For our final production & recording class we met over at Mississippi Studios for some more in depth discussion on the differences between engineering and production.

The producer wears many hats and comes in many varieties. T-Bone Burnett was mentioned as having a very extreme style one way, versus someone, say Steve Albini. a producer is definitely trying to get the best performance from the musicians, whereas the engineer is just doing the technical stuff to get the music down. but a producer should ask questions well before ever hiring an engineer. what's the purpose of the album? should they even be doing it at this phase, etc.. after asking a lot of meta questions, he becomes a project manager, a psychologist, an HR person, etc...

after the discussion we drove over to Nick Moon's studio to do mastering on Jonathon's piece. Mastering is taking the stereo mixed songs for an album and preparing them for manufacture (or online distro). Will "normalize" the volume across an album and do last adjustments to get best sound. And possibly prepare a redbook CD that will be used to make a master.

Nick has a really nice place out in troutdale. the studio is small and intimate but is great-sounding and he has incredible gear. a few of the things that i learned here:

A/B'ing: comparing track A with B. this can be comparing current song with a favorite CD that has the sound you are going for, or is comparing before and after of current song. "A/B'ing" gets thrown out there a lot. Also found out the sidechaining has a few meanings and in that environment you could sidechain an EQ in front of a compressor so that you only compress certain frequencies.

Also, ISRC codes are used when creating audio files for download online so that the publishing companies can track them.

well, that's about it. a lot was learned. i think next i'm going to take a dedicated recording class if the professor will let me in. if not, i hope to take a music theory on keyboard class.

Production Class

The Production and Recording class I took through PCC ended last week. I'm really glad to have a weeknight open up but I'll miss that class. That was exactly what i needed to get some excitement and motivation put back into me with the music thing. Jim and Graham and Jonathon and all the people who let us into their studios and taught us interesting stuff -- they were all great.

i wish i would have written more during the class while it was fresh in my head, but i'll jot down here the things that i remember and stick out.

For class 5 we went out to Crossroads to have Darren there mix down Jonathon's song. They've got an 80 channel SSL board there, fully analog steelo. Rumor has it Dr. Dre used to use those knobs! That class really drove home the concept that i learned while reading my Logic book. The way to make room in a mix for an instrument, there are 4 ways: stereo location, frequency separation, space and volume. Darren did a good job of EQ'ing out the different tracks to "excite" the music but to also have it cut through and not be muddy (masking). He also had this great trick where he put a speaker into little room, mic'd it, and would create analog, real-time reverb by sending a track to that room and picking up the reverb on another track. good stuff. also, beside his great big monitors (which i can't recall offhand) he had a pair of the industry standard Yamaha NS10's. seems every studio has a pair of these: "if you can make it sound good on those, it'll sound good anywhere."

Another handy tip was to monitor it mono to make sure it sounds good that way. This will show possible phase problems, etc..

Next time i'll write about our last class which was a visit out to a mastering place in troutdale. We got deeper into the producer vs. engineer question also.

Gear and Games

This is kind of an update to the previous post.

First, the Gorge Games fell through. That was kind of a shame as it was going to be a great venue for putting some new gear to the test, and it sounded like a hoot. But my friends organizing the village had to pull out so it wasn't to be.

A little more on the Conectiv: it's got this built-in gain limitation that is sort of a bummer. It's part of the design but it makes playing regular vinyl alongside Torq MP3's a bit of a hassle. There's lots of info. posted on this on the m-audio forums. One of the main applications at the start for this piece of hardware is to use it to rip my vinyl to MP3 in the first place. It makes it so i have to add a bit of gain when I'm chopping up the audio in Logic, but now that I have it down it's not a big deal.