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Josh Woodward: Creative Commons Music

Spring Cleaning

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Spring Cleaning

Posted on Tue, Aug 21, 2007

It's spring cleaning time in my studio. Well, it used to be spring cleaning, but since my albums came out late this year, I guess it's summer cleaning. Either way, it's that wonderful time of year when I finish an album and since I have a clean slate, I can completely rip apart and upgrade my studio without worrying about the continuity of sound from one track to the next.

I haven't entirely decided what I'm doing this time, but I did put in an order for a pair of Apex 205 ribbon mics. Every good mic I have is fairly bright, so I'm hoping these will give a sort of retro darkness to electric guitar tracks and drum overheads. I'm hoping they also give me a nice Nick Drake / Elliott Smith tone to the acoustics, but I'm guessing the levels won't be high enough to use. Full report to come when they arrive. :)

I've also added some Auralex Wedgies to the room. My studio is a small room, 13x12 I think, with the ceilings under 8 feet. I tend to record and mix and low volumes to offset this, but drums are a frequent problem, so I'm especially hoping these will help to tame the flutter echoes above the drums.

I'm also planning to replace my old Yamaha keyboard (that I only use for MIDI anyway) with a dedicated MIDI keyboard. I'm looking for something with fewer keys (since desk space is at a premium), some knobs and/or sliders to control parameters, and maybe some drum pads. Has anyone tried a Korg Kontrol49?

Finally, I wiped my studio PC and reinstalled the OS from scratch. I started a brand new Sonar template. Whenever I sit down to record a new song, the first thing I do is load up the template, which gives me a common starting place with my most basic tracks and effects. Here's what I'm using this time around:

The drums are all routed to a drum bus, which has a compressor with a ratio of 3:1 and an attack time of 30ms. This bus, along with the guitars and any other instruments I add, are routed to a Non-Vocal bus, which uses a multiband compressor to tie them together and gives the vocals a flat landscape to float on. Vocals and Non-Vocals meet in the master bus, which has an L3 limiter (and no Sonic Maximizer this time).

For the reverb bus, I'm playing with Waves TrueVerb's "Drum Room" preset. I still don't like it, but it might work. We'll see.

That's all I can think of, but I'm sure there's something else. Sorry to bore all of you who aren't into audio production. *grins*

   Discussion: Spring Cleaning
Jamie Dull (anon) · 9 years, 3 months ago
The Sonic Maximizer is a huge help. We (Radiofix) use two different ones for bass and guitars.

The SM-57 is a sick mic for snares. Nice!

For drums, sometimes some sound proofing around the drums (by itself) helps with upward echoes and whatnot.

Josh Woodward Back · 9 years, 3 months ago
Yeah, pretty much everything I've recorded after "Here Today" has a Sonic Maximizer set to 1 or 2, over the whole mix. I love it, but I worry that it's giving a subconscious brittleness and harshness to the sound. I've gotten in the habit of recording darker sounds to compensate, so I'm going to try to brighten the mix up a bit instead of using SM. Hopefully using it only on the vocals will give them some extra clarity when crunchy guitars come slamming in the mix.
Emily · 9 years, 3 months ago

Just kidding. That wasn't that boring.

At least the room isn't 10x10 or something...haha.
Des (anon) · 9 years, 3 months ago
Hey Josh, I have no trouble getting usable levels from those Apex205s. On drum OHs and electric guitar especially, I can easily get them to clip the pre's on my firepod with the input well shy of +10. But even on acoustic guitar, there's generally no issue so long as the room is quiet.

Also: Have you ever tried the Pacific Soundcraft DX stereo mixer for stereo width control? I find it gives me much finer control than the S1.

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