Monday, October 21, 2013

Crowd Audio Contest Entry

Here's my entry:

I had lots of trouble at the end of the mixing stage because my PC was not powerful enough :-( Probably took me about 10 hours. I'm a n00b :-)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mixing is hard work

I am entering another mix competition because, well, I ain't got anything else to mix :-) Writing the book is also lots of fun but it can get really tedious and I thought I'd try my newfound techniques at some poor unsuspecting song.

I regularly listen to the Home Recording Show podcast; on episode 223 (I think), one of the regular guests presented his venture called CrowdAudio. You guessed it: he's proposing a platform to crowd source mixing and mastering to musicians who have better things to do than learn all that stuff (that *will* be easier one my book comes out, promised :-P). The process is simple: a band posts their sound files, describes the project, puts a prize money tag on the project and off it goes.

The current competition is for a hip-hop rap song called "Gone Away". For those who know me, well, you know it's not my style at all :-) but I decided to try and mix it anyway - I mean, if I can do prog rock, I can do hip-hop, right?


First of all, this is a real project. By real I mean "Holy sh*t how many files does this have??". It's been well recorded, apart from the acoustic guitar player who sucks ass; yeah, he's worse than me; luckily, the song doesn't have much acoustic guitar in it. But man oh man, with all the aux busses and groups and everything, this project has 70+ tracks! For a hip-hop song!!

Second, hip-hop and rap have a lot to do with vocals. And by a lot I mean over 30 tracks of vocals. Thank God for groups!

Third, it's been a lot of fun. Really. The song is well written, well arranged, and there are a lot of different elements to take into consideration.

What I did learn during these past couple of days is this: keep your sessions tidy: label your tracks, cut out unnecessary tracks, make your groups, prepare your aux busses; this is a huge time saver when you're working with so many tracks.

I'll post my song and some comments when the competition is over. Not that I'm gonna win it :-)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Turd Polishing Is No Fun

I've been trying to re-record one of my project's earlier titles. It's got lots of acoustic guitar, but the issue is that I'm a bad player at best: fret noise, uneven plucking, you name it. So of course, I record my guitar layers, I listen a bit, find it good enough, proclaim to the world that I can jump to vocals and be done in the next 10 minutes.


I jump to vocals and boy does the whole thing just blow. I mean, it's a good song, it's got loads of potential, but me playing it is making things very difficult. I try to fix it in the box, with my DAW, and it's making things worse. So I decide to put my own advice to good use: get it right at the source.

I do my mics gain staging, I test the mic placement, I mark down the settings of my interface for "recall". Thing is, I don't have 4 hours to record multiple layers of acoustic guitar. I am a dumb hobbyist trying to make music. So I record my first layers, then stop. Come next day, continue. But in between, mics have moved a tiny bit, things change... and the sound isn't exactly the same. *sigh* So I re-record all my layers, and I think I finally have it down when listening to some of the tracks in solo, I noticed that different sections comped together sound pretty different: that's because I comped together bits recorded at different times.

Am I going to re-record everything? Nope. I'll just try to use what I have and be done with it.

Lessons learned:
  • Learn how the play the f*cking instrument or stick to bloddy electronic music
  • Record all layers in one shot with exactly the same mic placements and settings
  • Comp with headphones, not with the whole mix running

Sunday, June 16, 2013

You Did, Remixed

I decided to try and put some of what I have learned to good (?) use.

You Did is my oldest song, recorded in my living room with my crappy Tascam mic (MXL, really). Everything has changed in the song since then :-) except the lyrics themselves. The VSTs have changed, the FXs have changed... But is the song better?

Here's the original version:

And here's the new version:

Which one do you like best? Why?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Official Entry For GearFest Mixing Contest

Here is my final mix, officially submitted for the GearFest Mixing contest:

It made me sweat. But thanks to some great advice and discussion I had with fellow audio geeks (shout out to Bruno and St├ęphane) and some good music feedback (thanks Anna!), I learned a lot about mixing and reverbs and sounds.

And the power of coloring tracks and labelling song sections :-)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Gearfest Mixing Contest draft entry

I've decided to enter the Gearfest Mixing Contest:

I've sent a draft mix to some friends and I thought you might want to have a listen as well:

I really struggled with this mix. The vocals seemed completely out of place with the rest of the song until I used the oldest trick of them all - more when I submit the final mix :-) I'm still not convinced it sounds good but that's all I can manage.

If you're interested, all the submissions are public and available from this Soundcloud group:

Definitely some creative people out there :-)