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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Yes "Roundabout" Isolated Guitars

Staying with our Friday isolated tracks theme, here's Steve Howe's isolated guitar tracks in "Roundabout," one of Yes's most famous tracks. The song is off of their breakout album Fragile, which catapulted the band into a worldwide headlining act. It's a long song with a lot of parts, so here are just a few of the things to listen for.

1. Listen to the acoustic guitar harmonics on the left and electric guitar fills on right during the first verse.

2. On the second verse, the acoustic guitar harmonics are replaced with a strum.

3. A slightly out of tune electric guitar takes over in first chorus.

4. Check out the mis-fingerings at 3:08 and 3:17, something that we'd probably fix if the song were done today.

6. Listen for the chair noise on the second intro at 5:15.

7. On the last verse the electric guitar doubles the bass.

8. Check out the strumming guitar on outro at 7:50, along with tapping on the body for a rhythm percussion effect.

9. The ending guitar line (the same as the intro) at 8:18 is doubled.



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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Tale Of Two Nine Inch Nails Masters

Trent Reznor image
Here's an except from a story I posted on Forbes that looks at the strategy behind the dual master release of the latest Nine Inch Nails album. Keep in mind that it's written for an audience that's not audio sophisticated.

"Don't look now but Trent Reznor has done it again. Always ahead of the pack in some way, Reznor just took a stand in the the so-called loudness wars by releasing the new Nine Inch Nails album, Hesitation Marks, with two different masters; the standard compressed-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life master, and a less compressed "audiophile" version.


For those of you not aware of the battleground, the loudness wars are basically a result of the insecurity of record execs, artists, producers and audio engineers everywhere that if their song is played right before or after another that’s louder, the listener will somehow deem it inferior. As a result, there’s a constant battle that rages behind the scenes in mastering facilities everywhere in an effort to make every song sound as loud as possible, even to the point where a mastering engineer (the specialized boffin who puts the final audio sheen on a song mix) will get the job based on being able to make the song louder than a competitor.

This is a battle that’s been raging since the 50s, and has resulted in mastering engineers usually violating their own collective good taste and judgement in making songs as loud as possible just to keep working. After all, lose a loudness shoot-out to a competitor and you might not get chance at the next record that needs mastering." Read the entire article on Forbes.
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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.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mix Comparison: From Rehearsal To Master

Here's a video that came from The Music Producer's Handbook that shows the differences in how the mixes sound from rehearsal, basic tracks, all overdubs, final mix and mastered track. The song is "Feedback And Distortion" which I produced for the second SNEW album called We Do What We Want.

You can hear that the rough mixes are fairly close to the final mix, but the final mastered track (done by the great Eddy Schreyer at Oasis Mastering) is definitely a lot louder.


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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.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Revolution In Speaker Technology

Ionic Speaker image
The Ionic Speaker
Speaker technology as we know it has been around for about a hundred years, yet it's never really had a revolutionary product that's changed the basic electro-mechanical engine that's been used since the beginning. Sure there's been lots of evolution, as speakers of all sorts continue to be refined, and there's even been a couple tries at using lasers and even plasma to try to take speaker technology into the 21st century.

But now it looks like there may finally be something on the horizon that can actually change the way sound is reproduced for the better that can actually be manufactured. Enter the "ionic speaker," a transparent disc created at the materials science laboratory of Harvard University.

This is not actually a speaker or even an electronic device, it's a "reproducer" that consists of a thin sheet of rubber sandwiched between two layers of saltwater gel, which makes it as clear as a piece of glass. A high-voltage signal runs across the surfaces and through the layers that forces the rubber to rapidly contract and vibrate. What's different here is that unlike traditional loudspeakers, it's not electrons that are moving, but ions. That means that there may even be bionic applications for the technology (as the in the body as a reproducer) as well.

And by the way, the reproducer covers the entire audible range from 20Hz to 20kHz.

This won't be on the market soon, as there's still a lot of research as to the best materials to use for audio, but it's a magnificent and exciting start. It sure would be nice to rid ourselves of the clunky boxes we call loudspeakers for a newer and better technology.
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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.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Music Gear Monday: Shure KSM9HS Microphone

Anyone who's ever been in the music business has used a Shure SM58 on a live gig somewhere along the line. That workhorse of a mic has been going strong for over 50 years and can still be found working reliably on stages all over the world. The 58 sounds good but there are times when you really need a "premium" sounding vocal mic on stage, and one of the recent go-to units has become the Shure KSM9 condenser mic. Another version of this mic has been released though, that may end up being more popular than its predecessor.

The KSM9HS is unique in a few different ways, but the big one for me is that it's a dual pattern mic, just like the condenser mics that you use in the studio. But here's where it gets cool. The two patterns are hypercardioid (great for feedback rejection) or subcardioid.

So what the heck is subcardioid? It's basically a cross between a cardioid pattern and an omni pattern, where it has greater back end rejection than your normal omni mic. The reason why this is cool is that it greatly decreases proximity effect, so you don't get as much bass boost when a vocalist eats the mic.

The KSM9HS has a street price of around $699, which is pretty expensive for a live mic. On the other hand, there are some vocalists that will find this mic to be a worthy match. Check out the video below for more about the KSM9HS and its subcardioid pattern.


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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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