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The Distortion Of Sound - A Thought Provoking Documentary On Consumer Audio Quality

“The Distortion Of Sound” is a thought provoking short film that puts the spotlight on the contrast between studio production quality and consumer listening quality of music today.

Industry professionals including Quincy Jones, Hans Zimmer, Snoop Dogg, Slash, Manny Marroquin, Andrew Scheps and more give their views and frustrations over how much attention to detail and effort is employed in music production only for it to be largely degraded to a disappointing state by digital delivery and listening mediums of today’s technology in a trade off for convenience. Discuss.

Check out the Film and more details here

Use iZotope Alloy 2 To Get Drum Overheads Under Control 

Russ shows how using a transient processor can help to get a set of overheads under control.

Transient processors are an often overlooked but vital tool for mixing helping to push forward parts of the audio that are getting lost or pull back parts that are too far forward.

When this is applied in a multi band process they can take a piece of problem audio and help get it back into shape.

Click here to watch now

Voice Projection - Pre And Post Production Part 1

From the authors of 12 Steps For Preparing To Record Vocals and Breathing And The Voice - In Performance and Production Part 1 and Part 2; In this third instalment to their series, Producer Dan Cooper and Vocal Instructor Georgie Gillis will give their two-pronged approach to voice projection in the mix.

The Singer’s Perspective By Georgiana Gillis

Why Do I Need To Worry About Projecting My Voice In A Studio Environment?

One of my pet peeves as a vocal coach is to hear a singer not projecting into the microphone during a recording session. They mistakenly keep their voices ‘local’ as if the pop shield were their target audience. This false delivery then gets mixed and mastered into the final product with lack lustre results. The one thing your producer cannot fix with any post production tricks, is how you carried your voice into the recording microphone in the first place.

How Can Projecting Help With My Vocal Takes?

Projecting your voice not only gets it INTO the microphone, but helps with these three key elements which must come from you the singer and cannot be faked:

  • VOLUME - If you were talking into a mic and your producer pushed the fader up you would still sound like you were only talking, only louder - not shouting. The same goes for big belting choruses - what’s the point if you are only singing them to yourself?
  • ENERGY - Singing requires a certain amount of energy. Any listener can hear the difference when your voice sounds flat and lifeless. Aim for your vocals to always sound effortless and never strained.
  • EMOTION - Passionate vocals convince the listener that you are singing from the heart. Believe your own hype and ham it up! If you are not recording original material, go for songs that you can relate to.

Ok. What Exactly Is Projecting Your Voice?

Technically it could be described as the action of extending your voice towards a desired target - in this case a microphone. Like breathing, projection is another one of those hear-say terms that can be interpreted in a number of different ways depending on who is teaching you. Learning how to project correctly and safely is often a case of making these small adjustments to your technique:

  1. Visualise singing live - In a performance situation you would sing TO your audience whereas in a studio we only have a microphone in an acoustically treated room. Visualise your perfect audience and then go for it!
  2. Use ‘Forward Placement’ - This describes where you ‘place’ your voice in order to achieve the best projectile results. Sing as if you were singing solely to the back of your top front teeth - this directs your air flow outwards where you need it most.
  3. Deep Breathing - (Breath = Power) Make sure you are using some form of diaphragmatic/deep breathing to enable your voice to ‘soar’. Combining correct breathing with Forward Placement has the desired ‘bow and arrow’ effect of projectile singing.

Can’t I Achieve The Same Results If I Just Make Myself Louder?

No. Getting louder does not mean you are necessarily extending your voice forwards. Simply forcing your voice without any precautionary action (shouting) is effectively ‘smacking’ your vocal folds together aggressively while at the same time forcing too much air through your larynx. Signs that you have been doing this already include; the feeling that you have ‘strained’ your voice, sore throats, hoarseness or regular bouts of acute or even chronic laryngitis. Over the long term, abusing your voice like this causes polyps and permanent laryngeal damage (listen to Rod Stewart for an example of vocal damage).

How Do We Place Our Voices Forwards?

In short, once we have taken a nice deep belly breath, that air then goes on a journey out of the airways, through your larynx, into your throat and hits the soft palate where the air can then either go up your nasal cavity or out of your mouth (or both).

Try this:

  1. Put your tongue up on the roof of your mouth. This is called the hard palate.
  2. Run your tongue along the hard palate towards the back of your throat.
  3. Keep going until you reach the soft, pillowy soft palate.
  4. On the other side of the soft palate is the opening to the nasal cavity.

When singing we want our voices to go OUT of our mouths and not UP our noses as no singer wants to sound nasal. But because the nasal cavity is openly connected to our mouths like a chimney to a house, we need to MANUALLY direct the air flow to go where we want using Forward Placement - and so aiming the air outwards rather than upwards.

How Do We Achieve Forward Placement?

When coaching my students I tell them to sing to the back of their top front teeth (incisors). It is a simple yet effective image to visualise. To take this one step further, pay attention to how you use your lips when singing; In your normal ‘indoor’ voice, say the word ‘speak’. Say it again and notice what happens to the corners of your mouth. ‘Speak’. They pull up and back to make the required sound, thus losing some of your voice at the corners as well as sounding nasal and bright. Now try singing the word ‘speak’ with your lips pushed forwards. Hear the difference? To project effectively, everything should go forwards; voice AND lips.*

Difficulty with Accent - Irish or American?

One of the best accents for Forward Placement is Italian as their speech patterns naturally go forwards and up. Another good accent for singers is Welsh. It is perhaps no accident then that great singers such as Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Katherine Jenkins and Tom Jones come from these countries, to name a few! Unfortunately there are some accents which are prone to sounding nasal - American and Irish accents are two examples of such and depending on the regional dialect can encounter more placement problems than others. However, using Forward Placement can remedy this considerably.

What If Your Chosen Method Of Singing Does Not Normally Require You To Project?

Obviously there are many different styles of singing and if yours is a style that relies heavily upon microphone amplification, for example; breathy vocals, stylised singing or using ‘hushed’ tones to create that modern ‘not bothered’ effect - then discuss this with your producer. He or she will adjust the sensitivity/proximity of the mic and volume in your ears accordingly. Even so, placing your voice forwards will enable the mic to pick up as much of your voice as possible with the minimum amount of loss.

Conclusion

True projection means to use a combination of deep breathing in conjunction with placing your voice in the foremost resonating chambers of your mouth. Taking this projectile action supports your voice in travelling a greater distance as well as gaining greater power and volume. It is also the key to unlocking a passionate, energetic performance. Second to breathing correctly, learning how to properly place your voice is integral to overcoming nasal tones, belting safely and riding your breaking point to name but a few.

*In this article I refer to ‘Forward Placement’. It is also known by other names such as voice or vocal placement. Their are many schools of thought on the correct way to do this as well as variance within genres. There is no exact science however and it mostly comes down to individual feel.

Mix Master Mick Guzauski On The Avid S6

Mix master Mick Guzauski gives an interview about the new Avid S6 control surface over at the RSPE Audio web site.

“Well, the controls were all in very logical places. A big thing for me was the color-changing OLEDs; it was so easy at a glance to tell what the function of any knob or switch was. Also, the comprehensive control over the system from the center-section touch screen and focus fader; and that it could be configured any way you want—you could have a lot of faders and fewer knobs, or knobs on every channel. You could have a high density of controls near the center and then just faders off to the sides—it can be configured any way you’d like it. Also, the metering was great because you could see the waveforms scroll on the meter bridge aside from the normal metering. And in the future, they were showing me that EQ curves could be up there as well. There’s also gain reduction metering next to the faders following what Pro Tools 11 is doing …”

Read the rest of the interview with Mick over at RSPE Audio.

Focusrite Offering Trade In For Any Pro Tools Interface Against Rednet 5 

Our friends at Focusrite are running a great offer too encourage Pro Tools users to go Rednet. Until August 31st 2014 you can trade in any Pro tools compatible interface and get £500 off the price of the Focusrite Rednet 5 HD interface.

What Is a Rednet 5?

RedNet 5 connects your RedNet system to Pro Tools HD®. Up to six units can be connected to one Pro Tools HDX system, supporting up to 192 channels at 96 kHz or 96 channels at 192 kHz. Pro Tools HD® Native and Pro Tools HD® (TDM) are also supported. RedNet 5 is interoperable with other Pro Tools interfaces and no RedNet PCIe card is required. 

Key Features And Performance:

  • Upgrade to RedNet interfaces while remaining fully compatible with your saved sessions
  • Each RedNet 5 can route up to 32 input and 32 output channels between your RedNet network and Pro Tools HD system 
  • Connecting six RedNet 5 units to a Pro Tools HDX system allows up to 192 inputs and outputs - the maximum supported by Pro Tools HDX. 
  • Maintain your existing Pro Tools workflow with simple, logical assignment of RedNet I/O to Pro Tools HD inputs and outputs
  • Compatible with Pro Tools HD® TDM systems

What is RedNet?

RedNet is Focusrite’s range of modular Ethernet-networked audio interfaces that harness the Dante digital audio networking system to bring studio quality sound to any modern audio application using cat 5 or cat 6 infrastructure. RedNet is a scalable, near zero latency audio distribution system that can be used to expand I/O channel count, interface digital components, and/or bridge between Pro Tools|HD or MADI and the Dante audio network.

Are You Using iOS For Music Making Or Audio? Poll

A few years ago the iPhone and iPad were inheard of and yet in a matter of years it has become a ubiquitous part of modern life. Part of the attraction is of course the huge selection of Apps available, it wasn’t long before Apps were appearing to make music and to record and edit audio.

Avid have made some small steps into the world of iOS with Sibelius support but nothing for Pro Tools users to date, other brands have tried to do more to give their DAW users an iOS experience when working on the move.

So has iOS been the music and audio dream come true for you, or did you dabble and find yourself disappointed?

Please complete our poll - we’ve broken it into professionals (those making a living from music and audio) and enthusiasts to see if there are any trends that emerge. Of course, as ever please leave comments to give more flesh to the poll.

Show And Tell Review Of UAD Thermionic Culture Vulture

Russ takes and look and listen to the latest addition to the Universal Audio UAD stable the British favourite Thermionic Culture Vulture.

He gives it a run on bass, guitar and vocals and shows the fun that can be had with this unique audio plug-in.

Watch this review of the UAD Thermionic Culture Vulture

Pro Tools Fundamentals - Managing Latency In Native Systems

In last week’s fundamentals article I discussed latency and how it is largely inescapable in native audio systems. The vast majority of this round trip latency (from input to output) is introduced by the processing done by the computer. The low latency of DSP systems such as HDX is desirable but remains expensive. This has resulted in a variety of workarounds for this problem. Nearly all of these rely on avoiding monitoring though Pro Tools itself and thereby avoiding the latency introduced by the computer. The disadvantages of working this way are that all of these solutions are either more complex, less flexible or involve additional hardware. The advantage is that all of them are less expensive than an HD system. So what are the options?

Running A Low Buffer

With a fast enough computer it is possible to monitor through Pro Tools with a buffer as low as 32 samples. In this scenario the latency introduced can potentially be under 2 milliseconds, roughly equivalent to the time it takes sound to reach your ears from some nearfield monitors. The thing which is far from guaranteed in a system like this is the reliability of the system. On the performance/latency/determinism triangle this solution is sacrificing determinism in favour of low latency. That being said I have successfully tracked bands using just this setup with no problems.

Click to read more ...

Watch Over 13,000 Vintage Gigs On YouTube With Music Vault

Perhaps the best YouTube channel ever for music lovers, Music Vault offers over 13,000 live gigs with more being added daily.

There’s concerts stretching back decades featuring unseen performances from music legends. Many of the concerts of Music Vault are claimed to be exclusive content.

Head over now and check it out, warning you may lose several weeks of your life.

Music Vault on YouTube

Now Over 100 Free Pro Tools Plug-ins

There was a time when VST owners were getting all the free plug-ins, but not anymore. Following the recent update from Melda, our free Pro Tools plug-ins list now runs to over 100. 

They include plug-ins from top software developers like Softube, Bluecat, Fxpansion, Brainworx and more. This list include instruments, effects and some really cool tools.

Head over and search this list, if you think some RTAS and AAX plug-ins are missing then please let us know.

Free Pro Tools plug-ins

Have fun!

Using iZotope RX3 Denoiser To Clean Up Samples

Sampling supremo, post editor and friend of the blog Marcus from Bad Cat Media gives us another nice video tutorial. This one demonstrates how to use RX3 to clean up samples ready for inclusion in a sample library.

Hearing is Believing: 11.1 Auro 3D Sound On Stereo Headphones

Surround sound is now going beyond 5.1 or even 7.1 discreet sound in the cinema with Auro 3D and Dolby Atmos.

I recently went to a Dolby Atmos screening in the state of the art cinema at Olympic Studios in Barnes (south west London), originally home of such legendary recording artists such as Hendrix, The Eagles, and a small combo you may have heard of known as The Rolling Stones. I watched a screening of Edge Of Tomorrow in Dolby Atmos which was sound edited and mixed by a UK crew, led by sound designer James Boyle and dubbing mixers Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor.

Bravo! To say it took my breath away is an understatement! What a demonstration of fabulous art and technology! Go give your ears (and your brain) a treat and see it in Dolby Atmos - but take something to catch your jaw! This is “Top Ear, not Top Gear”. My sound editor friend Ben, who used to work at De Lane Lea (where this was mixed) texted his ex-colleagues to congratrulate them.

Manufacturers and content creators are looking for new ways to bring this technology to the home and German post production & sound design studio TonStudio24 in Munchen have posted a clever implementation and demonstration using New-Audio-Technology’s software:

Have a listen here and let us know what you think (but remember to wear headphones)….could this help you tell a story or invovlve your listeners more?

Melda MAutoPitch Free Auto Tune Plug-in Show And Tell Review 

Russ takes a look at Melda MAutoPitch a free auto tune plug-in that is part of a free suite of 23 plug-ins from Melda in AAX, VST and AU formats for use in Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase, Ableton Live and many more DAWs.

RSPE Audio Updates Virtual 500 Series Rack Builder

Our friends at RSPE Audio Solutions have just made an update to their virtual 500 series rack builder, ‘RSPE Rack Revolution’. They added a bunch of new modules, as well as the new Mercury Recording G810 Rack System. 

The Mercury D Series G810 Rack System completely reinvents the ‘500 Rack’ inside and out. With a beefy power structure and the ability to chain and stereo link modules, the G810 allows engineers to get the most out of the format. 

If you’re in the Los Angeles area stop by RSPE to demo the Mercury G810 Rack System in person.

Head over to Rack Revolution to build your dream rack. You can also share your design with your facebook friends.

Setting Up Custom Templates In Pro Tools

Marcus takes an extended look at creating a Pro Tools template from scratch, getting it just how you want it and then saving it for later use.In this video he includes a lot of very cool shortcuts and tips and tricks, before long you’ll be a Pro Tools ninja flying around the keyboard and having more time to make great tracks. 

Flux:: Series v3 - 50% Introduction Special - Ending Soon

Our friend at Flux are celebrating the launch of their version 3 plug-ins with a 50% off special.

Series plug-ins are now available in v3 versions supporting 32 & 64 bit in AU, VST, AAX Native and AAX DSP (Alchemist AU, VST, AAX Native).

For all current customers the v3 software is a FREE update, simply download the corresponding v3 installer for your software and install it.

For the AAX versions, if you previously own a native licence (AU/VST/RTAS) then download and install the Native installer. If you previously own Epure TDM then download and install the +AAX DSP (HD-X) installer, that now in addition to the AAX DSP version also includes the AU/VST/AAX Native versions.

Using API Audio 1608 As A Pro Tools Control Surface

The API 1608, when fitted with the P-Mix Motorised Fader Automation System, can act as a motorised control surface capable of controlling an entire session in your DAW, as well as being a fabulous discrete high-end analogue recording and mixing console. Our friends at Source Distribution have made this video to demonstrate how the API 1608 can bcome a Pro Tools control surface.

The API Audio P-Mix System Features:

  • Self-contained system requiring no external computer
  • Individual Switch Control on each fader
  • Global Control Panel in the console Center Section
  • Files are easily saved files to standard SD memory cards
  • Automated Mute and Solo switches on each channel
  • Unlimited Fader Groups with 2 dedicated Group Master Faders
  • Motorised Stereo Fader
  • DAW Control with unity gain audio bypass
  • Unlimited Mix Restore points
  • Retrofit kits for existing 1608 consoles
  • System is expandable in groups of 8 channels, up to 48 channels

If you’re based in the UK and have any questions about the 1608, or the P-Mix system, then you can contact our friends at Source Distribution.

If you are outside the UK then go to the API web site.

Universal Audio Announce UAD v7.8 Software

Universal Audio have announced UAD v7.8 Software which includes the long awaited release of Thermionic Culture Vulture Plug-In, along with Valley People Dyna-mite Plug-in and Tonelux Tilt EQ Plug-In.

Along with the new plug-ins UAD v7.8 software offers Session compatibility between Mac/Windows with Pro Tools 11.2

Download UAD v7.8 Software

You can download the latest version of the UAD software for both Mac and PC from Universal Audio here

Thermionic Culture Vulture

The Thermionic Culture Vulture is a legendary, studio-grade, high-gain valve unit that provides a palette of vivid distortion colors — from sublime thickening textures to demonic growls of perverted mayhem, thanks to its three distinct all-valve circuit topologies. More here

Valley People Dyna-mite Plug-In

From our friends at Softube - long considered a “secret weapon” by top engineers and producers, the Valley People Dyna-mite limiter/gate/expander is a legendary creative tool capable of extreme, yet musical, effects on a variety of sound sources. Designed in conjunction with Softube, the Dyna-mite plug-in is a dead-on emulation of this classic — even enigmatic — dynamics processor for UAD-2 hardware and Apollo interfaces. More here

Tonelux Tilt EQ Plug-In

Another from Softube and a favourite of some of the Pro Tools Expert team is the Tonelux Tilt EQ. Quickly mix as you go and strike while the inspiration is flowing with the Tonelux Tilt EQ plug-in for UAD-2 and Apollo interfaces. Developed by Softube, the Tilt EQ models the entire electronic path of the Tonelux Tilt hardware designed by the legendary Paul Wolff, giving you an accelerated workflow for broad-stroke EQ sculpting to dial-in your mixes — fast. More here

Pro Tools Expert Podcast Episode 124

Russ, James & Mike Aiton bring you another show with talking points, tips, tricks and questions answered.

Groove 3 Titles We Like

Competitions 

Deals page

  • Matt Chamberlain Drums From Loop Loft With Exclusive Pro Tools Sessions £32 - 33% Discount 
  • LiquidSonics Reverberate Convolution Reverb Plug-in £35 - 30% Discount
  • TAL-U-NO-LX Synth Plug-in £27 - 25% Discount
  • Acon Digital DeReverberate Plug-in £39 - 33% Discount
  • #Hit It - The Ultimate Guide To Programming Drums eBook £11 - 25% Discount

Talking Points

Community Feedback Kindly Sponsored by RSPE Audio Solutions

Questions - Kindly Sponsored by Alchemea

Listen on to the Pro Tools Expert Podcast on iTunes

Download the Pro Tools Expert Podcast as an MP3

23 Free Pro Tools AAX Plug-Ins Including Autotune, Dynamics And More

Last week Melda Productions announced an update to their entire plug-in range. 8.03 provides several new features (AAX support, new channel modes, preset showing, popup tabs…) along with several fixes and performance improvements.

As part of this update their MFreeEffectsBundle is now available free. MFreeEffectsBundle consists of 23 plug-ins these include;

  1. MAnalyzer
  2. MAutopan
  3. MAutoPitch
  4. MBandPass
  5. MComb
  6. MCompressor
  7. MEqualizer
  8. MFlanger
  9. MFreqShifter
  10. MLimiter
  11. MLoudnessAnalyzer
  12. MNoiseGenerator
  13. MNotepad
  14. MOscillator
  15. MPhaser
  16. MRingModulator
  17. MTremolo
  18. MTuner
  19. MStereoExpander
  20. MStereoScope
  21. MUtility
  22. MVibrato
  23. MWaveShaper

It would be an impressive bundle if paid for, but as a free bundle it’s well worth grabbing. They even give an option to extend the plug-in features 

Many of these plug-ins include multi-channel audio and M/S options.

Not only are they available in AAX, but also as Audio Units and VST.

Check out the Melda web site it’s well worth supporting them

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