Show 191 – Mixing Acoustic Guitars and more!

This week we talk about Jon’s strategy for mixing acoustic guitars. We also talk about our recording them, considerations for mics and the room.

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21 thoughts on “Show 191 – Mixing Acoustic Guitars and more!

  1. I recently was hired to do the audio work for a workout video. I wasn’t sure what to expect as It was my first time with three women in high intensity workouts . Jokes aside, the video was shot out doors on a windy day and presented all kinds of challenges. I was planning on tracking several different mics into pro tools to avoid being limited to one option for the audio. However, the power source for my interface introduced the worst hum I have ever heard. I ended up with one audio source. A rhode shotgun mic straight into the camera. I did continue to use the computer to give the impression that I was doing great work with all the gear I had set up. I pluged my headphones into the laptop pulled up the latest episode of The Home Recording Show and pretended to be intently concerned with the speaking, panting, and heavy breathing of the workout crew. Nothing of value here but thought I’d share anyway.


  2. Hey,
    I just wanted to mention that KVR is doing a really cool thing right now. They have the 2012 Developer Challenge contest up and running. The contest features 55 entries, including effects, soft synths, and sample libraries. All of the entries are free to use, and there are some really nice entries.
    Since you both have mentioned transient designers the past few shows, there is a really nice one called TRANSIENT by Sleepy-Time Records. It has the basic Attack and Sustain controls, but there are many advanced features to tweak the detection of the transients.
    I also wanted to shamelessly plug my own entry. It is called Clip Shifter. It was inspired by Jon’s comments on Show 182 about using a clipping-style limiter on drums and other tracks (not just mastering). The plugin can be changed from hard- to soft- clipping, and the threshold can be set to dynamically change based on the dynamics of the audio. I know you are Mac guys, and unfortunately both TRANSIENT and my plugin are only PC at this point.
    Regardless of whether you like my plugin or think it sucks worse than being trapped at Guitar Center on a Saturday afternoon and being forced to listen to some 14-year old play the same crappy guitar riff, the KVR Challenge is a cool thing to check out.
    …and, your show is the tits.

  3. Wow, I really needed to hear that acoustic guitar bit, thanks. You guys know your stuff.
    I’ve got a song where I want the acoustic to start and then as the vocals come in with simple underlying electric power chords, I want the acoustic to fall back to more of a shaker role. On the acoustic, I am prepared to start stepping back from the mics at this point, or maybe even turn around with my back to the mics to dull it down. Evidently, I am trying to record a live transition instead of fixing it in the mix. Or, is this an instance where I should just play it through and make it work after? I realize you haven’t heard the song, but please feel free to throw out any and all suggestions.
    Rock on.

  4. GSAA,

    If you had your druthers would you prefer an acoustic to be mic’d or if available use the DI of the guitar? Also how do you go about treating the finger slide noises. Occasionally ive come across a guitar that squeaks so obnoxiously when i slide my fingers on it.

    I assume you would approach a nylon stringed acoustic much the same way, but if not what would you be mindful of when tracking and mixing it. For one of our previous releases we recorded a nylon string acoustic for part of the song and we had a real hard time getting a good recording because the guitars is pretty quiet and there was a lot of headphone bleed. We tried several things to stop it from cutting through and eventually just wrapped my head up in a sweater. I looked like Jambi the genie with a cardigan turban but it got the job done.


  5. Hey guys.. The metal mix show was really nice I love that shit.. and of course I could have done it better NOT!!! anyway, I just picked up a Presonus 16.4.2. and I am using it with Protools and StudioOneV2 (which is DA BOMB) after I pulled my wifes foot out of my ass for spending all that money ( as if the batteries i supply for her… uhm never mind) I am really loving this board. Just wondered what yall thought of the workflow of this board. That being record all the parts into a DAW. Reassigning the individual channel outs back to the board via firewire and mix it using the boards DSP for EQ Comps ect? Then printing that mix to the DAW. I know it has its draw backs but the sound I am getting is hands down better then mixing ITB.. Would you EVER consider starting a studio with a Presonus 16.4.2 as the main input device? Have y’all tried StudioOneV2? here is a link with 3 parts.. is this crap or a viable workflow?

    Ill give you this chicken back after my wifes batteries die. BZZZZZZZZZ

  6. Long time no comment, but the shows have been consistently great as always. I really enjoyed the AES recap with all those awesome guests.

    Anywho, have you guys read the latest entry on Mr. Owsinski’s blog about Avid? If you have I was just wondering what your thoughts were about it and if you agree that Avid is indeed in so much trouble.

    I don’t guess I have any actual audio questions this time ’round, thanks as always for the amazing podcast. I promise when I am in at least slightly less debt than I am now, I will hit up that tip jar.

    Roll Tide.

  7. I am a long term listener but a first time commenter. I have just finished listening to all 191 of your shows. Before I started, I thought I knew a little bit about audio, but now I am certain that I really don’t know diddly. Isn’t education wonderful?
    Since I am asking for a diploma, I am putting my tuition in your tip jar.
    Many, many, thanks for all of the hard work you have put into the Home Recording Show. Seriously, although I am not a musician or an engineer, I love music and really have learned an enormous amount from you guys about how it is made in the 21st century. Keep on recording, mixing, and mastering that chicken.

  8. Hey guys,

    Really cool to hear some of my comments read on the show… I especially enjoy the few jokes made at my expense…

    For what it’s worth, My friends and I “roll” the same way…. If one of us got “struck by the lightening” and then fell into a giant tub of “chicken shit” none of us would hesitate to jump in to help them out, BUT not before first pointing and laughing, and maybe even taking some pictures to post on social media to have even more laughs at their expense later … But that’s not why I’m writing today, so I’ll get back on point…

    My comment today is not about any particular episode but the show in general and its value to Audio Amateurs and PRO’s alike..

    My own audio career was not a straight line.. I started playing in bands in the bar scenes at about 15, recording our own stuff on a Four track Fostex, and eventually an Akai MG1214… but in hindsight, we really didn’t have a clue what we were doing.. But as they say, ignorance is bliss…

    flash forward a few years,

    by 20, I’d dropped out of university to tour in a cheesy cover band full time. We were actually making decent money back then, but A year later, however, I had a eureka moment:

    I was watching a different band play on our night off, who had a keyboard player, 15 years my senior and with more talent then I’ll ever have.. And they were a much better band then my own..

    at first i was jealous, and wanted to rush home to practice, but then i thought, “hey, he’s better then me, been doing it a lot longer, but is still playing the same shitty bar we just finished at, and still living in his moms basement???

    Long story short, I realized at that moment that the music business is not an industry where talent and hard work “necessarily” entitle you to any measure of success.. So I gave my notice, cut my hair, and eventually went back to school, got my Business Degree, and began a career in Financial Services where I remained for nearly 13 years until a car accident and some resulting health issues necessitated a career change..

    I’d always kept music as a hobby, and at that point, at age 38, With over 20 years experience as a “weekend-warrior/Hobbiest” I ultimately went back to school in a 2 year Audio Engineering Program… Making my hobby my job…hoping it’d be the “path of least resistance” to re-enter the work force again…

    I’d naively thought, given my past experience, that school would be a cakewalk, but the first thing I learned at school was how little i actually knew and how much I actually had yet to learn! but not one to be discouraged, I dug in, worked hard and graduated in late 2010.

    Anyway, my point, (and I did have one) is that even though I had decent amount of experience (albeit part time) in the real world, AND my Certificate in “Audio Engineering”, I still find incredible value in listening to your podcast and similar podcasts, like IHR, Home Studio Corner, and others, On an ongoing basis.. I’m quite literally addicted to them, truth be told..

    Assuming we’ve all heard about the “10-thousand hours” concept, and, as i mentioned how my own Audio Career was “interrupted” and thus absent many of those “10, 000 hours”, I believe that listening to your show and others like yours can go a long way toward catching up those on lost hours… Or at the very least, complimenting or enhancing the hours we do put in…

    Some of the time when i listen, respectfully, i hear stuff I learned as a kid, and/or stuff I learned in school, but I still value it ALL as it helps to further “engrave” that important knowledge firmly in my mind… be it a confirmation of what I thought I knew, or a reminder of stuff I forgot… The repetition is a big help in reinforcing my training and past experiences…. It allows me to be more efficient, as these topics and techniques remain front of mind, Especially during those periods when I am away from the studio for a while, It reduces the amount of times I have to “go back to the manual”, text book or my school notes…

    And just as often, if not more, I also learn something new on almost every show…. either something I’d never tried or heard of before, or something that I “thought I knew” but was doing wrong (or could have been doing better) up until that point. Be it simply learning about new gear and/or techniques or variations, or enhancements.. or even just simply explanations as to “why” some things work the way they do…(the science behind the voodoo). Either way, in all cases, I do believe it has helped, and continues to help make me better at what I do and i enthusiastically tell everyone who’ll listen about your show…

    So once again, thank you…

    Given the length of my comment, and lack of reference to an actual episode, I don’t expect this to be read “on air”, and that’s cool… But with that assumption, I’ll close with an odd, but true story….

    I was in my studio the other day, cleaning up, and had our new golden retriever puppy up there with me. I got distracted for a bit, when i caught a “whiff” of “something” foul…

    I turned around and to my horror, the dog (“Ozzy”) dropped a steaming deuce right on top of my cable snake… (The input fan tails of channels 1 through 4)

    I’m not sure of it it was pure coincidence, or canine commentary on my work… But regardless, my immediate reaction was to bag the turd, take the dog outside, and rush back to clean the “finer details” of the remains…

    It was Only after I’d put the cleaning supplies away did I think “Jesus, I should have taken a picture of that!”

    My wife said “who on earth would find that funny or even the least bit amusing??”

    And I thought: “a steaming pile dog shit, sitting perfectly on top of a cable snake, mic stand in the background????? I think I know some guys who would enjoy that!!… Hell, itd even make a cool album cover….”. But like they say, hindsight is 20/20.. Lol

    Anyway, No donation today.. But I did just use your amazon click through to buy a stereo pair if cascade Fatheads, so hopefully they’ll break off of piece and send it your way!

    Speaking of dog shit and Breaking off a piece, here is one ladr side note.. . Everytime you say that (Break off a piece) I giggle…

    As you know, sayings come in and out of fashion, and vary region by region, but when and where i grew up, “Breaking off a piece” was a euphemism for taking a shit… But that’s enuf shit talk… Your show rocks and I look forward to it every week!

    Your fan as always…

    Rob Crewe

  9. Hi guys,
    Been listening for a while but this is my first comment. Really enjoyed the acoustic guitar segment. I noticed you didn’t go into much detail on mic positioning (yeah, I know, it was about mixing not tracking) but it reminded me of a question I’ve been wanting to ask. I traditionally record ac. guitar with either a spaced pair or X/Y setup of my Gefell SDC’s, but after hearing you folks talk about setting up a piano with an M/S pair I decided to try it on acoustic guitar. I’ve been playing with an LDC (either an 87 or a 414) for the mid and then an R84 on the sides. I set it up a bit far, maybe 12 to 24 inches out from where the neck meets the body and I’ve really been liking the results. The mid mic gives a nice punchy mono sound and then you can dial in ambience with the side channels, and you never have to worry about mono. You folks ever give M/S a try on acoustic guitar?

    Oh, and for the love of god remind people to turn down their monitors before clicking on the chicken sample. Damn…I think I’m sterile. 😉

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