A producer's blog about music, recording, mixing, songwriting and gear! (I don't know everything, but what I know I'll gladly share!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Imogen Heap and her crazy mind!!

Hey guys. I have a lot of "favorite" music. In all actuality, I don't typically single out many favorites because I just love music. It seems like whenever someone mentions an artist I know, I'm like "I love ________ they are one of my favorites!" I do that because I love a LOT of music.

For real, Imogen Heap is one of my favorites. She's a cut above creatively. I mean, seriously, she writes, produces and engineers her own songs!!!! and it's fantastic.

If you don't know of Imogen's music or you want to get a glimpse of how she creates her masterpieces, then check out her video blogs. They are fantastic.



Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Have to post this...

If you're not a major audio nerd just LEAVE NOW. I had to post this because it had a lot of sense and I had not heard (read) this.

The topic is harmonic distortion. Harmonic distortion is added by tubes and transistors and adds harmonics on top of the sound fist in octaves, then in fifths...


Even order harmonics are more pleasing and add a thickness to the sound. Odd order harmonics introduce more dissonant colors and can be less pleasing. This would come in handy when dealing with your EL Distressor which has a distortion option (DIST 1 is even order and DIST 2 is odd order).

What I was excited to learn was about the pleasing and not so pleasing qualities of these two types of distortion. This was new to me. Thanks to Jim Roberts for posting this post. Check out his blog. It's great.

You can read more here.


Monday, January 5, 2009

TOP 10 PRODUCER MISTAKES (I know, I've done them all!)

I notice things about producers... things that people do over and over again that I notice. I notice them because I used to do them, or struggle with these things myself. I thought I'd compile a list of some of these things. Here we go... my top 10 producer mistakes... (in no real order)

#1) Caring more for creating cool, technical band arrangements at the expense of the song and lead vocal.

** Guys, c'mon... it's about the song! it's about the vocal!

#2) Leaving bad edits in your song, not cross-fading and checking things before they head off to mix.

** I notice this because some producers do this to me! They leave bad edits, don't cross-fade those edits and general leave things "unfinished." This stuff could make it to the final mix! Don't chance it. Your mixer is not your editor.

#3) Picking the wrong tempo for a song.

** I'm aware that this is preference but I hear a lot of songs that are simply to slow or too fast for the style. If it makes the song sound awkward, then it's the wrong tempo.

#4) Not being patient enough to get good vocals!

** It can take a lot of effort to get a good vocal take. It takes a lot of psychology to coach an inexperienced or nervous vocalist. What is worse is hearing a poor vocal performance but a killer guitar solo.. THE VOCAL IS KING! Be patient and get the vocal! Nothing else matters.

#5) Over-tuning or not being careful when tuning vocals.

** This takes time, but listen carefully and make sure you can't hear the auto-tune working. You might have to dig into manual mode and get picky but it' worth it. I like hearing out of tune vocals more than I like the sound of auto-tune! YUCK!

#6) Double tracking everything!

** To many guys, double tracking is the key to everything. It makes things bigger, covers mistakes, and gets you excited about guitars! Double tracking everything can also make for a boring mix! Double what is necessary. Leaving some stuff un-doubled (does that work to say?) makes the stuff you did double sound bigger in contrast!

#7) Putting high-pass filters on everything.

** I know some people that put HPF's on everything including kick and bass guitar. Now, this can be necessary but it sound be determined by YOUR EARS not what you think you should do. Use HPF's on when you have instruments competing for low-end real estate. Your mixes will sound thin otherwise.
NOTE: check stuff on small speakers. If you blow one up, you have too much LOW END :)

#8) Phasing issues with Overhead mics and guitars!

** There's one thing that my poor hearing has done has made me listen in mono more. What you'll notice is phasing issues. It is very easy for guitars to be out of phase because of the complexity the wave form (particularly distorted guitars). If you check your work in mono and the gain is decreased and everything falls apart you know you have phasing issues (I say "the mix folds into itself! that's what I think phasing sounds like.) Search google for ways to avoid phasing.

#9) Using synth pads all the time!

** Sometimes you need space in a mix. I much enjoy it! Pads can make things muddy and ACTUALLY they can make stuff sound dated and lame! Sometimes it is actually the right thing to do, sometimes it's not.

#10) Not using me as your mixer!

** I'm affordable and good looking. I'm sure to do a good job on your next record :) ha!!

UNTIL NEXT TIME "Stay classy San Diego!"

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Programming the Neko

I've really been enjoying the Open Labs Neko we just got at Saddleback. I can't wait to get my own!! Maybe I'll start collecting dimes until I have enough saved up.

I'm scheduled to play keyboard at FUSE tomorrow night and so I thought that'd be a good chance to break Neko in. I spent today installing all of my sounds and plugins. Since I was installing some 80gigs of samplers into the keyboard it took some time. It went off without a hitch. Already I'm having more fun playing this thing than any other keyboard I've ever played. The possibilities are endless for using your favorite patches and FX. Here's what I've got going so far.

Host: Ableton Live 6 (hopefully gonna get the upgrade to v.7 soon. Comes with some cool new sounds)
Instruments: Native Instruments Komplete 4, Reason 4, Atmosphere, tons of VST instruments that I've not even explored yet
FX and plugs: Waves Mecury Bundle (yes, I paid for this!!)
Controllers: NI KORE, NI KONTROL

The great thing about having a computer as the host for this keyboard is that I can make this thing sound as good as my studio. Some things I'm doing...

MASTER BUS: I'm using the Waves V-Series compressor on the master bus, warming up the sound and adding just a little bit of compression to the signal. I also have guitar rig running on the master bus. The reason I've done this is for FX. I'm using KONTROL as a foot controller for FX. Guitar Rig has several FX that I can kick on at any time. I've got a distortion, delay, reverb and flanger. It's just for a bit of fun when creating crazy sounds.

SENDS: I have Waves R-Verb set up for a general reverb, Super-Tap delay set to a basic analog delay, Super-Tap 6 with a crazy delay, True-Verb setup as a great sounding convolution verb. I can send any instrument to these FX at any time with the touch of one button.

GRAND PIANO: I have NI Akoustic Piano running a nice piano sound. I'm using the SSL Channel to beef up the low end and add some sparkle to the top. I'm also compressing just a touch. I'm using the true-verb send to give some great space to the sound. I LOVE THIS ONE!!

UPRIGHT PIANO: This guy is setup for rock piano. It's got heavy compression with the SSL Channel and a moderate delay that I can turn on at any time.

RHODES: I'm really proud of this one! I'm using a basic MK2 rhodes patch with a delay patch that I can add in. What I like about this is that this patch is being sent out a separate output and being sent to my VOX AC15 amp!!! Is that crazy or what??!?!?

B3: Using NI B4 I can create any patch I want. The faders also act as drawbars!!!

PADS: I have several pads each with it's own ambience and delay parameters. I'm using Absynth, Reason and Atmosphere here.

I gotta say. This thing is really amazing. Gonna have a lot of fun with it. More to come!!!

The Beatles

OK. I have an unhealthy obsession with the Beatles. When I was a kid I had a toy record player and I would play my dad's records (I'm 26 and I DO know what a record player is!). One record I remember was a 45rmp of "Help!" I recall being totally fascinated with that song. I loved that I could sing it (I learned all the words). I loved how energetic it was! I loved everything about it.

My dad was a music minister at our church. We had drums and other fun instruments there. Every now and then my dad would let me bring the drums home and play them. This was always a treat and it rarely happen. I remember one time, I was in 4th grade (right about the time we got our dog, Abby) my dad surprised me and brought home the drums. They were a beat up Tama Royal Star kit... bright red. My dad set them up near the stereo and put on all kinds of records for me to play along to. Among them were The Beach Boys, Elvis, ELO, Elton John and The Starland Vocal Band. The Beatles were played often those few days too.

It's worth noting that this is one of the few memories (one of 2 actually) I have of my dad sitting down to play the drums! I mean he was no drummer but I recall that he could keep the beat... he's musical of course. It's funny thought, I told my dad, "Dad, if I worked at a church where there were drums, I'd never get anything done... but you never play them?" I literally did not understand why he didn't stop every hour to go play all the fun instruments. But I didn't understand why my dad listened to talk radio either. ha!

Well, thanks for letting me reminisce about my childhood for a few minutes.

Oh yeah, the reason for the post. Over the last few weeks I've been reading books and watching DVDs on the Beatles. It's been a fun departure from my normal day-to-day arranging and recording. One such book I read was "Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording The Beatles" by Geoff Emmerick and Howard Massey. Emmerick was the engineer that recorded much of the Beatles work. It was REALLY great. Tony Guerrero got it for me as a Christmas present (it's actually an audio book so I actually listened to it.. I didn't "read" it). If you're into recording you'll like it. It's really interested to hear the way things were done in the 60's. If you just like the Beatles you'll love it too just because of the cool stories. Go on. Go get it.

About Me

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I'm a producer, mixer, songwriter. I recently moved from Orange County, CA to Nashville,TN I love making music. It is my means for creative expression. I've been married to my wonderful wife Erin for 7 1/2 years and I have a dog named Dexter.