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Sound Advice

Recording Horns by Robert DiGioia

July 18th, 2002

“When recording horns I feel that the best results are achieved by placing the horn section around one mic which has been set on an omni pattern. If it is a fragile condenser mic it is a very good idea to start with a 10 or 20 dB pad on the mic itself. As the players warm up, a good horn section will know how to balance themselves around the mic. The engineer can also assist on this from the control room based on what is heard. If you think you’ll want to double the horns, sometimes it is a good idea to do it as you go. This will ensure a tighter double especially if it is a difficult chart.”

The Artist Comes First by Greg English

July 18th, 2002

“The main function of a studio owner is first and foremost the artist; to help nurture and develop their potential without the corporate time pressure feeling. In choosing a studio, technology should not be the deciding factor. Technology is very important and necessary but not the main ingredient. What is the main ingredient? The artist and the engineer must get along and have the same goal for the musical product. Remember: When the artist succeeds, everybody involved with the artist succeeds.”

Greg English – owner of Harlow Sound (developmental studio)

Recording Jingle Announcers by Ben McPeek

July 18th, 2002

“When recording announcers while doing characters, I prefer to use the Neumann U87 because it’s a warmer sounding mic, recorded flat (no EQ), and I prefer the AKG 414 for recording announcer tags because it has more punch (also record flat). The reason for this is that it gives more definition between the body of the commercial and the tag (which usually contains the slogan and must stand out in the commercial).”

Ben McPeek – engineer, radio producer (Captain Audio).

Improving Television Audio by Rob Rettberg

July 18th, 2002

“Due to limited dynamic range of television broadcast, it is advisable that components within a mix such as toms, loud instruments like guitars and percussive instrments should be dynamically controlled by compression. It is also advisable that an entire mix be compressed in order to create a punchier overall reduced dynamic range that still feels dynamic after transmitter broadcast. In this way even the smallest speaker in an average television set can handle a fair amount of volume without overloading and distorting. This will also make the average consumer television sound better than it really is (This is caused by the reduced work load on the television speaker.)

Controlling dynamic range at the source when music is performed and mixed creates a smooth signal that does not hit on the broadcast limiter, which subsequently would make the music sound squashed and fairly undesirable. By compressing the mix to your taste you would have a more controlled musical environment allowing control over the texture of the music, as opposed to being subjuct to – and stuck with – a broadcast transmitter just waiting to clamp and squash down on the music.”

Rob Rettberg – producer/engineer (CTV, Global, CBS).

Making Better Demos by Stacey T. Heydon

July 18th, 2002

“When a band or artist is planning to go into the studio, choose a quality product as opposed to an assortment of many songs that may not have had enough time to be completed properly. Handing an A&R person a product that is much more finished, as opposed to a very rough copy of a song, gives one an upper hand in dealing with these individuals. This applies to A&R in record labels, not publishers. Instead of recording five songs as a rush job, I suggest that you record only two songs. Give the A&R people a product which is (production-wise) as close to finished as possible.

You have a better chance of getting a release if you hand these A&R people a demo that sounds more finished, polished and more produced than one that is very rough, live off the floor sort of thing. Remember most A&R people cannot imagine what a finished product will sound like from a rough tape.

Needless to say, remember that the two songs you plan to record should be targeted to a specific market in today’s radio format.

Basically, quality not quantity is the best road to follow when recording a demo for A&R people to listen to.”

Stacey T. Heydon – producer of #1 Billboard hit (sheriff), guitarist (David Bowie).

Studio Reverb by Carl Harvey

July 18th, 2002

“As a rule I try to stay away from longer reverb times, especially on percussive type instruments. The accumulative effect of all the different reverbs seem to clutter up the mix, thereby robbing it of transparency. I believe that reverbs, when properly used, can create a three dimensional effect in your mix – giving it height, depth and width. Use reverb to enhance the natural groove of the song by timing the reverb cut off point in tempo with the groove.”

Carl Harvey – producer/songwriter/musician (Messenjah, Leroy Sibbles, Sway, Courtney Morrison, Black Diamond).

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