You got some genre on ya.

The other day I was finishing up my mix for this month’s song over at DuelingMixes.com. When I got done, I pulled up Graham’s mix and listened to it.

(For you newbies, Dueling Mixes is a membership where my buddy Graham and I compete each month on mixing the same song. Then we teach members how we each mixed said song.)

Anyhoo.

Graham’s mix sounded awesome as usual. And as I listened, I was struck by how different our mixes sound…not because one mix is obviously better than the other.

No, ’tis deeper than that.

It had to do with our STYLE of mixing.

See, the song is a HUGE song, lots and lots of guitars, vocals, drums, etc. And you could take it in one of several different directions stylistically. (more…)

How to Make Friends With Outboard Compressors

I was hanging out in the VIP forums a few days ago, and the question came up about using compression while recording.

Adam commented:

Applying compression during recording scares me and is something I think you should only really do if you are very comfortable with what it’s doing… For me I rarely get the compression right on the first pass.

For a long time I was in the same boat as Adam. I didn’t really bother with outboard compression while recording. After all, once you add compression to the signal and record it, you can’t undo it.

When you’re starting out, you might not even own an outboard compressor, and that’s fine. You can always record everything “dry” and add compression plug-ins later as needed.

But there’s something fun about running the signal through a compressor before it gets recorded. Let’s face it, we all like twisting knobs, right? (more…)

Dealing with Noise

Do you have noise in your recordings?

Do you hate noise?

Wish you knew some ways to deal with it?

This past Friday I spent part of the afternoon tracking acoustic guitar for a client. (He’s actually an HSC subscriber, too.)

It was a fairly quiet tune with a more finger-style guitar part. And since the instrumentation for the song was going to be primarily acoustic guitar, I decided to break out two mics and stereo-mic the guitar.

The problem?

Because I wasn’t strumming with a pick and playing nice and loud, I ended up having a fairly big amount of noise initially. (more…)

A Whacky Crazy Way to Get Better Recordings

In yesterday’s blog post, I railed on the type of folks who are always floundering, waiting on the next piece of gear to come riding in on a white horse and save the day.

Today I’m going to give you a simple tip.

If you follow this tip, I guarantee you’ll get better recordings.

How do I know? Because it has worked every time for me.

I gotta warn you, though. The odds aren’t in your favor. Chances are you’ll read this tip but won’t ever do anything about it.

“It can’t be that easy,” you might say.

“He’s over-simplifying things.”

You shouldn’t just blindly believe me. (more…)

Recording Engineers Who Don’t Make No Sense

Some things just don’t make no sense.

I interact regularly with lots home studio owners.

And the more I hear from them, the more “don’t make no sense” things I hear.

For example…

  1. People who complain that they can never find any paying clients, but they don’t have a single song in their portfolio to show of their chops.
  2. People who can’t get good mixes, and they blame it on their gear. (more…)

Why You Should Record With Room Mics (Even if You Don’t End Up Using Them)

A few weeks ago I told you about a live concert recording I did for a friend of mine.

It was a simple show, just her and a piano in an old church. She sang half of the songs with a handheld mic; the rest were classical/musical theater pieces performed without a microphone.

My plan was to simply use two mics on her vocals (one for the handheld stuff, one farther away to capture the classical tunes) and a pair of small-diaphragm condenser mics in an XY pattern on the piano (a nice old baby grand).

That was the plan. Four mics. (more…)

Attack of the Lop-Sided Stereo Monster

A reader is puzzled by stereo (2-mic) acoustic guitar recording:

I recently got into mixing acoustic guitar with 2 mics. The problem is that I do not know how to create as much ‘space’ as some tracks I know of. I’ve tried XY, ORTF, and spaced pair.

XY and ORTF are too narrow. Spaced pair seems reasonable (following the 3:1 Rule), but the mic pointed closest to the body becomes overly ‘bassy.’

How can I balance the stereo image? EQ can control the problem but not by much. How would you go about on fixing this problem?

I know mic position has to do with it but I don’t know where to start. Just wondering if you had to overcome this type of problem before.

As much acoustic guitar recording and mixing as I do, I’ve dealt with problems like this a LOT.

(And this applies to ANY instrument, not just acoustic guitar.) (more…)

Why EQ is Unnatural

EQJim asks,

I’m planning on ordering your Understanding EQ package. I was just wondering something about EQ in recording. Could you please explain why we have to EQ instruments in a recording? If we see a live performance without sound reinforcement there is no frequency manipulation. Why is it so different from recording and what we hear out of speakers? Is it an issue of sonic space?

This is a REALLY good question.

Why is it that I can listen to musicians playing in front of me and it sounds fine, then when I record them I have to do all this manipulation to get them to fit well together? (more…)