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Friday, January 22, 2016

Taylor Swift "You Belong With Me" Isolated Vocals

Taylor Swift imageTaylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" was not only a worldwide hit, but also garnered nominations for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2009 Grammy Awards. Here are the isolated vocals from the song and a few things to listen for.

1. The vocal in the 1st verse seems very close to you because the medium delayed reverb is dialed back a bit compared to the rest of the song. There's also what sounds like a 1/4 note delay that blends seamlessly into the track except for certain phrases where it's emphasized.

2. At the end of the 2nd verse there's a delay hard panned left and right as an effect.

3. Listen for the solo vocal counterpoint line only on the right side during the bridge, as well as the hard panned effect at end.

4. The vocal is very compressed, but you don't hear the compressor working for the most part.

5. A lot of breaths are left in the track, especially in the first verse, to up the emotion in the song.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Can You Keep Perfect Time?

Can you keep perfect time?Check out your time with this handy little app. You can use any key on your keyboard except for the space bar (the mouse is slow so keep away from that too).

The track plays at 120 bpm. Your score is based on how close you were to the direct timing.
  • If you're spot on you get 50 points.
  • You lose a point for every 2 milliseconds that your off.
  • You get 0 points if you're off by 100ms or more.
The absolute best you can score is 1000.

Let me know how you scored.

Click image to open interactive version (via Concert Hotels).

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

EQing For Size

EQing for Size image
Figure 7.5: EQing for Size
Usually when we EQ elements of a mix we're doing it to make everything fit. That means juggling frequencies so that there are no clashes, and making mix elements smaller. This happens when we have large mixes with lots of tracks.

Sometimes there aren't that many tracks to worry about though (like for live recordings, or blues or jazz), so we more interested in increasing the sonic size of the tracks. Here's an excerpt from my Mixing Engineer's Handbook that describes how to do that in 4 easy steps.

"Making a sound bigger or larger than life usually comes from the addition of bass and sub-bass frequencies in the 40Hz to 250Hz range, although most will come from an area just below 100Hz, a region just above 100Hz, or both.

For use the method, the low frequency band of your EQ must be sweepable.
1. Set the Boost/Cut control to a moderate level of Boost (8 or 10 dB should work).

2. Sweep through the frequencies in the bass band until you find the frequency where the sound has the desired amount of fullness.

3. Adjust the amount of boost to taste. Be aware that too much boost will make the sound muddy.

4. Go to the frequency either 1/2 or twice the frequency that you used in #2 and add an amount of that frequency as well. Example: If your frequency in #2 was 120Hz, go to 60Hz and add a dB or so as well. If your frequency was 50Hz, go to 100Hz and add a bit there (see Figure 7.5)."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Guitar Center: "Sign This Or You're Fired!"

Guitar Center o,ageGuitar Center is at it again, bullying employees into signing an agreement that would strip them of the right to sue the company in class action lawsuits over wage violations, workplace discrimination and unjust firings, among other disputes, according to the Huffington Post.

Employees at the Las Vegas store were told that they had to sign the agreement by the end of Friday or their jobs would be terminated.

Arbitration is a tactic used my many big companies today to keep down the legal costs that a court case may involve during a dispute. Instead the case is referred to a third party arbitrator for settlement.

While on the surface that might seem fair, many times the arbitrator maintains a cozy relationship with the company, resulting in favorable rulings, as outlined by an article in the New York Times. The big difference here is that GC is requiring employees to sign the agreement after they've been hired, while usually the agreement is signed when they're first hired.

Keep in mind that GC is still involved in a labor dispute with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union regarding 3 GC stores electing to unionize, but the company failing to reach a contract agreement with any of them. A decision hasn't been issued by the arbitrator in that case yet.

While its unclear whether Guitar Center's current actions violate a law since the court has ruled multiple ways in the past, the union is considering additional legal actions.

Things just get worse for GC employees, which means that it won't get any better for customers either.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Engineer Phil Rohr On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

I'm pleased to have engineer/producer/bass player Phil Rohr on my latest podcast. Phil specializes in recording both audiobooks and long distance (like from LA to Australia) film and TV ADR, a couple of jobs that few in the audio business are ever exposed to.

In the intro I'll discuss the passing of the legend David Bowie, and let you in on some of the amazing facts about the man and his recordings that I learned over the course of co-writing the Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust book with producer/engineer Ken Scott.

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

New Music Gear Monday: Sound Radix Drum Leveler

Sound Radix Drum Leveler imageDigital technology has revolutionized limiters, enabling "look-ahead" algorithms to spot transients in the signal before they cause an overload. Now that same technology is being put to use with Sound Radix's totally unique Drum Leveler software.

Drum Leveler does a lot of very cool things very easily. For instance, if you work with drum loops, it will allow you to change the level of a drum hit within the loop. That means that if the snare of the loop is too loud or quiet, Drum Leveler allows you to look inside the loop and bring the snare level up or down.

Another thing that Drum Leveler does well is adjust the level of an individual track without having to use a compressor. That means that you can keep the level of a snare or hat consistent or even exactly the same, or change the volume envelope if you choose. While you're at it, you can also decrease or increase the leakage of a drum track, something that no other plugin can do as easily.

Drum Leveler also works with other instruments, especially when connected via the sidechain, as it provides much more control over dynamics and syncing than most gates.

Sound Radix Drum Leveler is priced at $149 and is available for all computer and plugin platforms.



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