Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Friday, November 14, 2014

Engineer/Tech Writer Barry Rudolph On The Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Bobby Owsinski's Inner Circle Podcast
The great engineer and tech writer Barry Rudolph is my guest on the latest Inner Circle Podcast. You may know Barry from his many gear reviews in magazines like Mix and Music Connection, but he's been an A-list engineer in LA for a long time. Barry will tell us all about recording some iconic acts like Rod Stewart and Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as his take on the latest audio gear.

In the intro I'll talk a little about how SoundScan works to get your album on the Billboard charts, and some effective pre-production techniques to make your next production project go a lot smoother.

Remember that you can find the podcast either on iTunes or at BobbyOInnerCircle.com, and now also on Stitcher.
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Eric Clapton Isolated Solo "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

I posted this a few years back, but it's one of the posts I keep on getting requests to post again. It's Eric Clapton's isolated guitar track from George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" off the The Beatles White Album.

Didn't know it was Clapton playing lead? It was a loosely held secret for a while, but EC was one of the few ringers that The Beatles used on their records. Clapton was brought in because he was a close mate of Harrison's, and since George wrote the song, he felt he had more say in who played on it. Here are some things to listen for.

1) There's always been a question as to what gear Clapton used on the song, and none of the people at the session can remember exactly.

Here's what Ken Scott (who engineered the session) said in the book we wrote together Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust:
"The “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” sessions I’d really like to remember since I’ve been repeatedly asked about them, especially the Eric Clapton overdub session, but the only recollection I have is of mixing the song. Eric had been reluctant to play on the record because “no one plays on Beatle records,” but was convinced by his good friend George that the rest of the band would be okay with it. To his credit, he wanted to sound as far away from Eric Clapton as he could, so he insisted on not using any of his own gear and used The Beatle’s gear already set up in the studio instead (I wish I could remember exactly what gear he used). 
This wish to sound as un-Clapton-like as possible extended to mixing as well. In order to make it sound “more Beatley,” the ADT setup (see sidebar) was used to get the warbling sound that’s on the lead guitar and organ, since they were both on the same track. Chris Thomas was put in charge of manually turning the varispeed of the tape machine up and down during the mix to obtain the distinctive wobble. 
I thought it was stupid because it was such a gimmick, but that’s what they wanted because Eric didn’t want it sound like him. They wanted it really extreme so that’s what I did. I did that for hours. It was so bloody boring.Chris Thomas (George Martin's assistant)"
What you'll be hearing here is only Clapton's track, which was probably submixed to another track along with the organ to open one up for additional overdubs.

2) What struck me about the performance is how loose it is. It sounds like a single take as you hear EC switch between playing rhythm and lead. He never sounds sure of exactly what he's playing though, and you can hear the odd flub, especially in the B section and the transition between sections.

3) Listen for the toe taps as EC keeps time.



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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gibson Saves The Iconic Tower Records Building

Tower Records Hollywood image
If you were ever in Los Angeles during the vinyl or CD era of the music business, Tower Records was a required destination. It held an iconic location at the entrance to the Sunset Strip, and had a huge selection of not only the latest releases but catalog too.

Since Tower's demise in the United States in 2006, the building has struggled to find a tenant that could do it justice. In fact, the current owners wanted to demolish the building and replace it with a three story office building, but city preservationists rallied to keep the wrecking ball from falling.

The building has finally found what could be the perfect fit in Gibson, who plan to use it has its West Coast showroom. The company has signed a 15 year lease and plans to spend around $1 million in renovations.

While most people think of Gibson as just a guitar manufacturer, the company has become much bigger than that, now owning music brands like Epiphone, Tobias, Slingerland, Baldwin and Wurlitzer. But that's not all. Recently Gibson has made consumer electronics acquisitions as well, and now owns Teac, Onkyo, Integra and Esoteric as well as well as Philips Home Entertainment, the company that helped bring you the cassette tape, CD and DVD.

Gibson has long had a showroom in Beverly Hills, but the new larger Tower Records building allows for additional event space which the company plans on taking full advantage of, as it plans to feature live performances with up and coming artists. Say what you want about Gibson as a company, but it's great to have this building back in the music business again.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Producer's Vocal Recording Checklist

The vocal is the focal point of the song so it's really important for a producer to make the vocalist as comfortable as possible in order to get the best performance. Here's an excerpt from The Music Producer's Handbook that's a checklist of questions to ask to set the stage for that great performance.
  • Would a handheld mic work better?  Some singers aren’t comfortable unless they feel like they’re on stage. Give them an SM 58 and don’t worry about the sound  A great performance beats a great sound any day.
  • Is the headphone mix at the correct level?  If the track is too loud, the vocalist may sing too hard or sharp. If the track is too soft, the singer may not sing aggressive enough.
  • Is the room ambience conducive to a good vocal?  Are the lights too bright? Does the singer feel claustrophobic?
  • Is the sound of the headphones conducive to a good vocal? A touch of reverb or delay in the headphones can help the singer’s comfort level with the headphones mix.
  • Did you explain to the vocalist exactly where she was wrong or what you need? If the take wasn’t good for whatever reason, explain what was wrong in a kind and gentle way. Something like "That was really good, but I think you can do it even better. The pitch was a little sharp." 
  • Does the singer have the 3 P’s; Pitch, pocket, passion? A great vocal needs all three.
  • Do you have the studio talkback mic on? Can you hear the musicians in the studio at all times between takes?
  • Do you have the control room talkback mic always on? Can the musicians hear you at all times in between takes? Periods of silence can be a mood killer.
To read additional excerpts from The Music Producer's Handbook and my other books, go to the excerpts section of bobbyowsinski.com.
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Monday, November 10, 2014

A History Of Groove In 100 Bass Riffs

Have you ever wanted to briefly explain the history of popular music to someone that had no background? You know what a task that could be, but this video might make it a bit easier. It takes on history by providing 100 bass licks, thanks to Marc Naijar and Nate Bauman of the band Royale.

You can see a breakdown of all the songs and the gear used at 101 Bass Riffs.com.

I scratched my head at a few of these choices, but overall they got it right. What do you think they left out?

A shout out to my buddy Jesse Siemanis for the heads-up on this.



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Sunday, November 9, 2014

New Music Gear Monday: Roland M-5000 Digital Console

When it comes to digital consoles for live sound, Roland usually isn't mentioned in the same conversation as Midas, DiGiCo, Yamaha or Avid. That might change soon with the introduction of the company's new O.H.R.C.A. M-5000.

The O.H.R.C.A. (which stands for Open, High Resolution and Configurable Architecture) M-5000 takes a different different approach from formats in that it features 128 assignable signal pathways, each at 96kHz. These can be configurable into any combination of inputs, groups, outputs and auxes as needed. Although the console comes standard with 16 inputs and outputs, it can handle up to as many as 300 inputs and 296 outputs at 96kHz (and more at 48kHz) in a variety of analog or digital formats.

The control surface features a 12 inch color screen, 28 faders in 4 groups, and a variety of multifunction knobs and buttons. There's a variety of effects built in as well, including 4 band parametric EQ, 8 effects processors, and thirty-two 31 band graphic EQs.

The M-5000 can also be remotely controlled via an iPad, Mac or Windows PC, and includes ports for footswitches, RS-232 or MIDI. The console also has expansion slots for Roland's REAC, Dante, MADI and Waves Soundgrid.

There's no official price yet, although it's said to be around $25k. You can find out more on the dedicated M-5000 website, or by checking out the video below.



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