AF’s Weblog

March 14, 2012

Exclusive Interview with Chris Lord Alge

World renowned mixer/producer Chris Lord-Alge granted Audiofanzine an exclusive interview. The man behind Green Day, Paramore, Deftones, Madonna, Tina Turner, James Brown, among others, shared his working methods and ethics from his studio in Tarzana. Let’s see what the master has to say.

The Beginnings

AF : Hi Chris, can you tell us what are you currently working on at the moment?

CLA : What I am currently working on right now is finishing up an album by a band called Shinedown, just wrapping that up. The single is already out to radio and then the record comes out. Just before I finished Shinedown, I just finished mixing Bruce Springsteen. I kinda co-mixed that with Bob Clearmountain. Bob mixed it himself and then Bruce wanted me to mix a few songs. I literally just had dinner with Clearmountain last night and we were definitely having some good laughs about it.

There’s a good partnership between engineers! I’d like to go back to the beginning of your career, and just to know a little bit more about how you started and the reasons for why you do this job today?  What pushed you to become a sound engineer?  Specifically, a mixing engineer…

It started with my mom having a band. My mom is a Jazz musician and a professor of music theory.  She’d have her trio set up at my house, so here I am 12 years old and there are musicians rehearsing every day at my house, with tape recorders, a small board and a few microphones. Every chance I could get, when they would leave to go do a gig, I would take the gear down into my basement and let the experiments begin there.

So it’s a family thing?

Yes, absolutely, my mom is a musician, I’m a musician, it was just what I wanted to do since I was young, and by having some gear to tinker around with it was fun to start there. I already had my own band when I was 12, I just used that gear to start recording it. At that point I played keyboards, and then I moved to drums; I kind of filled in where the weaknesses in the band were.

Is there any personality or mentor who showed you the path or took you under his wing?  Showed you some tricks, who gave you the will to do this, someone apart from your family?

Yes, of course! So what had happened was that my mom had realized that I really wanted to do this, so she took me to a studio to interview for a job. I got a job at H&L Records under the mentorship of Steve Jerome(GrandMaster Flash, Bobby O, Pet Shop Boys, NDA). They had hired me for $50 a week to be a runner, an assistant. I started with the toilets, to the tea, to the coffee, to the track sheets, until I finally became an assistant and then Steve Jerome had trained me and showed me how he’d like me to do it. He was in essence, my mentor at that time. When I was at a young age 13/14, he showed me the ropes, all the disciplinary moves that became embedded in my life.

So then I read that you’ve been working at Unique Sound Studios?

Well, let’s not cut to that straight away. I put in a bunch of years right there with Steve with Hugo and Luigi, and that studio ended up being taken over by Sugar Hill Records, which in essence was the birth of rap.  So I was right at the beginning of rap, with Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, GrandMaster Flash’s “The Message” and  “White Lines”; all the big initial rap records were all done under that roof with Steve or with Eric Thorngren. So I was there for all of that.

What a period! So then Unique Sound Studios came later on?

At that point I started to work in New York freelancing with a few artists, and then I actually apprenticed to get a job. I went back down the food chain to be an assistant at Unique because I saw it as the cutting edge hip studio that was happening at New York at the time, at 82’- 83’. It kind of ended around 87’- 88’. I became an assistant and then staff, basically kind of took over, had a few reasonable hits, and then I just kind of took over working there. Just doing what I wanted.

So it was kind of the normal evolution : you started as a runner, then an assistant, and then as an engineer, very naturally.

Exactly. But you can always go back from an engineer back to an assistant, it helps put you in your place.

Part 4: The Bernard Pivot Style

What’s your favorite memory from mixing an album or working on an album?

My favorite memories would probably be from records I produced. They are all favorite memories, it is hard to say “this was the best”. I think the ones I got the most laughs on were albums I produced by Tina Turner, or John Miles or Rick Price or Joe Cocker, where being the producer, it was basically tweaking your last rough mix, with the artist in there and having some laughs and some fun with it. Knowing that you are playing on it and you’re producing it… And it came out great and you are excited. Rather than, mixing something that you didn’t produce. Of course, working on “American Idiot”, which went by so fast… It was exciting because the songs were so good and you didn’t really realize it at the time. But the best memories are definitely the ones I produced because there is more at stake because you are a producer. Human wise, because you are artistic about it, you play parts of it, there is more “blood” on the tape, than you just mixing someone else’s record.

You mean that this job is 60, 70% human aspect?

It’s 100% human. It’s not a business at all. It’s a personal, emotional business, that unless your heart is into the song, you’d might as well go back into the car and go home. You have to be emotionally attached to the music or there is no point in doing it.

Your worst memories/moments from mixing of all time?

There have definitely been some moments, I am not going to name the bands, but that had full-on fights in here internally with the band mates. No one agrees with what you are doing. Each guy leaves the room and comes back with a different idea. It makes it really difficult when the band doesn’t get along. There have been a couple where the band is breaking up or fighting at the time you are mixing it, or completely unsure of what you are doing. It’s not you, it’s them, and that’s what makes it difficult. A lot of the best records I ever mixed are when nobody is here but me, and I say this to them. Sometimes, they are their own worst enemy. It’s not their fault. They are really better off coming toward the end. When they want to come in here and do battle with it, sometimes they can unglue some of the magic that you’ve put into it by isolating their favorite parts.

Which artist would you still like to work with and why?

I want to work with Paul McCartney, I want to work with Coldplay; I want to actually mix a full fledged U2 album, not just one or two songs like I have done in the past, I want to be in the room with the band. I’d like to mix a new Rolling Stones record with the whole band in here. I want to go after the last of the mohicans, the biggest guns that are left while they still have something. It’s more the absolute legends of rock and roll that I prefer to be working with. Of course, I want to work with Muse and Foo Fighters and all the newer bands, but still they have some time. I want to get the old guys while they still got some action. I want to get it while there is a chance.

You’re engaged to mix an album for an artist you love but the requirements are : less is more. You have to pick only 5 pieces of your equipment.  Which do you choose and why?

If I can pick only 5 pieces of equipment, I’d pick my favorite vocal limiter, I’d pick my favorite vocal reverb, drum reverb, that’s three…

Which ones?!!

It would be my Urei Blue1176, my original EMT246, my Sony DRE 2000, then it would be a pair of Pultecs on my bus, and my Focusrite Red. The Pultecs I say they are one piece of gear cause they are a pair.

You are cheating! (Laughs)

They come as a pair.  With those 5 pieces of gear in a rack, I can go anywhere !

Just to finish up this interview, do you have any leitmotiv or quote/catch phrase about music that you like to use?

One of the things we say in the studio is “Don’t try this at home”! (Laughs) Everything I have here is not going to work at home. It’s really meant to be in the proper facility, in a temple of sound. Not your garage. For me it doesn’t work!

To read the full detailed interview see:  Mixing with an Attitude

 

November 25, 2009

Infected Mushroom Sound Alchemy

Filed under: Artists — Tags: , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 6:20 am

Exclusive Interview Reveals Production Tips and Tricks

Erez Eisen and Amit Duvedevani “Duvdev” (background).

Innovators, geek tricksters, obsessive-perfectionists, un-serious, electronic-rock geniuses?   Time will tell, yet The Legend of the Black Shawarma, Infected Mushroom’s 7th album release will certainly grab the chair from underneath you and leave you thinking- I’m not sure what was this meticulous musical chaos, but I can’t stop moving even after the track has finished.

Hailing from sunny shores of Israel, now based in another sunny city, Los Angeles, the sun always seems to shine in Infected land, the core of which is Erez Eisen and Amit Duvedevani.  But seriously, between the hard-earned success, the mess, the nuclear shows, the private jokes you will find two very do-it-yourself kind of musician scientists who write, produce, mix, master, tweak and fix almost every detail of their music.

It was only fitting then that Audiofanzine (AF) will ask the obvious:  How do you make that sound?  As we brushed off the cobwebs with a morning coffee in Paris, Eisen joined us late at night from his studio in Los Angeles to tell us the production tales of Infected Mushroom.  Enjoy.

Part 1:  “It’s always changing, you know”

This is Infected Mushroom today.

AF:  Can you quickly present the band? Who’s doing what?

Eisen:  We started- my partner Amit Duvedevani, known as Duvdev, and I, Erez Eisen, in 1996 doing some horrible music.  Now today we are like a big band you know, not so big, but we have a drummer named  Rogerio Jardim he’s a great drummer from Brazil, he lives in America now.  We have an Israeli guitar player Erez Netz, which is considered one of the best electronic guitar players, the best in Israel.  We love him.  And also Thomas Cunningham, another guitar player from America who performs with us.  This is Infected Mushroom.

AF:  What do you consider to be your influences?   You’re using some ‘metal’ gigs and some ‘jazzy organs’ on the same tracks, some hip-hop influences, some Spanish music influences…

Eisen:  It’s always changing, you know.  It started with electronic like Psytrance bands, which is Simon Posford, known as Shpongle as well, also Hallucinogen.  At the time we liked X-Dream, Etnica, many other bands from this genre.  These are the main ones.  And slowly through the years we became open to everything.  We are listening to radio and MTV, not as it is today, horrible, but how it used to be with more heavy metal stuff.  Even if it is hip-hop sometimes, a few Jay Zee tracks, it can be nice.  Maybe we don’t like the whole concept but we like some ideas.  We try to just have fun in the studio basically and to be as creative as we can.

AF:  Your style has changed a lot in the past few years. When you go back to your old tracks and you listen to them, what are your thoughts?

Eisen:   The Gathering, which is the first album as Infected, I tend to think that is has a few decent tracks for me.  I think Tommy the Bat is one of them, and a few others, but the production is horrible.  I’m not so proud of it, let’s say.  But, you know, I was 16 I think when we did it.  So it’s OK.

Infected Mushroom’s Studio in L.A.:  Best place for inspiration.

AF:   Do you begin making a song in your studio or sometimes you need to go to someplace else to get inspired?

Eisen:  No, it’s always in the studio.  We tried doing tracks on the road, but we never did one.  Sometimes we come with just no ideas into the studio and we just decide on a BPM, usually it’s just 145, and we just start kick, bass line, and somehow looking for sounds and stuff.  Sometimes we are lucky, everything goes smoothly and we have a track going on very fast, and sometimes we get stuck like a week on a track.

AF:  I know what you mean.  I have been stuck for 10 years now.

Eisen:  When we are stuck, I wanted to kick myself sometimes, I wanted to say “that’s it, I cannot do anymore music, I have no more ideas”, but then Duvdev said “let’s see it as a fight in the studio”, like a video game- there is a level that is really hard to pass, and you keep trying until you move to the next level.  So this is how we see it these days and it really helps.  For us, when we have these horrible days we just give it a fight.  Sometimes it’s the lyrics.  Duvdev comes in with lyrics, and from there we get something- which is much easier.   Every time it’s something different.

Infected Mushroom Live in Chicago 11/14/09

AF:  What would you consider to be your biggest challenge as a band?

Eisen:  We always have challenges.  I guess the first big challenge was to make the band happen, to find the guitar player, to find the drummer, to write the parts for them, because the tracks are already kind of busy for us, and we didn’t want to make it noisy for the live show.  It’s kind of hard, in the beginning, to think about what the guitar player would play that will not sound too busy, and how to add a drummer that will not create too much of a mess.

AF:   In the studio you can create and produce music under ideal conditions.  It then becomes a challenge to re-create that sound on stage.  How do you approach that?

Eisen:  Yeah, for stage we try to have a little bit more bass, this feeling that you have a big speaker and you want to feel the bass, not just hear it.  This is very important.  And for the rest of the frequencies we try to make it as good as we can compared to what we had in mind in the studio- which never happens, by the way.  With our luck, we go to horrible sound systems most of the time.  It’s always a challenge to do a proper sound check.

AF:  The big thing in this record is your collaborations with Jonathan Davis, Perry Farrell and the Doors.  Is this something that you’ve wanted to do for a long time, collaborate with other artists?  And what was their contribution?

Eisen:  We can start with the Doors.  It was the Doors track that Warner Brothers requested us to remix.  They did a remix CD for many Doors tracks, and basically we got approved to use it in our album – The Riders on the Storm.  We got original channels from the Doors which was really exciting to get all these cool recordings, which sounded pretty good I must say.  This was the easiest one because it was pre-recorded so we didn’t really collaborate.

With Jonathan Davis from Korn, in the beginning we asked him which song he wanted to sing.  He chose Killing Time in the beginning.  He came to the studio and we said, ‘do you mind trying Smashing the Opponent because we think it fits more to your style’.  And he said ‘sure’.   He didn’t practice it, but we just printed the lyrics, he gave it a shot, and I think not more than one hour recording and it was done, the vocals.

AF:  So basically, the lyrics and the melody lines were written and he just performed them?

Eisen:   Yeah.  Everything was written before.  He just came and performed the vocals.  Same for Jane’s Addiction singer, Perry Farrell.  We asked him if he minds doing Killing Time, and he liked it.  With him we did two different sessions.  We bothered him twice.  Actually, he knows us for a long time.  He has Classical Mushroom EP and The Gathering, which was very weird for us.  Like, why do you have these albums?  It was pretty fun.

Our move to Los Angeles was the move to make collaborations with people.  In Israel we were pretty limited to Israeli artists, which I have nothing against.  But it’s limited to Hebrew mainly.   We have dreams, as kids, you want to work with big artists, and you never believe that you will be able to do, so we said let’s try.  We almost got Dave Ghan from Depeche Mode singing, but at the end it didn’t happen.  Hopefully, it will happen with Dave in the next album.

Duvdev and Eisen: Serving up The Legend of the Black Shawarma
to legions of ‘converted vegetarians’.

AF:  Last question about your lyrics from [the track] “The Legend of the Black Shawarma”, they are very positive and they are almost sending a message but maybe with a little bit of a warning.  I am assuming these are not totally random lyrics, is this something that you’ve realized with time and now you wish to share with your listeners?

Eisen:   When we started doing lyrics, we said we will write about everything except about love.  Because, it’s not that we have anything against love, but every song is about love.  So we said everything but love, which was not so hard.  And slowly it became the Duvdev road, most of the lyrics.  He came into the studio with almost all of the lyrics and maybe I didn’t like one or two words.  Duvdev is a pretty crazy guy.  He has lots of weird ideas.  Lots of them we cannot even write about.  We try to write stuff with less meaning, that will open people to think about stuff.  Or we write very un-serious lyrics that it’s just private jokes between us and our friends.  So please don’t take our lyrics seriously.


AF:  So you mean that actually you don’t want to convert vegetarians for real?

Eisen:   Why not?  No, I’m just kidding…  Everything is just funny, don’t take it too seriously.  Converting vegetarians, if there is a meaning it’s mostly meaning:  convert yourself from listening to regular music and be open to listen to other kinds of music.
To read the full detailed interview see:  Infected Mushroom Sound Alchemy

July 20, 2009

Recording Drums with Michael Wagener – Part 2

After explaining how he mics up drums, Michael Wagener now talks more about ribbon microphones, which he considers much less understood than their condenser or dynamic counterparts.

In fact, the subject almost creates a debate: whereas some say that ribbon mics inhibit hi frequencies, Michael feels that it’s the other way around; condenser mics exaggerate hi frequencies, and they sound less natural and are more difficult to use correctly…

This second part also gives us an opportunity to: go into further detail about some of his choices (why use a stereo mic for overhead?), to see how he sets up drums in a room to get the best possible sound, and especially to hear the result after recording and mixing. Does he get a huge sound? Yes, that’s the right word … In fact, we put the final drum mix into 24-bit 48 kHz, so you can judge for yourself. You can download it here …

See exclusive video demonstration:

Recording Drums with Michael Wagener Part 2

May 23, 2009

Making a Studio Pt.3

Making a Studio Pt.3
Acoustics

Sound is a wave, much like the ripples on a still body of water when a rock is dropped into it. The larger the wave, the lower the tone. Lower tones, known as bass frequencies, travel in wide long waves while higher tones known as treble frequencies travel in a tighter, shorter wave. Frequencies heard by the human ear range from 20Hz to 20K. Just as an indication, a piano’s range, probably the widest range of any instrument, is from 39Hz on the low note and 3Khz on the high note.

Plan de groupe A typical 1/3 octave graphic EQ plugin with frequencies ranging from 20HZ to 20K

Sound is measured in decibels also represented as dB. An average concert is about 95-100 dB while a heavy rock concert or hip hop concert could reach levels of 130dB. This is above the threshold of pain; so don’t forget to wear your earplugs which are designed to protect your hearing when in extreme sound levels. Interestingly enough, whales can actually produce levels of up to 180dB. It should be remembered that taking care of your ears is the most important thing you can do to prevent damage and have a sustained career. So don’t hang out with any whales and put some protection in your ears when exposed to loud volumes.

Plan de groupe A typical 1/3 octave EQ spectrum analyzer with frequencies ranging from 20HZ to 20K

Now let’s take a closer look at other aspects…

Commercial & Private Studios

The commercial studio is there to provide the ultimate service for anyone who wants to pay. They are out to cater to the demanding Artist. The ultimate goal for the commercial studio is to make a profit. Top recording artists have healthy budgets to get that ultimate sound. Many artists like the no hassle style of recording that the commercial facility provides. The premier studios will have all the requirements needed to have a smooth production.

Plan de groupeCherokee Studios [1]

The studio equipment is always the latest and most technologically advanced to keep up with the never-ending race for the most groundbreaking sound creation device. Commercial studios are constantly purchasing new gear. The elite studios will also have a collection of vintage gear as well. Vintage gear has a certain character that can only be reproduced by the older technology. This becomes a very valuable asset in achieving alternative sounds.

The studio staff is available for what ever any artist, engineer, or producer may need. High-end full service studios can accommodate any possible situation from a simple rock band to a huge orchestral string section.Most studios have interns or runners that are required to do anything asked of them. At any given studio the interns may be seen washing cars and cutting grass.

The assistant engineer in most cases will have immense knowledge of how the room is setup and be able to quickly reply to any request that is commanded. He becomes the engineers’ right hand for connecting all the microphones and patching outboard gear. The Assistant Engineers’ job is basically limitless. Knowing how to make a good cup o’ coffee can definitely come in handy. Sessions can literally go for days at a time, and the commercial studios are setup and accustomed to the long hours. The technicians are on staff immediately if there is a problem with anything breaking down. Studio gear is very sensitive and delicate, therefore is does breakdown often. Many times user error may cause gear to be not working at times and if the Assistant can’t figure out the issue then a Tech will surely be able to troubleshoot the problem.

Upscale studios will also have security and respect for privacy for sensitive productions. Even getting into some studios without an appointment could be like getting into Fort Knox. All great studios will also have reliable recommendations for musicians, engineers and producers if they are not already on staff.

Plan de groupeVillage Studios [2]

What to look for

Look for studios that have recorded records that are similar to the Artist you are recording. Simply pick up the records you like and see where they where recorded and by who they were recorded. You will be surprised that you will see many names recurring. Check the discography of the studio to see how much experience the studio has. If many hits were recorded there it is a good sign that the studio is doing its job. That is one of the best references a studio can have. The Engineer should be consulted to make sure that all the proper equipment; software and microphone selection is available for the style of music that is being recorded.

If everything is clean and in working order that signifies that the studio will also take pride in your music. Quickly overlooking that all the lights are in working condition on the gear and console is a simple way to see that the equipment is properly maintained. Changing light bulbs is a simple task. If that is taken care of, that is also a sign that the studio is on top of their maintenance. Polite and professional atmosphere is of up most importance to the entire process. Nobody wants to deal with attitudes. Remember the Artist is the only star that shines in his booked studio time. Seeking a studio that has the vibe or atmosphere that makes the Artist or Producer comfortable is a key issue in determining where to establish the recording process also. Many hours will be spent within close quarters so décor and general atmosphere is a main concern.

The Private Studio

Many Producers and engineers have their own private studio. It is common nowadays that the recording budget is spent on purchasing gear for a studio. The benefit is that the equipment belongs to you in the end. Another major advantage is that you will not be charged by the hour for studio time. Average studio rates are from $50 to $250 per hour.

Privacy and secrecy is much more controlled in a private studio as well.

Privacy and Setting the Mood

Keeping all sessions under a vale of secrecy is highly important. New music is constantly being recorded in every studio. It is imperative that this music does not fall into the wrong hands. If it leaks out into the public before it hits the airwaves it could lose momentum for a successful single. Even worse the possibility of another artist stealing the song may be a factor without sufficient security and privacy.

To read the full detailed article see: Making a Studio Part 3


May 11, 2009

Making a Studio Pt.2

Making a Studio Pt.2
Electricity

Nothing will work without electricity unless you’re jamming at the local drum circles down on the beach. Electrical installation studio power is often overlooked. Studios will setup a “clean feed” that is a separate breaker from the rest of the general power that is being used for air conditioning, lighting and the basic necessities of the rest of the building. Have you ever plugged something in and heard that horrific buzzing sound coming from the speakers or guitar amp? This is usually due to bad electrical wiring, which causes ground noise. This is the first thing to listen for when going in to a studio session. A simple solution to the problem would be to use a simple ground lifter on the gear or lift the ground from a direct box which can also solve the problems. We will go into details later.

Ouverture

Isolated electrical circuits for each individual room are a must in a recording studio. The proper amount of amperage is also a must. Not enough amperage will surely cause your breakers to blow. Consult with an Electrician who is familiar with studio setups to insure that wiring and voltage is regulated and conforming with local codes.

Unregulated Power Supplies (UPS) should also be in place just in case there is a power failure. This will insure that valuable equipment will not blow up or cause a fire. If there is a case of a power outage the UPS will provide enough time to backup important computer files and safely turn off your equipment. Some studios will have complete generator systems in place to keep the studio running for the remainder of the session.

Improper lighting can also cause buzzing ground issues, especially fluorescent bulbs. Avoid using these in any studio. Dimmers can also cause many problems. The average household dimmers will surely put a damper into a clean sound. Make sure that professional grade dimmers are installed to avoid ground noise. Always listen carefully to signals being recorded before committing to a final take. There are a countless number of accounts that the engineer discovers electrical noise on takes during the mix process.

Plan de groupe A simple ground lifter can help to eliminate buzzes in the studio.

If you are serious about your studio, may I suggest balance power or a separated panel with neutral power conditioning. The evil problems of ground issues are a direct reflection of sources returning or looking for a different ground. Voltage potential between neutral and ground will certainly change your way of looking at things… for example, .5 volts between neutral and ground is the maximum allowance by UL code that electronics will operate optimally without potential induction issues. I would suggest having a meter installed to rate this. Logging this information and having a good rapport with the local electric company would not hurt at all.

Now let’s continue…

Location

Booking the proper studio

Where one decides to record is as important as what they are recording. If a band is located in Los Angeles why not just find a studio in L.A.? There are plenty of studios in L.A. with amazing gear and fabulous rooms yet the distractions of being in their hometown could take away from the focus of concentrating on the recording process. Many artists will book studios in remote locations to avoid outside interference and distractions. Privacy is very important in the entire process. Friends coming over to drink beer during the sessions could definitely hinder the process.

When budgets do not permit then finding a studio in a location that is suitable for the logistics of all who are involved in the project must come into play. The most important thing is that everyone feels comfortable in the location. If you have to pack your 9mm to get from the car to the studio then you may want to reconsider. When booking the studio look for a good location, a good price and make sure the gear and the room is adequate.

Deciding where to build a studio

Plan de groupe Urban…

In business, location is everything. Asking yourself if you have enough clients in that area to sustain all of the bills that incur for your studio, must be the key to your decision. Only a few very talented industry pros have the luxury of clients going out of their way to work in a remote location.

Purchasing a building for a studio is a great option for many reasons. By owning the property you become the landlord. Therefore you can do a build out as you please. This is a great investment as an alternative to a lease. Many Artists these days are buying houses and renovating them as Recording Studios. Many mansions have been converted into studios. This option for obvious reasons definitely brings the comforts of home right to the recording process.

Plan de groupe or Rural?

Whether building a private studio, a home studio or a commercial facility, they all take a bit of investigation before committing to the expense. Parking should be considered as well as local conveniences such as anything that your focus client base may desire. If your clients are country artists I don’t think they would like recording on South Beach and if your clients are looking to be around where the action is the mountainside resort studio is probably not ideal.

Visit Audiofanzine soon for part 3 of Making of a Studio, talking about acoustics, commercial studios, home studios and more.

To read the full detailed article see Making a Studio Part2

April 25, 2009

Making a Studio Pt.1

Studio Considerations

The magic of the recording studio has often mystified even the most seasoned professionals. With all the knobs, switches and buttons on various gear and large format consoles, no wonder confusion sets in to most non-techies. Many people, especially artists, composers, producers, and engineers, will end up putting together their own studio for writing and preproduction, with some eventually deciding to take the plunge and create a full-fledged recording complex that is capable of recording major albums. This series of articles will try to shed some light on the considerations to take into account when making a studio, be it a small home studio or a professional recording studio.

Ouverture

Is bigger better?

Is size important? Some may say it is so but this is not always the case. The dimensions of the studio are very important. A room too large may become over-reverberant or full of unwanted echoes. A room too small may sound tight and unnatural. It is important that the room size and room sound is relevant to the type of music you are recording. You don’t want to go into a very small tight room to record BIG rock drums. Although, big room sounds can be achieved by adding external reverb effects to simulate rooms at a later time when necessary.

It is best to find the room that suits the sound you are trying to achieve from the beginning of the recording process. The smaller the room, the smaller and tighter the sound will be; this is not necessarily a bad thing. Small tight rooms can be good for vocals, guitars and percussion if you are going for a tight clean sound. Larger rooms have more air for the sound to travel in, so it will be in fact a bigger more open sound. The sound has a longer travel time for the sound wave to move, therefore the reflection from the walls will take longer to bounce back creating a bigger more spacious sound. The decision of size and sound has to be made early on before the recording starts. One advantage that a larger room will have is the ability to be scaled down by closing up the room using modular baffles or gobos (go betweens). Gobos are structures that are partitions, that help to block sound by placing them in between the musicians, instruments, and microphones. Placing the gobos around the microphone at a close distance will help a large room with too much ambiance sound smaller. This will eliminate the reflections coming off of the walls that are further away.

Ouverture

Small rooms can produce big heavy tight sounds with the absence of the decay from the reverb that is caused from big rooms. Sometimes a large room can sound like it’s washed out, or far away. With a good engineer any room can sound amazing with a little adjusting. A poor sounding room can be manipulated to sound good, although it requires much more work and time. Deciding on the proper room size for your needs is critical to the sounds that get re-produced. This will highly dictate the type of sound the microphones will pick up.

Clapping your hands in a room can give a good representation of what a room will sound like. The reflection coming off the walls will be picked up by a simple hand clap. The true test is to try out some instruments or vocals and position them in various sections of the room until reaching the optimum sound quality. If one side of the room sounds bad try a different spot or move around into a corner until the sound is improved.

Experimenting with different sections of the room also keeps the sound fresh when recording many instruments. If the acoustic guitars are recorded in the center of the room, when the time comes to record the electric guitars you may try recording them in a corner of the room for a different room sound. This gives clarity on the final mix creating separation and providing more distinction on various sounds.

If you are starting your own studio, remember that the bigger the studio the higher amount the bills will be. The benefit is that larger studios can charge more for their studio rates.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Check List: Part 3

Plan de groupeA Sony CD Recorder

CD RECORDER

Records and plays back compact discs. Gives the ability to record stereo mixes and playback these mixes on other CD players. CD standard for consumer playback is a sample rate of 16 bit and a sampling rate of 44.1kHz. Sony, Tascam, Alesis, and Yamaha all make good studio CD recorders.

Plan de groupeStuder 24 Track Analog Tape Machine

TAPE MACHINES

Recording machines that use analog or digital tape for recording and playback of music. Some purists in sound recording prefer the sound of analog tape. There are many digital tape machines used for recording both music and video.

CABLING

Literally miles of various cabling could be needed for a single studio. Common cables in sound reproduction are XLR balanced mic cables and Unbalanced 1/4 inch instrument cables.

MONITORS / AMPS

Speakers in the studio are referred to as Monitors. Powerful clean amps are needed to run monitors. Many monitors are self powered, which means that they have built in amplifiers. Monitors usually consist of high frequency tweeters, low frequency woofers and cabinets that contain the speakers and components.

Plan de groupeActive Studio Monitors

HEADPHONES / DISTRIBUTION

By using a set of earphones this allows communication between the control room and the studio, also allows pre-recorded tracks to be heard during the overdubbing process. Headphones are also referred to as cans.

INSTRUMENTS / KEYBOARDS / DRUMS / GUITARS

These are more of the tools of the craft. You may have all the best studio gear in the world, but if the instruments sound bad you are starting in the wrong place. Anything could be considered an instrument if it makes noise that could possibly be recorded on a record.

AMPLIFIERS

This is often referred to as an amp. Amps increase the amplitude or volume of electrical signals from sound waves. These are used in powering speakers. Guitar and Bass amps can be used for many other applications such as running a vocal or snare drum through them.

Plan de groupe

MICROPHONE STANDS

A wide variety of sizes and styles are needed for a proper studio. The mic stand helps to get the microphone placed properly for the best sound quality possible.

STUDIO FURNITURE

There are many types of racks and furniture designed to hold consoles and outboard gear. The interior decoration of the studio completely sets the vibe of the working environment.

To Be Continued…

That’s the end of part one. For part two, we’ll be discussing electricity, A/C requirements, separate rooms, location, and more…

To read the full detailed article see Making a Studio Part 1

April 22, 2009

Video Demo: JoeCo Blackbox Recorder

JoeCo talks about their new Blackbox Recorder.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

April 19, 2009

Video Demo: Vintage Tools VT-Trakker Mixer

Vintage Tools presents their new VT-Trakker which they say is the sum of everything they’ve developed up to now.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

February 3, 2009

NAMM 2009: Video Demo JBL LSR2300 Speaker Series

Filed under: Monitors, namm 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:06 am

Exclusive presentation by Peter Chalkin of the new LSR2300 series of active monitors from JBL Professional.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

December 22, 2008

Gifts for Music Lovers

Christmas Shopping

Are you tired of receiving boxes of chocolate every Christmas? You can’t take another hand-knitted sweater from your aunt and you’d like the bottom of the tree to look a little more…musical? Here’s a selection of gift ideas for your loved ones who may lack inspiration …

For Home Studios

The ultimate audio interface?
Prominently listed among the highlights of this year, TC Electronic’s Studio Konnekt 48 is a Firewire audio interface that features 24 inputs including 4 preamplifiers, 22 outputs, 12 simultaneous analog channels and world class DSP effects. Supplied with a remote control for around $1200, it’s one of the select few able to overshadow RME’s FireFace which, despite its numerous qualities, took a serious blow …

ProTools to go!
ProTools on a USB key; who would have imagined it? They did. Of course, the audio interface is ultra basic but thanks to the MBox 2 Micro, you can work your ProTools session on any computer, for a little less than $250. And since Transfuser currently comes with the package …

Little Adam
Halfway between a multimedia speaker and a near-field monitor, the Adam A5 is somewhat unique … There is the famous ribbon tweeter for which the brand is famous, guaranteeing quality highs, and bass response, which, given the size of the speaker, is no joke and makes it a worthy sibling of the famous A7, for a little less than $440 each. The ideal monitors for working in your apartment without disturbing the neighbors?

A half-legend?
Walking in the footsteps of the illustrious C414, the C214 is meant to be a more accessible version of the classic AKG mic. Featuring only one polar pattern but having the essential of what made the reputation of the large membrane microphone for under $600.

Night terror
It’s small, cute, inexpensive and it works like a charm. For less than $150, the Novation Nocturne will let you control your DAW and plug-ins while tasting the comfort of Automap technology.

26+26=2626
M-Audio’s high-end Profire 2626 has it all for those home studio owners who need a lot of inputs/outputs. Its preamps and converters meet our expectations and the price is around $700; did someone request a great deal?

Deus in machina
Widely used by the pros, the UAD-1 DSP card was nevertheless beginning to get old. So imagine our joy when we saw the UAD-2 arrive with a cornucopia of new plugins each as attractive as the next. And with prices that are not so “pro”, because between the small Solo to the big Quad, prices range from $500 to $1800.

Big Groove
The reference in virtual drummers is back! With 10 full kits and 55 GB of sounds and above all a complete mixer with a great effects section, Fxpansion’s BFD2 is a must for just under $400.

U47 USB?
If you’re looking for a simple way to connect a microphone (static or dynamic) to your computer, know that MXL has created the Mic Mate, an XLR to USB “adapter” incorporating a mic preamp and phantom power. It works without drivers, at the very reasonable price of around $50!

Multimedia Killers
Of course, with their 4″ boomers the Studiophile AV40 won’t do as studio monitors. Still, we’ve rarely come across such good multimedia speakers, with surprising lows for the size of the speakers, highs that’s aren’t bad at all, and great balance … The latest speakers from M-Audio have struck a strong blow to the competitors who offer roughly the same thing for much more, like Creative Labs, Logitech or Altec Lansing. At $150, the AV40 is probably one of the best options you can find for a traveling setup …

What if you changed sequencers…
We’ve got a thing for Reaper, a customizable sequencer, extremely stable, only a few MB, and costs, for non professional usage, fifty dollars. Where’s the catch? Why the discrepancy in prices? Well, we’re beginning to wonder …

Swiss army knife?
A recording studio in your pocket? It’s possible with the Boss Micro BR, a genuine Swiss Army knife that combines 4 tracks, a multi-effects processor, 300 rhythmic patterns and basic editing functions. It’s MP3 compatible, stores on SD cards, has a tuner, and an integrated microphone. What more do you need to know? The price? Around $200.

What a sound!
They look good, and work great, and what a sound. These tube and/or transistor preamps from Universal Audio give the best of both worlds …

Still haven’t found what you were looking for?  For more ideas read the full Gifts for Music Lovers article.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.