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Video Tutorial – Recording Automation

There are a couple of different ways of setting up automation on your DAW.  The simplest, but perhaps not always the most accurate, is to record the automation by making the relevant changes whilst the track is playing, and have the DAW record what you do.  This is a separate record function from the normal “record” that you would use on a MIDI or audio track, but you can still see what you have done in your project view and it can be edited, (but I’ll look at that in a future video).  In this video, I look at how to actually record the automation information.

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From the Boiler Room: February Update

drum_comboThe drum parts for all of the original songs are now complete, as are the bass parts. There may be some tweaking of the basslines as the arrangements develop, but they’re there or thereabouts for all songs. The drums are mainly the EZX Indie Folk and Americana kits, (a 50-50 split), but I couldn’t find the right parts for “One More Time”. In fact, anything I tried, no matter how simple, seemed too busy or just leaden, so I’ve opted for some simple (EZX) Latin Percussion on that and it’s just enough to provide some movement without becoming a distraction. [Read more…]

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Isn’t this a bit silly?

DonglesSo, the photo to the right is the USB hub I plug in to my laptop when I want to run Cubase.  This isn’t due to it lacking USB ports; it has 4, (2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0).

The issue is that I have an external audio interface, (Line 6), plus I either use an Edirol MIDI interface or an M-Audio Keystation for recording keyboards, both of which require a USB port.  So that leaves me 2 USB ports.  Then, not being that comfortable with the trackpad on the laptop, I like to use a mouse.  Which leaves me one USB port to plug in my e-Licenser for Cubase.

You may be beginning to see the issue.
[Read more…]

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Video Tutorial – Introduction to Automation

Once a song has been mixed, there are the inevitable moments when you listen back to the end result and think, “ah, the vocal needs to be a touch louder for that line”, “the bass is too prominent in the third verse”, “we should mute the guitar in the bridge”, or, on a more creative note, “wouldn’t it be good if […insert ear candy idea here…]”.

In the good old days of tape, (ah, I remember them well…), a mix was as much a performance as it was a done deal. Once those reels started rolling, you’d stand there and all available hands would be ready to ride faders, tweak pan pots, adjust EQ settings, crank up effects – anything that added life to the mix. Sometimes, a mix required as much rehearsal as the song! Nowadays, we render the songs to a file at a speed that has nothing to do with real time and everything to do with the processing power of our computer. So how do you get those in-flight adjustments to the mix done? The answer is automation. Every DAW offers you the ability to pre-arrange those changes so that anything you could tweak in real time, (assuming you could work a mouse or control surface that fast), is adjusted for you by the exact amount required at just the right moment. This video looks at the basics of automation in Cubase, but the principles apply to any DAW.

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Question – are you losing your bass?

When I was mixing the Changes set , I noticed that I was struggling to get a solid bass sound.  I was using my trusty Broomstick Bass, but when I put it through a VST plugin to try to add some amp character to the samples, (which were recorded DI), I seemed to be losing the low end.  Surely not, I thought?  Must be me – right?  Wrong.

I hold with the axiom that you mix with your ears and not your eyes, but in this case, I was so frustrated by what I [wasn’t] hearing, that I put a metering plugin across the output to reassure myself it was my imagination.  Only it wasn’t.  The VST plugin in question, (Cubase’s own AmpSimulator), was effectively acting as if there was a High Pass Filter in line and was removing the low end of the signal.  This sent me on a path to find VST plugins that would add the character I was looking for, without costing me that low end energy.

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When is a song “finished”?

QuestionThis blog and its associated video channel go by the name of “Finish Your Song”. But what does that mean, and does it mean that same to you as it does to me? When I came up with the name, I thought it was fairly obvious, but now I’m not so sure.

Graham Cochrane over at the Recording Revolution is running a 3 month series on recording an EP. He devoted January to writing the songs, February is recording month and he’ll be mixing them in March. (Check out his blog – it’s a great source of information and thought-provoking discussion.) [Read more…]

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Video Tutorial: Stereo Panning Options

It’s easy to visualise how the panning of a point source, such as a snare drum, works in stereo , but what happens when your sound source itself is in stereo? Yes, you can pan the centre point of the image left to right, but you might want to have control of the width of that sound, for have that stereo source behaving more like a point source in the context of your mix. Within Cubase, there is an option that allows you to narrow the stereo field and pan it exactly where you want and how wide you want in your mix. And, should the need arise, to completely reverse the stereo image, putting the original left channel on the right and vice-versa.