From The Boiler Room: Back In The Saddle

BTICD_GtrsIf you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’ve been working on an album for what we might diplomatically call “a while”. You might also have noticed that there were no March or April updates “From The Boiler Room”. Whilst I was working away from home, I had the luxury of three nights a week to work undisturbed on the album and on recording my YouTube videos, but since March, I’ve been working close to home. Living back at home hasn’t had the effect you might think of allowing me more time – progress has been, shall we say, intermittent, as I’ve used the time to catch up on things that needed doing, as well as taking my son to watch Manchester City win their last three home games to become Premier League Champions.

You can keep making excuses, but eventually, you have admit that you’re just not getting the job done, [Read more…]


Re-Amping with CLA Guitars

Re-amping is one of those concepts that divides people.  It all depends if you prioritise getting the sound absolutely right when you record it, or whether you prioritise capturing the performance and polishing the sound later.  After years of using virtual instruments and [limited] options for guitar sounds, I’m definitely in the latter camp.  In this video, I look what re-amping is and how it can be achieved, using the CLA Guitars plugin from Waves.  I also talk about how I record guitars to give me the best of both worlds when it comes to mixing.  This is the first of a short series of videos looking at a few of the plugins available for re-amping or post processing guitars.


Solo Safe/Defeat

There’s an unsung feature in most DAWs that allows you to prevent a channel being muted when you solo another.  At first, you might wonder why on earth you would want to do such a thing, but consider this.  Imagine that you’re mixing a track and one of its effects sends is routed to a reverb.  When you solo the track, what you hear is the dry signal – your reverb has been muted along with everything else.  You would then have to locate and unmute the effects channel in order to hear the track and reverb together.  In this video, I look at how you can use Solo Defeat or Solo Safe, (as it’s called in Cubase and ProTools respectively), to ensure that you can always hear it.


Free[ze] up your computer’s resources

When I started recording music, effects such as an 1176 compressor or a Pultec EQ were very much the province of big recording studios and far beyond the reach of young students who struggled to find the price of a Portastudio. The same applied to keyboards – at its launch, Yamaha’s classic CS80 keyboard was yours for a mere £3,500, (or $5,800 or €4,200).Today, VST plugins offer us the facilities and sounds of the instruments and effects that they emulate at a fraction of the price of the real thing. And you don’t just get one, but the opportunity to have as many instances as you like of as many plugins as you like, until your PC grinds to a halt under the load.

So we need ever faster and bigger PCs to keep up with the demands of these CPU-cycle consuming, RAM hogging plugins. But there is a way round this and most DAWs offer you the facility to have your cake and eat it, without having to resort to rendering the individual tracks.


Hidden Sounds In Samples

When you’re recording or mixing real drums, spill between microphones isn’t something you worry about overmuch, (unless the recording is really bad). Likewise, when you’re using commercial samples, whether a virtual drummer like EZDrummer or single samples from a commercial package, you know that the sounds will have been recorded using high end equipment and you can rely on the quality you’ve paid for when you drop those samples into your song, without worrying about random noises-off.

But what about when you don’t know the provenance of the sample you’re given? I came across this recently, when I mixing a track. The drums were provided from samples that didn’t seem to come from the same source. In particular, the kick drum seemed incongruous – not only was it a fairly hefty electronic whump on what was otherwise a gentle ballad, there was definitely something else about it that wasn’t right. There was indeed a cuckoo in the nest and in this video, I show you how I found it and what I did to silence it.


And we’re back…

Interstitial_12_Champions_800x450_v3Well, it’s been nearly a month since I last updated the website.  It’s been a busy month and I haven’t been idle, but things have just kinda taken on a life of their own.  First, (as you’ll see a few posts below), the WordPress theme I was using well and truly broke and I had to replace it with a temporary theme.  I wasn’t happy with any of the themes I looked at, (and you can spend an awful lot of time looking…), so in the end I decided to do it myself.  That’s easier said than done, even though I hand-coded the HTML on my old, pre-FYS website, so there was a learning curve to be climbed.  [Read more…]