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CN Fletcher

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Everything posted by CN Fletcher

  1. The best way to "master" songs is to take them to a qualified "mastering engineer". While you can read a book or ask on an internet forum how to remove your appendix, there are some things that are best left to professionals. Mastering, while not quite as critical as surgery, is still one of those things that is best left to professionals. Scott Hull [Masterdisk], Brad Blackwood [Euphonic], Jeff Lipton [Peerless], Bob Olson [Georgetown] are the guys I would contact first... then there is Dave Collins, Ted Jensen, Howie Weinberg, Bob Ludwig, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. These are seasoned professionals who can take your demo to come a hell of a lot closer to sounding like a record that you will be able to do at home on your best day. If nothing else, spend the money to book a session with one of these guys and have them at least begin to explain the process to you. They have decades of experience, are exceptionally good at what they do... but are also really cool guys who will be happy to take some time and at very least give you some of their knowledge with which you can begin to experiment. Peace.
  2. Okay, let's do the math. An M-Audio Audiophile sound card costs about $100 for two channels and is audibly transparent. So that's $50 per channel. My definition of audibly transparent means you can record audio through it and not hear any change when played back. By "you" I mean me, and the OP, and Fletcher, and everyone else reading this. If two channels isn't enough M-Audio has their 8-in/out rack-mount Delta 1010 for $500, but the "breakout cable" version costs only $200. So now we're down to $25 per channel for audio clarity that's as good as needed. It doesn't have to be M-Audio either - there are plenty of other brands and models in this price and quality range. I agree with you 100 percent that all home studio size control rooms need plenty of bass traps and other acoustic treatment to hear accurately. Of course, they also need good speakers. Good acoustic treatment can be had for only a few hundred bucks if someone is willing to put in the effort to research what is needed, then buy the materials and make their own. Buying high quality commercial treatment is more like $1,000 and up, and $3,000 isn't uncommon for really good results. But they should spend that much on speakers too! Ethan... you've said some pretty stupid {censored} over the years... but this may be the dumbest thing I've ever read by you. I can very much hear the difference. I can hear the difference between Digi converters, Apogee converters, iZ converters, Burl converters and my favorite of all [weighing in about $3,250 per channel] the JCF "Latte" converters. Anytime you want to come up to Foxboro with an "M-Box" and shoot it out with some "iZ" converters I'll make the arrangement for you. The "iZ" converters in my RADAR are only like $750/channel... but there are 24 channels to the unit [we have an extra 24 in our iZ "ADA" unit... which is used for "insert patching" when we're mixing "in the box"... I don't remember how much they go for... I think it's a little under $500/channel]. Then again, I spent around $60,000 on the construction of my room... so I guess it's easier for me to hear the difference. Peace.
  3. Around $100 per channel IMO. --Ethan ...as long as they spend several thousand on "room treatment" so they can hear why $100-/channel converters suck balls.
  4. I will be expanding my array of studio gear in the near future, and want to know how these more expensive interfaces make up for the steeper price - is it just the preamps? the software? Not "the pre-amps" per se... but the "analog front end" is exceptionally important. How the anti-aliasing filters affect the audio quality, how much headroom the input [or output] circuit has in the analog domain as well as things like over all frequency response [prior to the anti-aliasing filter] which affect phase response and distortion. These things all come into play, and are all "analog issues" prior to conversion. You also have clocking issues... the stability of the clock, where the instability of the clock sits in the audio spectrum, yada, yada, yada. In other words, yeah... the "interface" can and does make a HUGE difference... the unfortunate part is that every "inch" forward is generally exponentially more expensive than the last inch you improved. Peace.
  5. i just finished the room as a bedroom. So I am looking for a temp solution to reduce the upper high range. Hang some absorbent stuff a couple inches off the wall and you should be fine. Next time I'm sentenced to that part of the world get a poker game together and a good bottle of Scotch and I'll give you chapter and verse how to fix it. Hope all is well!! Fun seeing you in ze Fatherland!! Peace.
  6. Thanks, Fletcher. I'm not really going for a "dead as a door" sound. Just trying to get a decent sound in the room. If all goes to plan this will be about a 40'x34' room with a concrete floor. The roof will be 12' at the edges, so about 10' at the edge for the ceiling, which I may make flat or which I may make follow the slope of the roof (1:12) but it'll probably be flat at about 10' or 10'6". Or I might go to 14' at the edge of the roof and raise the ceiling accordingly - that extra 2' can only help. Sheetrock walls, bass traps in the corners, and I'll treat early reflection points and such as necessary, but I'm hoping the room will be big enough to get a little bit of useful room sound. We'll see, though. This will be a combination room for me. It'll be a home studio, but it'll also be my living room. That should be OK, as I ought to be able to route all my cabling and wires where they won't be stepped on through the use of in-wall and in-ceiling snakes and such. So the room will have a couch and chair and TV and such at one end, and music gear at the other. I thought that would be a better use of the space than trying to have two separate rooms and making them smaller. It still won't be a BIG room, of course, but it'll be much bigger than what I have now. I was kinda kidding about the "70's dead" sound... but not about the trapping in the ceiling. It's a tried and true technique [often called "westlake bass trapping"] that is VERY effective. Store bought traps in the corners won't be as effective... though making the walls "non-parallel" will be highly effective. If you want, you can also either checker board the drop ceiling tiles and make cloth covered frames for the missing tiles so long as you make sure that the perimeter of the room has no tiles as bass likes to couple with shell walls and the bass will travel to the ceiling area along those walls. The other thing you will quickly realize is that the "living room furniture" will have a huge effect on the general RT-60 [reverb time] of the room. Best of luck with all you do!! Peace.
  7. a room with a drop ceiling, with a 2'x2' grid, and about eighteen inches to two feet of space between the grid and the underside of the roof above it, Here's a fun weekend project for you... get some sheets of 1/4" plywood and a reel of metal wire [like picture hanging wire]... now cut those pieces of plywood into uneven shapes [some wider, some longer]. Drill a couple of holes in what will be the top of the plywood and then string the wire through the hole and tie it off. Now staple good old "in the wall" insulation to both sides. Here's the fun part!! Hang these above the drop ceiling in a pattern of 3 panels go "East -West" then 3 panels go "North - South" and create a checker board of hanging panels with fiber glass across the entire drop ceiling. You should now have a very effective bass trap!! In fact... you might not even need the drop ceiling panels at that point... you might be able to cloth cover the ceiling panel grid and then use the ceiling tiles elsewhere [if you're going for that 1970's dead as a door nail kinda sound]. Best of luck with all you do!! Oh yeah... try to get the room as cold as possible while you're working with the fiberglass... and pick up a "haz mat" suit from the hardware store... and a resperator... and when you're done take a cold shower [hot water opens the pores... you definitely want them as closed as possible!!] and chances you won't itch like a bastard for the next couple of days from the fiberglass dust sinking into your pores. Peace.
  8. A "Champ" or a "Princeton" are great... I've had very good luck with my un-modified "Valve Jr."... but our speaker cabinet collection is pretty sick and as Dan pointed out... speakers are equally as important as the amp. Peace.
  9. There's no scientific proof of hearing (or sensing by some unknown means) of frequencies much above 20kHz. Bull{censored}. It has been proven in several university studies. I first found out about this phenomenon when I was out to dinner with Rupert Neve and his wife Evelyn. Rupert told a story about a desk that had been delivered to AIR Studios in London when he got a call from Geoff Emerick commenting that a couple of the modules sounded different than the others. The next day Mr. Neve and a few from his crew went down to the studio and pulled the modules that sounded "different". They found a manufacturing error where the modules were shipped with the transformers having been left in an unloaded state causing a VERY high frequency oscillation. The sound of these modules had a palpable difference from the other modules in the desk [and served as the basis for the Great River MP-2NV's loading switch as the transformers remain 'unloaded' until you hit that switch and flatten out the frequency response]. Peace.
  10. 96/24 generally sounds better than 192/24 as the converter chips for 96 sound better than the converter chips for 192... so while there are some recordings that are done by 'techno babble believers' at 192 I've found that most of the best work is being done at 96k. Now... why a higher sampling rate than what would lead you to 20kHz. First off, the ear may not hear above 20kHz [unless you're a young girl... and I doubt there are many young girls reading this forum]... HOWEVER we can indeed percieve harmonic content well above 20kHz. We proved that with the Great River MP-2NV as it's "flat" when you hit the "loading" button... but if you don't hit that button the transformers are 'unloaded' and ring at around 63kHz... on "airy" material you can hear a palpable difference. The second [and probably more important than the first] reason is that when you have a filter you create phase shift. This phase shift slows down the signal for an octave and change below the filter point... so, if you're filtering at 20.5kHz [1/2 of 44.1kHz] you'll hear the resultant phase shift in the audio down to about 5 maybe 8kHz [well within the range of audibility]... if you're filtering at 48kHz [1/2 of 96kHz] you'll only get the tail end of the effects of the phase shift that has been created in the upper regions of the audible range. One of the major differences in converters is the quality of "alias filter" design [the filter that keeps the digital noise out of the audio]... along with clocking and power supply, etc., etc., etc.... however these differences in this analog filter design give a very palpable difference to the quality and clarity of the audio. Make sense?
  11. 96/24 generally sounds better than 192/24 as the converter chips for 96 sound better than the converter chips for 192... so while there are some recordings that are done by 'techno babble believers' at 192 I've found that most of the best work is being done at 96k. Now... why a higher sampling rate than what would lead you to 20kHz. First off, the ear may not hear above 20kHz [unless you're a young girl... and I doubt there are many young girls reading this forum]... HOWEVER we can indeed percieve harmonic content well above 20kHz. We proved that with the Great River MP-2NV as it's "flat" when you hit the "loading" button... but if you don't hit that button the transformers are 'unloaded' and ring at around 63kHz... on "airy" material you can hear a palpable difference. The second [and probably more important than the first] reason is that when you have a filter you create phase shift. This phase shift slows down the signal for an octave and change below the filter point... so, if you're filtering at 20.5kHz [1/2 of 44.1kHz] you'll hear the resultant phase shift in the audio down to about 5 maybe 8kHz [well within the range of audibility]... if you're filtering at 48kHz [1/2 of 96kHz] you'll only get the tail end of the effects of the phase shift that has been created in the upper regions of the audible range. One of the major differences in converters is the quality of "alias filter" design [the filter that keeps the digital noise out of the audio]... along with clocking and power supply, etc., etc., etc.... however these differences in this analog filter design give a very palpable difference to the quality and clarity of the audio. Make sense?
  12. This is the best economic climate to get a divorce in the last 50 something years!!! If you have the notion that the time is right to pull the plug... sooner is better than later!! Peace.
  13. At the $100- mic level... if you have a pre-amp in something you already own it'll be good enough... no need to stress about it now. Peace.
  14. That phenomenon will pass as you gain confidence in your abilities and skills as an engineer... you'll actually be able to turn off your 'engineering ears' and listen to the music again. You'll hear songs instead of snare drums... you'll hear melodies instead of guitar sounds... on the 5th or 6th listen you'll start to hear the little subtle things that the production team included in the presentation... but you'll hear it in context with the song. While you can never entirely turn off the 'critical listening' aspect of your training, you will find a place where it is no longer your primary focus. Yeah, you'll hear 80-90% of the parts and how they're interacting with the song on the first listen through... but you'll hear the song more as a "presentation" than as a collection of various sounds. When this stuff gets to be old hat you'll only hear the engineering when it's exceptionally good or when it's so bad it interferes with the presentation of the music... other than that you'll find a place where you take the song at face value instead of the "hmmmm wonder why they did that?"... or worse, the "{censored}... I would have done _____ with that _____". All it takes is time... it's a bitch while you get there but eventually you will. Peace.
  15. There are different schools of thought on this, but mine is that the back wall will be the first hard boundary layer the low end energy will encounter. Yes, sub-100Hz frequencies are essentially omnidirectional, but they are still propagated *in* a particular direction based on the location of the transient emission source...the speakers. There are some speaker designs that go a different way (Martin Logan dipoles, for example), but point source speakers like yours will behave this way. I'd rather get the most absorption up on the back wall, which will be the source of some of the deepest valleys and highest peaks....the front wall will be the second boundary, so the 244's will attenuate the low end response further. Frank To a point... trapping heavily in the back of the room is more to kill the energy once you've heard it and to try to prevent it from building up in the room... however, you really need quite a bit of that trapping [on the order of feet, not inches] to do the job properly. Bass goes omni-directional around 250Hz and likes to couple to hard surfaces [like walls... which is why you always experience more bass when you're leaning against a wall as opposed to standing in the room]. One thing you can do that will be very effective is treat your side walls and ceiling as well as the back wall [the floor isn't really practical if you plan on moving around in the room... but a good, thick "shag" carpet can help so long as it's not on the 'dance floor' where you'll be moving your chair around]. As far as trapping at the back wall goes if you can spare a foot or three it's not too difficult to build frames out of 2"x 4" studs and then hang sheets [or strips] of 1/4" plywood from wire that you've covered with rock wool or fiberglass insulation. Make sure none of the strips are the same size!! and have them hanging in space. This way the low frequency energy will be absorbed as it tries in vein to move the piece of suspended light weight wood. It's really best to do these with them in a pattern of 3 running "east-west", 3 running "north-south" and then repeat the pattern [which is why it'll eat up a foot or three of depth in the back of your room]. In the meanwhile... albiedamned... check your PM's for other thoughts and feedback. Peace.
  16. I have an NTK... it's a fine mic. Then again... my NTK has a "non-RODE" amplifier in it that was custom built for me by a friend [and uses NONE of the original parts and has an output transformer]. As for "mic pre's for specific vocal types"... not really a consideration nearly as much as which mic to use for a specific vocal type. In my world the mic pre is decided by a myriad of factors... like which pre's have been used before it on a specific song [i try not to use the same pre twice if I can avoid it]... which mic is being employed, what we're [we as in the artist, producer, moi] are going for in terms of the sonic texture for the vocal... yada, yada, yada. If you have an arsenal of good tool... and an understanding of the capabilities of those tools then you can make an educated guess / decision [if you take the time to do a 'shoot out'] and find what best suits your sense of aesthetic... any thing else is a fun game but it's nothing more than uneducated conjecture. Peace.
  17. Digital reverb has been all the rage for more like 25 years than 15 years... the stuff you like from the 90's was almost entirely [until at least the late 90's] digital outboard effects boxes. The late 90's through modern times [say the last 10 years] have seen plug ins come to be. There are several plug ins I've tried [no, I can't remember their names] that I thought were pretty good... but no one has really been able to do a plate properly [which is kind of a drag]... but other than that, most of the reverb you hear on modern records is from the box. I'll add that the great majority of the boxes suck ass... as do the great majority of the plugins I've heard... you can "get away" with them... but you'll very often have to get into the menus and do stuff like roll off top end... compress the send to the reverb [a "transient designer" is usually my favorite treatment for a reverb send... there are hardware and software versions of them]. Will it "make or break" a recording? Hell no. The song will do that. It will however enhance or detract from the presentation which is [as engineers] our primary concern. Peace.
  18. A guitar sound is a guitar sound is a guitar sound... if you are able to record the heavy/punk guitar tones to your satisfaction you'll be more than able to record the "bluesy" tone the same way. Get the sound you want from the amp... then record it [much like you do with the other guitar sounds you record. "Bluesy" guitar tones have been recorded with 57's for generations... it'll work if you get the right sound from the amp. If you can find something like a Royer or AEA ribbon mic you might want to give that a shot... but a 57 isn't the worst tool you could try in that application by a long shot.
  19. You're right... I'm a hack. Can we drop it already? This thread wasn't about "me"... but it has more and more become about you [which as far as I can see is counterproductive with the exception of entertainment value... and frankly, I'm no longer entertained]. Feel good about yourself!! You win!!!
  20. That you continue to publicly say this is just unprofessional. You weren't saying that to his face when you took his money, right? = Weasely {censored}. You're right captain semantics... I didn't say "moron" to his face. I did tell him I thought the track sounded like ass to his face. I also mentioned to the label guy that I'd prefer to be credited me as "Alan Smithee"... but I never used the word "moron" [and I got $10- says you're about to google "Alan Smithee" so you can understand the reference]. As to your saying I'm behaving in an "unprofessional manner"... not quite right. As long as I don't mention the name of the artist or the name of the project, and the {censored} doesn't end up in "People Magazine" it's OK to whine about a client. You should have heard another friend of mine go off about a "legend" who left him a voice mail that they should use a 'track ball' instead of a mouse because that's what was making the album take so long to get finished [this was 3-4 years ago... the album still isn't done!!]. My buddy quit the project after getting that voice mail... but he's got so much work lined up he filled in the time with a phone call. Interestingly, the artist and I have had this kind of relationship through most of the last year as we've been working on this record... and interestingly, he's well aware of the fact that I don't want my name on the record because I don't like the "sound" of the record... and interestingly he keeps coming back to have me work on the record because somehow I keep delivering him what he wants [even though I think it's far from what is best for his music]. The really funny thing is that he keeps authorizing the label to pay me top dollar to work on the stuff [and take my {censored} during the process]. Ours is also the 4th or 5th studio where he's worked so far on this project. I'm like the 7th or 8th engineer who has worked on this project... and if the money wasn't so good I would hope to get fired like the others... except I'm getting paid REALLY well [and I'm a single mom]. He's back in later this week [they're doing more tracking at their "studio"]... I reckon [in an effort to make sure all the cards are on the table] I'll tell him he's a moron then. Perhaps I'll even bring up this thread for him [and the other one where I originally called him a moron]... he usually likes to [annoyingly] hang in the control room while I'm mixing... it'll give him a good 20-30 minute hobby [who knows... maybe I'll get fired!!... doubt it, but there's always a chance]. In the meanwhile... if you go back to my first post on this thread... the one with the Jeff Beck reference [seeing as the OP was talking about understanding the value of guitars but not microphones]... that statement still stands... it's what I've been trying to reinforce while you've done your best job of trying to misconstrue my meaning [which is simply, machines don't make music, people make music] and guide the thread away from it's intention. BTW... Phil, ever the voice of reason, did a great job of re-explaining my original explanation in words that could hopefully be understood by the "Music Calgary". Peace.
  21. No human in history has ever exceeded their own capabilities. Great... change the context to literal. Brilliant!! Obviously no one has ever exceeded their capabilities... but as Ken pointed out, you do get those magically inspired moments. Sometimes it's an audience that inspires a singer to give an unbelievable performance [for some odd reason Cleveland actually has something of a track record for doing this... at least they did back when I was touring, I have no idea about now] other times it's a sound the performer hears in their cans. Until you've heard the transformation it is difficult to believe... but having heard the transformation a few times during my career [it doesn't happen all the time... but there are days when you can indeed catch lightning in a bottle!] when all of a sudden you hear a performer really bearing their soul... giving one of the most inspired performances of their career [as much as you seem to love to argue semantics... at some point in EVERY career their is one piece of work where their inspiration level is higher than all other examples of their work]. I am very happy to have the luxury to have the tools in my world as they will often help. It ain't the tools that do it... it's the performer who does it... sometimes the tools help get them to that mental place is all I was trying to point out. There have also been times when no matter what mic, pre, combination you try you'll never beat the performance of the singer with a handheld 57 in the control room after a basic track laying a "guide vocal". My point being you never know where it's going to come from... but every day I'm in the room it's my "goal for the day". (made bold so you don't miss the actual crux of the biscuit) You referenced the client to whom I referenced as a "moron"... frankly, I still feel like he's a moron. Took a fairly decent song and {censored} all over it with too many tracks, incompetent recording, mediocre performances all to have me "run it through my machines" and deliver a "flat as a pancake" mix... which was exactly what the guy wanted. My job, as an engineer, is to deliver what the client requests... no matter how {censored}ed up and horrid it may be. Why is it my job? Because they hired me to present their music [and I took the gig]... and it's not my music... and if this is the presentation they want, then that's the presentation they'll get [no matter how abhorent I think what they're asking me to do to the music may be]. It's not like I'm torturing a small fuzzy animal... though at times it feels painfully close... they purchased my time, if that's what the client wants, that's what they get... and I will deliver to them the best product I can possibly deliver... because again... that's my job. I do draw the line at times... I will not add auto-tune [i may obscure the pitch, but I'll never "fix" the pitch]... and no, I will never torture a small fuzzy animal [no matter how much she begs]. Peace.
  22. but I also believe that in true triple-blind testing he/we wouldn't be able to discern certain differences. I'm also certain that audiences don't give a flying rat {censored} -- the criteria they use to assess music couldn't possibly be farther from all that... You've obviously never been in a session where the performer is inspired to perform a little better than they're actually capable of performing because they've heard their voice through ___ mic and ___ pre and are so into the tone they're hearing in the cans that they give the performance of a lifetime. When you've experienced that phenomenon you get hungry for it... you get greedy for it... you want to experience it every time you hang a mic to cut vocals. When you've experienced that phenomenon... get back to me and tell me about "triple blind tests" and that the audience doesn't give a {censored} [they'll give a {censored} once they hear the performance... that's for damn sure!!].
  23. Besides "vintage" microphones there are plenty of "new" microphones that are also exceptionally good... and rather expensive. I gladly paid upwards of $9.000 for a Brauner KHE a few years ago... the Crowely & Tripp "el diablo" is $2,750 for a ribbon mic... but it uses a ribbon element that is different from any other element ever designed... it employs a "nano-fiber" that will not stretch or break under the most severe conditions of use [you can poke your finger through it... but as far as we can tell, you can't stretch it or break it with sound pressure level]. This material cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to refine and develop... hence, the price. There are hundreds of examples... much like guitars and amplifiers these things are instruments too... better instruments cost a pretty penny... cheaper instruments don't. Jeff Beck will sound like Jeff Beck on whatever he plays to you and me... but to Jeff Beck the "right" combination of guitar and amp will get him "the sound" he's looking to get... same thing with a recording engineer and his microphones selection. Ethan's cute little test [sorry Ethan, I still say your methodology was way flawed... but I think we've talked that into the ground at this point] was about "measurement" microphones... not recording microphones... so please don't come to a conclusion that a $40 Nady mic will give you results that even begin to approximate the results that can be attained with any of the "high end" condenser microphones in our studio's mic closet [click on the "Meth Lab" link in my signature file for details]. Peace.
  24. I charge $25. And I feel bad charging that. Why? I charge more than $25/hr. [a lot more!!] just to walk into the room [any room]... when you couple my equipment on top of that $125/hr. is about reasonable [which I only get for things like label projects... we usually charge "self financed" projects around $50/hr [which means I'm working damn cheap!!!]. Peace.
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