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Archive for November, 2010

Studio 2nd Ass – 2nd Session Report


Yet another unplanned set of circumstances and yet another happy ending =) Unfortunately Darcy fell ill and couldnt attend the session and Eliot wasnt able to come in until 11.00 which meant I had 2 spare hours with no one to record. Fortunately for me Gemma Sharp (excellent drummer) and James Shelly (superb basist) were recording in the other recording room. I had words and persuaded them to come record their parts in my studio session and in return the would record the Bass and Drum parts for my track. Of which make up the top two tracks within the view of the Pro-tools session below.

Using exactly the same Mic setup for the Drum recording as used with my first piece I recorded a two minute section of Gemma playing a Dance music style beat, 4 to the floor, occasionally throwing the odd drum fill. Having recently had the Drum kit in the studio upgraded I was unsure of the sound. The Kick did not sound any where near as powerful as it had in previous sessions nor did the Snare but maybe it was simply the style of beat and Gemma wasn’t playing the kit as hard. An image below shows Gemma in the studio, notice the AKG 414 on the Lo-Tom, and Hi-Hat, the SM57 top and bottom Snare, Neumann top right Over-head and lastly the Senheisser 604 for the Kick.

For the Bass I got the chance to use the AB setup using a pair of DPA condensor mics. I recorded a left and right mono track for a mid bass riff and the same for a low bass riff together I would bounce down into a single mono track in the style of Phil Spector, notice the 3 mono channels shown below, EPiano, Bass & Drums. I have one more channel for either Lead Guitar, Synths or Vocals.

Which ever I don’t choose will get bounced together with one of my previous. I.e. EPiano with Vocals or Bass with Lead. Baring in mind this will limit my production options so best to keep similar group sounds together. In this case I might put my EPiano with a Synth line as they are most likely to harmonically match.

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Onwards and Upwards…DJ


Studio, 2nd Ass – 2nd Session Plan

Tomorrow Eliot, Darcy and I will be working on my 2nd Assessed piece implementing the 4 track, production technique. I also plan to get a drum kit recording from Eliot in a House beat style 4 to the floor, 125bpm. Going with microphone setup used in my previous production. I plan to capture an acoustic version of the electric piano I recorded with Sammy last week and then record them on to the same mono track. Aswell some improvised singing from Darcy.

My piece is in the Key of A Major and my chord pattern is:

f sharp, a, b, c sharp.  I will ask Darcy to follow this pattern in both her Piano and vocal recording each of which we will do seperately cos I wish edit the vocals differently to the Keys. I figure lots of Reverb on the Vocal. Distortion on the Keys.

Onwards and Upwards, DJ…


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2nd Assy – Session Report


Today Sammy and I laid down the first part of my second assessment original piece. Normally I would of started with the Drums or Bass parts and build up from there but unfortunately today only Sammy was available for the session. So I had to give her a beat to follow as to keep her in time. I opened a Pro-tools session and with that 6 mono audio tracks. 4 of which were for recording and the 5th and 6th were for the beat taken from a 4 bar house sample I had stored on my computer, which I looped over for just over 2 minutes. The 6th audio tracks I would use to record my final bounce down for the Synth Section baring in mind I only have 4 tracks in total for the my finished track which may mean I will have to record the Synth tracks over on to the Guitars tracks for example.

To record the Synth line we used a DI input found on the front for ISA 828 Pro-tools sound-card. From here we could record directly into Pro-tools but I wanted to learn how to feed the signal from the studio and into the live room so we routed it via the patch bay in the Chill Room and then in to a Guitar amp. We then fed this signal back into a Pro-tools using a pair of Neaumann microphones which faced the Amp using the stereo NOS setup. (The recording track were in mono). We recorded a lead and Bass line with the synths but I have every intention of placing these with a guitar lead and clean Bass sound to boost the feel of the piece. I will just need to make sure my future session musicians play in the same key.

2nd Assy – 1st Studio Session Plan


My intention with this second piece is to make an original track using the production tips and tools I’ve learnt from the previous assessment and also use a few new ones. Together with the production techniques applied by Phil Spector in the mid 60′s through to the late 70′s. Using a 4 track technique and mimicing the limitations of the day, even including unwanted tones, representing the hiss and squeaks heard on recordings of the time.

I plan to produce Drums, Percussion, Bass, Lead Guitar, Vocals and Synth tracks using a number of effects including EQ, Compression, Side-chaining, Reverb, Distortion and Time-adjuster sample delay.

Tomorrow I have the Studio booked from 9-1 and Sammy Vere has kindly agreed to record the Key section for me in this case the Synth tracks. Lets see what we come up with. (I will use either a click or drum track for Sammy to follow).


2nd Assessment Piece – In the Style of Phil Spector

Assessment 2

2nd production “should consciously emulate a particular style of music production, either from the past or from the present day”, in an ORIGINAL piece:

Provide evidence (in your blog) of the production techniques you intend to use, with links to appropriate articles (detailing those techniques) and links to tracks where those techniques are clearly demonstrated

NEW band recording 2-6 mins (any genre) must include:

drums, bass, guitar/piano, voice

you should also include at least one of the following:

woodwind, brass, strings, percussion, synths

Treatment – appropriate use of:

eq, compression, effects, elastic audio manipulation, sample delay (time adjuster), sidechaining, limiting (on any track, aux input (including a sub-mix) and the master fader)

With the exception of bass and guitar, which may be d.i., all instruments must be miced, although this production need not be of a ‘performance’ ie. it could include ‘sampling sessions’, in which case, evidence of the original recording must be provided (as a ‘muted’ track/s).

(To clarify, you could for example, record individual drums and cymbals, then programme a drum track, or trigger drum sounds by midi.)

NB:  The mix output must not clip prior to limiting.

Limit to -0.2dBs

The purpose of this task is to borrow present and/or past production techniques in creating your own, original production pastiche.


Taken from Wikipedia – Online Encyclopedia

Harvey Philip Spector (born December 25, 1940)[2] is an American record producer and songwriter. The originator of the “Wall of Sound” production technique, Spector was a pioneer of the 1960s girl group sound and produced over 25 Top 40 hits between 1960 and 1965 alone. After this initial success, Spector later worked with artists including Ike and Tina TurnerJohn LennonGeorge Harrison, and the Ramones with similar acclaim.

He produced the Beatles’ Academy Award-winning album Let It Be, and the Grammy Award-winning Concert for Bangladeshby former Beatle George Harrison. In 1989, Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer. The 1965 song “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’“, produced and co-written by Spector for The Righteous Brothers, is listed by BMIas the song with the most U.S. airplay in the 20th century.[3]

The 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra, California home led to his being charged with murder in the second degree. After a 2007 mistrial, he was convicted in 2009[4] and given a prison sentence of 19 years to life.

Spector was vehemently opposed to stereo releases, claiming that it took control of the record’s sound away from the producer in favor of the listener

The following is a small list of techniques Spector used in his productions.

Style of Phil Spector:

Restricted to Mono/4 Track mixer, Reel to Reel tape(natural hiss, use signal generator to emulate the tape hiss)

Take Mono track inputs from each microphone, select an output bus to a aux track and record out, creating one track for all 6 tracks for say a drum kit, piano, bass.

I at least plan to implement some of these recording techniques as well as find and use others that Spector used and I have yet to discover to record my production for this second assessment.

Production, Mastering & Bounce Report


Having recently finished recording my 1st assessed piece I was now at the production stage. I had to implement the use of a High pass filter, sample delay (time adjuster), compression, sidechaining and limiting (on master fader).

I began by placing a Compressor/Limiter on my Master fader to prevent me accidentally overloading the studio monitor and potentially breaking any of the studio equipment. I did this by reducing the threshold by -20db, The threshold will then prevent the master volume from exceeding over -20db, any track that is already below this volume level will not be compressed. I used similar settings and second compressor/limiter on my Bass track limiting any points that fluctuated higher than the average volume across that track.


I then used a Hi-Pass filter on the Vocal and Acoustic Guitar sections, removing any low-end and some mid range frequencies. A Hi-Pass filter plug’in is the same as an EQ plug’in but with a low-end cut-off slope as aposed to the reduction of one group of frequencies. The EQ can switch into a low pass filter simply by reverting the low-end cut-off to a high-end cut-off

I also applied a 3rd compressor/limiter to my Bass section and using sidchaining made the compressor reduce the Bass’s volume by x amount in time with the beat of each Kick drum. I.e. when each Kick hit it would trigger the compressor to compress. A common effect used in the studio to help the Kick drum to sit more compfortably with in the mix as Bass and Kicks tend to have similar sound frequencies within each of them. This effect is often used to make synthe lines in Dance music have that fur fur fur furr sound to them.

Next I

To counter the delay effect when recording drums using a number of different microphones each at a different distance away from the kick it is important  we use a “Delay Time adjuster” plugin tool to fix it. The difference in sound quality is marginal but to the trained ear your drums will sound sloppy and partially out of time if not applied. Given the kick drum is usually the root of any drum kit recording we will apply delay time adjuster compensation to the other tracks in with in the Drum kit mix. Time adjuster delay will trigger the earlier playback of each track selected by your chosen increment. In this case the number of samples. To do this we place each drum audio track against the Kick and measure with the selector tool the distance in samples from the start fo the first Kick hit and the first hit of i.e. the over-head hit as shown above. We then input the number of samples calculated into the time-adjuster as shown below. We repeat this process for both Snare and Hi-Hat tracks as well.

The plugin shown below is a pitch-shifter which I used to shift the pitch of Darcy’s vocal up two semi-tone so that her voice sounded closer to the key of the original track. Understandably this plugin was not to be used in the session but I was intrigued by its potential and given that Darcy felt her vocal was in the wrong key I felt it appropriate to experiment with the Pitch-shifter.

The following image displays all of my tracks in order starting with Kick to Over-heads far left to Vocals and Bass far right. Note the panning techniques and sidechain from Kick to Bass.

Below a screen shot of the final Audio mix before being bounced down to a single Stereo interleaved track as shown to the bottom of the page. Feel free to listen…

Onwards and Upward….DJ

 <span><a href=”http://soundcloud.com/curiousyellowrecords/1st-final-piece-bounce/s-yQ4NL”>1st.Final.Piece – Bounce</a> by <a href=”http://soundcloud.com/curiousyellowrecords”>CuriousYellowRecords</a></span&gt;

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