Next week, on January 19, Winter NAMM 2012 begins. We’ve noted in previous coverage that the music industry has stubbornly refused to buy into doom and gloom, and while the past few shows have seen the effects of the recession—cutbacks, layoffs, tighter budgets, and smaller booths—this is not an industry that just rolls over and whines. We’re musicians, after all, and the music industry’s dirty little secret is that most of the manufacturer personnel inside the Anaheim Convention Center are musicians, too.
We’re all “happy to be a part of the industry of human happiness,” but I have a feeling this year’s NAMM is going to be about more than just a celebration that we’re still here: We’re going to see some real innovation.
I went to a NAMM product preview a few days ago from companies I can’t mention showing products I can’t mention—yet. But it was a pretty compelling collection, with several products I could really, really use in my own music-making (the bad news: they won’t be ready until second quarter).
That was a good sign, but then I got a phone call as I was writing this from an older, established company that wanted to tell me about a new product they were introducing as the result of a partnership with a high-technology company . . . and I guarantee this will cause some ripples as well.
The emails kept coming into my mailbox. “We’ll be introducing a . . .” and I have to say, a lot of these weren’t just old products in a new color, or version 1.01 to follow up version 1.0. Granted, maybe I just lucked out and heard about the hottest dozen or so products at the show, and everything else will be a yawner. But I don’t think so. Usually when you hear about these ripples, they’re part of a larger wave.
While it’s all well and good for us to enjoy the fruits of ingenuity and technology, it’s up to us to use these tools in new and creative ways. Let’s strike out in new directions in our music, just as we have in our technology. We now have the means to make music more easily and efficiently than ever before, but what kind of music are we making? Are we pushing ourselves, or making music with the “look and feel” of music because that’s so easy to do? Are we putting that extra 10% into coming up with a melody line that people can’t get out of their heads? Are we coming up with chord progressions that haven’t been done a zillion times before?
Few things put a smile on an engineer’s face more readily than hearing someone making cool music with something he or she designed. Let’s reward those companies and engineers for giving us fantastic new tools by giving them music that’s worthy of those tools. Inspiration leads to inspiration, which leads to more inspiration.
Let’s make music that’s as innovative as what I hope to see at the 2012 Winter NAMM show. If we don’t . . . who will?
— Craig Anderton
|This Week on HC|
As most of you know, we’ve been experiencing frustrating, intermittent performance issues with the forums where everything would be working fine, but then you’d go to load a page and it would take minutes. A little later it could be back to normal . . . or it could be worse.
If you’ve ever done troubleshooting, you know how difficult it can be to fix intermittent problem because you can’t reproduce an intermittent problem on command (if the site had just failed, it probably wouldn’t have been a lot easier to fix). So the staff moderators wrote down error messages, took screen shots, noted the exact times when problems occurred, what we were doing when those problems were happening, and any other data we thought might be helpful to the IT team.
IT built a parallel, duplicate set of forums and started applying fixes to test what made a difference and what didn’t. Finally this week, several bottlenecks were found and removed; since then, the speed of the forums has pretty much returned to where it should be.
This has been enormously frustrating to us, but we know it’s been very frustrating for you as well. We greatly appreciate your patience, and for sticking with us while we looked for a solution. There are still some more updates and tweaks we need to make, and these will be rolled out in the weeks ahead. But hopefully, the intermittent issues we’ve been experiencing will stay in the rear-view mirror.
Thank you again for your support.
By Craig Anderton
By Jon Chappell
This book and CD package offers comprehensive instruction in all styles of blues, from historic to modern
The traditional way to set up mics for drums is to get a mic on the kick, add a mic on the snare that also picks up the hi-hat, then go for overheads and finally, room mics. Of course, there are variations on that theme, like adding mics for toms and such, but the mics we mentioned are the basics.
Back in the early days of recording, drums were recorded without using a lot of mics. Over time it became fashionable to cover a drum set with mics, but eventually, it became apparent this wasn’t always the right approach—there would be phase and leakage problems that defeated the reason for using all those mics in the first place. These days many engineers take a “less is more” approach, and go for a lesser number of high-quality, strategically-placed mics.
If you want to experiment with this approach, try miking “in reverse”: Set up the room mics first, and go for a big, ambient sound that represents the full sound of the drums. Act like these are the only mics you have, and you have to get your drum sound with only them. After nailing that sound, go for the overheads and again, treat these mics as if they’re all you have.
Balance the room and overhead mics for the best possible drum sound. Odds are you’ll want a tighter kick and more snare/hat, so now it’s time to bring in those mics. Set them up to “fills in the holes” left in the overhead and room mics, and you just might be surprised at how incredibly big, beefy, and defined your drums sound.
|Featured Industry News|
This week's pick hits from our News section
A few of this week's top discussions from our Forums
There’s more to high-output pickups that some realize—like how they affect amps, the relationship they have to tone, and a lot more. In this thread, the Electric Guitars forum puts the quest for high output under the microscope.
Classical guitar can seem daunting at first, with its unusual hand positions and all-fingerpicking approach—even for fast, single-note runs. But this thread introduces the techniques, music, instruments, and even some inspirational videos that will appeal to the total beginner.
Many songs are great in spite of the lyrics. In fact many great songs actually have really dumb lyrics. And we’re not talking dumb, as in nonsensical lyrics like “Do Wah Diddy,” but dumb like “Her hair was golden brown blowin’ free like a cornfield.” Check out some real howlers here.
You’ve rehearsed the part until you have it down cold—but the instant the “record” light goes on, you get nervous, forget parts, and no longer play as well. Recording pros call this “red light syndrome,” and the Effects community offers some ways to get past it.
The Singer’s Forum presents an array of opinions on foot-controlled effects for vocals—the good, the bad, and the ugly, all spoken with the voice of experience.
One of the trends underscored by recent trade shows is the continuing increase in the ukulele’s popularity. Ukes are small, easily transported, and relatively easy to play—especially if you’re an experienced guitarist. This thread offers lots of info about the instrument, and suggestions on what to look for in a uke.
So what does the Amps forum know about building a PC for recording? As it turns out, quite a lot—from what features you need, to how to put together a really good computer at a really good price.
The Drum forumites have been there, done that, and have plenty of tips on how to get a good kick drum sound in the studio.
Seems like a pretty dry topic, doesn’t it? Yet this is one of those threads that just kind of caught fire. Anyone who does documentation should definitely check this out to find out what does—and doesn’t—work for end users.
Word has leaked out about the latest MPC from Akai . . . and the Keys, Synths, and Samplers community is all over it with additional tidbits and a healthy dose of speculation.
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Editorial Craig Anderton, Editor in Chief • Jon Chappell, Senior Editor • Phil O’Keefe, Associate Editor • Chris Loeffler, Reviews Editor
Production Benjamin Levinson, Production Manager