This is an Excerpt from a review by SOUND on SOUND of the dbx 160S Compressor/Limiter

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan98/articles/dbx.htm

Is the dbx 160S pure technology, a work of art, or a little of both? PAUL WHITE puts it to the test.

You can always tell when a valuable product comes in for review — it turns up in a flight case, not a cardboard box! The 160S is dbx’s top-of-the-range analogue compressor/limiter, and it’s pretty clear that the heavy, sculpted front panel and chunky metal knobs have been influenced by Focusrite’s high-end ‘Red’ styling, but the design aim seems to have been to capture the sonic signature of existing dbx classic products, rather than to go all out for sonic neutrality or attempt to create a new compressor characteristic.

INTRODUCTION

Housed in a 2U rack-mounting case, the 160S is a 2-channel compressor/limiter with the addition of dbx’s proprietary PeakStopPlus limiter on the output. Metering is via moving-coil meters rather than the more usual LED ladders, and full side-chain access is available. The heavy aluminium front panel is blue anodized, and all the controls, buttons included, have a heavy, smooth feel that inspires confidence.

Before going further, it’s probably helpful if I explain the presence of the PeakStopPlus limiter in a product that can already function as a limiter in its own right. The most obvious reason for including a separate limiter after a compressor is so that the user can apply gentle compression to the signal using the compressor section, but still have the limiter keeping watch for peaks that might otherwise exceed the safe limit for the next piece of equipment in line. This is particularly important with digital equipment, which doesn’t tolerate any overload. However, even if you were to configure the main compressor as a limiter, by using a high ratio and a very fast attack time, you’d find this setting less than ideal for low-frequency sounds, which are treated more kindly if the compressor attack time is set a little longer. Of course, setting anything other than the fastest attack time allows brief peaks to slip through the system unchecked, which is why a separate, very fast output limiter is so useful.

PeakStopPlus is actually a two-stage limiter designed to arrest excessive peaks with the minimum of side-effects, and it does this by first employing what dbx describe as their Instantaneous Transient Clamp, which controls the level using a soft logarithmic function to avoid harsh-sounding clipping effects. This effectively prevents overshoots of more than around 2dB above the set threshold, but then stage two comes into action, introducing another new dbx term — Intelligent Predictive Limiting. I interpret this as a type of look-ahead system that monitors the input level, providing a very short but still useful warning that a peak is about to hit the limiter. Apparently the top couple of dBs of the limiting process provide soft clipping rather than simple truncation which, again, helps produce a more natural sound. PeakStopPlus is provided as a kind of peak level safety net, so under normal circumstances the compressor output level would be set so that the limiter rarely operates (if ever). If desired, however, the limiter can be provoked into more frequent action, allowing its use as a creative effect.

dbx® 160 Plugin Overview with Eddie Kramer

Watch renowned producer/engineer Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones) present the Waves dbx® 160 Compressor/Limiter, an authentic-sounding plugin version of the vintage dbx® 160 compressor heard on countless hit recordings from the 1970s, 1980s and beyond.

For more on this great product check out this link and learn more!

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan98/articles/dbx.htm

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Antelope Audio Introduces MP32:

32 Channels of Transparent, World Class Microphone Preamplifiers in a Compact 2U Rack Design

MP32 is the Ultimate Front-End Recording Device for both Live and Studio Applications and the Perfect Companion to Antelope’s Orion32 Interface

Antelope Audio As part of its most recent product unveiling at the 137th International AES Convention, leading professional audio gear manufacturer Antelope Audio announces the MP32, a 32-channel, console-grade microphone preamplifier with integrated software control. Housed in a 2U rack space, MP32 is specifically designed to complement Orion32‘s precise conversion and ensure even greater transparency while recording.

Antelope Audio MP32

Antelope Audio MP32

The combination of the Orion32 and MP32 — totaling just 3U in rack space — make it a perfectly suited solution for studios and live recording where rack space can be a precious commodity. The new MP32 expands on the analog preamplifier circuit design of the recently launched Zen Studio, which includes 12 studio quality mic preamps.

“With the MP32, the key idea was to incorporate an holistic approach,” says Antelope’s founder and CEO, Igor Levin. “Instead of considering a mic pre to be a disparate element, it should be viewed within the framework of the overall structure which comprises the A/D converter, its drivers and the pre itself. The result is that the entire system works in harmony, ensuring sonic integrity throughout the entire recording chain: from recording, to conversion, and playback.”

Quality and Versatility On the Road, in the Home or in the Studio
Each of the class-A preamps on the MP32 feature phantom power and four of them can operate as Hi-Z instrument inputs. By using the MP32′s control panel (compatible with both Mac and PC), users can manipulate each of the unit’s input types and mic gain levels remotely. Even more, audio engineers are able to save and easily recall their own presets for various situations, making workflow more efficient. The individual V/U style metering provides instant signal confirmation at the glance of a computer monitor.

Rear View MP32

Each preamplifier on the MP32 was designed to be open and transparent, introducing an increased level of sonic realism in recorded material. The unit offers excellent headroom and up to 65 dB of gain in 1 dB steps: more than enough power for even the most demanding ribbon mics. Since the MP32 is so compact — yet uncompromising in its quality and feature set — it offers an economical solution for modern engineers and producers to increase both quality and channel count at the input stage, whether they are operating a DAW-based project studio, a state of the art commercial studio, a laptop-based live rig or a multi-channel remote recording truck.

The MP32 is scheduled to ship later in the forth quarter of 2014 and will be priced at $2995, with a special discount available for Orion32 owners.

32-Channel Mic Pres Perfectly Matching Orion32 Audio Intreface

MP32 is a 32-channel console-grade microphone preamp with integrated software remote control and Antelope Audio’s exciting new approach to analog circuit design.

The rave reviews shared by several top audio engineers regarding the quality of the 12 mic preamps in our portable audio interface Zen Studio urged us to expand further and create a 32-channel mic preamp housed in only two rack spaces. We designed MP32 to be a perfect match for our top-selling audio interface Orion32, this way ensuring a full transparency of the sound and complete integrity of the signal via the whole chain, from the mic pres through the conversion, recording and playback, all of them characterized by the signature Antelope sound. The combination of the Orion32 and MP32 — totaling just 3U in rack space — make it a perfectly suited solution for studios and live recording where rack space can be a precious commodity.

READ MORE HERE………>

Mixing Video Series: How to use Compression with the CA2A in SONAR X3

I use this software a lot and I found Cakewalk Sonar X3 to be one of the best recording software out there. You may like something different but this is a great tool for recording your music at home and in the studio

Mixing with Compression is an essential part to shaping and creating a great sounding track. In this video series I take you through a track-by-track video that shows you how to use compression on various types of instruments in SONAR X3 with the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier. You can use compression to control levels, enhance dynamics, and much more. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and check out this series today.

 

Part 1 of 7 – Introducing the CA2A and all of it’s parameters in SONAR X3.

The CA2A is available separately on the Cakewalk Store

Check out SONAR X3: http://www.cakewalk.com/Products/SONAR/

Check out the CA2A Leveling Amplifier: http://www.cakewalk.com/products/CA-2A/

Sound Design behind “The Hobbit”

In this exclusive SoundWorks Collection sound profile we visit Park Road Post Studios in Wellington, New Zealand to talk with the sound team of Director Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Featured interviews include Re-recording and sound design. I have found this to be very helpful and you may too.

As composers, artist and musicians we are to always challenge ourselves creativly, as well as technically. Although a lot of you may not creat score music or sound design I am sure you will gain some insight into your craft by watching and listening to this little video clip.

Mark Allan Wolfe and Wolfies Music radio interview

Be sure to tune in this evening at 9 pm est for a very informative and fun time!!

Life has ups and downs, highs and lows yet it is the music we follow within our heart that will ultimately define who we are and what we become. Tonight, we present to you, the gifted composer, Mark Allan Wolfe.

Mark Allan Wolfe is a composer and an artist in the truest sense. His film and TV compositions run from thought-provoking, high energy, laced with adrenaline and  atq times sincerity. Combining heart-pounding Rock ‘n Roll with tributaries of Electronics, World, Hip-Hop, Pop and Americana, Mark’s songs draw on his 25 years of striving for professionalism and musical merger of sound and genre.

His fans span the world and the 1500+ compositions verify that diversity on TV, internet, film and commercials. You may have hummed one of Mark’s tunes not even realizing the tunesmith behind the music. Web site: MarkAllanWolfe

Grace Peterson is an author, garden columnist and blogger. Depending on the weather, she can be found either pecking on her laptop or puttering in her garden. She is a member of the National Association of Memoir Writers and the Association For Writing Excellence and her work has been published in several anthologies.

Tonight we will speaking of her first book, Reaching. Is it Demon possession or mental illness. A personal descent into cult extremism and the aftermath,.

Grace lives in western Oregon, sharing a home with her husband and four furry felines while their four grown children come and go. REACHING is her first book. Her gardening memoir is slated for publication later this year. Web-site: Gracepete.com

Tips on getting music placed and listened to

A lot of people email me and ask questions about how to get their music heard, do I have some time to listen and perhaps can I give them some advice? So I decided to put this together as a little posting to try to pass along some VERY IMPORTANT info. I hope it helps it is very basic but sometimes that is all that is needed to do. .

Do your research, find out what shows fit your music. Check the credits. Some of us may respond to Linkedin, Facebook, etc. If I have heavy metal or hard rock songs and cues I am not going to send them along to a show that primarily uses Hip Hop? or Reggae?

You may think this is silly that I say this but I cannot begin to tell you how many times I might post a listing or song search and I get back the totally opposite results. I will post something like I need Hip Hop, or Urban rap tune and someone will eventually send me a singer songwriter or jazz, even once I got a classical score piece. I am not mocking you or making fun of them for I have done that even in the past a long time ago but you need to do your research and find out what shows use what or what have they licensed before. Nothing will get the Music Supervisor to NOT listen to something more than when someone says, “I know your not looking for this at the moment but I feel this will be the best fit for your show…”  Not tripping but if the director wanted something other than what is listed we would have asked for it.

When sending someone an email asking them to listen to your music be sure you make the process as simple as possible. Links to stream with a link to download next to it. Keep it clean and accessible. Something like SoundCloud or Drop Box You Send it, Reverbnation EPK something easy.

Try to think of it like a million folks are trying to get the Music Supervisor or A&R agent to listen to their music. If the one listening needs to fill out forms or go searching on some website then that is NOT going to happen.

“What is the best way for me to get your attention to their music or take a moment to listen?” Be honest about presentation. Be professional yet humble. Try not to tell me you’re the NEXT so and so..Let your music and image do the talking. You maybe working out of a garage or a one room apartment or you may have a great band rocking out every night. THe thing is that if you have great music and great attitude you WILL be heard, your music WILL get you to where you need to be. Might take a while but it will. LOL

Finally BE ENCOURAGED!! and Keep on keeping on. No ONE believes more in your music than YOU! No one will promote it as hard, talk it up as much or try to sell it more.If you send a package out give it some time say 4-6 weeks. I cannot tell you how many times I might have sent something out and not heard nothing back then WHAM when you’re not thinking about it like sometimes months later you get the call, “We LOVE YOUR MUSIC!!” So just because someone does not call you or email you with in a month or so does not mean you’re not being heard.

We live in an age of FAST..somethings take time and for the RIGHT time. If you hold steady and do not quit and believe, make great music SOMEONE WILL notice.

With that I say CHEERS and have a safe summer, stay in touch.

Wolfie’s Music Publishing

The music players on here are from Wolfies Music Publishing and Mark Allan Wolfe

NEW UPDATES

Hello everyone out there in TV land! Trust you all had a great thanksgiving time with those you love and care about. At the very least I trust that you took a moment out of your life to reflect on what you were thankful for.

I am just wanting to share a little info with you all. Made a lot of changes over at markallanwolfe.com I invite all of you to re visit and tell us what you think. There is a lot more info over there and a lot more on the way. For instance the new blog will be there and also Music 2 Sync will have a link thru there as well.

Which also leads me to share with you that we will be doing the same for Wolfies Music publishing main website as well Trying to get all the new things up and ready by the new year to start out fresh.

So if you have any ideas or thoughts about what you would like to see changed on our website feel free to share with us, maybe your ideas will go forwards. Tell us if there is something you would like to see come out of the new redo?

We just wanted to drop a quick story and say thanks for following and keeping in touch. Lets keep each other motivated to go on to bigger and better things.

Wolfies Music Publishing

Some Musical Business Terms

Good day my fellow musician and or music lover!

I was reviewing a few things with a client of mine the other day and I was sharing some basic terms often used with in the music business and I am one who is always endeavoring to learn and thought I might share a few terms with those of you who may just be starting out, or review for those of us who have been at this for some time.

I found some of these terms off of another website and felt that it would be fine to recycle some of these with the hopes of maybe encouraging those who take a few minutes to stay in touch. I will be adding more info and news updates very shortly once the ink is dry on a few agreements that are pending. I do hope you enjoy and feel free to share what ever you find here on this site and the others I own.

Music Administrator

Ostensibly, their duties should be to handle all the paperwork for the music supervisor and/or coordinator. In reality, they often have to handle a lot of the duties most often associated with being a supervisor and/or coordinator because of budget, time or personnel constraints. They may not be in the room as negotiations are in process, but after that meeting, you can bet that they’re the one who actually types up the contract!

Music Breakdown

While this can happen at the rough cut stage of a film, ideally the music supervisor is brought on before shooting, at which time they’ll read the script and note every place where music would be appropriate (i.e., club scene, romantic montage, car radio, etc.). This does NOT take the place of a spotting session (although it may include some ideas for where the bigger score pieces might work), but is merely a heads-up for the director with a ballpark idea of how many source cues might be needed and, perhaps, a rough budget. The supervisor will note the scene, type of music — or even a song title/artist if they have a specific song/recording in mind. They’ll also note how the music will be used (visual vocal — such as the band playing as everyone screams “Rock on!” — or background or whatever).

Music Clearance

Before using a piece of music and/or its recording in a film or TV program, it must be “cleared” with the respective publisher(s) and/or master rights holders. This means you need permission to use the music and/or its recording — and this means whether it’s “only” for a student film or festival uses, for TV (of any kind and anywhere), foreign or U.S. theatrical, or for Dolly Dinkle’s Dance Academy’s local cable ad. There are TWO parts of music clearance & licensing: A synchronization license is issued by the publisher for the use of the song/composition, and a master use license is issued by whoever holds the rights to the specific RECORDING of the song/composition. For famous/known copyrights and/or recordings get an expert or become one. It’s not brain surgery, but the ins-and-outs and “who knows who can get what at a good price and fast” can be really important — meaning you may get your “yes” or “no” answer in a couple of weeks as opposed to a couple of months. Suggestion? Go indie artist/label instead. They usually hold all rights to their own music and are more likely to make a deal that fits your budget. You’d be surprised at the variety of indie music available — it’s not all angsty chicks or moody dudes, but retro ’80s, big bands & 1940s swing, ’70s disco and old & new folk music from all around the world.

Music Coordinator

This differs greatly, depending on whether they’re on staff with a TV network or a full-service music company or an independent person who works with specific music supervisors. The Music Coordinator’s duties can be as simple as creating and filing cue sheets for the project and making sure all the dollars and cents add up at the end of the day, or may be as complex as working hand-in-hand with the music supervisor on all aspects of the project. Sometimes, if there is no supervisor, the Coordinator will work with the director and assume many of the duties a supervisor would normally handle. A Music Coordinator’s primary functions are normally to make sure the music the supervisor is suggesting for particular scenes is properly cataloged and delivered to the director, film editor and/or music editor (as directed), and all credit information (songwriters, artists, labels, etc.) is readily available. They are also responsible for coordinating the compilation of all information for cue sheet preparation, and may actually prepare the final cue sheets, based on the composer and music editor’s notes from the final mix of the film. Basically, the budget often dictates their duties.

Music Copyist (aka Copier, Music Preparer or Music Prep)

The Music Copyist (“Copier”) prepares the printed music charts and/or lead sheets the musicians use at a recording session. These are extracted from the overall music score the composer provides so that everyone is looking only at the part they play, and have their music in the right key for their instrument (kind of important). In the past (as those of us who had the stained fingers to prove it), such charts were done by hand, with India ink, and done one by one in a rather painstaking process. Today, with the advent of some great scoring software, those who prepare music for sessions most often will do it via the computer.

Music Editor

The Music Editor, along with the composer (and sometimes the music supervisor and/or coordinator) organizes, documents, and times all the music cues used in a project. He/She is the obsessive, retentive type and will often drive the director crazy with almost indistinguishable cuts in/out of a piece of music, but that’s why we love them. They will often make suggestions as to the best start/stop points, and can make a song “fit” into the scene, dodging dialogue and enhancing poignant moments by “cutting and pasting” a song. They also work with the composer on timing, length, type and placement of music that the director, composer and music supervisor have discussed during spotting sessions. If the music is being recorded live (not a Synth Score), the Music Editor will often be at recording sessions to document, time and name each cue, and will often generate the click used to keep everything exact. The Music Editor also cuts all music (source, score or source) into the film — although here is where the director and/or producer may return the “he/she’s driving me crazy” favor. The music editor also notes the correct SMPTE Time Codes for the cue’s in/out placement and provide that info to the music supervisor, coordinator and/or administrator so that official cue sheets can be prepared for filing with the respective performance rights organizations (PROs).

Music Publisher

A Music Publisher works with songwriters & composers to promote and market the writers’ songs/compositions. They pitch them to the folks who use music (movie/TV producers, record labels, video games, etc.). In return (and PLEASE NOTE: The Publisher will own this for the LIFE of the song/composition’s copyright — otherwise known as “in perpetuity”), the Publisher takes a percentage of the publishing half of a song (up to 100%). Publishers license the right to use the song (not to be confused with the recording of the song/composition), collect fees for the usage and split them with the songwriter/composer.

Music Supervisor

Regardless of whether they’re a “biggie” (meaning “I have a staff”) or an “indie” (“I get to do it all for less money”), the Music Supervisor’s main duty is in choosing music & licensing it for the project, and — as importantly — making sure the music they provide to the director/producer enhances the action/mood on screen, and helps the director/producer see their artistic vision realized. The Music Supervisor oversees all of the creative and business aspects of the music for a project. This includes helping to develop a music budget, assisting in the search for a composer, helping the director in his/her choice of songs, coordinating the soundtrack recording, “spotting sessions” (with composer & director), etc. It may or may not include doing the music clearance/music licensing paperwork, and can also include some (or all) of the duties of a music coordinator and/or music administrator. The earlier the Music Supervisor is involved, the more time they have to be creative — both with the music itself and with the budget. When a “famous” song, or a “classic copyright” is desired by a director, but the project’s budget does not allow for its use, the Supervisor will suggest (and often negotiate) budget-friendly alternatives from various sources, including independent artists and/or music libraries.

 

 

Helps for Composing a TV Commercial

I was surfing through the web the other day and I found this article felt it was pretty col. I feel it shared some very practical advice and thought I would share it with you. Please let me know what you think and also let the author know what you think as well.
5 Unwritten Rules For Composing a TV Commercial, Ident or Title Sequence
Written by Tim Rabjohns & Fridel for Music For TV Masterclass – July 25th 2012

As TV composers and course leaders we come across many unwritten rules that are simple but sometimes forgotten when working as a TV composer.  Some of you will agree that these are very simple but it sometimes make sense to go back to the basics.

1) When you read the brief try to understand what’s written in between the lines. Remember that most likely it was not written by a musician, and so they do not have the same way of expressing music as you do.  Try and think of the brief that describes the emotional journey that sets the mood of the piece, rather than always just the style of the piece.  Always ask as many questions as you can, (preferably to the person making the creative decisions) before starting to compose.  It also pays to ask for specific examples of existing music – this can save a lot of time and make things clearer..

2) Many people only submit a single option when they are pitching.  We really think it’s worthwhile trying to submit  more than one option. (some of them may be from pitches that you have done before).  We normally send one version that is exactly what the brief asks for, one that is a bit more extreme and one that follows your gut feeling (ie how you think it should sound).

3) Although it is a short piece of music a piece of music this length (ie 10 – 30 secs) it will often need to have a ‘Narrative’ of some sort. By this we mean a short intro, a middle or body and then a build towards the end and a finale.  We find it helpful to think of it like a song – with different “sections” – although much shorter.

Obviously not all jobs will require this format – especially some TV commercials which want the soundtrack to sound like a slice of a song.

4) If the job needs a “mnemonic” (a memorable melody line at the end – think “Intel Inside”) make sure it is a clear memorable melody and better if it appears in more than one place in the music.  Nowadays a mnemonic can also consist of a signature “sound” rather than a melody – so it’s always a good idea to ask the client what they want.

5) Subtle sound design can give lots of life to your ident composition. There are lots of sound design libraries full of sounds, so it is very easy to do.  It’s worth noting that you will always score more cred points if you create your own sounds – that nobody else has.

Good luck on your next pitch submission and we’d love to hear about your experiences and any other unwritten rules that you may have…

Written by Tim Rabjohns & Fridel for Music For TV Masterclass

Tips for making better home recordings

Always experiment! The only way to know what sounds good in your home studio and what to avoid is to try different approaches to the same thing you have always done. So much of your ability to create comes from trial and error and constantly honing your ears and your technique. As well as your skills of engineering, producing, and listening to other recordings you have done. So do not be afraid or as I say LAZY to try new things you maybe surprised at what you find.

Markallanwolfe.com

markallanwolfe.com

Focus on your instrument.
If you’re a vocalist preparing to record, warm up and do your vocal exercises. Maybe a throat spray to lubricate your vocals will help (though be wary of the sprays that desensitize your throat). Wear a scarf around your neck for a couple of days prior to entering the studio to help keep your pipes warm. And just do the basic stuff (avoid smoking, no dairy) to keep your throat moist and phlegm free.

If you’re a guitar player, change your strings before going into the studio – especially if it’s an acoustic guitar. If you’re a bass player and you don’t change your strings once a month, you need to change those strings before you bring that bass into the studio. It’ll help the tone, the output, and you’ll stay in better tune.

If you’re a drummer, change the drum heads. If the heads have been on for too long, they’re going to sound dull and they’re not going to stay in tune. Also, take time to tune the drums correctly – you may even want to tune the drums differently for different songs.

Move around the room
Physically move the instrument or amplifier to different parts of the room. It can make a big difference in the tone you get. If you’re recording an acoustic guitar, violin, piano, sax, or any acoustic instrument, and you have it up against a wall with a lot of glass and wood, you’ll get a more reflective sound than if you’re up against a baffle. If you’re recording an amp, don’t just turn the amp on, stick a mic in front of it, and hit “record.” The amp can sound totally different in different parts of the room, so play around with different spots until you get the right tone for the track.

For any performer, vocalist or instrumentalist, lighting control can also help set a mood. Recording a slow, sultry track? Dim all the lights, light up a candle, and get in the groove.

Move around the room
Physically move the instrument or amplifier to different parts of the room. It can make a big difference in the tone you get. If you’re recording an acoustic guitar, violin, piano, sax, or any acoustic instrument, and you have it up against a wall with a lot of glass and wood, you’ll get a more reflective sound than if you’re up against a baffle. If you’re recording an amp, don’t just turn the amp on, stick a mic in front of it, and hit “record.” The amp can sound totally different in different parts of the room, so play around with different spots until you get the right tone for the track.
Angle your amp
Raising an amp off the ground or angling it so the face of the amp is at 45 degrees can have dramatic effects, depending on the room and the amp. If you’re angling the amp, essentially you’re decoupling the amp from the floor. The floor may be wood, and it may have a resonant cavity below it that’s sucking away your low end, or adding more low end because it’s vibrating. By pulling the amp off the floor, you’re decoupling it. Even if you’re angling it, only part of the amp is touching the floor, so you’re basically removing the floor from the equation in terms of the tone you’re getting.Also, if you have an amp perpendicular to the floor, all the energy is going forward, and low to the ground. Let’s say you’ve got an 8′ ceiling. You’ve got many more options if the amp is kicked up at a 45º angle. Now you can put a mic up in the corner to get a little more of the room. If you’re going for a really tight sound, you might just want to leave it on the floor. Remember, in a studio they’re going to have a dead floor. They’ll have that under control so you wont have these pockets of resonance under the floor. Chances are, your home studio won’t be as predictable.

Mixing board

mixing board

Play with mic placement and angles
Mic placement and mic angles go a long way toward capturing different tones from the same source. For example, to help record a very sibilant vocal performer, try angling the mic up toward a 45º angle and you might find a lot of that popping and hissing goes away.

Mic placement

It’s been said before, but bears repeating—the best way to find the optimum placement of a microphone is to find the spot where the instrument sounds best. Do this by putting a finger in one ear and listening to the instrument with the other, moving around until you find the spot where it sounds best to you. Then put a mic in that spot.

I rarely use eq when tracking acoustics—so many tones can be achieved by placing the right microphone in the right spot that electronic equalization is usually unnecessary. For example, you might put a microphone 6 to 8 inches from the guitar, pointing at the neck about mid-way between the sound hole and the 12th fret.

When you listen to the signal, you may decide that the mic is picking up too much of the guitar’s low end—it sounds boomy. If this is the case, you could either point the mic farther up the neck and away from the sound hole (where a lot of the low end comes from), or you could pull the mic back another 6 or 8 inches (which will lessen the proximity effect of the mic). If the sound of the mic is too bright, you can move the mic closer to the sound hole or closer to the instrument. This isn’t an either/or choice; the character of the low end created by proximity effect is different from that attained by moving the mic closer to the sound hole.

Another approach is to use the off-axis frequency response of a mic to your advantage. Earlier I mentioned that cardioid microphones are more sensitive to sounds coming from in front than from the side; that’s true as an average, but many microphones exhibit a decreased sensitivity to certain frequencies as the source is moved off axis (that is, away from the front of the capsule). As an example, at 30 degrees off axis, a specific mic may be 2 dB less sensitive at 1 kHz, and 4 dB less sensitive at 10 kHz. For the user, this means that one way to change the sound captured by that mic would be to point it slightly away from the sound source.

Studio Mic

Studio Mic

Using Mic patterns to your advantage

Most microphones sold these days have a cardioid pickup pattern, which means that the mic is most sensitive to sounds coming from in front of the capsule, and is less sensitive to sounds coming from the sides and the rear. Most cardioid mics have a pronounced proximity effect, which means that the low end response of the mic is increased as it is moved closer to the sound source. But don’t forget that both omnidirectional mics (which are sensitive to sounds coming from all directions) and figure 8 mics (bi-directional mics which are more sensitive from the front and back and less sensitive to sounds coming from the sides) can be enormously useful, as I’ll detail in a bit.

Studio ambiance

You know, we’ve all read about those singers who recorded their hit song while surrounded by their necessities—their lava lamps, their incense, their ginseng tea and their aromatherapy candles; they want the darkened room, along with (I suppose) their bunny slippers, their spiritual adviser and the studio to be at 71.5 degrees and 42% humidity. Although this is cool to a degree somethings need to be and others are just personal preference. like if your just recording the music portion then yes I totally dig the whole lava lamps and stuff. I have them as well as different things to help stimulate the whole atmosphere.

With the singer I want light—enough light so that the singer can see their words, and, if they’re singing with a band, enough light so that all concerned can see each other. I’ve never been able to see that building a womb for the singer results in a performance any better than their performance while standing in the middle of a well-lit recording studio.

During the course of my years of recording I have taken a slightly different approach to things by experimenting in many different ways and encourage you to do the same.  I have sang and recorded my guitar in closets, bedrooms, laundry rooms and bathrooms. And you know what? They sounded great! I pretty much make sure that the vocalist has someplace to set their water (tea, coffee, or whatever), a music stand, a chair to sit on while they listen to playbacks, and off we go. Don’t misunderstand, though—I will try to make myself comfortable, but I have never seen the need to be straight by the book always. Sometimes the best recordings come by accident as well.

I will post more on this subject as time goes by, in the meantime I would be thankful for you to share some of your experiences if you would? What works for you? Where have you found the best ideas that work? Why not share them with the world for maybe someone can benefit from your experiment make a hit record and owe it all to you. Also all of the tracks submitted on this blog were recorded in my home studio,

Mark Allan Wolfe–www.markallanwolfe.com —wolfiesmusicpublishing.com

Mark Allan Wolfe

Mark Allan Wolfe