Recording - May 2013 - 62

A variety of music styles also helps round out a ref disc. Orchestral, jazz,
pop, and folk recordings might each reveal different idiosyncrasies present
in a listening environment. Do be careful though with metal and/or overly
compressed pop recordings from the last decade. These releases tend to be
fairly distorted, and it can be difficult to judge clarity in a speaker system
if the listening material itself is already crunchy. Also important, search out
uncompressed CD-quality versions of your reference songs. The MP3 and
AAC files that live in your iTunes library can contain distortion and other
artifacts that can complicate the Kentucky Voicing process.
You may also want to include a few technical test tracks. My disc includes
a ten-minute chunk of pink noise, so I can walk a room and search out
standing wave issues. Also included on my ref are polarity-reversed tracks,
mono-only recordings, and frequency sweeps.
Named, as far as I can tell, by audio guru
Dave Moulton, Kentucky Voicing is the process of
listening to known recordings and seeing how
they translate in an unfamiliar room or on new
loudspeakers. Kentucky Voicing is essential! Grab
some CDs you know well and begin listening.
Where does the bass sit? How is the left-right definition? Are particular frequency ranges muddy
or clear? Kentucky Voicing provides objective
analysis of a listening environment before you
begin working and let the room bias your mix
decisions.
Tip six: References available upon request
Connected to this technique is the creation of
one’s personal reference disc. All engineers
should have one! Dive into your music library and
select varying tracks that you know well and think
sound great. Compile these into a playlist, load

Tip seven: Listen to new music
Kentucky Voicing doesn’t have to be limited to the existing tracks on your
reference. Often, especially when mixing styles of music I am new to, I put
together a fresh collection of material well respected in that particular
genre. This is easy to do in the age of the Internet, as a variety of web sites
exist to suggest and sell the key recordings in a myriad of styles. As an
added bonus, this process has the upside of opening my ears to new music.
Also, if working for a client, I typically ask the artist or producer for a list
of songs similar in vibe, approach, and influence to the material they have
hired me to mix. Once compiled into a playlist, I put these recordings on
loop, and check them frequently throughout the mixing process. This gives
me a regular reference as to the frequency balance, overall level, effect
usage, and internal levels the client might be expecting.
Tip eight: Control thy monitors
All of these mix techniques center around the need, when mixing, to
counter tunnel vision though regular perspective changes. One audio
device is essential in every studio to let this happen painlessly: a monitor
controller. At its simplest, a monitor controller is just a volume control, and

Our ancestors needed to communicate, to hear babies cry, and to
detect predators on approach. Equal sensitivity to 50 Hz TR-808 kick samples
and 15 kHz splash cymbal harmonics was not an evolutionary priority.
them onto a portable music player, and burn a
few copies onto disc to leave in your bag. You
are now ready to Kentucky Voice in any new
environment. I use my ref disc frequently for a
multitude of tasks: when mixing in a new studio,
when tweaking monitoring configurations, when
tuning a PA system, when buying loudspeakers or
other devices at a music store, or when needing
a perspective change mid-mix.
While in theory any recording is suitable for a reference disc, a few tips help in the selection process.
First, you might want to avoid music you really love,
as you will probably end up over-listening to your ref
and tire of the material present on it. Secondly, select
material that covers the entire frequency spectrum.
Choosing a big band track from 1940s, for example, will in no way let you judge the performance of
a subwoofer, because recordings of that era seriously lacked bass. Not every song on the playlist
needs to be sonically dense though; simple vocalonly songs (I’ve been using Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s
Diner” recently) reveal midrange issues that full-band
tracks sometimes obfuscate.
62

RECORDING May 2013

most audio interfaces and mixers offer one for adjusting listening level.
Advanced consoles and controllers offer more useful features, and studios
lacking in a controller will definitely want to highly prioritize a purchase.
The first and foremost requirement in a monitor controller is a decent
sized, reliable, and satisfying-to-move volume knob. Adjusted frequently,
the loudness pot is the most important control in any studio. Also critical are
buttons for easy switching between multiple sets of loudspeakers. When
shopping for a controller, look for one with at least three different monitor
outputs. Another useful feature is a “dim” button, which with a single press
can conveniently reduce listening level. A mono switch is also nice, as all
mixes should be checked in mono to see what the mix sounds like on
phones, TVs, and other playback systems. Talkback control, complete with
a built in microphone and distribution to headphone outputs, is advantageous as well, allowing engineers to effectively communicate with artists
recording in different rooms.
Of critical importance in a monitor controller is the ability to easily switch
between listening sources. While most of the time an engineer will listen to
the mix output from the DAW or console, regular Kentucky Voicing and/or
referencing requires alternating between the mix and external sources.
In my studio, the monitor controller offers four stereo inputs. One is dedicated to the mix, one to an external CD player, another to the built-in audio
output of the computer, and the last to a mini plug for iPods and other
portable music players. This arrangement allows me to loop my reference



Recording - May 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2013

Recording - May 2013
Fade In
Contents
Talkback
Fast Forward
Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Readers' Tapes
Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Intro
Recording - May 2013 - Recording - May 2013
Recording - May 2013 - Cover2
Recording - May 2013 - 1
Recording - May 2013 - 2
Recording - May 2013 - 3
Recording - May 2013 - Fade In
Recording - May 2013 - 5
Recording - May 2013 - Contents
Recording - May 2013 - 7
Recording - May 2013 - Talkback
Recording - May 2013 - 9
Recording - May 2013 - Fast Forward
Recording - May 2013 - 11
Recording - May 2013 - 12
Recording - May 2013 - 13
Recording - May 2013 - Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Recording - May 2013 - 15
Recording - May 2013 - 16
Recording - May 2013 - 17
Recording - May 2013 - Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
Recording - May 2013 - 19
Recording - May 2013 - PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
Recording - May 2013 - 21
Recording - May 2013 - 22
Recording - May 2013 - 23
Recording - May 2013 - How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Recording - May 2013 - 25
Recording - May 2013 - 26
Recording - May 2013 - 27
Recording - May 2013 - 28
Recording - May 2013 - 29
Recording - May 2013 - 30
Recording - May 2013 - 31
Recording - May 2013 - 32
Recording - May 2013 - 33
Recording - May 2013 - Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 35
Recording - May 2013 - 36
Recording - May 2013 - 37
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Recording - May 2013 - 39
Recording - May 2013 - Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
Recording - May 2013 - 41
Recording - May 2013 - DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Recording - May 2013 - 43
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Recording - May 2013 - 45
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Recording - May 2013 - 47
Recording - May 2013 - 48
Recording - May 2013 - 49
Recording - May 2013 - Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 51
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Recording - May 2013 - 53
Recording - May 2013 - Readers' Tapes
Recording - May 2013 - 55
Recording - May 2013 - 56
Recording - May 2013 - 57
Recording - May 2013 - 58
Recording - May 2013 - 59
Recording - May 2013 - Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
Recording - May 2013 - 61
Recording - May 2013 - 62
Recording - May 2013 - 63
Recording - May 2013 - CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Recording - May 2013 - Advertiser Index
Recording - May 2013 - 66
Recording - May 2013 - 67
Recording - May 2013 - 68
Recording - May 2013 - 69
Recording - May 2013 - 70
Recording - May 2013 - 71
Recording - May 2013 - Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Cover3
Recording - May 2013 - Cover4
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