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Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord, George Harrison… and EZKeys?

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There was comment on one of my YouTube videos a few weeks ago that got me thinking.  The video was about using the Cubase Chord Track with Toontrack’s EZKeys, and the general thrust of the comment was “that’s fine for people who can’t play”.

One of the things I’ve set out to do with the songs I’m recording at the moment is, for the most part, to avoid my own clichés and to try to think, (and play), outside the constraints of my comfort zone.  For a guitarist, I’m a passable piano player, but I’m no Rick Wakeman, so EZKeys gives me the ability to record a higher quality piano part than I could achieve on my own, either by playing or simply writing in the notes. [Read more…]

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Gain Staging: Setting Your Meters

The visual nature of computer-based DAW software has given rise to the axiom that you should mix with your ears, not your eyes, a temptation that’s easy to understand as we buy ever bigger monitor screens to view our mixes in glorious Technicolor – why else would plug-in manufacturers go to such lengths to make the front panels of their products so visually distinct and appealing?  However, when you’re actually recording into your DAW, there’s a way in we can turn our tendency to sometimes trust our eyes over our ears into an advantage.

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Great resource for mixing practice

mixsecretsReaders of Sound On Sound should be familiar with Mike Senior’s “Mix Rescue” column.  He has posted a number of multitrack recordings in different styles at his Mixing Secrets Multitrack Library, a resource that is part of the online content to support his book, Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio, (affiliate link).

There’s even a section for people starting out at mixing, featuring a number of smaller projects to get you going.  Check it out!

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Gain Staging: Setting Mix Levels

We can set out with good intentions, but sometimes, the tracks we end up with after recording are “hotter” than we want.  Perhaps that spontaneous performance wasn’t at a technically correct level, but capturing the feel of it again would be nigh on impossible.  Or perhaps, more prosaically, you’re mixing a track someone else has recorded and you need to pull the levels back to a point where the sum of the parts doesn’t light the clip light before you’ve started to mix, (not, of course, that any of your mixes would ever do such a thing!).  Setting a good gain structure at the start of your mix can go a good long way to ensuring that you don’t face an uphill struggle by the end and, one way or another, your DAW has everything you need to make that easy for you.

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Introduction to Gain Staging

When you record in a DAW, most of them give you a give image of your waveform on the track.  The louder you record, the more visible the waveform, so there’s a sub-conscious visual cue that’s telling you that “more=better”.  If, like me, you started in the era of tape machines where you wanted your recorded signal well above the noise floor, this is perfectly logical.  Only, in this digital age, it isn’t logical at all, it’s comparing apples and oranges.  In this video, I look at the issue of levels and where I suggest you set your recording level at may surprise you…

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The case of the missing click

One of the most irritating things in Cubase is its propensity for losing some of its settings at the slightest provocation.  One of the things that provokes it most is changing Devices, something I do regularly as I switch between recording and mixing using my audio interface on the one hand and recording these videos using a digital headset on the other.  This can result in my routings in the mix console being wiped out, but can also lead to the click vanishing and it’s the Devil’s job to work out how to restore it.  In this video, I show you how to do it without tears, (or tearing your hair out… or both!).