3 Ways to Find Your Focus in a Mix

A buddy of mine went to culinary school.

He was telling me the other day how much the stuff I talk about on Home Studio Corner is so relatable to cooking food.

(Have you ever watched that show “Chopped”? Wow. Super addicting.)

Anyway.

When you’re starting a mix of a song, it can be difficult to know where to start, what to focus on. So you might randomly tweak the drums, then guitars, then bass, then vocals, then back to drums…entering a vicious cycle of tweaking and re-tweaking.

How about this instead?

Think of your mix as a nice, dinner. There are TONS of elements that go into cooking a nice dinner, but a good chef knows how to cook dishes that complement one another, how to combine ingredients in a way that enhances the overall flavor. (more…)

Using Compression to Make Quiet Things LOUD

We all know compression turns things down.

And we say we know that you can use it to make quiet parts louder, but some of us (myself included at times) have a hard time actually using compression this way.

We feel like this — if a signal is passing through my compressor, that compressor needs to be squashing it at ALL times. No exceptions.

‘Tis a slippery slope…one that leads to overly-compressed, lifeless mixes.

BUT…let me remind you (and myself) of one of the many uses of compression. Check out the new video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8Qj89MUDEs&feature=plcp

And if you want the full story on exactly how I set up the compressor in the video (plus a bunch of other stuff that will make you luuuv compression), go here:

www.UnderstandingCompression.com

When Proximity Effect is Your Friend

With all the tutorial videos, podcasts, and webinars I do, I spend a lot of time in front of a microphone, recording spoken word.

I almost always use a dynamic microphone (my trusty AKG D5).

When I first started doing tutorial videos, I would go for my best “radio voice,” and put the microphone right up next to my mouth. As we all know, our good friend the Proximity Effect exaggerates the bass frequencies of a source as you move the mic closer to it.

While my voice sounded big, it also sounded a bit boomy. (more…)

Dealing with Spoken Word (and how to make it loud enough)

If you do recording long enough, you’ll eventually be asked to record some sort of spoken word.

Maybe your great uncle Joe-Bob wants to narrate his life’s story for posterity, or perhaps you’re asked to record the sermons at your church. Or maybe you’re simply running live sound for some sort of speech.

It can be tricky.

Especially when you’re trying to make the voice nice and loud, easily heard, and at a consistent, steady volume.

Lots of speakers are very dynamic, meaning they have moments where they whisper and others where they yell.

It can be a nightmare to try to reign them in. (more…)

The Solution to “Thin” Vocals

Yesterday I was answering some questions for on of my VIP members.

He was talking about how he always seems to get a thin-sounding vocal in his mixes.

Here are my thoughts.

First and foremost, does the recording itself sound thin? If so, then no amount of EQ or compression tricks will really help.

It all comes down to mic choice and mic placement. (more…)

Wrong Side of the Mic, Dummy

It was several years ago.

I was working at Sweetwater, selling music equipment.

One of the perks of the job was that we got to take gear home to try it out in our studios. I had some vocal tracks to record, so I grabbed a Rode mic out of the “gear closet” and took it home.

That weekend, I set up the mic and got warmed up to track vocals for a song I was working on.

Mic check. Level check. Hit record and started sangin’.

It wasn’t until I had sung an entire take that I realized something…well…embarrassing.

I had been singing into the wrong side of the mic.

Doh!

Why do I tell you this silly story? Simple. I don’t want you to be afraid to make a mistake.

You don’t have to have your act together 100% of the time. Mistakes won’t completely ruin your recordings. Clients won’t run away screaming if you make a mistake, even a dumb one.

Heck, you’ll probably learn more and improve faster if you let yourself make a bunch of mistakes.

So, that’s your homework for this weekend. Go make a few mistakes. It won’t kill ya.

If you want to learn how I learned from MY mistakes and how I go about getting vocal recordings I’m tickled pink with, check this out:

www.UnderstandingRecording.com/vocals

Joe Gilder

Back That Vocalist Up

more voice recordingWhat do your vocal recording sessions look like?

You get the Pro Tools session ready (create the vocal track and extra playlists for takes, create a reverb track and route the vocal to it), set up the mic stand, pop filter, music stand. Maybe dim the lights, have a bottle of water handy…perhaps you even light a candle to “set the mood”?

Okay, I can’t remember the last time I lit a candle to record vocals. 🙂

What’s the next thing that happens? Where do you put the vocalist once she shows up? Do you plan to put her REALLY close to the mic, like an inch or two away?

Hang on there, cowboy.

(more…)