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Friday, October 31, 2014

Engineer Michael Frondelli On The Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Longtime engineer Michael Frondelli spins some tales from his days at Electric Lady and Capitol Records Studios on the latest Inner Circle Podcast. Michael cut his teeth at Electric Lady, and latter went on to become the VP of Studio Operations at Capitol, and has some great stories to tell.

Also on the latest episode I'll discuss the fact that there are no platinum albums so far in 2014 (although that could change with Taylor Swift's new release), and how to overcome loud stage volume when you're mixing live.

Remember that you can find the podcast either on iTunes or at, and now also on Stitcher.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cream "SWLABR" Basic Track Outtakes

The great bassist/vocalist/songwriter Jack Bruce passed away last week so I thought it appropriate to post a tribute to the man. Here's a fascinating look into the making of Cream's "SWLABR" that was recorded in March of 1967 for their Disraeli Gears album. What you'll hear is 4 takes of the song.

The song was recorded on 8 track, and what you'll hear is 3 tracks, with the drums in mono on their a single track (as was the technique back then). The first take begins around 2:00.

1. It's interesting to listen to the band try to tune up (Bruce and Eric Clapton never quite get there). It's hard to believe that there was a day when guitar tuners weren't available, but you're listening to live proof here.

2. The band clearly overplays in the first few takes before it settles in. The overplaying is mostly from drummer Ginger Baker while bassist Bruce holds it together.

3. The solo in Take 3 is interesting in that the band clearly goes to another level.

4. The take that begins at 10:28 finally has Bruce doing his vocal along with the band. He really was a fine vocals as well as a great bass player. This take also features a harmonica solo at the end.

5. A bit trivia: SWLABR stands for "She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow."


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The World's Largest Subwoofer

You think you've seen large subwoofers? Yeah, that sub bin with dual 18's is pretty big, and that 32 inch woofer is very impressive, but I don't think the world has seen anything like audio designer Roberto Dell Curti has dreamt up.

He's literally built his entire house around this sub, as each channel is 21 foot long and 3 feet deep. Each channel uses eight 18 inch woofers, but there's no word on how much power is used to drive them (I bet a lot). Dell Curti calls it the Real Total Horn.

It reportedly can reproduce down to 10Hz! I wonder if this causes the listener to loosen his bowels when the subs really get going?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

3 Steps To A Quick Onstage Monitor Mix

Stage Monitor image
It's time to mix a live show and you find you have the thankless job of mixing stage monitors from your front of house position. Don't pull your hair out. Use this quick method to get up and running while keeping the band happy in virtually no time at all.

This method assumes there's only one monitor mix instead of multiple mixes. Here's what to do:

1. Have everyone in the band raise their hand.

2. Tell them to lower their hand as soon they can hear themselves in the monitor.

3. Begin to increase the send of each instrument one by one. Continue to increase until the player lowers his hand. Proceed to the next instrument.

You might still have to tweak the mix a little afterwards, but you'll find that you'll have a workable monitor mix in just a couple of minutes.

You can find more tips like this, as well as a great overview on how to use the PreSonus StudioLive console, in my PreSonus StudioLive Handbook.

Read excerpts from this and my other books on the excerpts section of

Monday, October 27, 2014

Orchestral Conductors Say The Darnedest Things

The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the powerhouse orchestras on the planet, being labeled as one of the "big 5" (the others are the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Cleveland Orchestra). For 44 years, Eugene Ormandy was the music director and conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, collecting 3 gold records and 2 Grammy awards along the way.

He was also quite a character, and for years his remarks were collected by members of the orchestra. To be fair, Ormandy was Hungarian, so English was his second language, but some of his comments still make you laugh. You don't have to be into classic music to get a kick out of these.

"Congratulations to each and every one of you for the concert last night in New York and vice versa."

"Who is sitting in that empty chair?"

"I'm conducting slowly because I don't know the tempo."

"I conduct faster so you can see my beat."

"I cannot give it to you, so try to watch me."

"I was trying to help you, so I was beating wrong."

"I am thinking it right but beating it wrong."

"I can conduct better than I count."

"I guess you thought I was conducting, but I wasn't."

"I purposefully didn't do anything, and you were all behind."

"Why do you always insist on playing while I'm trying to conduct?"

"Even when you are not playing you are holding me back."

"Don't ever follow me, because I am difficult."

"It is not as difficult as I thought it was, but it is harder than it is."

"The notes are right, but if I listened they would be wrong."

"I wrote it the right way, so it was copied the wrong way right.  I mean the right way wrong."

"At every concert I've sensed a certain insecurity about the tempo. It's clearly marked 80...uh, 69."

"It is not together, but the ensemble is perfect."

"Someone came too sooner."

"Start beforty-two."

"Start three bars before something."

"Start at B.  Yes. No. Yes. No."

"Did you play? It sounded very good."

"Intonation is important, especially when it is cold."

"Beauty is less important than quality."

"If you don't have it in your part, leave it out, because there is enough missing already."

"Percussion a little louder."  ["We don't have any."] 
"That's right, play it louder."

"More basses, because you are so far away."

"I need one more bass less."

"There are no woodwinds at number 6." [The woodwinds say they are at number 15.] 
"I know. That is why."

(To the tubist) "Long note? Yes. Make it seem short."

"Brass, stay down all summer."

"Don't play louder, just give it more."

"Accelerando means in tempo. Don't rush."

"I don't want to repeat this a hundred times. When you see crescendo it means p."

"The tempo remains pp."

"It's difficult to remember when you haven't played it before."

"We can't hear the balance yet because the soloist is still on the airplane."

"Please follow me because I have to follow him and he isn't here."

"Without him here, it is impossible to know how fast he will play it, approximately."

"With us tonight is William Warfield, who is with us tonight. He is a wonderful man, and so is his wife."

"Bizet was a very young man when he composed this symphony, so play it soft."

Mahler wrote it as the third movement of his Fourth Symphony. I mean the fourth movement of his 
First Symphony.  We play it third.  The trumpet solo will be played by our solo trumpet player. It's named "Blumine,"which has something to do with flowers."

"That's the way Stravinsky was. Bup, Bup, Bup, Bup. The poor guy's dead now. Play it legato."

"Serkin was so sick he almost died for three days."

"It's all very well to have principles, but when it comes to money you have to be flexible."

"Thank you for your cooperation and vice versa."

"I mean what I meant."

"I never say what I mean, but I always manage to say something similar."

"Let me explain what I do here.  I don't want to confuse you any more than absolutely necessary."

"I don't mean to make you nervous, but unfortunately I have to."

"Relax. Don't be nervous. My god, it's the Philadelphia Orchestra."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

New Music Gear Monday: Audiomere Polarity Maximizer

Having trouble figuring the best positions for the channel input phase selections on your DAW? We know to set it to where you get the most bottom end, but as a session loads up with tracks, the possible combinations become enormous, so it becomes impossible to try all the possible combinations. Now a company called Audiomere has introduced a plugin that will automatically find the correct phase switch positions for you with its Polarity Maximizer.

Polarity Maximizer consists of a master and send plugin (there's one for mono and a different one for stereo) for each of the channels. The send routes the audio from the various channels to the master, which analyzes the audio and then uses a special algorithm to set the correct polarity for each track.

Polarity Maximizer also features a gain control on the send plug, and an additional low-frequency mode to emphasize the low-end if needed. There's also a pre-post A/B selection so you can monitor the changes in the sound.

The Audiomere Polarity Maximizer can work on up to 64 channels and is available in AAX, RTAS, VST and AU formats. It's currently available at an introductory discount of $49, and there's a 14 day trial available. Check out the example below and go to the Audiomere site for more.



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