Sound Quality or Song Quality?

Keys To A ClassicMy buddy Ben sent me this question:

Sound quality or song quality, which would you say impacts a listener more?

A few non-helpful answers come to mind.

Like “both” or “it depends.” 🙂

While they’re not super-helpful answers by themselves, I think diving into each one will uncover some stuff that might help you. (more…)

Mixing Myths – Top 10 Countdown

Mixing Board at Radio ValenciaLet’s debunk some mixing myths today, David Letterman style. 🙂

Here are 10 common myths about mixing:

MYTH #10 – “I need big 8-inch monitors and a subwoofer to adequately mix the low end.”

Yes, bigger speakers produce more low frequencies, but that doesn’t mean you NEED them. I’ve never owned anything bigger than a 6-inch speaker, and I know lots of engineers who mix all day long on 5 and 6-inch monitors. (more…)

An Often-Overlooked Key to a Good Mix

I got a very nice email a couple days ago. The guy was simply writing to say that he really liked my song “I Won’t Fly Away” (from my latest album Out of Indiana).

He gushed about how he loved the songwriting, the arrangement, the mix, the vocal tone…”everything from start to finish” (or something like that).

I was flattered, of course.

But it made me wonder what it was exactly that made THAT song stand out so much to him?

It’s kind of an interesting story how that song evolved. (more…)

Compression: Attack vs Release

Got this question from a reader:

My question is regarding the compression technique you seem quite fond of. This is where you set the threshold to such a low value that it is basically compressing EVERYTHING, but you keep the ratio really low just to even things out.

I was wondering, seeing as the compressor pretty much never goes above the threshold value does this mean that the release function is useless now?

If the release only acts when the volume reaches over the threshold – but it never does – surely this makes this function redundant, no?

That’s a GREAT question, Arman.

To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure how useful the release function is in that particular instance.

I would imagine you’re probably right. The release doesn’t probably do to much to the sound in that scenario, since the signal really isn’t ever dropping below the threshold. (It MIGHT have something to do with how quickly the compressor “let’s go” of the signal as it goes from a loud section to a quieter section, but I’m not 100% sure about that.)

However, while release times can be helpful, I find myself spending MUCH more time getting the attack times right when using a compressor. Changing attack times can drastically affect the tone of the source, much more so than release times in my opinion.

Changing the attack time alone can make a kick drum go from sounding dull to sounding punchy and in-your-face.

Granted, this doesn’t apply as well if you’re doing a super low threshold and low ratio, but the principle still remains. Keep an eye on release times, but spend more of your time getting the attack time right, and you’ll be in good shape.

If compression leaves you a little bit stumped, and you’d like to learn more, check out:

www.understandingcompression.com

Happy attacking! 🙂

Fighting New Technology

I received this response from my last email/post (“Why I don’t use elastic audio or beat detective”):

My impression of this email is that it is written for the sole purpose of selling more tutorials, and not for actually offering any constructive advice.

I would much rather see you encourage the proper use of the awesome technology we are now witness to, instead of generating fear, and using that fear to make money.  I hope that isn’t too harsh.  I am still a BIG fan of homestudiocorner, and will continue to recommended you and your ideas to my friends and coworkers.  I was just rubbed the wrong way by your message here.

Here’s my response: (I thought you may find it helpful.)

You’re completely right that there’s nothing wrong with elastic pitch or beat detective, but I’m just giving my honest take on why I DON’T use them. They’re great tools when used properly, but I simply like my simple way of editing better.

Using elastic pitch and beat detective certainly don’t guarantee that you’ll have some sort of adverse results, but if you’re not careful it IS possible. The way I edit doesn’t leave anything up to software. There’s no time-stretching, so the audio quality doesn’t get touched at all.

My way is certainly not the only way, but it works really well for me, and it works well even when I try a different DAW that doesn’t have elastic audio or beat detective.

The point of that last email was to simply explain why I choose NOT to use some tools, even though they’re totally adequate. It’s kind of liberating, you know?

And yes, I do sell a training video on editing. The thing is — if someone was expecting to buy that video and learn how to use beat detective and elastic pitch, they would have been disappointed.

You wrote, ‘I would much rather see you encourage the proper use of the awesome technology we are now witness to, instead of generating fear, and using that fear to make money.’ That’s exactly what I’m doing, encouraging people to use the technology of simple editing to get great-sounding tracks.

If anything, people are really confused and overwhelmed when it comes to fancy editing tools. I’m encouraging them that you DON’T have to be a master at beat detective or elastic audio to get great results.

I think that’s BETTER than jumping on the latest technology just because it’s there.

I teach a very simple, basic, but effective method of editing. It’s not for everyone, but it’s the way I like to work, and I enjoy it.

Thanks for the email!

That’s my honest opinion on the matter. I was editing that way long before Elastic Audio came into existence. And I enjoy it!

By the way, that editing video is here: www.understandingediting.com, if you’re interested.

Happy chopping!

Why I Don’t Use Elastic Audio or Beat Detective

Yesterday I spent the day shooting videos on drum and bass editing for my Production Club members.

With all the advances in editing technology, especially in the last 5 years, you’d probably assume I’m all about using time-stretching algorithms and beat detective to help me “quantize” my audio tracks, right?

Wrong.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m all about SIMPLICITY when it comes to editing. (Come to think of it, I like simplicity with most things.)

That’s why I choose to manually chop up my tracks and edit them “by hand.” It’s something that’s simple, clean, and applies to all recording software.

I don’t care if you’re using Garageband or Audacity or Logic or Studio One — the basics of editing and pocketing are the same. Whenever I try to use these fancier editing tools, I end up feeling like I’m losing control of the track.

Rather than intentionally pocketing the downbeat of the first bar of the chorus, I’m trying to tell a piece of software to do that for me, all in the name of “efficiency” or the super catchy catchphrase “workflow.”

Inevitably the automagical software will try to “fix” things that don’t need fixing. Or it will stretch the audio and leave noticeable, audible artifacts.

I don’t want to spend hours getting the recordings to sound amazing, only to allow some time-stretching algorithm to come along and degrade the sound.

The way I edit doesn’t allow for any degradation in sound. It’s smooth. It’s seamless, and you can do it on any DAW.

If you want to see my exact process for editing everything from drums and bass to acoustic and electric guitars or vocals, you need to check out Understanding Editing.

You’ll learn my method and then practice on the practice tracks I provide. You’ll be a better editor by the end of the weekend.

Here’s the link: www.understandingediting.com

Have a great weekend, and happy editing!

A Case for Mixing at a Lower Volume

In the latest podcast I did with Graham, one of our 5 mixing “hacks” was to mix at lower volumes.

Lower volumes. What’s the fun in that?

I’ll be honest. I’m not great at doing this, but there are a lot of good reasons to mix at lower volumes. Here are a few:

  • Less ear fatigue – Mix for longer periods of time without wearing out your cute little ears
  • Forces you to listen more carefully – When the speakers are blaring, it can actually become more difficult to hear everything. Turning ’em down makes you listen more carefully.
  • Makes your room less of an issue – Yes, you should acoustically treat your room, but mixing at lower volumes gives your room less of a chance to mess with the sound before it hits your ears. Blasting sound into your room will cause those room issues (and we all have them) to become more pronounced and exaggerated.
  • Nowhere to “hide” – Sometimes a mix sounds better simply when you play it louder. Forcing yourself to mix at lower volumes forces you to get a good-sounding mix BEFORE you crank the volume.
  • Flatter response – It’s a fact, louder music actually sounds more “hyped” to our ears. A loud mix seems to have more bass and more highs…even if that’s not really the case. A lower volume gives you a “flatter” response to work with…which is ideal.

“How loud should I mix?” you ask. Some folks like to get SPL meters and measure it out. I don’t. Graham made a great point in yesterday’s podcast. Mix at a level where you can still comfortable hold a conversation with someone next to you.

Hey, it’s worth a shot.

If you want to come behind-the-scenes into my studio and see how I like to mix and record, among tons of other things, you should become a VIP member. I’m adding more features that will blow you away. All for just $5/month.

Go here to get in on the action:

https://www.homestudiocorner.com/vip

6 Ways to Attract Clients

This is another guest post from Nick Lewis of Brighton Mastering. It’s a followup to his previous guest post Making Money from Your Home Studio.

Business CardSo, you’ve been sitting at home making tunes for a while, you think you’re pretty good at it and see no reason why you shouldn’t start charging other people for your work. After all, you can provide a service to people who can’t do it for themselves.

But how do you go about getting clients? There’s no fixed answer, but here are a few pointers. (more…)