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Friday, February 6, 2015

Rush/Dream Theater Engineer Richard Chycki On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Richard Chycki image
This week I'm really pleased to have engineer/mixer Richard Chycki as a guest on my podcast.

Richard has a ton of credits, but those of you into prog rock know that he's worked extensively with both Rush and Dream Theater

On the show we discuss miking Neil Peart and Mike Mangini's drum kits (and avoiding phase shift when using 40 mics!), a great guitar recording trick, and surround sound mixing, among other things.

On the intro I'll talk about how 1% of artists make 80% of the money, the introduction of Spotify Touch Preview, the significance of Apple buying Symmetric, as well as the new MIDI HD and the upcoming AVB standards.

Remember that you can find the podcast either at, or on iTunes or Stitcher

A James Jamerson's Bass Line X-Rayed

James Jamerson image
This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. It's a visual map of the legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson's bass line on Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." It's been traveling around the web and social media lately, but I want to take a more detailed look.

1. Take notice to the bass line in the intro, it's actually the lead line with the other instruments acting more like a pad.

2. This visualization is pretty cool because you can easily see that some of Jamerson's trademarks are a lot of octaves and chromatic lead-ins to the root note of a chord.

3. When you listen to the track, the bass line sounds undisciplined, but there are actually repeated motifs that Jamerson varies each time through a section.

4. Stepping away from the bass a bit, take a listen to the vocals. Marvin's hard to the left and Tammi's hard to the right.

5. Listen through to the end as you'll hear the real ending that didn't make the final mix.

Thanks to my buddy Larry Smith for the heads up on this video.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

20 Years Of Max Martin Dominating The Charts

Max Martin image
Has there ever been a songwriter/producer as prolific at pop music as Max Martin? He's co-written a mind-bending number of pop hits over the last 20 years or so that have helped break most of the pop stars that dominate the charts.

 Check out this partial list, and keep in mind that most were #1's.

Katy Perry: "Not N Cold," "Teenage Dream," "I Kissed A Girl," "California Gurls," "E.T.," "Part Of Me," "Roar"

Pink: "Please Don't Leave Me," "So What," "I Don't Believe You"

Kelly Clarkson: "Since U Been Gone," "My Life Would Suck Without You"

Taylor Swift: "We Are Never Getting Back Together," "Shake It Off," "Blank Space"

Britney Spears: "Oops, I Did It Again," "Baby One More Time," "3," "Hold It Against Me"

Christina Aguilera: "My Body"

Maroon 5: "One More Night"

Celine Dion: "That's The Way It Is"

Jesse J: "Domino"

Arianna Grande: "Problem"

Backstreet Boys: "I Want It That Way"

The interesting thing about Max Martin (real name Karl Martin Sandberg) is that his background was as the frontman for a glam-metal band called It's Alive, and he's mostly self-taught when it comes to production and recording.

Martin isn't the only Swede that's hit the charts hard though. ABBA was a huge hit-maker in the 70s, Ace of Base for a brief period in the early 90s, and frequent Martin collaborator Shellback has written and produced hits with Usher, Adam Lambert, Katy Perry, Cher Lloyd, Kesha and One Direction among others separate from Martin.

Those Swedes know how to craft a pop tune.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Round Of Layoffs At Guitar Center

Guitar Center image
Guitar Center has been embattled for a number of years now, and it seems like every few months some new negative news pops up that makes you not only wonder about the immediate health of the company, but of its future as well.

The latest is the announcement that 43 corporate executives and 28 field managers have been laid off, according to a leaked email from GC's new CEO Darrell Web. Among those let go include long-time GC Pro vice-president Rick Plushner.

This last bit might make a difference for all of you who regularly buy from the pro side of the company, since Pro Sound News is reporting being told that pro sales will report to the Senior Vice President of Services rather than the stores going forward. In other words, if you think buying GC is tough now, just wait until corporate gets in the middle.

I've never had particularly good luck buying from GC although I've tried, most recently about a month ago when I stopped in the Sherman Oaks store to buy a new field recorder. I wanted to make the sale quickly as I was on the run, but kept getting passed from salesman to salesman, none of whom seemed particularly interested in helping me. It was the middle of the afternoon with an almost empty store, so the employees attention wasn't exactly taken up by other customers. I bought it online instead.

Still, this move affects management, which may or not be bloated to begin with, and doesn't affect staff at the store level, at least not yet. What this means is that the remaining corporate staff now have more responsibility and work to do in the same amount of time and for the same amount of money, which is never great for efficiency.

That said, Guitar Center has a number of larger issues on its plate at the moment, like extricating itself from massive debt, an investigation by the Security and Exchange Commission, and being accused of unfair labor practices. Cutting a few executives might make the company's bottom line look a little better, but that's small fish in a big sea of problems.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

For The Studio That Needs 48 Mac Pros In A Single Cabinet

Cyberlink Mac Pro Vault imageA company called Cyberlink has found a way to stuff 48 of the new trashcan Mac Pros into a single cabinet, providing a huge amount of networked Mac power to anyone who needs it. The Milwaukee-based company owns a data center and provides dedicated servers and hosting.

The racks, which the company calls "Mac Pro Vaults," are a thing of beauty, with 6 slide-out shelves that containing 8 Mac Pros each for a total of 48. Each shelf has separate hot and cold exhaust manifolds complete fans and heat sensors to keep the computers running at an optimum temperature.

Let's say you need around 30,000 DAW tracks and want one of these for your studio. Sorry, but you can't buy it, as the company only designs them for its own data centers, although you can rent time on the system starting at $50 per month.

All kidding aside, this is something that the film dubbing stages might want to take a look at, as a typical major motion picture uses 6 computers hosting around 2,000 tracks on the mixing stage, according to Hollywood sound designer Scott Martin Gershin on an upcoming Inner Circle podcast.

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Music Gear Monday: Antelope Orion32 Interface

When it comes to digital audio interfaces, the vast majority of multiple output units max out at either 8 or 16 inputs and/or outputs. While 16 inputs is enough for many users, it's becoming more and more likely that at least 24 inputs may be needed during a normal rhythm section tracking session. That dilemma has now been solved with the new Antelope Audio Orion32 and its 32 inputs and outputs

The Antelope Orion32 is a truly unique box in that it features a more features than the norm for an I/O box. Of course the biggest one is 32 analog inputs and outputs with Antelope's great A/D and D/A conversion. But the I/O doesn't end there. It also has 16 channels of ADAT and up to 64 channels of MADI as well. All analog I/O is on DSub connectors, which enables to box to fit into just a 1U rack space.

The Orion32 connects to your computer via USB and works with any DAW app that you might use. It even works well with iOS devices, allowing full recording capabilities with only an iPad, although a common iOS app like Auria might only be able to access 24 inputs at a time. That said, the latency is extremely low when recording regardless of the DAW, ranging from 1 to 6.5ms depending upon the sample rate.

The unit is also capable of working at sample rates up to 192kHz, and features an onboard precision clock similar to Antelope's own highly regarded Atomic Clock. It features 4 word clock outputs (unusual for an interface) so it can act as the master clock for a system, and has a word clock input as well.

The box also comes with a simple routing software app which can store a 5 routing presets which also can be accessed from the unit's front panel preset buttons.

The Antelope Audio Orion32 is priced at a very reasonable $2,795, considering the box's features. There are a lot more details on Antelope's Orion website.


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