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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 disabling the EQ altogether to gauge just how badly the adjustments are needed.
Reasons to EQ: The 3 main reasons to filter a vocal with EQ are
1) to help the voice sit better in the mix,
2) to correct a specific problem, and
3) to create a deliberate effect, like “A.M. radio voice.”
If you’ve EQ’d a vocal track for some other reason, be sure the result is improving the mix.
Gentle boosts: The “cut narrow, boost wide” guideline applies to vocals perhaps more than any instrument. Our ears have evolved remarkable sensitivity to the sound of human speech. (Consider how easily we pick up a single conversation in a crowded noisy room.) So we’re immediately, instinctively aware when a voice has been processed unnaturally.
High-pass: Most vocals – though of course not all – benefit from a low cut filter. The average fundamental frequency in an adult male voice is 125Hz, and often you can roll off up to 180Hz without affecting the sound. (If your mic or preamp has a low-cut filter, consider engaging it when recording vocals, as most subsonic audio in a vocal track consists of mic-stand noise, breath rumble, popping, and other undesirable sounds.)
Bypass: Especially with high-pass filters, it’s easy to remove too much body from a vocal, as our ears adjust so quickly to new sounds when mixing. If your EQ has a bypass option, use it periodically to make sure you haven’t gone too far with an adjustment.
Read More At: http://www.hometracked.com/2008/02/07/vocal-eq-tips/
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.
One main benefit of digital recording is the low-level of background noise to signal ratio. Even so, getting the levels right when you’re recording a track is still very important. Understanding how to set recording levels will keep those nasty digital crackles and pops out of your projects. So let me give you a little direction on how to set recording levels.
Original Post From http://forum.recordingreview.com
It’s sometimes difficult to started with MIDI. The communication between all the different components can get very confusing. This article is designed to help you through the process of solving your MIDI problems. The basic chain for MIDI is quite simple. The biggest problems occur in the understanding of what each piece of the puzzle does. In this first example, I’m going to assume we want to record a piano part within Cubase using Kontakt2.
#1) We need a way to enter the MIDI data. This sounds very unmusical, but it’s important for me to write in this fashion to make sure you understand what is really happening within your MIDI sequencer. You CAN enter your MIDI data with a mouse within Cubase and most other software based MIDI sequencers. However, most people prefer to have a little more human element in their MIDI productions and therefor using a MIDI controller (piano style keyboard) is the most popular way of entering MIDI data. You can also enter the data with an electronic drum kit, a MIDI guitar pickup, triggers, or using one of the keypad style gadgets out there. It needs to be said that any old keyboard with MIDI out can be used as a MIDI controller. Just to clear up the part, “entering the data” is the same thing as recording a performance or playing an instrument. In our first example, we are recording a piano part, so we will use the standard piano style MIDI controller.
#2) Now we need to hook our MIDI controller to our computer. The old standard was the 16-pin MIDI cable. Most computers do not have a MIDI cable input, but many audio interfaces do. You’ll need to plug this cable into an audio interface that has built in midi. (If you don’t have an audio interface with built in MIDI ports and your MIDI controller leaves no other options, like USB, you’ll need to obtain a MIDI interface. Most modern midi interfaces designed for working with computers use USB to connect to the computer. No special MIDI interface is required.
#3) Now it’s time to make sure the MIDI Sequencer / Recording software is picking up the MIDI signal. Most will have a meter that flashes when MIDI signal is received. So hit a few notes and see if anything lights up. If nothing lights up, there is probably a problem with your MIDI controller, the MIDI interface (if applicable), or the signal is not being routed properly within the recording software. You’ll want to check the manual for your recording software for specifics.
In our example, when we strike a key on our MIDI controller, we see a meter light up on the Cubase transport. This tell us that Cubase is getting the signal. If we do not see the meters on the Cubase transport lighting up, we have a problem. It’s possible that your operating system isn’t receiving the signal. Make sure your drivers are installed for your device(s). Also make sure that you have properly setup and set as the default MIDI device in Control Panels > Sound and Audio Devices if you are using Windows. Also make sure that you have the device setup in your recording software / sequencer as well.
Now we need to create a MIDI track to actually record the MIDI data and we may have to specific which MIDI input we want to use. (This is sometimes handled automatically). When we strike a key on the MIDI controller, a meter should light up on for that MIDI track. We have the data in the sequencer, but we still won’t hear any sound. Cubase (or any sequencer itself) doesn’t necessarily play sound. We need virtual instruments that utilize either synths or samples to actually create the sound based on the MIDI data we send to it.
So, in Cubase, we’ll open up the MIDI instruments section and load Kontakt 2 (our sampler software of choice) and then select a piano sound. Going back to our MIDI track, we need to send the MIDI signal to that piano sound by setting the output of the that MIDI track to Kontakt 2, on the appropriate channel.
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Original Post http://forum.recordingreview.com
Tracking Live Benefits
More Fun / A Social Event
When a band can play live and sound great, recording is a lot of fun. They grab their guitars and drum sticks. You hit record and away we go. There are at least four guys involved, generally. Sometimes they bring their girlfriends. It becomes a bit of a party. Most drummers I know turn it into exactly a party. (I counted 16 empty beer cans next to shards of drum sticks after one session. He sounded great.) There is something fun about a full-band going for it, hitting stop, and listening back to a completed recording.
I recorded an album in an afternoon one time. It was a band kinda doing a classic rock thing. They just went for it. The recording turned out great. Because the band had the chops and the tones, all I had to do was toss up some mics, play with some faders, and call it a day. There’s something about being able to record an album Saturday day and then still have the time to have a social life Saturday night that is very pleasing. A military General may use the word “sustainability”. When you spend 18 hours nitpicking over bs like editing bass tracks or tuning vocals day in and day out (often for no real musical benefit and for 7 fans to show up to the cd release party), you become unbalanced. You will wear yourself out no matter how tough you are. This matter gets more complicated when toss in having a family. (Something I’ll have to figure out very soon.)
In some circles there is some implication that in order to do it “for real” you have to put in 18 hour days. I’ve found this to be a viscous lie. There’s nothing legitimate about throwing your life away. The results speak for themselves. There’s no reason to think a live take isn’t “for real” unless it sounds like it’s not “for real”.
When you listen to solo’d drums, you wear yourself out quickly. It’s not fun. It doesn’t even really feel all that musical. It’s similar to doing you taxes. The idea of having to plan ahead to imagine how a future guitar track would groove on top of those drums can be stressful. If you don’t hear it now, it can be your ass a week or month later.
With live tracking, there is no guessing. The band says yes or not and that’s the end of it. The microscopes, tax forms, and straining go by the wayside. In truth, I’d argue that listening in his fashion is closest to how the average fan listens….if you can get the band to shut up. A useless term to describe certain equalizers, the word “musical” comes up to describe this way of working.
There are times when we need to take 3 hours per song for bass tracks. This is the crappy part of the gig. It’s when this gig becomes a job. For those of you who record for fun, I’d fight to the death to maintain the fun. If not, what’s the point?
It Just Feels Right….When It Feels Right
When you record a band live and the tracks on playback feel like a mixed record (give or take), there’s this relaxing something in your gut with an umbrella in your drink that says, “Ahhhh. This is the way life is supposed to be.” When the tracks don’t go down in that way, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.
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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 http://www.ehow.com/how_2296671_mix-down-music.html
1) Decide what elements are essential to the mix. This includes the important instruments in the arrangement as well as peripheral sounds that make a recording special. Listen to your song carefully. Decide what elements are absolutely essential. Figure out what instruments and sounds add something magic to the song. Get rid of sounds that detract from the overall vision of the song. This is often a difficult decision, but a necessary one to make a song as direct as possible. Of course, if you’re mixing down a sound collage or an experimental piece, the rules apply in a slightly different way.
2) Determine the volume of each instrument. You’ll obviously want crucial elements to be the loudest, while accompaniment can be a bit quieter. Even when you set the volume levels correctly, you may still find yourself with a muddy mix. This is where the next step comes in.
3) Pan instruments and sounds to different areas of the stereo field. Important places to consider are middle and hard left/right. Anything panned to the middle, only the left or only the right speaker will stick out in the mix more than other instruments. In general, it’s wise to keep these areas reserved for essential elements of the mix. With other instruments and sounds, experiment with different placements within the stereo field. Try placing instruments just a bit to the left or right of center and see how they sound. Stereo placement makes a great difference in the overall clarity of a mix. Sometimes, though, the music may still seem a bit muddy.
4) EQ individual tracks. This is where mixing can really get tricky. There are no hard and fast rules on equalization, but you’ll find that certain instruments occupy different frequency ranges. For example, bass guitar holds much of its sound in the lower frequencies, often at 100hz or lower. The pluck of a bass lies in the high-mid range, around 2hz or so. If you have a parametric EQ on your mixer, you’ll be able to experiment with a boost or cut in different ranges. One theory is to cut if you want an instrument to sound better and boost if you want it to sound different. Be judicious, though. Too much boost can overload the overall volume and too much cut can rob the instrument of interesting frequencies.
5) Add effects sparingly. Try adding reverb to individual instruments to give them a sense of space. A small delay can relay thicken a vocal track. Experiment with different combinations of effects to see what suits your taste. Sometimes you’ll find that adding the right amount of reverb involves bringing the effect up to a level that sounds good to you, then dialing it back just a little. Unless you’re mixing down music that needs to sound cavernous, reverb should be used sparingly. Try different types of reverb on different instruments. Many engineers will use two or three reverb settings on a snare drum alone, then add that to the rest of the drum kit.
6) Make sure that your volume levels are consistent. If the volume levels of individual instruments are all over the place, there are a few remedies. You can do a fader ride, which is moving the fader up and down in accordance with the track volume, or you can compress individual tracks. Compression is an effect that limits the dynamic range of an instrument. Too much compression sucks the life out of a performance, but smart use of compression both controls the dynamic range and makes the performance seem more consistent and professional.
7) Record the mix and give it a listen in different sources. Whatever recording device you are using, mix down and record on the appropriate format. Listen to the mix in your car, in your home stereo, in a portable device and wherever else you are able to play the mix. It will sound different in different systems. By listening closely, you’ll hear what elements of the song need to be louder, quiter, EQ’d and what effects need to be added or taken away. Then repeat the previous steps until you have a mix that you like.
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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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You see, gone are the days when you needed to spend money on expensive multi-track recorders, outboard gear processors, mixdown machines, and tons of cables. If you’ve got the money and you want to go that way, that’s okay, but it’s not necessary. Today, your greatest expense is a computer or digital multitracker. They replace hundreds of functions that you would need separate hardware units for. Today, it’s more about software than hardware. Nearly everything takes place inside of your computer or multi-tracker. Female singer in recording studio. Believe me when I say that you can easily rival the sound of big-time recording studios right at home, thanks to modern music studio software. And some of the big hits you hear on the radio were recorded in nothing but a musician’s or producer’s bedroom.
With # recording software (such as Cakewalk Sonar, Cubase SX, and Apple Logic) # a good studio microphone, # a preamp, # a MIDI interface, # an audio interface, # as well as a pair of studio monitors, you’re good to go. If you already own a computer, there’s not too much to spend.
There is a never ending debate among producers as to which is more suitable. Personally, it’s a debate I do not like to go into. Both platforms have their advantages and disadvantages. There is no definitive answer, and as far as I’m concerned you should use what you like. PCs are cheaper than Macs of equivalent power and unlike Macs, they are upgradeable. So they’re cheaper both short and long term. If you want to save money this is the way to go.
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This is a stereo digital recorder from Tascam, the company that wrote the book on do it yourself recording. This digital recorder features an adjustable stereo pair of condenser microphones that configure in either an XY or AB pattern, and two xlr ¼” combo jacks, allowing you to use both the mics and the inputs simultaneously for four track recording! You can record to either MP3 or WAV formats on the included 2 GB SD card (and use up to a 32gb card), and transfer your audio to computer via USB 2.0. There’s a great overdub feature to record narration, singing, or instruments over your existing recording. Other features include a switchable low cut filter, both manual and automatic gain control, and an analog limiter.
Recording your performances is so important these days. Besides listening back to critique your performance so you can pinpoint where you need to improve, content is king, and you need to be able to regularly post recordings on your social media. You can use the onboard condenser microphones, or the XLR ¼” combo jacks to record from another sound source like the front of house soundboard at your next gig. Using external condenser mics? No worries, the DR-40 supplies phantom power. There’s also an auto gain control and an analog limiter so you don’t have to worry about setting the level or going too hot and ruining the recording. There’s even built in EQ and reverb so you can craft a mix on the fly all from the DR-40. Brilliant!
Great sound quality is MUCH MORE about understanding a few key principles of audio, and MUCH LESS about the cost of the equipment than most people think. And here’s better news: The few key principles are easy to learn…IF you have the right teacher. That’s where we come in. You’ll learn all you need to know with our video tutorials, home recording articles, and tons of other resources on the site. There are a lot of people out there who thought home recording was the realm of tech geeks and audio engineers with lots of school and tons of expensive gear. It turns out….it’s not!
In this day of ubiquitous (cool word huh?) computers and widely-available digital tech and amazingly affordable home recording software, just about anyone who has a computer and an internet connection (or not!) can produce professional quality audio with tools you already have! You may have to shell out $5.00 for a microphone if you don’t already have one, but that is all you need to get started.
Our motto at Home Brew Audio is “Knowledge Trumps Gear.” And we are here to provide that knowledge. We are not about using any specific programs, effects, microphones, etc. Our goal is to teach the basics that will apply to audio regardless of what gear you use! Fun, fun, fun!
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Condenser microphones capture sound using a conductive diaphragm with a capacitative charged plate behind it. The charge is supplied by a DC voltage source from a battery or from the 48 volt ‘phantom power’ supply present in most mixers and mic preamps. Air pressure changes meeting the conductive diaphragm cause it to move, which causes an analogous AC voltage to be formed in the charged plate. These tiny AC voltages are sent to a tiny preamp built into the microphone, which brings the signal level up to where it can drive a typical micrpphone preamp. The signal leaves the microphone through the cable and on to the microphone preamplifier stage of the mixer. Because the diaphragm of a condenser mic can be made very thin and light, condenser mics tend to be more accurate and ‘faster’ than dynamic mics, especially in the midrange and treble frequencies. However, condenser mics tend to be more physically delicate than dynamic mics, so they are more commonly used for studio recording than for live sound and P.A.
Since condenser mics need a tiny amplifier built into the mic casing (called the “head amp”), the quality of its electronics will influence the sound of the mic. Some condenser mics use a small vacuum-tube circuit for their head amp, along with an external power supply box for the electronics. This is what is referred to as a “tube mic.”
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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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Hard disk recording techniques have affected every aspect of recording, including vocals. Although overdubbing vocals has been a common technique for years, today’s programs let you do multiple tracks of vocals, and make a “composite” with all the best bits. We’ll cover how to do that, then talk a bit about compression and reverb.