Friday, November 27, 2015

Using Aux Tracks

Many more possibilities open up when you explore the world of buses, aux tracks and sends — and
we'll do that right now, starting with a classic mix technique.

Here's a little scenario. You've got 20 audio tracks, and they all need reverb in differing amounts. Surely it's just a question of instantiating a reverb plug‑in on each? Well, it's not out of the question, but it'd be a terribly cumbersome way of working. First of all, the CPU hit of 20 reverbs could be colossal — potentially crippling if your computer is already maxed out. Second, configuring all those reverbs is very labour intensive, with way too much room for confusion. What's needed is a way to share one reverb flexibly amongst those 20 tracks — and it's easy. We're going to set it up on an aux track, a track type that you can't record on (although it can still be automated) and whose purpose in life is as a routing tool. Next, we'll configure the specialised extra outputs on the audio tracks — their aux sends — to split off some signal from each, destined for the reverb. Then you can tie the whole lot together with a bus. 

A technique that comes up frequently in SOS's interviews with great producers and engineers is parallel compression. Often used to supercharge drum overheads, in essence it's all about splitting the track's signal in two, applying aggressive compression to one 'half', leaving the other alone, and blending to taste. Parallel compression can create seriously dynamic‑sounding drum tracks. Most compressors won't have a wet/dry mix control, but if yours does, set it to 100 percent wet. Signal now begins to flow through the aux track, and its compressor, in parallel with the dry track — hence the name of the technique. One extra thing to think about here is whether the aux send is operating post‑fader or pre‑fader. What's the difference? Well, if it's post‑fader (which it'll be by default), as you adjust the drum track's main level fader, the send level changes too. If it's pre‑fader (which it will become if you click the send's little button), the send level is completely independent from the track's level fader. For parallel compression, I like to work pre‑fader, as then I can adjust the relative levels of the dry and compressed drums on their main faders with no fear of unpredictable level interactions as the mix takes shape. 

Recently, the Sonar family released the Jamaican Plain update which allowed the use of Aux tracks and Patch Points within the main track window. This has been a major upgrade to my effeiciency. Below is a video where I use some of those features similar to the areas SOS covered up top.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Save Time and Recall Settings

Total Recall

In the digital world we have it pretty easy, when it comes to recalling settings. Nearly every plug-in on the planet has the ability to save settings and templates are also save-able in most DAW's. Yet, even with these powerful tools we will not take full advantage of their potential in our Home Studios.

Time To Save Time

One thing we as Home Studio hobbyists struggle the most with is time. Finding time to record, finding time to mix, finding time to find the time to do so. Well, when you have a good set of presets and a healthy array of templates, you can essentially win back some of that time. How creative is it to label tracks, then color code them, then place icons next to them to further identify, on and on the viscous cycle goes? However, if you predominantly record just yourself singing and playing the guitar, make a template from your last session! If you find you always reach for the same plug-ins come mixing time, put them in that template with good starting point settings. Then, every time that creativity starts to flow the, its not held back by the dam of technicality.

You Can't Save Some Things, Or Can You

While it is a fact that some things simply can't be saved, there is another way around this as well. For instance, in the video included below, I painstakingly worked with my DAW to get buffer settings that would not interfere with my screen recorder, It took quite a bit of my precious time! Well, once I got those settings dialed in, and knowing that I would have to change them later, I took a screenshot of the settings. Then after labeling the pic accordingly I can now go back to those settings anytime now! This can be done with anything on your screen! So if you got that Bass EQ sounding good and want to send that to a friend, make a screenshot of your page and send it to them. Or maybe, you got an error you're not sure of in your DAW, screenshots can help show the support team from that company exactly what you're going through.

For Those Who Don't Know

Every keyboard has this feature, you may have to search for it if you're not aware of it. Simply press the “Print Screen” button and open up your paint program or even a Word document and paste into it. Either CTRL+V or right clicking on the mouse and selecting paste will get you there. 


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Unboxing/Review of The Miracle Sound Lavaliere Mic

My Unboxing/Review of The Miracle Sound Lavaliere Mic

When speaking to people on camera, the general rule of thumb is to get the mic as close to the person as you can without it being obtrusive. That's where a good lavaliere mic comes in. There are many on the market for a wide range of applications, but few that are affordable and work in concert with the iPhone. I personally needed both affordability and integration with the iPhone so after a little research I came across the Miracle Sound lav mic.

Set back by the price (how cheap it was) I was a little hesitant to purchase it, but at $17 w/shipping I thought it would be worth a try. The shipping from Amazon was fast and the packaging was great! I was amazed that so much care was placed on getting the product to me in good working condition.

Upon opening the box I was delighted to see that the mic package itself was wrapped in bubble wrap and that there was no room for it to be jostled around in the box. I unwrapped the package to reveal a nice little zip-lock pouch that contained the microphone. I was at first kind of leery about that, thinking to myself, “they put the mic in a zip-lock baggie”!? However, after I opened it up I immediately was relieved to find that it there was another pouch inside that held the actual mic. It is a nice felt lined pouch with a Velcro enclosure and I could see that much care was taken into placing the mic inside the pouch.

Having owned lavaliere mics in the past and knowing their woes, I was extremely pleased to see that the mic came with a windscreen. One thing I was not fond of was that the cord is only about 4' long and the clip is not detachable. Other than that the mic works great and sounds a ton better that the built in mic on my iPhone 4S. It does record a little hot though so don't get to awful loud with it otherwise it will distort.

Pros: Affordable, easily integrated with mobile devices, comes with a nice pouch and windscreen

Cons: Cord length, permanently attached mic clip, seems to record a little on the hot side

Click Here to Purchase


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Recording A Singer-Songwriter

Recording an acoustic guitar can be tricky. Add a vocalist to that equation that wants to sing and play at the same time and now you have a post apocalyptic situation. Well, it could be if you're not careful. I am gonna give some tips for this scenario that could be a lifesaver, and as usual there will be a video to go along with it. (I love audio/visual, it's how I learn best)

Comfort Is King

The very first thing we need to accomplish is to make the vocalist comfortable. This can make or break your recording session. An uptight singer will not deliver their best performance. Here are a few things you can do for the artist to make things go a little smoother.

• Set the vibe (i.e. Lighting, aroma, and temperatures to name a few)
• Ask the artist if their more comfortable without you in the room
• Make sure to have room temperature water on hand
• Singers are the most vulnerable to self esteem issues so tread lightly

The Obvious Is Often Overlooked

These things are blatantly obvious, and so for whatever reason, they seem to be overlooked more than  not. (I am guilty!)

• Place the artist in a chair that doesn't make noise, or have them stand
• Have them remove rings or any other jewelry that may cause noise while performing
• Tune up, tune often, & between every take
• Use a pop filter on your vocals
• Monitor on good headphones and record a few practice takes before ever committing to a real take

Mic Placement

One of my mentors conveyed to me a great tip for approaching mic placement. He said, "Think of the microphone as a flashlight. Wherever that beam is pointed, is the area that will be recorded." So a pencil condenser will give you a narrow "beam" and a large diaphragm will be more like a regular flashlight beam. The farther back you move it the wider the beam will get and vice versa.

It also should be duly noted  that depending on a microphones polar pattern it will have area of rejection, where sound will not be picked up as much. (That is unless it is an omni-directional mic)
These areas of rejection can be utilized to your advantage. For instance, with a cardioid pattern microphone you can aim one mic with the "beam" facing down and away from the vocalist toward the guitar, and the other pointing straight up just under the vocalists voice. This will accept and reject exactly what you want it to with minimal bleed.

We Got A Bleeder!

One of the biggest issues with recording a singer-songwriter is that horrible bleed. Unfortunately, there is no way to effectively remove all of it. Don't let this detour your session however. Some of the tips that have already been given will dramatically improve your recording. I am a realist though, and so I wanted to make sure you knew that this issue will not go away. It doesn't have to stop you either. In fact with just the right amount of bleed you can achieve a more natural sound. This is where making the vocalist comfortable really come into action, you can't tune vocals that have even the slightest amount of guitar bleed without them sounding awful.

Experiment With Everything

I love to get out a mic and move it all around a room will listening to a performance. I love to move the pencil condenser all around an acoustic guitar to get that time I am looking for. I even like to have more than one mic on an artist at times to get two of the same take with different mics to pick which one works best. In short, I love to experiment! It is through this avenue that you will learn more than what a video, a blog post, or a podcast could ever teach you. And I'm my opinion it's fun! I hope this article has helped, if it has let me know. If you have a tip or two that you'd like to add to this list, leave it in the comments section below. Have a blessed day. Later!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Let's Share With One Another

I am interested in you. I am interested in your struggles, and your passions. I am interested in what music means to you, and what keeps you from making your own. Leave a comment below and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Here's the thought I am sharing with you from my point of view.

Music to me is the heartbeat of the soul flowing from a persons inner most being.

And I personally struggle with perfectionism.
It keeps me unsatisfied with even my best work.