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Last night I polished off another mix using the wonderful Avantones as my B reference. These tracks feature an upright piano in most of them. So I swung by Lou's Record and picked up a used copy of that Vanessa Carton CD that has her hit with the Marlboro man theme in it? Great pop piano sound on that one.

So I A/B piano tones. Clearly they had a very nice piano. But through the Avantones it became apparent that I need to get some 3-4k popping on these keys. I punch it up a bit and viola! It sounds like a viola! No... the piano is now doing what it's supposed to be doing. God these speaker are cool.

I'm a little bit Elton... I'm a little bit Vanessa Carton too!

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Yesterday, I did a simple tape transfer. I have this Akai MG1214 analog 12-track (it uses proprietary tapes which look a lot like those old Beta videocassettes!) which is still miraculously running. So I transfer the audio from these ancient things to digital with my Apogee Rosetta 800. Works really well, and the clients are happy because they get to hear something that they can no longer play, and because of the converters, it actually sounds good. So...this is what I occasionally do.

 

Today, I'm mixing someone's song. I'll work harder than the tape transfer and use far more skill and get paid less per hour, but it's all good. Oddly, I end up earning more per hour from this than the really creative stuff that I'm really good at, which is micing up stuff and mixing, but whatever.

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Oddly, I end up earning more per hour from this than the really creative stuff that I'm really good at, which is micing up stuff and mixing, but whatever.

 

 

Ain't it the truth. My day gig, recording telephone prompts and maintaining the database. All really simple and easy stuff, pays me well. Producing an album? Not so good.

 

Last night I mixed another 2 tunes. Bear in mind these are already mixed. All I'm doing is A/B referencing against the Avantones for balances and last minute tweaks. Interestingly, the limited bandwidth of the little cubes is making a huge difference in my bass stuff. All the congestion that happens above 90Hz and below 500Hz is totally apparent on the cubes. Boxy, tubby, flabby (all excellent nicknames for me BTW) are all easy to spot and correct. Long live the cube!

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Part of it is that now, everyone has a studio. I mean everyone. There's one on every block. MBox and a mic!! It's only when you can provide a service that's so glaringly obvious that they can't do it that people come knocking on your door. Sometimes, you can do that if someone records at your studio, and they realize, "Hey, this guy makes me sound really good, and no one's really made my songs come alive or achieved what I hear in my head like this!" or whatever. Then they keep coming back, and they may tell a friend or two about it. But yeah, it's difficult. I sure wouldn't want to have to depend on this for my livelihood. It works out great for me because I make enough money to keep the studio afloat (new equipment, updating, etc.) and feed my vacation jones (I go somewhere out of the country almost every summer, and went to the Indian Himalayas last summer). And for me, that's a great place to be.

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Well, I'm heavily into Drumagog now, and have replaced the drum sounds in the poorly recorded song. Huge improvement!

 

BUT - I'm not content with Drumagog's results running automatically. You can hear some of that listening to the demos on the Steven Slate website, where they have a user song before and after drumagog'ing it. It's hardly even the same drum part! :facepalm:

 

Soo.... I meticulously went through each drum track, hand deleting the portions of the wav file where, for instance, the tom close mike had picked up the snare or another tom, then used Dgog to trigger the samples, which were picked to sound similar to but better than the original recorded tom sound, then tweaked to match the tuning of the orginal tom and then blended. Getting better! :thu:

 

But.... then I thought of everything else I COULD do. :o

 

A slightly late hit here and there? Easily moved over. Some leakage from the original bass part through the drummer's headphones into the overheads? Bandpass filter to take the low rumbly part out.

 

Snare track tougher, lots of little ghost notes. Solved by more meticulous, tedious editing, then blending the original snare with the sampled one while listening to the overheads to carefully preserve the original part and make sure all is heard. :thu:

 

Alllmost called it done and uploaded back to the recorder.....

 

But

 

Then I thought, why not clean the vocal tracks here on the computer where I have a visual interface and it's easier? :idea:

 

While I was doing that, I notice a note or three that was, you know, sorta on pitch, could be art, could be sloppy, tough call. Fired up Melodyne and started "adjusting" some of those. Nice!

 

If some of those are off, what about the harmony vocals?

 

So more Melodyne.

 

But listening to the vocal parts so many times, I had some ideas.

 

I started dragging some new notes onto the chart and trying different harmonies. Then, I MOVED them and tried a non-linear harmony, not just the close harmony that was originally there.

 

Interesting, but all of them sound like Julie.

 

So then I grabbed a handy mic and sang a few lines to play with. Yeesh, my pitch isn't as good as I thought it was, but no problem to fix that.

 

Now I have too much going on, need to make some choices! :eek:

 

Screw that, back to having fun!

 

Now the horn lines.

 

The horn players gave me lots of choices, didn't play the same thing on any of the prechoruses. With the tape machine, I just had to take what they played where they played it. Too bad, I really like the big, fat first build into the chorus they did. Wonder why they played so sparsely the second time?

 

Oh, because I did some funky stuff on guitar before the horn parts existed. Hmm.... well, I can play MY part again really fast, and simplify it to let the horn guys do their thing without clashing, now that I know what it is.

 

Soo.... copying the 1st build to the second slot. Crap! It doesn't quite fit the beat, guess that's what I get for not using a click! :facepalm:

 

So I start finding the downbeats in each part, and stretching while maintaining pitch, cutting and pasting......

 

You get the idea. Album was just about out, now I have 14 songs and each one of them could be better with a zillion hours of work. What to do? :facepalm:

 

I almost wish I hadn't started working with software, it's like a whole new world of possibilities requiring DECISIONS! :eek:

 

How do you guys deal with this? Set yourself a deadline? :idk:

 

Terry D.

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How do you guys deal with this? Set yourself a deadline?
:idk:

Terry D.

 

Terry, this is in response to your whole message, but I did pick that one line out of there to focus on.

 

Heh, i'm notorious for working on things. Albums that take me a year to put out, usually involve hundreds of hours of writing, rehearsing, recording, producing, mixing, mastering. The nice thing is that there is no deadline; things have to sort of flow naturally. It's a sometimes frustrating thing, but i've found that forcing things to happen is not a good thing, either. That's where one tends to regret things later; decisions made in haste and clouded by frustrations of a take not going the way one wanted it to, or something sounding better in theory in your head than it does in actuality on the recording. There's been numerous times where i've been like, "okay, this SUCKS", you know, like the guy that bangs his head on the piano in Sesame Street? Haha. But the important thing to do is walk away and not do recordings or mixing or producing while in a mood. There's some things that I think aren't good enough when i'm in a bad mood, and then return to it the next day and realize that I was overly pessimistic due to other stresses that weren't related to the recording.

 

I tend to be impatient and want everything to be done right now, but i'll make a compromise with myself, "I wanted to mix three songs today, but i'd rather mix ONE and focus more time and effort into it". If something isn't working, i'll take a break--grab a bite to eat, talk to a friend, read a book, etc.....something to take my mind off things and juggle options. That's why I think that deadlines don't really work, if you don't have the overhead of a big studio and everything else to contend with.

 

And sometimes, if you're not as good as you want to be, you have to accept that you're as good as you can possibly be, now. I remind myself that alot of my favorite bands took a couple or a few albums to really get great. If something isn't up to par, perhaps it is better to work on it, but if you've spent alot of time on it already, perhaps it is as good as it will ever be. Alot of people (myself included) are their own worst critics when others are far more forgiving.

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How do you guys deal with this?

 

 

The same phrase jumped out at me too... After going through what you have, the learning how capable these tools can be. I've developed a work flow. As I'm tracking I have 3 assessments of a take.

 

Keeper.

Do it again.

Keeper but... polish later.

 

 

Then when I get to the editing stage, I tend to cruise pretty quickly through the fixes if any. So far there's been plenty. But... the more you use pitch and time correction and drum replacement, the more subtle and conserative you get. Sometmes that translates intomore time. Being subtle takes time.

 

The thing that has helped me move as quick as possible through these fixes, is to take stock of what's needed as you're tracking.

 

Works for me anyway.

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Last night and today... finding out how interesting some of the bugs are with Elastic Audio and then using Mellowmuse to time correct due to plugin latency. I've ended up with guitars and tambourine off by and 1/8 and a 1/4 note respectively. Wheee!!!!

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I thought it'd be interesting, for me anyway - to use Google Calendar (online, free) to post updates of what's going on with my album. Not a whole lot at the moment as I'm in demo writing mode, but

http://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=tgdviablje58snpf0q54t7g8kk%40group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/Chicago

 

May be a good idea for others if they have a more productive schedule, if they wanted to share with others. Mine starts in September '08.

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Well, I'm heavily into Drumagog now, and have replaced the drum sounds in the poorly recorded song. Huge improvement!


BUT - I'm not content with Drumagog's results running automatically. You can hear some of that listening to the demos on the Steven Slate website, where they have a user song before and after drumagog'ing it. It's hardly even the same drum part!
:facepalm:

Soo.... I meticulously went through each drum track, hand deleting the portions of the wav file where, for instance, the tom close mike had picked up the snare or another tom, then used Dgog to trigger the samples, which were picked to sound similar to but better than the original recorded tom sound, then tweaked to match the tuning of the orginal tom and then blended. Getting better!
:thu:

But.... then I thought of everything else I COULD do.
:o

A slightly late hit here and there? Easily moved over. Some leakage from the original bass part through the drummer's headphones into the overheads? Bandpass filter to take the low rumbly part out.


Snare track tougher, lots of little ghost notes. Solved by more meticulous, tedious editing, then blending the original snare with the sampled one while listening to the overheads to carefully preserve the original part and make sure all is heard.
:thu:



I was on a session drumming gig a couple months ago where the engineer made a bad call mic'ing up my kit and ended up putting a large-diaphragm condenser on my rack tom. It wasn't until almost a month later when I got the tracks to mix that I realized the mic couldn't handle the SPL and had been clipping internally. Hopefully the mic's ok... but the drum track was definitely a throwaway. :facepalm:

I ended up using drumagog to replace it, but the waveform from the track itself was so brickwalled that drumagog couldn't "see" the transients and ended up just firing off hundreds of hits. I ended up having to copy and paste the tom's bleed into a ride cymbal spot mic nearby, onto its own track which I used to trigger drumagog. It really is "by any means necessary" but the results are always worth it IMO, especially when the signal in the first place is not what it should be.

One holdover from the days when I used to sound replace with an Alesis D4 is I will always print the sound replaced drum onto a new track. I'll zoom way in and make sure it's in phase with the overheads. I'll also usually have to knock it back a bit to make it line up with the transients in the original track. Drumagog's latency is much less noticeable than the older hardware units but it's still there, and a lot of times cleaning it up like that will make the whole thing much more transparent.

I'm in the same boat as you Terry... I'm working on a project now where if I wanted to I could get really heavy handed with editing, pitch correction, time stretching... but in the interest of time I think there will have to be some self-imposed limits:thu:

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I got my first gig! Recording another band that is. I decided I wanted to give recording other bands a crack. Turns out that the band that came in was pretty impressed with what I had done with my own band. They are pretty anxious to get started. I'm pretty anxious since now I'm on the clock and responsible to others. Wish me luck!

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I'm currently gearing up (well, straightening up the studio, getting a clean external drive ready, etc.) for a new project that should be starting next week. A local band wants to use my home studio to do pre-production and overdub work to go along with sessions from a local studio. I don't have the huge, great-sounding rooms of a pro studio, but I have good gear and my small rooms are treated to sound as good as I can get them. So I'm excited about this, because it will be my first paying studio job. I don't advertise or go out of my way, and usually only record my bands in my studio, but a friend of mine is in this band and liked the work I'd been doing with my band so he suggested that they give me a shot. It ought to be a fun project. :)

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That is a nice way to get started.



I hope so. I'm not interested in trying to open some sort of a commercial facility or anything like that, but working on projects with friends and local bands that have good music? That sounds like a good time to me. :) I picked up a D6 kick mic (just as another flavor from the beta52), and a couple of 421's because I've always liked the way they sound on toms. I'm seriously thinking about adding an API 3124+, but I already have a couple of 512c modules in a Lunchbox so I'll probably stand pat on the API stuff for a while. I'm not sure if they want to try to cut "keeper" drums at my place or if they just want to cut rough-track drums and then go to one of the bigger studios in Muscle Shoals (about an hour down the road from here, and they still have some nice rooms left over from the old days) to cut keeper tracks before coming back to my place to do overdubs. But either way it should be a lot of fun. I feel like I have a pretty decent setup for doing just about everything else, but I don't really have a big enough room to get what I consider to be "great" drum sounds. I can capture a good small-room drum sound, which sometimes is good, but I just don't have the space to get a good distant-mic sound on a kit to really open it up with a sense of space. I've been up-front about that with the guys as we talked about this project, though, and so far they've been saying nothing but good things about the clips and samples I've provided from projects I've recorded with my bands. We'll just have to see how it turns out. :)

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Yeah, but the cost of a good electronic kit compared to the cost of some decent mics and pres isn't all that compelling of a difference, plus I can use the mics and preamps for other stuff. And like I said, I can get a good sound, I just can't get a big room sound. I'm not going to get a John Bonham drum sound in my little rooms; it just won't happen.

I'm seriously thinking about trying to track drums after-hours in our business shop, though, or maybe over a weekend. It's a 50'x60' shop with a high ceiling and a concrete floor. That probably won't happen on this particular project due to the logistics involved, but it's something I'm considering for the future.

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Just finished giving large parts of my studio a makeover over the last month between touring with my band and a number of smaller recording-gigs. Worked on my own band's stuff as well. And I had some meetings to discuss a couple of projects for the new year. I've not slept much in a very long time (not a good idea) and it's starting to catch up with me.


But I'm leaving today! First I'm doing a short tour with my band untill just before Christmas and then I'm on holiday untill early-January. It's summer here in South Africa and I'm gonna be at the beach for a good long while.

 

 

Well I'm back from touring and my holiday at the beach. Actually I've been back for a little over a week now, but things have just been crazy. The day after I got back I started working on producing an EP (6 tracks) for a new metal project a friend of mine is doing at the moment. Heavy-ass stuff - kinda like Pantera meets Megadeath with a Viking singing. It was loads of fun.

 

BUT on the night before the band left I gave them a braai (our SA take on a barbeque) and my steak-knife slipped and went right through my left-hand, sticking out about 1" on the other side. No alcohol involved or anything - it was a total freak accident and I'm still not sure what happened. It went through in between my index- and middle fingers. I had the doctor stitch it up and my hand is gonna be OK though. Luckily I didn't do any serious damage.

 

Anyway, I finished up my friend's project and I'm having meetings for upcoming projects this week and starting to work on a project for an emo-band (Bullet For My Valentine-ish) with Afrikaans lyrics.

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