Categories
Audio Editing Mix Recording

A Little Metal Guitar, Anyone?

Hello again,

I have had the pleasure of recording some metal guitar work for a local band this past holiday weekend. It’s always a thrill to record good musicians. This was to be used as a guide for the rest of the band to learn the songs. In turn, the working relationship seemed to go quite well and we will be adding bass and drums as a result of how well the session went. I was impressed by this guy’s playing and look forward to hearing the whole band. They are in their late teens/early twenties and they play old-school metal. How cool is that?

As a side note, their rythmn guitarist was present as well and she can play piano. So, my newly purchased organ/leslie got tickled by someone who has skill. That was a nice treat. In hindsight, I should have recorded it. Oh well, perhaps I’ll have her back over for that specific purpose.

Without further ado…

As I record and mix the rest of the band, I’ll post up samples.

Till then…

David (Cali Dingo)

 

 

Categories
How To Recording

Handy Method For Using Compression

Hello folks!

I’ve been a little more sporadic lately with posts, but this is due to a good thing. California Dingo has been getting business which has taken me away from my dolling out useless info on my wee lil’ blog. I’ll have some goodies I’ll be sharing in the near future as a result from my busy-ness, but for now I want to share an article I came across on how to use compression for drums. Now, this article is specifically speaking about compression on recording drums, but this method is useful when adding compression to any instrument or vocal that is being recorded via a microphone (as opposed to a direct injection). You will have to adjust according to the source you’re recording, but use this method to find a nice even audio of your audio source.

Again I ripped this from my mixing idol, Mr. Bobby Owsinski. I actually have a couple of his books and won’t hesitate to recommend you going to Amazon on a quest for one of his many books. I’m sure you’ll find some gold in there somewhere.

Without further ado….

——————————————————————————————-

It would be great if every drummer hit every beat on the kick and snare with the same intensity, but unfortunately that doesn’t even happen with the best drummers on the planet. When the intensity changes from beat to beat, the pulse of the song feels erratic, since even a slight change in level can make the drums feel a lot less solid than they should be. Compression works wonders to even out those erratic hits and helps to push the kick and snare forward in the track to make them feel more punchy. Let’s take a look at how to do that with the drums.

The Compression Technique
Before we get into specifics, here’s the technique for setting up a compressor. Regardless of the instrument, vocal or audio source, the set up is basically the same.

1. Start with the attack time set as slow as possible, and release time set as fast as possible on the compressor.

2. Turn the attack faster until the instrument begins to sound dull (this happens because you’re compressing the attack portion of the sound envelope). Stop increasing the attack time at this point and even back it off a little so the sound stays crisp.

3. Adjust the release time so that after the initial attack, the volume goes back to at least 90 percent of the normal level by the next beat. If in doubt, it’s better to have a shorter release than a longer one.

4. The more wild the peaks, the higher the ratio control must be set, so increase it until the sound of the instrument or vocal is pretty much the same level throughout.

5. Bypass the compressor to see if there’s a level difference. If there is, increase the Gain or Output control until the volume is the same as when it’s bypassed.

Tracking Versus Mixing
Generally speaking, most engineers won’t compress much, if at all, during tracking, since anything you do while recording can’t be undone later. That said, some engineers like to limit the instruments a little (only by a dB or two) just to control the transients a bit. A compressor becomes a limiter when the ratio is set to 10:1 or more. If you choose to do this, make sure that the limiter kicks in on only the highest peaks. If it’s limiting constantly, it’s probably too much and you might regret it later since it can’t be undone. Decrease the threshold control so it only limits on the occasional transient.
Compressing The Kick And Snare
The biggest question most engineers have when compressing either the kick or snare is “How much is enough?” This depends first and foremost on the sound of the drum itself and the skill of the drummer. A well-tuned drum kit that sounds great in the room should record well, and a reasonably good drummer with some studio experience usually means that less compression is needed because the hits are fairly even. Even a great drummer with a great sounding kit can benefit from a bit of compression though, and as little as a dB or two can work wonders for the sound. With only that amount, the setup of the compressor is a lot less crucial, especially the attack and release.
Sometimes you need the kick or snare to cut through the mix and seem as if it’s in your face, and that’s when 3 to 6dB or so does the job. It’s here that the setup of the compressor is critical because you’re imparting its sound on the drum. Make sure you tweak the attack and release controls as above, and even try a number of different compressors. You’ll find they all react differently, even with the same settings, so it’s worth the time to experiment. Remember: if the attack is set too fast, the drum will sound less punchy, regardless of how much compression you use.

Compressing The Room Mics
The room ambient mics are meant to add the “glue” to the sound of a kit, and can really benefit from a fair amount of compression, which means anywhere from 6 to 10dB. In fact, many mixers prefer the room sound to be extremely compressed, with way more than 10dB being the norm.
The problem is that the more compression you use, the more the ambience of the room is emphasized. That’s okay if you’re recording in a great sounding room, but if it has a lot of reflections and the ceiling is low, you may be emphasizing something that just doesn’t add much to the track. One trick is to actually set the attack time so it’s much shorter than usual to cut off the sound of the initial drum transient, then tuck the room tracks in just under the other drum tracks.

Note that regardless of how good the room mics sound, the more of them you use, the less space there will be for the other instruments in the track. The more instruments there are, the more you’ll have to back them off. Sad but true, but unfortunately, there’s only so much sonic space to any mix.

—————————————————————————————–

I hope you found this useful. Again, I’ll be sharing some of my recent work in the near future. I hope you’ll swing around my neck of the interweb and check it out.

Till then…

David (Cali Dingo)

 

 

 

Categories
Acoustic Treatment Audio Editing Mix/Master Recording Voice Over

Spare Bedroom? Let’s Make A Home Studio! – Part 1

So, as I have stated/mentioned in prior posts, I have long had a “home studio” in a spare bedroom in the house. I used the room as is, with just my furniture “cleverly” situated in odd areas. As an example of my odd layout, I decided to put my desk in a corner of the room. Why? Don’t ask me. I guess I was trying my hand at eccentric interior design? Not sure. Plus, I had no acoustic treatment, which didn’t affect the layout, but it did affect the “sound” of the room. As a graphic design / web design office it was just fine. As a music studio? Not so much. Needless to say, over the course of me recording, mixing and mastering audio, I began to realize this room was dishing out all sorts of problems. For instance:

Recording – Too much ambient room noise, and not the good kind. When recording voice overs, echo-flutter was all too apparent. It became a nasty problem once I was in the processing phase, because once I added any compression that echo-flutter was very, up front and center. It made me work harder in the editing phase, attempting to knock out the noise wherever there was a pause in the vocal. I still do this when editing, but I had to get real surgical when dealing with all the echo-flutter. Talk about time consuming, not to mention the echo was still somewhat present during the voice over. Maybe no one else heard it, but I did and I’m the only person that matters…  besides my wife. 😉

Also, when attempting to record, my room had… well, no room, thanks to my eccentric interior design (I wish I would have taken “before” pics. I always forget to do that). The layout was horrendous which led to me pulling cords outta my guitars or knocking over my preamps. I looked like one of the Marx brothers when trying to record.

Mixing/Mastering – This is where the acoustic treatment was badly needed…only I didn’t know it for quite a while. Being that I’m married and my studio is in a house that my wife lives in, I typically use my monitors, KRK Rokit 5s, for referencing only. However, the acoustics in my room made referencing a bit more daunting. The mix from my monitors sounded totally different from what my headphones were telling me. This would lead me go back to the mix and try and fix what the room said needed fixing, only to go back to the headphones and find out that the changes I just made, based on my monitors, sounded off. Once I studied up on acoustic treatment the light bulb went off and I began to understand that my room was playing a dirty trick on my ears.

So, I sat down, did some research and discovered that I needed to change the layout and add some acoustic treatment. Upon realizing how much work was going to be involved I decided to also change the color of the room. You see, I made my home studio in a kiddie bedroom. It had a baseball-themed light fixture and powder blue paint. Perfect for a little boy. But, it has been annoying me since I took the room over as my office/studio. Now was my chance.

Let the work begin…

Getting Ready 2
The tray is filled. Really liked this color on the swatch sheet and liked it in the bucket. I was hoping I'd feel the same once it was on my walls.

 

Old Paint Color
Here is a view of what the old color was like (with patched holes to boot). This is the closest to a "before" pic that I have.

 

Got the first coat on and this pic shows a good example of the color difference. Good call on the color, eh?

 

Here's a better view of the new color. I forgot what it was called.

 

It was cold outside and hot inside my room. Had to fight the moisture monster as the paint up against the window kept running..

 

Finished 1
The "almost" finished room. The walls and trim are all painted and the furniture and gear are all moved into place. Much better use of space, I say. I can actually access the closet. My drum kit was blocking the right closet door before.

 

Finshed 2
The corner where I used to have my desk.

 

Frankie's picture is yet to be hung. I acquired a Paul McCartney painting from my artist brother that will be hung above my desk.

 

Better use of space and the acoustics should be much better with this layout once I apply the treatment. That is the theory at least.

 

My Assistant
Finally, all of this would not have been possible without the undying support of my fearless assistant. He's on salary.

 

Whew! It was a lot of work, but I love the results. Part 2 will cover the addition of acoustic treatment to the room. Let me know what you think so far.

Till next time…

David (Cali Dingo)

 

 

Categories
Audio Editing Mix/Master Recording Song Creation

Audio Sample 1

Recently finished up a song I’ve been diligently working on for quite a while. This was the song that I decided to cut my teeth on in regards to perfecting my audio engineering prowess. Okay…so I still have a little ways to go.

At any rate, in this sample I recorded everything, did the audio editing, mixed the tracks and mastered the finished product to bring the levels up to commercial quality. I am in the midst of mastering some more audio and will have those up shortly as well. As with everything in life, the more I do it…the better I seem to be getting at it.

Feel free to leave comments below.

Till next time…

David (Cali Dingo)