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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Duran Duran "Hungry Like The Wolf" Isolated Keyboards

It's time for another isolated track video. This time we'll listen to the isolated keyboards and vocals from Duran Duran's big 1982 hit "Hungry Like The Wolf." The song launched the band into superstardom more for the music video than anything else, but like most hits, it's quite useful to listen inside the song to hear what's going on.

In this post we'll just concentrate on the keys. For more on the isolated vocals, check out this post.

1. The keyboard part mostly consists of an arpeggiated synth, which has been successfully used as a key song element from as far back as The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" (check out this post to hear the isolated track) to today. This not only fills a sonic space in the mix, but also adds motion to the song, effectively doing the same job as percussion.

2. Keyboard pads (a Roland Jupiter 8) are added on the choruses. Take notice to the synth swell on the last "Hungry like the wolf" lyric at the end of each chorus.

3. Both the synth and vocal have a nice short delayed reverb that provides the major ambience and glue to the track.

4. Listen through to the end to hear the ending (or lack of one) that never made the final record.


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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

7 Tips For Improving Your Drum Sound

Parallel Room Mics image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
When it comes to drum sounds, sometimes the smallest details can make a big difference when you consider that there are usually multiple mics involved. Changing one thing can sometimes make a difference, but sometimes it's the fact that many small adjustments have a cumulative effective on the overall sound. Here are 7 tips culled from The Recording Engineer's Handbook 3rd edition that can individually or together improve your recorded drum sound.

1. Microphones aimed at the center of the drum will provide the most attack. For more body or ring, aim it more towards the rim.

2. The best way to hear exactly what the drum sounds like when doing a mic check is to have the drummer hit the drum about once per second so there’s enough time between hits to hear how long the ring is.

3. Try to keep any mics underneath the drums at a 90 degree angle to the mic on top to keep the acoustic phase shift to a minimum.

4. Most mics placed underneath the drums will be out of phase with the tops mics. Switch the polarity on your preamp, console or DAW and choose the position that has the most bottom end.

5. Try to keep all mics as parallel as possible to keep the acoustic phase shift to a minimum (see the graphic on the left).

6. The main thing about mic placement on the drums is to place the mics in such a way where the drummer never has to be concerned about hitting them.

7. The ambient sound of the room is a big part of the drum sound. Don’t overlook using room mics where possible (see the graphic on the left).

The above tips can generally apply to just about any drum miking setup, but remember to listen carefully after each adjustment to note the difference, if any, that occurs, then make sure it fits with the track.

You can read additional excerpts from The Recording Engineer's Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of

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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.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bobby O's NAMM 2014 Report - Part 2

This is the last installment of my 2014 NAMM report, and it consists of a number of miscellaneous products that I found interesting, none of which I'd consider earth shattering, but worth mentioning all the same.

Alpine Ear Plugs At NAMM 2014 image
Alpine Ear Protection - There's nothing more precious than your ears, so go buy a good set of ear protectors now. I've used Etymonic Research ER20's for quite a while now and love them, but these new ones from Alpine just might be a leg up. They're a bit softer, and allow you to replace the internal filter to tailor the response. I have a pair but haven't tried them yet, but I'll report soon. They're cheaper than the already inexpensive ER20's, which is always a good thing.

Chauvet Big LEDs At NAMM 2014 image
Big LEDs - It took professional stage lighting a while to finally adopt LEDs but now the ball is quickly rolling downhill. Only a few years ago, the size of a lighting LED topped out at 5 watts. The ones in the picture by Chauvet are 15 watts, but they now have fixtures with LEDs as large as 40 watts! That means they're really, really bright. Goodbye incandescent bulbs.

Big Marshall Stack At NAMM 2014 image
The Biggest Marshall Stack - Marshall Amplifiers used to be in the Korg booth, but now they're in a large booth by themselves. They still trot out the huge stack featuring all of their products though, and it's as impressive as ever.

Marshall Tattoo Series At NAMM 2014 image
Marshall Tatoo Series - Speaking of Marshall, they now have a series of amps from their custom called the Tatoo Range, which says all you need to know.

Pioneer Professional Stack At NAMM 2014 image
Pioneer Professional - Probably the most baffling room at the show was that of Pioneer Professional. They had this huge 10 foot speaker system of horn loaded cabinets. The woofer cabs are built like the old RCA Ubangi's that we loved so much, and a detachable horn on the front like the old Community Light and Sound scoops. On the other side of the room there was a DJ setup, and that's it. No one around to explain the system, very little information, and a big question mark in general. I dug a little deeper online to find that this is called the GS-Wave series.

Sony Music Video Camera At NAMM 2014 image
Sony Music Video Recorder - Sony came out with a video camera dedicated to music that has a lot of potential. It has a wide-angle lens and stereo X/Y mics, but it's meant to be stationary as it's not zoomable. That said, the next generation will be linkable so you can switch multiple cameras wirelessly from an iPad. That would be hot. The price is $299.

Fender Vaporizer At NAMM 2014 image
Fender Vaporizer - Fender continues its retro trend with a line of amps called the Vaporizer. This is definitely old school, with just volume, tone and reverb controls. It's 12 watts into two 10 inch speakers, and about $399 on the street.

Gretsch 12 string bass At NAMM 2014 image
Gretsch 12 String Bass - For some reason, 12 string basses were back in a big way at NAMM this year, like this Gretsch White Falcon 12. I don't know who's playing them other than Tom Peterson from Cheap Trick, but there were a lot of them on the floor.

That's it for this year. I can't wait for NAMM 2015 already.

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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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, January 27, 2014

Bobby O's NAMM 2014 Gear Awards

This year I thought I'd change things up a bit and give out some awards out for products I liked at the Winter NAMM show. These are products that really stood out to me either as something I would personally want to use or something that's innovative. In this inaugural year of the Bobby O NAMM Awards, we have 8 winners.

Equator D8 image
Coolest Monitor Speaker Award
Equator Audio D8 - I'm already an everyday user of the Equator D5s, which are built around 5 inch dual concentric drivers. I love their sound but always wished for more bottom end. The D8's appear to have solved that problem, and sounded tremendous on the floor (the booth was at the back of the hall somewhat away from the noise so you could actually hear them a bit). They also had a potentially very useful feature for some in that the DSP could switch to the curve of an Auratone or NS-10 if desired (not that I every would, personally). Their curve was also tweaked by golden ears engineer Francis Buckley and mastering engineer Chris Bellman, so they have some of their mojo, which really made them stand out.

I actually thought I was going to give this award to the Presonus Scepter 8's, which I heard at the Presonus factory studio back in June. I loved them at the time, but they weren't set up for a serious demo at NAMM so there was no way to even remotely compare them with the D8's. Still, I'd like to hear both products side by side to see which I'd like better.

Midas M32 at NAMM 2014 image
Scariest Audio Product Award
Midas M32 Console - Midas consoles are legendary for their great audio in the live sound world, and were purchased by Behringer a few years ago. Now after undergoing a makeover in manufacturing techniques, the new M32 has arrived.

What's scary is the tremendous bang for the buck here. I mean it! I did a double take when I looked at the $4,999 price tag for a real Midas (same analog electronics, I was assured) for 40 inputs, 32 Midas mic preamps, and 25 mix buses, plus a built in stereo recorder. It's a fully digital console complete with 192kHz convertors, and it looked to be really easy to use. I had it figured out to the point where I think I could use it after only a couple of minutes, or about what it would take on an analog desk. All I can say is "Wow."

Universal Audio Apollo Twin image
Best Home Studio Product
Universal Audio Apollo Twin - The UA Apollo has been a runaway preference as a multichannel computer I/O interface since its debut, but the problem was that it was too much for many home studio owners who only need two channels. UA heard the call of that market segment and came out with the Apollo Twin, a scaled down two channel Apollo, in response.

The Apollo Twin can handle sampling rates of up to 192kHz, has two UA quality mic amps built in, and has all the same functionality as its larger Apollo brothers. Best of all, it sells for $699 for the solo core and $899 for the dual core thant can handle more of the built-in plugins in a mix. The only downside for those with legacy computers is that it's only available via a Thunderbolt connection, which should be no problem if you own a newer computer.

The Beamz at NAMM 2014 image
Coolest Controller Award 
The Beamz - This is a pretty cool controller that kind of works like a theramin but triggers loops instead. It can be connected via USB or MIDI to control either a DAW or sequencer, but it also comes with a library of instrument sounds that work together so that anyone can make music in just minutes by waving their hands. There are three packages that start from $199, including one for DJs and one dedicated to education and health care.

Tascam DR 60D at NAMM 2014 image
Coolest Camera Audio Accessory
Tascam DR 60D - If you want to add some professional audio recording to your DLSR camera, the DR 60D is just the thing. It's a 4 track recorder with a built-in mixer that's designed to closely integrate with the digital cameras of today. There's also multiple record modes, including a dual "safety" mode with lower levels so you never had to worry about those sudden overloads that sometimes happen. One of the best features is a dedicated camera output so that you also print a high-quality reference track as well. Best of all, it's a very affordable $349

Fishman Fluence Pickup at NAMM 2014 image
Coolest Guitar Idea
Fishman Fluence Pickups - Since the beginning of the electric guitar, guitar pickups have been made pretty much the same way, with coils of wire wound around a bobbin with magnets in the middle. The Fishman Fluence changes that by having smaller winds mounted on separate layered circuit boards, which means that multiple sounds can be easily chosen externally without having to change pickups. The Fluence pickups are made in single coil or humbucker forms so that they look like the real thing and fit easily fit into the slots of a Strat or Les Paul (or guitar with humbuckers).

Line 6 Amplifi at NAMM 2014 image
Coolest Recreational Guitar Product
Line 6 Amplifi - Here's a great idea if you just want to have some fun playing guitar at home. It's a full modeling guitar amp with a couple of big twists. First of all, it's fully Bluetooth so you can send the songs from your iPad or phone to it for playback. Here's where it gets cool. There are actually two playback systems in the amp; one stereo for the song playback, and another for the guitar. But even better is the fact that the amp will determine which song is playing, go to the cloud to look at a database of sounds, and dial in the right guitar sound for you to play along with that particular song! The 75 watt Amplifi is only $399 while the 150 watt version is $499.

Manley Core Channel Strip image
Coolest Outboard Piece
Manley Core Reference Channel Strip - Manley always been known for great sounding outboard gear and the new Core channel strip is no exception. It starts with a Class A mic input into a 3 band equalizer with a sweepable midrange, into an ELOP compressor (the same one as the VoxBox), completed by a fast-attack FET limiter. Add to this a brand new switching power supply (one that actually works well for audio) and you have a very cool package perfect for any studio. At $2250, the price is right for so much power in two rack spaces.

These are the products that knocked me out. Tomorrow, some that made me scratch my head.

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, January 26, 2014

Bobby O's NAMM 2014 Report - Part 1

Another NAMM show has come and went, so let me start off by saying that NAMM 2014 was very cool in a lot of ways. There were off-the-hook large crowds, which was good because the exhibition had a lot of energy and vitality, but also bad because traffic and parking were the worst I've ever experienced. One of the days it took me a half-hour just to get off the 5 Freeway onto Harbor Blvd, then another hour to park.

I spent a lot less time in the audio hall (Hall A) this year than in the past, mostly because there was a lot to see almost everywhere. That said, here are some general show observations.

I Was Busy
Bobby Owsinski and Alfred Celebrate New Books image
Bobby O and Alfred Celebrate New Books
This was probably the busiest NAMM I've had in a long time. Back to back to back meetings all day every day was pretty grueling. I did a number of "photo ops" during the show that were fun though. Here's one with the gang from Alfred Publishing. We're all holding new books of mine that made their debut at the show including Presonus StudioLive: The Official Guide, and the Deconstructed Hits series.

While at NAMM I got a call to go to CNN in Hollywood to comment on a story I wrote for Forbes about Justin Bieber breaking his brand. I think they aired at least some of it during the day (I didn't see it myself) as I saw a big spike in blog readership. Thanks, CNN!

I also did a great panel called "Getting Great Guitar Sounds" with Scott Kahn from, guitarist extraordinaire Doug Doppler, Prince engineer and old buddy Dave Hampton, and author Bill Gibson, who was the moderator. Thanks for including me, Bill!

NAMM Walkabout image
Ted Kefalo from Equator, Marie-Ann, Paul, Nick, Greg and Rueben
The Walkabout
First of all, thanks to Paul, Marie-Ann, Rueben, Nick, Greg and Hovak for joining me on my tour of the audio products in Hall A on Friday. We saw a lot of company's booths and I think we all had a good time. Thanks to Brad Lunde at Transaudio Group (ATC, Drawmer, Bock), Eveanna Manley at Manley Labs, Rick Naqvi at Presonus, JD at Universal Audio, Ted Kefalo at Equator, Robby Sharf at Neumann, Dave Morrison at IsoAcoustics, Antoni Ozynski (no relation) at PSP, John Jennings at Royer, Dusty Wakeman at Mojave, and Larry Droppa at API for taking the time to tell us about your latest products.

The Mood
The general mood of the show was extremely upbeat. For the most part, manufacturers seemed to be experiencing brisk sales (although they can't officially sell at the show), and everyone I spoke with, from musicians to journalists, were experiencing busy times once more. If you haven't noticed, the economy is back, and this show proved it.

Not all manufacturers appeared to be doing well though. Peavey moved from its traditional spot in the center of Hall B to the darkest part of the second floor in a place that no one ever ventures. The result was a much less impressive booth and from what I could tell, very little traffic.

Mackie was the same. Now that it's owned by Loud Technologies, you won't even see the Mackie name mentioned, only the little running man logo. Once again, this was a company that was once in the center of things on the floor of Hall B or C, and is now relegated to a very small room on the second floor. As a matter of fact, the entrance was labeled Ampeg (which Loud also owns), so unless you were going to check out a bass amp, you wouldn't know that Mackie/Loud was even there. I sense a rebranding here with the Mackie name disappearing forever in the near future.

The Trends
This may very well be the year that software took a backseat to hardware. There were fewer software apps and a lot more boxes around, especially in the downstairs Hall E were all the small boutique manufacturers start their journey to retail. There were far fewer iOS apps than in previous years, and the ones that were were more or less expected to be attached to the hardware device they paired with. In general, that meant there's now a tighter integration of hardware and software as a single product, rather than two separate ones.

Another trend was that there were far fewer booth babes this year, which kind of defies a NAMM tradition. This was probably a good thing as I read a study were good looking women in a booth actually decreases traffic by about two-thirds.

Finally, regardless of the music that seems to hit the top 40 these days, rockers still reign supreme at NAMM. You'll see longer hair, more tattoos, more body piercing and more spandex than anywhere else at one time. I guess some things never go out of style.

The Odd
Vagina Guitars Van image
An Interesting Name Choice
I think this pictures says that all the good names for companies must be already taken. As far as I could tell, this company didn't exhibit at NAMM, but they did have a prominent parking space every day right near the convention center. It was great marketing because everybody that walked by commented, and I even saw people getting their picture taken in front of it.

Boycott GC image
It's OKTo Protest If You Have Strong Arms
And the show was not without it's share of protests. This one was generated by the fact that an inventor showed an exec at Guitar Center an idea for a pedal for a cajon, who then allegedly turned it over to Gibraltar Hardware to make. Can't say who's right here, but they had a healthy protest. Also, check out the second sign on the back right for some nice irony.

Tomorrow: The Gear Awards


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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