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Friday, December 18, 2015

Allman Brothers "Ramblin' Man" Isolated Vocals

The Allman Brothers Band "Ramblin Man"The lead single from the album Brothers and Sisters, guitar player/singer Dickie Betts "Ramblin' Man" was to be the Allman Brothers Band's only top 10 single.

The song was also the first that featured keyboard Chuck Leavell (who eventually went on to become the Rolling Stones musical director) and the guitar playing of Les Dudek.

Here are the isolated vocals from the song. Listen for the following (the vocal begins at 0:07):

1. The Allmans were great with guitar harmonies but not so much with vocal harmonies. As you'll hear, their harmony vocal parts are very loose.

2. The vocals have a very nice sounding delayed reverb. It blends into the track very well and provides a nice "glue."

3. If you listen with headphones, you'll hear a variety of breath pops, mouth clicks, and general background noises that were very common in 1973, but we'd delete today.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ultrasonic Mic Breakthrough Made From Graphene

Graphene Microphone DiaphragmJust like loudspeakers, basic microphone technology hasn't changed much in a hundred years or so. We have our dynamic, ribbon and condenser types, with the occasional exotic laser or flame modulation technology thrown in every so often.

Researchers at Serbia-based Dirigent Acoustics along with the University of Belgrade haven't changed the technology in the way a condenser microphone captures sound, but they have changed the diaphragm material to graphene, and with great results.

Not only has the team created the world's smallest condenser microphone, but one that's strong and flexible with a frequency response up to 1MHz.

The diaphragm used is just 25 nanometers thin (most condenser mics are around 2 microns, or 2000 nanometers) and was originally housed in a standard B&K capsule that replaced the standard capsule using a typical nickel-based diaphragm.

This could provide a quantum leap in a microphone's ability to capture sounds with more realistic results thanks to vastly increased transient response. Can a graphene based loudspeaker be far behind?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

11 Cool Christmas Gifts For Musicians And Engineers 2015

We could all use a little bit of shopping help when it comes to buying holiday gifts for the people around us in the music and recording business. If you're in a quandary about what to buy, you're in luck as I have a list of recommendations that covers a wide variety of items and price ranges. All of these following products (except for the last one) I use regularly.

1. Etymotic Reaserach ER 20 Hear Protection Ear Plugs
I personally never go into a loud audio situation without these little gems. They are soooo much better than foam or wax earplugs in that they cut the level down without affecting the frequency response. Since I found the Etymotic Ear Plugs I feel absolutely naked and scared when I don't have them on me. At less than $10, you just can't go wrong.

2. Radial JDI Direct Box
This is the best DI on the market, period. It's built like a tank and will last forever, and captures the low end that those cheap DI's could only dream about. You need at least one of these. At $199, it's still a bargain and you will hear the difference immediately.

3. Monoprice 8323 Headphones
It's shocking how good these phones are for $20. They're pretty comfortable, have a really tight fit, and provide a surprisingly balanced sound. In fact, I would trust the low end on the 8323's more than on a couple alternatives that I have that cost 4 or 5 times more. Don't let the "DJ-style" in the description scare you, these are terrific for the price.

4. Books by Bobby Owsinski
Okay, so I'm a little biased, but if you're looking for a book for someone in the music business, you'll hopefully find one of mine that will hit the sweet spot. There's something for everyone, including books on mixingrecordingrecording drumsmastering, being a studio musician or a touring musicianimproving your bandproducing, navigating the new music businesssocial media for musiciansstudio buildingguitar tone, and making videos. From about $16 to $30.

Blocklite LED flashlight image

5. The Blocklite 
This falls under the category of "Why didn't I think of that?" Blocklite is a simple LED add-on to any 9 volt battery that turns it into a flashligh. It's perfect for checking all those dark spaces during a session or a show. Just $22 for a 3 pack. Audio Mixing Bootcamp image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
6. Courses
If you don't know about then you really should. They're the #1 portal on the Internet for video learning, with over 3800 high-quality courses on just about any kind of tech you can think of. While you're there, check out the courses I've done for Lynda. Lynda is just $24.99 for a full month, which allows you to access as many courses as you can watch. Here's a free 7 day trial.

7. Advanced Audio Microphones
If you're looking for some modern versions of the vintage mics that we all know and love but can't afford, then take a look at the Advanced Audio line of microphones. These mics are used in studios around the world every day and on some of the biggest movies made in Hollywood too. And you won't believe how low the prices are. I own and use some, and I'm going to get a few more.

8. Snark SN-1 Guitar Tuner 
We've all gotten used to using software guitar tuners, but when you want to tune as fast as possible, this is the best tuner I've found. It clips right onto the guitar so you don't even have to plug it in. At $8.99, it's unbeatable.

9. Golden Age Project Pre-73 Mic Preamp 
Everybody wants a Neve preamp but a lot of us can't spring for a couple of channels of 1073s. The Golden Age Project Pre-73 was built to sound a lot like the 1073 and it does a pretty good job of it. It's not the real thing, but for only $350 it's surprising how close it gets.

10. Warm Audio WA76 Compressor/Limiter
I happen to think that the 1176 was the best compressor/limiter ever invented, since it works on just about any source and even does
things that no other compressor on the market can do. A vintage 1176 (or even a new UA model) will set you back a bundle, but you can get so close you might not tell the difference with the Warm Audio's WA-76. I liked it so much I bought 3. An absolute steal at $599. Also check out their great API-style WA12 mic preamp as well (I own a couple of those too).

11. Audio Technica AT-LP60USB Turntable
If you want to get into the vinyl world but don't want to worry about a buying a special phono preamp, this turntable by Audio Technica takes care of all that for you. It has a built in preamp and its USB port means you can plug it directly into your computer if you want. It even comes with a phono to 1/8" adaptor cable and a copy of Audacity software.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Making A 21 Inch Woofer Pop

Making a woofer pop
Loudspeakers haven't really changed much in in their basic build in well over a hundred years now, but they have evolved to become much more robust than ever.

Here's an interesting video that shows just what's needed to pop a massive 21 inch Pyle woofer (it's not easy even with 2000 watts of power). There's also an interesting tear-down at the end where you the entire speaker taken apart, even the magnets.

Monday, December 14, 2015

SNL House Mixer Robert "Bubba" Selitto On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Robert "Bubba" SelittoSaturday Night Live has been a television institution for a long time now, and it's always featured some of the highest profile, most cutting edge music guests.

My good buddy and Emmy-winner Robert "Bubba" Selitto has been mixing the house sound at SNL for 27 years now, and he's going to give all the inside secrets to what happens running up to and during a show, as well as how the sound system for the studio audience has grown in sophistication over the years. A very rare and fun listen, I guarantee!

On the intro I'll take a look at a study that describes where most people are now buying their music (if they buy any), as well as how to evaluate and choose what may be the most important part of your studio - your monitor speakers.

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

New Music Gear Monday: Fretlocks Single String Capo

Fretlocks individual string caposOne of the great production tricks with guitars is the use of the capo. Instead of a straight double, playing in a different register with the help of a capo provides a magic sound that seems to work every time.

But the normal capo works on all strings, and there are those moments when it would be cool to capo just one or two, and that's where Fretlocks very cool single string capos come in.

The Fretlock adheres to your guitar's fretboard with adhesive tape, and two small blades grab the string to fret it. It's way easier to watch and listen than read about it to understand, so there's a video below that shows what fretlocks can do.

Fretlocks are available from the company website and cost $22.75 for a packet of 6, or $37.90 for a tin of 12 (they come from the UK, so this is the current conversion from pounds). There are three different sizes to accommodate different string sizes.

The downside is that they're only usable for a few times before the adhesive wears off, but the company says that they're working on a more robust version for future release.

In the meantime, it's a small price to pay for having an extra finger or two when you need it.


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