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UPDATED: 12/15/10

This song with lyrics by HC Holbert is one of my favorites that we have done together as Acoustic Fusion.

When HC sent me the lyrics to make a song with I was so taken with the powerful message of his words. There are acts of kindness that each of us is capable of every day and even the smallest act of kindness toward someone could have a lasting impact on their lives. I love the message behind the words "don't have to be an artist, don't have to be a star, just be the real you, 'cause that's the best by far"

 

Just today I revisited this track and decided I could do better on audio production.

I started completely over from scratch. Went back to the original recording and tried different things but you know what I ended up doing? Just leaving it as recorded because musically that was the best tone. So no compression at all and just a little reverb and it was done! Took me over a year to get to this point with the audio but I'm happy with the less is more approach. It finally sounds right to my ears!

Hope you enjoy it and please do download it for Free:

 

 

Here's the Video of the actual recording of the song. BTW, The whole reason I overdubbed a harmony vocal was because the guitar overpowered the solo acoustic recording. In a way I'm glad that happened because I like it better with the additional vocals added.

 

Views: 19

Replies to This Discussion

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_mastering

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_mixing

Sounds like you are re-mixing. Mastering as a term gets thrown around way too much in the home studio world. So much that it has lost all connection with original meaning. That's great that you are learning. Nice job on your recording. It seems a bit loud. It's distorting my laptop speakers. I haven't listened on my DAW so it's a bit of a compromised listen.
Thanks for the input.
Actually what I am doing could be considered Mastering.
I record my music live to a microphone (as you see in the video) with 0db gain and no effects at all.
This gives me a flat raw recording.

In the case of this song I recorded a harmony vocal track after and did use Audacity to mix that.

Once I have it mixed then I take to raw flat recording and post process the audio.
I may not meet the definition of Mastering but after reading the info on your links I am doing some elements of Mastering to post process the audio recording.

For listening I use a Luxman (160 watts per channel) receiver amp to speakers in my studio.
If I get it to sound the way I want through a real stereo with real speakers then its probably OK.
I'll have to double check on my laptop to see if it distorts. Sometimes the volume control can be set too high on those by default.
Okay. Listening on proper speakers now. There is some excessive sibilance. Try notching it at around 7kHz -3db at the most. It's still clipping. It's clipping going into your interface or a limiter or compressor in your recording software is causing it to clip. It doesn't sound good. I know it's a pain but I think you should record it again. I've turned the youtube clip down below the halfway mark and there's still some blatant digital clipping.

Some minor suggestions,

-you're doubling vocals/adding harmony. Have you considered adding a second guitar? Adding a second guitar of just straight strumming can fill out the song with a percussive feel.

- Nothing wrong with a little reverb. Just enough so you can hear it. Don't let it dominate the song.

- An egg shaker can fill out that need for percussion as well.

I understand and appreciate your minimalist approach. Just thought I'd add some ideas that may not have come to mind.

Incidentally. I listened to the other tracks on your main page and they sound great. Whoever did those did a great job and if it was you, then I have no business giving you advice. Great music.
AAARRRGH! You know what I found out? I was also hearing some distortion in the low end. The track is too loud and I found out what the problem is.
I had a patch cord to my line in while recording from the computer. The preamp was sending signal and crosstalking with the digital recording. I did not realize this until I got up into higher volume on another recording and heard clipping while I was recording! I have since unplugged the line input cord. Frustrating!
I'm learning this stuff. Thanks for the feedback! I'm dialing back the volume and trying not to use any compression if I don't have to.
One thing you home recordists may wish to consider is to step away from the PC based equipment you are trying to learn for a moment and visit a real recording studio. I'm not talking about a $200 an hour one either... The 90s brought out a host of Alesis ADAT based systems that, in the right hands, are truly top grade CD quality recording solutions. These ADATs have evolved from 8-track digital systems, which used Super VHS tapes, and could be linked together to provide up to 128 tracks... to digital versions of those machines with 24 tracks on each ADAT and storage on low cost hard drives. (I am still using the original ADATs for my small recording business since that is all I need but plan to move to the larger unit to get back into the music aspect of my life.)

The point I am making is that these ADAT studios are EVERYWHERE and for as little as $25 to $50 an hour can provide you with; 1) a real audio engineer (select a great engineer) 2) an excellent recoding room 3) top quality effects processing, as with the PCM70 unit 4) a master copy of your work that will TRULY provide you with a foundation that can be built upon and layered as your creativity (and pocketbook) will allow. Being able to "sit back and perform" will also be a nice change of pace and should lead to improved performances once you get over the initial trepidation of a new recording space.

Having studio quality monitors, like my Yamaha NS 10M, are another feature of a good studio. Anyone can put your mix on a pair of $2,000 speakers and it will sound good but the monitors will allow you to HEAR the details so well and balanced, without speaker coloring, that if your mix sounds good there then it will sound good in your car, home audiophile system etc. The gear that a pro will have (various mics, compressor/limiters, FX processors, etc.) and the knowledge of how to apply them, will far surpass any neophites attempt to record at home. If you are just looking to put down songs while the idea and mood is fresh in your mind then home PC recording can't be beat. However, if your ultimate goal is to record a CD and release it to the world then you need a more professional approach unless you are truly gifted in the use of home based PC gear.

A place lke DiscMakers can produce your MASTER and has on its' website the tools to help you design your CD cover artwork for free. They can do short runs, shrink-wrapped, bar-coded, for around $300 (for 100 CDs) and do a great job. They even have a TRUE Mastering team, that can take your (almost) perfect CD and listen with fresh ears to your work and adjust it with tools that are well beyond even good home ADAT studios. Having that last set of ears to listen critically and then add only what is needed will make your music shine in every listenning scenario and perhaps most importantly, on the radio as well. This step may be the difference between releasing a good home recording and a spectacular album.

I AM NOT a top pro engineer... my work doesn't demand it and I was learning from two top guys who were from NYC studios that commanded $200 an hour before the technology revolution came and made it more affordable. Unfortunately, my (ex) wife didn't back my attempt to go into the recording business and my learning curve was interrupted as I settled back into my expertise in telecommunications and survival. I still have much of the gear needed, although I miss my beloved PCM 70 and am left with a Lexicon LXP1 and LXP5, which aren't bad FX and were used on my song "The Alamo". (That's one where a good set of speakers and a full quality audio version will really shine.) Even with all this gear, while I feel totally capable of laying down foundation tracks worthy of my next CD, I will need the help of engineers far better than me to really do justice to the music and, in the final analysis., once the song is written isn't that what we are realy after? Doing justice to the song.

Just listen to the difference on two of my songs. one done (nearly) alone. When He Was 8 Years Old, and the other done with a pro at the helm, In Quiet Times.
I'd argue that NS-10s are certainly not the best speakers to monitor on. I'd take a pair of Genelecs or better yet Urei over those. Otherwise well said Patrick.
They were the top choice of many studios in the mid 90s, when I bought them and were featured in magazines like "Mix". They have performed flawlessly ever since but I'd defer to someone with current knowledge. Thanks for the input / update Hue.
People used to put a single ply of tissue over the tweeter to dampen the highs just a bit. They are nice monitors no doubt. Hard to find a studio without them but there are nicer. None of them nearly as affordable as NS10s though.
Just thought I'd post this link as well. Some humerus comments:

http://www.the-gas-station.com/faq_messages.cfm?type=normal&thr...
When listenning to people I always take into consideration their inability to speak without swearing. Most of those comments are bogus and from amateurs. There were plenty of high-end studios back in the day that had them featured. I have no doubt that 15 years later there are better monitors for more money but the Yamahas were once considered the best value for home ADAT studios. No biggie... rather learn something new... like how much those Urei monitors you mentioned cost?

PS: I do notice ear fatigue after 3 or 4 hours of close range monitoring and normally mix at the lowest levels possible to stave it off. That was a good point to anyone trying to "work through" a mix far too long and not understanding how the inner ear suffers and must refresh itself with rest.

Here's my current setup:


Hue, have you had any experience working with the DigiTech Vocalist VR? That's a tool I have yet to explore...
Urei are not cheap. If you can find them. I can't imagine getting a pair used for less than $1000(edit: well I just found a pair of 809s online for $600)They are out of production and have been for years. Soundcraft has taken over the name but it is not the same company. Bill Putnam (Universal Audio) founded Urei in the seventies. These aren't close monitors though. They are far field monitors. These days Genelec seems to dominate.

NS-10s have a history of leaving a bad taste. It's not just my opinion.

They do translate well but only because they were initially designed as hi-fi speakers. They weren't adopted as "official" studio monitors by Yamaha until the NS-10M.

It's the spike at 1.5 K- 2K that causes the ear fatigue.
Thanks for all of that info Hue. The ADS L810s have been my hi-fi speakers since the 70s. Had them before a couple of Titan customs were built for me and then used them as reflection speakers when the DSP digital delay came out. That was a great piece of gear and could emulate 14 world famous consert halls.. I doubt the ADS's would work well in the studio though... too much speaker. Do you know of them? What do you think?

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