use. I don’t recommend the little Echo Dot. Yet, it is popular, so maybe you do want one to use for reference. The nice thing about this line is that is has a SUB! For those of you that love bass, this may be a good option to check out.
In-Studio Training is now a new feature for all our studio membership programs. Get professional assistance with every aspect of your musical career.
EQ settings for vocals sometimes feels like you’re trying to find buried treasure. An endless task of moving knobs and listening to the changes just seems overwhelming. Then comes the conversation about filters on vocals that almost always arises in every session.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.