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Sound Advice

Stay Creative & Keep The Session By Shawn Bradley

October 19th, 2012

First impressions can mean everything to new studio clients. Our goal as producers and engineers is to provide a creative environment for artists and achieve the best possible sounds in the least amount of time. Take a few steps to prepare yourself for the unfortunate so that you’re able to keep the session rolling and your clients happy.

Auto Backups
In your DAW set-up preferences, enable session file auto backup. This will keep a designated number of backup files and is extremely handy as you are only a click away from a previous saved version if something goes awry.

Dual Vocal Microphones
Capturing a vocalist’s performance is key when producing. Sometimes, the best performance comes on the first or second take and you need to be ready. Try this: Set up two microphones; one will be your main vocal mic and the second can be set with a lower gain stage and a bit more compression to capture any part of the performance where the main mic overloads ensuring no performance is lost due to bad levels. Read the rest of this entry »

Integrating Solar Into Your Studio By Ian Graham

October 19th, 2012

“Off The Grid” Solar
On bright, sunny days, I am totally independent of the grid, powering my studio and feeding a bank of batteries. A dual-axis tracker helps keep the power up by following the sun across the sky. During evening sessions or extremely overcast days, I can offset my grid usage with a grid-interactive inverter. For example: if the studio is using 10 amps of which solar is providing seven, the grid will cover the other three. The issue with this type of system is that it involves batteries, though if they’re properly maintained, they can last 1-15 years.

The microFIT program has been around for a few years and pays $0.80/KWH (kilowatt hour) for systems up to 10 KW for 20 years. The beauty of this system is that you’re feeding the grid with power and it involves no batteries. The program has become extremely popular and I look at it as a great way to make passive income with a one-time installation. I currently have a 9.87 KW system on my studio roof and another system on a rental property. More info can be found at www.microfit.powerauthority.on.ca. Read the rest of this entry »

Noise Reduction & Ambience Restoration For Location Recordings By Frank Lockwood

August 19th, 2012

Famed Mastering Engineer Bob Ohlsson once said that all signal processing is a trade-off between sonic degradation and a perceived improvement in sound quality. Nowhere is this truer than with the many noise reduction and audio repair software packages that have developed over the last decade-and-a-half. The first time you remove hiss, air, handling noise, or camera whir from a recording, it’s like the sun comes out and clarity and goodness rules the land. There is, however, that pesky trade-off to consider.

All broadband noise reduction processes, regardless of developer, work on the principle of dividing the audio spectrum up into many individual frequency bands, each with its own level detection and gating process. The system is “trained” by sampling some unwanted noise and the frequency response trace created mirrors its spectral balance, in turn becoming the threshold for each band’s gate. When program level exceeds the threshold, it passes through unhindered but when it drops to, or below, the threshold, the band’s volume drops by a user-set amount. In well-designed software the transition from gated to un-gated audio and back again is all but imperceptible. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Just A Phase – Part 1 By Robert DiVito

August 19th, 2012

In our stereophonic world, phase and mono compatibility have become less of an ongoing concern as people are finding fewer reasons to check for it. There was a time when broadcast demanded it. Now, with most TVs being stereo and laptops sporting dual speakers, why worry about your mix sounding great in mono? Well there are still many good reasons to check for it, and some suggest your stereo mixes will benefit. Many places where mono mixes are still relevant include:
• Large FOH systems playing back pre-recorded material in mono.
• Radio stations broadcasting over the FM and AM bands.
• Spaced overhead speakers in malls playing back in either mono or stereo.
• Consumer stereo systems wired out of phase. (It happens a lot!) Read the rest of this entry »

Wireless Microphone System Frequency Coordination & Planning Primer BY Colin Bernard

June 19th, 2012

When I was first approached to write this article, I must admit my mind did reflect back to the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. During this time, sound designers of mainstream theatre musicals had just started using 24-channel systems that I, as the supplier, was ultimately responsible and on the hook for if they experienced RF interference.That was considered a lot of wireless channels in those days; however, we did have the luxury of a lot more of the RF spectrum being available, utilizing the VHF band and then migrating to the UHF 470-698 MHz and 698-806 MHz bands.

The next challenge with which I was involved was in 1993 – a major 32-channel musical which toured 20 US and Canadian cities including Broadway in New York and then ventured to Asia. During that era, this production would not have been possible without large chunks of TV “white space” being unoccupied. Several North American productions touring with 48-channel systems were next to depart our shores. They were crazy times, with some systems moving every six weeks! Read the rest of this entry »

An Assistant Engineer’s POV Part 1: Etiquette & Preparation By Jeff Crake

October 19th, 2011

This piece is written from the point-of-view of an assistant engineer to discuss what’s needed to make a recording session go smoothly, whether it’s a month long, big-name session or a simple voiceover for a corporate client.

First and foremost is etiquette. One of the most important parts of a session is how you act, especially when it comes to dealing with artists. You can easily throw off the vibe of a whole session with what you say, so remember to keep your thoughts to yourself unless your opinion is invited. This also goes for communicating with the engineer and/or producer; you need to have a grasp on boundaries, and if it’s not your session, then it’s not your call.

With time, you should learn to be one step ahead, especially with outside engineers. Get to know their favourite microphones, what gear they usually use, and what they take in their coffee. These little things go a long way and give a great impression, which might lead you to being hired for another big session. Read the rest of this entry »


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