I finished the spring semester at Cuyahoga Community College and wanted to take some time off to work. I didn’t want to go back to working at a grocery store or teach any more. I taught guitar lessons for 11 years privately. It was very self rewarding but I couldn’t afford it anymore.
“Carpe Diem”, Dead Poets Society
So I took a chance I wanted to stay active over the summer so I took a class with Marky Ray. Wow, It was a struggle during the summer semester but I made it through it and learn so much information about working in a live venue. I use to perform a lot in Jazz groups to Metal bands so I’m very familiar with the stage but from a performers stand point.
But Big Audio Mike at the Beachland showed me the other side of the fence. What a huge difference, I give props to Mike and guys who bust their but all day for artist. I think a lot of people take sound guys for gran it but the ones I’ve worked with bust their hump to get the job done.
I have been studying recording arts in the studios for the last 2 years. I’m at the end of my degree so I figured I should see the live scene and work in it to get a feel for it. Since I’m taking my final semester at Cuyahoga Community College for an Associate’s Degree for Recording Arts and Technology in the Applied Science.
For my manufacturing of my final project I used an online fulfillment service for my disk duplication which is a bit by bit copy of my mastered disk. They also use 300 dpi for colored prints and allow me to order just one copy of my product to as many as need to distribute my produce directly to my customers. I used a 550D to capture my content and used a photo editing software to make my final adjustments to my photos.
During my Capstone I took the mastering 2812 class to help further my critical listening ears. To a point I wish I would have taken this class first because I learned so many new techniques from downward compression to mid side. Through the use of golden ears my hearing is a lot more subjective to subtle changes in audio which my ears weren’t able to detect before taking the mastering class.
Mastering is the last creative process and preparation for the programs final medium. Mastering involves very subtle changes in a stereo mix from a half a dB to a dB change. This is also where customized fades and sequencing is done for a given work.
These pictures show a basic setup used in Wavelab to master my Capstone project with very subtle changes for each song.
For my Capstone I didn’t want to waste any time during my project. So I performed a lot of my rough mixing in the box at home on Pro Tools 8 then to Pro Tools 10. The reason I switched to Pro Tools 10 was the ability to use multi beat detective to identify transients across multi regions. With Pro Tools 8 I only had the ability to identify transients across a single region which was very difficult to perform for drums.
In my sessions I used a combination of mixing techniques that I learned in the Recording Arts and Technology program at Cuyahoga Community College. I used Parallel compression for both the bass and drums and blended this signal with the dry signal. This had allowed me to maintain the punch I was looking to incorporate with my recording. I also used Aux sends to feed to my reverb and delay units and returned them onto a Aux returns which allowed automation of fader movement much easier to perform on the M24 in the TL room.
I saved all of my processing for in the box with Pro Tools which gave me greater flexibility with options when it came to mixing. For the drums I used a 20 ms attack time which allowed me to control the dynamics of the drums but still allowed the transients sneak through. My release, delay, and reverb times were all calculated using the formula 60,000 divided by the tempo of the song. I didn’t really need to use gates because I used the amazing editing functions of Pro Tools to edit out unwanted sound which also freed up CPU for more power hungry plug-ins like reverbs and delays. After my compression on the drums I started off with using my filters to cut out frequencies I didn’t need from the instruments in my mix which will create more clarity for my session and allow each instrument to sit in its own frequency band. I then used EQ to help further sculpt the sound I was hearing by boosting fundamentals of the instruments and cutting frequencies that were clashing or creating mud which wasn’t allowing the true tone of the instrument come through on my mix.
Then for the bass guitar in my session I started off with compression with the same attack as my drums which still allowed the transients to sneak pass the compression. Followed by my EQ settings, then to a gentle limiter which was used mainly to control transients that snuck by my compressor. The reason for this processing was because bass player used a slap technique in most of the songs. I used a common technique for gluing the bass and kick together with a form of ducking. This is where I feed the key input of a compressor from an Aux send from the kick to the bass compressor. Then whenever the drummer hits the kick it will bring the bass down the bass a dB which allows these two instruments to gel together.
For the guitars I used a very small amount of compression to control the dynamics because a distorted electric guitar is fairly controlled when played until palm muting comes into play. I used filters on the guitars up to 250 Hz which allowed the bass and the kick to sound more defined in my mix. Since I tracked the guitar with two microphones I used a delay technique which allowed me to create a pocket for my instruments in the center of my mix. By panning the two identical signals hard left and hard right, and delaying one side to about 24 ms, which the ear isn’t fast enough to detect this type of delay. Made the guitars spread out further on the sides which made my center like the vocals and bass frequencies pop through better.
For my vocals is used the BF76 or otherwise known as the 1176 to smooth out the vocals. I used a medium fast attack with medium slow release. Since this was the second time recording vocals I spent a lot of type have a mic shoot out with the vocalist. I’m glad I did since I spent the time finding the right mic for the vocals and mix I didn’t have to do much in the way of EQ besides using my filters to control the bottom of their voice. The reason behind this was the mics I used had the right frequency response to boost the part of the vocals I want to have more up front which is normally between 5 and 8 KHz where the clarity is of the vocals. I also used aux sends to my vocal reverb and delays units with a low pass filter which allows these effects to sound more natural the ear.
Since day one of my first recording I have been mixing and editing my recorded content and adding it as it was completed. Now that I have all my vocal tracks recorded I can dive in and finish, and finalize my settings. This is a slide show of one of my mixing sessions in the Box.
Tracked vocals today in the TL Audio Room using a 473 Vintech preamp to two 1176 Limiters to Pro Tools HD interface. For mics I used an SM58 and a Heil PR 40 for vocals.
My signal flow was from the studio mic panel to the control room patchbay. I ran the two mic signals in to the MXLR Avion PB28. Out of the Aviom into the Vintech 473 pres mic inputs I then returned it back to the Aviom FXLR PB28 inputs. Which returned back to the patchbay. I wanted to have a little more control over my vocal peaks when it comes to mixing. In this room there is a dual 1176 limter rack mounted above the patchbay. So I ran my returns from the 473 pres to the 1176 input to Pro Tools analog inputs.
For my monitor patch I returned my stems of the drums, guitar, bass, and click track from Pro Tools analog outs into the Line inputs of the TL mixer. Which fed down the channel strip to my pans then to my monitor faders. Which then fed to my master fader.
For my cue sends for my talent, I sent them the individual stems inside Pro Tools to the Aviom AN-16i inputs to their Aviom personal mixers inside the studio.
For my Vocal Over dubs I tracked in the SSL room. I had a mic shoot out with the vocalist to find the best mic for the reference music I was given. I tried the TCM 1150, MXL 2010, AE 2500, Sennheiser MD421, Electro Voice RE20, and the SM58. I originally wanted to use the sterling ST55 and hear how the vocalist sound with this Mic but It wasn’t avaliable. So after the shoot out the SM58 sounded the best on the hip hop vocalist and for the screamer the RE20 had the best response to his vocals. I indeed was shocked.
SM58 was run through the SSL Pre and down its channel strip to add some color and into the Pro Tools interface. The RE20 ran through the API pre to add some more grit to the vocal mic and patched it into the Pro Tools interface. The one thing I learned in this process was how the different mics affected the way the vocalist sound and what it was adding and taking away from the vocalist.
Here’s a slide show of some Edits I made to help clean up my tracks for mixing. By cleaning up these tracks and removing unwanted audio or silence helped drastically in my mix, this helped me tighten up parts and also make the album sound clean. I found by removing unwanted audio it helped my recording by adding clarity to tracks. Which also made my tracks easier to time align transients.
When I first started this process I start off with the drums. I would start off with the kick drum and cut out any bleed between beats or hits to help isolate the sound of the kick. This helps when I add compression to the kick. The compressor will bring up the soft parts in the track. If I had any snare or cymbal bleed then the compressor would bring this up and it would take away from the clarity of the track. I proceeded to perform this task with the snare and the toms.
I first started off with strip silence and the different editing functions available in Pro Tools. I used the trim, selecter, and grabber tool to help select my edits while in the smart tool I created various cross fades between edits.
Once I cleaned up my drum tracks I took the best sounding drum hits and replaced the drums that had too much bleed from another drum or cymbal to help further clean up my tracks. For the drums I was going for a really solid hit from each drum. I also added some midi drums to help further enhance the impact. I had to use beat detective to make applying midi drums to my tracks easier to line up.
I used multi beat detective and broke it down into measures to help with beat detective accuracy. This took quite a bit of time but in the end it really made a huge impact on the solidness of the drums.
I performed the same task with the Bass and guitars. The Bass was a litte different at first because I recorded 3 different mic positions and a Bass DI which needed to be timed aligned first before I could edit the silence out.
For my Bass OV dubs I used three different mic signals with a combination of a DI. I placed a D112 on the top right speaker of the cabinet which was less than an inch from the grill just before contact. I then placed an Audix D6 2 and ½ feet from the bottom left speaker to capture the length of 120 Hz, and it was placed center to the dust cap. I placed these mics on top of a rug to help reduce the amount of reflections from the floor and placed gobos in a non parallel fashion to help control some of the natural reverb of the room but also include the size of the room.
I then place the bass player in a separate room which was isolated from the bass cabinet and placed a Oktava MK012 in cardiod roughly about seven inches from the bass neck which was aimed around the 21st fret to capture the attack of his slap technique. I needed the bass player to stay still, so I had him sit in a chair to help reduce his movement. I did this to avoid any phasing issues from him moving around. I then proceeded to run his bass signal to an active Country man DI which split off to his cabinet and to a mic panel in the studio.
I ran these signals from the patch bay to the SSL pre and ran it through its channel strip to add some additional color from the SSL console which then fed directly to Pro Tools.