How To Interesting Find Song Creation

Dave Grohl: The Ideal Music Teacher


Dave Grohl

So, I recently was on a Dave Grohl/Nirvana itch on the ol’ Youtubes and came across these gems. He explains how he learned drums/guitar and how to write a hit song. Of course, he includes his awesome humor and humility, but these videos struck a chord with me (no pun intended) and here’s why.

First, a little about me and my love for music. Music was always in the house as far as I can remember and my mother didn’t discourage this.  My mother loved music and she ultimately taught me how to play guitar and piano, however I quickly shunned the keys only later to regret that decision. But, yes. My mother taught me how to play guitar.  I believe my mother is a creative who got married young and decided not to pursue being a creative in lieu of raising us stinking kids (6 of us). This didn’t stop that urge in her to learn how to do creative things… like play guitar. I believe she is self taught, however I could be wrong on that. Regardless, she can play piano, sing and play guitar. Very talented young lady if you ask me. So, as my mother taught me how to play guitar, my brother taught me how to PLAY guitar. I remember watching him pull out the CONN classical guitar and start rocking out to the latest hits of the day… and sing at the same time! That was amazing to a young, impressionable grade schooler. Then, he would take it a step further and play/sing one of his own songs. It was in those moments that I realized, if he could do this..well, then, maybe I could do it too. (That is still debatable).

Dave Grohl explains in these videos exactly what I experienced growing up. You can learn how to play an instrument, but unless you have passion for the instrument, you’ll never really LEARN the instrument in the truest sense of the word. With that said, you may “learn” the instrument your own way or discover your own method of playing that may seem unorthodox to others watching. However, if you have passion for that particular instrument… look out world. It doesn’t matter how you hold the knife, as long as it cuts the butter.

Songwriting is the same thing. There are so many songs out there that I can’t stand, however, there are an equal amount of peeps that love them. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. Anyone can write a song. Whether its good or not is a subjective question. What that means is, if you like it… most likely someone else will too.  Just practice writing songs over and over. At first they will be horrible… eventually they maybe great. There really is a recipe to “good music” and Dave Grohl hits the nail on the head while messing around with Tenacious D’s Kyle Gass. Its funny… but what he is explaining is very true.

I hope these videos strike a chord with you as they did with me. I LOVE music and am always curious about why some songs catch and others don’t. Grohl maybe on to something.


Dave Grohl Explains How He Learned to ROCK


David Grohl Shows How To Write a Hit Song

Thanks for hanging out.

Till next time…

David (Cali Dingo)


How To Interesting Find

How to Coil Your Cables, All Proper-like.

tangled cables


Came across this little video via Bobby Owsinksi’s blog. For many, many years I was coiling my cables the wrong way and suffering for it every time I went to uncoil them and use them. You see, if done properly you can uncoil your cables  and have no tangles, snags, etc. This is not only efficient when going to mic up a cabinet or whatever, it also removes frustration, or as I call it.. the cable woes.

Me and cables have an ongoing feud and always have. I hate cables. Almost as much as I hate paper (I’m a digital guy). Their both messy and and cause tons of frustration and chaos at points. But, this little knowledge of how to coil a cable, helps reduce the headache and is one more weapon to use against my nemesis, the cable.

Without further ado, check it out.

Thanks for watching.

Till then…

David (Cali Dingo)




Acoustic Treatment How To Mix/Master Recording

Acoustic Treatment In A Box??

ARC2 Promo Pic


I recently took the plunge and bought IK Multimedia’s ARC 2 System for my project studio. What exactly is this, you ask? Well, allow me to explain.

ARC stands for Advanced Room Correction and a while back I wrote a post where I touched a bit on it while discussing room treatment for my home studio. At the time of writing that post I even reached out to mixing guru, Bobby Owsinksi, regarding his thoughts on the product. He wasn’t too much a fan, but for good reason. I agree with his comment in that one should use acoustic treatment first and foremost and attempt to correct any room issues that way before splurging on some digital gizmo to do it for you. So, I did just that. I added some acoustic treatment first and foremost and it knocked out a large portion of my frequency issues. Hooray! However, my budget and expertise in room treatment is limited and lo and behold, there was still some nagging frequencies roaming my room. Like most home studios, my room is not perfect and it would take some major time, money and know-how to knock out the remaining frequency issues via acoustic treatment.  Enter ARC 2, to polish it all off. The theory is this gizmo will tell me where my room acoustics are now that the treatment is in place and correct the remaining issues for me.

So, how does it work? Essentially, you set up the accompanying omni-directional microphone and it picks up the sequential “chirps” that the ARC software spits out of your speakers and uses this to measure your room acoustics. After each set of “chirps” you move the microphone around the listening spot you are attempting to measure. Once all of those measurements are done, ARC then analyzes the data and gives you a measurement reading of your room acoustics. You’ll see this measurement reading once you open your DAW and instantiate the ARC plugin at the end of your mixing chain.

You want to instantiate the correction at the end of the mix on your Master Channel and be sure to remove it once you are ready to render your mix to mp3 or the like.
You want to instantiate the correction at the end of the mix on your Master Channel, as I’ve done here, and be sure to remove it once you are ready to render your mix to mp3 or the like.


The process of using ARC 2 can seem a bit convoluted, but its actually very, very simple and quick to do. Here are a series of videos that do a better job of explaining the process and the product than I could ever do.

The idea is that ARC EQ’s your mix to eliminate the troubling frequencies that essentially hinder your listening space when mixing. So, if you have a huge bass buildup around 300Hz, it will EQ that out in an attempt to make a flat EQ response coming out of your monitors (ideal for mixing). That buildup at 300Hz is the bass bouncing around your room and back to your ears, not the actual mix. If you take that mix and listen through headphones you’ll not hear that bass buildup. So theoretically, by using ARC 2 you won’t be upping the levels of your higher frequencies in order to compete with the lower frequencies that aren’t really present in your mix in the first place. Thus, helping you achieve a better mix more efficiently.

At any rate, I did the measurements the other night and I must say that once I put this plugin on my mix there was a definite audible difference. In fact, I liked it because upon bypassing it I could hear all the bass buildup that it was removing. This can be seen in the photo below.

My room frequency is the orange line. The white line is the correction by ARC. Notice the buildup of bass between 50Hz - 300Hz. Also, notice how unstable my room acoustics are. Ideally you don't want ARC working that hard to give you a flat response. I really need to eliminate as much of that as possible to bring it closer to a flat EQ response and then add ARC.
My room frequency is the orange line. The white line is the correction by ARC. Notice the buildup of bass between 50Hz – 300Hz. Also, notice how unstable my room acoustics are. Ideally you don’t want ARC working that hard to give you a flat response. I really need to eliminate as much of that instability as possible to bring it closer to a flat EQ response before adding ARC.


I don’t think my home studio is too far off from your average home studio in regards to the EQ measurement I received: plenty of low end. Ideally, one would want to just add the treatment needed to fix the issues and not mess with any fancy plugins in your DAW. In this ideal scenario, you would just use ARC 2 as a measurement tool only, not a correction tool. But, as I’ve stated earlier, this ideal scenario is beyond most home studio budgets and know-how, which makes the combo of room treatment and ARC 2 a great alternative. I’m pleased with the results so far. ARC 2 does what it says and its actually well-priced. You can pick one up here.

Till next time…

David (Cali Dingo)



Audio Editing How To Voice Over

Noise Reduction Fun



I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire some mixing projects from a Southern California marketing company in the past few months or so. It’s been quite a learning experience in many ways, but I couldn’t ask for a better client to drop in my lap. Essentially, they make vignettes (marketing videos) for local companies. They film the footage, record the voice-overs and interviews, add their background music and send it to me. I then fix the audio and polish it up and mix the VO and music together for the vignettes.

The key element here is; I fix the audio. What exactly does that mean? Well, when they go to film/record the client for the vignette, sometimes background audio gets in the way. It could be a bird, a fountain or anything that’s not pleasing to the ear. When I polish that audio up and raise the volume level, all of that noise becomes very apparent and essentially ruins all of their hard work. So, before I can even mix the VO and music together, I have to get rid of that noise.

The weapon of choice for my noise removal is Adobe Audition. I basically find the frequencies that are causing trouble and tell Adobe Audition to remove those frequencies and only those frequencies in the exact spots I tell it to do so.  I wish I could say that it is a one button operation, but the truth is that a person has to use all the tools available in the software to fine-tune the process so as to not affect the voice-over itself. I’ve enjoyed the learning curve associated with noise removal. Every project is different and so one must put on the troubleshooting hat and get to work.

I thought it would be fun to show a snippet of what I have done in regards to removing the noise and mixing the overall audio on one of the projects sent me. So, let’s begin.

This first clip is the raw audio given to me. There appears to be a low-level hum in the background and you can tell he is most likely sitting in a very large room due to the amount of echo flutter.


This clip is after the noise removal has been applied. I was able to reduce the amount of echo flutter and what echo is still there has little in the way of decay. Also, the low level hum has been completely removed. I also punched up his voice with some some EQ and compression… not to mention some other little goodies the Cali Dingo has up his sleeve.


Finally, I mix that clip in with the music provided.



Thanks for checking out my latest post. I hope you found it either useful or entertaining.

Till next time…

David (Cali Dingo)




How To Recording

DIY Vocal Booth

I’ve always heard and read about making a vocal booth out of moving blankets as an inexpensive and nonintrusive alternative to the real thing. I was skeptical, but there was one word that persuaded me to pursue it: inexpensive. Hmmm. Intriguing.

Granted, I would prefer to have a permanent, professionally-made vocal booth…. heck, I’d prefer a permanent, professionally-made studio. But, alas, I don’t have room to permanently construct a vocal booth in my home studio, so a portable one was going to have to do.  I needed something that I could assemble/disassemble on a whim and store in the garage out of the way. I also needed it to be quite sturdy.

First of all, why moving blankets? Apparently, moving blankets are quite thick and when doubled or tripled up they can really clamp down on any noise floating around them. I’ve seen many people use clips and hang them from their ceiling tiles or something and that just didn’t appeal to me in that form. I wanted it to actually be a booth, just collapsable. So, I set my brain ta’ thinkin’ and I came up with something that, when tested this last weekend, proved to be a winner. I then thought to myself: “I bet there is someone else out there wondering how to get a vocal booth in their small home studio and receive close-to professional results.” So, here is what I did. Maybe it can help you if you’re in need.

I bought 2X4s and constructed 3 frames that are 7 ft X 3 ft like this:

I screwed them together and used brackets to give them extra stability. Then, to make them stand AND to make them collapsable, I hinged 2 of them together using door hinges. I wasn’t able to hinge the 3rd frame and keep the booth collapsable, so I had to make it free standing and hook it to the other frames to form my 3 sided booth using eye-hooks.

I then bought some moving blankets on ye old amazon and put one blanket on each side of each frame using safety pins to bind them together. So, there are 2 blankets for each frame to ensure good dampening. I then topped the booth with 1 blanket so no room reflection comes bouncing off the ceiling.

That’s it. It took me a couple of hours to cut the wood properly and put them together and 30min. to put the blankets on. I put it through a test run and everyone was quite impressed. No room reflection at all. I am going to add my reflection filter to the mic for extra dampening, but even without it we had a great vocal take as you can see from the audio sample below.

At any rate, here is a video of my booth and the singer using it.

NOTE: I kept calling it a gobo because I’ve heard many people call them that, but I am unsure if that is accurate. So, please forgive if I’m misusing that slang… I just want to be cool like all the other Rick Rubins. 😉



And here is an audio clip from that session using the booth.



I hope this helps someone in a vocal booth pickle. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions for improvement. I’m always looking for the perfect sound.

Till next time…

David (Cali Dingo)