Crossovers are not normally something people think of when it comes to DAW software. Many musicians will be familiar with them as part of a home or car stereo system, bass amp and speaker rig, PA / DJ system, or keyboard setup. However, in recording, there are also times when you might want to divide the frequency spectrum of a sound into different components so that you can process each of those different bands separately.
Let's say you'd like to add some distortion to a mono bass recording, but when you insert a distortion as an inline plugin, the bottom of the mix gets muddy, or the fuzz plugin causes the lows to practically disappear completely. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to add the "dirt" just to the upper frequencies of the bass signal, without having to process and mess up the bottom end?
Crossovers can help you achieve that. Want to see how? Read on!
Upgrading anything in a stable system is risky; a large percentage of the equipment related problems I've ever encountered in the studio were due to upgrading or changing something.
Upgrading something as major as your DAW program or operating system right before a scheduled session is a recipe for disaster. I always like to test out the gear I'll be using the night before the session to make sure everything is good to go. When doing this, the rule I live by is "if it's working properly, this isn't the time to mess with it!" In fact, it can be a good approach to system upgrades in general, but sooner or later, you're going to need to upgrade software. Here's how to make the task easier and less risky.
If you listen to a lot of mixes coming out of home and project studios, after a while you notice a definite dividing line between the people who know what they’re doing, and the people who commit one of more of the Seven Deadly Sins of Mixing. You don’t want to be a mixing sinner, do you? Of course not! So, check out these tips.
Hearing is absolutely essential for musicians. Want to know how to protect yours? Read on for the steps you can take, that if practiced consistently, will help ensure your hearing and musical enjoyment last a lifetime.
Vocals are the emotional focus of most popular music, yet many self-produced songs don't pay enough attention to the voice's crucial importance. Part of this is due to the difficulty in being objective enough to produce your own vocals, but there are some helpful techniques you can use when producing yourself. So, let's look at a way to step back and put more EDR (Emotional Dynamic Range) into your vocals.
Dithering is an often-misunderstood process, but knowing how, when, and what to dither can make an audible improvement in high-resolution recordings as they work they way down to CD-type resolution. Find out how dithering works and how to apply it, as well as hear some audio examples of the difference between dithered and undithered audio—you might be shocked.
Stereo mic techniques are great for capturing and creating a natural, or even a hyper-natural sense of width and space. Probably the two most common techniques are the XY coincident arrangement, and a spaced pair. But the lesser-known Mid-Side (“M-S”) mic technique has its advantages too . . . let’s investigate.
I'm a stereo freak. I just can't seem to get enough of it, and I love it when things move, spin and fly around the stereo sound field - that is, as long as it is musically appropriate; but that's a subject for another day. Let's look at stereo placement and various ways to position sounds within the stereo field.
You play guitar, and you want to record what you're doing . . . but as both your hands are busy, you sure wish you had an assistant engineer.
While this article won't tell you how to clone yourself or build a robot, it will tell you how some simple, readily available tools can greatly simplify the recording process when you're trying to record yourself.
Many of you will already be familiar with the common recommendation of setting up your near field monitors in an equilateral triangle arrangement. In such a setup, the monitors are placed the same distance from each other (typically, 3-4 feet) as they are from your listening position, so that the two speakers and the listener's head sit at the three points of an equilateral triangle. This is relatively easy to achieve with little more than a tape measure, or a few feet of string. But what about toe-in?
Toe-in, or angling the speakers inwards towards the listening position so that the listener is more on-axis with the speakers, is another often-recommended monitor setup technique, but it can be a little tricky making sure the two monitors are angled exactly the same way...
Compressors are some of the most used, and most misunderstood, signal processors. While people use compression in an attempt to make a recording "punchier," it often ends up dulling the sound instead because the controls aren't set optimally. Besides, compression was supposed to become an antique when the digital age, with its wide dynamic range, appeared.
Yet the compressor is more popular than ever, with more variations on the basic concept than ever before. Let's look at what's available, pros and cons of the different types, and applications.
Lately, there’s been considerable controversy about mixing “inside the box” (ITB)—the process where all your processing, fader moves, and automation are done in the digital domain, inside your computer. In theory, ITB shouldn’t have any problems. But some insist that using analog summing junctions (or a “real” console) for mixing delivers superior sound quality.
While I don’t agree with the extreme view that ITB mixing sounds just plain bad, doing a good ITB mix involves some techniques that aren’t relevant with analog. Such as . . .
Who's stealing your headroom? It may be the archenemy of good audio - DC offset. Find out what causes it, how to deal with it, and some other offset-related gremlines unique to the world of digital audio.
Tips and tricks for getting different tones when recording multiple guitarists, or overdubbing multiple guitar parts. How to avoid common issues, and give each guitar its own distinctive identity when using multiple guitar parts on a recording.
Mixing is not only an art, it’s the crucial step that turns a collection of tracks into a finished piece of music. A good mix can bring out the best in your music—it spotlights a composition’s most important elements, adds a few surprises to excite the listener, and sounds good on anything from a portable MP3 player with crappy earbuds to an audiophile’s dream setup. Here are 12 practical steps you can take to creating a better mix.
Many guitar multieffects have a footpedal that can be assigned to various parameters; for amp sims, you can use general-purpose MIDI control pedals. Although volume and wah tend to be the typical default pedal assignments, a lot of other parameters are well-suited to pedal control—and controlling them can add real-time expressiveness to your playing, and variety to your sound.
Phase shifters create frequency response peaks and notches, then sweepi those notches across the frequency spectrum. But you don't always need a phase shifter to produce that particular effect However, you don’t always need a phase shifter—a multi-stage parametric EQ can create not only standard phase shifter effects, but useful variations as well.
Some dance music tracks feature a pumping, dynamic dance mix drum sound that almost sounds like the drums are breathing. This is the result of applying extreme amounts of compression to mixed drums, then triggering the compressor with an individual drum (typically snare) via sidechaining. The individual drum “smashes” the drum mix when it hits, but otherwise leaves the drum mix alone. It's a pretty cool effect, and this article tells you how to achieve it.
One of the really cool features of most DAW software is a customizable virtual mixer, where you can create layouts and templates for recall at a later date. But in terms of customization, I’m also a huge fan of being able to add auxiliary channels to the mixer for functions such as effects sends and returns.
There seems to be some confusion when it comes to how "loud" an amplifier can get. When it comes to "volume", many musicians only consider the amplifier's power or wattage rating, and in general, more watts does mean "louder". But while wattage is an important consideration, the efficiency of the speaker(s) that are connected to the amplifier are also an important factor in the loudness equation.
Dynamics are an essential component of a tune's overall emotional impact. Yet some engineers kill those dynamics, because "everyone else does it," and they don't want their songs to sound "weak" compared to others. So we're stuck in a rut where each song has to be louder than the last one.
So what's an engineer to do? Compromise—find that sweet spot where you preserve a fair amount of dynamics, but also have a master that's loud enough to be "in the ballpark" of today's music. The following tips will help you do just that.
Posting pictures on the new platform is a little more complicated than it was in the past, but it’s also more versatile—you can load images from your computer, link to sites like Photobucket, and even re-post previously uploaded images (which can be a real time-saver for images you use frequently). Get all the details in this helpful article.
The critics are right: pitch correction can suck all the life out of vocals. But the critics are also totally wrong, because pitch correction—if applied selectively—can enhance vocals tremendously, without anyone ever suspecting the sound had been corrected. There’s no robotic quality, it doesn’t steal the vocalist’s soul, and pitch correction can sometimes even add the kind of imperfections that make a vocal sound more “alive.” Want to know how to do this? Keep reading.
Your drummer just came up with the rhythm pattern of a lifetime, or your guitarist played a rhythm guitar hook so infectious you think you might need to soak the studio in Clorox. And you want to use these grooves throughout a song, while cutting some great vocals on top.
There’s something about a loop that isn’t the same as the part played over and over again . . . and vice-versa. Sometimes you want to maintain the human variations that occur from measure to measure, but sometimes you want consistent, hypnotic repetition. When it’s the latter, here’s how to create a loop—from start to finish.
When FireWire (IEEE-1394) connections first made the scene, one of the claimed advantages compared to the squirrely SCSI protocol that preceded it was that you could “hot plug” them—in other words, while power was on to a computer and peripheral, you could unplug the FireWire connection and plug it into a different powered-on peripheral. If you tried that with SCSI, it was fryin' time for sure. But can you fry FireWire?
Layering vocals is a common technique to thicken a vocal part, whether applied to a solo voice or to a massed group of backing vocals. However, there are certain considerations with layered vocals that don’t apply to single vocals, as layered vocals need to have a coherent, solid vibe. Words can’t start or end at different times, unless you’re going for a certain looseness. For tight vocals, though, there are several DAW techniques that can give the kind of feel you want.
Back when I first became interested in recording, most projects required two tape machines - a multitrack deck for capturing the performances and production, and a second two track recorder for capturing the stereo mix. Even well into the digital era, a second machine has remained popular with many engineers. However, most modern DAW programs can render a stereo mix from the internal tracks and mixer.
If you base your act around Ableton Live, then you have one of the easiest ways ever to record your gig: Click on the record button, and your various moves (clips and scenes you’ve triggered, effects tweaks, and the like) will be recorded in the Arrangement view.
But what if you also do vocals, or have other instrumentalists in the band? Or want to record your MIDI keyboard controller’s output? You can feed those into Live as well, and record them as linear hard disk tracks or MIDI tracks, respectively―here’s how.
One of the most commonly used stereo mic techniques is the A-B Stereo pair. A-B Stereo is known by a couple of other names. Spaced Pairs. Time Difference Stereo. All refer to the same basic technique. However, there are two different approaches to A-B Stereo that are often genre dependent. We'll dig in to those differences a bit later - first, let's look at the classic approach to A-B Stereo.
When recording video involving anything to do with music—whether recording a concert from row ZZZ, or capturing your buddy’s acoustic fingerpicking patterns at close range—always use a handheld recorder, and don’t use the camcorder’s onboard mic for anything except synching the tracks later. Even the most basic video-editing programs—iMovie for the Mac and Windows Movie Maker for Windows—allow you to fly in added or alternate soundtrack.
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