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David Wills Production Training Review

In an effort to help you wade through the immense amount of training material out on the web, we're bringing you more reviews. Today, we'll take a look at the free training modules' offered by David Wills. Video 1 I’m writing the rough draft of this review as I watch this training for the first time. Right away, I can’t help but notice the Australian accent, which is a huge plus for me, as a North American. In the US, we have something of a fascination with the Aussie accent. It just … [Read more...]


Advanced Sidechaining for Bass Instruments

Getting bass and bass drum to play well together in your mix is one of the classic battles of the modern engineer. They just don’t want to meld, but there are plenty of ways you can persuade them to behave. One tool in that fight, that will be especially of interest to hip hop and EDM producers, is this advanced sidechaining technique. I learned about it over at Modern Mixing, a great resource that we’ve mentioned before. Here is a tidbit that explains the essence of producer Jaycen Joshua’s … [Read more...]


How to Succeed When You’re the Weakest Link?

 Are you the smartest person on your team? If you are, then you could be doing better. One of the oft-repeated pieces of advice in the world of business is to assemble a group of people around you that are “smarter” than you. In fact, one of the keys to finishing projects is to delegate tasks to other people. And hopefully you’re delegating to people that are better at their craft than you. To do this, you need to recognize what your weaknesses and strengths are. What are your biggest … [Read more...]


Beyond Beginner EQ

I’ve been working on this song lately and I reached a point where I was happy with some of the arrangement, but the sound was still a little muddy. I’m dealing with a lot of synths and I’m trying to pre-mix as much as possible by manipulating the synth VST’s, rather than using EQ plugins. And it’s not just the arrangement that is clouded. There is a healthy dose of dubby reverb on a few instruments (no delay buss!) and I want to hear those delay tails without increasing the delay. I probably … [Read more...]


Mixing Cymbals

It’s no secret that mixing and eq’ing the drums is one of the toughest jobs of an producer. That challenge stems from the fact that you are dealing with a collection of instruments. It’s not like recording a harmonica. Even if you can tame the snares and the toms and the bass drum, you still face a challenge with the cymbals. Cymbals present a broad spectrum of high and super-high frequency information that varies from barely audible, to sweetly powerful and finally to overbearing. As a … [Read more...]


Reaching The Finish Line

Yesterday I contemplated, and then turned down, an opportunity to play drums with yet another local band. I love production and recording but as I progress as a music person, I see playing as the biggest investment I can make in making great music. So, I’m always looking for chances to play out more. But this time, I had to say no. For one, I wasn’t a fan of the band’s music. And I didn’t think I was going to be the worst musician in the room, which is one of my new initiatives in … [Read more...]


Gold Plated Diapers: Taking It to the Next Level With Arrangement

What separates the songs you record in your studio from the classics you hear on the radio? How’s that for a tough question. There are a million things that could be stopping you from putting out a hit. But it’s really best to focus on the things that are in your control. We’ll just assume that you are the producer/engineer, not the songwriter. If the song is solid, the next step in the chain is the arrangement. Hopefully, you have some say in this. One of the biggest roles of producers … [Read more...]


Layering Acoustic Guitar

Recording acoustic guitars is just standard operating procedure for home studios and there is a strong danger of making them sound bland. Uninspired. Average. Which is too bad. Because with layering, you have the opportunity to create unparalleled movement, depth, and power to your song. The key is to forget the notion of just doubling parts. Once you move away from strictly replicating parts, you can really create something special. Here are some ideas: Change the Microphone: As you … [Read more...]


Getting Noticed on YouTube

When it comes to online media platforms, there are few more powerful for artist discovery than YouTube. But why? Truly, YouTube is crammed with more video information than you can possibly watch in a lifetime. And there is a lot of rubbish to wade through. On the other hand, YouTube is one of the most visited sites in the world. It’s tied to many social media platforms and is commonly frequented by people who eschew social media. If there is one place for a musician or producer to … [Read more...]


Say Goodbye to Weak Bass

Along with recording good drum tracks, bass is one of the biggest challenges in the studio. Which is why you need to get obsessive about learning to record it. If you think about it, all those great guitar tracks and glowing vocals are going to suffer if the bass and drums don’t hold it all together. So, in a way, your overall recordings are going to sound better just by focusing on a few tracks. What’s the solution? First of all, you might need to get over the idea of a super clean bass … [Read more...]


Praise for Mic Bleed

After spending a great deal of time trying to avoid mic bleed, I just worked on a demoing project where I specifically allowed mic bleed. And I loved it. Since I was just going for accurate scratch tracks with electric guitar and drums, I opted for a stereo pair of SM58’s in the center of the room, directly between the drums and the guitar. The mic diaphragms were closely aligned about a foot off the ground at 180 degrees to one another. While I wasn’t expecting any kind of quality, I … [Read more...]


Save Time with LCR

I’ve been spending a lot of time over at the Recording Revolution. It’s possibly one of the best resources for a home producer because it is marketed exactly towards the skillset and gear of the home studio. And the video lessons you find there are short and each one is packed with just a single lesson, making it easy to absorb as much or little information as you have time for. One of the best lessons I learned there recently is the value of doing a 30 minute mix. To refresh: you pull your … [Read more...]


Revision: Recording Piano with Minimal Gear

A while back, we brought you a post that covered some techniques for recording piano. And we covered the right way to do it. Well, the other day I was working on a demo with a grand piano. And I didn’t give much thought to technique. Just trying to get something on tape, you know? So, I went with a single condenser mic about six inches above the middle strings (because that’s where I was playing, mostly) and pretty close to the keyboard. And it wasn’t bad. Certainly fine for … [Read more...]


What is Analog Summing?

Can an in the box mix sound as good as a mix done with analog gear? Of course. The debate about analog versus digital is a closed book. Can your in the box mix sound even better with analog summing? You might not be so quick to answer this question because analog summing is a bit foreign to most project studios. The first time I heard of analog summing, I scratched my head for a bit. Actually, I was a little frustrated that there was this other phase of mixing and an accompanying piece … [Read more...]


Should You Charge For Your Services?

Do you ever wonder if you could make money mixing other people’s music? Due to the portable and scalable nature of the small studio, quite a few amateur producers are enticed by the thought of going pro. There are more than a few websites out there that push the message that you can make money as a mix engineer. But are you ready? If you are seriously considering this question, then you aren’t ready, according to some. You should have the confidence in your own mixing abilities to say … [Read more...]


Compression Review

Do you ever feel surprised at the things compression is doing to your tracks? Maybe surprised isn’t the right word for it. With a few compressors as my go-tos, I often apply them to unusual sources just because I know my way around the plug-in. Compressor A on drums instead of vocals. Sometimes just chucking on different presets for the hell of it. Randomly rifling through different settings… And then sometimes I just reach for the tried and trusted settings that get reliable … [Read more...]


Pumping Up the 2-Buss?

One of the areas of dark magic that more and more home producers are approaching is treating the mix buss, processing that affects the entire song. Right away, you should see the potential for danger. DANGER, Will Robinson! Forget about that for a while. Mix buss processing can be the last little bit of glue that holds your mix together. It can also replace processing you do on groups and individual tracks. Once you get a signal path for your mix buss, throw it on before you start really … [Read more...]


Hanging Out With Mixerman

Some of us will never spend time working in a professional studio. Few have the time to devote to becoming a pro audio engineer. So we won’t get that daily experience it takes to make great records. Maybe weekly or monthly experience, instead. Won’t stop us from trying and it won’t stop us from making the best sounds we can, right now. But we can pick up some of the lessons from the professionals that are willing to share their daily experience. We’re lucky enough to have quite a few minds in … [Read more...]


Questions of Fidelity: Do You Need Professional Sounding Tracks?

We love to cast some doubt onto the advice you find here. After all, there are a thousand ways to produce music and we don’t have a monopoly on recording knowledge. Just take a look at all the links we have to some awesome resources. We’re all about bringing you different perspectives. And maybe just knocking some of those ideas down a few notches. Why? Because we’ve been surprised more times than we can remember by incredible sounds captured in unorthodox, even wrong, ways. As far as … [Read more...]


Biggest Home Recording Mistake #5: Too Many Tracks, Too Many Effects

I was recently watching the most recent Star Trek movie, Into Darkness, and was just overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong. I love Star Trek. And I think it’s a great movie. I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff going on in each and every frame. So much animation, so much lens flair, crazy action sequences. You know the drill. It’s the new standard for Hollywood movies. And it reminds me of mistakes I’ve made with recording. The biggest mistake is misidentifying quality with the amount of … [Read more...]


Biggest Home Recording Mistake #4: Bad Music, Bad Players

To continue the sports metaphor from earlier in the week, you can’t win a game with sub par players. It doesn’t matter how good the game plan or the coach - if the players can’t execute the plan, all is lost. To that end, you want the best players you can find for your recordings. But that doesn’t mean you have to assemble a crack team of virtuosos for tracking. It just means that the players you rely on, yourself included, need to be at peak performance. In other words, they need to … [Read more...]


Biggest Home Recording Mistake #3: Passing the Buck

Today, I want you to start being a little more like former President Harry Truman. I don’t want you to pass the buck anymore. I’ll let him explain a little: "You know, it's easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you -- and on my desk I have a motto which says The Buck Stops Here' -- the decision has to be made." That means: you decide on guitar sounds during tracking you never “fix it in … [Read more...]


Biggest Home Recording Mistake #2: Where’s the Pre-Production?

Every team has a coach that lays out a game plan and dictates the plays that are made during the game. They can’t win the game on their own, but teams with poor leadership can rarely win. The coach is just as important as the plan they put forward. Great players, coaches, and plans are all required to win the game. The same idea applies to your productions. You need a plan before you get in the game. The word for plan in the audio world is pre-production. Pre-production means a lot of … [Read more...]


Biggest Home Recording Mistake #1: Neglecting Mic Placement

This week, we’re looking at some of the biggest mistakes you might be making with your recordings. Much of what you’ll see is stuff we’ve written about before. But people are still making these mistakes every day. I’d say the biggest mistake people make and the one I’ve suffered from the most in the past is poor mic placement. Simply put, you shouldn’t record tracks until you have a good sound from the microphone. You probably don’t record in a professional studio, right? So don’t … [Read more...]

(Image:  ☠ igowherehugo ☠ via Compfight

The Power of the Home Studio

We’ve made a huge hubbub about creating the optimal recording environment in your home studio. We’d love to see some kind of soundproofing or acoustic treatment in your studio. Professional monitors would be awesome. Complete sonic isolation would be ideal. The sky is the limit with studio improvements and if you can make a professional environment, then go for it. But consider and embrace the truth: you have a home studio. It has limitations, but it is also a very unique place on this … [Read more...]


Fatten Up Your Vocals

One of the hallmarks of home recording is thin tracks. Thin drums, thin guitars, thin bass…..But when the vocals sound like they were sung by a two dimensional singer, that’s when it’s time to do something about those tracks. As you’ll see, one of the best ways to fix this problem is to record it properly. Try some different mic positions and if it still sound thin, try aiming the mic towards the chest. If you’re using a condenser, trade it out for a dynamic mic and see if a little proximity … [Read more...]


DIY Automatic Double Tracking

Every time I see a new plugin, I wonder if it’s really offering anything new. Most recently, I got an email about the Waves Reel ADT and started thinking there has to be another way to do the same thing. I don’t have any problem with Waves. I own a few of their products and use them all the time. But in an effort to save money, I’m thinking I don’t need to buy everything they have to offer. And what is ADT? Automatic Double Tracking is a technique pioneered by George Martin in his … [Read more...]

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Recording in Tight Quarters

 I’m contemplating a foray into recording a band live in the studio soon and there are so many variables I have to work out. For one, the “studio” is not intended for recording music on this level. Specifically, it’s a small lobby with a mixing room attached. I’m hoping to get two guitarists, a bassist and a full drumset into that space and record three songs in an evening. And the main room is about 15 feet by 15 feet. How to go about getting a quality recording in that environment? I … [Read more...]


Eventide Ultrachannel Free Until July 8

As much as we don’t advocate relying on plugins as a silver bullet, you really can’t get away from them in modern recording and mixing. You don’t need the latest and fanciest. You don’t need heaps of them. But you need a few. And the Eventide Ultrachannel is a good candidate for desert island plugin. And it’s free for the next few weeks. Yeah, free. What is it? It’s basically a beefed up channel strip that includes two different compressors, EQ, stereo delay, micro pitch shift, and a gate. … [Read more...]


Producer Challenge: A Week Without Your Studio

For a serious, amateur home recordist, the accumulated gear of your studio is a source of pride and inspiration. A sanctuary of creativity. Maybe you’re striving to develop professional skills by reading tips from Home Recording Home. Thanks for reading. We’re going to suggest something radical: give it a break. You don’t have to stop recording. On the contrary, we’re challenging you to record a little more. But just with an iPhone. Or a cheap boombox with one of those tiny built-in … [Read more...]


Creating Your Own Funky Delays

I was watching a video by Graham from the Recording Revolution in which he talks about using Lo-Fi plugins to get a more analog sounding delay that is totally digital. For starters, this is on par with all the excellent advice that Graham dispenses about home recording. Listen to some of the stuff he has produced to see just how good home recordings can be. And he shares all his techniques freely. I got to thinking about this funky delay idea and decided to take it a step further. Lots … [Read more...]


How Much Distortion Do Recorded Guitars Need?

If you want to record the heaviest guitar tracks of your career, how much distortion do you need? The less experienced might go ahead and say damn the torpedoes and crank it up to 11. A little experience and you might begin to see things a different way. Before we dive in, it might be worth listening to some of your favorite heavy albums and take careful note of how distorted the guitars really are and what their impact is on you. If you’re truly honest and look in the right places, … [Read more...]


Do Listeners Care About Your Mix?

How many times have you presented a mix to a friend and received feedback about how it sounds great, even when you hear all sorts of mistakes and room for improvement? If your friend is an audio engineer, they’ll probably always tell you what can be improved. But if they’re a casual listener, their feedback is based on something much simpler: Do they like the song? This is a huge bummer for a producer who spends hours, days even, on perfecting a song. Anything less than perfect is … [Read more...]


Golden Drum Sounds: How to EQ the Drum Kit

The recording advice industry has its share of tired advice, including gospel about recording drums. By now you have probably heard the deal: drums are the hardest thing to record, you need a good room, mic placement is crucial…. All these things are true. But how many of them should stop you from recording them? Zero. If you can settle for nothing but the best, then recording drums at a professional studio is a great investment in your recording. But many are forced with the inevitable … [Read more...]


Recording Black Sabbath

As a modern consumer and producer of music, it’s interesting to reflect on the pace of music production in years gone by. Look at the catalog of jazz bands in the 1950’s or pop bands in the 1960’s and you’ll see what would be considered an astonishing output in the modern day. Bands could easily put out 3 or more albums a year. And sometimes they were even good. Some were classics. Today, music production tools are available to all and the world is flooded with subpar musical offerings. Why … [Read more...]


The Trouble with Layering Synths

It’s incredible that with all the power of VST synths, it’s still pretty easy to sound like other artists. That flexibility should make it easier to find your unique voice, right? It should. And it does. If you know what you’re doing. Before you spend hours obsessing over the sound of synths, take some time to consider instruments with fewer “color” options. Drummers, for instance, have a much more limited palette, and have to create texture and character with their chops. That doesn’t … [Read more...]


Secrets of the Masters: Audio Engineering Diaries

The one thing that most of us need more of in the studio, the one thing that we can’t buy, is experience. You can only get it through dedicated effort. And that’s a little frustrating when you’re trying to create your best possible product right now. You really can’t wait 15 years to get the best production on this incredible song you’re working on. You need the knowledge and techniques now. Possibly the best advice I’ve heard in this regard is that perfect is the enemy of good. Striving … [Read more...]


Keep It Simple, Keep It Raw

Spend some time on Soundcloud and take stock of the electronic music out there. There are more than a few terrible artists out there. You can find any number of bad house or dubstep knockoffs that you want. Many of these artists have bought into the same message that we’ve all heard: you can make music on your own. You don’t need a big studio. They have much of the same gear as you and spend hours in front of a computer screen. All the gear in the world can’t buy creativity. It can’t buy … [Read more...]


Black Keys Recording Rundown

If you’ve been paying attention to Home Recording Home recently, you might notice an old school slant on information. It feels like we’re always looking back to find out how classic sounds were made. The reason for that is simple: classic recording techniques are time tested and are generally far easier to accomplish in the home studio AND they’re still used in major studios all over the world. So, if you want to focus on making music, classic microphone techniques are the way to go. And … [Read more...]


Get It Right at the Source by Getting the Source Right

If I’ve learned anything writing and researching for Home Recording Home, it’s that there is no masking a lie. No matter the room, the DAW, or the plugins, your tracks will only sound as good as the source and microphone. I accepted that. And went on trying to improve things in the mix. Sometimes because I was lazy and sometimes because I didn’t catch a mistake until later in the process. All the while, my fantasy list of gear grew and grew. I had the home recording gear bug. Bad. And … [Read more...]


Is Your DAW Helping You Write?

Nothing gives me more satisfaction than pointing out all the ways that modern recording is spoiling the creativity of music. But it’s just not fair, or entirely realistic. Are you going to chuck your DAW and go get a tape machine today? Probably not. When it comes down to it, digital recording is so easy and powerful, there is little reason to revert to the ways of the past. It’s that very power that is getting in our way. Dazzled by flashing lights and incredible features, getting anything … [Read more...]


Record Breaking Records

On April 19, 2014, Jack White broke the world record for recording and releasing an album. Just under four hours. You can read about it in this American Songwriter article. Other than the ferocious pace, one of the most shocking and impressive parts of this feat is that the two songs recorded for this release were cut straight to vinyl, something that few of us will ever do. There were plenty of challenges to the process, as you might imagine: There were plenty of challenges on the road to … [Read more...]