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Friday, May 30, 2014

EveAnna Manley On The Latest Inner Circle Podcast

EveAnna Manley image
She's one of the nicest and most knowledgeable people in the audio business, and you can hear how EveAnna Manley built Manley Labs into a pro audio and hi-fi powerhouse on the latest edition of my Inner Circle Podcast.

Also, check out show #6 featuring jingle producer David Campos, as he explains the differences between writing and producing songs and jingles, as well as all the other things you never hear about that side of the business.

Check out the podcasts are or on iTunes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Red Hot Chili Peppers "Give It Away" Isolated Rhythm Tracks

One of the most solid and dynamic rhythm sections in modern music belongs to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, with drummer Chad Smith and bassist Flea about as good as it gets. Here's the isolated bass and drums to one of their first hits - "Give It Away," from the groups 5th studio album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Here's what to listen for.

1. There's a lot of long reverb on the snare. And it pops through the mix because he's hitting it so hard.

2. The kick is on the left channel, although it's not like that on the final mix of the record. The final sound of the kick is also different, as you'd expect.

3. Listen to how solid and controlled the high-hat work of Chad Smith is. It doesn't move the entire song.

4. The bass is well controlled. Considering how aggressive Flea plays, the level is very steady and even. This type of playing is some of the most difficult for an engineer to deal with.

5. There are a few slight bass mistakes at 2:12 (at the end of the lick on the turnaround), at 3:36, and at 3:42 that we'd fix today in the era of the DAW (this was recorded back in the tape days), but I bet you never heard them in the context of the song.

6. Listen through to the end to hear the ending that's not on the final record.

If you like looking at the inside workings of a hit, check out my Deconstructed Hits series of books, where I take a detailed look at the song form, arrangement, sound and production of the hits we love.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dig That Crazy Tesla Coil Sound

Giant Tesla Coils have been used on science fiction movies for about a hundred years now, but who knew they could be so musical?

Now two electrical engineering students (Eric Goodchild from ASU Polytechnic and Steve Caton from UCLA) found a way to modulate their 7 foot coils to play The Animals classic "House of the Rising Sun."

Each coil is capable of generating a 13 foot spark that equates to around 500,000 volts of electricity! The musical tones are made by varying the number of sparks per second, demonstrating a phenomenon known as electrical resonance.

Kids, don't try this at home (unless you're an EE, of course).


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How To Find The Optimum Mic Placement Position

Snare Mic image
Mic placement may be the most important part of recording since a change of half-an-inch can sometimes make a huge difference in the sound. Finding that correct placement isn't always easy though, so here's an excerpt from The Recording Engineer's Handbook 3rd edition to give you some easy tips to find that "sweet spot" quickly.

"Quickly finding a mic’s optimum position is perhaps the single most useful talent an engineer can have. Sometimes the search resembles questing for the Holy Grail as more trial and error is involved. That said, you should always trust your ears first and foremost by listening to the musician in the tracking room, finding the sweet spot, and placing your microphone there to begin. If you don’t like the resultant sound, then move the mic or swap it with another. EQ is the last thing you should touch. 
TIP: Mics cannot effectively be placed by sight, which is a mistake that is all too easy to make (especially after reading a book like this). The best mic position cannot be predicted, it must be found.
How to Find the “Sweet Spot”
How you listen to an instrument in the studio is just as important as the act of trying to capture its sound. As good as many microphones are, they’re still no match for our ears, and we can sometimes be fooled in what we’re hearing over the monitor speakers. Here are a few tips to help you listen more closely to the way the mic your using is capturing the sound.
  • To correctly place an omni microphone, cover one ear and listen with the other. Move around the player or sound source until you find a spot that sounds best.
  • To place a cardioid microphone, cup your hand behind your ear and listen. Move around the player or sound source until you find a spot that sounds best.
  • For a stereo pair, cup your hands behind both ears. Move around the player or sound source until you find a spot that sounds best.
Before you start swapping gear, know that the three most important factors in getting the sound you want are mic position, mic position and mic position. Get the instrument to make the sound you want to record first, then use the cover-your-ears technique to find the sweet spot, position the mic, then listen. Remember that if you can’t hear it, you can’t record it. Don’t be afraid to repeat as much as necessary, or to experiment if you’re not getting the results you want."


Monday, May 26, 2014

Farewell Bob Tudor

Bob Tudor answering a question at PreSonusphere
Over the weekend came the sad news that PreSonus CTO Bob Tudor passed away after a long battle with cancer, and the audio manufacturing community mourns.

Many of you aren't aware of Bob and you should be, because he's so influential in digital console and recorder design and development, having a major hand in the Mackie and PreSonus StudioLive consoles as well as the Tascam US-2400 control surface and X-48 hard-disk recorder and various digital products for QSC, Samson, MAudio, Shure, Alesis, Gibson, Fender and more. His products garnered 5 TEC awards, 5 MIPA awards, as well as many others.

Bob wasn't just an electronics boffin though, he was an accomplished recording engineer and keyboard player as well, working with everyone from Peter Wolf/J. Geils Band to Extreme to Aimee Mann to Billy Idol, among others.

What I remember most about Bob was a conversation we had about a year ago when I was at the factory getting some background information while I was writing the PreSonus StudioLive Handbook.

"Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me," he said during a private moment in his office. I looked at him rather incredulous that something so terrible could be looked at in that light, but he went on to explain, "It caused me to look at my life in a different way and to see what actually is important, and what isn't." Bob continued, "If it wasn't for cancer, I wouldn't have met the love of my life, and whatever time I've had with her makes it completely worth it."

He was totally at peace with himself and his lot in life. Not many of us can say the same.

So long, Bob. Thanks for the great products. We're gonna to miss you.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New Music Gear Monday: The DW Moon Mic

All hail the subkick mic. All hail the latest version of the subkick - the DW Moon Mic.

Moon MIc Comparison Chart
So many engineers swore by the homemade subkick mic (originally made from the woofer of a Yamaha NS10 monitor) to capture the ultra-lows of a kick drum that Yamaha eventually came out with their own factory version of it called the SKRM 100. Unfortunately most engineers who had used a homemade subkick mic previously weren't entirely happy with the SKRM, since the sound definitely changed, likely due to the speaker housing and different driver used. Enter the DW DK27 Moon Mic, which is the next generation of subkick mic.

The Moon Mic is different in a variety of ways from either a homemade or Yamaha subkick (see the comparison chart on the left). First is the fact that it uses an 8" woofer instead of a 6 1/2" like the Yamaha, and has an extended frequency range so it picks up more than just the ultra-lows of the drum. Then it's directional so there's better isolation that what you get from the bi-directional Yamaha version. It also has a higher impedance, eliminating the need for a pad, and a built-in phase invert switch. Add to that the fact that it can be mounted with a variety of different hardware, including a traditional mic stand, and you have a next generation subkick mic.

More information can be found at or in the video below. The DK27 retails for $399.



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