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Friday, June 12, 2015

Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun" Isolated Tracks

Black Hole Sun image
"Black Hole Sun" is probably the most recognizable song by Soundgarden, as it spent 7 weeks at #1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart in 1994. The song comes from the best-selling Superunknown album, which was produced by my buddy Michael Beinhorn.

What you'll hear is the bass, drums and vocals from the song. Here's what to listen for.

1. Chris Cornell's lead vocal is very compressed, and it sounds like there's too much by itself but fits perfectly when added to the full mix.

2, The vocal is doubled on chorus and the bridge, but a brief harmony is added on both the 3rd and 5th choruses (the repeat choruses after the 2nd verse and bridge).

3. The drums are very open sounding, meaning that we're hearing more of the overheads and room mics than any close miking, which is quite the opposite from the way most drum recordings sound today.

4. The only guitar that you'll hear is Kim Thayil's wah solo after the bridge.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Here Comes Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 image
The Thunderbolt technology found on current Macs and high-end peripherals hasn't exactly taken the world by storm.

It's expensive for one thing (those $28 cables are a drag), and you always seem to run out of ports, which means that most systems have to employ some sort of dock, which is another expense.

Thunderbolt is fast though, with the latest Thunderbolt 2 clocking in at 20Gbs, not to mention the ability to supply power and pass hi-def video.

Now comes Thunderbolt 3, with more speed, more pixels, more power, and more protocols supported. It's blazing fast at 40Gbs, can support several 4k monitors, supply up to 100 watts of power, and support Display Port, PCI Express, Thunderbolt and USB 3.1.

What's most significant is that it will use the small USB-C connector instead of the proprietary Thunderbolt connector of the previous versions.

That means that Thunderbolt 3 can now be fitted on many more devices because the connectors will be cheaper and smaller.

Imagine having T-bolt on your phone or tablet. Imagine finally having lots of drives and peripherals that finally take advantage of its speed. Imagine never running out of ports.

Intel, who's behind the technology, says that it expects Thunderbolt 3 products to begin shipping by the end of the  year.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What To Pack For A Tour

Packing for a tour image
When most musicians plan for a tour, the first thing they think about is the musical gear they’re going to bring. While that’s important, you have to put some thought into your personal items as well. Here's an excerpt from my Touring Musician's Handbook that looks at some of the other things to consider when packing for a tour.

What To Pack
Space is always limited so you may only be able to bring one large bag or suitcase, which determines the items that you can bring with you. Large expandable duffle bags are inexpensive and can fit a lot more than even a large suitcase or travel case (see Figure 9.1). One of the larger ones (either 32 or 36 inches) can fit a surprising amount of clothing and has multiple compartments for various items from shoes to wet articles.

Generally, the clothing you bring with you will be separated into two categories; the general category of gym, travel and sleep, and stage clothing.

General Clothing
Pack enough clothing to last a week, ten days at most. You’ll be able to do laundry at various points during the tour, but you have to have enough of everything to get you to the next laundry day. Don’t forget to bring plenty of underwear, since that’s the piece of clothing that everyone goes through quickly. The same thing applies to socks.

Generally, no matter how long I’m going out of town, I don’t take more than a week’s worth of clothes because the suitcase gets to be too heavy and then you’ll be overweight, which depending upon the kind of tour you’re on, you might end up paying yourself. I’ll take sample sizes of detergent and just wash my clothes in the sink. If you lay them in a towel and just walk across the towel a few times. The towel absorbs most of the moisture so if you hang the clothes up in the bathroom overnight, they’re generally dry in the morning with the exception of jeans.
Ed Wynne

Many road veterans prefer the feel of new socks and will purchase new socks instead of washing them when they’re on the road. While this might be a good strategy for some, don’t assume that you’ll always have the time to be able to do that. Besides, you’re trying to save some dough, right?

 I have friends who throw out socks and underwear and buy them as needed instead of doing laundry, but I’m not really into doing that.
Heather Lockie

Most of the time when we pack it’s seven pairs of black jeans and seven black shirts and maybe a couple of shirts for days off. Make sure that you can get from laundry to laundry because there’s nothing worse than wearing dirty clothes. I like to have new socks whenever I can so I’m always buying new socks. 
Terry Lawless

For your day clothes, you can get by a little longer between laundry days if you stick with basic black or anything on the dark side, which hides tiny stains well. Anything that you wear for travel should be loose fitting and comfortable, since you may spend some long hours in one position. You also want to be prepared for all types of weather, so include at least one long-sleeve and one short-sleeve shirt, and a sweater or hoodie. 

Sometimes overlooked are the clothes that you like to sleep in. Whether it’s a traditional set of pajamas or a short and tee-shirt, don’t forget to pack a couple of sets. It’s hard enough to sleep in a different or unfamiliar bed sometimes, let alone feel uncomfortable because you’re not wearing what makes you comfortable. And don’t forget those gym clothes if you work out or run.

Some players who are naturally hip can wear the same clothes on stage that they normally wear during the day, but others pack a few changes of stagewear. You’ll be under some bright lights and may be projected onto a big screen, so here are a couple of things to think about:
  • If you want to wear something other than basic rock n’ roll black, you’re usually better off with rich, vibrant colors, which set up well against the stage lighting.
  • Don’t wear white if you’re fair skinned because the lights can wash you out, and even worse, give you a bit of a ghostly look.
  • If you perspire a lot, silk will show off the sweat. But if silk is really your thing on-stage, make sure to wear something dark that won’t show up the sweat as much. If you do happen to get sweat stains, a little vodka can take the stains out easily (this is an old opera singer’s trick), although you might have some explaining to do to the MD.
A good trick when choosing stage clothes is to always select them under some colored lights so you can get the feeling of how they’ll look when you’re bathed in theatrical lighting on stage. Also remember that it’s an old showbiz tradition (and makes good business sense) that the star picks the first color, so if you know the way she normally prefers to dress, you should stay subordinate to that to keep the peace. And don’t forget that the shoes that you wear can sometimes be more conspicuous on stage than you think, so choose them carefully.

It’s a good idea to check with the MD or tour manager before you pack stage clothing to see if there might be a color coordination of the band to consider. For instance, one show everyone might be all black (or just black shirt) and another white. Obviously, none of the above matters much if you’re playing with an artist that requires matching stage clothes (like Tom Jones or Ricky Martin) or you’re playing in an orchestra that may be touring with an artist, since you normally dress the same."

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How Stereo Drum Miking Was Invented

Glyn Johns stereo drums image
We take stereo drum recording for granted, but it's easy to forget that most drum kits were regularly recorded in mono until the early 1970s.

How stereo drum miking actually came about is a unique story. It was accidentally invented by British engineer/producer Glyn Johns (we looked at his miking technique the other day) during the recording of Led Zeppelin 1 in 1968.

Glyn went on to use the method with other seminal British acts including The Who and The Beatles, among many others, but it's this story that's been told in many forms over the years.

Here's the man himself explaining how it all happened.

The part about the stereo drums begins at around 1:00.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Warm Audio's Chad Kelly On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Warm Audio WA12 microphone preamp image
I really like the gear from Warm Audio. You get some very cool vintage sounds at a super reasonable price, something that almost everyone wants these days.

Chad Kelly from Warm Audio is my guest on this week's podcast, and he'll tell you the behind-the-scenes story of how it all came about as we take a look at the audio gear marketplace.

In the intro I'll discuss how our musical tastes are said to freeze at age 33, and the latest about storage and even encoding music on DNA.

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

New Music Gear Monday: Editor Keys Backlit PC Keyboards

Editor Keys backlit dedicated DAW keyboard image
We all have our own home studios these days, which means that we all work in the box to some degree.

Music and a dimly lit room go together but it's not always the best thing for your eyes, especially when you're trying to type DAW commands in as fast as you can.

Editor Keys has now introduced a line of dedicated backlit keyboards designed to get you typing those commands up to 40% faster than before.

Since 2005 the company has been a leader in dedicated DAW and video editing keyboards, but these new backlit models are just the thing we all could use at least some time during the course of a project.

Editors Keys actually did a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project (which raised its funding last year) and I've included the video that the explains the keyboard and project below.

The dedicated backlit Pro Tools keyboard is available for around $120, while other versions are available for Cubase, Ableton Live, Presonus Studio One, Reason, and Sonar at slightly higher prices. There's also a version for Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premier and Photoshop, and Sony Vegas Pro.


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