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Costs of Recordings

The costs of the recordings done were all out of my pocket to gain experience in the recording, mixing and mastering process. I put an ad on Join My Band which was free to advertise.

I received quite a few responses, some that didn’t turn up or didn’t reply after the first or second message. If I was going to charge people I realized I would need to charge people straight away after they replied. Put up a deposit or pay in full. This way they are already invested in the recording before they even step into the studio. I think this would be an ideal way to do things for the band and myself. It would be beneficial for all involved. I would set up a website that allowed people to register, select a date for the recording by appointment, which then takes them to pay pal, to pay a deposit or pay in full.

As the college facilities are so cheap there wasn’t a lot to shell out. But if I were doing it outside of college, say at absolute music, they charge £30 – £40  per hour. For four hours recording time this would be £120. It all adds up, so I would have to charge a lot more for myself to break even per recording.

The College

£14 for 4 hours recording time x2 sessions = £28

Yui & Ian was the first session done in Studio 2 we recorded 10 full songs.

Classic Rock Band was the second session done in Studio 2 we recorded 1 full song and 12 short snippits of different songs roughly around 50 -60 seconds.

Bobbers Bones was done purely at home. We recorded 4 songs over a period of 3 months, this took longer because Shane needed help with the arrangement of the songs.

So all accounted for would be £28 and the time It took on organizing, mixing and mastering the tracks.

Posted in FMP

Mastering FMP

I started off by importing the mixdown tracks Stereo L&R into 1 pro tools session, so that each song would be the same volume. Then naming the tracks on the marker. Then bussing each one to the master fader. But I noticed it would be harder to do it this way, due to the fact that I would have to use the markers to bounce down the tracks and use separate plugins for each channel. This way in the mastering part of the assignment wouldn’t hold up, and it would be harder to get the volumes of each song perfect.

 

An easier way to master each track individually would be to set up a mastering template, where I set up the template, so all I need do is import the stereo mixdowns of each song, separately with the same mastering template, once I have the mastering template setup, there would be no reason to change it. This would cause each song to be the same volume on the FMP CD This would be the exact method I would use in future.

So I added two audio mono tracks for the left and the right and a master track, I then imported the stereo mixdowns of each song to the cliplist. Dragged the 2 tracks over to the tracks named Left Track and Right Track. As you can see there are no plugins on the L or R track. I then added a third track named it Print.

On the in’s and out’s, there is no in’s because i’m not recording anything in, but on the out’s you can see SUBMASTER. This would go to the Print Master Track. I have added one plugin to the master track Ozone 7, which is a mastering tool, with a lot of different style plugins in one nice format.

With a slight boost on the high mids and then place the dynamic EQ with a emphasis on the highs so the acoustic guitars could come through even sweeter, on Yui’s songs, and on the Classic Rock band songs the settings on the eq would make the cymbals and the guitar solo on the Prince song sound crisp and in your face.

With the Maxizer Limiter I rode this badboy  up and down to get just the right fit. If I rode it any higher the songs would have distorted. So I leveled it out at a threshold 4.4 and the ceiling at 0.1.

All that needs to be done now is to arm record and hit the record button to print out the track to the master track.

After doing this for the rest of the songs on the FMP. I left the template as is for every track, imported the mix downs of each song, placed them in the template, and recorded to the print track.

I set up the session as 44.1kHz 16bit and interleaved.

Once recorded I then muted the L&R tracks and bounced the print track separately. This obviously takes longer to do because I had to import every song into the template in separation. but with the mixdowns sounding great, I didn’t have to tweak the mastering sessions.

 

 

Posted in FMP

Classic Rock Band

For this recording, I went it alone, just to see if I could record a four piece band by myself. Sink or swim as they say.

I felt exhilarated to say the least when the band were happy with the results of the recording.

As before, I setup the studio an hour before the band arrived, so the band had the whole four hours recording time.

What I found was, I needed more time, as when they arrived, I still had protools setup to do. And the piano player also wanted a Hammond style keyboard, which wasn’t said in the emails I received before hand. He was more than happy though that a piano was all miced up and ready to play.

They all arrived separately and all on time, which was good as in one email, John said the bassist maybe a little late. John was the main contact who I was emailing back and forth prior to the recording session. It was nice to put a name to a face.

The band:

Drummer: Adam

Bassist: Micheal and Vocalist on Eric Clapton – Cocaine

Piano: Steve and Vocalist REM – The One I Love

Guitar and Vocal: John Vocalist Prince – Purple Rain

 

The mic set up was:

Drums:

Kick: AKG D112 – 3-4 inch’s away from the beater so as to get the beat and not the click that you get when it’s inside the kickdrum. Insert 1

Snare: SM57 – close miced 2-3 inches away, off axis, just enough for Adam to hit without the mic getting in the way. Insert 2

O/H’s: Pair of C1000’s about 5-6 inches above each cymbal. Separate stands. Insert 3/4

The Bass was DI’ed, which makes it easier to record. Insert 5

Piano – Sontronic STC 1’s  placed in the middle of an open piano with a cross bar. Insert 6/7

Guitar: SM57 – which was about 5 inches away from the amp, to capture the room sound as well. Insert 8

3 Vocal mics. Insert 9/10/11

I had to make some small adjustments to the vocal mics when they all got set up.

The band wanted to record 1 full track for my FMP and then record 30 second snippets for their website, we discussed this in the emails prior to recording. They wanted to record a full version of Prince – Purple Rain, which I gladly agreed.

At the end of the recording, we finished off with 11 songs, with time to spare so the band could come into the control room to listen back, Steve wasn’t so sure of Johns vocal on Purple Rain, we had enough time to do another take, so John went back and did another vocal take.

We finished off around 9.30, so I could pack down the gear in time to leave at 10pm.

The whole session looked like

I had a lot to work with and edit down.

Editing

I separated each song and named them using the markers so each song was easily identifiable. We recorded 4 different takes of Prince – Purple Rain and an overdub on the vocal for the forth take.

The songs we recorded were:

Prince – Purple Rain

REM – The One I Love

Bruce Hornsby – The Way It Is

Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing

Wilson Picket – Mustang Sally

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

Beatles – Let It Be

Guns and Roses – Knockin on Heavens Door

Chuck Berry – Johnny Be Good

Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love

David Bowie – Lets Dance

Eric Clapton – Cocaine

Purple Rain was a full take, the others were 30-50 second snippits.

On to the mix downs of the tracks I chose for the FMP.

I use my mixing template for all mixing sessions I do, I don’t spend much time doing a mix, once I have a good sounding mix, I don’t mess around with it that much, if it’s recorded properly, there is no need to. Just touch up and polish the recording.

In the full session I selected the tracks which I wanted, went to the cliplist, and export clips as files. So they would be in a separate folder to use in the mixing session.

Opened up my mixing template, and imported the tracks into the session, within the clip list.

Dragged the cliplist tracks separately over to the respected channel

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Because my mixing template does most of the heavy lifting, I just tweaked it here and there, to get the best possible mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in FMP

Sidechain Compression

There are two main use for sidechain compression, the first is as an effect, where you have extreme pumping and off beat feel. The second use is to clear up your mix. When you have two instruments competing for the same space, such as a kick and a bass, you can use sidechaining to attenuate one and let the other one breathe.

What is sidechain compression?

Sidechain compression is where you trigger the compressor on one track from a signal from another track.

I will use three tracks, the 1st is a kick drum, 2nd is a snare and the 3rd is a bass line.

 

 

The first thing I do is add a compressor to the bass track then set my sidechain up, by going to the side chain box and clicking on the key button. What this does is it tells the compressor, external signal to trigger the compression. Now I need to tell it where to get the key signal from. To do that, I will set the key input over to bus 1, which will carry my kick signal over, and use that to trigger the compressor.

Bass Compressor

Now I need to set up a send on the kick drum track to bus 1 and raise the volume to unity.  Set the send to pre-fader, what this means is if I mute the kick drum track or solo the bass track, I won’t lose the key input for the compressor.

After soloing the bass track, I noticed a click from listening to it at the very beginning. So I edited by cutting the first transient and moving it forward like so…

edited

After doing that I moved every bass note up slightly and it worked no more click. So let’s play that…without the compressor…

Now with…..

it sort of sounds like the kick drum is scooping out ever so slightly from the bass track.

If you look at the peaks, of the compressed they are more rounded off instead of sharp to let the kick drum breathe through. Also sort of leveled off too.

 

Now lets here it with the kick drum and snare without compression…

 

Now with compression…

What is called ducking, I have made the bass stand out more prominently. Where there are bass notes the kick drum is turned down, but the release is longer. Ducking the kick  behind the bassline.

Revolution Tracy Chapman Cover

 

 

I had a meeting with the duo a week before they came into the studio, and went to see them play live at Chaplins, just to get a feel for the dynamics, they were a great fit for the FMP.

Best2DSC01836

We decided what songs they were going to play.  It was only supposed to be one track, Tainted Love by Depeche Mode but once we got in the studio they were on a roll and banged out 10 songs. Some of their own and a few cover versions. Very professional.

I thought this was the best song out of all 10 and the first I mixed. When I got home that night I decided that this was going to be the song for the FMP.

I was very lucky to have this song video recorded as well, by Siv.  I will get to the video recording later. Andy was also present in the recording session.

This recording was done in studio 2 because it was just the acoustic guitars and two singers. If there were drums involved I would have picked studio 1 as there is a separate booth for drums.

The mic setup was done by myself  an hour before the duo arrived.  I wanted the mic setup done before they arrived so the duo could just take there seats and we could start recording straight away and have the full 4 hours recording time.

The acoustic guitars were DI’ed

The vocals SM58’s

C4000, in the middle of where their seats were placed.

and there were a pair of C1000’s that you can’t see in the video, placed at either side of the room. One by the piano, the other in between the drum kit, and the peavey amp.

The recording was done in one take, no overdubs, just raw.

 

The Mix.

I  had to edit down every song that they played from the recorded session, as it was one big session (8gigs) and placed in a new session.

After listening to the track i noticed a few things, I wanted the guitars to be a lot brighter with the vocals separated so they jump out of the speaker and sound like they are live. The unmixed version sounds like there is too much bass from the guitars.

 

 

I opened up my trusty mixing template, deleted all unused tracks. So I had only the tracks I needed, including the vocal plate reverb and then imported the wav files into the clip list, making sure they were 44.1kHz 16 bit. From the clip list I added the tracks to the designated slot. So the C1000’s went to the O/H L and the O/H R and so forth.

 

The Overheads

By rolling off the low end on the 7 band EQ, , and a slight boost on the high end I was able to get rid of the bass on the overheads. I also added a compressor to the overheads to gain some boost in the high end.

The Guitars

With the 2 guitars, I thought I would have one with a lot of high end and the other a lot of low end as there is no bass guitar in the recording. guitar.

So I added CLA Unplugged and CLA Effects through bluecat to Ians guitar, as you can tell there is half way EQ on both the unplugged and the effects plugin with extra treble on the CLA unplugged.

 

 

Where as on Yui’s guitar there is extra bass and less than half treble, both have a little delay on.

I intended to have Yui’s guitar to have more bass, so Ian’s guitar would cut threw the mix, so I added an EQ as well, just to scoop out the highend of Yui’s guitar.

The C4000 was there to capture the whole recording close up and the C1000’s from a far.  I actually picked up the C4000 by mistake, instead of the C1000’s, but found good use for it, as a distant room mic. There are no effects on the C4000 mic, but it is going threw the acoustic guitars aux, where there is an EQ, stopping the lows from getting through and a compressor to attenuate the lows.

 

The Vocals

What I did with the vocals was I duplicated the vocal in the template and added Yui’s vocal to the second track so both vocals would sound similar. Both vocals are the same in the template.

 

Both vocals are being routed to Ld Vocal Lvl and also sent to the Parallel Compression and Voc Plate reverb which is then sent to All Effects.

All the individual tracks are being routed to one of the above busses and then routed to the submaster, I added the submaster to the template because I didn’t want to overload the master with too many plugins. From the submaster to the master. I have two plugins a 7 band EQ and Maxim, which I didn’t use for this song. I used the EQ slightly just to roll off the low end.

 

On the master is Ozone 7, because it is an acoustic song, I wanted to brighten and add warmth to the whole mix. I did this by adding 2 EQ’s. as shown below.

 

 

The Video

Luckily as I said before Siv managed to get a video recording of the whole song, without any interruptions. So what I did was after mixing the Tracy Chapman Cover, bounced it down to wav 16 bit 44.1kHz.  Searched the internet for video editing software, after going through the options, I chose HitFilm4Express, before I get ahead of myself, I had to eliminate the volume from the video, so I went to and imported the video file to Windows Movie Maker, on the top panel, you can adjust the volume from the movie, so I turned that all the way down, then exported it, as an MP4. So I had a video without audio.

I then imported the video file and my mix to  HitFilm4Express, with 2 parts on the timeline.

I could adjust the mix to sync with the video. This took a long time, to get right, as I didn’t know how to use the video software, but I got to grips with it. It took about three tries to import the video and audio together. Then syncing up to the music track perfectly in time with the video was tricky. With a nudge here and a nudge there, I think it synced up well.

I then exported the newly created video and uploaded the video to YouTube. The video is at the top of this post.

 

 

 

 

Posted in FMP