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Friday, March 13, 2015

Studio Referral Service's Ellis Sorkin On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Studio Referral Service's Ellis Sorkin image
On my latest Inner Circle podcast I'm pleased to have Studio Referral Services's Ellis Sorkin as my guest. 

Ellis started as an engineer at the famed A&M studios working with everyone from George Harrison to Joni Mitchell, and then got the brilliant idea to create a service that would pair clients looking for studios with studios that had available time. 

Since then Studio Referral Service has worked with some of the biggest artists and studios in the world, most recently on the year-long 100 plus studio Lady Gaga "Born This Way" album.

In the intro I'll discuss the ramifications of the Robin Thicke - Marvin Gaye "Blurred Lines" court verdict as well as the introduction of a brand new computer port on the just introduced MacBook - USB- Type C

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

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Def Leppard "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" Isolated Guitar

Def Leppard image
Def Leppard is one of the most successful bands of the 1980s and their recordings are great examples of excellent production, thanks to producer Mutt Lange.

Here's an isolated guitar track from a hit off of the band's second album (High n' Dry) called "Bringin' On The Heartbreak." There are a number of things to listen for (it starts at 1:05):

1. You need headphones to hear this because it's barely audible, but at :55 you can hear the intro guitars on the left and someone giving the count ("one, two, three four") on the right side.

2. The verse begins at 1:05 with a doubled clean guitar that's spread left and right. Listen to how precise the picking is.

3. On the beginning of the B section at 1:55 there's a distorted guitar only on the right side, which turns into a big double distorted guitar spread left and right at 2:00. Once again, listen to how precise the picking is.

4. The chorus is interesting in that it's only a single note line. This is the same in every chorus.

5. Check out how the rhythm of the 3rd B section changes to increase the intensity.

6. Listen through to the end to hear a part that didn't make the record.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Meet The Next Generation Computer Port - USB-C

USB Type C image
Apple showed off it's cool new MacBook laptop the other day, and while it certainly is a thing of beauty, one of the things seemingly lost in the shuffle is the new connector that's been incorporated. It's called USB Type-C (the official name is USB 3.1) and soon you're going to see it popping up on devices everywhere.

What's so different about USB-C from the previous USB-2 and 3.0? Let's count the ways:
1. It very small and uses a micro-USB connector that's reversible. Because the connector is so compact, you'll see it show up on all sorts of mobile devices as well as laptops and desktop computers.

2. It's like USB on steroids in terms of speed. It features speeds up to 10Gbps, or twice that of USB3. It's still not as fast as Thunderbolt 2's 20Gbps, but it's plenty fast for most audio applications.

3. It can deliver lots of power, with up to 100W available, meaning that it can not only drive a bandwidth hog like a 4k display but power it too.

4. It's backwards compatible with all the USB connections before it. No need to buy new USB gear, if you have an adapter, they'll work just fine with your device with the new format.

That said, the adapters are pretty pricey at the moment, going from $19 to $79 depending upon what you're trying to connect. Expect these prices to come down as more third party suppliers get into the act. Apple's prices for accessories are always at the top of the market.

While USB-C might seem like another Apple propriety connector, this is something that the entire computer industry is adopting. Like in other cases (like adopting SCSI, USB-3, Thunderbolt, dropping disc drives and CD drives), Apple just made the move first move.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The 6 Elements Of A Great Mix

Music mixing image
In a previous post I outlined the attributes of an amateur mix, so now is a good time to discuss the 6 elements of a great mix.

Every piece of modern music, meaning rock, pop, R and B, hip hop, country, new age, swing, drum and bass, trance and every other genre having a strong backbeat, has six main elements to a great mix. They are:
  • Balance - the volume level relationship between musical elements
  • Frequency Range - all frequencies are properly represented
  • Panorama - every musical element is well-placed in the soundfield
  • Dimension - added ambience to a musical element
  • Dynamics - controlling the volume envelope of a track or instrument, and
  • Interest - finding something in the mix that makes it special
Many beginning mixers have only four or five of these when doing a mix, but all of these elements must be present for a great mix, as they are all equally important. 

To take it a step further, most great mixers think in three dimensions at least on a subconscious level. They think “Tall, Deep and Wide,” which means they make sure that all the frequencies are represented, the mix has depth, and has some stereo dimension as well.
  • The “Tall” dimension (or the frequency range of an instrument or mix) is the result of the mixer determining that all the frequencies of the mix are properly represented. Usually that means that all of the sparkly, tinkly highs and fat, powerful lows are there. Sometimes some mids need to be cut or other frequencies need to be added, but regardless of what's added or subtracted, there's a clarity to each instrument.
  • The Effects or “Deep” dimension is achieved by introducing new ambience elements into the mix. This is usually done with reverbs and delays (and offshoots like flanging and chorusing) but room mics, overheads and leakage can play an equally big part as well.
  • The panning or “Wide” dimension is achieved by placing a audio element in the sound field in such a way as to make the mix more interesting, and so that each element is heard more clearly.
You can read about these mix elements in more detail in The Mixing Engineer's Handbookand you get read excerpts from my other books on the excerpts section of

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, March 10, 2015

13 Abandoned Vinyl Presses Discovered In A Warehouse

While the vinyl revival continues to ramp up, the fact is that vinyl cutting and pressing equipment of any type haven't been manufactured for more than 30 years.

That has lead to a backlog at most vinyl pressing plants, since there aren't very many of them left.

This can change soon as a result of a great find in a warehouse in Chicago, where 13 abandoned presses were recently found.

According to Analog Planet, the presses were last used in the 90s to produce bootleg 78s for export to India.

The haul consists of ten Hamilton presses, two SMTs and one Lened.

They look pretty rusty and dusty, the presses will go online shortly at Quality Record Pressing in Salina, Kansas. The company is already doing triple shifts and is still backed up 3 to 4 months, so these presses should help you get your record into the hands of your fans faster.

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, March 9, 2015

New Music Gear Monday: Audient id22 Monitor Controller

Audient iD22 monitor controller image
For a long time home studios were burdened by the inability to directly control the monitor system, so it's been a breath of fresh air that there are now plenty of monitor controllers to choose from. A new one on the scene is the Audient iD22, which provides all of the most-needed features for small studio applications.

The iD22 connects to your computer via a USB2 port and is externally powered with its own power supply. It features two stereo outputs, the first for the main monitors and the second that can be configured either for an alternate speaker setup or an external cue mix.

O n the top panel you'll find a large volume control with illuminated cut and dim switches underneath, as well as a headphone output control for the dedicated headphone output that features it's own DAC.

The unit also has three soft switches that can be configured for things like alt speaker, phase reverse or mono listening. These are configured from the dedicated mixer app that comes with the unit.

The iD22 is similar to some of the other higher end controllers in that it offers two high quality mic preamps which Audient says are the same as on their consoles, which are very good indeed.

Each input also has an insert point so you can record with an outboard compressor, which is a feature unique to this unit.

The inputs are also on combo jacks so that you can insert a line level source, with input two also containing a DI input on 1/4" jack. There's also an optical input if you want to add additional inputs via an outboard preamp with that ability.

The Audient iD22 retails for $699, but can be found for less if you look around. You can find more info on the Audient website and the video below.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Legendary Al Schmitt On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Al Schmitt image
Al Schmitt is one of the greatest engineers to ever step inside a recording studios and his 21 Grammys prove it. That's why I'm so delighted to have him on my Inner Circle podcast this week.

Al has worked with a wide variety of superstar artists through the years, from Frank Sinatra to Ray Charles to Toto to Barbra Streisand to Diana Krall. 

What's so cool is that after all his success, he's more in demand than ever, with his last three clients being Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney.

On the podcast, which was done at the recent NAMM show for, I talked to Al about working as a producer with two of his biggest clients, Sam Cooke and Jefferson Airplane, as well as his microphones of choice and recording techniques.

On the intro I take a look at how to get your songs on iTunes, as well as the 5 most common mixing mistakes that I see.

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

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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