Show 169 – Working with professionals and more

This week we answer a ton of questions and comments about DIY controllers, OSC, Tape and analog delays, guitar iso boxes, large dynamic mics, 500 series gear, clean power, guitar setup, guitar modding. The segment this week is on Working with professionals in audio, in the studio, on stage or on set.

Joining us again this week is Eric Beam

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19 thoughts on “Show 169 – Working with professionals and more

  1. GSAA

    Its a pretty good insight into the biz. I always have delusions of grandeur wondering what it would be like to be working with music as a profession. Its good to be re grounded in the fact that it is indeed hard work, but the calling still has my leaning towards vocational wanderlust.

    Once yall ascribed to the professional mind set at what point did yall make the leap from hobby to financially viable career? How long was the crossover period from lame ass day job to doing what you love.

    I went and got a degree in rocket surgery and am stuck with a shit tone of buyers remorse and financial obligations that keep me flipping high priced burgers/widgets for a little while, but i like to think that it is possible for me to make money in the aesthetic aural realm one fine morrow. Till then i must make my daily return to my fart soaked office chair…

    Ride the Chicken

  2. Hey ya’ll. I had a question that may also make a good segment if there’s enough to discuss. What are the real world strengths of each type of fade and crossfade – linear, exponential, etc? Where would I use equal power vs equal gain? Do you have a favorite crossfade that you use by default when editing?

    I found this article on SOS that’s been a good resource to get me up to speed, but I would be interested to hear your thoughts as well.

    SOS Article:
    http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb07/articles/ptworkshop_0207.htm

    -Matt

  3. Hey guys, absolutely love the show! I apologize in advance for the long comment, I’ve been meaning to comment for awhile but wanted to get caught up first. I have a DIY question but first want to weigh in on a couple of recurring subjects on the show:

    On going to recording school: I went, and I loved it. But after a few internships I realized it wasn’t COMPLETELY necessary, but that I was way ahead of the interns that didn’t go. When you go to school you get hands on experience with all the legendary gear and there is no substitute for experience, so while you do have to pay quite a bit, everything is there for you to make your school experience invaluable.

    On phase: I always check it and strive for being “in phase”, but the Golden Rule is: If it sounds right, it is right. According to one of my instructors, the drum mics/overheads on Nevermind were not in phase. It’s definitely easy to get way caught up in the technical things and it’s very important to have an understanding of them, but always refer to the golden rule!

    On sample rates/bit depth: I used to record at 44.1/16 bit but noticed a pretty substantial difference when I switched to 88.2/24-bit. In my brain it makes sense that it’s easier for a computer to be doing a simpler deduction with 44.1 being exactly half of 88.2, don’t know if there is actually anything to that or not. Also something interesting that one of my instructors told me: Say you have some overheads set up on drums, and the cymbals are producing all these frequencies we can’t hear, but let’s say there is some 30k floating around from one cymbal and some 35k from another, that reduces down into an audible 5k tone that can be captured and add to the sound. I found this to be pretty interesting, but haven’t done any further research on it to really confirm such a thing, but according to him, recording at the higher sample rates achieves this.

    Finally, to my question. I am pretty happy with me very small home studio set up right now that consists of 2 Universal Audio 710s and the Digi 003 plus (the one with 8 mic pres, and yes, I am very satisfied with my Digi 003 believe it or not). Recently I purchased an old PreSonus Blue Tube pre amp and a PreSonus Blue Max compressor, I paid 80 bucks for both figuring it was a safe bet, even if I didn’t like them I wouldn’t really be out too much cash. I actually really like the compressor, but the pre amp is just too dirty and could probably benefit from some maintenance. It does have a 12AX7 tube that probably needs replacing, but I remember there being a discussion on the show that a lot of cheaper gear with tubes isn’t supplying the right power to these tubes. My question is: Should I replace both the transformer and the tube? And if so, how would I go about finding the correct transformer? I’m pretty handy with a soldering iron but I still have trouble with impedances and all that jazz. Also, if I wanted to do some maintenance on the compressor as well, what parts would you start with there?

    Thank you guys so much for the awesome shows, the great guests, and all the time you put into making it.

    Ride the muthafuckin lighting, cause it’s way cooler than chickens.

    -Brock

  4. Oh yeah, also, here is my very small recording resume for all you vultures to tear apart! Joking, but I’m always looking for constructive criticism so that I may get better at what I love to do! I’ve already learned some things from this show that I wish I had known before doing some of these (properly layering delays/verbs on vocals and vocal sidechaining especially)

    http://soundcloud.com/arid-word-episode/sets/bands-ive-recorded-mixed-and/

  5. Hey guys, thank you for doing this podcast; I have learned a shit ton about home recording, and literally devour these podcast episodes.

    I am just starting to learn all of this stuff on the other side of the glass and am finding it difficult to progress in this craft.I am my own worst enemy when it comes to recording. I literally devour everything I can find at a inhuman pace. I know I should slow down to give each individual piece of this massive puzzle the proper time it deserves to be fully understood. I tend to start out that way; alas, like the drummer who can’t hold a tempo, am blazing through the different content obscenely fast and in a terribly random fashion.

    I suppose it would be like that Meth head chicken scrambling around trying to find his last box of Sudafed…face it guys the only type of poultry that gets ridden and morbidly abused as much as that chicken are tweakers…but I digress…

    I’m hoping that you guys would impart some wisdom that a newbie can glean from that will tell me what fundamental things I should be focusing on in the beginning, before I move onto other things I probably have no business even looking at until I have a solid grip on the fundamentals. I

    am into the heavier genre of music, but overall just want to produce quality recordings no matter the genre.I don’t have a lot of gear to speak of…yet…mostly due to the fact that I can’t stay on one specific topic long enough to truly learn it. Currently I have massive load of information just randomly flying around in my brain and can’t seem to really apply any of it. Thanks guys, I appreciate any info you can give me

    Keep riding that chicken…well at least until it comes down with Hepatitis or something…just sayin’I look forward to your reponse.

  6. Someone commented last show about the Mono Price headphones-MHP-839. I have three pairs of them. Great for giving two or more people the same quality of sound. I found out about them from Bobby Owsinski’s website, (Christmas buying list 2011). He highly recommended them for the quality vs. price. They are surprisingly close in sound to my ATH-M50’s, and they really are about 24-25 Dollars, with two detachable cables. Its cool one for studio, one thin for iPod. Comfort wise,they are a fairly tight fit, but who’s complaining
    Phil

    No need to read – this is copied from last weeks comment, .(Recently I found a great-for-the-price pair of over the ear tracking headphones over at Monoprice. They’re about $25 each, very good isolation, nice bass, and feel pretty comfortable. They come with a detachable cable which is really cool, so you can customize as you see fit.)

  7. Hey guys. Thanks for the feedback on the LDD mics. I went back and found McGlynn’s shootout you refered to. (link below if anyone is interested. Before I read any reviews or results, I listened to all the blind samples and took notes on my own thoughts on the mics.

    Most were fairly similar with slight differences in how they handled plosives, proximity effect, and clarity. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted in each of those categories. Some I thought did well in certain areas, but not so much in others.

    When it was all said and done, there was one mic that stuck out to me as sounding significantly better overall than the rest. I wasn’t surprised to find it was the EV RE20. I guess it’s a standard for a reason. At least that’s settled for me.

    http://recordinghacks.com/2011/06/02/ultimate-podcast-mic-shootout/#more-1769

    On another note, I want to get a case together to put all of my mics in. Can you recommend a good type of foam for this and a place to get it? I would like to get some that won’t become brittle and start to crumble after a year.

  8. My dad has a saying: “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit.” I think modern digital recording has fooled people into thinking the above statement is false. I wonder how many people feel less compelled to be really prepared for a session because it’s so easy to do 30 takes and the engineer can do a comp pretty easily?

    Recently I ran into this with a talented friend who asked me to record him for a song contest. He informed me the deadline was the next day, he showed up late, and wasn’t prepared. It was frustrating a tense. He also had to leave early. As he left he said, “Sorry I couldn’t give you something better but I know you can work your magic with it.” Needless to say I was up late doing a bunch of editing. Maybe next time I’ll tell him I’m using my 4-track so he has to nail it.

    I would like to mention that you guys are a great combo. There is nothing better than when Jon reviews a plug-in or when Ryan talks about guitar components. My wife was about to call a therapist the day a bottle of Feed and Wax showed up for me in the mail as I was at the kitchen table with a jar of Vasoline scribbling on a post-it note with a pencil. Thanks again for all the shows.

    By the way, the last thing Denise needs is another piece of cake.

    Ride Mrs. Pivens (after her noon-time nappy)

  9. I just noticed that a lot of the show titles end with the phrase “and more”. It’s like a sham-wow info-mercial…..and that rocks! I’ve been listening to you guys since show 70-ish…..Keep up the great work!

  10. Hi guys. Long time listener, first time commenter. Love the show and I’ve donated a couple of times and left a positive iTunes review. I’ve heard almost every episode but not 100% because I don’t remember Jesse’s first show. Sorry I’ve written a book but I’d like to weigh in on an on-going theme here: amp modeling.

    Back when I was single and had a rehearsal space I had a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier and Marshall 1960B straight 4×12 cabinet which I sold. That was the biggest mistake of my musical career. Life changes meant I couldn’t rent a space or blast an amp at home so I foolishly sold my gear and bought a Line 6 Vetta 2×12 thinking I could still jam with other players and use the digital outs for practice and recording at home. In retrospect there were a bunch of better solutions (keep my stuff and buy a Pod, buy a Randall Isolation box, build an isolation box, buy some modeling software, record DI and reamp later, etc) BTW, I’ve learned the Randall iso-box records very well despite the limitations and compromised acoustics. Also it is easy to build an iso-box. I built one for my computer with MDF and acoustic foam and it works great. For a guitar cab I’d go with doubled walled ¾ “ MDF on a 2×4” frame with 703 or 705 between the walls and line the inside with acoustic foam. I’d make it as large as possible and get really good rubber isolation feet to decouple the bass from the floor and use a GRAMMA or something to decouple the cab from the box.

    Getting back to the Greek tragedy, the Vetta is very versatile but kinda sucks in my opinion so I sold it and tried some other products such as the Pod 2 and TonePort, again versatile and useful for practice and getting the idea, but pretty much crap for recording. I’ve also tried every software modeler. Most are crap. Amplitube is pretty good, ReValver might be the best, but still not suitable for quality recording (for me anyway). You guys have talked at length about when modeling can be useful and how to optimize the results and I agree, still in short I’ve hated modeling. BUT I bought a Fractal Audio Axe-FX II and it is amazing. It annihilates any other modeling product I’ve heard plus it has Eventide quality effects – it better, I paid $2,200! Still I strongly endorse this product even to a tone/tube snob such as Ryan. I mean that in an endearing way, and by that I mean, no I don’t. 🙂 It sounds fantastic and is extremely versatile. It has like 80 models and 70 IRs plus tons of effects, none of which are fluff. It all sounds good. You can also load your own IRs. In particulate firmware v6 which just came out really ups the realism. The downside is this isn’t a consumer focused device and you need to tweak for hours and days to dial in tones for you. This is made easier by a computer editor and user forum with preset exchange. The Axe-FX can be used direct to the mixer/interface only or direct and through an amp & cabinet simultaneously. The Axe-FX II can record effected and dry signals via USB so you don’t need an external DI to record a dry track. I have heard on-line from some gear heads that the components and build quality are outstanding so that isn’t a concern for the DI (still I can envision Ryan tearing it apart, retrofitting some components and rewiring it).

    I’ve never heard you guys mention the Axe-FX. I don’t have any clips but you can check out Rednebb’s YouTube (R)evolution of Rock series of videos which are totally awesome or check out samhillband or fearedse’s (for metal) YouTube videos, or listen to Animals As Leaders or Periphery (I’m not a big fan of djent and these aren’t great at showing what Axe-FX can do on more traditional music but their playing and tone are insanely awesome, all Axe-FX direct recorded). There’s tons of other stuff out there but there are also a lot of clowns so listen to a few before you judge. The Kemper Profiling Amplifier is another product that is supposed to be pretty awesome but I’ve yet to hear it. BTY, I always record a dry DI and aspire to buy a Hughes & Kettner TriAmp Mk II someday. I have an EBMM BFR7 which sounds crushing through it so I still see the benefit of a really good tube amp.

    This is rock-n-roll guys. Ride the pussy!

  11. WARNING: Tangent – GAS, songwriting and making a master plan… Feel free to skip, if you don’t have all night to read… 😉

    @Krakadon: Awesome you’ve found something worth your time and money.

    For me, I think the biggest hurdle in any of this stuff is the sheer enormity of options. I really need to keep it simple, I have found. My first amp was the Line6 Spider (way back when). Never really got into it that much. I think in retrospect because of the 6 different “models”. Then i used amplitube. Same deal. Then a while ago I bought a Zoom G7 guitar effects board. Same deal, only even more options. I think I finally get it now.

    I need to keep it simple. I just totally lose focus when there are too many options. It’s like I can’t keep tweaking on one amp model without thinking that maybe I should be working on a different one to get the tone I want. I think that goes to the root of my GAS. I think the main reason I sometimes (always) crave new gear is kind of the fear of finding out down the road that what I recorded lacks quality. I’m still learning the basics of sound, and I don’t like the thought of being limited by gear – especially the thought of only noticing these limitations much later.

    So now I have actually MADE A PLAN for my future songwriting and gear buying endeavors. Shocking, I know…

    1: Get a GOOD guitar.
    2: Use the internal routing features of my interface and my reamp box to use the garageband guitar effects in Reaper.
    3: Write and record a bunch of songs, and reward myself with a decent amp.
    4: And so on…

    I’ve chosen this approach for a number of reasons.

    First off, I really need to stop getting hung up on gear and get creative instead. I hope a better guitar will inspire me. I know this sounds like a bad excuse, but read on…

    I can use my sound card as a DI splitter, so I can get both the unaltered signal from the guitar on one track and the affected signal on another. Maybe garbageband doesn’t have the greatest guitar sounds in the world, but I will be monitoring something more interesting than the raw guitar sound as I play. Plus the interface is simple, which is what I need.

    Having the DI tracks makes it possible for me to reamp later (I have the DIY reamp box LINE2AMP from Peterson at http://www.diyrecordingequipment.com/ – awesome guy ad awesome service – little plug there). Having played the tracks on a better guitar than I own now will hopefully make sure the quality of the DI tracks are great. Getting as good a source as possible is the idea, one that will hopefully still hold up to closer scrutiny when my ears are more developed.

    When I’ve written a bunch of songs I’m satisfied with the next point comes up: the amp. First of all, I want my purchases to be driven by a real need. If I don’t manage to write a decent amount of good songs within the foreseeable future, I won’t have “wasted my money” on an amp. Second, it will use my GAS for good instead of evil – that is, help motivate me to get off my ass and be more creative. No amp for you until you’ve finished your songs, mister!

    Along with the amp would then come studio monitors and sound treatment. That way I can make better judgements about guitar tone in the mix, which is where it needs to sound good. And I can focus on songwriting up to that point, not on fiddling with plugins and getting the reverb just right and all that mixing jazz, which I really look forward too – and I can get pretty sidetracked by.

    By then I’ll be ready for mixing, which I think I’ll be more likely to stay focused on.

    So that’s the plan after some hard thinking about motivation and how to best stay on track. Hopefully it will help me to focus on what needs to be done at the right time, to buy only the gear I actually need WHEN I need it, and help me be motivated. All the while making sure that quality doesn’t suffer. Simple enough in writing. Probably tough in reality.

    I don’t know if any of this is especially profound at all, but I know it’s a realisation that has been long in coming for me. Maybe other listeners have similar plans (if anyone is still awake)?

    …Of course, I may succumb to the pressure long before…. Listening to podcasts about recording REALLY doesn’t help keep the GAS down!!

  12. You’ve hit on some great points.

    Having a plan – Huge improvement to productivity.
    Option overload – Too many options is a big problem…I’ve had too much analysis paralysis. It is part of the appeal of a tube amp…6-8 knobs and 1-3 channels (excluding Boogies which I find have too many options for me). With the Axe-FX I’m just trying to dial in maybe 4 tones. I also just bought a new guitar and MacBook and told myself I’m not changing anything for 3 years.

    Good guitar – Getting a good guitar is the most important thing you can do. I’ve spent years recording mediocre guitars and bouncing from one to another. One day I borrowed a high dollar Les Paul from a friend to record and it just sounded awesome. My wife finally convinced me that all of the time and money I’d spent on guitars and gear was wasted and this was my biggest problem. I’m a seven string player so I bought an Ernie Ball Music Man Ball Family Reserve 7 John Petrucci model and it’s changed everything. (If I could live with 6 it would have been a PRS Custom 24 which I feel can walk the line between Les Paul and Strat).

    Write music – I’ve wasted so much time shopping and waiting for gear and tweaking. I didn’t get into this to be an engineer. I want to produce music.

    Record a DI – No brainer, insurance for your tone. Unless you are a tone and recording master with the right gear and facilities you can always visit some pros and get a better sound, but I always see people not doing this. Why?

    Purpose chosen amp reward – OK you are too disciplined for me here. Every minute of every day for years I’ve had super high anxiety about my tone. With my BFR7 and Axe-FX II I finally have some relief.

    Monitors & treatment – Another no brainer. How can you record and mix if you can’t hear what you are hearing? But I see people do this all of the time. Why? I have Mackie HR824s and HR824mkIIs. I’ve heard Ryan praise the 1st gen and bag on the mkIIs. Sound on sound praised the mkIIs. I’m still unclear on this. They have more bass but are they more accurate or are they hyped? I don’t know. My mix room is the worst possible acoustic space, a small cube. I have DIY broadband absorbers (2×4’ 2” 703) on the front and side walls including ones that straddle the front corners and on the ceiling. I don’t have bass trapping. I played some test signal at 80 decibels (white noise, pink noise and sine sweep) into a Behringer omni calibration mic then into my MOTU 828mk3 which has some analysis tools. There was nothing a 70 Hz. Nothing…just this big giant hole plus several other peaks and nulls). I tried to optimize the placement and change some settings on the monitors but that only helped a little. I think I need some bass traps but I don’t have the money. I was thinking of 8 traps with 6” 705 in Ready Bags or 4” 705 + 2 1” frame securing some Auralex sheet block as a limp mass (2” 705/2”705/1”frame/SheetBlok/1”frame wrapped in Ready Bag). Bass traps and a Shure SM7 are my next purchases. I don’t understand these guys I’ve seen get really good mixes in poor acoustic environments.

    GAS – Hard to control for sure but I’ve find that the podcasts have helped me to make better gear choices and save money (ex. Golden Age Project Pre 73, FRM Audio Really Nice Compressor). And for when I can afford more professional stuff I’m looking at the DIY route for better economy and pride. Also sometimes they play clips of recordings made with crappy gear that sound really good and I go ugh! I need to get better at the art.

  13. Hey guys,

    A question (or perhaps a topic for a future segment). I was having breakfast with a friend and he told me a story about sitting in on a mastering session with his rockstar brother back in the 80s or 90s. He described this massive tape machine that had a single speaker attached to it. At some point, they all listened to the master on that speaker but my friend had no idea why. So I explained that they were checking the mix in mono. We’re both professional geeks, so he was able to follow as I explained phase and comb-filtering and he was able to relate it to his own various listening experiences. But then he asked, if you discover problems in your mono test, how do you fix them? I started with… “well, it depends…” and quickly realized that I didn’t really know. So what do you when your mix sounds like ass in mono?

    BTW, picked up Ethan Winer’s book. Awesome but heavy duty stuff. Hope you got your piece.

  14. Regarding drugs and alcohol in the studio, I simply will not allow it.

    In a studio I operated in the late 80’s I had to ask one friend of the band to leave after he became disruptive. It wasn’t so much the dancing around. That was just distracting. It was the way his beer bottle was tapping against the control room window as he waved his arms in admiration of his friends efforts in the live room. It started off light and infrequent and grew rapidly. After two warnings and one particularly loud bang, I stopped tape in mid take and went into the live room and told the band that if this session was to continue, their friend would have to leave. He was gone moments later. I did not enjoy doing it but, ya know, there’s a limit.

    Somewhere out in the world, there may be a musician who is a much better player when intoxicated, it’s just that I’ve never met him or her.

    I have enjoyed these shows very much and appreciate the effort that goes into making them.

    Finally, I strongly recommend that no one ride the chicken while drunk. You will fall off and hit your head. Not that I have any personal experience with that.

  15. Hi,
    Just getting to know your show and am really enjoying the depth of discussion on it. I have a question about the OSC app-I know it works for the iphone and watched a video about that online, but what are the options for Android & Reaper users? I downloaded it (free) and tried it but no luck with the controls.
    Thanks and greetings from Antwerp, Belgium!

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