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Thursday, September 19, 2013

David Bowie "Space Oddity" Isolated Vocal

Here's one of the cooler isolated tracks if you're a David Bowie fan. It's the isolated vocal from his hit "Space Oddity."

As some of you might know, I co-wrote the memoir of Ken Scott (Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust), who engineered two Bowie records and engineer/produced 4 (include the seminal Ziggy Stardust)This is one that he didn't do however, because Bowie's producer at the time (Tony Visconti) hated the song and refused to work on it. Gus Dudgeon (who went on to fame producing early Elton John) stepped in and brought his own engineer.

Surprisingly, this song was a hit and brought Bowie to temporary prominence, but it also brought his career to a temporary halt, since "Space Oddity" was declared a "novelty." In fact, he quit the business for a short time afterwards, only to come back to record both Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust in quick succession with Ken.

Ken has said that Bowie might have been the best vocalist he's ever worked with, as 99% of the vocals on all the albums he worked on were first take! Here are some things to listen for.

1. Bowie doesn't begin to sing the verse until :32, but you can hear him making mouth noises before that.

2. There are a few flat parts, but these are mostly at the end of phrases as he drops his breath, not that it ever bothered anyone before as you can't hear them in the track. Still, these are things we would have fixed today.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why Showing More Passion Means Greater Audience Response

Passionate musician image
Okay all you American Idol and The Voice wannabes, here's the key to winning the judges hearts. A study published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Science has found that musicians who show passion when performing place higher when being judged.

Researchers recruited a group of 106 musicians with experience in judging music competitions, and then randomly assigned to one of three groups that did the judging. One group judged on sound only, one on video only and the third on both sound and video. They were then shown 6 second clips of the top 3 finalists in classical music competitions from around the world and asked to identify the winner in each of the 10 contests.

As you would expect, most of the judges said that they were primarily concerned with the audio performance, but it turned out that the judging group that picked on sound only guessed the winner only 26% of the time while the ones given the audio and video got it right 33% of the time, or about what the odds of chance predicted.

But what's mind-blowing is that the judges that were shown the video only guessed correctly 47% of the time, which meant that another round of research was required.

This time a study group was show black and white videos of just the outlines of musicians' bodies and asked a range of questions about the performers creativity, involvement, motivation, passion and uniqueness. It turns out that passion was the number one factor, and when the judges were asked to go back and judge the competition performances again, they scored nearly 60% right.

Musicians inherently know that the audience really digs it when it looks like you're really into it. Now there's real research that proves it.

Sign Up For The "6 Keys To Musical Prosperity" Teleseminar

6 Keys To Musical Prosperity Teleseminar image
Are you in a musical career rut?

Not doing the things in music that you thought you’d be doing?

Are you frustrated because you can’t seem to get the better gigs you think you deserve?

Then 6 Keys To Musical Prosperity teleseminar might be just the thing you need to kickstart your career.

I'm inviting you to a free 60+ minute telephone seminar I'm offering next Tuesday, September 24th with a group of my music industry friends like Dave Pensado and Paul Ill who currently work with hit artists that have recorded some of the classic songs that you hear on the radio every day.

If you're not making enough money or working with the best musicians and people in the industry, it's time to find out how to overcome the common hurdles that block musicians, engineers, and producers from doing the things they've always dreamed about.

Together we'll teach you things that 95% of all musicians don’t know.

To register for this call, which is free except for your normal long distance charges, go here now:

Once registered (remember, it’s free), you'll receive all the details to join the call via return email. I look forward to "seeing" you on the call next Tuesday!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How To Calibrate Your Hearing

hearing image
One of the mistakes that many audio mixers make is not calibrating their hearing before beginning a mix. It's not that you can't get a great mix without it, it's just that doing so makes things easier, since it takes you less time to focus on the details of a mix. Here's an excerpt from the latest 3rd edition of The Mixing Engineer's Handbook that describes how to calibrate your hearing before the mix begins.

"Our ears are amazing organs that are capable of hearing sounds so faint that they move the eardrum less than the diameter of a hydrogen molecule. It’s important that we first calibrate them in order to take advantage of their enormous capabilities. Here’s how:
  • Try to stay in the most quiet area that you can for as long as you can before you begin your mix. Concentrate on the sounds that you’re hearing and try to identify what they are and the direction they’re coming from. Studies have found that this can make your hearing much more acute.
  • Stay away from a large meal before you mix since it can temporarily make your hearing less sharp. 
  • In order to improve your ability to hear faint sounds, relax your jaw or just smile. There are tiny muscles in your jaw that can actually disrupt the action of your ear drums and eustachian tube, which control the inner ear pressure.
  • If you will be doing work that requires your attention on a computer monitor screen, even small noises can subtly blur your vision. Turn the level down and try to keep the uninvited noises at bay.
TIP: Also remember that closing your eyes while mixing can sometimes improve your hearing by both lessening the distractions and allowing your brain to concentrate additional processing power on that sense."

To read additional excerpts from The Mixing Engineer's Handbook 3rd edition and other books, go to the excerpts section of

Monday, September 16, 2013

HDMI 2.0 Is Here

HDMI 2.0 image
If you do audio for video or are planning on buying a new television, you'll want to know that an new HDMI spec has now been released. HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is the digital interface that allows you to transfer both video and audio from one device to another with a single cable.

HDMI 2.0 will accommodate the latest 4k displays that operate at 3840x2160p at 60Hz (the standard hi-def that we mostly see is 1920x1200p60). The bandwidth is also doubled from 9Gbps to 18Gbps, and supports the upcoming new aspect ratio of 21:9.

But the exciting part for audio people is that the new spec will support up to 32 discrete audio channels with sample rates up to 1536kHz. While home theatre is just settling into 7.1, HDMI 2.0 is all set for more immersive formats.

You can find out more about the HDMI 2.0 spec at

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Music Gear Monday: Avid S6 Control Surface

Avid S6 M10
Avid has taken digital audio workstation controllers to the next level with its introduction of the new S6 family, which could prompt many mixers who are used to mixing with a mouse to reconsider.

The S6 offers a modular approach that can be mixed and matched to your way of working or application, or two preconfigured versions - the smaller M10 with up to 9 modules and 24 faders, and the larger M40 with up to 61 modules and 64 faders. Modules include Master Touch, Master Automation, Fader, Knob, Display and Process.

This looks like one slick system, very modern looking and ergonomic, but the one module that really sticks out to me is the Display Module, which displays 8 channels and the waveforms of each. The S6 communicates with the computer using the EUCON ethernet protocol like the ICON and System 5 before it.

The price for the M10 starts around $22,000 while the M40 begins at $43,500. Check out the video below.


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