Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Quick Vocal Performance Guide

Vocal Performance image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
The voice is just as much of an instrument as any other instrument in the band. Like other instruments, it needs regular maintenance to stay in its best shape. Here are a few tricks compiled from How To Make Your Band Sound Great and The Music Producer's Handbook to not only get the best vocal performances, but to stay away from a sore throat as well.

1. Remember the 3 P’s – Pitch, Passion, Pocket. You need all three for a great vocal.

2. You’ve got to hear yourself at the correct level to stay in tune. Unless you have a lot of experience, you’ll most likely sing sharp if you’re not loud enough, and flat if you hear too much of yourself.

3. Avoid alcohol, dairy products, tea, coffee and cola before recording or a gig. All will make it more difficult to sing by either drying your throat or increasing your phlegm production.

4. Choose the best key for the song. Better to change the key than hurt yourself or sound bad trying to sing something that you’re not capable of.

5. Take care of yourself. Gets lots of sleep and drink plenty of water before recording.

6. Rehearse harmonies without the band first. It’s much easier to learn parts that way.

7. Phrasing is everything in background vocals. Concentrate on the attacks and releases to stay tight.

8. Pay attention to background vocals. If they don’t sound good, then neither do you!

Remember: If your throat gets dry while recording, try some warm water, tea with honey and lemon, or Superior Vocal Health's Throat Saver.
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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

McCartney "Maybe I'm Amazed" Isolated Vocal And Guitar

One of my all-time favorite songs is from Paul McCartney's self-titled first solo album called "Maybe I'm Amazed." Here's a great video featuring the keyboards, vocal and guitar solo (also one of my favs).

What I especially like is the double of the piano line on the chromatic line up, which is one of the McCartney arranging gems that only he would think of. Also listen to how compressed the vocal is.

Usually isolated tracks can be boring to listen to after the a minute or so but this one holds up as a great song all the way through.

It begins at 6 seconds and unfortunately cuts a bit of the outro off, but it's still very cool.




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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hearing Loss And Musicians

Hearing Loss In Musicians infographic from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blogLoud sound is an environmental byproduct of being a musician - any kind of musician. While everyone always looks to rock bands as the loudest culprits, concert violinists actually have the most hearing loss, thanks to being located directly in front of the brass section in the orchestra.

For guitar players, it used to be that you had to really crank your amp in order to get that nice overdrive distortion and sustain, but those days are mostly over now that it's fairly easy to dial that in on most amps at whatever volume you want. That said, anyone who's ever played with a powerhouse drummer knows that you have to turn it up just to compete onstage, unless of course you're in a situation where you're wearing in-ear monitors.

That's why this infographic is so interesting. It shows just how many people (especially young people) have some hearing loss thanks to their passion. The part of the chart that stick out is the "Signs of hearing loss in humans" which reads:

  • Ear pain, itching or irritation
  • Muffled hearing
  • Pus or fluid leaking from the ear (Ewww)
  • Tinnitus (ringing, roaring, hissing or buzzing in the ear)
  • Difficulty distinguishing words that people are saying

If any of these are happening to you, go see a doctor as soon as you can.

Remember that everyone around music or a loud environment should consider ear protection. I suggest the Etymotic Research ER20 ETY's. They're inexpensive and cut the level down without changing the frequency response. Since I found them, I won't go anywhere without them.

Otherwise, enjoy the chart.

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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Could This Be The Future Of Audio?

Google Glass image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture Blog
All of my tech friends are excited by Google Glass. If you don't know what that is, it's a new user interface for the phone that incorporates a augmented reality head-mounted display that projects all the information you can want directly in front of you via a small set of glasses without having to look at the traditional smartphone display. Much of this technology has been used for years in heads-up displays in aircraft, but bringing it down to the consumer level is very new.

In order to get Glass right now, you need to be a developer that will submit an application stating what you would do with the technology, along with up to 5 graphics, plus a fee of $1500. You can check out more about Google Glass here.

Many think that this technology is going to revolutionize our daily lives, thanks to the amount of information instantly available without the disruption of you life caused by looking at a cell phone display, plus the vastly increased battery life thanks to the more efficient Glass display. I agree, but I'm imagining it as an audio display device in the studio.

Audio Glasses image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
The View From Audio Glasses
Here's quick mock up I did based on the problem that engineers often have, especially when they're producing at the same time. Imagine a tracking session where you need to look at the musicians playing, but you also need to look at the console/controller and DAW at the simultaneously. If you had a glass display, you could see the level of each instrument and if something is overloading, what the compressor on each channel is doing, if there are any frequency clashes that you need to attend to, as well as the meter levels. You could also see the monitor and delay levels.

Of course, you could also change the display (not shown here) to show the individual send levels both the the cue and effects, the EQ settings for each channel, and the fader settings so you can adjust it all without ever taking your eyes off the band.

Of course, what I've created here was done quickly so it's very crude, but I'm sure an audio company with some slick GUI designers can come up with a work of art that takes us to the next level. Gentleman, you have my blessing to use this Audio Glasses graphic as a seed to the next generation of audio interface.

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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Music Gear Monday: Neve Genesis Console

It wasn't that long ago when most home studios made the transition from being built around some sort of recording console to being totally "in the box." A few years ago things began to turn slightly as a new generation of controllers made it possible to control your favorite DAW using a few external knobs and faders, which would bring back some the tactile feel of a console that many missed.

The trend has now gone somewhat back the other way as many studios are now being built around a new generation of hybrid console/controllers that provide the best of both analog and digital worlds. You get the sound of analog, the no-latency monitoring, the analog summing buss and monitor section, along with the editing, plug-ins, and wide track count of digital all in one. Plus you're able to do tracking dates with ease.

One of the new hybrid desks leading the way is the new Neve Genesys, which provides at least 16 channels (depending upon the frame) of digitally controlled vintage 1084 EQs, 88RS mic amps and compressors, 8 aux sends, 2 cue sends, 8 groups, stereo and 5.1 monitoring, full talkback, and DAW control. A basic 16 channel configuration is around $50k, but there's certainly a huge bang for the buck. Plus, you can tell people that you have a Neve in your studio, which is never bad for business.

Considering that you'd probably pay around $30k for a rack of 8 vintage Neve modules, the Genesys seems like a bargain. Check out the video below.



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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

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