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Friday, October 2, 2015

Duran Duran "Girls On Film" Isolated Vocals

Duran Duran Girls On Film image
When Duran Duran burst on the scene in 1981 they were an immediate sensation, thanks in part to the provocative video of "Girls On Film." Here's the isolated vocal track from that hit.

The vocal starts at 0:18. Here's what to listen for.

1. Simon Le Bon's lead vocal is very closely doubled, except for the answers in the choruses.

2. There's a long delayed reverb with kind of a mid-range sound that's not too pleasant sounding by itself. It works great in the track though, proving again that things that don't work soloed often fit in the mix better than things that do.

3. As with all recordings done on tape, there are a lot of noises, pops, and foot movements that you can hear. Sometimes these were cleaned up with the spot-erase feature of a tape machine, but usually they were just left in because you wouldn't notice them in the track anyway. Also notice how sibilant the vocal is, although some of that might have to do with the audio on the video rather than the original multitrack audio itself.


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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Say Hello To Some New Multichannel Music File Formats

8Stem logo imageA couple of new file formats are upon us, but just how much that will rock the music industry is yet unknown. Native Instruments has finally released Stems, an open-file format that allows up to 4 independent elements that can be independently manipulated.

The Stems format is aimed at DJs who want to do remixes of songs during a performance by mixing elements from multiple files. That said, Stem files will play just like normal stereo audio file formats using any software that supports MP4 files (which is most of them).

Stem files have actually available for some time since the format was announced last year, but NI only now has released it's Stems Creator software (which is free). Find out more about Stems and Stems Creator at

Another multi-channel format from a service called 8Stem allows users to remix a song to their liking. As the name eludes to, each file contains up to 8 stems that the listener can balance as they wish.

I think that musicians will probably love this format, but I'm not so sure that the average listener will embrace it. For the most part, most listeners don't seem to relish the thought of interacting with their music, and if studio cue mixes are any indication, too many variables might actually get them into trouble with a bad mix.

That said, it's cool that some new things are being tried (although Todd Rundgren did something similar on a CD about 20 years ago). 8Stem is still in the early beta stage.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Using The 1176 - The British Nuke Setting

1176 British Nuke Mode image
While the Americans were going for clean, British engineers in the 60s and 70s where going for big and brash. Here’s a really aggressive setting for the venerable 1176 compressor/limiter that’s sometimes called "British" mode and other times called "Nuke" mode, depending on who's using it.

This is a Bonus Trick #7 from my 101 Mixing Tricks coaching program, where there are 107 more tricks just like this. Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New York's Famed Avatar Studios Up For Sale

Avatar Studios image
One of the big problems for the large recording studios left in the major cities is that the real estate is worth so much more than the actual business is these days.

Studio prices have essentially been stagnant for 20 years or so while prices for everything else have soared. That's why it's no surprise to hear that New York's famed Avatar Studios is to be put on the market soon.

Avatar was previously known as The Power Station and was the home to a number of huge hit records including Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," Rolling Stones' "Some Girls," Peter Gabriel's "So" and Duran Duran's "Seven and the Ragged Tiger."

It's clientele has included Elton John, Aerosmith, David Bowie, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Madonna, Blondie, Iggy Pop, Chic, John Mayer, Adam Levine among many others.

While the current owners are said to hope that the complex will remain a studio, don't be surprised if the sale eventually leads to some high-priced condos in its place.

That's the problem with the studio biz today. The artists that can afford to use them all have a very competent home studio to at least do overdubs in, so any stay at a major studio is usually short-lived as compared to the way recording was done in the heyday of these major studios. Fewer long term-high dollar bookings means that it's a grind just to stay open.

There's no telling how long the remaining big studios will be around (Electric Lady studios,  and Manhattan Sound Recording -formerly Right Track - still remain in New York), so enjoy them while you can.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Guitarist Pete Thorn On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Pete Thorn image
I'm pleased to have the excellent guitar player Pete Thorn on this week's podcast. Pete has played with superstars like Don Henley, Chris Cornell and Melissa Ethridge, and he also has a monthly column in Premier Guitar magazine called "Tone Tips From The Road."

In the interview, we touch on a lot of topics that a player of his stature doesn't usually talk about. Truly an engaging listen.

In the intro we'll take a look at why people aren't paying for streaming music yet, and the new physical music resurgence - cassettes.

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

New Music Gear Monday: Remo Active Snare Dampening System

Remo Active Snare Dampening System image
Here's something so deceptively simple that it falls into the "why hasn't anyone thought of this before?" category. It's Remo's Active Snare Dampening System and it goes a long way to eliminating the need to taping up your snare to get rid of that unwanted ringing.

Once fitted to the drum by attaching it to the rim, you can adjust the amount of dampening by either moving the Dampener from the center to the edge of the drum head, or by sliding the O ring up or down. Genius!

The system was designed in conjunction with drumming heavyweight Dave Weckl.

The Remo Active Snare Dampening System is available for about $30, and should be part of every drummer, studio or engineer's arsenal. Here's a quick video that gives you a bit of an idea of what it will do (it's not all that dramatic, unfortunately).


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