Categories
Acoustic Treatment Interesting Find Recording

Different Acoustic Environments and How They Affect Sound

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Hello All,

A busy weekend was had by the Dingo as I ventured to Visalia and participated in the annual CAPA Conference. This is a conference for paralegal organizations throughout the state of California. So, you maybe asking yourself, “why in the world is California Dingo slinging schlock at a paralegal convention?”. Good question. The truth is, I actually have a few organizations that attended this event that are clients of mine via my web design services. What can I say, I have the best prices and service in town when it comes to non-profit organizations. It’s always nice to step out and say “hi” to all my clients in one setting. I love schmoozing. lol. But, enough of my selling my services on my blog, let’s get to the matter at hand.

Audio is one of my favorite things in the whole world. I believe the reason is because I am fascinated by audio and how it can be manipulated and enhanced and essentially be used to trick our ears into thinking we are hearing something that really isn’t there. It’s just plain fascinating to me. For instance, when you listen to a live album, chances are… it’s not really live. It was re-recorded using some of the live elements, but that guitar solo? Um… no. It was recorded after the fact in a studio and processors were added to make it fit in the “live” sound so you have no idea that the dude is actually sitting inside a 10 X 10 recording room.

You see, this is common practice and has been since at least the 70s. Nowadays there are plug-ins that perfectly simulate a church hall or small studio, etc. These developers have really gotten good at it, so there really isn’t a need to go to an actual church hall and setup your mics and attempt to get the effect of a church hall when your singer is belting out your latest hit. It ends up costing more time and as we all know… time is money.  Anymore, I think folks that do go to the actual environment to record do so, because like me, it’s fun to attempt to capture those sounds in the real environment. But, its not necessary.

Regardless, it is so interesting to see how real environments can effect sound. The following video shows a guy trying out the actual environments and it really is fascinating to see how just echo flutter and sound bouncing around a room can effect the mood of any given source. Check it out and I hope you find it as interesting as I do.

 

Till next time…

David (Cali Dingo)

Categories
How To Recording

Have A Closet? Make An Amp Room!

This past weekend I was hard at work recording guitars on an upcoming EP for a local band. It’s been fun, challenging and long in the hours department. But, when it all comes together in the end it is always worth it. This post is in response to an issue we ran into when we recorded guitars earlier for demo purposes.

The issue is simple: I have my “studio” in a spare bedroom in my house. Room is limited. So the standard procedure is to have the guitar player sit next to his mic’d amp in my 11′ X 11′ “studio” and start to find the perfect tone. The problem? Your ears begin to go numb from sitting so close to the amp, so you can no longer discern the differences in tones. The only way around this is to put the amp in another room… preferably a closet or something similar without a ton of echo flutter… and use the studio monitors to listen for the perfect tone.

My problem with this scenario was that the only available closet that would work was approximately 50 feet away in my bedroom. Most will tell you that you don’t want to record with any cable over 25 ft, because you’ll tend to run into all sorts of sonic issues. But, I’m an experimenter in these types of things and was willing to give it a shot.

We tracked down a 50′ mic cable which gave me hope.  I would suspect a company wouldn’t spend the money on creating a 50′ mic cable unless it actually worked without the sonic issues. The main problem ended up being the instrument cable. They seem to only go up to 25′ because of the sonic issues. So… troubleshooting begins.

I quickly resolved that because the guitarist uses a pedal board, an option may very well be to split two 25′ cables with the pedal board. This way we get a total of 50′ and never exceed the 25′ rule in a single connection. The downside is: the pedal board will reside in the hallway and all settings will require the guitarist to get up and down to find the tone… same with the amp. To me, this was worth the trade off.

We initially used walkie-talkies and had another band member or myself sit by the amp or pedal board and make the necessary adjustments as the guitarist played, but it soon became apparent that the guitarist knew what he was wanting, so up and down he went to find the perfect tone.

All in all it worked like a charm, despite the warnings from all the pro studio staff at Guitar Center. So, I felt it worthy enough and informative enough to share here with this write up and a little video showing the nonsense of cables running through my house. We were able to use my studio monitors at moderate levels and find tones all day long without our ears going numb. That’s how the pros do it and we somehow emulated that experience. Yay for us. 🙂

Here’s the video. Enjoy!

Till next time!

David (Cali Dingo)

 

 

 

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….

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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.

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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
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)