Entries in tips (87)
MIDI and samplers can seem like the ideal way to get down parts when you don’t have the real instruments and players to hand, but here are 5 common mistakes made when doing it.
- Impossible Playing Techniques
Take a look at the end of your arms now, you should (if you are lucky) have two hands, so why do so many programmers insist on having drum parts play 3,4,5 or more hits at the same time. Yes the bass drum can kick as you hit the cymbal and snare, or the drummer may have some clever contraption, but these are the exception, not the rule. The same is said for many other instruments, for example the bass guitar, not many bass player can play a low G and one at the twelfth fret at the same time without the need for an operation - you get the idea? If you want them to sound real then make sure they sound like a real human is playing them.
- Incorrect Range
A top tip, go to a site like this one and understand what range an instrument can play in, otherwise you’ll have violins playing part that not even a cello can do and trumpets sounding like the horn on the Titanic. The same is the case for drums, don’t try and repitch a snare so high the skin would pop - it may sound cool as an effect, but not for real.
- Timing Tighter Than A Computer’s Bank Manager
In the world of quantize and step input there is a time and place for using spot on timing, however real players seldom play like that - even the best session players. They often push and pull the beat as the song plays. Drummers will often speed up into fills, not because they can’t keep time, but just to add extra energy. If your track sounds like an atomic clock, then that’s a dead giveaway that no human was ever near it.
- Can You Feel It?
A good band will play to each other, you know the nod on stage as the bass player and drummer drop into the pocket and push and pull with each other, or the guitarist syncopating with the keyboard player. I find it odd how 5 people can seem to get into a groove, yet one person on a computer can’t do the same thing, you would think it would be easier? Feel is not the same as timing, timing is about when you hit the beat, feel is about how hard you hit the beat and both matter.
- Bad Sounds
There’s no excuse for using bad sounds anymore. There are amazing libraries from people like Scarbee, Spectrasonics, Synthogy and UVI, as well as all the FREE ones we have on this site. So make sure you choose your sounds carefully when coming to lay down a part, also make sure they are sounds that would co-exist together in a normal setting. If you want to be creative then of course, go ahead and put a Fender Strat with a Harpsichord and early Mongolian flute. However, if you are going for realism then choose wisely.
There really is no excuse for bad arrangements, we have the tools at hand, a little more thought and care can take them from fakes to fabulous additions to a track.
What are your hot tips?
Waves guru Michael Pearson Adams looks at something this doesn’t happen to everyone, but we felt that we should address it for those of you who it may happen to. Sometimes after you’ve updated from one version of Waves to another of your Waves plugins bundle, things might not always go as smoothly as planned. Watch this video for the most likely problem, and how to resolve it.
Community member Michael Costa has released his latest Groove 3 title ‘Mastering In The Box’.
Everyone who uses a DAW at some point will attempt to “master” their production. Many however, will fail. This new series from studio wiz Michael Costa will show you the basics of mastering in the box using typical plug-ins and how to address many common issues found in recordings, as well as as more advanced techniques to solve other trickier problems.
Michael starts off with an introduction to mixing in the box as well as a video on what happens during mastering and why. He then dives in and shows you the basics plug-ins used for mastering and how to apply them and when.
- 19 Tutorials / 3.5 Hours Total Runtime
- For all beginner to intermediate engineers, mixers & producers
- Written by engineering and mixing guru Michael Costa
- Simple to use video control interface for Mac & PC
- Watch Online, Download, Stream to iPad, iPhone & iPod
Russ shows how you can get your first ideas down fast using AIR Ignite and then move them to Pro Tools to put the finishing touches to them.
There’s nothing better than an amazing lead vocal, we all have our favourite vocalists, but often the unsung heroes (forgive the pun) are the backing vocal performances.
If you are yet to attempt backing vocals, or struggling to get them right, then follow these tips to getting better backing vocals.
- Create Backing Vocals That Suit The Song
If you have an intimate ballad then the BV may simply need to be a shadow vocal sitting behind the main vocal. This will often be a simple double, or a basic harmony, which can thicken or add an extra weight to the main vocal. If it’s a full blown rock ballad then it might need the full choir effect, but as with any other instruments in a track make sure they fit - sometimes a track may need no BVs at all.
- Decide On The Language
Some backing vocals simply sing the main vocals and harmonize, in other cases they highlight certain parts of the vocal. There’s still a place in music for Ohhs, Ahhs and Doobie, Doobie Doos, not to be confused with the Hanna Barbera talking dog, who might work on a track but costs a fortune to keep fed.
- Tracking Tips
When tracking your own over dubs through headphones, then here are a couple of things that might help keep you in tune and in time. Firstly try panning the original into one ear and have your live monitor in the other, secondly if you don’t like doing that then just feed the original through your headphones and take one of the ears off so you can hear yourself - be careful not to have it too loud to prevent spillage when recording, panning it to the ear you are using can help prevent that too.
- Tuning And Timing Are Relative
If you plan to stack your vocals then take care not to over tune or over time correct them. The main reason stacked vocals sound so big is because of the tiny changes in pitch and time between each take. If you over-do either tuning or timing correction then you defeat the object of the exercise and in turn end up with a very loud, phasey set of backing vocals.
- Use Eq And Compression Creatively
You’ll often find that backing vocals, especially large sets of them, benefit from some extensive eq and compression. I often roll most of the bottom end out of big stacks and also compress heavily to create a wall of sound. Alternatively you can get some cool effects on a double tracked vocal by rolling off a lot of top end, so it sits behind the backing vocal without being too distracting.
So 5 tips that should help those new to backing vocals - what are yours?
Welcome to my first post on pro-tools-expert.com. This place needed some Aussie influence and now I’m here :)
OK onto the subject. A couple of weeks ago, there was a comment on the website suggesting that we put up a video helping you learn how to move your Air Strike, Transfuser or other VI content files onto other drives, so you can stay with the file management system you’re using rather than filling up your system drive.
First up I’m going to remind you that all those VI’s come with a pdf in the folder that explains the basics of how to do this, however, there are some things to watch out for that can slow you down to a crawl.
As you’ll see in the video, I’m using Pro Tools 10.3.2. MAKE SURE that you go to the Avid website and double triple check that you’re using the most up to date version of the Content Location File for your version of Pro Tools and VIs.
Scroll down to find the links to the content location file you need. REMEMBER that Structure content location is not set by one of these content location settings files, its set within the preferences of the instrument itself. So stop looking for one :)
Cheers and chat soon! Michael PA
Mixing, mixing, mixing, we all want to get better mixes - it seems no one is entirely satisfied with their mixes. As it’s often said, most mixes are not finished, simply abandoned. However there are ways to get to your desired result faster.
Here are our top 5 tips to faster mixes…
- Decide What Kind Of Mix You Want
Too many people start pushing up faders and adding plug-ins hoping to discover a great mix. Why not try listening through to the song and deciding what kind of shape and dynamics you want the song to have. Once you have a plan, then the mix will be far easier to achieve - those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
- Delete Some Tracks
I was with hanging out with uber engineer/producer Vance Powell last week and we both agreed that one of the first things we do is start going through the tracks and muting the tracks that add nothing. Does it really need 18 guitars, or 8 tracks of percussion loops? Be brutal, it can get you fired if you are working for a client, but who wants to put their name to a mess?
- Move Your Unused Plug-ins
If you are one of those people who has only the plug-ins they need, then you’re unique. Most of us have far too many plug-ins cluttering up our DAW. Take half an hour to move the ones you don’t use often, or have never used and put them in your unused plug-ins folder - my guess is that it’s between 50-80% of them. They slow up load times, sessions and distract you when you are mixing.
- Delete Plug-ins
I got sent a mix last week, it was 28 tracks and every track had around 3 plug-ins on it. The first thing I do when I get tracks to mix is disable every plug-in. On this occasion the track sounded a hell of a lot better without them, in fact it sounded great. I added an instance of UAD ATR102 and iZotope Ozone to the master bus and bounced it. Sometimes less is more.
- Take A Lot Of Breaks
That seems like a contradiction, take breaks to work faster? Yes, take a least 10 minutes off an hour, get a coffee, some fresh air and come back to the mix with a new set of ears. You’ll be amazed how much difference regular breaks will make to your productivity.
So, there’s 5 from us, what are yours?
Russ responds to a a podcast questions and shows how those having to record into Pro Tools from legacy devices may not need to depend on sync.
Russ goes right back to basics and shows users how to create, record and save their first Pro Tools session.
We are thrilled to welcome to the team Michael Pearson Adams, until recently Michael was Pro Audio Application Specialist with Avid in the USA and previously North America Product Specialist with Waves.
You may have seen Michael on product tutorials for both Avid and Waves or on stage at NAMM and other shows. With his excellent teaching and presentation skills, we are thrilled to have him join us in serving the community. As you can see from the picture above, Eddie Kramer gives his thumbs up to the news.
Michael will be bringing hot new video content, particularly in-depth Pro Tools and Waves videos. If you have a video you would like to see then email us.
You can find out more about Micheal PA at his website here
A few days ago I wrote an article on how to make a great living in the creative sector. A lot of you found that article helpful, but for some it was more about running a business than getting hired.
Some of you just want to get a great job, there’s nothing wrong with that. Some are wired to run a business, some are not, in fact great businesses are made up of great employees, so why not become one of them? If you’re a parent with a kid at college, then this article may be just what you’ve been looking for.
Here are the top five things I tell my kids on how to get a great job, stay hired and get promoted.
Groove 3 are going to be offering a deal a day until the end of the month, that’s one product at a silly price for one day only. In their words…
We’re also happy to announce that in 2013, we’re going to be bringing you “No Brainer” promotions each and every month that will be sure to please. To start it off right, for the rest of January we’re going to have a “Deal a Day” with a select product added each day with a brain numbingly low price. See below for today’s deal and look forward to a new deal each day for the remainder of January! These deals will stack up each day, but don’t wait too long because they will be gone Jan.31st! The first deal is listed below in this newsletter, or click here and watch this page for updates each day.
The biggest challenge for many people working in the creative sector is that they have never had any formal business training. One day they are programming a synth, the next day they are running a studio, or one day they are doing the sound for a friends film and the next day running a post house. Well, not quite the next day, but there are so many people who have found themselves accidental business owners, perhaps you’re one of them? Well if you are, then there’s hope, you might have got here by accident, but you can still take control of your future.
Whilst we have top studios and producers within our community who have the benefit of amazing recording spaces, we also have many who work in their bedroom, office, cellar, in spaces they may double-up for other uses and so being able to create isolation is hard. Often people think that it’s all about buying the right mics, but it’s also about creating the right space to record in, you can have a $5000 microphone for vocals, but if there’s a fan in the same room, then you’ve wasted your money.
Here are our top 5 ways to try and create a much quieter space to record in.
- Get your computer out of your recording space
If you use a desktop, like a Mac Pro or a tower PC, then get it out of the room, the fans on most produce more noise than you would think. With the advent of bluetooth and USB extender, then if you can move your computer to another room or inside a cupboard, then do it. You can get powered USB extension cables on Ebay for around $10. Instead of buying a lot of them, simply use one and then attach a powered USB hub on the end in the studio. Then all your USB devices can go back to your computer down this one cable. A DVI extender will cost you around $20. If you want to know how much noise your computer is making, then wait for a quiet moment and then turn it off.
- Turn off external drives when you don’t need them
Just as with computers, some external drives produce a lot of fan noise. These can often be whines, or hisses, which all can end up down you microphone - when you are not using them, then turn them off. If you can’t turn them off then put them in a cupboard, just shutting the door makes a huge difference, but make sure there is some air in their to keep them cool.
- If you can’t move them then improve them
There are some very good kits - particularly for PC owners that can help reduce the noise from your PC. 3M make items like foam shields for within the case, or better fans that create less noise. You can also make a huge difference simply by sitting external hard drives on foam to reduce their rattle, or induced fan noise through other surfaces. WARNING - Do not turn off or try and stop your fans, after throwing your PC out of a window, then that’s the second fastest way to kill you machine. There’s an excellent article from Tech Radar here
- Create temporary isolation
Find ways to isolate when recording, some people use duvets hanging from the ceiling, or blankets. However, be careful, don’t use hard objects to create isoloation as these will give you odd reflections and make your recordings sound boxey.
- Make good position choices
If you have the space then try and get as far away from noise sources as possible and make sure that any mics are pointing away from devices that are making the noise. A quick way to test this is to set up your mic and then put on some good headphones and move the mic around the room listening for the ambient noise. Again, be careful not to end up with vocals in the corner of a room facing a wall, or amps that sound like you’ve recorded them in a box (becuase you have). Of course if you can’t get the computer out of the room, then you may be able to move to another space using a long mic and extention cable. If you need to control your Pro Tools rig from another room, then check out something like the Neyrinck V-Control Pro
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Take some time to consider the things that are making noise in your studio and with a couple of hours work and less than $100 in total, you can have a much quieter recording space.
In this video Russ shows some of the tricks used by producers to create the sound heard on a lot of pop and R&B vocals commonly found in the charts.
Russ, Mike, and Neil are here with another Pro Tools Expert podcast, the first of 2013. This week is another bumper question & answer edition…
- Pro Tools 11 Wish List
- Tip recommendation from Mike Phirman
- Update on iLok problems with Windows 7 & 8 and solution
- What to replace old Mbox Pro with
- Waves Element VI
- Feedback on the questionnaire
- Advice on a deep and muggy vocal.
- NAMM 2013 thoughts
- Advice on HD Native Thunderbolt and HD Omni
- Reason 6.5 on Windows 7 laptop with PT M-Powered Video to help
- Structure in Post
- PT MP 9 & Windows 8, will it work?
- Problems with Oxygen 61 keyboard
- Interface options for Pro Tools SE
In this tutorial James shows you a way to edit and process a snare drum track to get the very best from two different playing styles without the use of mix or plugin automation.
Strings have become an integral part of a lot of mainstream music these days, but the difference between a meaningless mush and a soaring arrangement is vast. Top string arrangers are worth their weight in gold, but for many of us the cost is prohibitive. Here are 5 ways to better strings that cost you nothing.
- Stay away from chords
The most basic way to add strings to a track is just to double up the piano chords with a string pad. Whilst there is nothing musically wrong with this, it has two issues. The first one is that when you come to mix, the strings are sitting in quite a lot of the frequency spectrum and make the sound mushy and lack definition. Secondly, they can be quite boring and not really add a lot to the arrangement.
- Create single lines with different sounds
Try using single line motifs, such as long top notes that last for several bars using a sweet soft string sound, then add a middle note motif using a slightly harder arco sound. Be careful as you descend down the octaves as this where it can get mushy - you might find a set of cellos works.
- Use volume automation
Listen to any real string arrangement and you will hear a vast change in volume as they play, dynamics are even written into scores. Take time to work with volume and dynamic automation throughout the track and you will hear the difference.
- Use speed variation
Again, real strings have speed changes as they play, so take time to put speed changes into an arrangement. It might sound a little odd in our time correction obsessed world to think that making parts more fluid is an improvement, but pushing and pulling the parts against the beat can bring real interest to your parts.
- Take time to chose the sounds carefully
Once you have a string arrangement you like, then take time to audition different sounds with the parts and see how they work. There are some great sounds in Xpand and also some great FREE Structure patches in our FREE sounds library.
It’s easy to be tempted to buy expensive specialist string libraries that include thousands of articulations, however if you don’t know the basics then you may be wasting your money. A little time and care can transform your string parts. Any community tips would be welcome.
The problem is that this gives excessive bleed of the rest of the instruments though the vocal track - this video shows you a trick that helps to remove a lot of that bleed.