Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Look At How A Speaker Is Reconed

Speaker recone image
You've blown a speaker and it's expensive to replace, or maybe even not available any more. What to do? An alternative is having the speaker reconed by a professional or even doing it yourself.

Most major speaker manufacturers supply recone kits for their speakers, but there's a technique on how to do it that you have to know before you begin.

Here's a great video that not only shows how a JBL 2226 woofer is reconed, but gives you a great inside look at the different speaker parts as well.

If you want to try recone a speaker yourself, you can get the replacement parts from simplyspeakers.com, who made the video below.

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Music Gear Monday: PSP L'otary Leslie Simulator Plugin

PSP L'otary Leslie simulator plugin image
I'm a B3 player from way back and I know the sound of a Leslie speaker intimately, so believe me when I say that the new PSP L'otary is the best Leslie simulator that I've come across. All PSP plugins are killer to begin with, but the company might have surpassed itself with this one.

L'otary is based on the sound and operation of the two most famous Leslies, the 122 and 147, and provides ultimate control over just about any parameter you can think of, making it extremely versatile. That said, the presets sound great and might be all that anyone ever needs.

What I especially liked is the handle that changes the sound from chorale (slow spin) to fast, which also allows the user to select any speed in between. That said, a push button underneath provides the traditional slow to fast switching.

There's also a visual look at both the horn and drum speed provided which helps to lock in the right speed for the song.

One of my favorite aspects of L'otary is the the different simulated mic positions, as well as the motor and wind noise when it's set to fast. Just like the real thing!

The PSP L'otary is a bargain at only $99 and is available in VST, AAX and RTAS formats for both Mac and Windows. Check it out for yourself with the video below.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Drummer Extraordinaire Mark Schulman On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Drummer Mark Schulman image
Mark Schulman has some amazing credits as the drummer for Pink, Cher, Foreigner, Cheryl Crow, and Destiny's Child, among many others.

But that's not all. He's also a noted public speaker and author, focusing on leadership, team building and peak performance.

I'm really pleased to have Mark on my latest Inner Circle Podcast, where he'll discuss how he got started, his big break and big defeat, and what it's like to tour with some of the world's biggest stars.

On the intro I'll give you 7 tips for Facebook videos and discuss the new "stems" audio file format.

Remember that you can find the podcast at BobbyOInnerCircle.com, or either on iTunes or Stitcher.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Michael Jackson "Rock With You" Isolated Vocal

Michael Jackson Off The Wall image
Here's a song that was considered one of the last hits of the Disco era. It's the isolated lead vocal from Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" from his 1979 Off The Wall album. The album featured 5 hit singles and went on to sell more than 20 million units worldwide. "Rock With You" went on to be a #1 hit in the US.

Here are some things to listen for. The recording is a bit distorted, but I'm pretty sure that came from the copy and not the original master, knowing how precise engineer Bruce Swedien (the Godfather of modern recording) is.

1. Notice the lead synthesizer when it enters in the intro. Bruce was always big on adding a first reflection by sending the recorded synth sound out into the studio and re-recording it. You can hear a bit of it here, plus a nice tape echo.

2.  Michael's vocal isn't too compressed. Yes, you can hear a little in certain places when he sings loudly, but listen to the softer parts where it's brought up with fader movement.

3. All the breaths are left in. This really makes the song as it injects the intimacy that puts it over the top. Many producers would probably eliminate them today in an effort to "clean the track up."

4. The synth solo is dry with the echo added half-way through the solo. Probably something you never noticed on the record.

5. If you listen closely, you can hear Michael's foot stomps in between phrases. Bruce once told me that Michael was always dancing when he sang, so he and producer Quincy Jones decided to play that up and give him a small wooden stage to sing on.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

An Interview With Producer Butch Vig

Butch Vig image
Many of you reading this are located in a small town recording the local talent. You think that it's impossible to break out onto the national and even international scene, but producer/engineer Butch Vig is a great example that it can be done.

Here's a great interview of Vig as he explains how his breaks with Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana came about.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

6 Auditioning Tips To Get That Tour Gig

6 Audition Tips For Touring Musicians image
It's the dream of many musicians to get a gig with the touring band of a major artist, but getting the audition is a lot easier than getting the gig. Here's an excerpt from Chapter 5 ("Becoming A Touring Musician") of my Touring Musician's Handbook that provides some great audition tips from some of the top touring musicians.

"Depending on how you look at it, an audition can be really fun or so stressful that it makes you want to loose your lunch. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to do the latter, so here are a number of things to help you through the process.

1. Know The Material
You can be a great player with chops that came from Mount Olympus, but the only thing that the artist or MD (musical director) cares about is if you can play the artist’s material well show after show. If you go into an audition thinking that you’re going to wing it, you’re wasting everyone's time, in which case you should be prepared for a very short audition.
First off, I want the person auditioning to play the music exactly like the record. I don’t want to hear them improvise, and I don’t want to hear their take on it. I want to hear them play it exactly with the right feel, just like they were playing Mozart or Beethoven. I want them to respect the music regardless of if it’s Pink’s music, or Cher’s or Janet Jackson’s, I want them to play it exactly as you hear it on the record. Then if I ask them to change it, they’re changing it from a place where I know that they know what it is so they can take their own spin on it after the fact.
Paul Mirkovich
Go-to guys like guitarist Peter Thorn (Melissa Etheridge, Chris Cornell, Jewel, Don Henley) will learn as much of the artist’s catalog possible before the audition, going as far as to dial in the tone of the parts as well. It’s a lot of work, but if you’re up against another guy that did that and you didn’t, who do you think will get the gig?
The other thing is that you have to be not only better than everyone else, but you have to be different. It’s basically a sales pitch. In five or ten minutes, you have to prove to them that if they hire you, they’ll get more for their money than hiring anybody else.
Ed Wynne
2. Don’t Be Late
This will just about eliminate you right from the start. Being late indicates that you have a reliability problem, which is the last thing anyone wants on the road. There are a lot of great players out there, and most of them are punctual and reliable. Who do you think they’re going to pick?

3. How You Look Counts
Not only does clothing and grooming make a good first impression, but it’s important to see how you visually fit on stage with the rest of the band. It’s possible to fit the bill perfectly as a player but still not get the gig because of the way you look.

As an example, an accomplished touring player that I know recently got a gig with a major artist that lasted one day. He went back to the hotel and received a call saying, “We’re good. Don’t come back to rehearsal tomorrow.” They just didn’t like the way he looked against the other players in the band.

You might get rejected because you have a shaved head and so does the artist or another player player in the band and they don’t want two people on stage with that look. Or you might have blond hair and so does the artist. Or you have facial hair and no one else in the band does. Nothing personal, sometimes you just don’t fit in.
I always felt that if someone is auditioning players that he’s not already aware of, it’s a clue that he’s looking for something else besides the way you play or the gear that you have. It’s a good tip that they may be looking more at how you look or at your age. I’ve seen that a lot.
Mike Holmes
4. Your On-stage Demeanor Also Counts
If possible, get a DVD or watch a video of the artist and her band playing live and take notice of the on-stage demeanor of the players. A lot of people get gigs because their physicality is right, which means how they look when they’re playing the music. Maybe the artist wants energy on stage and really likes it when a player is so into it that he’s moving all around. On the other hand, some artists just want you to stand there and play, leaving any showmanship up to them. You’ve got to know your place, so you have to tailor your demeanor to the artist.

5. Bring The Right Gear
You’ve got to tailor the gear to the gig. If you were auditioning for the job as the Strat player for Lynrd Skynrd, it wouldn’t be a great idea to bring a Les Paul or what some perceive as a metal guitar like a Jackson. If you were auditioning for the touring band of 50 Cent, you wouldn’t bring a drum kit with the snare tuned up high for reggae or ska. Can the artist or MD imagine how you’d play with the right gear? Sure they can. But once again, if everything were equal between two players, the one who will get the gig is the one that has the right sound at the audition. That way, no guessing, imagining or wondering come into play. Remember, what the artist wants most is security and one less thing to worry about. Whoever can provide that gets the gig.

6. Be Nice To Everyone
It’s important that you’re nice to everyone, including the crew, while you’re at the audition. If these people are going to spend months on a bus with you, they’d prefer that you didn’t have an attitude of superiority and were very easy to get along with. Remember, if it’s a toss-up between you and someone else, the one who will get the gig will be the one that everyone believes they can live with."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An Album Made From Guitar Center Doodlers

Guitar Center image
Anyone that's ever gone into a Guitar Center on a Saturday afternoon knows that it's a cacophony of sound. You'll hear just about every famous lick being played by mostly beginners all at the same time. It's difficult not to get a headache after about 10 minutes (I don't know how the employees stand it).

New York experimental artist Noah Wall saw the beauty of it though, and decided to record some of these musical doodlers and compile it into an album. I guess the big question here is "Why?" but you have to admit there's something oddly familiar about the recordings.

Have a listen to a track from Live At The Guitar Center below.

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Music Gear Monday: Slate Raven Z Controller

Slate Digital Z3 image
The Slate Pro Audio Raven has made quite a name for itself in a short time thanks to its revolutionary touchscreen technology control of Pro Tools. The latest version, the Z3, takes the concept to the next level.

The Raven Z3 differs from previous versions in that it has 3 multi-touch screens instead of 1. The main control surface is the standard 46" multi-touch panel (the same as found on the Raven MTX), with two additional 27" screens (as found on the MTI) on the wings mounted in a custom console.

Thanks to the new Raven 2.5 software, Raven can now control most popular DAW packages, including Pro Tools, Logic, and soon Cubase, Ableton, Digital Performer, Studio One, and all PC formats.

What this means is that the 3 screen Raven Z3 can look at up to 3 different workstations at once, but have them all digitally connected. This could allow several operations to happen at the same time, a real time-saver for a high-end project where time is of the essence.

For instance, the left screen could be dedicated to Ableton for composition, then digitally connected to the Pro Tools mix window on the main screen and edit window on the right. Another possibility is for 3 man post mixing where each screen runs a separate DAW, yet keeping them all synched.

What's more, each screen can be switch to control any of the machines via a KVM switcher.

The Slate Raven Z3 is priced at just under $28,000, which seems pretty reasonable, except that you have to remember that the actual computers and workstations are not included in that price, as the Raven is only a DAW controller.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Reverb Master Michael Carnes On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Michael Carnes - Exponential Audio image
Michael Carnes created reverb products for Lexicon for 25 years before he decided to go out on his own and start Exponential Audio. He now builds a new generation of reverb and effects plugins that not only sound great, but are very reasonable priced as well.

I was lucky enough to get Michael to come on the podcast to discuss everything-reverb in depth, which you'll really find both fascinating and useful at the same time.

In the podcast intro, I'll discuss the fact that the CD is still selling in the hundreds of millions, and we'll go over a checklist to help vocal production go smoother and get the best performance possible.

Remember that you can find the podcast at BobbyOInnerCircle.com, or either on iTunes or Stitcher.

Friday, April 17, 2015

An Intimate Look At A Frank Sinatra Recording Session

Here's a great look at history. It's Frank Sinatra in the studio recording his hit "It Was A Very Good Year" and it comes from a 1998 CBS special called "Sinatra The Legend," although this session is actually from the evening of April 22nd 1965 (just about 50 years ago!). The recording took place at United Recording Studio A in Hollywood.

Here are some things to look for.

1. Frank is obviously in a good mood, although he had an audience that he was playing to (notice the people behind him in the chairs).

2. It's also cool that there were no overdubs - everything was recorded at the same time.

3. Also, notice that the conductor is following Frank rather than the other way around.

4. It's interesting that he was recorded with what looks to be an AKG D24 dynamic microphone rather than the Neumann U47 or AKG C12 condenser that are in most pictures of him recording.

I posted something similar a few years ago but the video was subsequently taken off of YouTube, so enjoy this while it's available.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Al Schmitt Answers Recording And Mixing Questions

Al Schmitt is one of the undeniable masters of recording and it's great that he's still so active after more than 50 years in the business. I had the pleasure to interview him many times in the past (check out my interview excerpt from the Recording Engineer's Handbook and our recent interview for Lynda.com) and he always both helpful, and tells a studio-load of colorful stories about his career as well.

In this video for Mix With The Masters, all covers a variety of subjects like alternatives to vintage microphones, the importance of the room, microphone distance, recording orchestras, and much more.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

5 Simple EQ Tips That Work On Anything

Equalization image
Equalization is one of the most difficult parts of recording to get the hang of since there's literally almost an infinite number of possibilities.

Most of us learn by experience and usually massive amounts of trial and error, but there are some brief general guidelines that can be an enormous help for those new to the process.

Here's an excerpt from The Mixing Engineer's Handbook 3rd edition featuring 5 simple EQ tips that will work in just about any situation.
1. If it sounds muddy, cut (decrease the level) at around 250Hz. Although you can get that muddy sound from other lower frequencies (especially anything added below 100Hz), start here first. 
2. If it sounds honky or veiled, cut at around 500Hz. This is where a huge build-up of energy occurs when close-miking instruments because of the proximity effect that naturally occurs with directional mics. Just cutting a bit in this area can sometimes provide instant clarity. 
3. Cut if you're trying to make things sound clearer. If the sound is cloudy, there's usually a frequency band that's too loud. It's easier to decrease it than to raise everything else. 
4. Boost if you're trying to make things sound different. Sometimes you don't want clarity as much as you want something to sound just different or effected. That's the best time to boost EQ. 
5. You can't boost something that's not there in the first place. You may be better off to decrease other frequencies than try to add a huge amount, like 10 or 15dB, to any frequency band.
Although there are exceptions to every one of the above guidelines, you'll always stay out of sonic trouble if you consider this tips first.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.


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