Ask Joe #78 – Mixing Vocals and Using Samples

Wanna submit a question for the podcast? Go here:

Questions covered this week:

  • You always say Get It Right At The Source, and that no amount of compression or EQ will fix a poor recording. Is this true with drum samples? Will a bad kick sample be as hopeless as a poorly recorded kick track?
  • How would you approach mixing vocals with a stereo backing track rather than having all the instruments on separate tracks?
  • How do I add harmony to some vocal tracks? Are there any tricks you’ve learned that could help? Any resources out there that you would recommend?
  • Whose job is it to determine the length of a song – the engineer or the mixer?

Subscribe via:

Ask Joe #77 – Banjos and Acoustic Guitars

Wanna submit a question for the podcast? Go here:

Questions covered this week:

  • I plan on recording a banjo like an acoustic guitar. I didn’t know if that’s the “proper” or best sounding way to record it. Is a room mic needed, because there’s no sound hole?
  • I’m currently in a square room (11 by 11), but I don’t have the chance of putting up much acoustic treatment. Would I be better off using open back headphones or just putting up a small amount of acoustic treatment and use studio monitors? (Currently I’m just using a pair of krk 4600 closed back headphones to get my mixing done.)
  • Could you explain side chaining, what it is, and what it is used for?
  • I have been recording all of my guitars with an xy set up, and then doubling them with an additional xy guitar (each x and each y to their own mono track)   Would you go with an LCR approach for panning, like the body mic of each up the middle and the neck mice out the the left and right?  Do you thinks it would be better to keep one guitar all the to the left and the other the right?

Subscribe via:

Ask Joe #73 – Let’s Talk About Vocals

Wanna submit a question for the podcast? Go here:

Questions covered this week:

  • Do you actually “mix” on your “crap” speaker, or if you just use it to pick out problems and then go back and mix on your main monitors?
  • I have a home studio setup with three pairs of studio monitors, what is the best way to set up pairs of studio monitors?
  • When the singer hits some notes on my well EQ’d vocal,there are some frequencies that jump up and are annoying. Any way to get rid of those?
  • As a singer, what do you recommend to get better at singing in tune (live + recording) for someone with minor pitch issues?
  • How much silence (if any) do you leave at the very start and very end of a completed mastered song?

Subscribe via:

12 Home Studio Necessities #5 – Studio Monitors


If you were to browse any of the popular recording forums, it wouldn’t take you long to find someone complaining about how their mixes don’t translate.

What he’s complaining about is that he records a song, spends hours in his studio mixing it, and then it sounds completely different when he burns a copy to go listen to in his car or stereo.

This is something that has always plagued engineers and will continue to do so for years to come.

The issue? Everybody listens to music on a different set of speakers. And no two sets of speakers sound the same. So a perfectly crafted mix on one pair of speakers could sound really bass-heavy and muddy on another pair.


Acoustic Treatment vs. Digital Room Correction

Photo by yimmy149Photo by yimmy149 

A while back I had the pleasure of attending a seminar given by Gavin Haverstick
of Haverstick Designs. The topic of the seminar was how to measure the acoustic issues of your room. He talked about various measurement techniques and devices.

All of this was very interesting, but the most fascinating part for me was during the question-and-answer section at the end. Someone in the audience asked Gavin to give his opinion on digital room correction.

Let me take a step back and explain what I mean by “digital room correction.” There are several products on the market now that can tune studio monitors to the room they are in. For example, if the room is causing a boost at 200 Hz, these products will use a digital EQ to attenuate 200 Hz. The end result is (ideally) a flat frequency response.


3 Ways to Kill Your Monitors’ Stereo Image

Home studios aren’t perfect.

In a perfect world, your home studio would be designed by a professional. You’d have a great-sounding control room, a couple of tracking rooms, and a nice, quiet vocal booth.

Raise your hand if your control room, tracking room, and vocal booth are all the same room. (Joe quickly…and sheepishly…raises his hand.)

That’s the reality we face. We’re weekend warriors, home studio recordists. Hobbyists. We’ve got to make the best of what we’ve got.


Day 8 – Get the Most Out of Your Studio Monitors [31DBR]

Welcome to Day 8 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.

Once you get all these amazing tracks recorded, you’ve got to mix ’em right?


Recently I was hosting a live Q&A session. One of the attendees asked, “What’s the point of mixing? Once you have everything recorded, you just blend them together and you’re done, right?”

While mixing IS a fairly simple concept (combining multiple tracks down to a single stereo track), it takes a lifetime to master. Mixes I’m doing today sound a lot better than mixes I did a few years ago. Three years from now my mixes will sound even better (I hope). 🙂

So, we can agree that mixing is important. If that’s true, then your studio monitors are equally as important, since you’re listening to everything through them.

You need to make sure you’re using decent studio monitors. Obviously. If you’re using $20 computer speakers from Walmart, you’re probably not hearing things very accurately.

That said, even if you only have “okay” studio monitors, there are things you can do to make them sound as good as possible.

Headphones: To Mix or Not to Mix

Two days ago I asked you, “Do You Mix With Headphones?”

You posted some really interesting stuff. Here are a few of my favorites:

David S.:

i cater to the most popular form of listening. so far, i’ve found that mixing to headphones and then listening on speakers has worked. i’m not rick rubin, but neither is anyone else who is not rick rubin.


I do the main mix with Sony MDR-CD180 headphones, while checking with iPod buds, little Logitech laptop speakers and finally in my car. Between those, I can pretty much get it in the ballpark. I must be doing something right – on my last CD, even my most pickiest of listeners actually commented on how good it sounded. (excuse while I break my arm trying to pat myself on the back :-) )

Those both made me laugh out loud. 🙂