Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Who "Eminence Front" Isolated Drums

Eminence Front isolated drums image
The GMC commercial featuring The Who's "Eminence Front" has been all over television lately, which is actually a good thing because it's great to hear the song again.

Kenny Jones' drum fill entrance makes you want to hear a lot more of what he's doing, so here's the isolated drum track from the song. Here's what to listen for:

1. The reverb is interesting. It sounds like it has a 1/16th note delay on it, which at 100 bpm works out to be around 150ms. Although most of the verb is on the snare drum and toms (the cymbals are clean), the reverb leakage gives the kick drum an interesting swing that helps the motion of the song.

2. The panning is also interesting. The drums are mostly in mono but the kick is panned to the left.

3. There's some interesting percussion that enters later in the song that you don't really hear on the final mix. There's a cowbell at 3:55 and various percussion at 4:10, but they're muted at 4:33.

4. Jones was playing to the synthesizer sequencer, but the playing is extremely solid, except for a couple of ever so slightly lazy fills (I'm getting really picky here).

A few weeks ago I posted the isolated keyboard tracks from the song, which you also might want to check out.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Snare Drum Quick Tuning Trick

Snare tuning trick image
It's important to have a snare sound that's right for the song, which is why studio drummers usually carry so many snare's with them to a session.

That's impractical for live gigs however, but this trick can actually make retuning your snare in between songs easier than you ever thought possible.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mix Comparison: From Rehearsal To Master

Mix Comparison image
Here's a pretty cool video from the DVD that went with my Music Producer's Handbook. It's a look at a project that I did a few years ago with the band SNEW that compares a mix of the same song from rehearsal to basic tracks to rough mix with all the overdubs to final mix to mastered mix.

Sometimes the mix doesn't sound that much different between versions, but there's a big difference between the final mix and the mastered version that shows the value of mastering.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Welcome To The Quietest Place On Earth

Microsoft Audio Lab image
OK, quick quiz. Where do you think the quietest place on earth is? Could it be the research lab of a speaker manufacturer like JBL? How about a mic manufacturer like Neumann? Both wrong.

The quietest place on earth is actually at Microsoft, and it has the means to prove it. Here's a video about measuring the anechoic chamber at the company's Audio Lab to enter into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The chamber measures an astounding -20.6 dBa, which is essentially just the sound of air molecules knocking into one another.

Also check out this pretty cool virtual look at the Microsoft Audio Lab.

Thanks to my buddy Jesse Jaye for the heads up.

Monday, October 5, 2015

New Music Gear Monday: Audio Technica BP40 Large Diaphragm Microphone

Audio Technica BP40 microphone capsule image
While large diaphragm condenser mics seem to be available at a number of price points, the same can't be said for large diaphragm dynamic mics. In fact, there just aren't that many to choose from when it comes right down to it. Audio Technica hopes to change all that with its new BP40 large diaphragm dynamic microphone.

The BP40 uses a new patented humbucking design (yes, just like the pickups) that decreases electronically induced interference, and provides better hi-frequency performance and less distortion. It's designed to decrease the proximity effect, but it also has an 80Hz rolloff to further compensate for that as necessary.

The mic is actually intended for broadcast but the word is that it's also a killer kick drum mic as well. For those of you who like an RE20 on your kick, this is one to try.

It also has a very tight hypercardioid polar pattern, making it an interesting choice for under-snare work as well.

The Audio Technica BP40 has a street price of $349. The optional isolation mount is $99.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Duran Duran "Girls On Film" Isolated Vocals

Duran Duran Girls On Film image
When Duran Duran burst on the scene in 1981 they were an immediate sensation, thanks in part to the provocative video of "Girls On Film." Here's the isolated vocal track from that hit.

The vocal starts at 0:18. Here's what to listen for.

1. Simon Le Bon's lead vocal is very closely doubled, except for the answers in the choruses.

2. There's a long delayed reverb with kind of a mid-range sound that's not too pleasant sounding by itself. It works great in the track though, proving again that things that don't work soloed often fit in the mix better than things that do.

3. As with all recordings done on tape, there are a lot of noises, pops, and foot movements that you can hear. Sometimes these were cleaned up with the spot-erase feature of a tape machine, but usually they were just left in because you wouldn't notice them in the track anyway. Also notice how sibilant the vocal is, although some of that might have to do with the audio on the video rather than the original multitrack audio itself.


You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

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, October 1, 2015

Say Hello To Some New Multichannel Music File Formats

8Stem logo imageA couple of new file formats are upon us, but just how much that will rock the music industry is yet unknown. Native Instruments has finally released Stems, an open-file format that allows up to 4 independent elements that can be independently manipulated.

The Stems format is aimed at DJs who want to do remixes of songs during a performance by mixing elements from multiple files. That said, Stem files will play just like normal stereo audio file formats using any software that supports MP4 files (which is most of them).

Stem files have actually available for some time since the format was announced last year, but NI only now has released it's Stems Creator software (which is free). Find out more about Stems and Stems Creator at stems-music.com.

Another multi-channel format from a service called 8Stem allows users to remix a song to their liking. As the name eludes to, each file contains up to 8 stems that the listener can balance as they wish.

I think that musicians will probably love this format, but I'm not so sure that the average listener will embrace it. For the most part, most listeners don't seem to relish the thought of interacting with their music, and if studio cue mixes are any indication, too many variables might actually get them into trouble with a bad mix.

That said, it's cool that some new things are being tried (although Todd Rundgren did something similar on a CD about 20 years ago). 8Stem is still in the early beta stage.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Using The 1176 - The British Nuke Setting

1176 British Nuke Mode image
While the Americans were going for clean, British engineers in the 60s and 70s where going for big and brash. Here’s a really aggressive setting for the venerable 1176 compressor/limiter that’s sometimes called "British" mode and other times called "Nuke" mode, depending on who's using it.

This is a Bonus Trick #7 from my 101 Mixing Tricks coaching program, where there are 107 more tricks just like this. Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New York's Famed Avatar Studios Up For Sale

Avatar Studios image
One of the big problems for the large recording studios left in the major cities is that the real estate is worth so much more than the actual business is these days.

Studio prices have essentially been stagnant for 20 years or so while prices for everything else have soared. That's why it's no surprise to hear that New York's famed Avatar Studios is to be put on the market soon.

Avatar was previously known as The Power Station and was the home to a number of huge hit records including Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," Rolling Stones' "Some Girls," Peter Gabriel's "So" and Duran Duran's "Seven and the Ragged Tiger."

It's clientele has included Elton John, Aerosmith, David Bowie, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Madonna, Blondie, Iggy Pop, Chic, John Mayer, Adam Levine among many others.

While the current owners are said to hope that the complex will remain a studio, don't be surprised if the sale eventually leads to some high-priced condos in its place.

That's the problem with the studio biz today. The artists that can afford to use them all have a very competent home studio to at least do overdubs in, so any stay at a major studio is usually short-lived as compared to the way recording was done in the heyday of these major studios. Fewer long term-high dollar bookings means that it's a grind just to stay open.

There's no telling how long the remaining big studios will be around (Electric Lady studios,  and Manhattan Sound Recording -formerly Right Track - still remain in New York), so enjoy them while you can.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Guitarist Pete Thorn On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Pete Thorn image
I'm pleased to have the excellent guitar player Pete Thorn on this week's podcast. Pete has played with superstars like Don Henley, Chris Cornell and Melissa Ethridge, and he also has a monthly column in Premier Guitar magazine called "Tone Tips From The Road."

In the interview, we touch on a lot of topics that a player of his stature doesn't usually talk about. Truly an engaging listen.

In the intro we'll take a look at why people aren't paying for streaming music yet, and the new physical music resurgence - cassettes.

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

New Music Gear Monday: Remo Active Snare Dampening System

Remo Active Snare Dampening System image
Here's something so deceptively simple that it falls into the "why hasn't anyone thought of this before?" category. It's Remo's Active Snare Dampening System and it goes a long way to eliminating the need to taping up your snare to get rid of that unwanted ringing.

Once fitted to the drum by attaching it to the rim, you can adjust the amount of dampening by either moving the Dampener from the center to the edge of the drum head, or by sliding the O ring up or down. Genius!

The system was designed in conjunction with drumming heavyweight Dave Weckl.

The Remo Active Snare Dampening System is available for about $30, and should be part of every drummer, studio or engineer's arsenal. Here's a quick video that gives you a bit of an idea of what it will do (it's not all that dramatic, unfortunately).

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bobby O Interviewed On The Inspirational Creatives Webcast

Inspirational Creatives image
I want to thank Rob Lawrence for having me on his Inspirational Creatives webcast.

He asked a lot of thoughtful and insightful questions regarding the creative process that I'm not often asked.

He also got me thinking and talking about a lot of people that have helped me in the past, that I can probably never thank enough.

Check it out if you get a chance.


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