Studio Project Lesson

Studio Lesson, Gareth Stuart

 

 

 

This is a new lesson for this year, Studio Project. I am very excited to start week two of this subject. I think its good that we have a lesson of studio work, be great to learn more within a studio environment. With having done a course with music technology in a studio for  two years btech course, i know a little however feel I can learn ALOT more and I know with music projects looming ahead, this lesson will be so useful not just for the sort-term but for the long-term.

Below is the two assignments I have to complete for this semester, both entailing studio work and composition skills.

“Assessment Guidelines

Assessment 1

1st production “free of stylistic constraints”, original OR cover: band recording 2-6 mins (any genre) must include: drums, bass, guitar/piano, voice you may also include: woodwind, brass, strings, percussion, synths All instruments to be miced.  In addition, guitar and bass may be d.i. (direct inject) Treatment – only use: High pass filter, sample delay (time adjuster), compression, sidechaining, limiting (on master fader). NB:  The mix output must not clip prior to limiting. Limit to -0.2dBs Use no other effects or eq. This is a “dry” task to demonstrate appropriate mic placement and basic studio competence. Record your plans and progress in your blog, including photographs of your mic placement and screen shots of aspects of your mix (such as plug-in placement).

Assessment 2

2nd production “should consciously emulate a particular style of music production, either from the past or from the present day”, in an ORIGINAL piece: Provide evidence (in your blog) of the production techniques you intend to use, with links to appropriate articles (detailing those techniques) and links to tracks where those techniques are clearly demonstrated NEW band recording 2-6 mins (any genre) must include: drums, bass, guitar/piano, voice you should also include at least one of the following: woodwind, brass, strings, percussion, synths Treatment – appropriate use of: eq, compression, effects, elastic audio manipulation, sample delay (time adjuster), sidechaining, limiting (on any track, aux input (including a sub-mix) and the master fader) With the exception of bass and guitar, which may be d.i., all instruments must be miced, although this production need not be of a ‘performance’ ie. it could include ‘sampling sessions’, in which case, evidence of the original recording must be provided (as a ‘muted’ track/s). (To clarify, you could for example, record individual drums and cymbals, then programme a drum track, or trigger drum sounds by midi.) NB:  The mix output must not clip prior to limiting. Limit to -0.2dBs The purpose of this task is to borrow present and/or past production techniques in creating your own, original production pastiche. You may focus on one approach ie, using several techniques of one producer, or combine a variety of techniques, for example, sample drums, then ‘send’ them to the recital hall and record the hall’s natural reverb. Record your plans and progress in your blog, detailing your ‘production intentions’ including photographs of your mic placement and screen shots of aspects of your mix and the steps taken to achieve your various production goals.

Clarification on working collaboratively

Module Guide / Module Definition Form:- “Working collaboratively by forming and recording their own musical ensembles, they make use of their technical knowledge to create two contrasting musical productions, which comprise the assessment for this module. One of these is free of stylistic constraints; the other should consciously emulate the musical character of a particular production style from the past or present, in an original piece of work.” While students are encouraged to work in groups, each student is responsible for: choosing the music recorded (in the case of the 1st production being a cover) and for originating the music for the 2nd production; making all decisions on recording and production techniques adopted; creating a blog to provide evidence of the above, accounting for plans/ideas, delivery (of those plans) and reflecting on the outcome (of both productions), with reference to producers and production techniques researched (in the case of the 2nd production); organising and directing musicians involved in the recording; producing individual work. NB:  Talk/communicate with one another.  Students’ musical attributes are listed on the Studio Production Blogroll The last thing I want is 40 versions of Mustang Sally, but 1 would be okay!! If you intend to record a cover for the 1st production, please let me know the title, in order that I log the date, to avoid duplication and disappointment.”

-Gareth Stuart

Thoughts and ideas for composition 1

Over the last week I was unsure what would be best to do for my first composition, either original or cover.  After giving it some thought I have decided to do a James Taylor Track, ‘Carolina In My Mind”.  Its a great acoustic track from the late 60s and would be ideal for using different  microphone placement techniques for acoustic instrumentation . I plan to research closely, different microphone techniques to get a warm, dry and crisp sound.  I reckon however a huge amount of experimentation in this field is necessary  to get the right acoustic results. I am not sure exactly who’s going to be playing what instrument however that will be decided as I go along for now.

 

 

The instruments I will use for this composition are:

Voice

Drums

Percussion; shaker, tamborine

Bass

Electric Guitar

Acoustic Guitar

Piano

As stated earlier I will research each instrument and blog findings and techniques which I will try/use when recording.

 

 

Lesson 2: Acoustic Guitar Microphone techniques

Todays lesson consisted of going over basic Pro Tools setup. Such as starting up equipment in a specific order to stop clicks and pops damaging the speakers, sound devices being turned on at the right moment so the computer can register what sound card is being used when loading the DAW.  One thing I noticed I will have to aware of when starting up the system and gear is check to make sure volume is at a low level on gear such as, speaker amp and headphone amp. This is incredibley important when listening to material to avoid hearing damage to the user/s.

Once this was setup we then repeated the process of foldback and talkback. This is to establish, with people in the live room and the mixing room good communication to avoid have to move from one room to the other for simple tasks. I noticed everyone including myself felt more happier setting up this as I reckon were all familiarizing with the signal path and the gear used. With Gareth Stuart’s help we managed to get the signal from the microphone to work, as it was possibly diagnosed to be a fault between the ISA Focusrite microphone preamp and the patch bay.

During this module were learning about different microphone techniques and practicing there differences, similarities and setup procedures. This I think is a great way of learning of who to record instruments making sure that the actual microphone placement sounds good to the listener without added effects that can make a recording sound over processed and un-natural. Due to the first assessment requiring us to record a dry mix only relying on various different microphone techniques and placement this is good practice to capture the  instrumentation in its best form.

“A-B” Stereo Microphone Setup

In the lesson we first learnt and  setup a A-B stereo microphone placement. This technique is used with two omnidirectional condenser microphones (DPA 4090) which picks up all sound at 360 degrees was faced apart at opposite ends of the stereo microphone stand. With this type of microphone,  when recording an acoustic guitar it meant that the whole guitar’s sound from the bottom to the top of the neck could be captured in “wide stereo”.

We experimented with positioning of the microphone  until we were happy with the sound. From moving the stand further, closer to certain parts of the guitar. We eventually placed the microphone facing just above the sound hole to attempt to capture a true and natural tone without having any frequencies being over extenuated. A thing to  also consider is that there are so many types of guitars and playing techniques that musicians are available too, so its important to make sure the right technique is suitable for the type,  style and effect wanted. Once we listened to the recording we noticed there was a bass rumble being picked up from the “Chill room”, from local building construction workers. Due to this we needed to use a Hi Pass filter on pro-tools to cut that low frequency out but without affecting the rest of the tonal characteristics of the instrument.

 

X-Y Microphone Setup

This setup is called the X-Y microphone technique. Unlike the A-B technique this has two cardiod microphones touching at 90-135 degrees producing a stereo image without phase issues. As previously mentioned this setup uses cardioid pickup pattern only unlike the previous technique using an omnidirectional pickup pattern. Due to the angle placement of X-Y, this setup is fantastic for use on acoustic instrumentation such as acoustic guitar to capture the full frequency range of the instrument, from top to bottom. It is also good to use for drums to capture the full kit if normall placed above the drums facing at 180 degrees down.  Despite X-Y being a  “stereo” technique, due to there being no phase due to the microphones capturing the sound at the same time, it can be easily bounced into a mono track if required.

We experimented with positioning of this microphone technique on a acoustic guitar due to this instrument having different frequency characteristics at different parts and found a good point where it picked up a good, clean and “realistic” sound that we all thought sounded professional.

Lesson 3: Acoustic Guitar Microphone techniques Part 2

NOS Stereo Microphone Technique

This technique is the opposite to the previous technique X-Y. This technique has microphones facing 90 degrees at the bottom of the microphone instead of the  top creating a very wide stereo image of the source being recorded. Same as before this technique uses two cardiod microphones which means it will pick up sound sources in-front of the capsule of the microphone. This technique can be used to capture for example;  a large performance of classical instrumentation, duets by  close micing the instruments. I reckon some nice effects could also be made if this is used as a ambient microphone in a room, to capture a stereo image of the rooms acoustic properties reacting to the sources producing the sound. When using this technique to see the effects we first placed this microphone about a meter or so in front of an acoustic guitar, and due to the space and the angle the microphones are pointing it gave the effect of a very lifeless, thin sounding acoustic. With the lower frequencies being in the middle of the guitar ( the sound hole) the microphone placement was capturing the far left and right of the guitar creating a more “small room” sound outcome.

MS (Mid Side Technique) Microphone Technique

This a more complex microphone setup in which two different polar pickup patterns are used, cardioid and figure of 8. The cardioid  points straight at the source, then the figure of 8 microphone points 90 degrees to the source. The way to set this up in Pro-Tools requires a few steps to make sure the phasing is correct, system preferences so that the overall technique is perfect.  Once the phase part of this setup is completed the level of the stereo and mono outputs can be mixed to the users preference to make a wider, narrow or mono image.

– Add two mono audio track

-First mono track is for the  cardioid microphone

– Side positive (name of the figure of 8 setup) is panned left

– A mono aux input is setup, ms-matrix (the name of aux)

– A mono aux channel side negative (name of cardiod setup) is panned right

-Feed side to side negative

-Take a send on side positive

-Feed into mono aux

-Set fader to unity 0db

-Fader needs to be pre-fader

-Input to mono aux needs to have a buss attached

-Side positive/negative need to be highlighted then made into a group (cmd – 6)

– Click on globals tab, make sure main “volume” and “mute” are ticked

-All boxes in mix attributes are ticked

-Negative aux insert needs Eq3 1band inserted

-“TDM PLUGIN” then “input” and click phase symbol

-View sends a-e, choose a particular send its on, for a mini fader

-Setup, playback engine, delay compensation engine, short setting is preferred for setting

-Finally Phase scope to analyze

Recording Drums For James Taylor Carolina In My Mind

6/10/2010

 

 

 

Here below is a mp3 bounce of the pro-tools  drum kit recording (in stereo)  6/10/2010

On wednesday 6th we recorded drums for Matt hollis’, James Utting’s, Sol Bateman’s and my tracks. We asked Andrew hosker to come in and play to a guide track we provided for him. To begin with the prospect of using the pro-tools system to record a whole drum set was daunting. We in-countered a few problems to begin with too. We found that the first ISA microphone preamp’s levels knobs werent working at all, even when we turned them right down to exspectedly hear nothing the level was un-changed. Weither this was our fault for perhaps not pressing a certain button on the preamp, who knows however due to this taking some time out of the two hours we had booked, we just patched in the other microphone preamp ISA 2. This solved the problem and we were able to set the levels accordingly.

Microphone Setup

Bass Drum- Sennheiser E602 :

The microphone we used for the bass drum was a Sennheiser E602 which we placed in the bass drum’s hole with a small microphone stand, this was to try and get a punchy close miked outcome. We knew that the level of the bass drum signal does not need to be too high due to other elements of the kit needed to be added into the output, so we made sure the level was moderate allowing a good amount of headroom on the fader incase levels increased ( no compression was used during the recording process, we are only going to use it after).

Snare Drum- Two DPA 4090s :

For the snare drum we all decided to use two DPA 4090s. We placed one at the top and one at the bottom to capture the characteristics of both sides, to stop phase you place them symmetrically. What was good about using this microphone technique it meant you could get the “grit” sound of the snare whilst above a more punchy tone was being produced. From the mp3 bounce you can hear this effect working well with the rest of the kit. It was ironic because we had this loose toned snare only to figure out that the drummer and us forgot to tighten the drum heads to make it have less rattle when struck.

Overheads Left & Right- Two Akg 414s :

We used two AKG 141s to be used as two overheads left and right. We placed these two microphones to the left and right of the kit adjacent to the first two corners of the “loud room” as you walk in. We did not have to use overheads initially however to capture the whole sound of the kit and the cymbals using overheads means you can get a clear and crisp sounding kit. Of course the room itself that it was recorded in was acoustically treated to create a dry recording so this type of technique served the sound result very well. Being a condenser microphone as to the previous microphone discussed means you get a more clearer brighter sound, a down side is that levels need to be monitored more carefully as they do not handle high sound pressure levels well.

First we setup all the microphone channels from “loud room 1” to be sent to now Preamp 2. Once we knew the levels were coming through ISA 2 Microphone Preamp we then set up talk back and foldback so that we could easily communicate to the people in the live room with use of a desk microphone next to the apple screen. Once this was setup we then asked Andew Hosker ( the dummer) to play each part of the drum kit to get the levels set accordingly. We made sure that he played each kit as hard as he would be for each track so that we could get a good level but allow extra a heathy amount of headroom when referring, not just to each channel separately, but on the master fader too (1.5 db of headroom on master fader). Once we were happy with levels, for microphones and headphone send we then got Andrew to work through the guide tracks, with a few times to practice before we recorded. Was very happy with the playing from andrew and the others in studio agreed for the time we had to record we did very well to get drums for everyone and all in time too. As this was one of my main concerns with not using the studio often and still coming to grips with pro tools.

All together we all work well in a group and I cant wait to record guitars next week!

lesson 4: Using  DI for guitars, Sample delay & Side Chaining 14/10/2010

Due to being ill i was unable to make it too mondays lecture on this subject however managed to go into another studio project lesson on the thursday, hense the date above being later than usual . So within this lesson I felt that I learnt more about things I knew about, Direct injection & side chaining however was surprised with how little i previously knew about sample delay and how useful it is to use with audio

DI or Direction Injection

This is where you plug in the guitar into a preamp without the use of an amp all you hear is a straight signal from the output of the guitar. Once the sound can be heard from the computer we then learnt how to send the signal from the control room into the live room via the patch bay.

The steps to do this in the Pro-Tools studio are:

– Plug instrument into microphone preamp via the “inst” input on the left hand side

– Make sure that the “inst” section has been selected on the preamp (light indicated)

– Change the impedance accordingly to either HI or LO (when trying the difference between in this lesson we did not find a difference in sound at all)

– For guitar though we were told to use HI ideally

– Once a audio track is created with the input of the preamp (b1) we then should be able to hear the instrument through the main monitors

-We then need to send the DI guitar to the amp in the live room

– use an interface output between A3-A8

-Once selected send the signal using the patch bay from “192 analogue out” and patch the selected output you have chosen from pro tools

-Then send the signal to chill room three for example

-Making sure that there is an audio jack from the wall-box from chill room to the amp so that sound will be heard

Sample Delay

Once the guitar was recorded looking at the DI audio track and the audio track of the recorded amp there is a slight delay by a few milliseconds between when the DI is played and when the signal goes to the amp which is then recorded. To remove any such delay we need to use a plugin called “sample delay” which simply through sample calculation compensates the delay on the waveform which as a result making the waveform sound in time with the DI input. This technique is more commonly used for overhead microphones for drum kits as these pick up the sound of the instrument parts at different times due to there position so for an example using this for overheads will give you a more obvious, tighter sound.

To set this technique up in Pro-Tools here are the steps below:

-Change the counter display on Pro- Tools to samples

-Select the two waveforms you want to analyse

-Click the tab buttom on sides of these two waveforms and change its size to “extreme” to give a bigger picture of the waveform

-Press shift and drag to the start of the two waveforms

-highlight the start underneath the non delayed waveform to the start of the delayed waveform

-Now you have highlighted this in the transport window the number of samples should be indicated clearly

-Then insert on the delayed channel the plugin ” Time Adjuster Short”

-Click in the sample box area of the plugin and change the number to the amount of samples from the tranport bar of the part previously highlighted

-Now the waveform is not delayed, bypass this effect to notice if there is any difference in the timing when comparing the two.

Side Chaining

This technique most commonly used on dance music and radio is where you send a signal through a bus from for example a microphone for radio and send the bussed signal to the compressor in which the music is coming through. The gradually lower the compressors threshold until when speaking into the microphone you will notice the music will “duck” in the envelope of the your voice. Of course you can change the compressors attack, release etc to create a more smoother or harsher effect of this technique dependent on preference. In dance music you normally use side-chaining to control a pads envelopes envelopes from a bass drum’s 4/4 beat to create a more pulsing timbre that making a very boring timbre pad have movement. In recording it can be used for guitars and vocals for instance to control the amount of guitar being heard as the vocals are being played, to help the mix sound, un-cluttered and balanced between vocals and guitar.

To set this up in Pro-Tools below are the steps:

– vocal track send into a bus

-click right to rename a new bus/audio track

-add a compressor to the guitar channel

-key symbol key input needs to be selected

-make the “key symbol” active

-lower threshold

-play track soloing guitar and vocals and play around with the attack, release and threshold for different envelope timbres

I am very happy with how much i am learning so far, this lesson i felt like I went away knowing SO much more than previously did. The sidechaining technique for guitar and vocals is definitely one i will try out for my own mixes as I did find it previously difficult to get the balance between vocals and guitars at a good balanced level. I reckon if we keep on booking pro tools sessions and keep practicing these techniques I will feel a lot more confident not only using the daw but using the techniques effectively.

Recording Acoustic Guitar For “Carolina In My Mind”

15/10/2010

We booked another studio session from 9am till 1pm so that we could get a chunk of recording done, as we want to try and get agood time so that we do not have to rush or hurry ourselfs at the expense of quality of the recording. First off We recorded my part, the acoustic guitar. I went into to the studio nervously with a sense of  stage freight (due to lack of experience performing).  Due to this it took about an hour to get a good take that I was happy with that can be used for further mixing.

Microphone technique used:

I decided to use a X-Y setup to record my guitar. We angled the microphones 90 degrees apart from each other and moved the microphone stand close enough to capture the full width of the guitar. Due to being X-Y we had to change the microphones (two Akg 414’s) making sure it was on the cardioid setting. I did not want the microphone being cardioid to accentuate unwanted frequencies, this being called the proximity effect. Listening to the recording back I really liked the tone in which the microphone recorded. James Taylor’s recorded version has a very brittle sounding guitar tone, this was what I wanted to capture this as best as I could.

Of course the whole session was not just to record my acoustic guitar, we wanted to record bass and guitar for Matt Hollis, James Utting, Sol Batemen and me. I managed to record acoustic for Sol Batemen using this same technique has he liked the tone the microphone was capturing. Things seemed to be going well in terms of how quick we were recording and the quality of each recording. However once we wanted to record electric guitar/bass things all went wrong. We managed to get the guitar to work going through Pro-Tools it was when we wanted to DI the guitar into the “Chill Room” we struck a few issues. We noticed that the Peavey amp which was creating  a huge amount of hum, even when nothing was plugged in. We could not use another amp because the stack amp and the marshall were both being used that morning. We tried to use a bass amp but we found that also had some kind of interference possibly from the mains. It seemed all of our confidence had been shaken and from simple things such as patching had become confusing and a mess. Typically after we had decided to record the guitar straight into pro tools and worry about the DI amp part later, James Utting’s guitar string broke, very bad timing indeed! So in the end we had a quick moan and angry banter then decided to pack up. On the plus side we managed to record bass in the last five minutes for Matt Hollis’s track!

I look forward to next week!

Lesson 5: Recording drums 18/10/2010

This lesson we focused on recording drum techniques with Pro-Tools. Here below is the different microphones we used for each part of the drum kit:

Kick Drum: Sennheiser e602 mk2

Snare drum: DPA 4090, one on top and bottom of the snare drum. The bottom of the snare was had the phase reversed to the top of the snare microphone. Hi Hat- Akg 414 on Omni-directional setting parallel top side of hi-hat.

Overheads: Two Sennhieser MD421 condenser microphones both spaced from eachother at equal length from the snare from both left and right of the drum kit.

 

Stereo Foldback Setup

Stereo foldback setup is a fantastic way of making independent mixes for people performing in the studio, enabling full control of there needs for headphone monitoring. I admit I have not used this technique as of yet however I plan for track two of this module to use this especially if I am using a group of performers playing live.

The way to setup this technique is as follows:

  • Highlight selected tracks
  • Hold down alt
  • “sends” interface “7-8”
  • view menu, send “f”
  • all foldback sends need to be “pre” fade
  • “AB” or “CD” for headphone amp

Recording Bass Guitar for.. Carolina In My Mind

This was really one of the last sessions we were going to have adding any instruments to track 1 of this module. We had spent around four or five weeks adding our instruments and felt that the next session we were going to book should be focused on the next track, task 2. Within this session we managed to record bass for both my, James Utting’s, Sol Batemen’s track including electric guitar for Matt Hollis’s track. So quite a productive day all in all! 🙂

Bass for my part I wanted to keep it simple not just in the setup but in the phrasing and melody. As I do not really play bass hardly at all, here and there were some odd mistakes which I agree could of been edited or re-done however time constraints for getting other peoples track done was a small pressure when playing this instrument.

I wanted to be able to see the computer as I played the bass parts so I decided to DI the guitar into the ISA Microphone preamp then once I was happy with the bass parts I decided to send the signal from the sound-card straight into the live room’s bass amp. Due to already having  setup a Neumann Microphone to the bass amp all the connections were already set, all that needed to be done was the connection from the soundcard to the bass amp.

The actual settings for the bass amp were as follows:

Gain: 10%

UtraBass: 50%

Bass: 60%

Middle: 60%

Treble: 60%

Shape: 40%

(If your wondering what the “Shape” option on the amp does it allows the users to change the contour of the sound from a metallic sounds through to harsh “dull” sounding tones. Great for creating your own custom preference)

Output: 5%

I had to change the settings to these above due to the others in the group having a much more heavier tone, in which my track did not need as the genre required a lighter, thinner bass sound.

Microphone Setup

As stated earlier we all used a Neumann Microphone to recording the bass amp.

As you can see above the frequency response of this microphone is ideal for recording a bass amp (personal opinion). We noticed that it rolls of frequencies between 20hz and 50hz from -8db to -2db, as a result lowering the amount of bass rumble picked up from the cab. With a flat middle frequency response it meant that the sound would not have any added amount of mid range frequencies added by as certain amount. Between 5khz and 16khz the frequencies are increased ten fold by a maximum of +4db.

Of course being cardioid meant also that it would be a direct recorded source rather than the microphone picking up clearly the rooms ambience if say it were a omni-directional microphone.

We angle the microphone so that it was angled straight at the speaker on a 45 degrees downwards facing the edge of the speaker. As a result. capturing the less harsher tones in which can be heard at the centre of the speaker’s cone.

Recording Vocals For Carolina In My Mind

Once we had the other three recorded we then needed to record the last track, the vocals. I did not do anything special for this only placed a Neumann TLM 103 in front of the singer (Abby Elliot) making sure I had a pop shield to reduce sibilence and pops caused by the letter “s” and “P”

The technical specification of the microphone is as follows:

With the vocalist already having a warm tone, I did not initially wanted a microphone that would boost the mid range frequencies, however this microphone is good for getting a clear bright sound, fantastic for when trying to sit the vocal within the mix. This boost of frequency is between 5k and 20khz of 5db+.

The microphone is also a cardioid microphone as I just wanted to get a a dry, close microphone setup, such microphones as omni (dependant on acoustic environments) would of possibly gave the sound a “box” sound.

Track Mixing for track 1:


The mixing part of the track was challenging as there can be  no eq (apart from low pass) or effects such as reverb added. However with planning through microphone placement techniques it payed off when trying to get a good dry sound without these such processing tools available.

Mixing Drums:

I thought it would be best to start my mixing with drums then work my way up to bass, guitar then vocals last. At the recording stage I made sure there was an extremely good recording level for each individual part of the drum so that when it came to the mixing stage it would give me a good mixing level for each. I setup a group called “drums” so that once the levels we set to my preferred mixing balance I could then move all of them together to get the right level at once.

Bass Drum

To get ride of any low end sub frequencies (from the building work) I gave the bass drum a Hi Pass Filter:

  • Filter: 18db/oct
  • Frequency: 83.5hz
  • Type: Hi-Pass

The compressor was set to make the bass drum sound more tighter and punchy as it sounded thin and almost lacked a hard bass drum sound that would help it fit through the mix. Its settings were:

Threshold: -20.4db

Attack: 10.0ms

Rate: 3:0:1

Release: 80.0ms

Gain: 8.4db

The time adjuster was set to the overhead L audio recording it sample delay was set to 41 samples


Snare Overhead

Originally as previously described the snare head was not tightened and so it had no punchy characteristics and so within the mixing stage I had to make up for this by trying to bring back some of the punch in which was lost.

Eq settings:

Filter cutoff: 24db/oct

Freq: 160hz

Type: Hi-Pass

The compressor played a role into getting this, what it did as a result was fatten up the sound, create a much more dense, harsher tone which in the end I really liked! I made sure the threshold was low so that it compressed most of the signal, of course the level then needed to be boosted by a certain amount to make sure there was not loss of overall level.

Compressor Settings were as follows:

Threshold: -31.3db

Gain: 6.8db

Attack: 24.0ms

Release: 80.0 ms

Ratio: 3:0:1

Time adjustment is set too 120 samples.



Snare “Under”

The under snare part contained lots of high frequencies due to the rattle of the snare head, so to add to the “punch” of the snare I compressed the signal to a very similar amount to the last. The settings were as followed:

The settings were as followed:

Threshold: -24.2db

Gain: 0.0 db

Attack: 10.0 ms

Release: 80.0 ms

Ratio: 3:0:1

Due to the microphone setup for the top and bottom of the snare I had to reverse the snare’s phase to stop any phase cancelation existing. This was done by selecting the phase symbol on the equalizer plugin.

The time adjuster settings were set to 192 samples.


Overhead Left

For both over heads I applied eq for the Hi Pass filter, I may of been a bit cheeky about it as, i wanted to use the low pass to get ride of any lower frequencies so that it did not create too much bottom end, technically it is okay however its something In which I would not normally do, however I just wanted to get a clean mix as possible for the drums.

The eq settings were as followed:

Filter: 12 db/oct

Freq:  172.3hz

Type: High- Pass

The overheads were very heavily compressed also. The settings were as follows:

Attack: 10.0 ms

Release:80.0ms

Threshold: 38.5hz

Ratio: 3:0:1

Gain: 2.8db


Overhead Right

Bass Guitar

The bass guitar needed more crunch and tone shaping. I used Podfarm and selected the “Flip Top” amp with the settings illustrated below, fantastic tone editor for guitars specially bass.

The compression of the bass was extremely important as the bass needed to sit well in the mix with the bass drum.

The settings were as followed:

Threshold: 21.6db

Attack: 10.0ms

Ratio: 3:0:1

Release: 80.ms

An Hi Pass Equalizer was also added to get ride of any sub frequencies picked up on the bass amp from the building work. For this the settings were as followed:

Filter: 24db/oct

Frequency: 106.3hz

Type: Hi Pass

Acoustic Guitar Left

For both acoustic guitars I used side-chaining so that the guitars would lower there volume when the vocal parts would come in. This was done by setting up a bus called “Phones L” then using this bus I sent the signal of the vocal track to both compressors. With some guidance from my tutor Gareth the side-chain compression was made much more smoother than it was previously, using such controls as attack, knee and release to make the side-chain more of a smoother compression effect.

The Compression Settings Were as follows:

Gain: 1.3db

Threshold: -31.3db

Attack: 6.9ms

Release: 484.9ms

Knee: 4.0db

Ratio: 3:9:1

Acoustic Guitar Right

Compressor Settings are as follows:

Threshold: -36.1db

Attack: 178.4 ms

Ratio: 2:0:1

Release: 2651.1 ms

Gain: 0.4db

Knee: 3.7db

 

Vocals

Compression Settings are as followed:

Threshold: 18.4db

Ratio: 3:1:1

Attack: 178.4ms

Release: 21.0 ms

 


Mastering

The limiter part was extremely important to get right from to the vary last detail. With the mix of the track not peaking before any limiter has been added it meant I could then limit the track. The settings for the limiter are as follows:

Dither: On

Noise shaping: ON

Bit Resolution: 16bit

Ceiling: -0.2db

Threshold: -8.7db

Overall Views and Comments

I am extremely happy with the track. Through learning more about just recording sounds raw with little processing has made me see how difficult, challenging and rewarding an array of recording techniques are to getting a result which I guessed could be made “professionally” when applied correctly. I also felt it was good to have some experience in a studio environment again (did music technology at college level) and to use a different DAW to record the mix the material on. I felt that if I had more time or had the chance to do it again I would of incorporated more instrumentation perhaps brass, piano  and percussion to make the track have more elements than just drums, bass, guitar and vocals.


Track two assement: The beginning

Now that the first one is complete and mastered to the tutors specifications I now have the next assessment to do. This is slightly different to the previous task. For this assessment we have to create a track implementing some modern/past recording techniques at the recording stage or mixing stage. We can use a range of different techniques to very few, as long as they can be justified. We have to record also some form of:

Vocals

Guitar

Bass

Drums

Percussion (optional)

Woodwind (optional)

For this piece I have decided to create a track that uses several different producer techniques from producers such as Trent Reznor, Phil Spectorm, Brian Eno and Jimmy Paige. I will illustrate their techniques by providing text and video based research supported by tracks showing this technique and of course how I implemented it.

The track contains drums, bass, guitar acoustic/electric, upright piano, percussion and vocal lines.

Reverse Reverb Techique

Referencing:

N/A. (2010). Reverse echo. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_echo. Last accessed 11/12/2010


Paul White. (1998). Creating Reverse Reverb. Available: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec98/articles/reverse.665.htm. Last accessed 11.12.2010.

Jimmy page is a guitarist and composer who is acclaimed for being in the band Led Zeppelin. He was the first user to use this technique after a session with the yardbirds he experimented with recording reverb and reversing and used it on the brass parts of this track:

How this is done is by adding reverb to an audio file, then reversing that audio file. Record the sound then re-import the audio file and re-reverse the sound file and it will have the reverse reverb effect added. A better explaination is of this video below where the user uses pro tools to create this effect:

Brian Eno- Ambeint Music

Brian Eno is a very exclaimed producer who was one of the pioneers to ambient music, creating music for selected environments such as Music for Airports that was made for such a place, keeping a constant texture often simple and repetitive so that it would not affect the work of the employees or clients or indeed the flow of the music through interruption of announcements.

He used tape as a medium to construct melodies that were chopped up individually then parts played randomly on tape sometimes to create clusters of notes to then sparse melodic sequences that seem to last for a whole duration of the piece. This aspect of randomness and almost “chance” was how he composed many of his ambient works often

Phil Spector

Phil spector a revolutionary producer well known for his technique of the “Wall of Sound” where he would send parts or all of the track through a hall with speakers placed then a microphone to pick up the reverbed mix. This gave music of that era a much more bigger sense of space and a epic performance which added richness and thickness of texture. He was possibley one of the most famous producers of his time, bringing a new technique to the mixing scene, however due to having this technique to his name making him a “niche”  producer for having this sound, eventually the sound moved on wards again and his technics were heard less and less on records. Some of his works that have this are:

Recording Drums

For recording drums we used the Glyn John Technique where you place two cardioid microphones;  AKG 414s one above the drum kit and one to the side near the floor tom. A great of this technique being used if you want to capture the full sound of the kit from both an down ward perspective and side perspective. 






At the snare we then place two TDM microphones one beneath the snare and above to make sure that some of the snare would of been captured rather than all symbols on the multitrack recording.
Two ambient microphones in the X-Y position were also used (two Sm57s). These were to get the room ambience rather than having a dry sound from the small drum booth. The distance from the drum kit was 3.5 meters with the door open so that the recorded sound would be clear rather than muffled if it were closed. The two microphone signals were then sent into the stage box then through the microphone preamp, and then multitrack recorded on Pro Tools HD.
For the bass drum we used a Sennheiser 902 drum microphone that was placed at the top of the whole within the drum kit to pick up some of the low frequency punch. We also placed a coin on the beater end of the kick drum to get a “click” sound when struck.
Room Ambience: Wall of Sound Emulation
To use the “Wall of Sound” effect we all decided to record our drum tracks through the corridor (while lessons were on) with one microphone AKG 414 with a polar pickup patter of omnidirectional  as to pick up all of the sound 360 degrees around the mic. The affect of this was good, more reverb than we thought there would be. However on my recording there is some amount of feedback and so on the drum ambience there is some high frequency feedback issues however with some eq I was about to dull the effects of this.


Mixing the Drums
For mixing the drums I added different effects to try and make the drums sound as good as they could be. One of the main issues was that the sound of the drums was “boxy” which to me did not sound very good at all, also other problems such as excessive microphone spill from the hi hat gave the snare drum channel an extremely high frequency tone that was difficult to sort out.

Bass Drum:

Snare:

As state previously the snare was muffled by the sound of the hi-hat microphone bleeding through. To combat this I used an equalizer and boosted the frequency at 567 to get some of that mid-range punch back into the mix then using a severe amount of Low Pass filter I then cut the hi frequencies off to help this process further.
Overhead Left & Right

To remove any low frequency from the bass drum but to capture the sound of the cymbals more I used a Hi Pass filter on both L & R very severely, the effect worked to how I wanted as it allowed the bass drum to fit more firmly within the mix.

Room Ambience Microphone:


Within the recording I noticed a slightly amount of feedback being caused from the microphone feeding back from the speakers playing the drum track within the corridor. As I could not record this again I attempted to remove some of that high frequency wail by adding a Low Pass filter from 7k to 20k and reducing the level up to -18db.
Recording Bass
Using the same technique as before for the previous project the bass was recorded with the Neumann Microphone facing on axis towards the cone of the speaker capture a warm sound from tweaking the equalizer on the amp to get this tone.

Mixing Bass

Mixing the bass further I used a compressor and two equalizers. One equalizer had a Low pass filter and the other a Hi Pass this was to remove any sub or high frequencies giving a more fatter warmer tone that would suit the track texture.




Recording Acoustic Guitars:

For this we experimented with microphone position technique until creating a “reverse decca tree without knowing it! With two cardioids at the front and an omnidirectional microphone at the back it captured the rooms chacacter aswell as the two cardiods picking up the sound of the guitar. The effect was truly fantastic adding a warm, natural sound from my guitar which we struggled to get from the last project.

The microphones used:

Two Akgs 414a

Neumann TLM 103


Mixing acoustic Guitar:

The first two of the reverse decca tree I put through the same eq unit with a boost at the higher range of the frequency spectrum. I felt that the guitar needed more presence and so boosting it would give a much more cleaner acoustic sound. Due to some parts having different dynamic parts a compressor was used to keep the dynamics the same and give the sound a more “smoother” finish.
The ambient microphone did not have any effects added only a phase reverse to stop any phase cancellation or phasing issues with using a reverse decca tree technique. 
Recording Piano:
For the piano we “borrowed” an upright and brought it into the studio due to the other piano room being in use and the group needed to record this instrument so we thought we should! We used a simple setup but one to get the best sound out of the instrument, with two cardioid pencil microphones at either end of the piano and a A-B setup on the condenser microphones facing above the pianos top part. The two above the piano is a good way to capture the full amount of the instrument within the studio environment whereas the smaller microphones are closely miked close proximity recording.

Brian Eno Technique:

As previously discussed Brian Eno used tape to construct melodies that would vary in amount from clusters of notes to long sustained gaps in between intervals. This is what I tried to replicate for this project by using already recorded piano material and repeating this at the start of the ambient texture, using the faders (that were automated for volume) to control what melodies were played and how loud. A technique that when I used it worked extremely well with the introduction to the track.

Further Mixing of the Piano:

The mixing stage of the piano was a lot harder than I thought, for some reason there was a mid frequency that was amplified within the control room, even when eq’d it was still there however when listening to the piano recording through different monitors and speakers the mid frequency was not their…who knows??

So the setting although there are drastic (on the eq front) it was that reason that I used that amount of mid range frequency reduction as you can see below!

Mixing Piano Lead

For the Brian Eno technique I used a reverb to emulate Enos drone and ambient texture techniques. Using a large reverb with a very long decay so that the sound continues and works well with the pad and synth lead sounds. The mid range frequency was reduced for the same reason as before however to listen to the track on normal speakers such as hi fi it was not there. 


Electric Guitar Left And Right

For this I used two dynamic microphones and a condenser similar to a reverse decca tree. The two dynamics (sure sm57s) on the edge of the cone  on axis and one off axis. The condenser Neuman TLM 103 is spaced half a metre in the middle capturing the full sound of the amp and the room. The great thing about this technique was that when mixing I could mix between the dynamics and the condenser to find a sound i was happy with.

Mixing Electric Guitars


Reverse Reverb Technique:

For the guitars I wanted to incorporate a the reverb reverse effect as a crescendo of sound to lead into the main part of the track. How I did this was by reversing the guitar parts, adding the reverb on another channel with the sample moved, added a large hall reverb to make the effect obvious then re-reverse the track and hey presto! The effect is fantastic but could easily be over used or over done, but in the right context can be used for a effective result.
Synths:
To also add another Brian Eno trait was to have ambient reverb pads as an underlay of the soundscape. I used access synths free with pro tools and played the notes in, creating a one minute long ambient texture using the preset ‘DHR Ambience BC’ coupled with a reverb plugin with an extremely long reverb time to make each note I play fade in and out creating a smoother chord progression. The fortunate thing was that there was not tempo set for this ambeint part and so nothing was quantized at all, everything was played on the spot so to speak. I dulled down the sound by lowering the cutoff frequency and resonance creating a more subtle pad sound.

Synth Lead

I also used a counter melody to flow with the piano part within this ambient movement .

Here below is the midi information for the melody synth, pro tools version of showing midi data, with also a piano roll similar to that of most DAW programs midi functionality.


Vocals:
For vocals i used Tom burgess, he did not use lyrics but oohs and ahhs, as i wanted to exsperiement with using the reverse technique and applying this to use as crescendo  to for another section of the piece, using volume automation to increase this effect.
We used a Neumann TLM 103 microphone with a basic setup using the cardioid microphone with a pop shield to stop sibilances and pops.
I used the reverse vocal effect on the vocals using the same technique for the guitars but applying more reverb to make the effect more obvious.

Limiter:


Final Views and Comments

Overall I am very happy with the project went, feeling like I have learnt more about how to implement recording techniques within a studio environment, especially learning about working in groups to get the project done to a high standard. With learning new software it was difficult to gets to grips with how to use the program effectively but as practice took its due course it became more easier to use fluently. If there was anything that I could change it would be to re-record everything looking more into record techniques perhaps or even more obscure ones to see what the sonic results would be like and how / if they contrasted with each other. Its been a long semester, but worth it all the same!



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