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Production Tips and techniques

25 posts in this topic

G'day All,

was sent this article recently, thought some of you might find it useful. I'm sure not all of the advice is entirely accurate so maybe don't take it as gospel, but there's some cool techniques in here and i found that it helped make me think about pushing my techniques further and trying a few new things. Anyway, enjoy.....

1. Buying Equipment

  • Never sell, never upgrade. Buy middle of top of the range (brand new or second hand) first time around and keep it for life. It will become a classic, and if you look after it, it will last forever.

2. Sampling

  • Repeat after me... The sampler is simply the most versatile instrument ever invented and it is limited only by the sounds you can find to put in it.
  • Sample everything: aerosol hihats, pingpong snares, press record, flick the radio channels for a couple of minutes, edit what you get into discrete hits and autotune the fuck out of it.
  • Hit salvos and get some records to rip. Go for the non musical ones (spoken word et)
  • Grab the syllables Sebastian style to colour songs without adding words
  • Record your studio session and sample it. Youll gets lots of clicks and stuff
  • With stereo samples of ambient or melodic sounds, try reversing one channel for a more unusual stereo image. Then fuck with panning
  • Make a loop slowly go out of time over 4 bars, be careful! Taste required.
  • Have a melody play at normal speed, then put a pitched up and sped up 1 otve copy over the top. Edit both copies for crazy appregiator style madness.

3. Panning

  • First of all, get your mix sounding great in mono
  • The lower the frequency, the less you should pan it
  • Pan from 9 till 3 only
  • To reduce blurring of the stereo image: use a prepanned mono reverb on a sound. Will sound solid in the mix
  • Faking stereo: Split the audio file, apply chorus to one side. Also a better way to chorus any sound you still want up the front of teh mix Or, Pan before you mix your levels because panning can cause a drop in db. Might be better
  • In techno, the only panning seems to be channel delay or fx's panned around. All the drums and bass are at centre.
  • Bass kick and snare in the middle. Check out some hard panning on a shaker sometime.

4. Reverb

  • Basically, Reverb is 2 processes: short delay like reflections and a cloudy tail. Eq plays a big part: all real life sound reflections are eq'd.usually the tops are cut. Having said that, each company has a different way to achieve this.
  • Look into ambience: reverb but only the early reflections not the tail, keeps mixes clean. The best bet is to get some decent IRs for 80s lexicon units. Ambience rocks on artificial and close mic'd sounds, make them sit nicely in the mix
  • The spacing between initial reflections is a dominant factor in perceived room size
  • The main paramaters to tweak are early reflection pattern (ambience), pre-delay time (longer = larger room), overall decay time (helps reinforce the idea of large areas) and high-frequency damping (more you add, the less the reverb sounds like a prison cell and more like a forest). And Reverb density: sorta means the amount of voices in the tail of the reverb. Low density tails are a little grainy and good for vox and long sounds but bad on percussion. High density tails are good for percussion. Sometime you also get the diffusion parameter. Its like 'attack' how long the reverb takes to build/gather momentum. prison cells are diffused.sound.
  • If early reflections are a discrete echo, the room walls are flat, if the reflections are more hazy and midrangey, the surface is stuff like trees.
  • A characteristic of plate reverbs is a ring in the tail of the sound. This is due to the architechure of the plate. Other reverbs
  • will (should? ) not have this ring.
  • Psychoaoustics: changing reverb will get out attention. So leave out of some passages.
  • Using tricky reverb: Gated Reverb: snare -> reverb -> compressor -> gate. (fastest release, open for half a second)
  • Using tricky reverb: Reverse reverb: voice, cymbals, chords or stabs
  • Using tricky reverb: Movement: set a bpm syncd autopanner after the reverb to move it around or delay one channel by a second using a delay, no feedback. Put 2 different reverbs in each stereo channel (maybe one that is a reverse reverb!)
  • If the reverb appears to add sibilance to a vocal track, dampen the high frequencies
  • If adding reverb in post, put an eq before it and remove anything below 150hz
  • Put a flanger/chorus before the reverb in the fx channel to give it movement
  • Try heavily effecting the sound before it hits the reverb: pitch bend an octave or a 5th, distortion, multitap delay with loads of feedback
  • If adding more reverb to a sound muddies the mix, shorten the tail of the reverb, and roll off some bottom end if you haven't so already
  • Put shit right up the back of the mix by only using reverb mix
  • Midi gate the reverb to compliment or copy the rhythm.
  • Only ambient reverb on drums.
  • Adding some pre-delay (between 50 and 100mS) will produce a subtle doubling effect that helps beef up weaker voices.
  • Reverb for drums and percussion: ambient settings only. Early reflections will beef up sound. Go the gated reverb, but use on diff perc then they did in the 80's for l less iconic sound. You can reverb the snare the most: try a plate reverb for its sizzly sound. use a heavy dose of short, bright plate or tiled-room ambience to add life to a dull snare sound. Toms have their own tail so don need reverb, unless your making hair metal inspired tunes. For a bigger sound, pick a short hall setting and experiment by adding a little pre-delay to give the drum hits something of a slap-back feel. Hats: short ambience or plate setting What you're after is a sense of space and high-frequency detail, without a tail. Roll off the bass on your
  • reverbs.
  • Use different reverb types in different sections of the mix, we are finely tuned to notice this and it will keep attention.
  • Trashy reverb rocks on dance music, dont forget it.
  • Vocals: To make a vocal sound up-front and intimate use quite a short setting. another popular trick: add between 50 and 80mS of pre-delay to the reverb: put a little space between the dry vocal and the reverb that follows. If you want that reverb tail to add shimmer to the sound, use a room, chamber or hall program, but increase the early reflections balance so that the reverb decay doesn't dominate.
  • Long decays only work if you leave space for them. Use them in breakdowns only perhaps.
  • To use long decays on vox/instruments:duck the reverb output when the dry vocal part is sounding. allow it to swell back to its normal level between words. You only need 3dB of ducking. Make sure the A & R is sympathetic to the sound.
  • Guitar: its all about spring reverb. (historically anyway)
  • Put a chorus before a reverb to get strings and backup vox. The reverb will distort the chorus modulation to a sizzley sound
  • Also, err on the side of adding too little reverb rather than too much

5. Making your track sound big

  • Each layer takes up more headroom, instead of adding a layer, why not make your existing layers more interesting. You cant have big kick and bass sounds combined with big vocal and guitar sounds, you need small sounds also
  • Make sure individual sounds in your arrangement occupy distinct, and separate, regions of the audible frequency spectrum. Try transposing parts till you get better balance
  • Bass sounds need harmonic activity above the fundamental (sawtooth, square) but keep in mind you might not wa to much activity so filter if needs be
  • Put distortion on bass and experiment. Try quadrafuzz also, its like multiband distortion, keeps the mix clean.
  • Make sure your drums and bass sound big to start with, Check out the envelope, keep a sustain on the sound for at least 30ms to give it punch, and compress shorter transient sounds to give them that sustain.
  • The more harmonics in a sound, the bigger it sounds. If you like pure sine bass then distort it a little to introduce sounds.
  • If you use chorus on bass, use it on an effect send and filter out the bass of the send
  • For delays: attach it as a send and really limit the bandwidth of the delay
  • Maybe chuck a whole mix through an ambience plug
  • Remember for a radio mix get rid of all of the bass.
  • To make drums sound big, put them through an ambience plugin with some careful post compression. The early reflections will lengthen the drum sound and make them bigger. You can only do this so much tho!
  • Sounds with a massive transient sound weak because their RMS is low. Use a fast attack comp, 10:1 and up release 10-50ms.
  • Instead of a limiter or compressor to remove large transients, why not try distortion? It can make sounds sound bigger and brighter is used delicately.
  • When compressing a whole mix, go for 3-4db gain reduction, start with a 5ms attack and a 50ms release. Its ok that transients get through, the limited will sort these out
  • After comp but before limitor get the saturation device happening
  • Limit now, aim for 6db reduction, watch out for squashing tho.
  • Clipping is ok as long as its under 1ms. Use your ears, if you cant hear it happen, its fair game.

6. Multiband compression:

  • When I'm mastering dance music for clients, I'll often use a multi-band compressor to apply very low-ratio compression to all three frequency bands (no more than 1.25:1 usually), but with a threshold of around -30dB. I normally aim for no more than about 6dB of overall gain reduction, and this tightens up the sound considerably without destroying the impression of dynamic range.

7. Adding Warmth and Air

  • Warmth is low to mid range distortion, a cut to the highs, and a slight harmonic phaseshift. Commonly associated with valves.
  • Fake your own warmth: A subtle combination of compression and EQ can come surprisingly close if you first compress the signal using a fairly low ratio (less than 1.5:1), then adjust the threshold to produce a gain reduction of around 5dB on peaks. Follow this with equalisation and add a decibel or two of broad boost over the 50 to 150Hz region using a parametric or sweep equaliser. Sometimes you can clean up the mid-range by combining this boost with a gentle dip at around 200 to 250Hz to prevent the bass boost affecting the mid-range.
  • Air is adding a hig frequency boost without overemphasising any harmonics up there.

8. Equalisation

  • Rule number 1 get a good sound before it hits your mixer. Eq is like a circular saw, you wouldn't use it to cut up some nice sashimi.
  • Don't attempt better instrument separation by applying lots of EQ boost to everything, the overall effect will sound unnatural and harsh. If you must use EQ, cutting always sounds more natural.
  • Rethink: equalizers are tone control
  • Shelving: boost sounds above or below a freq
  • Bandpass: allows a freq spectrum to pass and cuts the rest, or boost the band only. Some have only a gain control, some have a freq control (sweep bandpass eq)
  • Parametric: like a sweep bandpass eq but with also a q function to determine the width of the band. The bandwidth places are identified by the place the gain has already fallen by 3db in 2 parts of the spectrum
  • Graphic EQ: high and lowest is shelving filter, the rest is a bunch of bandpass eqs for each part of the freq range.
  • EQ: is making sounds more or less upfront. When you have several sounds they need to be put some upfront, some behind that and some in the distance, like sounds in nature.
  • To bring a sound to the front, consider boosting its fundamental harmonic first.
  • Listen to your mix and decide a packing order of leaders and supporting sounds. Eq accordingy
  • It is worth listening to the kick and bass parts at the same time when you are EQ'ing, as you need them to work together. If you find that they are competing, you can EQ them around eachother. A slight, narrow peak in one and a correlating dip on the other can help to achieve this.
  • Highpass eq everything else in the mix to allow the bass to breathe.
  • Pass your mids to allow the bass to breathe
  • Equalisation provides an opportunity to clean up mixes by understand which part of the frequency spectrum belongs to a timbre of the instrument. E.g. if a guitar sounds boxy, where can you cut most effectively?
  • to emphasise pitched elements in percussive instruments -- some producers find that this can lend these sounds greater punch. decide what pitch the instrument suggests most strongly, and then to array a set of very narrow peaking filters to boost the fundamental and harmonics of this note.
  • To emphasise certain timbres in pitched sounds, make a sharp eq boost and move around the frequency to identify sounds to boost and which to cut
  • Digital or analogue eq? Because good analogue equalisers induce musically useful phase changes in the audio passing through them, they can cause a significant tonal change even with less than a decibel of boost applied. On the other hand, digital equalisers can be designed to leave phase relationships almost unchanged, so large gain settings can be made less noticeably..
  • Boosting should be broad frequency, low db, cutting should be small frequency, high db
  • If you find your cuts are affecting the surrounding are too much, apply a narrow boost on the same area, and put the cut in the middle of it
  • When eqing, always check the bypass to see if your fucking the sound.
  • When equing at the end of a mix, notice what affect it has on the whole mix
  • Psychoacoustics: Equalisation or enhancement? If no top end exists in an audio track, eqing it will jsut add more noise. Try a harmonic enhancer, it makes harmonics of the fundamental, out ear accepts it as real. Be gente tho, they can be very abrasive
  • If working with specific instrument check: http://www.soundonso...les/usingeq.asp to see what you need
  • Highpass everything that isnt bass quite high. The harmonically richer, the higher
  • Psychoacoustics: Roll off the highs of anything that dosent need to be up front
  • Psychoacoustics : because we perceive midrange and higher levels than highs or lows, Setting up a smile curve during mastering can give an impression of loudness
  • Cut or boost??? The human ear prefers cut. So dont boost the lyrics to make them stand out, hp cut everything else
  • If 2 sounds are fighing in a mix, give each a little boost at different frequencies and connespondingly cut the other.
  • If your mix sounds 'muddy', boost the main frequency range of each of the principal instruments. Boost 'decorative' sounds even more and pull the faders right down.
  • If you can't get your tracks to blend together in the mix, cut the main frequency range of the principal instruments

9. Eqing Instruments:

  • Bass Drum EQ: meat is 80-100hz, warmth is in 200-300hz, 2.5-6khz for click
  • Snare: fat is at 120-400 hz, boxy gunners snare sound 800hz 1.2 khz, ringing timbre (reggae) 2-4 khz, attack 4-8 khz,
  • Hi hats: sizzle 8-12k, ringing 1-6k
  • Acoustic Guitar: 80-120 for weight, boom 200-300, clarity 2-5, 5-10 sparkle
  • Electric Guitar: can vary a lot! Hp 80 always, warmth 125-250, crisp 3-5 and to get ultra crisp slash style, get a harmonic enhancer out.
  • Bass Guitar: weight 80-100 warmth 100-300 attack (boxy) 500-1500, jangly :2-5k boost, airy tone 2k high shelf
  • Vocals: boomy when boost around fundamental frequency, cut below 100hz to reduce noise, nasality 1-3, prescence 4-5, cut highs and lows for telephone sound, 7-12 sibilance & breath noise, 16-18, or psychoacoustic enhancement for crispness
  • Psychoacoustics: To put lead vocals infront of backing vocals: just roll off the high freq a little but.
  • Because electric guitars and synths don't have a strong acoustical image, you can eq the fuck out of them without freaking people out.
  • Apply an overall boost of just one or two dBs at around 15kHz with a wide bandwidth setting. This is what people mean when they talk about 'air EQ', 'sheen' or 'gloss'.
  • Adding a gentle dip at around 180-250Hz may help clarify a muddy lower mid-range, while a boost at 70-90Hz will firm up a weak bass end

10. Bass

  • Most home systems roll off at 60-80hz so your mixes are gonna need a lot of energy in the 70-90hz range. So for instance, high pass at 50hz and boost around 80 to compensate.
  • Sine and triangle waves have strong fundamental harmonics are are for bass you can mostly feel. If you are using this, distort it, then use a blend of a fx send speaker simulator to round off the less mucisal higher frequencies generated. And maybe a little post eq. distortion also makes sounds louder
  • Try a second osc an octave above the bass osc. Try a percussive sound instead. Have the filter envelope on the top sound shut off more quickly than the lower sound, reminiscent of strings
  • Waves Rbass is for smaller systems, while DBX 120xp boombox is more for large systems
  • Try adding a little more sustain to the bass note
  • When using 2 bass sounds, detune them 3% or so a la trance
  • Human ear can be fooled into perceiving a non existant fundamental if there is sufficient harmonic information.
  • To understand the nature of bass, you must understand how a string works: when a string is it, it vibrates at the fundamental plus simple harmonics.You need to pay attention to both.
  • TB303 only offers square (odd integers) and sawtooth (odd and even integers) because triangle and sine are not harmonically rich and therefore useless unless you want some serious subbass. You also cant filter sine and triangle you just get a reduction in volume. Also to hear the sounds in a mix you gotta raise the level which means you miss out on a lot of headroom
  • Sometimes harmonic exciting the bass in a mix is more effective then eqing. Try waves maxxbass or renaissance bass (which is a synth but stil serves the same purpose) try crysonics newb also, or waves trans x. They generate new harmonic content and allow you to reduce or remove the original fundamental frequency content of the signal, which makes them particularly effective at adapting material with deep bass for use on limited-range systems such as televisions, and
  • cheap consumer systems such as those people use to listen to your Myspace tunes which tend to roll off somewhere around 80Hz. They work because the brain tends to 'imagine' the missing fundamental if the upper harmonics are present, so these processors can create the impression of more bass while actually reducing the level of very low bass.
  • Psychoacoustics: freq response is not flat, so when your playing a bassnote up the chart check if it needs to be a bit quieter
  • Psychoacoustics: a snappy sound can appear quieter then a sustained sound. So make sustain happen on bass (30ms might be a good starting point)
  • Psychoacoustics: the strongest impression of timbre from a bass sound is from its attack portion. So don't squash it with
  • compression. Also think about what this attach portion is. Try a percussive attach sample for a woody bass
  • Psychoacoustics: if we can hear all the harmonics but the fundamental is removed, we imagine it. So you can make some wicked radiomixes and shit I you use harmonically rich bass but remove the fundamental so it can be played on shitty systems (then make a club mi offcourse!
  • Given that the harmonic content of bass and the attack portion of the envelope are so critical to our perception of the sound, it is important to make sure we capture these along with the deep bass we can always remove what we don't need using filtering at the mix stage.
  • Eq before compression so you can get the tone right, then eq after also if needed.

11. Mastering

  • Check out the SPL vitaliser
  • Soft bass setting is good for clubs or bass lacki mixes. Tight bass
  • setting is goot fo hifi
  • Maybe chuck on a final comp. but only 1.1-1.5:1 and maybe 5ms attack and 50 ms release but big threshold. Hot it up even more bro! use soft knee and rms setting also.
  • To master for vinyl check basslane for mono bass

12. Reverb

  • Spring reverb = a spring, transducer at one side and mic at the other. Has a nice 50's twang, check it out on vocals, guitar and organs
  • Plate reverb = a thin metal plate with mics on the plate and mechanical dampeners. No early reflections, reverb tail builds up unnaturally quickly. This artificialness is good tho. If you use a plate with a short delay you can get early reflections also
  • Digital Reverb = has predelay to simulate early reflections. The longer the predelay, the bigger the room
  • Early Digital reverb = quick multitap delay for early reflections. Then a mix of the original input plus some delays are fed into recirculating filters to create the tail.
  • Convolution reverb = processor hungry. Can emulate real spaces, but for music they can be a bit muddy. Emulating hardware delay boxes is the go. Put a mic in the middle of the room, make a 1 sample sound, record the reflactions, make an angorythm and put every sample in an audio signal through it. (there is a better way to do this now using sine waves)
  • Lexicon delay is the 'best'
  • Which reverb is best: convo bright sounding present good for drums. Or if it's a style of music the preset its naturally heard in is good e.g. choral in a cathedral. For pop music digital or plate (either real or convo sampled) is the best as its what we are used to. Remember to try using a reverb that is high in early reflections and low in tail to reduce clutter.
  • For drums go for ambience settings with early reflections only. Same with vox. Remember whatever gets lots of reverb is pushed back in the mix.
  • Flangers before reverb to make movement

13. Mixing

  • The biggest hump to overcome when mixing is that everything sounds better when it is louder, the crapper the mix, the louder you have top play it.
  • If you can change the level of an instrument in the mix by a tenth or two-tenths of a dB and you can hear the change that you made, the mix is getting pretty good. If you change an instrument by that much and nothing happens..
  • Make a hat your mixing hat, and put it on when you mix and pretend youre a gay French sculptor working delicately and with empathy for the mix. Try and hear it for the first time. Forget the composer you were when you were making the track.
  • Think of any instrument as two separate components: the low end of the instrument and the high end of the instrument. If the balance between these two halves is not right, then you will never get it to sit in the track correctly. There will always be places where it seems too loud or too soft.
  • If you cant hear the low end of a sound in the mix, you don't need it.
  • If your eqing is making an instrument sound all over the place, maybe its due to too much dynamic range. Compress a 2:1 ratio, don't worry 2 much about a&r, get -3/-4 reduction. You probably cant even
  • hear the compression. Then retry the e.q.
  • Turn off all effects and processes you can and make it sound the best you can at that point.
  • Start with kick drum, bass and snare dynamic and go from there, but themix will usually end up a little hot. So maybe try starting with the lead sounds, and working down the mix pecking order. Remember once the full mix is in you will still probably have to go back and adjust your starting channels
  • Wth reverb, bring up the effect send to where you can hear it in the mix, then back it off by 5 db
  • Psychoacoustics: the louder the sound, the higher the perceived pitch. Monitor at reasonable levels (80db)
  • Bass is usually more heavily compressed or limited than other sounds. This irons out peaks, and helps the groove to feel solid, and to underpin the rest of the mix. The attack and release settings in particular are critical. Too short an attack, and you'll squash the important attack phase of the note. Too long a release time and you'll ruin the groove. If you let the attack phase of the note through, then it's also a good idea to place a limiter after the compressor, in order to catch any wild peaks, and leave you more room for make-up gain so you can increase the level without peaking.
  • A common trick to increase the impact of the bass is to send the kick and bass to the same compressor and bring the compressed signal back in quite low, just to glue things together.
  • Kick, bass and snare in the middle. Other perc should be panned if it works to create space.
  • Once youve got a mix. Then turn up sound seprartely 1db. And ask: did that help or make it worse? Then turn it down 1db and ask the question. If both times it made the mix worse, you got it in the right position. Once youve done this for every sound, and gone through it a few times, and the answer is definently no for eveything, then you got your final mix.

14. Getting Audio into the digital domain.

  • A little bit of compression is always good to keep the audio in a good range for bit conversion
  • Voice channels are pretty kool for this because they include comp/limit/head phone preamp/and maybe a little eq. they might also have an instrument in. and have phamtom power also

15. Recording Vocals

  • Getting a well-recorded vocal part to sit in a track relies on it having an even level, the correct tonal and level balance, and the right reverberant ambience. (tonal balance is the hardest and concentrate on it at first, dampen room, move mic and change mic till you get it)
  • IIf the vocal take sux, all bets are off and dont even bother with anything till you get a good one.
  • Always try repositioning or replacing a microphone before reaching for the equalizer.
  • To turn on phantom power: turn everything off, then turn on the soundcard, then phantom, then turn on/up mixer/monitors
  • Any carpeted room will do
  • Put the mic away from the walls but not in the center of the room
  • Singer 6 to 9 inches from the mic
  • Pop shield
  • Boxiness results from 2 smaller room/mic 2 far from the singer, or in rooms where a lot of damping material has been applied, you'll often find that it only absorbs effectively down to around 250-300Hz.
  • Slightly compress the signal and a hint of reverb to flesh out the sound helps, but is the take isnt good then it isnt worth it. Get a good sounding take first
  • With the singers headphones, make it loud so they have to speak up, and also add reverbto help accurate pitching
  • Mics have different characteristics and are good for different voices. When buying mics, go for 1 neutral, 1 warm (low mids), one fizzy (high harmonic accentuation), and one tube
  • Chicks can be hard to get to sound good because of their smoother voices maybe. Some mics can bring out undesirable throatiness in female voices, might sound like distortion.
  • Fizzy mics might accentuate ugly voice characteristics, while for another singer struggling for clarity, they might be the better option.
  • Home studio: put singer close to a wall with her back to it and the mic within 2 feet of her. Place a big mattress behind her to reduce any reflection from the wall into the sides of the mic. Then put a rug on the floor and consider putting foam on the ceiling. Then put a chuck on furniture foam right behind the mic
  • You need a popshield!
  • Make the singer comfortable, offer them water, nice room temperature, subdued lighting and be encouraging and relaxed, but still get enough takes to comp together something good. Know when to make another take or take another break. Eye-contact between the producer, engineer and vocalist is very important -- it is surprising what encouragement can be passed in the wink of an eye or a well-timed smile. Also if shit hits the fan mid take, dont flinch and freak out the Singer
  • Watch out for siblance, the sound of wind whistling through teeth. This can be helped putting a pencil infront of the mic on a rubber band or placing the mic either above or below the singers mouth
  • The pop shield should be 3 inches from the mic and the singer 6-12 inches from the pop shield.
  • Compressing during singing: 4:1max 6dB gain reduction max. 25ms
  • If the Singer adopts different singing styles in a track, record them separately (or record one set of takes the whole way through and punch in where needed.
  • If your compressor dosent fix it, just automate the word thats out
  • you really want to add density to a voice, try upping the compression ratio to around 8:1 and then adjusting the threshold so
  • that the gain-reduction meter just registers a decibel or two on average-level parts. (you might get 10-15db on the loud bits)
  • Compression: go for RMS instead of peak on vocal parts
  • In voice less eq is always better (we can hear it to easy)
  • EQ: cut or boost 100-300Hz to add warmth or reduce chestiness, nasal sound tweaking at 1k. add prescence at 4-6k. add air at 14-16k. always use eq bypass to make sure your not fucking it.
  • Autotune: split the out of tune phrases on a separate track. Use slow attack so you cant hear it working.
  • Reverb: traditionally its plate or room reverbs. However, most vst reverbs suck and muddy it up. If so, turn the tail down 6db on these bitches, keep the early reflections.
  • Once your vox mix is down, listen to it from the next room. If it sounds pasted on or not loud enough adjust. If it sounds shit, then you got a bad vocal take (likely). Do not pas go

16. Processing Vocals

  • Mic care: Use a pop shield to stop a singer spitting on the diaphragm, always store when not in use. Dont bring a cold mic into a warm studio. Dont use in a smoky environment.
  • After you have tracked the vocals, first of all use channel vol. automation to smoothe out any crazy volume ramps. Then first process is compression, can make vocals really sit in the mix. (comp att: few ms rel: half a sec release, RMS and use a nice analogue one if available)
  • To create backup singers experiment with formant and pitch shifting on a copy of the vocals. Try using shifts of between +/- 3 and 12 cents, and make sure you have roughly the same number of parts singing flat as you do singing sharp so the overall pitch averages out as being in tune. If you hear chorus, you gone too far
  • Chuck copies through autotune, with different speed and amount settings
  • Autotune: make the note jumps massive, then sing nonsense into it and watch the new age work music spring to life!! The timbe changes the closer you get to the actual pitch
  • Put a gate on the take to reduce the noise floor when the singer isnt. but dont kill it totally, set the gate attenuation to 6dbor
  • more natural sound
  • Autotune: I find it's best to take the time to get the scale right, then use the slowest pitch-correction rate that will do the job
  • properly, as this gives the most natural sound. You can always automate the rate of correction if some parts of the song need more help than others. Where more drastic correction is needed, you may be better off using a program such as Celemony Melodyne that allows you to fine-tune individual notes in a graphic environment.
  • Eq: removing some low mid-range in the 150-400Hz range can help clean up boxiness, while a broad boost at 8kHz and upwards can add 'air' and sizzle to the sound
  • Reverb: always end up with a plate emulation, Combining this with a suitable short-ambience treatment (convolution). Experiment with a delay on the plate to allow the amdience reflections to sing
  • For a backing vox, comp together some b side vocal takes. Ad a delay of 60-100 ms also if needed
  • Compression: ratio is 2:1 to 6:1, 6-8 db of gain reduction. Attach and release depend as always
  • Record 2 takes or comp down to 2 takes, pan hard left and hard right. trip out.
  • send the vocal to a bus and insert a compressor there, 10:1 or more. Set a low threshold, and a medium attack and release, then, in the next slot, load a distortion plug-in with a warmish sound. Use high- and low-pass filters, set to around 100Hz and 5KHz respectively, and mix a small amount back in alongside the lead vocals. You don't need to add much it should be almost 'subliminal' but it can really help to fit the vocal in the track.

17. Processing Guitars

  • Put autotune on it if its a slow bendy solo to pitch it better
  • If its a slide guitar, or fretless bass, use auto tune to put it in key very nicely (or fret it)

18. Recording Acoustic Instruments

  • Capacitor mic needed to catch detail
  • For shit rooms, place the instrument close but with its back to a wall, and put reflective material on the floor for early reflections
  • Mic placement is vital. Dont put it infront of the sound hole, it will sound boxy. You need a little room ambiance but only a touch
  • Estimate the longest distance of the sound body (guitar is 18 inches) and that distance is good
  • Do not point the mic at the loudest part of the instrument
  • Pitch and timing cannot be fixed in the mix! Retune after every take!
  • Mic positioning varies from instrument to instrument, but my general rule for capturing a natural sound is not to bring the mic closer than the longest dimension of that part of the instruments that produces sound. I

19. Recording amps

  • Start with: 18 inch speaker = mic 18 inches away
  • Micn near the edge of the cone is a soft sound, near the middle is a harsher sound
  • Sometimes a mic placed next to the speaker grill can be good tonally also

20. Spicing Up Drum Samples

  • Go the live tambourine or egg shaker over the top
  • Sequence kick and snare, and record like hi hats. Hi hats are easy to record compared to kicks and snares
  • Mic hi-hats from 9 inches to 1 foot away, with the mic a few inches above the top cymbal and pointing downwards so that it looks at a point around one third of the way in from the cymbal's edge.
  • Timing can be fixed in the mix

21. Composition ideas

  • Make the middle speed up somewhere a few bpm to add excitement
  • place sweeping low-pass filters before the delay. You then get the movement of the dry sound contrasting with the movement in the delay line. If both the filter sweep and the delay lines are tempo-sync'd, you can create interesting effects where the filter appears to be moving up and down at the same time.
  • send the drums to a modulated resonant filter set up as a send effect, with a narrow band-pass EQ beforehand. This creates a rather bizarre metallic melody that accompanies your drums. Follow by a modulated delay if needed
  • put a pitch-shifter before a delay, then feed some of the output of the delay back to the input of the pitch shifter. delays that keep climbing or falling in pitch as they recirculate
  • Reverse reverb is a good way to introduce a new sound.

22. Monitoring On Headphones

  • if we are to use headphones for critical monitoring we are going to have to learn how to interpret what he hear and relate it to the effects portrayed over conventional loudspeakers.
  • Panning is veyr difficult, as the line of loudness has different curves between speakers and us (monitors) or in a line between our ears. Best left to monitors. However, due to the minimal panning in dancemusic, maybe its ok to go for it in headphones.
  • On loudspeakers because both ears hear both sound sources, a stereo masking happens. Its good to listen to mixes on both because rough edges will be obvious on one or the other
  • Your gonna get terrible bass impression. Leave it for monitors
  • Remember its easy to play shit to loud because of the nature of headphones
  • Take a 5 minute break every half hour to make sure the ears are ok
  • Audition other material on the headphones to get an idea of the range you want
  • On headphones, the low-mids will be cristal clear, this may fool oyu into mixing lowmid instruments a Little low. Dont do that
  • You can get acoustic stimulators tht bleed a Little other cannel and roll off the tops to em late hearing speakers
  • Binaural Recordings: recorded with a dummy head and 2 earphone mics. Great for listening on headphones, can hear 360 degrees. No good when played on loudspeakers. Is a fringe media
  • With closed back headphones, experiment with their postiion on your ears. Try down a Little and forward to the face

23. Setting up a Cue for overdubbing vocals

  • If your using a mixer, use the pre-fade sends (means if you fuck with the channels it dosent fuck with whats in the phones)
  • The headphone mix should be what the singer wants to hear, not the ideal mix. Set up a temporary reverb on the vocals to make them sound good and improve pitching. Dont record the reverb tho!
  • Inverting the phase of either the material or the vocals can make it sit different, usually a singer likes either phase inverted or not. So is a good thing for them. You can phase invert the mix, or the vocals on the preamp on the way into the mix, same effect.
  • Latency can suck bigtime, so you need to have the vocals coming straight back out and mute the vocals in the sequencer. Means you get no reverb though. Because the session only have 1 track channel and 1 vocal channel you can probably turn the latency on your soundcard down to nix
  • When your doing punchins its important to set it up so that the singer can hear the vocal take right up until the punchin. Cant remember, check ask cubase series if the need arrives
  • Most importantly ask the singer what balance they like and stuff, make them feel comfortable, and set the levels a little higher to make them speak up a little bit more again.
  • Setting up a reverb: But you need to switch Direct Monitoring off. (In Cubase 4, this can be found in the Device Setup / VST Audio System menu, but the menus have been reshuffled over the last few updates, so it's best to check your manual to locate its whereabouts). When you've done that, you should hear your input signals with any reverb or other effects you're sending to from the input tracks, but your signal will still be recorded dry. The down side is that you may have noticeable latency while recording in this mode.
  • As a rule, singers need to be able to hear both the rhythm of the track and an instrumental mix that will help them pitch their notes most accurately. This might mean bringing up the level of the pad keyboard part or the rhythm guitar, while pulling stabs and sound effects back a bit; in the case of backing vocals, the singer also needs to be able to hear the existing vocal parts clearly. None of this need be radical, however, and a slight readjustment of the control room mix is usually all that's needed.
  • Too much reverb can inhibit pitching. Make sure you get it right, ask the Singer and they will let you know.

24. Sidechaining

  • Filter/eq sidechaining (for drums): On a gate, its goof to filter the side chain so it only opens for the sound your gating. E.g. if your gating toms, and the crash cymbal nearby spills onto your tom recording it might open the gate. If you filter out all the top frequencies then the gate will not open for the crash again. To set up the filter you need to hear the side chain input (key listen) it dosent have to be 100% perfect, because the overhead mics will mask it anyway.
  • External Gate Keying: set up the gate so whenever the kick plays the bass will play. Can tighten up busy and messy bass bits a lot.
  • External compressor Ducking: set up the copressor so whenever the kick plays the bass will duck. Can tighten up busy and messy bass bits a lot.good for kick/bass and vocals/guitar or lead sound

25. Psychoacoustic Enhancers

  • (its all about making it sound larger than life)
  • EQ was the first
  • Dynamic Eq: where eq is only applied when a mix hits a dynamic range
  • Phase Manipulation (dont worry about, dynamic filtering is better: BBEs Sonic Maximiser. Basically speakers fuck with phase, in real life, high-frequency sounds travel slightly faster than low-frequency sounds, this program will help realign it. Add it to your mastering chain. Does not add harmonics. Setting up a BBE Sonic Maximizer usually entails selecting Auto mode, adjusting the Definition control to bring up the high end, then using the Lo-Contour control to make up for any lost bass end. Will not fix a mix, but will make a good mix sound better.
  • Harmonic Enhancement crysonic spectra Q (harmonic balancer) and nxtasy (harmonic exciter):add harmonics not present in the sound, best for repairing missing high end detail, will fix a mix, not make it better, use as sparingly as possible because it enhances noise also. Aphex is the go for this. 1. Some input signal is diverted, via high pass, into a harmonics generating circuit. Phase shift is added to make the harmonics relative to the original signal. Only a small amount of processed signal is mixed back into the original signal. dont do it to the whole mix, only do it to the sounds you want to be upfront, so you have contrast. (can make vocals more intimate, but watchout for sibilance) waves r bass does this also.
  • Dynamic Filtering: SPL Vitaliser, Crysonic spectralive: will kick ass on the mix. no one knows how it works. the process creates the impression of an increase in both bass and brightness, while the mid-range is brought into sharper focus, increasing the sense of transparency. Apparently the spectral shaping is closely related to the way the response of the human hearing system changes at different listening levels.

26. Not making music that sounds like a shit demo

  • The original sound sources need to be good recordings, in time and in time
  • Remember a lot of presets for effects and synths are very big and impressive, however, they will overcrowd the mix quite quickly. Eq and reduce spectrum ect.
  • Dont layer too much shit at once, have shit play at different times. Listen to commercial mixes, and see how little is actually
  • playing at any one time
  • Get your sounds correct at the source! eq is always a second option
  • Be really careful with reverb, especially the tails.
  • A very gentle overall compression of around 1.1:1 with a threshold of -30 to -40dB will make a mix sound more even and more powerful.

27. Ring Modulators

  • The sum total of 2 sounds put together, input signal is suppressed
  • if two similarly pitched synth patches are ring modulated together then, providing the input waveforms are not too harmonically complex, the output can be both interesting and musically useful. Some non-harmonic components will almost certainly still be present, and detuning the two inputs by a very small amount can produce unusual low-frequency beating effects,
  • Ring modulating a 100Hz tone with a vocal to produce the familiar Dalek voice is always fun, at least!
  • Processing percussion via a ring modulator can be good use a pitched synth sound for the other input and you'll end up with a metallic, pitched drum part that could form the basis of an experimental electronic song or dance track

28. Vocoders

  • Uses a carrier signal to modulate the source via a shitload of bandpass filters over the whole frequency spectrum. It analyses the carrier wave and finds out which bands are loud and which are soft (frequency fundamentals plus harmonics will be loud) it then imposes this frequency imprint on the signal to be modulated (a vocal take)
  • Compress both inputs pre vocoder to keep dynamic range stable
  • If you get undersirable breath noises, put a frequency filtered noise gate before the vocoder to get rid of it
  • By substituting the vocal input with a recording of background noise in the local pub, and by vocoding this with a rich synth pad, you can create a very organic pad sound with a lot of movement.
  • because the end result is created subtractively, the carrier signal needs to be harmonically rich in order to give the filters something to work on. If the carrier is a synth sound, an open filter setting combined with a sawtooth or pulse wave works well.
  • To make robot talk more intelligable, put a 5k high pass filtered version of the vocal take over the vocoded one.

29. Compressing (dun dah dun!!!)

  • it simply reduces the difference between the loudest and quietest parts of a piece of music by automatically turning down the gain when the signal gets past a predetermined level
  • the compressors sidechain monitors the signal, when it reaches a certain threshold, it gives a control signal to turn the gain down.
  • The threshold is a knob with DB on it. Starting at 0 db and going down to -36db. If a peak hits 6 db above the threshold, it will register just that on the meter
  • The ratio limits the control signal amount by a percentage. Infinite ratio is knows as limiting
  • Hard Knee: as soon as the audio hits the threshold, the ratio is applied
  • Soft Knee: when the signal gets within 10db of the threshold, it starts to compress by a very small ratio, it works up through the 10db to the actual threshold and applies ratio progressively till it hits the user defined ratio. Hence the sound is less noticeably compressed than hard knee (lead vocals ect)
  • Attack: Once signal hits threshold, the gain reduction will move into effect, this move can be delayed by the attack knob, giving drums, guitars, and synths more percussive power. If the sound dosent need percussive power, the shortest attack is better as it is more natural sounding.
  • Delay: once the signal falls below threshold, the gain reduction stops. This can be delayed by the delay knob. This is good if the signal is pumping and you dont want it to. Makes it sound more natural. Pumping is good for rock and techno tho! Start with 0.2 0.6 and work from there
  • Auto Attack/Release: Some models of compressor have an Auto mode, which adjusts the attack and release characteristics during operation to suit the dynamics of the music being processed. In the case of complex mixes or vocals where the dynamics are constantly changing, the Auto mode may do a better job than fixed manual settings.
  • Peak or RMS operation: rms is an average of sound, ignores the peaks, closer to the human ear. RMS sounds more natural, but spikes can get through (put a limiter after if your using rms mode) The difference between Peak and RMS sensing tends to show up most on music that contains percussive sounds, where the Peak type of compressor will more accurately track the peak levels of the individual drum beats. Which means, use peak for techno
  • Hold time: useful if you have shortest attack and release. Hold time makes sure bass waves that might cause the input signal to flutter around the threshold causing rapid on/off (distortion) is smooth. doubt youll use it, just incase
  • Stereo Link: if the same amount of compression isnt applied to both channels, then indepentant cannel volume change will make the stereo image wander. The stereo link function uses either a sum of both channels, or whichever channel is louder at any one time
  • Why people prefer the sound of different compressors: 1. Sound coloration of old analogue units (distortion) 2. Envelopes
  • To reduce sibilance, just eq the sidechain so that it fires the hardest when high pitched sibilance is produced.
  • Sequenced instruments are less likely to need compression, because you can control the dynamics by manipulating the MIDI data in the sequencer.
  • My own rule is to avoid compression (or any other form of treatment) unless it's absolutely necessary. If the sound is not too
  • dynamic, then it isnt needed.
  • Ducking: the compressors sidechain dosent monitor the signal its compressing, it monitors an external signal and applies compression based on that signal to the originla signal. The attack time should normally be set fairly fast, but the release time should be long enough to stop the music surging back in too abruptly. A release time of a second or so is a good starting point. The threshold and ratio need to be experimented with.
  • Ducking: Perhaps the most useful application is to force backing instruments such as rhythm guitars or pad keyboard parts to drop in level by a dB or two when vocals are present, or when someone is taking a solo. When mixing, a change in level of as little as 1dB can make all the difference between a solo sitting properly in the mix, and either getting swamped or being over-loud. Ducking can also be used in a similar way to push down the level of effects such as reverb or delay, so that they only come up to their full level during pauses or breaks. This is a useful technique to prevent mixes becoming messy or cluttered.
  • To limit with a compressor, go a high threshold and high ratio
  • To thicken up a mix, go 2:1 ratio but still go for 6-12 db reduction
  • On the kickdrum, listen if the hi hat is being pulled back due to the compressor, multiband will fix this
  • Setting up compressor: ratio, gain red, delay (listen for no pumping. Or pumping if u want killah sound) then attack (starting at 0 drag back slowly and listen)

USEFUL COMPRESSOR SETTINGS

  • SOURCE ATTACK RELEASE RATIO HARD/SOFT GAIN RED
  • Vocal Fast 0.5s/Auto 2:1 - 8:1 Soft 3 - 8dB
  • Rock vocal Fast 0.3s 4:1 - 10:1 Hard 5 - 15dB
  • Acc guitar 5 - 10ms 0.5s/Auto 5 - 10:1 Soft/Hard 5 - 12dB
  • Elec guitar 2 - 5ms 0.5s/Auto 8:1 Hard 5 - 15dB
  • Kick and snare 1 - 5ms 0.2s/Auto 5 - 10:1 Hard 5 - 15 dB
  • Bass 2 - 10ms 0.5s/Auto 4 - 12:1 Hard 5 - 15dB
  • Brass 1 - 5ms 0.3s/Auto 6 - 15:1 Hard 8 - 15dB
  • Mixes Fast 0.4s/Auto 2 - 6:1 Soft 2 - 10dB (Stereo Link On)
  • General Fast 0.5s/Auto 5:1 Soft 10dB

30. Multi-Band Compression

  • Usually in techno, the bottom end carries all the energy, so it needs to be compressed hard. The middle and tops dont. so multiband allows for this.
  • Follow with a limiter to catch any peaks
  • Multi band can fuck up the phase of the music, so try and make sure out the other end that the phase is ok. I think this is done by making sure the 3 bands have the same end gain via makeup gain
  • First step: Where to set the crossovers? Listen to the music, never set a crossover in the middle of a dominant instrument.
  • Depending on how hard you want to process the top end helps identify where to put the treble crossover. If its light then maybe 2.5, if its harder then higher, its easy to create a harsh sound by over crunching the 2-4k range. If you compress heavily above 6k you can enhance detail and air of the track, without affecting the midrange.
  • Second Step: adjust the compression settings for each band: split into 2 approaches: a) high ratio (5:1) high threshold (big dynamic, or poorly mixed, material) low ratio (2:1) low threshold -30 to -40 db (for well mixed or low dynamic material)
  • you might regularly use a for the bass and b for the rest.
  • You can also adjust the bands to noise mask any unwanted sound. Put a band around the sound and dont compress it, but compress everything else.
  • That leaves the mid-range, and in a mastering situation that's the area I tend to process least. Often a ratio of 1.1:1 and a threshold of -35dB is enough to knit everything together, and when this is combined with the other two bands (which may be more heavily processed if they need it), the whole mix sounds more vibrant, clear and punchy, but without sounding obviously processed.
  • The 'louder at all costs' brigade may then want to process the finished mix via a peak limiter set to trim around 6dB off the
  • loudest peaks so that the overall level can be increased by 6dB without clipping.
  • If compressing a filtered synth, use multiband so you can still tame the filter resonant frequencies while still having a loud synth
  • When a bass sound has a lot of harmonics, multi is good because it can tame the bass end but leave the harmonics solid and not clamping down.
  • Attack and release: use a moderately fast attack time on the bass end, because very low frequencies have no fast transients to compromise set the release time as short as I can get it without any audible gain pumping being evident (maybe) mid range: ease up the attack time if you need to enhance transients, and use a fairly short release time, but not so short that you hear pumping. High range: depends on what you want. But if its higher density, keep in mind hi end releases rather fast naturally, so no release, and quick attack to tame the transients. Always quick release (but no pumping) but if theres enough in the top end, maybe similar settings to teh midrange

31. Sequencing

  • Drums: Put the 1st and 3rd beats a little infront to create urgency, or the 2nd ad 4th back to create laid back Buying second
  • hand equipment: http://www.soundonso...cles/20tips.htm
  • If you want to loop somthing, loop at the point where the simple is the brightest, as it masks any clicks you may have. Also zoom into the wav and make sure it ends/starts on teh middle line. If its anywhere else it will click as the sound returns to neutral
  • Get a sound, hard right goes to an effect strip, hard left goes to a differernt ffect strip. Both effect strips are radically differernt and hard panned respectively. Then pan the effect strips

32. Echo and Delay

  • Hi-fi echoes tend to confuse the original sound, while the human hearing system seems better able to separate lo-fi echoes from the original clean sound.

33. Recording Guitar

  • Make sure strings are new and guitar is in tune and well maintained
  • Check tuning between every take
  • Equipment that contain transformers will fuck with the guitar, record away from your computer monitor, and most stuff
  • Use stereo reverb to place the guitar in space
  • Get a setup so that the guitarist can play with their effects, but you get a clean and effected take in the DAW
  • For double tracking: use a pitch-shifter to add a small amount of delay and detuning to fake the effect more convincingly than chorus. (or better still, get 2 takes from the guitarist)
  • If you decide to use a gate to reduce noise or interference, put the gate after the overdrive stage if possible, but before
  • compression or delay/reverb-based effects. This is so the gate won't cut off your reverb or delay decays. Adjust the decay time so as not to cut off notes prematurely and set the threshold as low as you can without allowing noise to break through. Either an expander or a dynamic noise filter will do the same job, often with less noticeable side effects than a basic gate.

34. Gating

  • A gate is a device which mutes a signal whenever its level falls below a threshold set by the user. Its most common use is for combating noise problems.
  • Attack and release makes the gate not so obvious and abrupt. Attack isnt as important, but try to match the release to the natural release envelope of the sound. If the attack sounds abrupt, adjust it
  • Hold time is important if you have short attack and release
  • Hysteresis is also like hold, but it raises the threshold for opening and lowers for closing. More natural. A lot of gates have
  • this as auto. Some let you adjust it.
  • Range: some gates arent just on and off. When they are on they can apply an adjustable gain reduction. Suitable when total silence seems too unnatural, you just want a bit of noise reduction. Due to lesser db reduction. The attack on a ranged gate seems/is quicker.
  • Sidechain: you can sidechain for the gate to open and close differently. If you sidechain the normal file but a specific
  • frequency, then you can cut very selectively.
  • When sequencing, each channel of recorded sounds that has noise builds up on each other, it cumulative, so gate gate gate.
  • You normal put a gate before an eq and/or compressor in your channel strip
  • you can feed the same signal to a gate and to a ducker, panning them to opposite sides of the stereo spectrum, to create an auto-panning effect related to the level of the sound. some gates allow you to stereo link two gating channels even when one is switched to ducker mode, which can make setting this up much easier.
  • Set fast attack and release times, adjust threshold to the point of removing noise, then set a&r to a musical level.
  • You can also set the threshold much higher to cut the attack of drums making them punchier
  • Filtering your sidechain can make sure the gate only triggers when the off

Edited by Cheyne
Reformatted For SoundPunk 4.0

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Hey p-d, great work mate and lots of useful stuff.

Any ideas re the author/origins of the article?

If you're amenable I might spice up the look, make a pdf peeps can d/l, and reattach to the thread. Cool? i'll do tonight or over weekend.

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no idea where this came from originally, a mate emailed it to me and I'm pretty sure he doesn't know that much about anything. feel free to touch it up all you like :o

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^ Tidied up but not pdf'd - not without an author.

Just doin' the right thing by him  :o

EDIT: 10pm... man that's a big article, took nearly an hour to format  :dead:

Looks noice tho - also forced me to read the whole thing.

There's alot of very cool tips in here, well worth reading. Cheers pan_down  :clap:

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nice work guys ..  and great work RB formatting the thing , I saw this yesterday but did have the time to format it .. looks great now

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Lovin' the blue titles! ;)

Hey pan_down. Any idea who wrote it? Seems it's written from a personal angle (eg. "when I'm mastering dance music for clients..."), so it'd be nice to know its background.

Thanks for sharing. Great read.

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yeah read it yesterday. gave me a few moments when i thought to myself "that's so obvious, why the hell haven't i been doing that" ;)

covered so many bases and answered a lot of grey areas for me - cheeeers!

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^ ;D never noticed...

Maybe I deleted something  ::)

pan_down you still have the original?

Oh, I know, its:

* Filtering your sidechain can make sure gate only triggers when the off-cow hits the bell-chain and goes through the side-off  cowfilter and slaps the vibra.

Of course!

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Its been up on Oztrance for a few years now posted by FreeForm Human

http://www.myspace.com/freeformhuman

http://www.freeformhuman.com

TEH DISCO TRASH MAKE SHIT SOUND BETTER  MANUAL VERSION 1.01

First of all, this is just a bunch of notes I have collected in a brief study period a while back. Hope it is of use to you, just little ideas here and there. Send all love and cease and desist letters to [email protected] Suggested reading format: print out on the other side of already used paper, clip, place on wall next to dunny. Much love, disco trash.

Bibliography/Plagurised from:

• www.soundonsound.com (the free section. But still, get a supscription and stay up to date!)

• Raven spiral guide “an informal guide to music composition” (free online… amazing!)

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Yup this is real, and you can use it for live mixing also, i mean for the mic position.  But on electric guitar, if you want, the rule is to put the mic on 45 degree near cabinet, but if you want a bright sound , you will place the mic in the middle of speaker, if you want  dark sound with more low freq, you will place it near middle of speaker. But if you want a stereo electric guitar you will place 2 mics, 1 in center, 1 near center, is like the kick drum , 1 inside and 1 out the hole. Sorry for my bad english.

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