Recording - September 2014 - 52
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Equipment: TASCAM DP24 Portastudio, Yamaha DGX-205
portable keyboard workstation for drum pattern, MXL 990
condenser mic for vocals, Epiphone Custom Shop SC Junior guitar, Fender Standard Precision bass.
Music: "Lovely" is a midtempo R&B instrumental. Bobby did
it all himself, playing guitar and using the plug-ins and virtual
instruments built into Pro Tools 10, with a little help from EZmix
in the tracking stage.
Recording: "Lovely" is a fine overall effort that could ultimately benefit from some creative editing. The track intros
gracefully with a nice combination of panned electric guitar,
piano, synth and hand drums. From there Bobby establishes a
smooth slinky groove, featuring a nice round bass guitar and
programmed drums that wisely keep a simple but effective pattern. We love the openness that Bobby achieved with his panning throughout the track; each of the instruments had its own
space, but he still managed to create a unified whole.
On the down side, the reverb/ambience on the drums (in
particular the kick) seemed a bit heavy-handed to our ears,
Additionally, clocking in at just under five minutes, the track
also seemed to stagnate a bit without the introduction of additional sound sources along the way.
Suggestions: While we get that the nature of Bobby's effort leans
towards a smooth listening vibe, the listener still needs to stay
engaged in order for the track to be successful. To that end, we
would suggest that Bobby "save" some of his sound sources and
introduce them slowly throughout the song in order to provide freshness. He might also consider something as simple as panning the
electric guitar to the center during the guitar solo. By placing the
solo in a spot usually reserved for the lead vocal, the track takes on
an added melodic component as well as an energy upgrade.
As for the drums, "producer hat" Bobby needs to determine if his
ambient approach matches the flavor of the other instruments here.
Our advice would be to back off of the 'verb, come remix time.
Music: "Granted" is a male vocal rock song. Rick one-manbanded it on his TASCAM DP24 Portastudio, using a Yamaha
DGX-205 Portable Grand personal keyboard to build the drum
pattern and an Dell PC to make the MP3 he submitted.
Recording: Ah, the plight of the one-man band: so many hats,
so little time. Rick has written a fine song and his recording definitely has some nice elements, but like so many of his fellow
OMB travelers, he's created a track that ultimately falls into our
"demo" category. So what went right, what went wrong, and
what to do about it? Let's take a look-see.
First the good stuff: Rick has done a nice job capturing both the
vocals and the guitars here, everything is clean/clear and free of
artifact. Both the lead vocal and the guitars have a nice full presence in the mix. Well done! On the flip side, we have the drum
programming. Starting with a rather clumsy drum fill at the song's
intro, the kit sounds tentative throughout, and its "buried" nature
gives the overall mix a top-heavy feel, like the vocals and guitar
lack sufficient foundation to keep from toppling over. As is often
the case in these situations, the bass guitar must follow suit with
the drums, further compounding the problem.
Suggestions: Those of you familiar with this column will recognize the one man/woman band vs. drum programming struggle
as a fairly regular visitor here. In fact, we dare say that of all the
issues that present themselves in today's "studio in a bedroom
and I wear all of the hats" scenario, this one seems to be the most
prevalent, or at least tied with insufficient or improper monitoring.
Fortunately, this needn't be the case. There are any number of
ways to improve one's drum parts, ranging from simplifying the
programming, to using a virtual drum program like Toontrack
EZdrummer or FXpansion BFD Eco, to asking for assistance from
a real drummer. In Rick's case, we would like to suggest an
intriguing solution that has the benefit of being easy and free...
Way back in the late 1980s, Don Henley and Bruce Hornsby
collaborated on a little number called "The End of the Innocence".
The track featured a rather basic music bed which focused almost
all of the attention on the crazy singing and playing skills of the
dynamic duo... all atop a drum machine playing an extremely
simple, mechanical beat.
Now here's my point. Mr. Henley happens to be the drummer
for the Eagles, one of the most successful rock bands of all time,
and he certainly had the skills and resources to replace that glorified click track of a drum part if he chose to. He didn't. Instead,
he mixed it into the track in an unapologetic way, trusting that the
rest of the sound sources, as well as the writing/performances,
would carry the day. End result? His fifth Top 10 hit.
The lesson here, then, is this: No matter its origin, burying any
sound source in your mix has the potential to corrupt your mix's
balance, an absolutely crucial element to mixing success. We
would much rather hear those programmed drums loud and
proud, warts and all... knowing that sometime in the future,
armed with improved drum tracks, Rick will know how to properly place them in his mixes.
Summary: A fine solo effort!
Summary: Halfway there!
Equipment: Mac with Digidesign Mbox 2 interface and M-Audio
Keystation 49e, running Avid Pro Tools 10 and Toontrack EZmix;
Fender American Strat with DiMarzio humbucker pickups.
Contact: Bobby Logan, email@example.com
RECORDING September 2014
Contact: Rick Carr, firstname.lastname@example.org
Recording - September 2014
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2014
Recording - September 2014 - Cover1
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Recording - September 2014 - Contents
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