So I did this thing. It’s pretty off the cuff and rather ridiculous. It was born out of practicing recording techniques and trying to remember anything I learned while taking drum lessons. I setup a Soundcloud account because I think I’m going to do more ridiculousness.
Punk rock and metal is a slippery slope … You start with something like the Ramones and go, Wow, now I want something faster! And then you get to DRI and it’s, Wow, I want something noisier! And then you get to Voivod and it’s, I want something crazier! And pretty soon you wind up listening to white noise and thinking it’s the greatest thing ever!
– Dave Grohl; Mojo Interview
I’m a big fan of budget equipment. I honestly enjoy digging around and researching all kinds of lower end gear. It’s really awesome when you manage to find something amazing that does exactly what you need, especially when it doesn’t break the bank. This is how I found the Tascam US-16×08 and the 12 Step.
That being said, there is something that’s even better than new budget equipment: buying second hand.
This is a follow-up on the old post I put up about Neil Young and the way music sounds.
Through a small stroke of luck I’ve begun stepping into the world of vinyl records. I have a Fisher turntable and a Pioneer receiver (coupled together with a Realistic stereo preamp*) that came included with the house we bought two years ago, and a set of speakers that I bought second hand from Mez, Opium Winter’s drummer.
I wrote and posted this bit back in July 2015 after Neil Young announced he was pulling his music off of streaming services because of sound quality. I wanted to put it back here as it’s a nice precursor to a piece I’m finishing up abour vinyl albums.
To note: Neil Young’s music is currently available on all the streaming services. Guess that Pono thing didn’t work out as well as he thought it would. that being said, he’s still on his damn soapbox.
This entry is going to cover the editing/mixing portion of the recording process and my thoughts along each step of the way. This not going to be a step by step entry that covers every EQ setting and compression ratio on each track.
The recording process began in early April 2018. All instruments and vocals were tracked by the end of the month. The plan was to release the debut Opium Winter EP by the beginning of the summer. Instead it was officially released April 1, 2019… almost exactly one year later.
What happened? The answer is simple: Mixing.
I’ve done football commercials; I’ve done everything; commercial and noncommercial: My attitude has been that they’re both the same. Why is it better to get a check every week from a university than to get royalties? Of course I’m a sellout. What else would I be?
– Phil Glass; New York Times.
With equipment rented and drum tracks completed, it was time to move on to guitars, bass, vocals, and synth.
This was going to be a little easier as the basement in our house came with pretty excellent sound treatment. The previous owner had a home theatre setup down there and added decent insulation in the walls and installed a dropped ceiling complete with acoustic insulation tiles. Both the main room and the back room, which has become my home office, has that slightly “dead” feeling you get when walking into a pro studio. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not pro level perfect, but it’s more than I could ever ask for and I’ve been making good use of it.
My home office has a small closet that I’ve converted into a makeshift isolation booth. I stuffed a small Ikea mattress against the back wall and hung up some fabric to help cut back on reflections.
In my last post about cutting back/giving up on Social Media and the Internet in order to get back to being creative, I mentioned that I’ve been learning music production on my own. My reasoning was “there are no audio engineering teachers that offer lessons like a guitar or piano teacher would; I’d have to enrol in an audio engineering course at a college somewhere. I’m simply not going to put that kind of time or sink that kind of money into something that is merely a hobby.”
I thought I’d expand a little on how I’ve been tackling learning something like music production using the Internet.
1: Download and print any user guides that are offered by whoever makes the digital tools you use. If they have an online how-to video repository, bookmark it and use it for reference when you get stuck.
2: On YouTube, figure out who has good advice and continue to watch their videos. Then figure out who is simply blowing smoke for sake of getting more clicks and forget about them. You’ll be able to tell pretty quick which is which.
3: Glean the basics from those channels you do end up watching. Don’t take what they say as gospel! Try their instructions, shitcan what doesn’t work and keep what does.
4: Watch interviews with well known producers and listen to them talk about their careers and how they worked on certain songs and/or albums. If you really listen to what they’re saying, you can pick up little tidbits here and there and incorporate them into your workflow.
5: Keep a burner email or two handy because if you find a site that offers multi-tracks for download, grab them and practice with them. The same goes for free plugins; download them and play with them. Sure some are crap, but there are some decent ones out there if you look.
6: Just do it. Set up and record, even if it’s just you playing an acoustic while recording with one microphone. Mix and remix over and over. Try things. Break things. Try things again. There is no right or wrong. Find your own voice.
7: Don’t overly focus on what gear is being used or suggested in the videos you watch. Not everyone can afford a U-47. Learn how to use what you have access to.
8: Don’t overthink. Keep it simple and always serve the song.
Im not going to start this post by saying “I’m not knocking Social Media but…” because, as we all know everything you say before the “but” is bullshit. So I’m just going to say it: In this post I am knocking Social Media.