Friday, June 1, 2012

We have moved, and a podcast!

That is right, we have moved, and the Home Recording Podcast now is up!
Home Recording Weekly has moved over to a new website. Here is the cool new "about me page". The new site link is Home Recording Weekly blog, or , and the move was simply to serve you all better.
We needed to re-locate, and decided a new and fresh look was needed too. We needed more pages just to hold all of the new and exciting pages that are coming to you! The first episode of The Home Recording Podcast is up, on the new website, and ITunes is working hard to provide you with a "podcast catcher" too. I will have to announce when it goes live, on Itunes!
Thanks to everyone that has been with us over the years, here on blogger. I have changed things up so many times, and it still just looked like a blogger template. Well, I hope those days are over now.
Please, add the new website to your favorites tab, and check it often. You will not want to miss the next post over there! Big news is coming very soon. This news will also be posted in a brand new video, so look out for that on YouTube, and the new website too!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is the most important gear that we have telling us lies?

The most important gear that we all have are our ears. Maybe they don't lie to us, but they will misrepresent the truth. The longer we listen to a particular mix, the worse our ears will distort the truth. What does this mean? Well here is an example, and what we can do to achieve better mixes.

First, as we start to mix a song, we listen very close to certain tracks, perhaps one or two at a time. As we bring in other tracks, we tend to not "hear" the former tracks as much. Often times things will start to come together, in our minds, when they are not together at all. Sometimes, when we spend a great deal of time on a mix, and then bounce it down for listening in another system, we stand in shock as it just sounds bad. How can this be?

 Well, it is our ears playing tricks on us. The good news is that this very thing happens to all of us, so you are not alone. The great news is that we can help our mixes get better and better by simply doing a few different things as we mix.

First of all, with the passing of time, we will learn our monitors and headphones. Every system adds to or takes away from certain frequencies. We should pay attention to the mix, as we play it back in our DAW's and as we play it back on other systems. What is different? What is missing, and what is too much, in frequencies, and volume too? Learning what our monitors and headphones take away, or add too, a mix is very important. This comes with time.

Next, as much as you love to spend great lengths of time mixing, take more breaks. I can't list the number of times that after taking a quick break, I have heard a glaring issue that I had missed before the break! We create an environment, an illusion, as we sit in our mixing environment, and things just sound different in the rest of the world. So, get up from time to time, stretch your legs, and rest your ears.

Next, as much as I had heard this next idea, over and over, it wasn't until recently that I implemented it into my mixing routine. Because of this next idea, massive changes have come to see the light of day. Bring a reference track into your mix! This is as simple as importing a song, that you know forward and backwards, and of the same genre as the song that you are mixing, onto a stereo track, in your mix. I like to bring in a song that is off a CD, and it has been mastered as well. Solo the reference track, and listen to the EQ, the loudness of the bass and drums, and "re-set your ears". Then, listen to your mix.

 Wow, now your mix sounds completely different! What a way to bring your mix to the next level. This step alone will save you so much time and hassle, and you will soon forget all of those trips out to the car and back just to check the mixes that you are constantly mixing again and again. Believe me, my mistakes are here to save you time and frustration! Take advantage of this stuff, please!

Lastly, mixing at a loud volume will cause you a lot of trouble. There is a famous rule, called the Fletcher-Munson Curve, that deals with this very issue. The issue is that the louder a mix, the more "volume" is applied to certain frequencies. So, the louder a mix, the louder the bass, let's say. So, you turn down the bass to make up for it, and then you make a bounce. When you listen to the bounce elsewhere, the bass is gone. Turn down your mixes, and listen critically.

These are not my ideas. I have not done the studies that prove all of this stuff. I like to listen to people that know more than I do, and learn from them. One person that has recently said most of this stuff is Graham Cochrane, from "The Simply Recording Podcast", and on the pages of "The Recording Revolution" website. He does the podcast with Joe Gilder, and his website, "Home Studio Corner", is packed with great information too.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

JamUp Jam Plug and JamUp App from Positive Grid.

Playing and practicing the guitar has never been as easy as it is with the technology that exists. We can use any IOS device (IPhone, IPad, IPOD Touch) to get amazing tones now, thanks to products like the JamUp plug (19.99 U.S), JamUp Lite (free), and JamUp Pro (9.99), all of which are from Positive Grid.

 This technology just makes one want to forget those things that we used to use when practicing, uuuummmmmm, oh yea, guitar amps and effect pedals. I love the freedom that practicing on the couch brings me, and there is a lot to be said about the whole "noiseless factor" while headphones are in use. I know my wife likes that part of the equation anyway With a back injury too boot, I don't mind lifting my IPhone from place to place, about the house, where my amps......., well, not so much.

This is a review of the JamUp plug, JamUp Pro app on the IPhone. Let me just say that if you must choose one app and one adaptor for your guitar, let the JamUp plug and JamUp Pro be the ones! I am giving this little package the "both thumbs way up" seal of approval! I am really taken back by the tones that are coming out of this app! JamUp Pro rocks! Don't miss read this, the JamUp Lite rocks too, and it is free!

If you do not see the video, below, please head over to to watch. Some subscribers may not see it as email.

The JamUp plug  is elegant and yet simple in design, but the real star here is the JamUp Pro app, due to the solid workings of the app, the amazing tones from the amp models and effects, and the extremely low latency. So many apps of this type suffer from latency issues. This is just not the case with the JamUp Lite and the JamUp Pro versions of the app. In fact, I can't detect it at all, even though I know it must exist, since a chip is in use.

The JamUp plug works with a lot of the other guitar apps out there, (Apogee JAM, Alesis IO Dock, Line 6 Mobile In, Griffin Technology StudioConnect, IK Multimedia iRig, Peavey AmpKit Link, PocketLabWorks iRiffPort) but why not stick with the folks from Positive Grid, and use it with JamUp Lite or JamUp Pro? After all, they should work hand in hand, right?

I just love it when companies go the extra yard, and put some thought into a products packaging design. The JamUp plug comes in a very cool tri-fold package with graphics on all available real estate, and a nice black felt holder for the JamUp plug itself. Positive Grid gets extra props from me due to the fact that they didn't just toss the JamUp plug in a vacuum formed plastic bubble. I know that this will not make the product function any better, but you just get the feeling that Positive Grid is proud of there JamUp plug. The extra touches are not lost with me.

As taken from the Positive Grid, website......

"JamUp™ Lite is a Multi-Effect Guitar App for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Powered by the newly developed multi-stage modeling engine, JamUp™ Lite provides authentic tone, sound-on-sound phrase sampler and incredible jamming experience.

It supports up to 5 simultaneous amps and effects through an easy drag and drop signal path, which also allows easy arrangement for pre and post effect position. There’s no digging through menus, no learning process and no hassles.

JamUp is born with great “play alone” capabilities. The phrase sampler can capture loops and riffs and create sound-on-sound overdubs. It’s the easiest way to create a one-person-band sound in minutes. And with the time stretching iTunes player, users can not only play alone with any track from their iTunes library, but also can create a loop and slow it down for further study."

I have taken a name from the contest, and declared a winner for the JamUp Jam Plug, and I have made contact with them. Congrats, and thanks to everyone that had entered! I love it when people "like" the blogs' FaceBook page. I check out everyone that "Likes" me there. Please help me grow, and let others know that I am online, and on FaceBook. Share any post that you feel is worthy!

Make sure to subscribe to the Home Recording Weekly blog, by simply putting your email in the box, over on the top and the right of this page. Make sure you "like" me on FaceBook, just so that I can "see" who you are! I thank everyone that has found me thus far, and it has been very cool "meeting all of you". We are building a small army of audio nuts, one "like" at a time!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Free JamUp plug

Would you like to have a free JamUp plug?

I am giving one away, in efforts to help promote the demo/review post and video that I will be putting up very soon. Click here to learn more about the JamUp plug, the JamUp apps, and Positive Grid.

No strings attached, but here are the hoops that you must jump thru in order to win it...........

 Find the Home Recording Weekly blog page, over on FaceBook, and "like" me, if you have not done so already. Next, head over to the JamUp FaceBook page, and "like" that too. On the day that the video goes live, right here on The Home Recording Weekly blog, I will pull one of those names out of a hat. I will then post the winner on FaceBook, just to let you know that you are the winner, and you will have to drop me a line. Do not worry about postage, because "its all good". You can download the JamUp lite app, which is free, to rock out anytime and anyplace!.

Just trying to make someone's day a little bit better, that's all! Good luck to all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sound isolation as treatment

We have all heard about treating rooms for audio mixing. But what about treating our spaces for Isolation, or sound that leaks in from outside our rooms? Using Hyper Cardioid, dynamic mics can help reject a lot of this unwanted noise, but noise is persistent! There is only so much that off axis rejection in microphones can do.

Case in point....

 I have a room that I just adore. It is more like a music nook, but there are some issues. From time to time I have some outside noise distracting me. Since there is a window in my room, I do get some spillage. A lawnmower, perhaps a loud motorcycle, and lets not overlook the car horns from afar, all seep in and take my mind away from the task at hand. I like to record with microphones, quite a bit, and I can't have unwanted noise creeping in to my audio. Recently, I had to re-track a speaker due to a loud motorcycle "reving" up as it passed by. I missed it as we tracked, but it was obvious as we listened back to it.

Without getting into treating this space for frequency and reflections, I needed to try and remove some of the sounds from everyday life. I plan on recording my podcast in here, and this room is off of our living space too! I do not want to record only after 10 P.M. folks, I need ISOLATION first! Once I get my space a little more quiet, I will tackle treating it for mixing. So, how can we tackle the problem of sounds entering our rooms from the world at large?

Here is one simple, and elegant way to accomplish this task. I obtained some Audimute panels from an ad on Craigslist. I was really comprehensive about how good of a job it would do, but I had to do something! So, the day it went up, I knew it was the right way to go. I hung two sheets or panels up in the open doorway that leads into my space. Immediately, I noticed a very big difference! Gone were any trace of echoes. Gone was 75 percent of the common "House noises" than can enter into a microphone. I love how "dead" the room is now, and I think that the material looks great. The real test was to happen at 4 P.M., as my wife came home.

She does not have the same eye that I have. I like to see racks of mixing gear, monitors, speaker cabs, guitars and guitar amps, mic stands, and drum risers. The Audimute panels look sexy to me. My wife remained silent about the looks. So, the Audimute panels passed the first test. The next thing that my wife noticed was just how much the room had changed. Her exact words were "there is no echo in here". The Audimute panels had just passed the second test. I had turned my space into a "dead zone", and it is noticable. It is almost like your ears are popping or something like that.

The Audimute panels are made in the U.S.A. and they come with a 100 percent guarantee. They, however, will not improve the sonic frequencies in your room, but they will prevent a lot of "audio spillage" from entering your room, and more importantly, entering your microphones!

 The window in my space is still bare, and I have more material left. I will be trying to solve that issue too. I hate to block the light from entering into the space, but the window is a source of noise. That is, noise enters through that wall.

 I will keep you posted on this, and what I happen to come up with. What about you? Have any of you had to isolate a room with windows? If so, what did you do? Please, let me know, and I will pass that information on, right here on the blog!


As taken from the press release......., a free web-based service that uses a curriculum of instructional videos, downloadable documents and a dash of personal attention to teach aspiring musicians how to play the guitar, has announced its beta launch.

StrumSchool's service is geared towards teaching beginners basic guitar fundamentals. The site uses an easy-to-follow curriculum of instructional videos, downloadable lesson plans and personal attention from professional teachers to help its students learn how to play any genre of music.

StrumSchool was designed to teach aspiring musicians how to play the guitar at their own pace and on their schedules. Irregardless of how much previous experience its users may or may not have, StrumSchool  focuses on making the process of learning basic guitar fundamentals easy and free.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Using Expanders in audio

I was talking with a very good friend of mine, recently, about posting topics for the Home Recording Weekly blog. I expressed that I have been tossing around the idea of writing a "series of posts" covering some of the basic tools of our trade. He liked the idea, and he agreed with the idea, and then added to it by saying "Content is king". Simply put, and yet right on the mark. Content is king indeed. Not only have I decided to write this series of posts, but I have decided to start with a tool known as the expander.

Expanders..... What are they, and how do we use them in our audio? These are some great questions, and I really hadn't used one before too long ago. Recently, I was using a different "audio tool" in place of an expander, and the results were less than stellar. Since then I have fallen in love with Expanders, and need to share what I have learned.

Let me detail what it is that expanders do, and then I will tell you what I was using in its' place.

Expanders are a tool that we can use in out tracks to help clean up audio. Expanders can be set, much like a compressor, to "work" or "turn on" once a threshold has been crossed. Compressors do not operate until a threshold has been crossed, and once they turn on they reduce the output or reduce the signals output. However, unlike a compressor, once the desired threshold is crossed in an expander, the expander then acts more like a switch. Once the threshold is crossed, the expander "opens" and allows audio to pass through untouched.

You might be thinking about noise gates right about now, and asking yourself why I didn't use a noise gate as a comparison in this post, you know, instead of a compressor. Expanders can be thought of as a noise gate, but they do operate differently than noise gates. There are some important features that expanders have that most noise gates do not have. For example, expanders will not only allow a threshold to be set, but you can adjust the range, attack, release, and most importantly, "the hold".
Most of the noise gates that I have used in the past, are either "on or off", or "allowing audio to pass or not allowing a signal to pass". There are no settings like "the hold" feature found on an expander.

 So, what is "the hold" feature? The hold feature tells the expander how slowly, or how quickly, to toss the switch once the threshold is released, or shut off. This can act like a simple fade, so that the switching on and off does not stand out. The "hard" clicking on and off of audio can be noticed. That is the reason noise gates can often times be "heard" when used, and expanders can not be "heard" or audible. That is why I decided to use compressors as a reference, and not a noise gate.

Let me explain how I have been using an expander lately, and why a noise gate would not work in this particular case.

I have been mixing a rather popular, and new podcast. This has proven to be a blast, and I look forward to each new episode that I am handed. As usual, I had some interviews that needed to be mixed in with the podcast. The interviews are actual conversations via Skype, with each person using headsets, and recorded using Audacity. These interviews come to me on two mono tracks, with one speaker on each track. So, as one speaker stops talking, the other speaker starts talking. In between the talking there is a lot of noise, like interference and electronic jittering. I almost started to remove this noisy, dead space in between the speaking parts by simply deleting it, and then use fades to bring the speaking parts in and out. This would have taken a very long time, and been rather tedious. So, I decided to "drop" an expander on each of the two mono tracks, and see just how well I could do at removing this noise. You will need to watch the video to see how I set it up, but let me just say that it worked like a charm.

The important thing that I hope you retain, here, is that I saved myself a lot of time and frustration by using an expander. Since this mixing gig is a paying job, the less time I spend editing, the more money I make. Well, when figured out using the "paid by the hour" formula anyway. Truth be told, I make a set fee with each episode that I mix. So, in this case, time really is money. Plus, I avoided a major headache by not having to delete a ton of track, and then add fades all over the place. Yet another thing thing that I want you to remember here is that a noise gate (most likely) would not have worked as well, if at all, in this particular situation. Why not? Great question. Let me answer that one.

Without the "hold" feature found on expanders, the "switch" that allows audio to pass through would either be "on, or off". This hard switching on and off is not only audible to the listener, it can become very annoying! Most people would not want to listen to the interview, let alone the podcast, and that would be bad news for me! A noise gate has its' place in audio, and can be wonderful for a lot of things, but an expander is just way better for this particular application.

Once more, I wish to just say "Thank you for stopping by the Home Recording Weekly blog". You are the reason I blog, and You mean everything to me! Let me know about anything you might want to see here, and I will do my best to make it happen. Please just drop your email in the little box up at the top of this blog, and to the right, just so you can get Home Recording Weekly as email. This way you will never miss a post. You should find Home Recording Weekly on FaceBook, by following the link, and "Like" it. I like to know who my readers and followers, and a simple "Like" allows me to see you. I am also on Google+, and if you are too, follow the link and let me know you are out there. Thanks for all of your support, and until next post, "Have fun and be kind to one another!