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If you had to pick one specific aspect of studio production / engineering that you feel is your weakest area, what would it be?

 

It can be anything - scoring strings, EQ'ing, use of dynamics processors, getting parts to blend, mic technique, drawing out the best possible performances from talent, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Now, what are you going to do about it? ;)

 

 

 

 

Seriously, list what you've been doing or are considering doing to attempt to improve in that specific area. Feel free to quote someone else's post and offer suggestions on how you dealt with / overcame your own problems with that issue if you have a suggestion. :wave:

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Judging wether or not I'm going to like working with the source sounds I'm getting once I get to mix down.

 

Coaching the talent.

 

Eminating confidence.

 

Not screwing up the business side of things. I messed up big time with that one recently

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Committing. With all the options all of a DAW setup (not even counting what happens BEFORE the DAW) I tend to go overboard with the possibilities and end up taking really long doing anything. I'm getting better at that though.

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Finding my way into the writer's song to help with a re-write. That's an odd one I know. For instance, a band I'm starting up with their second album. The singer's doing a new take on the David Byrne, Danny Elfman, alienated New Wave trip. It's cool. It's new. It's him. Except...

 

Some of his words are a little hokey. I work at it on my own time and come up with good alternatives. I haven't figured a way to go there with him yet. This is new territory. I'm uncomfortable with it but I want to get past that hump and move into true collaboration with certain artist/clients of mine without appearing like I want to change things away from their vision or hone in on their creative slice of the pie.

 

I'm weak figuring how to approach this. I'll get there.

 

I'm weak in fine tuning vocal mic placement. I like to work with the singer. I coach breathing and tone production and interpretation of the lines. As I get caught up in that, I sometimes loose sight of the mic placement and find myself wishing later that I'd taken more time throughout the tracking phase. But

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My biggest area to improve would be anything that involves using my ears. I'm not an audio engineer by career, just by hobby. Also, I'm complete tone deaf. Luckily, the singer in my band has perfect pitch so he helps out there. What I really need are more devices that visually display audio, such as a spectrum analyzer, so that I can correlate what I'm hearing to something to which I can relate. This hopefully will assist in training my ears. Many times trial and error only result in errors and no fix for a certain issue.

 

And more money for better equipment wouldn't hurt.

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I'm not a very pushy person, so trying to push the talent on to greater and greater heights is not something I do really well.

 

I suck at promoting anything, including my studio.

 

I suck at hyperbole, and that is often the very kind of person who reels in clients.

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I suck at mixing :cry:

 

And I suck at using compressors, I have failed so miserably that i have opted to try to learn how to use automation to "replace"the need of compressors, I have read everything in the web (well i am exaggerating a little bit here :D) but i cant understand compressors. Well I understand them, but i cant hear the subtle difference in order to make changes in the settings.

 

advices?

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I suck at mixing
:cry:

And I suck at using compressors, I have failed so miserably that i have opted to try to learn how to use automation to "replace"the need of compressors, I have read everything in the web (well i am exaggerating a little bit here
:D
) but i cant understand compressors. Well I understand them, but i cant hear the subtle difference in order to make changes in the settings.


advices?

 

Nothing takes the place of practicing, experience, and active listening.

 

The compressor is not only for dynamics but is also a wave-shaping tool. When I realized this, it really opened up the possibilities of compression for me. Maybe it will for you as well.

 

Using automation to take the place of a compressor is a wonderful thing. I do this all the time, and like to refer to it as "intelligent compression".

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... i cant hear the subtle difference in order to make changes in the settings.


advices?

 

 

Lower the threshold so you can really hear the effect of each control. Really lower it. Work the controls so you kind of dig what's happening to the signal. Now, raise the threshold back to zero and slowly lower it into the signal. Go easy and it should sound great.

 

Think of it the way you crank gain on an eq band to hear your sweep, then you find it and lower the gain back. Same deal.

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mobo, set the threshold to somewhere it'll activate enough, then set the ratio to the max that unit'll allow. set your release low, like 0.1s or such, then set the attack first, it'll be what you hear in the attack of the notes that you'll be controlling, sweep it a bit, find what you like. Then set the release, look for a setting that seems to add something rhythmically.

 

Now don't touch those 2 settings, and easy off on the ratio until things sound nice, the effect of playing with the attack and ratio will be reduced, but still there.

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If you had to pick one specific aspect of studio production / engineering that you feel is your weakest area, what would it be?


It can be anything - scoring strings, EQ'ing, use of dynamics processors, getting parts to blend, mic technique, drawing out the best possible performances from talent, etc.






Now, what are you going to do about it?
;)




Seriously, list what you've been doing or are considering doing to attempt to improve in that specific area. Feel free to quote someone else's post and offer suggestions on how you dealt with / overcame your own problems with that issue if you have a suggestion.
:wave:

 

I don't take clients anymore but when I did I think the thing that was hardest for me was gauging how critical to be when wearing the producer hat...

 

Someone would ask, "What do you think of that vocal?" (for example) and a range of posssible answers would race through my head from "It's the best you've done, today" to "I think we should pack it in and you should go live with the song a while." Those responses sound reasonable, enough, I suppose, but it was knowing when to say what that was difficult.

 

Because, of course, few things are actually perfect or anywhere close, there are always timing and pitch problems (and that's what makes a singer a singer in a lot of ways)...

 

If you set the "levels" of criticism too low, someone who's apparently counting on you for feedback is going to get the impression that there are no problems when there are... if you set the level too high, it wrecks their confidence and inhibits them.

 

I tried to pick up the "moves" of other engineers and producers I worked around who were better with that stuff but it was really the ability to calibrate the level of critical comment. You know, stuff like, "That was great... but I think you can get just a little more out if you just really feel it." But, a lot of times, it seemed like the next take was worse anyway.

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Nice post Blue.

 

Multiple playlists have eased this concern a bit for me. Meaning, I can get the singer to give me 5 or 6 passes at it. Take stock quickly, then determine if I need to address it or not. When I need to address, I better have a good rapport with the performer.

 

Once again... nice post.

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What's very difficult for me is to try and evaluate what the musicians or vocalists are capable of. I don't know. I've never heard you play before - is that the best you can do, or can you dig one out that's better? After playing it several times, you haven't done better. That's it, right? Should I push more? So I'll comp a few tracks together, and hope that's the best you can do, right? Or are you going to respond to something else, such as a suggestion or some imagery? They all seem to be happy with it - and I'm not a producer here - should I be pushing for something else? What's the dividing line here since I'm just recording it? Should I just keep my trap shut since I'm engineering and not producing? So I usually cut it sort of in between and give some suggestions, particularly where breathing or interpretation or stridency in the vocals are concerned, and then call it good.

 

What I really need to do is get better at promoting. If people record here just once, they tend to keep coming back. But it's difficult to get people to come here in the first place.

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I suck at getting paid.

 

I'll second that :lol: I have a serious problem with asking people for money or charging them for the hours I actually put in. Like a few weeks ago I did audio for a DVD for a nonprofit organization and I really didn't want to charge them that much. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist when setting EQ or other effects, and I feel like I spend way too much time on it so I really don't want to go and charge someone for the 3 hours I spent getting this one track "just right". I ended up billing them for 7 and a half of about 14 hours that I actually spent on the project. And I ignored the hour drive both ways, cost of gas, and time spent setting up and tearing down.

 

The other major issue I feel like I'm facing right now is keeping the "big picture" in mind when getting individual sounds. Like I'll set up my mics for each instrument until I have a great tone for that instrument as a soloist... and completely ignore where I want it to sit in the mix later. All of a sudden I've got huge drums, huge guitars, huge bass... and a severly cluttered mix that needs a lot of EQ to get it to work. To compensate for this, I've been listening very carefully to CDs to hear what space each instrument is REALLY taking up. Like where the bass sits in relation to the guitar and the kick.. what frequency ranges are brought out and where it's cut. I feel like it's helping... so we'll see how my current project turns out :thu:

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This is a great thread!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

For me it is mastering, I SUCK!!!!!!!!!! Not so long ago I had to master something I did and thought I did a great job. When I compared it to something John at Massive Mastering did I just about started to cry. Why is it I can mix 40 tracks just fine, but can't master 2?:freak::D

I really take my hat off to the mastering guys that really make things sound so damn good!!

 

 

 

Glenn

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Nice post Blue.


Multiple playlists have eased this concern a bit for me. Meaning, I can get the singer to give me 5 or 6 passes at it. Take stock quickly, then determine if I need to address it or not. When I need to address, I better have a good rapport with the performer.


Once again... nice post.

 

Thanks, Lee. And it's probably even better since I put the sentences in the right order just now. (I'm an inveterate post-editor, sometimes I'll still be editing one post when there are five or six posts after mine... anyhow, earlier today I must have somehow typed an edited addendum into the right place.

 

But I think you got the idea, anyhow... and, YEAH... being able to keep ALL the possible keepers and compare them is a heavensent... back in the day, I'd try to get the lead vocals in while we still had enough tracks open to keep a couple takes and possibly comp thing together if necessary (you know, when I wasn't stuck in som EIGHT TRACK studio -- the lot of a punk rock purist in the 80s :D ).

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I suck at getting paid.

 

I was never stiffed by any artists or musicians.

 

But labels on the other hand... don't start me. (I even got burned by the same people a couple times. You know, first time around it was, well, yeah, the record DID sell 30,000 copies and it IS going into its fourth printing -- but there was just no profit. :rolleyes: But somehow I got sucked into doing another project for the same then-well known OC label [NOT Dr. Dream ;) ]... I submitted my bill -- they were poormouthing me so I submitted the bill at FIVE BUCKS AN HOUR -- and I'm STILL waiting to get paid... that was 1985. (And while the label owner said the project -- a compilation of hot [and notso] area bands -- never came out, I later saw a number of the tracks we cut on at least one of their records. [Are you sleeping at night, Ron? Yeah, I figured you were, you freakin' sociopath.])

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There is not enough room at Harmony Central for me to answer this question fully. :) Some basics could use a good going over certainly. Mr. Knobs recently explained to me that a TS plug will work in a TRS jack for instance. And I have some XLRs around here that are phase reversed. What does that mean? Pin 2 hot? Guessing?

 

I have never sidechained. It's frequency based compression right? Got the hang of the dynamic EQ in my Finalyzer to a fair degree, but sidechain? Wo....that's a plunge. Maybe mostly I've not recognized a sitch where it was needed?

 

Still have yet to make my Adats slave to my sequencers with any benefit. So instead of running the sequencers straight into the board and saving all my tracks for real instruments I put all my stuff thru the whole AD/DA wash. Studying a MOTU miditimepiece AV manual and stressing my Adats currently.

 

Finally, you do NOT want to see me *wield* a soldering iron. :D My hands tremble, and always have. Just a bit. Got it from my Dad. (Ironic when one considers the delicacy of being a classical violinist. But that's another story)

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Another one,

 

Charging for my work.

 

I mean, first of all i LOVE what I do to the point where I often just have too much fun with it to charge. Secondly I'm often working with people that can't afford to pay a reasonable amount for someone that just spent 60 hours working on their cd. Then there's the fact that it's hard to work out what to charge, but I know I should because it's also my experience that people wont take things seriously enough unless they've invested a bit of cash in it. It'll make 'em think twice about calling me up at 10pm the night before and saying they can't make it 'cause they double booked <_>

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There is not enough room at Harmony Central for me to answer this question fully.
:)
Some basics could use a good going over certainly. Mr. Knobs recently explained to me that a TS plug will work in a TRS jack for instance. And I have some XLRs around here that are phase reversed. What does that mean? Pin 2 hot? Guessing?


I have never sidechained. It's frequency based compression right? Got the hang of the dynamic EQ in my Finalyzer to a fair degree, but sidechain? Wo....that's a plunge. Maybe mostly I've not recognized a sitch where it was needed?


Still have yet to make my Adats slave to my sequencers with any benefit. So instead of running the sequencers straight into the board and saving all my tracks for
real
instruments I put all my stuff thru the whole AD/DA wash. Studying a MOTU miditimepiece AV manual and stressing my Adats currently.


Finally, you do NOT want to see me *wield* a soldering iron.
:D
My hands tremble, and always have. Just a bit. Got it from my Dad. (Ironic when one considers the delicacy of being a classical violinist. But that's another story)

 

Hmmm... you might want to put some work in to the ADAT-sequencer slaving thing. (OTOH, if you're simply playing the instrumetns in real time and recording them with no external MIDI, you're probably avoiding a passel of timing steadiness/latency issues.)

 

But one of the reasons I don't feel too bad about my old late 90s work was that the synths and drum module never went onto ADAT -- I synched the ADATs (via my BRC) to MTC (MIDI Time Clock) and folded them in at mixtime on my analog board. So mostly only vocals and guitars went onto ADAT. (Actually, the synths mostly didn't benefit all that noticeably -- but I always felt the drums from my 20 bit DM5 module sounded a lot fresher going straight into the mix.)

 

But on the OTHER other hand... putting them all on tape at the front means you don't have to panic if a module dies or you can't get your MIDI rig working right for some reason. (I would, on occasion, on very critical stuff, run each instrument onto its own ADAT track and put that cassette away for safe keeping.)

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