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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Ronettes "Baby, I Love You" Isolated Vocals

Here's a real treat and a piece of music history as well. It's the isolated vocals from the Phil Spector produced "Baby, I Love You" by The Ronettes. The song was recorded and released in 1963 and reached #24 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and #11 in the UK.

The recording, like most of Spector's early hits, was done at the now defunct Gold Star Studios in Hollywood with background vocals by Cher (yes, that Cher) and The Blossoms, and the backing track played by the famous Wrecking Crew.

Listen for:
1) The beautiful Gold Star reverb, thanks to their cavernous chamber. It's big and lush and deep, but non-intrusive despite being piled on here.

2) The background vocals sound like they're doubled, which is possible if the song was done on a 3 or 4 track tape machine. Anyone know for sure?

3) The distortion on the track. There's a definite grit to it that's not totally unpleasant.

4) The claps at the beginning and ending. On the end they get out of time, not that anyone ever noticed in the mix.

5) Go all the way to the end to hear what the real song ending sounded like.




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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, January 22, 2014

5 Things I'd Like To See At NAMM, But Probably Won't

Victor Wooten performing at NAMM 2013 image
Victor Wooten performing at NAMM 2013
I'm at NAMM today and I'll get you my full report next week (although you might find some info in a few tweets). That said, here are a few things that I'd like to see at NAMM that probably won't.

1) Just one new whiz-bang product that knocks me off my feet. For a long time now, most of the gear seen at NAMM and other gear exhibitions have been evolutionary instead of revolutionary. Please, no more microphones, mic preamps and compressors unless they use a new technology based on lasers, quantum mechanics, alternate universes or something so different that it totally blows all else away.

2) Fewer booth babes and more people who know the product. We all like eye candy, but most booth babes just clog up the booths and aisles making it harder to find out product info. I mean, I live near Hollywood and Beverly Hills. I can just walk down the street and see more and better looking women almost any day of the week, so give me someone who can answer some questions instead.

3) Easier parking. It's hard enough to have to drive to Anaheim in morning traffic, but the fight for parking can be ferocious. And you end up walking a long ways anyway.

4) Better convention food and drink. You expect it to be overpriced (and it is), but is it asking too much to have some healthy options as well?

5) Identify the performers. NAMM is great because you have many world-class performers doing their thing in booths and on stages throughout the show. It sure would be nice to know who these performers are, since we know many be name and reputation, but don't know what they look like.

I'm sure I can come up with more (and no doubt will by Monday), but I can hope for at least one of the above to take place this year.

What would you like to see at NAMM?
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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook 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, January 21, 2014

The Different Types Of Reverb

Reverb. It's use goes through cycles from a lot to almost none, but you'll usually find at least some reverb-type ambience used in every mix. The problem is that you can't really tell much of a distinction between the different types of some inexpensive plugins or boxes. In case you're a little fuzzy about the differences between the types of reverb available, here's a little refresher excerpt from The Mixing Engineer's Handbook 3rd edition.

"There are five primary categories of reverb, all with a different sonic character; three of these are actual acoustic spaces, one is an analog way to reproduce one, and one is not found in nature but can really sound cool. The reason why there’s a difference is that just like everything else in music and audio, there are many paths to the same end result. You’ll find that every digital reverb plugin or hardware unit provides its own version of these sounds.

Hall: A hall is a large space that has a long decay time and lots of reflections. Sometimes there’s a subcategory of the hall reverb called “church,” which is just a more reflective hall with a longer decay.

Room: A room is a much smaller space that can be dead or reflective, depending upon the material that the walls, floor and ceiling are made of. It usually has a short decay time of about 1.5 seconds or less.

Acoustic Chamber image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
Figure 1: An Acoustic Chamber
Chamber: An acoustic chamber is a dedicated tiled room that many large studios used to build in order to create reverb (see Figure 1). Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” was built around an excellent acoustic chamber at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood (long since closed unfortunately), for example. The acoustic chambers at Capitol Studios, designed by Les Paul himself, still have a reverb sound that is revered by mixers everywhere. Other common artificial spaces used as acoustic chambers include showers and stairwells.



Plater reverb image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
Figure 2: A Plate Reverb

Plate: A plate is a 4 foot by 6 foot hanging piece of sheet metal with transducers attached to it that many studios used for artificial reverb when they couldn’t afford to build a chamber (see Figure 2). The first plate reverb was the EMT 140, developed in the late 1950s, and is still held in high esteem by many mixers for its smooth sound.




AMS RMX 16 Digital Reverb image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
Figure 3: The AMS RMX 16 Digital Reverb
Non-Linear: The non-linear category is strictly a product of modern digital reverbs as the sound isn’t found anywhere in nature. While natural reverbs decay in a rather smooth manner, once a reverb is created digitally, it’s possible to make that decay happen in unusual ways. The reverb tail can be reversed so it builds instead of decays, or it can be made to decay abruptly, both of which makes the decay “non-linear.” This preset was a popular mixing effect used on drums during the 80’s when the feature first became available on the AMS RMX 16 digital reverb (see Figure 3).

As to which reverb category to use, that’s strictly up to the taste of the mixer and how he sees it fitting with the song. Many mixers might always use a room or a chamber on drums, a plate on vocals or guitars, and a hall on strings or keyboards, while others may do just the opposite. Many might refine the sounds of each and finally settle on a few that they feel always work in a particular situation with a certain instrument or vocal. It’s all up to experience.

All of these reverbs can be modeled using what’s known as a “convolution reverb” that uses an quick burst of audio energy (called an impulse) to excite the room or device, which then allows it to sample its parameters. Examples of convolution reverbs include the Audio Ease Altiverb and Avid’s TL Space."

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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook 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.

Walk The Floor With Me At NAMM


NAMM Show Anaheim image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
Going to NAMM? Come with me on Friday for a 3 hour walk of the audio hall. Meet high-level company execs and see behind the scenes into the latest products at:
Manley
API
Royer
Mojave Audio
Universal Audio
PSP
ATC,
Bock Microphones
Daking
TubeTech
PreSonus and more. 

Space is limited. You must already have a badge. Send me a private message at office @ bobbyowsinski.com (sorry, doing this to deter the spammers - delete the spaces and paste in your email client) and tell me what like best about my blogs to reserve your spot.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Burning In Headphones: Myth Or Fact?

Sony 7506 Headphones image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture Blog
Have you ever burned in your headphones before you used them? Yeah, me neither. That's why I was surprised to read about the more or less common practice of burning in headphones for as much as 400 hours before using them. Want to guess who does that? Right - audiophiles, of course.

It seems that many audiophiles have extensive rituals for burning in phones, from playing music continually through them for 24 hours, to blasting them with 40 hours of pink noise, to a large dose of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. Me - I just buy them and use them. I haven't noticed a difference between a well kept pair of older Sony 7506's or Fostex T20's (or my favorite cheap phones - the Monoprice 8323) and new ones unless the company upgraded the drivers. It all seems like a myth to me.

Shure has apparently looked into this phenomena as well and have found that if the phones haven't been abused, there's no evidence that the frequency response changes over time. Of course, if the phones are used in the studio where the musician has control over the level, chances of abuse are pretty good, as we all know too well.

Here's something else to think about on the subject. The competition in headphones in pretty fierce these days, so don't you think a manufacturer would do everything in their power to make their phones sound as good as possible right out of the box? If that meant burning them in for 400 hours before shipping, don't you think they'd do that?

To my knowledge, no headphone manufacturer uses a burn-in process yet, but if you know of one, let me know. I'm dying to hear the evidence that the practice is worth the time. If it is, I'll be getting out my pink noise generator.
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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook 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, January 19, 2014

Dave Pensado - 5 Plugins You Should Know

My good buddy Dave Pensado has one of the best shows ever in Pensado's Place, and one of the recurring segments is called Into The Lair. This is where Dave actually shows you many of the tips and tricks that he uses on his multi-platinum mixes. A recent ITL featured the theme "5 Plugins You Should Know," and truly, you should know them because they're so cool.

One of the things that you'll notice is that even though the effect of the plugin can be very dramatic, Dave uses them in a sometimes subtle way. It's the cumulative effect of the subtleness across the mix that really makes the difference. Check it out, and be sure to check out his fantastic show. It's a must for everyone making music today.


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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook 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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