Recording - January 2017 - 62

Mike Bender

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Equipment: HP laptop with Audiovox USB interface running Sony Acid Pro, Steinberg WaveLab,
Native Instruments B3Express, Liquid Horns, and
Drums On Demand drum loops. MXL 990 condenser mic (vocals, 12-string), MXL 991 condenser
mic (12-string). Les Paul 1971 custom, Yamaki 12string acoustic guitar from the 1970s, cheap J
Steel bass, Line 6 POD (all guitars are recorded
direct except for the acoustic), Yamaha CP30 electric piano from the 1970s.

Music: "Lost and Alone (Again)" is a male vocal country song. Rick
did it all with the exception of the guitar solo and the drum loops.
Recording: This is a cool tune with a J.J. Cale sort of vibe, in need
of some unification. So what exactly do we mean by unification?
After all, this is a pretty simple country track, not "Brexit" fallout!
Well, let's put it another way: Rick has assembled some nice
pieces/parts here, but they sound more like pieces/parts than a unified mix. Get it?
Starting from the ground up, the volume of the intro electric guitar came through as louder than that of the lead vocal through our
monitors, causing an immediate energy drop in the track. We also
felt that the electric rhythm guitars were panned so wide that it
created a bit of a void in the center of the soundfield, causing the
lead vocal to jump out of the mix at certain points.
The remaining sound sources were somewhat hit and miss to our
ears. The walking bass part was well executed, as was the organ, but
both showed some presence fluctuations in the track. Finally, we
felt that the lead guitar was more suited to a rock-style song; its
edgy tone failed to play nice with the other instruments.
Suggestions: Kudos to Rick for his ambitious work here; there are
plenty of good ingredients to work with. That said, we would suggest the following action.
Starting at the intro, lower the volume of the lone guitar to that
of the lead vocal. Next, place the electric rhythm guitars at approximately 10:00 and 2:00 in the stereo field. Following that, we would
suggest that the bass guitar volume come up a few dB and the
organ volume be reduced by the same. As for the lead guitar, while
there was certainly nothing wrong with the performance, a less
"metal" tone would serve the song better in our opinion.
Finally, we feel that the entire track, once repaired, could use
some professional mastering. There are many affordable mastering
services available out there, and they can do wonders to "unify" a
track like Rick's.

Music: "Mercedes in Hades" is a one-manband male vocal rock song.
Recording: Mike has submitted a solid OMB
effort here with a fun Bowie/Mott The Hoople
nod. In his production notes he tells us, "I
record everything on a cheap HP laptop using
Sony Acid Pro and mix most everything initially on cheap headphones (I know that is a big
no-no) with a relatively quick listen on a car
stereo and desktop speakers." Well, Mike-we
say, if it sounds good, it is good! The fact that
you are using several listening sources, including your car speakers, works for us.
As for the individual sound sources, we
were impressed with the drum sounds that
Mike got with his Drums on Demand content.
The nicely compressed snare drum was a particular standout through our monitors.
Equally impressive was the lockstep bass part
that Mike threw down. That "cheap bass"
tone sounds just fine to us!
Moving along, the electric guitar has a punky
buzzsaw quality à la Mick Ronson's "Ziggy
Stardust" glory days, ideal for the genre. The
keyboards were applied wisely and added a
nice energy to the track. We also dug Mike's
vocals here; no sign of artifacts, and the subtle
use of reverb and delay gave them a wide
effect in the mix without overpowering volume.
So, with all this goodness, what's not to
like? Well, it circles back to the drums. While
we found the tones to be generally impressive
all around, the pattern seemed to stumble at
times during complicated fill sections. (Bad
loop choice? Samples not playing back cleanly or tempo-shifted properly in Acid Pro?) We
also felt that the rhythm shift during the guitar solo was a bit awkward and distracting.
Suggestions: Once again we have a perfect
example of "it's the ears, not the gear". Mike
may not have all of the bells and whistles
available out there, but he made excellent
use of the tools at his disposal.
As for suggestions, while we would never
advise any of you loyal listens to "dumb
down" a part, complicated drum programming is in a word, complicated! To that end,
we would encourage Mike to simplify his fills
and stay with his same groove-based part
throughout the track.

Summary: Time to bring everything together properly.

Summary: If it ain't broke...!

Rick Grande
Equipment: MacBook Pro with M-Audio Fast Track Pro interface running
Apple GarageBand '09 (Version 5.1); Shure Unisphere PE585 microphone;
Fender Squier electric guitar, Martin acoustic guitar, Fender Precision bass,
Casio COP-100 Keyboard (MIDI controller).

Contact: Rick Grande, rickdeb@optonline.net
62

RECORDING JANUARY 2017

Contact: Mike Bender, mikebms@yahoo.com


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - January 2017

Contents
Recording - January 2017 - Intro
Recording - January 2017 - Cover1
Recording - January 2017 - Cover2
Recording - January 2017 - 1
Recording - January 2017 - 2
Recording - January 2017 - 3
Recording - January 2017 - 4
Recording - January 2017 - 5
Recording - January 2017 - Contents
Recording - January 2017 - 7
Recording - January 2017 - 8
Recording - January 2017 - 9
Recording - January 2017 - 10
Recording - January 2017 - 11
Recording - January 2017 - 12
Recording - January 2017 - 13
Recording - January 2017 - 14
Recording - January 2017 - 15
Recording - January 2017 - 16
Recording - January 2017 - 17
Recording - January 2017 - 18
Recording - January 2017 - 19
Recording - January 2017 - 20
Recording - January 2017 - 21
Recording - January 2017 - 22
Recording - January 2017 - 23
Recording - January 2017 - 24
Recording - January 2017 - 25
Recording - January 2017 - 26
Recording - January 2017 - 27
Recording - January 2017 - 28
Recording - January 2017 - 29
Recording - January 2017 - 30
Recording - January 2017 - 31
Recording - January 2017 - 32
Recording - January 2017 - 33
Recording - January 2017 - 34
Recording - January 2017 - 35
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Recording - January 2017 - Cover3
Recording - January 2017 - Cover4
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