Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Beatles "Drive My Car" Isolated Bass

Beatle Bass imagePaul McCartney is one of the most influential bass players ever, and it's always very cool to be able to listen to his isolated bass tracks. Today we'll take a listen to The Beatles "Drive My Car" from the Rubber Soul album. Here's what to listen for.

1. Listen to the pickup notes at the end of the bass phrase during the verse. He doesn't play it all the time, but it makes for a very funky bass line when he does.

2. Paul plays the bass line of the chorus differently, sometimes even within the same chorus. Sometimes each note is held out, and other times it's very staccato.

3. The bass track is far from perfect, with a major clam at 1:57 and some minor ones along the way. That said, it took another 10 years or so until production techniques really focused on each individual part and how it interacted with the other elements of the song, as well as how consistently each part was played.

In other words, it's a great track for its time, but would have been fixed or replayed in today's production environment.




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Thursday, April 7, 2016

New Speech Enhancement Technology Let's You Hear Over The Crowd

We've all been at an airport or train station, or even a concert, where there's an announcement and we can't quite make out what it was over the noise. Those days may soon be over thanks to a new speech enhancement technology from Fraunhofer called ADAPT DRC.

Researchers at the Project Group Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology at Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology developed the ADAPT DRC software in an effort to improve any type of electronic communication, but venues with congregations of people were the primary target.

What happens is that microphones are strategically placed around a venue to constantly monitor the ambient noise level. When the noise gets too loud, the software boosts the speech frequencies instead of the overall volume of the speakers. This keeps the speakers from distorting, making it even more difficult to understand the announcement.

Instead ADAPT DRC strategically boosts the consonant sounds like "P," "T," and "K," which are often spoken quickly, but are really the key to understanding what is being said.

The software also takes into account the parts of the speech signal that are naturally at a different volume and uses an intelligent algorithm called Dynamic Range Compression (the DRC in ADAPT DRC) to boost the intelligibility. This technology is already used on many cell phones.

I always marvel at how crappy some announcement sound systems can be, considering the technology that's available today. Let's hope that ADAPT DRC works as sited and is widely adapted so we don't miss that next flight to AES.

(Photo credit: Dornum72 via Wikipedia)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

11 Steps To Better Overdubs

Many times the ear candy of an overdub session can really make or break a song, but sometimes it's not easy to create to capture that magic.

Here's an excerpt from the upcoming second edition of my Music Producer's Handbook that can act as either an outline or as a reminder to check a number of critical points both before and during your overdub session.


"1. Do you have a list of overdub priorities? Do you know which overdubs absolutely must get done and which ones are less important? A list will keep you on track budget-wise and time-wise.

2. Can you record in the control room? Most players prefer to record in the control room because they like to hear what you’re hearing and they like the immediacy of the communication.

3. Are there too many people in the control room or studio? The fewer the people, the fewer the distractions. It’s best to keep all friends, associates, and hangers-on out of the studio when you’re working to keep the distractions to a minimum.

4. Did you move the vocal or the instrument into the big part of the studio? All instruments sound best when there’s space for the sound to develop, so move the vocal or the instrument into the big part of the studio for overdubs (after you’ve done any basic track fixes). You can cut down on any unwanted reflections from the room by placing baffles around the mic and player.

5. When doubling, are you trying to do something a little different on each track? Using a different mic, mic preamp, room, singer, or distance from the mic will all help to make the sound get bigger.

6. When doubling or adding more guitars, do you have a variety of instruments and amplifiers available? Two guitars (a Les Paul and a Strat, for instance) and two amplifiers (a Fender and a Marshall is the classic combination) combined with different pickup choices will allow a multitude of guitar tracks to live in the mix together more effectively.

7. Are you making it sound better, not just different? Changes aren’t always for the better. Is there a big difference between what you just recorded and the original part? Does the new part make everyone in the studio go crazy in a good way?

8. Would it be better to try recording the part tomorrow? You’d be surprised how much more you can accomplish when you’re fresh.

9. Do you have the studio talkback mic on? Can you hear the musicians in the studio at all times between takes? If they’re talking to you but you can’t hear them, they’ll feel isolated.

10. Do you always have the control room talkback mic on? Can the musicians hear you at all times in between takes? Periods of silence can be a mood killer.

11. Does a musician want to play his or her part again? If a player feels strongly about playing it over, he probably can do it better. Be sure to keep the last recorded part before recording again."




Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Kevin Killen On Mixing With Limited Processing

Kevin KillenKevin Killen is a great engineer with a host of big time credits (U2, Elvis Costello and Peter Gabriel, for instance) and he's been much in demand as a mixer for a long time. When I wrote the first edition of The Mixing Engineer's Handbook, Kevin was one of the mixers I most wanted to interview, and that interview is one of the best in the book.

Here's a great video where Kevin explains how he mixes in the box, and how he applies his processing mostly to subgroups rather individual tracks, as well as the way he adds effects.




Monday, April 4, 2016

Producer/Engineer Ken Caillat On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Engineer/Producer Ken CaillatRegardless of your age, you've no doubt heard much of Rumors over the years, the great Fleetwood Mac album from 70s. The songs from that record are still heard everywhere today, and a tribute to the contributions to the project (as well as 3 others by Fleetwood Mac) by my guest on this week's podcast - producer/engineer Ken Caillat.

Ken has a long list superstar credits including The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Pat Benetar, Herbie Hancock and many more. He's also the father and producer of singer/songwriter Colby Caillat.

During the interview we talk about how he first connected with Fleetwood Mac, the recording of Rumors (including an interesting tape loop story), as well as what it's like to produce your daughter.

In the intro I'll take a look at how EDM has peaked and its popularity is slowing, and the implications of SoundCloud's new Go paid tier.

Remember that you can find the podcast at BobbyOInnerCircle.com, either on iTunes, Stitcher and now on Mixcloud and Google Play


New Music Gear Monday: Audio Technica ATM230 Tom Microphone

Audio Technica ATM230It doesn't matter what microphone you like to use on toms, because chances are that it's going to pick up a lot of the cymbals as well. This is pretty typical because most of the mics that end up on toms have a cardioid pattern. The problem is that there aren't too many true hypercardioid mics available to limit that cymbal bleed, especially in a package that fits conveniently out of the way of both drummer and cymbals. That was before the recent introduction of the Audio Technica's ATM230 purpose-built tom mic though.

The new ATM230 is that elusive hypercardioid mic built into a small package, with a response that's tailored to capture both the stick sound and body of all rack and floor toms. What's even better is the fact that it comes with an integral isolated tom mount, so you don't need an expensive 3rd party mount or mic stand.

It's a dynamic mic so it's inherently rugged, and is made of metal so it can stand up to stick hits (I hate it when my expensive condenser mics take a hit), and it's reasonably priced to boot.

The Audio Technica ATM230 has a street price of $139 and also comes in a three pack for $349.






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