Answered by TAXI Members
Dear Readers,

The holidays caused a shortage of interesting questions from the outside world, so I went to the Recording and Production section of our online forum, and look what I found!

—ML

http://forums.taxi.com//index.cgi?board=nick



I need to get better.
Thread Started on Dec 12, 2007, 11:46am

I have come to the conclusion, that I'm a pretty terrible engineer.

I know basics. I can get a clean signal, I understand basics on mic placement, how to set gain and level, fundamentals on compression. I can set up tracks for recording, even do punch-ins to make fixes.

I know how to get Reason to play nice with Pro Tools, and can write & create a great sounding drum track with loops and Acid and import it into Pro Tools.

My problem comes after I've got everything recorded. It sounds all muddy and gross, even after I've attempted PT's 4 band EQ on individual channels. Then when it comes to mastering, forget about it. I don't even know where to start.

My ultra-flexible day gig gives me the time and I have the equipment (I think) to get the job done. I also feel like I write well and could be getting more forwards than I do, specifically on the Dispatch front. Also, I would be submitting more of the songs that I write that I don't even bother uploading because sonically, they're not there.

I've thought about hiring a local engineer, but its not very economical for me to farm it out to a local studio because I'm not making enough yet to justify that cost.

So, I could use some advice from some of the more seasoned producers/engineers here on the boards:
  • How did you learn?
  • What would you recommend someone in my position do to get better?
  • Are there classes you've taken, or books you've read that were helpful?
I'd like to take an online class through Berklee that starts Jan. 7, but I don't think I'm going to be able to afford it this time around.


— Signed,

Hopes He's Not Whining,

Kinda Frustrated


Re: I need to get better.
Reply #1 on Dec 12, 2007, 12:01pm

The best advice I can give you is: Find the best mixing engineer/studio in your area that you can afford who uses the same system (PTools) you do.

Have them mix one of your tunes, explaining every step along the way while you're there looking over their shoulder. Take notes, ask questions, absorb all you can.

Then go back to your home studio and put what you've learned into practice.

A few months later you may wanna go back with another song (perhaps in a different style, and not necessarily to the same studio even) to learn even more.

I think this is the single best approach to learning engineering, having it demonstrated to you on one of your own songs, on your type of system... and you end up with a killer mix of one of your songs to boot. You should be prepared to pay the mixer a bit extra above their usual rate for the privilege of having them explain the process to you as they go through it.

— Matto



What are you guys using for drum tracks?
Thread Started on Oct 23, 2007, 7:41pm

I did endless hours of 4-tracking in high school and college, but I'm relatively new to desktop producing, so forgive my ignorance.

I've gotten pretty competent in navigating my way around Pro Tools, and editing audio. I still have a long way to go, and I'm trying to improve all areas of being my own producer.

But my main concern right now is that I spend way to much time trying to program drums and getting them right, and am still never happy with the end result.

I've been using BFD, but it's so fiddly trying to program each drum beat individually, and I can never get the beat to sound quite right partly because I'm not a drummer. Also the program is so CPU intensive that it always craps out on me no matter what I do, and what troubleshooting steps I follow.

Was thinking of some pre-recorded drum loops, or some other groove package. I don't really know much about the options. Am curious what you guys are using to add drums to your home demos, or any other advice you may have for me ... relating to drums or just being a better desktop-producer in general (trying to go from a notch above beginner to somewhere below intermediate...).


— Thanks!

Elliott


Re: What are you guys using for drum tracks?

Hey Elliott,

This comes up a lot and I believe it's because that drumming is really an art in and of itself. I'm a keyboard player, not a drummer so I know my limitations.

Virtual Instruments are really the way to go. They are live drummers playing real drums, just that they recorded their parts BEFORE you recorded your parts. Used with a little creativity they can really breath life into otherwise stiff-sounding tracks.

The king in my book is Stylus RMX. Out of the box it's mostly processed drums and percussion with a little bit of unprocessed drums and percussion. BUT... it has expansion packs for real drums in a variety of styles. Plus, it can import REX files. It has this amazing ability to play grooves that are WAY outside the recorded BPM and still sound perfectly natural. I'm not sure how they do it but you can use beats that are 40 or 60 beats away from the original, faster OR slower, and everything still sounds great. You can combine practically any elements from any grooves... the possibilities are exponential almost beyond calculation.

Other packages like Stormdrum for mostly cinematic percussion are very good. Several people on the forum use and highly recommend EZ Drummer... lots of expansion packs on that one too.

—HTH,

Dave




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