Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Led Zeppelin "Whole Lotta Love" Isolated Percussion Track

The percussion track is an often overlooked element in a hit song, but don't underestimate its importance, since it's often responsible for a sense of movement and motion. There are numerous hits that would sound completely different if their percussion tracks were muted.

Here's the percussion track on a song that you probably thought didn't have one - Led Zeppelin's seminal hit "Whole Lotta Love." Here are some things to listen for (it doesn't start until 1:20 into the song):

1. John Bonham is certainly one of the most influential rock drummers ever, but that doesn't mean he was a great percussionist. His conga playing leaves a little to be desired as he searches for a groove throughout the song.

2. At 3:31 coming out of the guitar break in the bridge, Bonham switches to tambourine, which feels much more in the groove.

3. On the outro at 4:40, he returns to the congas and this time they groove a bit better as he plays to the end.

4. Listen at 5:43 as Bonzo sings along with the track for a couple of seconds.

This song is a prefect illustration that being a drummer does not automatically mean you're a percussionist as well. They are two different skills. Although some drummers can do both well (my good buddy Ronnie Ciago comes to mind), sometimes it's better for the song to get a specialist for each (although the percussion track didn't hurt this song much in the end).



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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, March 19, 2014

The Story Of The Focusrite Studio Console

Back when big studio consoles were a necessity, Rupert Neve was tasked by Sir George Martin to build the ultimate console. What came next was a series of 10 Focusrite consoles, which many claim are the epitome of the genre. Here's a great documentary about the building the Focusrite, and what happened to the 10 since.

It's a little sad in a way, since so many of the facilities where the consoles formerly resided have gone away, but it's a great story all the same.



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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, March 18, 2014

The Secret To Suppressing Feedback

Feedback Meter image
If you're a gigging band and not playing venues where the sound is taken care of by a sound company, most likely you're running into feedback problems on a nightly basis. Here's an excerpt from the Presonus StudioLive Official Handbook that outlines the procedure for suppressing feeding the old fashioned way - with your ears.

"When it comes to suppressing feedback (you can never completely eliminate it), there are two methods; the classic method that’s been used for many years called “ringing out the system,” and a much faster an easier way using Smaart. Let’s look at the classic method first.

Ringing Out The System
Ringing out the system works on both the main house system and the monitor system. Here’s how it works:
1. Make sure that all the mics are on, are set at the levels they’ll most likely be at during the show, and in their normal stage positions. You should also have a mix set up with the approximate balances that you’ll eventually be using. 
2. Make sure that all the hi-pass filters on the individual channels are engaged as needed. This will eliminate any low frequencies that the ear can’t hear but will be amplified nonetheless (you don’t want to amplify the rumble of trucks on the street, for example).   
3. Slowly increase the overall gain of the sound system until you can just barely hear feedback. As it feeds back, lower the slider of the aux’s graphic EQ at the frequency that the feedback is occurring until the feedback stops.
TIP: Instead of using only one frequency band, you might want to set the GEQ to Draw Mode (see later in the chapter) in order to use two or three centered around the feedback frequency at a shallower level. This will eliminate the feedback without as much change to the tonality of the system.
4. Slowly increase the gain of the sound system again until feedback occurs once more. This time it will probably be at a different frequency. As it feeds back, lower the slider (or sliders) of the graphic EQ at the frequency that the feedback is occurring until it stops.
5. Repeat the process (you might have to repeat four or five times) until you finally hear multiple frequencies feeding back at the same time. At this point, you’ve now reached the maximum headroom in the system before feedback. Back the gain down a bit until the feedback stops and begin your soundcheck, rehearsal or show.  
One of the problems with this method is that you actually have to find the frequency on the graphic EQ that controls the feedback you’re hearing. This usually takes a little ear training to develop a feel for how the frequencies you’re hearing correspond to the frequency EQ sliders.


Another problem is that after you used Smaart to tune the system to the room, you might be destroying that tuning by pushing the system louder and then trying to eliminate the feedback. Modern sound systems are capable of being pretty loud and usually don’t have to be tweaked to within an inch of their lives to get more gain before feedback."

One of the cool features of the Presonus StudioLive console is that if you connect a computer to it, you can access the Smaart measurement tools (Smaart stands for Sound Measurement Acoustical Analysis Real Time) that provide a streamlined way of tuning your sound system to the room, find feedback, troubleshoot outputs, and automatically compensate for delay speakers. It's a very powerful and easy to use package that makes what used to be a time-consuming chore a breeze.

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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, March 17, 2014

The "I Dream Of Wires" Movie Trailer

Reader Juan Febres turned me on to the trailer for a great movie called "I Dream Of Wires (Hardcore Edition), which is all about the history, demise and resurgence of the analog modular synthesizer.

For those of us who have grown up with this stuff, you'll appreciate the look back. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of interfacing with a modular synth in person, hopefully you'll see what you've been missing and understand just how different the software versions really are.

The theatrical version of "I Dream Of Wires" is scheduled to be released in June, but you can buy the 4 hour uncut version on DVD or Blu-ray now at idreamofwires.org. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer.



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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, March 16, 2014

New Music Gear Monday: Free SoundToys Little PrimalTap

Lexicon Prime Time image
Original Lexicon Prime Time
I used to love to use the Lexicon Prime Time delay. It was one of the first digital delay units and had a few sonic qualities that we would think of as drawbacks today, but actually were part of it's sound (like its 12kHz bandwidth). It had a multiplier switch that would double the delay time, but would half the bandwidth, which made it very "warm" sounding by decreasing the frequency response. It also had a great VCO for some pretty cool modulation effects. All in all, a very versatile unit that was much used and loved at the time.

Now Soundtoys is offering a free mini version of the Prime Time called Little PrimalTap when you enter their contest, which is a social campaign to see how many of your friends you can get to enter. You need a redemption code and a Soundtoys account to download and authorize the plugin.

Ask your friends for the redemption code or link so they can get credit in the contest. The one with the most referrals gets "Plugged In For Life," while runners-up get Soundtoys bundles, so it's worth the entry.

By the way, one of the really cool Soundtoys products that I'm really looking forward to using is the Microshift, which provides the detuned sound of the original Eventide Harmonizer (a much used effect in the 80s and 90s). Check that one out too.

Here's a little video about the Little PrimalTap.


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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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