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Have you ever wondered how to get that great analog warmth in your mix even in a digital environment? In this episode of the show I talk about 3 ways to do exactly that.
Peak normalization is an automated process that changes the level of each sample in a digital audio signal by the same amount, such that the loudest sample reaches a specified level. Traditionally, the process is used to ensure that the signal peaks at 0dBfs, the loudest level allowed in a digital system.
Normalizing is indistinguishable from moving a volume knob or fader. The entire signal changes by the same fixed amount, up or down, as required. But the process is automated: The digital audio system scans the entire signal to find the loudest peak, then adjusts each sample accordingly.
Some of the myths below reflect nothing more than a misunderstanding of this process. As usual with common misconceptions, though, some of the myths also stem from a more fundamental misunderstanding – in this case, about sound, mixing, and digital audio.
The home studio can be incredibly sophisticated these days, very much capable of recording, mixing and even self finalizing your tracks to a high standard in the comfort of your own tailored musical space. If you are willing to invest some money and time into learning some basic engineering skills, great results can be achieved.
The beauty of a home studio is that it can serve your core skill set remarkably well and also potentially open up new revenue streams which you may not previously have considered. You will be able to potentially save money on studio bills and benefit from the great convenience of a studio in your house. This would especially have benefits at the composing, arranging, recording and idea building stage for an acoustic musician and potentially the entire production process for an electronic musician.
There is a large demand for spoken word recording. If you have a nice quiet space which is reasonably well acoustically treated, you might develop a side line for voice over recording, which can be quite lucrative. Voice work is necessary for radio advertising, video narration, corporate presentations and of course translation from one language to another.
Other potential revenue streams are karaoke style ’studio experiences’ for people interested in recording their vocals against a backing track; enhancing stereo 2 track or multitrack location recordings; forensic and restoration work; and composing music to video.
The scope for a revenue stream is there if you are willing to put in the hours to learn your new equipment and invest in the initial cost of setting up. Typically, an entry level home studio incorporates the following:
* PC or Mac computer $1,000 – $2,000
* Sequencing software $200 – $500
* Audio Interface (sound card) $100 – $900
* Controller keyboard, $200 – $500
* Microphone selection $1,000
* Possibly a selection of software synthesizers $200 – $500
* Studio monitors $250 – $1,000
Of course, the sophistication and exact selection of the above equipment will have a bearing on the final pricing. Remember to budget for some microphone and line level leads too.
To ensure your home studio is optimized, here are some tried and tested tips on making it as productive and good sounding as possible.
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Original Post From http://www.hometracked.com
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.
Have a friend perform: Home recording, especially for singer/songwriters and electronic musicians, often involves a single musician writing and recording all the music. But artists in this situation can find themselves too close to the song, at mix time, to make decisions critically. Working with other musicians might initially complicate recording and mixing. However, creating a great mix depends, in part, on your ability to remove unnecessary details, and most of us are more comfortable objectively critiquing someone else’s work. So asking a friend (or some professionals) to perform a track or two will ultimately make mixing easier, and more effective.
Get more ears on the mix: With any task requiring attention to detail, it’s easy to lose the forest for the trees. And so it goes with mixing. A second or third opinion can draw your attention back to details you’ve glossed over. And outside opinions needn’t come from other musicians and engineers. (Although the homerecording.com MP3 mixing clinic is a great source for free advice.) Often, regular listeners give the best feedback because they don’t think in technical terms about the production, and instead form their thoughts on how the song makes them feel. And some of the best mix feedback I’ve gotten has come from children, who are unconditioned by musical convention.
Listen on multiple systems: Hearing a mix through different speakers is a little like getting a second opinion. And professional mixing engineers rely on this technique.
Avoid dogma: Our hobby (or profession, if you’re lucky) is plagued with religious arguments, like “tube gear sounds better,” and “analog sounds warmer than digital.” Regardless of each argument’s merit, these dogmatic issues over-complicate the recording process, and distract us from the importance of technique – which, of course, costs nothing!
Cut. Ruthlessly: As musicians, our egos push us to put everything we’ve got into every part we record. But virtuoso performances and great recordings don’t necessarily go together. The whole, as they say, is often greater than the sum of the parts. In most song arrangements, over-instrumentation usually just leads to clutter. And along with being more difficult to mix, clutter rarely sounds good.
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Quite a few bands have a HUGE fear of being over-produced. The idea is some sleazy producer is going to turn their Motorhead-esque sludge into something that could be played at praise and worship featuring Boyz To Men and Mariah Carey.
Watch Def Leppard’s Hysteria Classic Albums. If anyone is going to make an argument for or against big-time production, that album certainly has to be up there. They used two reels of analog tape for every single harmony and we are talking multiple harmonies. Very few bands imagine that they’ll be spending the entire day on one single harmony on one single song.
More importantly, who can afford this? The documentary says that Def Leppard had to sell 5,000,000 copies to break even. Obviously, they came out of this adventure alive (and then some) or there would be no article or documentary discussing it. What band has that kind of coin lying around? Adele is the biggest thing we’ve seen in some time (pun optional) and she sold 4.6 million copies in 2011. (Just a few years ago Disney On Ice was the best selling album of the year.) That means she would have been in the red if she used Def Leppard’s budget. Obviously times have changed. The point is very few people are moving enough units for the big time production treatment even if studio costs are plummeted.
With this fear of overproduction comes the disdain for new tools. There are tools out now that can save you time, money, or simply improve the intensity of your recordings. (This has always been the case, but a compressor from the 60s doesn’t scare as many people as snare drum replacement or Autotune.) Never advocate that an engineer automatically start meddling with the sound of a band, particularly if that band has a definable sound. However, there’s no reason to ignore technology that helps a band get THEIR sound when maybe the mics aren’t picking up the sound in their head.
Quite a few bands who are dead-set against Autotune and sample layering (but almost never against brickwall limiting). They’ll site how they, “Don’t want the T-pain sound”. Really? You don’t want your Iron Maiden-esque band to sound like a hip hop artist from 2009? I had no idea! These bands dig up examples of a tool being pushed to the extreme and then judge it.. “I don’t want to ride your children crusher. I think I’ll walk to the studio.” It doesn’t make sense to judge studio tools based on times when they’ve been intentionally abused.
The real issue here is trusting the engineer. If you are working with an engineer you don’t trust….WHY???? If you can’t listen to their previous work, sit down and have a chat, and not say to yourself, “Yeah, this is a guy we want on our team” then you shouldn’t be working with that engineer. It’s as simple as that. There are enough good recording guys out there who will do your music justice to settle for anyone who won’t.
When you tie an engineer’s hand behind his back, you are simply asking for trouble. Asking a handyman to ditch the screwdriver just because you read some whackjob article in Guitar World is absurd. What the hell do you care! You don’t tell him how to do his job. You just need to make sure the engineer knows exactly what you want. (They should be the most adamant about finding that!)
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Most singers tend to emphasize certain phrases or passages during a recorded performance, and, often, that extra burst of exuberance results in unanticipated volume spikes. A basic limiter (or compressor-limiter), however, addresses these issues by controlling the peaks, giving you a much more uniform vocal sound. Lowering the device’s threshold (the point at which the limiter becomes “active”) while adjusting the amount of effect (i.e., the “attack/release” ratio) adds definition, while providing an “edgier” sound. When using compression, try to add the effect in small doses, lest you lose the natural dynamics of the vocal.
One of the oldest tricks in the book, double-tracking (cutting a duplicate version of the original vocal to a separate track) provides extra dimension while simultaneously covering any minor miscues during the initial pass. While double-tracking, some singers may expend too much energy trying to replicate the tone and phrasing of the original take. To avoid this, I usually mute the original track; even without hearing the first part, the vocalist will usually perform a second take that is nearly identical anyway (or at least good enough for double-tracking purposes). Though multiple vocal takes are typically “stacked” in mono, when mixing, you can sometimes achieve nice results by spreading the parts in stereo; for that matter, you could even try a third or fourth vocal overdub further down in the mix, just loud enough to add extra dimension without it being obvious to the listener.
Are You Comfortable?
Having a roomful of top-notch equipment is one thing; even more important is having a comfortable environment for your singer to record in. Pianists or guitarists who are accustomed to singing and playing at the same time (like they would on stage) can feel awkward when overdubbing a lead vocal, simply because they don’t know what to do with their hands! One easy way to rectify that problem is to just let them play — even if you don’t actually record the instrument during the take (although it can’t hurt). If you don’t feel like dealing with the potential leakage issues, however, try putting the singer on a high stool (since many find it more comfortable to sit rather than stand during recording), or, at the very least, give them something to keep their hands busy — a bottle of water, some sheet music, etc.
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For multi-track recording, programs such as Ardour and Kristal Audio Engine (if you are going with Windows rather than Linux) have come along and been developed to a degree where for many poor and starving home recording artists it can be a viable option to use in their studios and many are already.
Both of these trackers have some very good press going around about them, they are very useful and very feature filled. However, one thing you will find about most any open source developed application is that there are often holes in the feature list. With these two apps that hole is MIDI. They can both record audio, they can both work with many, many different hardware sound devices and they can both edit audio, mix and process as well. But, MIDI sequencing they do not support. Though, both have it planned in the future.
That said, if you are happy enough with the audio editing and mixing features, and really, really like the price, there are options to help you get around the MIDI issue. It can be remedied by finding yourself and open source MIDI sequencer, sequencing your work in it, exporting it as audio files, then importing those files into your tracking application.
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The legendary Shure SM58® vocal microphone is designed for professional vocal use in live performance, sound reinforcement, and studio recording. Its tailored vocal response for sound is a world standard for singing or speech. A highly effective, built-in spherical filter minimizes wind and breath “pop” noise. A unidirectional (cardioid) pickup pattern isolates the main sound source while minimizing unwanted background noise. READ MORE
Distortion can sound great, we all love distorted guitar sounds, however there is a big audible difference between overdriving valves in a guitar amp and overdriving semi pro recording equipment.The following explains how to reduce harsh unpleasant distortion during recording and mixing.
All current digital audio workstations can operate at 24 bit resolution so what does this actually mean and how will it help your music sound better? One of the most important factors of improvement by using 24 resolution in recording and mixing is being able to set your recording and mix gain structure up for lower distortion.