Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Some more Ableton Love..

Capturing the Muse - Tips and Tricks

Author: Paul Warren

As songwriters, when inspiration strikes, we need some way to snare our latest germ of an idea. We reach for the nearest piece of paper , or dictaphone to capture our moment of briliance. Sometimes I have been gifted with an idea while walking down the street and have resorted to ringing myself up and humming my idea onto my voice mail! [Yes you can have that one]

So how do we ensure we can capture and record our musical ideas at home quickly and without fuss?

The easiest thing to do is to have a permanent plug and play set up. This could be as simple as a good old cassette recorder [does anybody still use these? $10 from the opportunity shop. Other choices are an mp3 player with recording facility [around $200] or a more complex Flash card recorder [$500+].

If you have a dedicated digital recorder or computer based recording set-up at home, then a couple of mics plugged in and ready to go in the time it takes to boot-up the system is all that is required. Bear in mind that if you use a flash card recorder you have the capacity to transfer your ideas across to your computer workstation at a later time for further work.

In the past I have used recording gear from Fostex, always relaible and as simple as turning on the machine waiting about 45 seconds for the boot up procedure then selecting a folder to record to and go!

For computer based recording I use a program called Ableton Live to do most of my current projects. Within the boot template set-up I can save certain sets of parameters - in my case a vocal microphone and two acoustic guitar microphones which go to 2 tracks. Track one is for the stereo guitar and track two for the vocal microphone.I also have some compressors and equalisation set-up on the replay channels, giving my initial idea some extra sparkle.

I know that within a couple of minutes of hitting the on switch of the computer I can be capturing my latest idea for later reworking. I also run Steinberg's Cubase and it is just as easy to have a dedicated template to make this happen. The same holds true for other Multitrack programs such as Pro Tools, Sonar and Logic Audio.

Another thinjg I have been doing lately is using an omnidirectionbal microphone. As a guitarist/vocalist I can sit this between the guitar and my mouthto get a reasonable voice/guitar balance for my rough idea without having to balance any sound levels. For this I use a Rode NT2 microphone, similar microphones from Neumann, Akg can do the same job.

The advantage of having your template and recording system 'Ready to Go' is that you should be able to stay on the right side of your brain! What do I mean by that?

You don't want to be doing left brain(Logical, Sequential, Rational, Analytical) activities in your creative moment. When we are in our creative space we are generally using the right side of our brain (Random, Intuitive, Subjective), which leads me to an interesting idea; As computer musicians we are often impeded from fulfilling our potential by the technology, I think it's because left brain and right brain activities are not mutually compatible! When you're trying to work out how to route a microphone through your sound card and onto a track you are using, well that's a left brain activity.

When you're connecting into the 'universal consciousness now moment inspiration flow' then your in the right hemisphere of your brain . The last thing you want when you're in your creative space is to be lumped with a left brain task- inspiration and the muse fades like the sun dipping into the pacific ocean for the night if you don't have a fool-proof method for capturing your ideas.

Glug, glug, glug.

So, get yourself 'ready to roll' at a moments notice to capture the latest passing idea from the muse.

About the Author:

For more information on recording and songwriting visit Paul Warren's website MyHomeRecordingStudio.com and
find other articles by Paul Warren at mymillionairebuddy.com

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/music-articles/capturing-the-muse-tips-and-tricks-208450.html

Any home reording questions out there?

If anyone stumbling accross this Blog has any questions relating to home recording, either myself or my sound engineering freinds would like to hear them, just post your questions as a comment and we'll get to them as soon as we can..

Saturday, March 7, 2009


This an older demo that features Guitar Rig sound recorded on logic Audio..


You can also hear the Fender Blues Deluxe with Laney Extension cabinet

The massive Bass sound is largely due to the Owen Bass Gremlin. A true beast.

The song "Barrell" actually won an award for best soundtrack in 15/15 film festival so the sounds you get from simple set ups like this musn't be too shabby..

Mixing Tips

Music Production and Mixing Tips & Trick

Music Production and Mixing Tips & Tricks

Author: Ian Waugh
What makes a pro recording pro? What is the "sound" that the pros get and how can you make your recordings sound more professional?

The simple answer is - there's no simple answer. But with careful listening and a little experience you can create excellent results with modest equipment.

Good mixing starts ear

The first and most important item of equipment is - who knows? Anyone? It's your ears! Sorry to tell you this, but listening to ten hours of Rave at 110dB will do nothing for them and you might as well give your mix to a turtle as try to mix with misused ears.

Listen to commercial recordings of mixes you like, analyse them, listen for the effects and get to know what constitutes the sort of sound you're after.

Mixing secrets

There's no hidden secret to getting a good sound, but if we had to sum up the secret of mixing in two words it would be this - EQ and compression. Okay that's three words.

These are probably the two most important tools used by professional producers. However, like any tools, if you don't know how to use them you'll be carving Habitat tables instead of Chippendale chairs.

That's where your ears and experience come in. Here we have assembled some production ideas, suggestions, tips and tricks but they can only be guidelines and need to be adapted to suit your material. There are no presets you can switch in to make a bad recording sound good. And if your original material has been poorly recorded not even Abbey Road could salvage your mix. But follow these suggestions and see how much your mixes improve.

Get the level right

You can't push the levels when recording digitally as you can when recording to tape but you still want to get as much signal into the system as possible. This means watching the levels very carefully for clipping, and recording at an even and constant level.

Some recording software lets you monitor and set the input level from within. Some expect you to use the soundcard's mixer while others have no facility for internally adjusting the input level and expect you to set this at source.


Your ears are only as good as the monitors they listen to. DO NOT expect to produce a good, pro mix on tiny computer speakers. It may sound fine on a computer system, but try it on a hi fi, in a disco and through a car stereo.

Oddly enough, you don't necessarily need the most expensive Mic. Many top artists use what some might call "average" Mics because they work well and get the job done. You can spend a wad on a large diaphragm capacitor Mic (yes, they're good for vocals) if you have the lolly but check out dynamic Mics which are much more affordable and can be turned to several tasks.

Mixing MIDI and audio

One of the great things about computer-based recording is that the parts can so easily be changed, edited and processed. It's also so easy to combine MIDI and audio tracks and many musicians use a combination of sample loops, MIDI parts and audio recording.

Audio recordings are generally guitar and acoustic instruments such as the sax and vocals. Incidentally, the best way to record guitars is by sticking a Mic in front of its speakers. You can DI them and process them later and this may be cleaner but for a natural guitar sound a Miced amp is hard to beat.

It's not necessary to record drums live and, in fact, it's difficult to do and retain a modern sound. You can buy off-the-shelf MIDI drum riffs and audio drum loops, or program your own. The quality of the gear which makes drum noises these days is such that anyone with a good riff can sound like a pro.

Mixing MIDI

As MIDI and audio parts appear on the same screen in modern sequencers, it's very easy to arrange them into a song. However, when you come to mix everything down there's another consideration. If you are recording to DAT you can simply route the audio and MIDI outputs through a mixer and into the DAT machine.

However, if you want to create a CD you must first convert the MIDI parts to audio data. The entire song can then be mixed to hard disk and burned to CD. Converting MIDI to audio can have another benefit and that's the ability to process the MIDI tracks using digital effects.


There are three positions for effects known as Master, Send and Insert. Use the Master for effects you want to apply to the entire mix. These will often be EQ, compression and reverb.

Although giving each channel its own Insert effects is kinda neat, each one uses a corresponding amount of CPU power. So if your computer is struggling and if you're using the same effect on more than one channel, make the effect a Send effect and route those channels to it.

Many pieces of software let you apply an effect Pre or Post fader. With Post fader, the amount of sound sent to the effect is controlled by the fader. With Pre fader, the total volume level of the signal is sent. Post fader is the usual default and the one you'll use the most.


EQ is the most popular and the most over-used effect. Yes, it can be used to try to "fix a mix" but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear as me Gran used to say and what she didn't know about mixing could be written in the margin of the book of honest politicians.

But before you start messing with EQ - or any other effect for that matter - make sure you have a decent set of speakers. Have we said that already? Oh, must be important, then.

There are plug-in effects such as MaxxBass which can psychoacoustically enhance the bass frequencies to make it sound better on smaller speakers. However, this is by no means the same as getting a good bass sound in the first place by observing good recording principles.

EQ can enhance a mix to add gloss, fairy dust, shimmer, sheen, a sweetener or whatever you want to call it to the final production. It can be done with enhancers and spectralisers, too, although these tend to mess with the harmonics which some producers don't like. However, don't dismiss them out of hand.

General EQ lore says that you should cut rather than boost. If a sound is top-heavy, the temptation is to boost the mid and bass ranges. But then what usually happens is you start boosting the upper range to compensate and you simply end up boosting everything and you're back where you started - only louder!

The reason why cutting is preferred is that boosting also boosts the noise in the signal which is not what you want. Try it. Boost every frequency and listen to the result. If you think it sounds okay, fine. What do we know?

But when you're fiddling, do keep an eye on the output meter. Boosting EQ inevitably means increasing the gain and it's so-o-o-o easy to clip the output causing distortion which does not sound good.

Finally, check EQ changes to single tracks while playing back the entire piece. In other words, listen to the tracks in context with all the other tracks. It may sound fine in isolation but some frequencies may overlap onto other tracks making the piece frequency rich in some places and frequency poor in others.


Reverb creates space. It gives the impression that a sound was recorded in a hall or canyon instead of the broom cupboard. Recording lore suggests that you record everything dry, with no reverb, so you can experiment with a choice later on. You can't un-reverb a track once it's been recorded.

The more reverb you apply, the further away sound will seem. To make a vocal up-front, use only enough reverb to take away the dryness. Vocals don't want to be mushy (lyrics can be mushy) so use a bright reverb.

A common novice error is to swamp everything with different types of reverb. Don't - it sounds horrible!

Mixing down

You've done all the recordings, done the edits, applied the effects and now it's time to mix everything into a Big Number One Hit! Before you do, go home and have a good night's sleep. Have two. In fact, sleep for a week.

Yes, we know you're hot and raring to go but your ears are tired. They're falling asleep. Listen carefully and you might hear then snore!

There is a phenomenon known as ear fatigue and consistent exposure to sound, especially the same frequencies, makes our ears less responsive to them. Goes back to the bit about spending your life in a Rave club - you'll never be a master producer. If you try to mix after spending a day arranging, your ears will not be as responsive, so do them and your mix a favour by waiting at least a day.

Now, go forth and mix! And don't forget - you get better with practice. For more information about mixing, pick up a FREE copy of Creating The Perfect Mix at www.making-music.com


Ian Waugh is one of the UK's leading hi tech music writers and creator of www.making-music.com. He has written for most of the major - and not so major - hi tech music magazines in the UK and many general computing titles both offline and online.

His output numbers over 2,000 articles, features and reviews and he has written several books and albums. He is author of the "Quick Guide to..." series which includes the Quick Guide to Dance Music, Digital Audio Recording, MP3 and Digital Music, and Analogue Synthesis.

Occupation: Writer, Musician, Publisher
Ian Waugh is one of the UK's leading hi tech music writers. He has written for most of the major - and not so major - hi tech music magazines in the UK and many general computing titles both offline and online.
His output numbers over 2,000 articles, features and reviews and he has written several books and albums. He is author of the "Quick Guide to..." series which includes the Quick Guide to Dance Music, Digital Audio Recording, MP3 and Digital Music, and Analogue Synthesis. There

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Laptop with Guitar Rig

Here is a great and inexpensive, professional sounding recording setup for a guitarist or singer looking to make demo's and possibly for live use with a PA. This rig is really easy to use as it is software based and the software comes with tutorials and a good manual.

First of all I have decided to use a laptop so I can bring it to rehearsals and it will be practical for live use. For details on the best laptop to buy for home recording, I'd recommend buying from an IT consultant. The laptop here is shown running guitar Rig 3 and
Ableton Live computer recording software. Guitar Rig 3 sounds great and includes all the amps, effects, cabinets and everything you will need and far easier than trying to get you hands on and mic up this stuff. Ableton is great for either programming drums or making drum loops. It'so great for having jam sessions as you can get Ableton to play the drums while you play along, I have a few of these so with a bit of polish I might post. If you are a drummer you can still just record your kit along to your tracks, but you will either need an ADAT with more tracks or a mixer, and lots of Mic's. If you are looking for some loops and sounds Click Here! or Click Here!

Getting the sound in to the computer is the Important part. I went for an inexpensive option that I can add a mixer to for more channels, or plug in to a PA for stereo goodness from Guitar Rig 3. For people looking to record the whole band an 8 or 16 track
ADAT is the way to go, but far more expensive. Our bass player is working on this so it should appear in future posts.

Here is probably the cheapest
USB sound card that's gives you a great sound, lots of manufacturers have a variation on this. Also Native Instruments now ship Guitar Rig with a great USB sound card built in to the Rig Kontrol itself.

I picked up the Guitar Rig
Kontrol 1 off eBay cheap. This is different to the other Rig Kontrols in that it is not a USB sound card in itself, it actually sends a control noise through one of the channels, it still works great, but the other Kontrols are definitely better for live use. I like this set up for home recording because of the flexibility of being able to use an 8 or 16 track ADAT instead.

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, my
Jagmaster. I also recommend buying a bass with this type of set up, because with Ableton's drum loops, a Guitar, Bass and a Microphone you can make complete demo's yourself and they sound great...

Website Traffic - Webmasters helping webmasters develop high value relevant links. Promoting ethical web-marketing using the time trusted pillars of relevance and popularity.
CTAPDA Website Directory
Nurenxintan Directory
Qcubed.net Business Directory
The Free Directory