Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jimi Hendrix "Purple Haze" Behind The Scenes

For many, the Jimi Hendrix Experience's song "Purple Haze" (from the Are You Experienced album) was transformational in that it signaled the transition from pop music that was the driving the music business to a heavier song that would mark the end of the 60s and carry through until the 90s.

In this video you'll see and hear my buddy Eddy Kramer (who worked on most of Jimi's recordings) play the isolated tracks from the original 4 track recording of the song. You'll also get to hear a track of the song loud and clear that's almost buried on the final recording.



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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.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Beware Of Smoking In The Studio

Smoking image
Reader Tom McArdell recently asked about the effect of cigarette smoke on the gear in the studio, a good topic that hasn't been addressed yet in on this blog.

First let me say that I can't remember the last time that smoking was allowed in a major commercial studio. In fact, I can't remember seeing a cigarette inside a recording facility since the early 1980's, at least in Los Angeles. Granted, fewer people smoke on the West Coast to begin with, but it happened everywhere almost at once for two reasons.

First of all, smoking smells up the place, and many high-paying clients would complain about the oder. We all know how difficult it is to get the smell of smoke out of something, and a studio is so closed that it was even more difficult to air out. As a result, a universal rule came into effect - if you must smoke, then go outside.

The second reason is that smoke can have a detrimental effect on some audio gear, most notably condenser microphones. Condenser diaphragms already take a beating just from the moisture that a vocalist develops during the process of singing (which is a reason why pop filters are so popular), and it gets even worse when cigarette smoke attaches to a diaphragm. Pretty soon the super thin piece of metal that make up the diaphragm is bogged down with heavy smoke particles and it can't move as fast anymore, so the transient response decreases and the resonant point changes.

Then there's the fact that mics can stink from smoker's breath, which can still be bad even without smoking in the studio, but at least it's kept to a minimum when smoking isn't allowed. Console faders can also get scratchy as a result of smoke particles, and any piece of gear with a fan will have to be cleaned or the filter changed more often. Of course it's bad for the health of the smoker and the other innocent people trapped in the control room with him as well.

If it's your studio and you're a smoker, it's your right to smoke, but be aware that there are good reasons to take it outside.
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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.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Evolution Of The AKG 414 Microphone

Just like anyone who works in a studio, I have a soft spot in my heart for vintage microphones. Not only because they sound so good if they're working well, but because they look so cool. I've made sure to include a section on vintage microphones in The Recording Engineer's Handbook that covers a brief history of most of the beloved mics that we see in major studios (and would love to have in our own studios as well).

One of the most interesting mics to me has always been the AKG 414 because it's undergone so many changes and updates over the years. Here's an excerpt from the book that covers the history of the 414, starting with its predecessor the C12A.

AKG C12A image
AKG C12A
"AKG, which stands for Akustische und Kino-Gerate (Acoustic and Film Equipment), developed the original C 12 condenser microphone in 1953 where it remained in production until 1963.

The original CK 12 capsule membrane was 10-micron-thick PVC but was later changed to 9-micron-thin mylar. The amplifier design was based around a 6072 tube. The C 12 had a remotely controlled pattern selection from omni to bi-directional via the selector switch located in a box between the microphone and the power supply. 


In 1965 AKG developed the C 12A (see the photo on the left), which shared the capsule design with the original C 12 (but not the electronics), but had a whole new body style; one that would foreshadow what was to become the 414 series. 

Basically the transistor version of the C 12A, which used a nuvistor miniature tube, the 414 has gone through many updates and changes through the years. Starting off as the model 412 in the early 70’s, the mic was the first to use phantom power (12 to 48V DC) instead of an external supply. This version was susceptible to radio frequency interference if not modified, and since the gill housing was made out of plastic, was prone to cracking.

The C 414 EB (Extended Bass) was introduced in the late ‘70s and consisted of an all metal silver housing. Early versions had the original brass CK 12 capsule while the later ones had a plastic injected type. This mic was able to operate on phantom power of 9 to 48 volts. Of all 414 versions, this one seems to be the most desirable.

AKG 414 XLS
The C 414 EB/P48 appeared sometime in the early ‘80s and is a 48V-only phantom power version of the C 414 EB. The housing is black. 

C 414 B-ULS stands for Ultra Linear Series and has been in production since the late ‘80s. This mic has a redesigned preamp that provides a flatter frequency response. 

C 414 B-TL is the exact same mic as the C 414B-ULS except it uses a transformerless output stage which gives the mic a slightly lower frequency response

C 414 B-TLII is the same mic as the C 414B-TL except it uses the TL-II version of the CK 12 plastic injected capsule, which was designed to give a high-end boost to emulate the sound the original brass CK 12.

C 414B-XLS is the latest version in the 414 family, featuring a slightly larger grill and body, and decreased handling noise and higher sensitivity. It’s also incorporates an entirely new electronics section that does away with the old mechanical switches and replaces them with flush-mounted electronic pushbuttons for pattern, attenuation, and lowpass filter. The XLS has five pattern choices including a new wide cardioid position, attenuation choices of 0, -6, -12 or -18 dB, and lowpass filter positions of flat, -12 dB at 40Hz, -12 dB at 80Hz and -6 dB at 160Hz.

C 414B-X II is the same as the XLS version except for a pronounced presence peak at 3kHz.

All 414’s feature a multi-pattern switch on the front and a 10 dB pad and high pass filter switch on the rear of the casing."

Read additional excerpts from The Recording Engineer's Handbook and my other books at bobbyowsinski.com.
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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.

Monday, December 2, 2013

At Look At Recording "Sympathy For The Devil"

Recording "Sympathy For The Devil" image
If you ever wondered how songs were worked out and recorded back in the 60s, then this video is the best example you'll ever see. It's a look at The Rolling Stones first working out their famous "Sympathy For The Devil," then recording it, way back in 1968.

The film, called One On One, was shot by French New-Wave director Jean Luc-Godard at Olympic Studios, then largely forgotten. In it you'll see The Stones learning the song, then trying different versions until they hit upon the one that we know today.

They then begin to record it for real, in which you'll see the entire band performing at once. The vocal overdubs are interesting as well, with Jagger singing on one side of gobo and the group background vocals on the other.

You have to watch a 15 second commercial to get to the video, but trust me, it's worth it.


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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.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Best Of New Music Gear Monday

Here we are at another Cyber Monday and I thought I'd do something different this year. Here are the top 10 most popular items in the mostly below $500 range that appeared on New Music Gear Monday in the last year. You'll find that they'll be pretty good gifts for either yourself or the musician or engineer that helped you so much on your recent projects.

Equator D5 speakers
Equator D5 Monitors - These are my personal favorites and the monitors I use almost every day. They're small, coaxial and have a big bang for the buck, but sound great too. Find out more and see a video about them here.





Moog Sub Phatty

Moog Sub-Phatty Synth - Need that synth bottom that only a Moog can provide? The Sub-Phatty fills that need. Find out more and see a video about it here.




Philips Hue Studio Lighting

Philips Hue Studio Lighting - There's nothing like setting the mood in the studio. Light dimmers are so passe now that Hue digital lighting is here. Control them from your iPhone and set the mood in multiple colors. Find out more and see a video about it here.




Marshall Stanmore Bluetooth Speaker

Marshall Stanmore Bluetooth Speaker - Need some real Marshall oomph when streaming tunes from your iPhone? The coolest bluetooth speaker system on the planet is here. Find out more about it here.



Triad Orbit mic stands



Triad Orbit Mic Stands - Mic stand technology hadn't changed for over 50 years until the new Triad Obit stands hit the market. A brand new concept in stands that take up less room and can get in more tight spaces than ever before. Find out more and see a video about them here.


EH Talking Pedal




EH Talking Pedal
- A new version of the guitar "talk box" that eliminates the need for a second amplifier. Now you get the same effect a lot cheaper and easier. Find out more and see a video about it here.





EV RE320 mic



Electro/Voice RE320 - The latest version of the revered RE-20, this new mic comes with a switchable curve just for kick drum miking and is cheaper to boot. Find out more and see a video about it here.





Zoom H6 and accessoriesZoom H6 Hand-Held Digital Recorder - Everyone loves hand-held digital recorders but most are limiting in that they're only two or four channels. The Zoom H6 can record up to 6 channels, making it perfect for those quick field recordings where 4 tracks just isn't enough. Find out more and see a video about it here.









IsoAcoustics speaker standsIsoAcoustics Speaker Stands - Just about the quickest way to improve your playback system is to isolate the speakers from the desk or console they're sitting on. While you can do that with a piece of foam, the problem is correctly aiming the speakers, and that's where the IsoAcoustics speaker stands shine. Oh, and they provide a lot more isolation that foam isolaters as well. Find out more and see a video about them here.

Novation Launchkey controller



Novation Launchkey - A keyboard and DAW controller all in one, you won't find anything better or smaller to fit most of your controller needs. Find out more and see a video about it here.



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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.

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