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Sound Advice

David Bottrill’s Three Essential Tips

April 17th, 2013

When PS caught up with Grammy-winning producer David Bottrill, he had these bits of advice for budding producers: 

1. Make sure your power is sorted out: “The first thing to sort out in any studio is power. If you’re plugging into lousy power, your recordings are going to be messy. Not only are you going to have bad clocking, because the clocking often goes off, but you’re going to have equipment that doesn’ t run well; there’s going to be buzzes. Sort out your power, even if it’s to the point of having to get some sort of power conditioning system. That’s first and foremost.”

2. The cleaner the signal path, the better: “It’s all about signal path. The cleaner and simpler,
the better. Microphone into mic preamp into compressor, straight to [DAW] or tape; don’t fuss about with lots of different things in the middle. The cleaner the recordings you have, the less you’ll be fighting during mixing because your signal will be as clear as it can be. It will take EQ a whole lot better.”

3. A great performance is more important than a great sound: “Make sure you can set the scene so that everybody feels comfortable – like they can do their best work. That’s less of a technical thing but still very important from an artistic standpoint and a performance standpoint – even if you have to bring the singer to stand right next to you and record right there with just headphones and quiet speakers. Do whatever is going to get the best performance because that will sort out your sound. Your sound will be dramatically improved by the quality of a performance. A great performance with a mediocre sound will still sound better than a bad performance with great sound.”

David Bottrill is a three-time Grammy-winning Canadian record producer. His extensive list of credits includes work with King Crimson, Muse,
Tool, and Peter Gabriel. www.davidbottrill.com.

Creating Thickness In A Recording BY Ryan McCambridge

February 14th, 2013

My absolute favourite moment in music production is when I get to record the first guitar double. It never gets old. I see doubling as a tool to add thickness to a recording, and as such, I think of it as fitting in with other tools that help increase a production’s density. These are three of the most common thickening techniques used in modern recording:PS Sound Advice Feb 13 Ryan McCambridge
• Instrument Doubling – An instrument’s part is played and recorded twice, often   panned to separate places.
• Vocal Doubling & Stacking – A vocal is sung identically and recorded more than once but kept at similar pan positions. In the case of vocal stacking, which is often used on background vocals, multiples of every vocal part are recorded and the position of the panning becomes a mixing decision.

• Sound Replacing/Augmentation of Drums – Drums are recorded but then drum samples are added to the main drum elements (kick, snare, and sometimes toms). Though this may not seem like a true double, the process adds sounds with the same timing so I think of it as being in the same family.

In every case, precision is key. The doubled sounds should be as identical as possible because we’re trying to create one sound out of many. The effect is lessened when we can hear the separate ingredients within the effect.
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A Quick Look At Re-amping By Jason Borys

February 14th, 2013

PS Sound Advice Feb13 Jason BorysMulti-tracking a band during a live performance can be a challenging task at the best of times. Less-than-ideal guitar tones are one element that could ruin your live recording.

I was recently doing a session for a radio station multi-tracking a three-band event. The radio technician and I set up a MacBook Pro connected to the FireWire output of a Behringer
X32. For this session, the DAW of choice was Pro Tools 10. The computer instantly detected the 16 channels we were using and performed flawlessly, tracking three bands over four hours. The only issue that came up during the session was that a couple of the guitar players had unbearably bad amplifier tones, rendering those tracks unusable. Luckily, we decided to DI the guitar players before the amplifier and record a raw track that we could then re-amp later to salvage the recording.

I used the Radial JDI passive DI box to get the direct clean guitar into our Pro Tools session. There are many devices to choose from for re-amplification, but I prefer the Radial X-AMP as it gives you two outputs that you can send to different amplifiers of your choice to sculpt some great tones.
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It’s Just A Phase Part 2 BY Robert DiVito

December 13th, 2012


As a tracking engineer, one area with great potential for out-of-phase material is multi-miking single instruments. To mitigate this, I am sure everyone is familiar with the 3-to-1 rule:

Two microphones intended to pick up one source must be placed apart at least three times the distance that either micro-phone is from its intended sound source.

This rule works well but there are many ways to control phase and comb filtering effects. Say, for instance, you are picking up a solo acoustic guitar. Using a coincident or near-coincident pickup will most often be better at minimizing phase problems. When miking a snare drum (or any instrument) from both sides, you can control phase and comb filtering using two different micro-phones at varying distances from the drum. This can also be very effective for tone control. It is worth noting that miking any source from front and back simultaneously may invert the polarity of the signal in the rear mic. Both front and rear signals will best combine, especially in bass response, if you compensate by phase-inverting one of the signals while recording.
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Fox & Hound Sound System Optimization By JP Warren

December 13th, 2012

Many of us have a Fox & Hound tone generator set or others similar such as Fluke’s Pro3000. These are great tools getting a fair share of use – especially when we encounter wiring installed by others during troubleshooting or retrofitting. Modern versions are amazingly accurate, built smart and durable, even capable of safely activating 70 V and 8 Ohm multi-driver speaker arrays while enjoying exceptional battery life. In this world of tracing wiring they are indispensable.

However, using the device for tone generation can prove problematic. Though it is sub-optimal to employ only a Fox & Hound type toner to ring-out zones, the deficiencies of doing so can be easily addressed.

First, such toners deliver only a low-output high-pass signal, therefore ignoring the main (non-tweeter) drivers; if a main driver were compromised (a 6-in. is rubbing, for instance) it would be difficult to realize this given the toner’s energy level, Q, and frequency centre. We are certainly going to notice dead tweeters, however, being the salient outlet of the energy. Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Data By Anthony P. Kuzub

October 19th, 2012

Currently, I have over 10 TB of data floating in my life – a warehouse by comparison to the filing cabinets and tape shelves of my grandfathers. Every byte is kept for a reason: it has value. In the studio, on the drawing board, in the field, and at the gig, data is paying my bills. I’ve learned some hard lessons and have adopted practices to keep data sorted, searchable, active, and safe in an effort to ensure those bills get paid.

Working efficiently is profitable. Access to data is sped up significantly if it is easy to locate and launch. When naming files, folders, and filling in metadata, relevant information, details, and consistency in structure will help in the long run. When starting a project, think broad, then define specifics. Let the data sort and index itself with consistent practices. When starting a project, ask: “When do we do this? Who am I working with? How big is the project? What are we doing? What section is that? What version is this?” and answer in your own style:
BKP007:/DESIGN/RR/C/WBS/20120327-LEG_panel/Leg_Panel202.dxf Read the rest of this entry »


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