Thursday, July 24, 2008

File formats

Welcome back to the hit maker!

I would love to talk about our file formats for a second here. I know, "Yawn", but I feel the need!

Have you ever tried to upload a song to a website and had it refused because it wasn't an MP3 format? Well, lets see what we can do here....

Pro Tools saves most songs as wav files. This format works well with a lot of websites, but not all. Plus, these files can be rather massive too. MP3 files are a lot smaller in size, and used by every digital "MP3" player on the market.

Audacity is free. It is a music editing application. You can use it to burn almost any sound from any source, and then merge it into your music files. The beauty with Audacity is that you can load a wav file, and then export it out as an MP3 file! That's right, magically turn your wav file into an MP3 file, and save them both to your machine!

After you have downloaded Audacity you will then need to download the LAME MP3 conversion tool. You only need to do this one time, and it will work forever! You need to follow the online instructions on the "Lame project" website. Don't stress out, it is very simple!

After all of that is done you can open Audacity, open a song that is a wav file, and convert it to an MP3 file in seconds flat! Be sure to open a "tester" song file, or a "copy" song file, and then try out all of the tools in Audacity. You might just get some awesome ideas of your own by playing around with this stuff! I like to merge in sound effects into some of my songs. I get them from CD's and DVD's that I get from the public library, and then burn them into Pro Tools via a CD/DVD player, and then open them up in Audacity, along with the song! Insert (or merge) to taste, serve chilled.

Be sure to put a shortcut to Audacity on your desktop as you will use it allot!

A second reason for using Audacity is to trim your songs. If your Wav file has an "intro" or an "outro" that consists of digital noise, or tape hiss, than get rid of it! Use the trim tool in Audacity and get rid of that annoyance for the last time! Sometimes we leave a four count intro on our recorded music, and edit them out when we are finished. This leaves a long silent spot at the beginning of all of our original songs. Audacity makes short work at getting rid of these intros. Highlight them and then delete them, and then your done!

Want a third reason to use Audacity? What about a sampler of your greatest hits in one short playing MP3 or wav file format? When selling a song on a website, sometimes the Savoy can steal it. Why put a song up on the web in its entirety, anyway? Putting a song "snippet", or a one-verse and one-chorus song preview, might make more sense. The purchaser can listen to the short snippet of your song (that you made in Audacity) and get the idea and the feel of the entire song. Then the consumer can purchase the large, complete song file. Same sales figures for you, without any chance of theft!

What about getting the song-buying-listeners to hear all of your songs in one quick moment? Getting a purchaser to hear all of your songs in a "snippet-collection" makes sense in many ways. They can quickly get a feel for the type of music that you make, and the feel for the album in its entirety, with one quick MP3 snippet.
Again, using Audacity, merge together your newly made song snippets into one longer MP3. This, when played, will be a song that fades in and out of your songs.
Now that you have a new "greatest hits" snippet MP3, give it away! Use it as your sales pitch. Embed it onto your websites and your "My space" pages for a great sales approach!
Until next time,
I am KERN. Please Subscribe

Friday, July 11, 2008

links that will make you famous, and smart!

Welcome back to the Hit Maker. It is my aim to help with your home recording questions.
I will be teaching a class for the next week, so I thought that I would post in advance.
I would like to point you into the direction of a few cool links. Here are some that might just make you famous and/or rich!

This is "How audio", an online school of sorts, with an amazing price. Here you can learn, along with the videos, how to get in and get your song out! Check out the free stuff on this site!

Here is a place to "show your stuff", and meet other prodcers and music writers. Best of all, it is free!

Speaking of free, how about some cool places to post your stuff, and also hear others' cool stuff? Plus you can chat along with the ones that peak your interest.
here is "fuzz",
and "forte",

If you do not listen to others, then you are missing the point of getting better through others works. Go to "Recording Mag., and listen to "readers tapes", it is a must listen. Here is the link: follow the links...

Same Day Guitar is my baby, and it can be seen here, leave me an email if you want one.

Last but not least, one way to get that fame is by entering (and winning) a song contest. Here are some that I feel are the most honest, with the better "pay offs" for the winners.

Please keep in mind that I do not endorse any of the contests as I have never entered them myself. Thanks, and keep on rocking the mixes!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Electric guitar tone,You are not alone

Hello, and welcome back! Today I would love to go over one of the trickiest topics, and also one of the most important ones, as far as rock and roll recording goes anyway.


Electric guitar tone to be exact!

First of all, the recorder that you use is not important. For sake of today's topic lets say it does not matter. What I mean is that if you use a DAW, or even an older four track tape machine to record your music this will be of little importance. This blog is all about "before", or before it gets to the recorder.

With the capturing the tone of your electric guitar comes many questions. Should one use a DI box in? "D.I. box" is direct in box, which acts like a load that a Chanel strip or an amp might add to a sound. We use these when we do not want to use an amp and speaker cabinet combo, with a microphone. One plus of using a D.I. box when recording guitar is that you can do this anywhere. A lap top and your guitar plugged into a D.I. box can be done on the bus, to take the idea to an extreme. Some D.I. boxes give a great tube sound to a guitar on a recorded track. This is done allot even in expensive recording studios since it is all about tone, right?

A different technique is to place a small condenser mic in front of your guitar amp, and play away. If your band has a particular sound, and you want to capture that sound, then this is for you! Whatever gear you have in your signal chain gets set up in the studio, and then mics do the rest! A Shure SM57 will do you proud, in front of any speaker, as this is the most used mic for electric guitars.

Placing a mic in front of your amps speaker is the time tested classic approach. A different sound comes from simply pointing the mic off axis, or to one side by turning it ever so slightly at an angle. This removes just a touch of the higher frequencies, and gives the amp a smoother vibe.

Placing a second and a third mic into the picture can breathe life to a guitar mix! Using multiple mics to recording all at once is the ideal practice, verses recording separate tracks with the same mic, by the way. Where you put the mics is what makes all of the difference. Most studio engineers like to place a second mic behind the speaker (or amp) itself. A stereo feel happens when one does this. A mello sound is captured with a mic behind the amp or the speaker cab, as the lows and the lower mids are prominent here. This mic mixed in with the main mic track can make musical magic!

On the topic of magic, lets make some more, with adding yet another mic in the room. A room mic, correctly placed, will add a great roominess much like a reverb that you cant find anywhere else. This mic is most often placed a short distance (perhaps at least ten feet) in order to grab both the guitar speaker and the rooms' feel as well. This can also give the recording a live feel too. Try putting the drums in the same room and then you will have a live take that feels or sounds as if it was recorded at your last concert!

Recording electric guitars is limited to your imagination. There are no right ways and no wrong ways. The idea is to try things until you match the sound that you have in your head. Take an hour, and a friend to move mics for you (as you listen with headphones) and listen for yourself how much difference mic placement can be. A foot of distance can add a delay or a reverb, that will make or break the recording.

Mic choice is as important as mic placement. Often times an amp sounds best when it is cranked. This is not a myth. Be sure to place mics that are capable of handling the higher SPL's of your cranked amps. SPL's are Sound Pressure Levels, which is volume in plain English. Mics will distort if they cant take the powerful levels of sound that you put into them with your Marshall stack and Les Paul combo. You will find that most studios choose a small diaphragm condenser mic for in front of the cabs. The room mic most often is a large diaphragm condenser mic.

You do not have to spend tons of cash to get a great sound. Shure Sm57's have recorded the loudest amps for years, and they can be found for under 100 bucks. Two of these babies sent into a four input mixer , then mixed together into a stereo out, or a mono out into your recorder is all you will ever need. Less can be more.

One more note about your tone... My last blog entry dealt with compression. First of all, put one in your signal chain, before the tape machine. If you are in pro tools, put one at the insert stage. This will eliminate all of the unwanted hums and pops, and it will control the wild, out of character notes. Taming the loudness, or the dynamics of the guitar itself is the point, not removing any tone or guitar sound.

The bottom line here is that a few well picked out mics, placed in the best location will give you that perfect tone for all of your electric guitars, for all of your albums for decades to come!

Now GO! Play with this stuff, and get that tone that the pros have, for pennies on the dollar. One song that has a good tone is "Best friends girl" at . The song is not the best in the world, but it is all about the tone. One Sure SM57, placed in front of the amps' grill, at a slight angle, did it all. Enjoy, and thanks for listening!

Peace, out.