Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Disney Audio Manager Nick Pick On This Week's Inner Circle Podcast

Bobby Owsinski's Inner Circle Podcast logo
This week's Inner Circle Podcast features an interview with Nick Peck, who's the Senior Manager of Audio Services at Disney Publishing Worldwide. Nick will discuss the differences between audio for games and apps, and music releases, as well as give us a look into the world of vintage keyboards and kicking bass on a B3.

The show also looks at the ideal length of Internet posts as well as what makes songs different from on another.

To access the Inner Circle Podcast, go to bobbyoinnercircle.com, iTunes or Stitcher.
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rolling Stones "Gimme Shelter" Isolated Parts

Here's a brilliant breakdown of the individual tracks from The Rolling Stones seminal "Gimme Shelter." I've posted isolated tracks from this song before, but they usually end up getting taken down by the record label, so check this one out while you can.

The difference in this video is that most of the individual elements are broken out and are soloed in combinations during the song. The video labels some of the parts incorrectly, but that really doesn't matter as it's fun to hear any of the parts by themselves. Here are some things to listen for:

1. The vocals really have a lot of reverb on them, although it all disappears in the final mix (which you never hear on this video).

2. Keith Richard's lead guitar plays through most of the song. You don't hear it in the final mix because it's either lowered or muted. He's also playing out of the pocket in the intro, not that it ever bothered anyone.

3. As the elements are soloed, listen for both the harp (harmonica) and the piano, which are somewhat buried in the final mix.



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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

All Hail The Pensado Awards

Dave and Herb at the Pensado Awards
(Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Pensado Awards)
I don't think you can claim to be in the music business right now and not be aware of mixer guru Dave Pensado's Pensado's Place online video show. Over the last 3+ years and 169 episodes, Dave's show has provided a much-needed forum for the under-appreciated music makers of world, a void that the show so ably fills.

It's also provided a new outlet for a facet of music education that's also been under-utilized in that Dave actually shows you the tricks he uses every day on some of the biggest records that he mixes, and his guests often provide many of their tricks and tips as well. Dave's folksy style on the show is exactly as it is in real life in his Southern hospitality and his way of making you feel like you're the most important person in the room.

I interviewed Dave way back in the first edition of The Mixing Engineer's Handbook (you can read an excerpt of that interview here). He became one of my favorite people then, and he remains so today. I wish I could record all the talks we have, because I always walk away with several pearls of wisdom.

Pensado's Place took an important step forward last Saturday night with the inception of the first Pensado Awards, held at the swanky Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica, and attended by some 600 industry movers and shakers. The awards show honored the behind-the-scenes music makers - those engineers and producers that normally fall under the radar in other awards shows like the Tech Awards and Grammys.

You can read more about the details of the Pensado Awards elsewhere on the Web so I won't go into too many of the details here. Since I'm an analyst and not a journalist (as I keep telling all the publicists out there who keep pitching me), let me give you the big picture of the event.

Show Co-hosts 
(Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Pensado Awards)
Perhaps the best thing that Dave and Herb Trawick (the executive producer of Pensado's Place and Dave's co-host) did was to use 4 co-costs to anchor the awards show. Mixer Chris Lord Alge, artist Lisa Loeb, mixer Marcella Araica and mixer Young Guru, as well as various industry presenters for individual awards, did all the heavy lifting. Dave and Herb appeared only at the end to present the last two awards. 4 hosts might have been a bit of an overkill, but just the fact that Dave and Herb decided to give up the spotlight was pretty cool and an unexpected change of pace.

There were 16 awards categories, and although they could have easily centered on the older "classic" nominees, they proved to be surprisingly diverse and cross-demographic. Some of the awards that skewed towards the younger part of the industry included Break Through Songwriter, Break Through Mixer, Spin Doctor DJ Award, and my personal favorite, the AIR Award (award for best assistant, intern or runner). It's easy to concentrate on the greats of our industry who've been doing it for years, but Dave refuses to stay within those boundaries and provides something for everyone in the business regardless of your place in it.

One of the highlights of the evening was the Pensado Giant Award, which was presented to the great Al Schmitt. Al is the engineering godfather to us all and a wise and noble man to boot, so it was great to see him so deservedly honored again. Neil Young even made a special appearance to present the award, and Paul McCartney sent a congratulatory video as well.

The Pensado Awards showed a few inevitable growing pains, but less than you'd expect for a first time event. Hopefully this will become an annual affair, and with the attention to detail that Dave and Herb give to everything, you just know that it will get better and better. I'm really happy that I was lucky enough to attend.
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2 Tricks For Taming A Reflective Room

2 tricks for taming a reflective room like a gym
Live sound engineers all say that the venue they hate to work in the most is one with a lot of reflections. It's their worst nightmare, and you can hear both Dave Weckl engineer Dennis Moody and Blue Oyster Cult FOH man Steve La Cerra talk about it on my Inner Circle Podcast (Steve's coming up in a few weeks). It doesn't matter how big or small the venue is, if there's a lot of reflections, you going to have some problems.

Here are a couple of tricks from my PreSonus StudioLive Mixer Official Handbook that engineers have been using successfully to combat serious reflective problems and bring the vocals out from behind the natural room reverberation.

1. Increase 2.9k or 3.5kHz by a couple of dB on either the High-Mid or High frequency equalizer of the vocal channel. Generally speaking, raising 1kHz on a vocal gives it more energy in any mix, but in a live situation in a reverberant environment, moving the frequency up can help it cut through the mud. You could even try this on the FOH EQ to see if it helps the entire mix.

2. Cut some of the low frequencies of the kick, bass and floor tom by a couple of dB at anywhere from 60Hz to around 130Hz, depending upon the venue. Cutting lower than that will make it seem like all of the low end has disappeared. In most reflective venues, the majority of the problem lies in too much low end bouncing around the room. Lowering the level of the subs, or lowering these frequencies on the FOH EQ can also make a difference, but you want to be careful that the power doesn't leave the mix, so be judicious.

Remember that a little EQ can sometimes go a long way, so boost or cut in small increments.

To read excerpts from the PreSonus StudioLive Mixer Official Handbook and my other books, go to the excerpts page of bobbyowsinski.com.
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Monday, June 30, 2014

This Program Turns Text Into Music

Film composer image
Film composers get paid a lot of money (well, they used to) to translate what's on the screen to emotive music, but did you ever wonder what your favorite novel would sound like?

A new project called from a programmer/musician and an officer of the National Research Council of Canada have come up with TransProse, a program that examines works of literature and transposes them into music.

The project determines the mood of the music from a lexicon of 14,000 words based on 8 emotions (anger, fear, anticipation, trust, surprise, sadness, joy and disgust) and two sentiments (positive and negative).

TransProse reads the text and breaks it down into 4 chronological sections (beginning, early middle, late middle, end), and then determines the overall mood. The tone and density of the emotional words are used to determine the key and the melody. Positive sections are in a major key and negative ones in a minor. Happy sections are in a higher octave and sad in a lower one. The more emotional words are encountered, the more notes.

This is just the beginning of the project and the authors of the program (and the subsequent paper) don't claim to have it polished yet, but it seems off to a great start. You can find out more on the TransProse website.

Here are two examples of the program at work. The first uses Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and the second is from Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince. Visit the website to hear many more examples.

Film composers might have to worry if the TransProse ever learns how to read a script and orchestrate. Low budget films will never be the same.


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Sunday, June 29, 2014

New Music Gear Monday: Telefunken M82 Microphone

We're all looking for the perfect kick drum mic. For some it's the Shure Beta 52, while for others its an AKG D112 (or vintage D12 if you can get one). Many like a good old RE20, while others get their best results from a combination of mics. Telefunken wants to be one of the choices as well with their M82.

The Telefunken M82 is a large diaphragm cardioid microphone designed to be robust enough for kick drum work, and versatile enough for voice overs. It features two EQ switches to accomplish those tasks, labeled High Boost and Kick EQ. The High Boost tilts the frequency spectrum in a slow rising 6dB boost starting at 2kHz and ending at 10kHz, making it appropriate for announcers and radio. The Kick EQ provides a familiar dip at around 350Hz like many of us use. Put them both together and you have a either the classic kick drum sound or something more modern.

This looks like a mic destined for mic lockers everywhere as the word gets out (it's already been out for a while but I haven't seen it in many places yet). The M82 retails for $499 but the street price is lower, putting it more in the range of an RE20 but more expensive that either a B52 or D112. Still, it's hard to find a large diaphragm dynamic mic that's more versatile. Check out the Telefunken website for more info.
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