Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Who "Baba O'Riley" Isolated Tracks

The Who "Baby O'Riley" imageThe Who's "Baba O'Riley" is one of the most played tracks in the entire band's catalog, to the point were just about every fan (and non-fan's alike) know each note and part by heart.

That's why today's isolated track is so cool. It strips away the arpeggiated synthesizer and, in some parts, the piano, to give you a clear listen as to what's going on deep inside the mix. Here are some things to listen for:

1. The reverb on the vocal is pretty short, unlike many Who mixes. It's also delayed so the vocal stands out a bit more.

2. The drums are in stereo, but have an unusual balance, with the snare and most of the kit leaning right and the ride and a crash leaning left. On the tom fill at 1:33 you can hear the rack tom on the left as well. Keith Moon also rarely plays the hat during the song, instead bashing the cymbals throughout, something that a producer would no doubt change today.

3. The big guitar power chords in the verse (0:51) are doubled and maybe even tripled, which you don't notice in the full mix.

4. The outro starting at 3:11 sounds much different without the violin.  You definitely get to appreciate Moon's prowess with his dynamics and machine gun snare roll.



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pressing A Vinyl Record In 60 Seconds

Pressing vinyl records imageVinyl is all the rage again, but most people don't understand just how chemical and mechanical the process really is. In this very quick video, you'll see the electroplating process that goes into making the various stages of master, mother and stampers. That's the messy part of the business, and the one that everyone hopes will die soon thanks to the new laser master process that's in development.

From there you see the record being pressed and packaged, all pretty much the way it was done way back in the 50s. The video was done at the Vinyl Factory in the UK and compresses the entire manufacturing process into just 60 seconds.




Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The 6 Trouble Frequencies

6 Trouble FrequenciesWhenever an engineer has trouble dialing in the EQ on a track, chances are its because of one or more of the 6 trouble frequency areas.

These are areas where too much or too little can cause your track to either stick out like a sore thumb, or disappear into the mix completely. Let's take a look.
  • 200Hz (Mud) - Too much can cause the track or the mix to sound muddy or boomy, while not enough of it can make it sound thin. It's a fine line, but many times mixers err on the side of too much and end up with a track that's too thick that clutters up the mix.
  • 300 to 500Hz (Boxy) - Too much of this frequency area results in the dreaded "boxiness" sound, or if you're listening to a floor tom or kick, the "beach ball" effect. It's also a spot that some less expensive microphones (especially dynamics) tend to emphasize, which is why many mixers almost automatically cut a a few dB of this area out of the kick drum during the mix.
  • 800Hz (Walmart) - Too much in this area results in what's sometimes known as the "Walmart" sound, meaning that it sounds like a cheap stereo purchased in a department store. Try it for yourself - get a cheap pair of computer speakers and you'll find that 800Hz is what you'll mostly hear. Obviously, too much of this frequency range is not a good thing.
  • 1k to 1.5kHz (Nasal) - This is the nasal range of the frequency spectrum and, as the name suggests, too much results in a vocalist that sounds like she's singing through her nose. Once again this is primarily a microphone problem in that it's poorly matched to the vocalist, but notching a bit out during the mix can fix it.
  • 4kHz to 6kHz (Presence) - This frequency range is frequently underutilized during the mix, resulting in a track that lacks definition. Without it, things tend to sound dull, but too much can make the track sound thin or, in the case of a vocal, sibilant.
  • 10kHz+ (Air) - Another widely overlooked frequency band, this provides clarity and adds a certain "realness" to the track. Many vintage mics have a lot of the air frequencies, which is why we prize them for their sound. The Maag Audio EQ4P has a special "Air Band" designed to provide those frequencies with a minimum of phase shift, but you can dial it in other equalizers as well.
Sometimes just tweaking a few of these 6 frequency ranges can take a mix from dull to exciting, or muddy to clear, so keep them in mind during your next mix.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Music Genres And Your Personality

Does the type of music we listen to provide clues to our personality?

Empirically you'd say yes, but there's a study that confirms that the genre of music we prefer goes a long way in outlining what we're like in our daily lives.

For better or worse, this is what the study found.
  • Blues fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and at ease
  • Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease
  • Rap fans have high self-esteem and are outgoing
  • Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle
  • Country and western fans are hardworking and outgoing
  • Reggae fans have high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Dance fans are creative and outgoing but not gentle
  • Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle
  • Bollywood fans are creative and outgoing
  • Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease
  • Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease
  • Soul fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease
Agree or disagree? Does one of these categories define your personality, or is it way off?


Monday, April 18, 2016

Producer/Engineer John Kurzweg On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Producer John Kurzweg imageIn an episode that you won't want to miss, Producer/engineer/musician John Kurzweg is my guest on this week's Inner Circle podcast.

If you've listened to rock radio, you're certainly familiar with John's work, as he's produced 12 #1 singles and another 8 top 10's for bands like Creed, Puddle of Mud, Godsmack and many others.

John's led a really interesting musical life, from an early guitar teacher telling him to give up, to a career as a solo artist, to engineering hits in his living room, there's a lot to learn from this great conversation.

In the intro I'll take a look at the ramifications of YouTube's major label licenses expiring, to the recent financial woes of Gibson Guitars.

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: Eventide Tverb Room Reverb Plugin

Eventide Tverb imageWe all love great room sounds and one of the most famous rooms ever recorded was on David Bowie's "Heroes" by Tony Visconti. Visconti set up three microphones in the hall of Berlin’s Hansa Studios; the first for Bowie to sing directly into, a second positioned about 15 feet away and the third further back in the hall. Visconti placed gates on the second and third microphones set to open as Bowie sang louder and louder.

This same sound can now be duplicated with the new Eventide Tverb, which consists of three completely independent reverbs with compression, selectable polar patterns on microphone 1 and adjustable gates on microphones 2 and 3.

What's more, the original effect was mono due to track limitations, but Tverb provides it in true stereo. The use of stereo microphones enhances the effect and DAW automation can be used to program the microphones to wander around the hall as the track plays.

Tverb consists of a variety of parameters, like 2 moveable microphones to adjust reverb size and tone, a custom Eventide reverb algorithm with EQ, diffusion, and decay control, 2 linkable post-reverb gate modules with control of when the gates close, the speed at which they close and the length of time they are forced to stay open. Signal inversion buttons are also available to remove (or create) phase cancellation, and a Mix Lock allows for scrolling through presets or settings while keeping the wet/dry mix constant.

The user interface is based on a "console" that was inspired by the one used in the session and is complete with Visconti’s "grease pencil" labelling, and provides post-reverb channel processing for each individual mic and the master. The room mixer module alters the sound of the room itself with control over decay, diffusion and frequency attenuation.

The Eventide Tverb is normally priced at $249 but currently has an introductory price of $149. A fully functioning 30 day demo version is also available. The plugin is available in AAX, VST and AU versions that work on most DAWs.



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