SM7B-and-SM58Thanks to everybody for listening to the mic shoot-out I posted on Thursday between the Shure SM7B and SM58.

A lot of people joined in the discussion, and things got pretty interesting! There were several comments here on the blog. Also, I published a link to the post over at Harmony Central, which got a few responses.

However, the biggest discussion is happening over at Gearslutz. Somebody posted a link to the shoot-out there, and a lot of folks joined in the discussion. Be sure to check them out. Pretty interesting reading.

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This episode of Ask Joe is a bit on the long side, but Chris asked some really good questions, and I think a lot of readers have the same sort of questions, so here we go!

Chris wrote:

First, great website. I’ve been dabbling in home recording for a few years now, and this is by far the most user-friendly and intuitive user-generated website I’ve seen. It’s a great service, and I really appreciate it.

As I indicated, I’ve been “dabbling” in home recording for a few years. I initially got into it to make hip hop beats (a phase I went through) and to record basic guitar/vocal demos. Here’s my current rig:

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SM58-and-SM7BIf you’ve been involved with audio for any length of time, there’s a good chance you’ve used a Shure SM58. It’s the workhorse of the live sound world, and it’s not a bad mic. But how does it sound in the studio?

Typically, when you think about recording vocals in a studio, you picture the singer in front of a nice large-diaphragm condenser microphone. Condenser mics are great, but is it ever appropriate to use a dynamic mic to record vocals?

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Yesterday I went through the first four track types in Pro Tools – audio, MIDI, instrument, and aux tracks. Today I want to delve into the mysterious master track, or master fader track.


In a typical Pro Tools session, you’ve got a bunch of audio tracks, a few instrument/MIDI tracks, and a couple aux tracks. The outputs of all these tracks are typically set to “Analog 1-2,” the main stereo outputs of your interface.

Internally, Pro Tools takes all these individual audio signals and combines them into a single pair of outputs. This is called summing.

When all of these tracks are combined, it’s very easy to clip the mix bus. None of the tracks have to even be close to setting off the clip light, but when they’re all summed together, there’s a good chance that clipping is happening underneath the hood.

How do we monitor this? The answer is the master fader.

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Track Types in Pro ToolsQuick quiz: How many track types are there in Pro Tools?

Anyone? The correct answer is five. Surprising, huh? For some reason I had this idea in my head that there were more, but as it turns out, you only need five types of tracks to do pretty much anything in Pro Tools – Audio, MIDI, Instrument, Aux, and Master.

I think it’s a good idea to go over each track type, since there tends to be confusion among newer Pro Tools users as to how each track type is to be utilized
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Photo by theogo

Yesterday my wife had her wisdom teeth taken out. Poor thing. I got to play the part of “nurse” for the day. (Which is funny, since my wife is actually a nurse.)

She slept most of the day, so in between going on milk shake runs and preparing warm salt water for her to gargle, I spent some time in my studio.

I had a good time.

I’ve got several projects going on right now. For one of these projects I’m playing bass on a local artist’s upcoming record. The engineer gave me a hard drive of Pro Tools sessions, and I’m working my way through them.

My Fender Mexican Jazz Bass and I have been spending a lot of time together. I’m using a borrowed Chandler LTD-1 channel strip. Mmm…so nice. I love the tone I’m getting.

So why do I bring this up? Well, first of all, I think it’s important for you to know that I DO actually record music in my home studio.

Secondly, I noticed yesterday that I wasted quite a bit of time. I came into the day with the intention of getting a lot of work accomplished. Before I knew it, it was 5pm, and I had only finished two songs.

What’s the deal?

You may recall an article I wrote a few weeks ago dealing with productivity in the home studio. I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle to stay productive when it comes to my studio. I came up with that article (and the productivity tips that followed) because I constantly struggle to stay focused myself.

I need to revisit this concept regularly. I’m not going to rewrite that article here today. You can read it for yourself. What I want to do is explore the different areas of my home studio and expose those things that are inhibiting productivity.

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Background vocals. They can make such a big difference in your music. However, a good background vocal takes some planning, especially if you’re doing a three- or four-part harmony. 

It’s best to figure out the arrangement before you begin recording. Otherwise, you’ll end up recording eight tracks of BGVs, only to decide that you don’t like the note choices. Suddenly you’re back at square one.

In this video I show you how to use an instrument track to build great background vocals. And yes, in this video I’m using Logic! You may have read my article on why I use Pro Tools, but for this video, I dug through the archives for a song I recorded in Logic that showcases this particular technique.

The same concept applies whether your on Pro Tools or anything else. Enjoy!


Check out my other videos here.