Mississippi Chainsaw Massacre

It was epic.

Pam, Owen, and I took a trip down to Mississippi this past weekend to go see my family.

Saturday afternoon, my brother-in-law and I were getting a little restless. Earlier that day my mom had jokingly asked us to cut down a dead tree out in the yard. (My parents live on the lake, out in the country.)

So we decided to grab a hatchet and an axe and go cut down the tree.

We hacked and hacked, and made a little progress.

A little.

But we were having fun, so we didn’t care.

Then my dad walked out with his fancy shmancy chainsaw.

He cut a wedge into one side of the tree, then the chain came off the chainsaw.

That was our chance. (more…)

Your Mix’s First Date

First dates.

Sooooo awkward.

(Luckily I only had a handful of them before I met my wife. Jackpot.)

The first date can make or break the relationship.

If you mess up the first date, you’ve got a lot of ground to cover, homey.

It’s the same way with mixing.

Pulling up a mix and jumping straight to fancy plugins is like picking a girl up for your first date and going in for a kiss before you even get to dinner.

Easy there, cowboy.

There’s a crucial “first date” portion to every mix. (more…)

Secret Recipe for Hard-Hitting Mixes

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You’re working on a mix, and you’re making a lot of progress, but when the song goes from the verse to the chorus, it just doesn’t hit you as hard as you’d like it to.

So you tweak.

You try more aggressive compression.

Doesn’t help.

You try automating the volume of some tracks to get louder at the chorus.

Doesn’t help.

You try boosting the lows on the bass and kick drum.

This helps a tiny bit, but not really.

What now? (more…)

Getting a bit “handsy”

Hey.

So this morning I was finishing up a mix, and it’s been a really fun, different experience.

See, I’ve had this Presonus StudioLive 16.0.2. digital mixer for a while, but I’ve only used it as a front-end interface for my studio. I’ve always mixed in-the-box.

Well, I guess I got bored the other day and decided to mix this song through my mixer.

It was more just for fun than “for serious,” but the mix was turning out so well I didn’t want to go back and re-mix it in-the-box. So I finished ‘er up, and I gotta say, it was awesome.

One of the best things about the process was that it made me think more simply. (more…)

Twist and Shout

Yo.

I was mastering an EP for a client recently, and I decided to try out my Waves SSL EQ plugin.

If you’re familiar with the SSL EQ, it consists of a bunch of knobs, but no visual “EQ curve” to look at.

As much as I love some sort of graphic EQ readout from time to time, it’s nice to just twist a knob and be forced to listen to what it’s doing to the audio.

I’ve never really used the SSL EQ before for mastering, simply because it’s not quite as “surgical” as something like Waves Q10, which allows you to see graphically EXACTLY what you’re doing with the EQ.

I’m not saying one is better than the other, but for this particular project, I really like the sound I was able to get with the less precise EQ.

But methinks I took it a bit too far. (more…)

You don’t have to practice anymore!

Since it’s President’s Day here in the US…and since last week was the State of the Union Address…I think it’s time we had a “State of the Studio” address.

I’ve mentioned the movie Sound City several times already. (It’s incredible. Please watch it.)

Here’s a quote from that movie that I think (sadly) sums up the state of many home studios today.

It was a quote from John Fogerty:

“I heard some young guy in a band say¬†you don’t have to practice anymore. You just slice it up in the machine (meaning the computer), and it comes out perfectly.”

#facepalm (more…)

Should I EQ/compress virtual drums?

Here’s a question I get a lot:

“When using Superior Drummer/Slate Drums, etc., should I compress and EQ those drum sounds?”

‘Tis a good question, and a popular question.

Lemme spell it out for ya.

9 times out of 10, if you ask me a “Should I…” question, my answer is going to go something like this: “Try it and see for yourself.”

Now, before you think that’s a lazy, arrogant answer, let me flip things around a bit. (more…)

How to Romance Your Studio

Since today’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share with you a tip that will help you in both your romantic relationships AND in your studio.

(And no, it’s not to have your sweetheart buy you a new piece of gear.)

I get lots of emails from people who complain that they don’t get to spend enough time in their home studios.

I get it.

Now, change gears for a second.

Imagine a scenario with me. You’re married with 3 kids. Life is crazy busy. You work full-time, and you spend the rest of your free time with your kids, doing work around the house, etc…but you almost never spend any quality time with your spouse.

Ruh-roh. (more…)