Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Beatles Final Ed Sullivan Appearance

For those of you who watched the 121212 Telethon last night for the victims of Hurricane Sandy (please donate, they really need your help), you saw Paul McCartney and his great band rock the house at the end of the show. Of course, Paul was in another great band before he went solo (and I don't mean Wings). Here's a great clip of Paul with his former band The Beatles on their final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on August 14, 1965.

Ed gave a great portion of his one hour show to the band, allowing them to play "I Feel Fine," "I'm Down," "Act Naturally," "Ticket To Ride," "Yesterday," and "Help."

Notice a few things. First of all, Lennon screws up the words a lot on the first and last songs. Secondly, all the amps were miked, which didn't happen on TV back in the 60's, certainly not on their pervious appearances on the show. Then there's the single mic on Ringo's drums. And finally, The Beatles were truly a great band, being able to bring it live just like in the studio. Those vocals are awesome!

The quality of this video is really great, which is an added treat. All four of their Sullivan appearances are also available on a DVD.



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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Remembering Ravi

Ravi and George image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar passed away yesterday, so I thought it appropriate to tell a couple of stories of when I met the man. Now these were extremely brief, almost incidental encounters, but he left such an impression that I believe they're worth passing on in his honor.

I met Ravi at a party at Pacific Ocean Post Sound, which was then owned by co-founder Alan Kozlowski. Alan is a remarkable man in that here he was the CEO of one of the most influential post houses in Los Angeles, yet he was a great guitar player who refused to give it up. In fact, his passion was so great that he even played tamboura with Ravi on dates in the area. The two had a special bond, with Alan calling him "my father."

POP is a huge facility with 11 state-of-the-art mixing stages, but as soon as I got there I was drawn to one of the larger lounges for some reason. As I was peeking inside I found a radiant Ravi holding court. Radiant is a good word for him because he was indeed brighter than anyone else in the room almost like there was a halo around him. Now I wasn't a particularly big fan of his, so this has nothing to do with being star-struck, but there was something about him that was indeed larger than life. And he really glowed! It was as if there was a shining light around him that I can still see in my mind.

There was something about the man that drew everyone to him. He was quiet and demure and not at all trying to be the center of attention, yet he was the focus of everyone in the room. I don't attribute this to his superstardom or his talent as much as his spirituality. It was a magnetic and unrelenting forcefield that you were drawn to and couldn't break away from.

We were introduced, I said virtually nothing of importance, and was as nice as could be considering that was probably about the millionth time he was in that same situation. But I distinctly remember being in his presence and that is something that will live with me forever. I've met many a superstar and some have a distinct aura about them, but none could compare to whatever it was that came from that mild, soft spoken man.

My second experience with Ravi Shankar came a few weeks later. I was given some tickets to a concert that Alan was playing with Ravi at Pasadena City College. My tickets said they were in Row YY, which I assumed was as far back in the room as you could get. When I got there and gave my ticket to the attended, sure enough we went to the last row of the balcony, only to find that there was no Row YY there. After a brief conference with another attendant, the girl turned to me with a smile and said, "I know where you're going," and proceeded to take me down to a near center seat in the first row!

The concert started almost immediately so I didn't have much time to get my bearings in the grand scheme of where I was in the audience. At a Ravi concert, the doors are locked when the raga begins and everything gets respectfully quiet, so you have to get settled quickly. About 20 minutes into the raga (the first one lasted 45 minutes) I started to notice the people around me. On my left was a guy wearing an old red plaid flannel shirt with slightly long unkept hair and about a 3 day beard. I thought I knew him from somewhere but couldn't place him. Another 10 minutes and another quick look - could it be? Another 5 minutes - naw, can't be him. Finally at the end of the raga we were both clapping and looked at each other and smiled and I thought to myself, "I'm pretty sure that's George Harrison."

At the end of the next raga we exchanged some brief small talk, and of course, he had that unmistakeable Liverpool accent, but I still wasn't sure it was him until the end of the concert, when he climb on stage from his seat and hugged a rather pleased Ravi Shankar. Yes, it was George.

Let me just say that a Ravi Shankar concert held the exact same vibe as the man. It was larger than the music. It was a spiritual experience (the only other concert where I felt this was with Carlos Santana). You didn't have to like the music, because there was something larger than that involved, and it touched everyone who was there. Not many artists, especially these days, can do the same.

In my extremely brief time with him, Ravi made an indelible mark. I can only imagine what it could have been with more exposure. Hopefully he and George are now playing ragas together again.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Evolution Of Headphones

Headphones have become a necessary part of our audio lives, whether we're in the studio or just listening for pleasure. The choices we now have are many and we all have our favorites, but that wasn't always the case. Here's a cool infographic on the evolution of headphones that's bound to bring up some trivia that you weren't aware of. Click on it to make it larger.

Evolution of Headphones Infographic from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Building Your Mix: It's Not Just From The Kick

Building Your Mix image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blogMany musicians new to mixing are not aware that there are a number of places that you can build a mix from. There's a general feeling that starting from the kick drum is the best way, but that's far from the only starting point available. In this excerpt from The Audio Mixing Bootcamp book, you'll see that there are many alternative places to successfully start from when building a mix.

"Despite what you might think, there is no standard instrument to start and build a mix from. Modern mixers employ various techniques and they’re all valid, especially in different genres of music. For instance, here are the places from which a mix can be started:
  • From the Bass
  • From the Kick Drum
  • From the Snare Drum
  • From the Drum Overheads
  • From the Lead Vocal or main instrument
  • With all of the instruments and vocals in right from the beginning
  • When mixing a string section, from the highest string (violin) to the lowest (bass)
There are some mixers that just push up all the faders and mix with everything in the mix from the beginning. The theory here is that everything will eventually be in the mix anyway, you might as well start with it all in as soon as you can. The advantage to this method is that by hearing all the instruments and vocals, you’re able to make an aural space for everything. If you insert one instrument at a time, you begin to run out of space and frequently have to go back to the beginning to make sure everything fits together properly.

I start with everything on and I work on it like that. The reason is that, in my opinion, the vocal is going to be there sooner or later anyway. All the instruments are going to be there sooner or later so you might as well just get used to it. And I think that’s also what helps me see what I need to do within the first passage.  Jon Gass (mixer for eighty top 20 hits, one hundred top 40 hits, and more than a hundred gold and platinum albums)
Wherever you start from, it’s a good idea that the lead arrangement element (usually the the vocal) be inserted into the mix as soon as possible. Since the vocal is the most important element, it will use up more frequency space than other supporting instruments. Many mixers find that by waiting until late in the mix to put the vocal in, there’s not enough space left and the vocal just never sits right with the rest of the track."

You can read additional excerpts from this and my other books at bobbyowsinski.com.
You also might want to check out the Audio Mixing Bootcamp video course at Lynda.com.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

New Music Gear Monday: Equator D5 Monitors

Equator Audio D5 image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
Monitor speakers are such a personal thing, almost like clothing or hair styles. What works for one person probably doesn't work for another. There is one thing that works for everyone though, and that's high quality at a low price. The only problem is that combination doesn't come around that often.

That's not the case with the Equator Audio D5's, a monitor speaker that at $299 a pair has such a big bang for the buck that it borders on amazing. Equator sells these direct so there's no dealer or sales rep or any other middleman costs involved, which can add up fast. You're not paying them here so you get a pair of monitors for $299 that probably would be sell for nearly twice that otherwise.

But enough about the price. I can say that I've been using them for a month or so and they've become by go-to nearfield. Why? They use a dual concentric speaker (meaning that the tweeter is set in the center of the voice coil of the woofer) so the phase is perfectly aligned, and that makes a big difference in the sound quality (watch the video below for more on that).

They're pretty beefy sounding as well for a small monitor, with a big sound and more bottom than you think they should have, especially one with a 5 1/4 inch woofer. Not only that, they're biamped with a fifty watt amp for both woofer and tweeter, so there's plenty of volume if you want.

Check these out. Also check out the isolation pads. For only 20 bucks, they're the cheapest ones out there.



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You should follow me on Twitter 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.

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