• wiggly-slider_05

  • wiggly-slider_03

Tag Archives | audio engineering

close-up of part of the front panel of a Neve 1073 DPD dual channel preamp

RECORDING BACKGROUND VOCALS

    Human voices are extremely nuanced and our ears are highly attuned to listening to them…  yes, I can hear my wife calling to me about the dirty dishes I left in the sink! The most efficient part of the human hearing spectrum is around 1kHz to 3kHz, where much of the clarity in […]

Continue Reading
Heavenly choirs sing to the Pacific Ocean high above Vancouver's Burrard Inlet

TRACKING A SMALL CHOIR

    A small choir is the largest group of voices singing simultaneously that you are likely to encounter at home, and the odds are good that you will actually end up arranging to work with them outside the home, perhaps on location at a church hall or gym or yoga studio or some similarly […]

Continue Reading
Viola and Violin side by side

TRACKING STRINGS

  So, feel like trying your hand at recording real strings?  Maybe you have a song that would be great with a traditional string quartet accompaniment such as Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday”, or a country tune that needs some fine fiddle-playing added to the mix.  Perhaps you want a viola solo or some celli accompaniment in […]

Continue Reading
A trumpet has its day in the sun

TRACKING BRASS PLAYERS

  Recording brass instruments is perhaps the hardest of all the recording tasks you might undertake at home. Due to the physical nature of the instrument, and sometimes the foibles of human players, you may need to drop in and out of record many times during a session to get the results you are after. […]

Continue Reading
Hofner violin 'Beatle' bass

TRACKING BASS INSTRUMENTS

  Tracking bass instruments ranks among the hardest tasks to get right in a home setting for several reasons.  None the less, it’s perfectly possible to get great results. TRUSTING WHAT YOU HEAR Before talking about the sound you are recording, it’s really important to be able to hear the bass recording accurately on playback […]

Continue Reading
SM57 set to record a lefty Gretsch DuoJet played through a custom VOX AC30

TRACKING ELECTRIC GUITARS

    The variety of sounds you can get from an electric guitar is effectively infinite, and no one way can be claimed as The Way to record them. There are countless ways to implement guitar parts on a song.  Everything under the Sun is fair game, it seems, and that’s before we even consider […]

Continue Reading
Takamine acoustic guitar

TRACKING ACOUSTIC GUITARS

    If you take a close listen to the sound of acoustic guitars on a lot of recordings, they sound pretty average in a lot of cases. This is largely when they are functioning as a rhythm instrument, strumming either alone or doubled, or even tripled or quadrupled.  It can also happen whenever there […]

Continue Reading
1974 Yamaha Baby Grand Piano (thanks for the inspiration, Elton).

TRACKING ACOUSTIC PIANOS

  IS IT IN TUNE? This is the first thing to worry about!  Is it in tune enough for you to work with it? Assuming you are a recording songwriter capturing their own performance, you may be able to get away with tuning the piano as little as once a year, although ideally more regularly […]

Continue Reading
Zildjian Sound Labs prototype ride cymbal

TRACKING DRUMS AND PERCUSSION

  Tracking drums and percussion is a huge topic. You could fill a very big book on either of these topics, and many have, and still have left plenty unsaid.  I didn’t have time today to go on about specific microphones or positioning too  much, other than in general terms, but all kinds of information […]

Continue Reading
WAVES Element Virtual Instrumentl, an excellent synthesizer plug-in.  This shows the ISAO TOMATO patch, a reference to Isao Tomita, the Japanese synth pioneer who covered Gustav Holst's The Planets Suite using only synthesizers to create the orchestra.

TRACKING AUDIO IN GENERAL

    When you are recording audio, there are two things you are mainly concerned with.   Performing well, and capturing audio well. In certain situations – for example, when you are recording the audio output from a virtual instrument leaving a MIDI or Instrument type of track (in your DAW) – there will be […]

Continue Reading
Large micstand with lockable castors on a sturdy wheelbase, with boom arm only partly extended.  Counterwieght and additional mini-boom arm at opposite ends of the boom.  Many possible adjustments can be made.

MICROPHONE STANDS, TUNERS AND ACCESSORIES

    MICROPHONE STANDS, TUNERS AND ACCESSORIES It’s very important to avoid cheap microphone stands.  These will cause more problems than they solve and may hurt you or your equipment and instruments. The fittings and all means of adjustment should be solid and reliable, so that the stand lasts for years, and so that any […]

Continue Reading
close-up of part of the front panel of a Neve 1073 DPD dual channel preamp

LINE CONDITIONERS, PREAMPS AND D.I. BOXES

    Today I’ll look at the preamp, the line conditioner and the D.I. box, all useful tools in a home studio.  A line conditioner is less common in home situations but is still very handy. You will certainly use DI boxes and preamps, whether standalone units or built into a mixer or console or […]

Continue Reading
Neumann KM184 matched pair of small-diaphragm condensers

MICROPHONE TYPES AND A CLASSIC LIVE BED TRACKS MIC PLAN

    Microphones are awesome.  I love them!  There are quite a few microphone types to get familiar with if you want to know all the options out there.  A quick history tour and a few fun facts, and then I’ll give you relatively cheap options in a cheat-sheet format for miking most of the […]

Continue Reading
UAD-2 Ocean Way Studios plug-in, which models the rooms at the world-famous Ocean Way Studios, and allows you to add their room ambience, and reposition virtual microphones within the virtual studio rooms  The first of it's kind.

PROCESSING – OTHER FUN STUFF

    Well, we’ve covered a huge amount of processing devices and techniques in the last week.  There’s still a huge amount to go, which is totally awesome! I’ve posted over 25,000 words this week alone, all discussing just three very broad categories of effects, namely delay, reverb and modulation effects. In today’s blogpost I’ll […]

Continue Reading
The WAVES Manny Marroquin Reverb plug-in, with modulation and distortion parameters.

PROCESSING – REVERB Part 2

    REVERB CONTROLS There are a huge number of variations in the controls on a reverb.  It’s a bewildering array of controls, in fact, with few reverbs sharing the same exact set of parameters. This is, for the most part, due to the differences between the various methods of creating reverb. Modern reverbs, in […]

Continue Reading
The ubiquitous Lexicon 224XL reverb, modeled here in software for the UAD-2 platform.

PROCESSING – REVERB Part 1

    Reverberation is a naturally occurring phenomenon that happens all around us, all the time.  It’s the pattern of reflections that builds up in a space when direct sound waves bounce off obstacles and reflect back in different directions in different length paths of travel.Over time, this web becomes pretty complex, although it also […]

Continue Reading
Waves Kramer Tape Delay

PROCESSING – TIME-BASED EFFECTS Part 2

    MODULATION EFFECTS The image above looks totally awesome, and it’s a picture of a tape delay plug-in, which is a time domain effect, as are modulation effects.  However, tape delay is not a modulation effect since there is no modulation occurring.  Unless you have more than one tape machine… OK, so wow and […]

Continue Reading
After all the gigs and recording sessions I've been part of, it's hard to look at the UAD plug-in model of the Roland RE-201 Space Echo, the hardware unit I wish I'd never sold.  On the other hand, where the hell would I get 1/4" tape?  This is a lost love of mine, right down to the black cover peeling off the unit after so much loving tenderness and so many unfortunate incidents.

PROCESSING – TIME-BASED EFFECTS Part 1

    DELAYS There are various types of time-based effects, also known as time domain effects. The simplest types are called delay effects. You may come across mono delays, stereo delays, tape delays, outboard delays, numerous flavours of plug-in delays, duplicated tracks offset in time, cross delays, multitap delays, ping-pong delays, and others in your travels. There […]

Continue Reading
UAD Precision Multiband, a fantastic multiband processing tool.  Here you can see the Hip-Hop Hype preset in action.

PROCESSING – MULTIBAND DYNAMICS

    WHAT ARE MULTIBAND DYNAMICS? This category of processing is dangerous to your audio when misused.  It is a very, very powerful type of processing. You can target just the frequency areas you want by using this tool, and it has all kinds of uses in recording projects. It’s fairly new to the scene, […]

Continue Reading
Sonalksis SV-719 Expander/Gate/Ducker

PROCESSING – DYNAMICS Part 4

    EXPANSION The inverse of compression is expansion. Compression is used a great deal more often than expansion, but the expansion technique is very helpful in certain situations.  I mentioned this in yesterday’s blogpost briefly, but here’s the full deal on how expansion works. Picture yourself in a room. The ceiling represents the very […]

Continue Reading
Abbey Road EMI TG12413 Limiter plug-in

PROCESSING – DYNAMICS Part 3

    A QUICK RECAP ON WHY WE USE COMPRESSION OK, so you record some vocals on your new song.  Naturally, it has it’s louder moments and it’s quieter moments. You haven’t compressed it yet.  Maybe you have, but you’ve simply evened it out a touch while recording was taking place, using a compressor with […]

Continue Reading
UAD-2 Fairchild compressor plug-in

PROCESSING – DYNAMICS Part 2

  COMPRESSION The most common dynamics processors are compressors. You choose settings appropriate to the incoming signal you want to compress, and then it will behave according to those parameters while you focus on other issues in your mix. You can use compression as a spare hand to control the fader levels that won’t work […]

Continue Reading
Two modern hardware classic compressors. This is the UA 1176 LN above the UA  Teletronix LA-2A

PROCESSING – DYNAMICS Part 1

  Two modern hardware classic compressors. This is the UA 1176 LN above the UA Teletronix LA-2A   WHAT exactly are DYNAMICS anyway? Dynamics processing deals with adjusting the dynamic range of a piece of audio.   That means deciding how loud or soft it will be, moment to moment. For our purposes, this is […]

Continue Reading
Manley Massive Passive stereo tube EQ above a Drawmer 1961 stereo tube EQ

PROCESSING – EQUALIZATION (EQ)

    People often over-use EQ at home, going through their tracks and making each individual track sound as good as they can. It’s a common mistake, but it’s easy to avoid. The quick version is… Use EQ sparingly and only when you think you really need to.  Never make EQ decisions when the solo […]

Continue Reading
Roland JP-8080 overhead view of front panel

SYNTHESIZERS – A LANGUAGE FOR SOUND DESIGN

      The layout of controls on the front of a classic synth interface like this one, above, shows much of what can be done in synthesis.  It’s great fun to interact with the controls in real-time and see what things do.  The interactions between controls can make it hard to see what they […]

Continue Reading
Resolume Arena 4  running on a MacBook Pro atop a piano by a metronome

CLICKS AND VIRTUAL INSTRUMENTS

  Today I’m writing about clicks and virtual instruments. A click is a steady beat pulse played by any short percussive and hopefully musical sound, at a fixed tempo chosen by the user. A click instrument is a virtual instrument specifically designed to provide a click.  It offers a small selection of sounds suitable for […]

Continue Reading
Ultrasone S-Logic headphones

HEADPHONE MONITORING

    Headphones are essential tools in a studio, but you can’t rely on them for everything.  They are valuable in both tracking and mixing. In the olden days of yore, the headphones found in recording studios were known colloquially as “cans”, due to their poor sound quality.  Times have changed, and inexpensive headphones are […]

Continue Reading
Fog obscures details of Vancouver's downtown

YOUR MONITORING ENVIRONMENT

  Your monitoring is meant to be accurate, not flattering.  It should clear away the fog to reveal what you have recorded in all it’s glory – or awfulness.  Make sure you have the best performing monitors you can afford, and put them in a space where they perform well themselves. Monitor is a term […]

Continue Reading
CM Labs CM64 programmable recallable analog patchbays

SIGNAL FLOWS, ROUTING AND PATCHBAYS

This post sounds pretty tedious!   Signal flows, routing and patchbays, indeed. Well, it’s pretty useful stuff, but you don’t need a patchbay in most home studios these days, since most traditional outboard boxes (meaning effects units, compressors, EQs, etc) now come in the form of a plug-in inside your DAW, so you probably don’t […]

Continue Reading

dream beautiful music tonight