One of the biggest changes that digital recording has wrought is that you can pretty much fix anything. Miss a note on a vocal? Fire up the pitch correction. Was the drummer tired that night? Quantize the drums to the beat. Want to change your amp sound? Just dial up a different sound on your amp sim. Did you forget to turn the channel level down when doing a mix? Hey, it’s automated—no problem!
While some people think that these kinds of tools have had a negative effect on music, they certainly don’t have to; being able to do strategic fixes can keep the groove going, and the inspiration flowing. For example, if you do a great vocal take but one note was off, you can punch it, pitch correct it, or paste in an instance of that note somewhere else in the song that wasn’t off. And because you know that problem can be fixed later, you can charge full speed ahead with the creative process, and deal with the editing when convenient. Is it any wonder that so many people find digital recording so liberating?
But there's one crucial instance where these new digital wondertoys may not be helping us at all, and that’s at the most fundamental level of what we do when we go into the studio: writing a song. Many times a song develops based on a particular hook, or a certain guitar sound, or a lyrical phrase, and these all work together to create a cohesive experience. So there’s a real danger that if you change one of those elements later on in the recording process, the elements that were based around it might no longer make sense.
Take amp sims. Sure, you can change the amp sound at any time. But if the drummer, singer, and bass player were listening to a guitar playing through a Fender Twin emulation, and you switch over to a Marshall during the final mix, you can pretty much bet the drums, vocals, and bass won’t mesh as well with the guitar as they did before. The same goes for drum replacement, and particularly, for drum quantization. If the bass player and drummer were “in the pocket” when the track was recorded, then quantizing the drums means the bass will no longer be in sync with the drums. So you quantize the bass part, and then the rhythm guitar part―which keyed in to what the drummer and bassist were doing―now sounds wrong. What’s worse, the feeling of cohesion that the song had is now gone completely.
I became aware of the solution when reviewing one of the early Line 6 audio interfaces. Back then latencies were a lot higher, so Line 6 came up with a clever technology they called “ToneDirect” that let you play through their processors, and hear what you were playing with extremely low latency. The catch? You were recording the processed sound, not just the dry guitar, so you couldn’t process it later.
Having become accustomed to the flexibility of using amp sims, I perceived this as a limitation . . . at first. But eventually, I realized that committing to the guitar sound early on shaped the nature of the song, and because it couldn’t be changed, there was no time spent agonizing over trying 4,113 different guitar sounds later on in the hopes of finding something “better.” Instead, all subsequent efforts went into building the song―and it was time much better spent.
So don’t be afraid to commit to a sound early on. Play from the heart, don’t second-guess yourself, and move forward with the creative process. You’ll almost certainly be happier with the end result than if you get distracted by the temptation that you may be able to find something better. And if a program offers you 600 kick drums, that doesn’t mean you have to try all of them―you only have to try enough until you find something that works. – Craig Anderton
by Phil O'Keefe
This four-stage phase shifter is based on Operational Transconductance Amplifiers—and if you don't know why that's different from other phasers, read on and find out
by Jon Chappell
by Craig Anderton
Recording band rehearsals can help you hear where you have things right, and where you need to improve. From full-blown home studios and DAW setups to portable field recorders to accessorized iPhones, here's the gear the Effects forum uses - and how they use it.
|Doubling on Guitars and Keyboards Live|
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Effects pedals aren't just for guitarists. Bass players are getting into them in a big way - and while many are dual-use pedals originally designed for guitar use, there are also several bass-specific pedals worth checking out.
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Job #1 for any cover band is to give the audience what it wants. For many bands, this means learning the latest hit songs- but it's not just about what's popular on the charts. This thread offers some useful suggestions for new songs that you can use to wow the audience at your next gig.
|Neck-Through-Body or Bolt-On Neck: What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Each?|
Guitars with both neck-through and bolt-on neck designs are readily available, and each has their legions of fans, but what are the pros and cons? The neck attachment method really can make a difference in several ways, from stability to setup - as this thread clearly shows.
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There's a lot of excitement surrounding Akai's MPC Renaissance, and this video - along with the comments that follow in the thread - give a great idea of what it's all about.
|Kemper Profiling Amplifier Software V1.5 with CabDriver|
The original Kemper amp reproduced the sound of profiled amps through flat systems like recording or stage PA applications; CabDriver allows obtaining the sound of a profiled amp when playing through standard speaker cabinets for onstage use.
|Roland Unveils V-Guitar Twin Pedals|
The GR-D V-Guitar Distortion and GR-S V-Guitar Space pedals stompboxes are designed for use with GK-compatible guitars having a 13-pin output. Housed in the popular Twin Pedal format and equipped with connections for integrating with standard pedals, amps, multi-effects, and other GK devices, the V-Guitar pedals deliver a wide range of unique sounds thanks to Roland’s GK processing.
|'Dangerous Source' Monitor Controller Released|
The Source fits comfortably beneath a 13" laptop computer, but can also sit unobtrusively on the desktop within arm’s reach to provide control of volume, input selection, speaker switching, and headphone control. An input for USB audio simplifies a traveling mix rig even further.
|Behringer Active Loudspeakers Incorporate Wireless Mic Technology|
The EUROLIVE B115D and B115MP3 active 2-way loudspeakers feature an integrated dual-channel mixer with 2-band EQ, built-in sound processor and 1,000 Watts of Class-D bi-amplification. A dedicated USB-style 3.0 input provides integration with BEHRINGER's upcoming ULTRALINK Series wireless microphones.
|Effectrode Launches the Blackbird Vacuum Tube Preamp Pedal|
The SR-71 Blackbird is a tube preamp in a pedal with two truly independent, 100% analog channels. The clean channel is based on the classic ‘Blackface’ circuit Leo Fender developed from the RCA Receiving Tube Manual, while the overdrive/distortion channel is a hot-rodded 4-stage tube clipping circuit.
|Notion Music Releases Notion 4.0 Music Notation Software|
Notion 4.0 notation software features an even more intuitive interface, better compatibility between desktop and iPad, and real audio samples performed by The London Symphony Orchestra. Musicians can begin a composition on their desktop, make on-the-go edits via iPad, and then bring the project back to the desktop for final editing.
From a giant touch screen DAW mixer to a 99 cent iPhone/Android app that helps you align your monitor speakers properly, AES had a plethora of products designed to delight those into recording and/or pro audio. We've posted over two hours' worth of videos—51 total—which you can watch from start to finish by clicking on the AES convention video playlist. Of course, you can also just dip into our YouTube channel, and sample the videos on an à la carte basis.
And the end of AES also means that yes, it's time to think about NAMM video coverage! We're already plotting to keep you supplied with Harmony Central's unique combination of quality and timeliness that has made us the site for comprehensive trade show coverage. Stay tuned!
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