thoughts on The Haas effect? is it something you use?
Sometimes I use pre-delay on reverbs but for the most part working with bands or singer songwriters who want to sound like they have a real band I tend to stay away from overly processed stuff/pseudo stereo and the like.
This is a link to a song I did the day after Christmas last year (hence the title). I did the entire thing in a couple hours, while my 3 year old son took a nap.
A few "production" notes:
My signal chain was DI/Mics>Apogee Duet>Logic X.
The drums are the "Detroit Garage" preset in Logic.
The bass is a blended signal between a DI into Logic with the "Rehearsal Room" plug in, and a miced signal from my Ghia (!).
The acoustic guitar is my Eastman OM-style captured with a Blue Bluebird LDC mic. I applied the "Strummed Acoustic" plug in Logic.
The rhythm electric is my Grosh EJ through a Swart AST. There were no pedals involved - just riding the guitar volume as things get louder. There are two tracks of this guitar - a blend between an e609 and a Cascade Fathead ribbon.
The lead guitar was recorded the same way, but its my Grosh Set Neck through the Ghia. You can hear me turn on a drive pedal at one point, but I can't remember what it was. Neither electric guitar has any processing on it. What you hear was captured directly through the mics.
After "mixing" (and I use the term VERY lightly), I ran the whole thing through the "Broadcast Ready" mastering plug in Logic.
There are very few overdubs. I fixed a couple obvious clams on the acoustic track, and maybe one on the rhythm electric. The lead is one pass (the only pass) with no dubs. I heard my son waking up on the baby monitor, and was out of time to do anything else.
Clams? Yep, plenty. Wankery? Yep, lots. A couple minutes too long? Probably. Fun way to kill a couple hours? **** yeah!
So, the reason I'm posting this for critique/humiliation is I'd like to learn how to get each piece of my recordings to sit a bit better with the other parts. I almost feel like each track is a bit too "fat" for the good of the song. Soloed, everything sounds great. Together, well, to my ears, its kinda muddy and indistinct.
I think you are doing a very good job w the live mic-ed stuff. The sounds are very good.
Just for clarity in terminology Overdubs are instruments that are recorded one at a time so when you say there were very few overdubs I think you mean there were very few "punches" (where you punched in a fix)
On the mix. To me the drums are low in the mix. The patterns/parts sound very good but to my ear the guitars overwhelm the bass and drums. I think compression would help the lead guitar, the bass and the drum group.
Again, compression is a hard thing to explain. I have been looking for a good article to help but haven't been able to find one. You are doing a very good job on the recording/capture of the instruments. To me the levels are a little off and some compression would help glue the whole thing together.
Thanks for the listen and the compliments, Roscoe - it means a lot coming from a guy who does this for a living. I was really happy with the sound of the miced acoustic. That was the first time I've gotten a good sound with that method.
You're quite right about the terminology - Technically, the entire song is one overdub after another. There are just a few minor punches.
I spent a little time last night and added a compressor to the drums & bass group (not really knowing what that means, I picked the patch that sounded best to me). I also changed the kit to something a little different. I think it sounds a bit better now.
BTW - You were so right about the guitars just dominating the drums. I'm not sure how I missed that the first time around. I'll try to post a new mix sometime this weekend.
I'd love to read anything you have about compression (or anything else remotely pertaining to this sort of stuff).
Did some recording last week for our EP and got some amazing guitar tones with a 4 mic set up. Shure SM7 and Heil PR13 up front with a Shue SM57 and another mic in the rear. Won't go into specifics and share all my secrets but it was ridiculous
Let's talk mixing. Here's my usual dilemma: Create scratch drum track, record parts, tweak drum track to better fit parts. Now what? I don't mean panning, volume levels/automation, etc., but that my "mixes" such as they are, tend to be a little non-distinct. Each track soloed sounds the way I want it to, but somehow the sum is less than the whole of its parts. Everything sort of sits on top of each other.
I know there are plenty of tools in my DAW (Logic X) to help, but I have no idea what I'm doing. I've used some of the presets for EQ stuff, and it helps some, but I'd love to get a perspective on how to make each part sit in its own area of the mix, and not just on top of everything else.
My setup is typically variously mic'd guitars/amps>Apogee Duet>Logic X. Pretty simple.
Feel free answer at your leisure - I know this is kind of involved. I've thought about hiring someone to spend a couple hours with me in the basement to show me this sort of thing, but have no idea if there's anyone in my area that does this.
A lot of this is learning how to EQ instruments so they are not competing with each other in the audio spectrum. This is called 'audio masking'. I learned this from live mixing but the technique is basically the same. When you have two or more instruments that sit in the same frequency range try to EQ them a little differently. They may not sound optimum when soloed but will be more distinct in the mix. Bass guitar and kick drum are an example. The plectrum sounds of a strummed acoustic guitar and a high-hat are another. This is the reason that it's usually easier to mix two different electric guitars; such as a Les Paul and a Strat.
Here's v2 of the mix. Drum kit changed, compression added kind of everywhere. The thing is, I still have no idea what I'm doing. Its almost like taking a cooking class in Italian, and having some chef yell at you "aggiungere i pomodori!!" (add the tomatoes), but you don't speak the language, and you grab the asparagus. I know there are lots of ingredients available at my disposal, but I don't know what they taste like (well, maybe a little), and know even less when I should be adding one vs. another. I guess I just need to keep cooking, so to speak.
The best way to get a handle on compression is to take 1 track, like a snare drum, or kick or bass or vocal, slap the compressor on there then mess with the controls. You can start with some pre-sets but you'll most likely have to mess with at least the input gain to get some results. I wish I could see what the Logic compressors look like to give you some more advise.
OK, I'll bite (again). BTW, if anyone else asks anything, take their question first - this is starting to feel like a one on one conversation!
How about a discussion of how you approach mixing, in general terms? You've captured your sources, now what? How do you make decisions on panning, stereo spread, getting levels right, etc? Any little tips/secrets on volume or panning automation? Pros/cons of recording with effects (guitars, mostly) vs. applying in the mix? How do you know when you're "done"?
I realize these are really general questions/topics, but I'm sure that some of what you might consider to be simple and routine would be an eye-opener for a lot of us!
^^^ I'll try to put something together for the group on Mixing. It's a tough one 'cause every song is different in a way but I do have some strategies I follow and tricks I've learned over the years.
Also, mixing on the computer vs mixing on a console can be really different but still very similar at the same time.
Yeah, one of the best pieces of gear I've picked up for mixing and recording has been the Presonus Faderport. Makes automation, punch in, panning, etc seem much more analog, for lack of a better term. I'm impatiently waiting for the new Behringer Xtouch stuff to come out. Seems like that would be a nice upgrade.
As others have already said Eric, thanks a ton for being so willing to share your knowledge here. It's incredibly generous of you.
Ok, I'm not sure if what I'm about to ask really fits the topic/category but I'll throw it out there anyway. After a lot of years of being a "guitar player in bands" and some messing around with other instruments and recording (probably not very well) a few covers as demos to get gigs, I want to jump into the world of songwriting (in my early 50's!). I know this is a huge topic and many aspects of it can't be taught, but I'd love to hear what techniques you've observed or used for fleshing out song ideas. As a producer I'm sure you've probably worked with artists who only have a germ of an idea. What methods can be used to help develop those ideas?
If this is too weird of a question we can just all move along :-D
No simple answer for the songwriter thing. Basically the rule is: There is no rule.
Some people write music first Some people write lyrics first Some people start with a lick Some people start with a title or a phrase
I will say having that little voice recorder on the phone is a mighty handy thing. When I pick up the guitar and something new pops out I throw it down there on the phone. I review them later. I've done gigs jamming on those ideas. Also have flushed them out some on the home studio and then worked on some lyrics.
I've written songs by myself but I've also been in some great co-writing situations. When you write with some other people who are good it's like you never get stuck. When you get stuck the other guy just pipes in. Also, sometimes you write some lyrics and end up pitching a lot of the first ones when you get to something really good.
Here's one thing I can tell you. Do not write lyrics on a computer. When you write stuff on paper and cross something out it's still there. You can still see it. You might come back to that stuff you crossed out. You might realize that it works for you. If you were on a computer and deleted it you'd never find it.
On the co writing thing..... don't worry about splitting credit with other people. Half of nothing is nothing so be glad for the help you got.
Keep those licks on your phone and write good phrases down. Don't fall into that "if it's good I'll remember thing" You won't remember. Don't be afraid to mess up. Remember the rule: there is no rule.
Pros/cons of recording with effects (guitars, mostly) vs. applying in the mix? How do you know when you're "done"?
I very rarely record guitar with any effects. Unless I have a very specific reverb setting I like on my Eventide Space or want to use spring reverb I record dry. It gives more control to whomever is mixing it to make it sound good. An even better solution is to record a direct signal as well for re-amping if they can't get the tone to work just right in the song. That's what Nile Rodgers does and I would think he knows what he is talking about. You gotta do what you can to make the song sound good.
I tend to record whatever tone I want coming out of the amp. I like the fact that it takes decisions out of my hands later on. I'd rather spend a couple extra minutes getting the tone I like in the room than hours in the rabbit hole with plug ins later. I'm a one man operation in the basement, so its not like anyone really cares. If I get further into a mix and hate the way something sits in the mix enough, I'll rerecord it. Thing is, I'm short on time for hobbies like this. And, "perfect" is the sworn enemy of "done".
If this was a job, I'd probably think differently, though.
Guitar effects I like print the effects. It's what you are playing and inspiring you. Have to be carful not to go too far with the delay and verb though. It was more important not to print the effects on analog because the punches could sound odd. With crossfades you can always make it fit in the digital world.
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