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Gsoul82

Official Production for Challenges Thread

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This is a big enough topic, on it's own, so it deserves it's own discussion thread.

Some popular production programs on the forums, are listed at the top. Several of us have some of these programs. I, myself, have Logic Pro X. Though, you're encouraged to join this discussion, whether you're using something else, or you're trying to find a program to start using.

Let's get serious about this stuff.

One of the places you can find bed tracks is HERE.

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Reaper here.

I noticed some folks record acoustic guitars to sing along. I have a tip that works wonderfully with any 2 channels interface.

- Record the guitar using two channels, one with a mic in level with your ears, and close to you, pointing to the fretboard, another with the line out (if the guitar has some sort of pickup, if not, another mic pointing to the bridge).

- On the first mic (fretboard), apply some compression, not more than 3:1, with a very short attack, perhaps even 0 attack. This will be the "center" channel, and will carry body and warmth.

- On the line out/bridge mic, apply a high pass filter, cutting everything bellow 100Hz, or even higher if you can get away with it, experiment. Also apply compression, but now, leave a decent attack time, something between 5 and 15ms should work nicely. This will be your "side" channel.

Now for the trick, duplicate the second channel (line out/bridge), pan the original hard left, and the copy hard right. Then on either of them, this is up to you, unlock the "snap to grid" feature of your DAW and DRAG manually the whole track so that it gets out of sync by a few miliseconds. The offset should be visible with a good amount of zoom but it should be quite gentle, don't overdo.

And that's it, a simple technique that can be done with almost any DAW default tools. It will sound rather good, provided that you play it properly (something I can't do :( )

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That's a good suggestion, Felipe. I've noticed I prefer the sound of my acoustic guitar with 2 mics.

The offset trick is basically a delay. You can use a delay effect with panning for something similar, but two mics gives it a cool texture.

I think it would fill up the mix real fast for more layered compositions though. I've noticed the acoustic has a real wide spectrum as is and can fight with drums/electrics/bass/piano/vocal harmonies/anything. So be sure to cut some of the frequencies (often lower mid to bass) when mixing an acoustic with more instruments. 

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One of things I like to do in both Reaper and when I was using Audacity, is get rid of any sound, either by generating silence, or just deleting, any spots between lyrics. This is far better than using a gate. Since we are singing close to the mic, any room will do. Also, it increases the signal to noise ratio by making the floor effectively almost zero. In so doing, using compressor only works on the voice instead of also bringing up room noise.

Some things, I just like to play as an instrument. I can use the Casio LK-165 as a MIDI controller but I usually just use the headphones out with an instrument cord to interface, playing it like I would a direct bass or, when playing drums, treat it like a summed multi-mic mixer that brought it down to one channel.

Then, when mixing, I brazenly steal Graham Cochrane's trick from recording live drums with one mic. Have two extra copies of the track. Eq one to concentrate on the kick. Eq another for the snare and pan slightly right. Cymbals and toms get eq prominence on the third track and pan those left.

On my frankenstein'd version of Van Halen's "Dance the Night Away," I played my Flying V through Roland GS-6 and into the interface. Then, in Reaper, used the Tweed cabinet emulator. Then carved out some eq because the guitar was taking up a lot of space. For bass on that song, I played the Flying V like a bass and used the pitch changer plug-in to drop an octave. I compressed, high-pass filter to take out some low end so that I would have room for the thumping kick drum.

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4 hours ago, KillerKu said:

That's a good suggestion, Felipe. I've noticed I prefer the sound of my acoustic guitar with 2 mics.

The offset trick is basically a delay. You can use a delay effect with panning for something similar, but two mics gives it a cool texture.

I think it would fill up the mix real fast for more layered compositions though. I've noticed the acoustic has a real wide spectrum as is and can fight with drums/electrics/bass/piano/vocal harmonies/anything. So be sure to cut some of the frequencies (often lower mid to bass) when mixing an acoustic with more instruments. 

Oh yes, this technique is good but works best with guitar+vocals content, perhaps a soft percursion setting at most. It really will fill up the mix.

Delay could be used too but it would not be so organized, some plugins automate this process and offer a mid+side processing, but its so straightforward this way that I don't see why bothering.

If you play around with the attack and release of the compressors on the "side" channels, it can give great results too.

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20 hours ago, Felipe Carvalho said:

Reaper here.

I noticed some folks record acoustic guitars to sing along. I have a tip that works wonderfully with any 2 channels interface.

- Record the guitar using two channels, one with a mic in level with your ears, and close to you, pointing to the fretboard, another with the line out (if the guitar has some sort of pickup, if not, another mic pointing to the bridge).

- On the first mic (fretboard), apply some compression, not more than 3:1, with a very short attack, perhaps even 0 attack. This will be the "center" channel, and will carry body and warmth.

- On the line out/bridge mic, apply a high pass filter, cutting everything bellow 100Hz, or even higher if you can get away with it, experiment. Also apply compression, but now, leave a decent attack time, something between 5 and 15ms should work nicely. This will be your "side" channel.

Now for the trick, duplicate the second channel (line out/bridge), pan the original hard left, and the copy hard right. Then on either of them, this is up to you, unlock the "snap to grid" feature of your DAW and DRAG manually the whole track so that it gets out of sync by a few miliseconds. The offset should be visible with a good amount of zoom but it should be quite gentle, don't overdo.

And that's it, a simple technique that can be done with almost any DAW default tools. It will sound rather good, provided that you play it properly (something I can't do :( )

 

This should prove to be quite helpful. Do you play guitar at all, Felipe? I think we may be the only two on the forum who don't, lol.

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"(guitar) play it properly (something I can't do :("

Learn the Basics first.........Chords........Progressions.......Rhythm............    The rest is subject to opinion and choices.  First and foremost a single guitar provides a basic rhythm (beat) and basic chord structure accompaniment for the singing.  The rest is embellishment that is learned a little at a time while gaining confidence.  Much faster this way than trying to perfect the embellishments first.

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A big thing I like about Reaper is that you can change the effects chain on the fly, in real time. If  you did eq before compressor and want to try it the other way around, just drag the eq down past the compressor.

Also, Reaper starts up in regular recording mode and you can record however many complete takes and it will be lanes in one track, Later, you can snip and each snipped section is called an item. You can then comp in that one track by highlighting the items in each take that you like and it will only play those. Later, you can, with a click, create new track from selected take items and it will create this track out of the highlighted items you want to keep.

It also has an auto-punch. Highlight in the track where you want to replace. then start the cursor sometime before that so that you can get back in the swing. It will only record on the highlighted section. And it is default non-destructive. Both the original part and the new recorded part are still there.

I personally like the method of Ryan Strain. You record a section of the lyrics once, twice, five times until you have what you like and then click and drag down to a keeper track that is not armed. I did that for "Highway Star." It was the most relaxing recording session for me. Why? I have red light syndrome. That goes away when I can just worry about a section and not the whole thing.

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A sample of the idea I said:

Dry guitar + dry vocals:

https://app.box.com/s/gnkla8qx0blwxbc42y5rvfdjvrwdo3er

 

Mid-side processing on the guitar (same track from before was used for center), same vocals:

https://app.box.com/s/evu7b83rs41mi8hvtoatmb5sxtdzpx93

 

Of course if you do multiple layers of guitars it can sound better, but, this is way faster. There is no reverb here, and was just thrown together. If you do it more carefully, play it better, use reverb to glue it up, etc, it can give a rather nice result.

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Another trick that is useful.

Shine (Kotzen/Mr Big) is a song that has a VERY powerful chorus on the Mr Big version, it calls out for belting the notes, but you absolutely can´t allow it to become plain shouting out.

Besides learning to control the quality so that it still assumes a "heady" quality so to say (covering simply does not work well), you can use doubling and when the sustained notes come together they create an effect that makes the end result a little bit softer on the listener (due to phase cancelation for sure). Its similar to the technique on the guitars:

https://app.box.com/s/zkjvizrrgb8xdq96ag4hud9yq7l54h9g

Unfortunately, I do not have a instrumental version of this song to do the mix, and these guitars I honestly can´t even understand, let alone play ;).

It works well for bridge/chorus, you must be really tight on the phrasing.

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That is a neat effect. Obviously, naturally created chorus because of doubling the melody. But also the phase difference gives the flanger/phasor effect one could get on a guitar effects box or modeler. But it also gives the effect of reverb, without being reverb and that certainly thickens the result. that is a neat trick to know.

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And to answer G's question, yes, Felipe plays guitar. So, a handsome man with the beauty of youth on his side, a great singer, a multi-instrumentalist, awesome recordings and he could be a recording engineer or his own label, even. It's just not fair to the rest of us. Survival of the fittest, and all that.

Seriously, I do learn stuff from Felipe, even if I am old enough to be his father.

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In addition to 2 mics on a guitar, which you can do with a basic 2 channel interface, there is another thing that can be done. For example, my Spectrum Acoustic has an onboard pickup and volume and 3 band equalizer. The mic is piezoelectric, what others call "the bug." It produces a type of sound different than a room. But you can plug in that to one input and a regular mic into the other mic. What kind of mic? Small diaphragm condenser is usually recommended for acoustic guitar, if you have the budget. Otherwise, any condenser mic will work better than dynamic mics. Then you can either pan or sum the inputs and do all kinds of crazy stuff from there.

Dynamics are better for really loud and high transient sounds like live acoustic drums, amplified guitars and bass guitars. Here is the funny thing, the cheaper you go in dynamic, the more iconic. Shure 57 is known to have a boxy sound that accentuates the mids and rolls of lows and some highs. And literally every famous guitar part you know of was recorded with this mic. And they are less than 100 USD anywhere. They are also good for really loud singers who like to eat the mic.

Again, I would like to repeat the wisdom of Glen Fricker. As a singer, do not cup the mic, if using a dynamic. The bottom part of the grill is covering tuned ports that are designed t cancel signal from side and rear directions. They are what makes the mic cardiod. Keep your hand off the grill and your voice will sound its best.

Condenser, especially large diaphragm condenser, has fixed back plate. The flexible sheet of metal that is the front plate picks up your voice. The fixed back plate tends to reject sound from anything behind it. If you put a dampener or something behind the mic, you defeat that purpose. Better to put sound shields to the side, if you must. When I sing, I have a piece of foam that was packing from a pool system controller (picked it out of our trash at work) and put it the right of my mic do deaden sound from the living room. Left side nothing, I am next to a curtain over the sliding glass door the back yard. Back of the mic faces the computer and what not. Then I sing through a pop filter about 6 inches away except for high loud notes.

Then I edit the track, deleting sections of "dead air" between lyric passages that may have other environmental sounds, even me clearing my throat.. What's left is a track where the only thing you can hear is the voice, and none of the rest of the environment.

Another thing about killing reflections in a room. Sound cancellation is about trapping rather than absorbing. So, a curtain over a wall or window does better than carpeting over the same surface. Because the low frequencies go through and around curtain but get trapped back there. The usual problem in a room treated incorrectly is that the highs are absorbed and the lows are not and you get a sonic mudpit.

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And because most of us do not have the money for a true studio build-out or access to a good studio, we close mic. And because of DAWs like Reaper and Pro Tools having plug-in and routing abilities, you can crank out sound as good as commercial releases. And so, take advantage of direct injection instruments, especially if you are performing on the instruments instead of using a karaoke track.

I am crap as a drummer. But I can play drums on the Casio keyboard. Even though I have a nice house, it is not really set up for me to have a full kit with even only one 24" kick. However, I do have room, should I save the scratch to get one, the Alesis Nitro kit. One of the owners of my company plays drums and he has three of these. It has all the drum sets in it you will ever need. You can MIDI control with it or instrument cord and play "live." It is an electronic drum set, so, all anyone else is going to hear is tap, tap. I make more noise washing dishes. All for $300 and free shipping nearly anywhere.

These days, all the pro studios direct inject the bass. A player may get snooty and want to play through a real Mesa Boogie and the engineer will let him do that, then use the direct inject track, anyway. Also with keyboard and synth parts. We are talking about us singers working in whatever spare room we have, not a pro label recording a 5 piece band with 5 mics alone on the drums.

Also, Reaper has inboard MIDI editor with a piano roll and you can program any musical instrument part and there are free instrument VSTi plug-ins everywhere. It just takes time to program it. Others, like Fruity Loops and Garageband, also have this ability. Then, the only mic you are worried about is for vocals. Word of advice in programming MIDI parts. In order for the part to sound as real as a human playing it, don't make the part so complex that a dummer, for example, with no more than 4 limbs could not play it.

Same if you are programming keyboard or guitar parts. Most guitar players are using no more than four fingers on the left hand and plucking with no more than 2 or 3 fingers with the right hand.

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And one other thing for a good sound all together. It helps if you can listen to the results on something else other than the headphones you wore in recording. I have a sneaking suspicion that Felipe does that. He may have a set of speakers or monitors, expensive or not, even house stereo speakers. But at some point, he gets the playback into an acoustic space outside of his head and changes balance from there. My car has a USB port. So, I can hear stuff in that, the place where 90 percent of americans hear music. If I have something that sounds good on that, it is good on headphones. The same cannot be said of the converse. Something that sounded okay on headphones does not always sound good in the "real world" of my car, which has a 6 speaker sound system and media center that also takes TRS cable from an ipod and also can link bluetooth to something.

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7 hours ago, Bzean123 said:

Thanks for Felipe and Ron for all the great advice. This stuff is really helpful in creating my home-made masterpieces!

In general I record singing and playing the guitar  together. But its problematic in that, as Ron says, I close mic to get the best vocals. So the guitar sounds like crap. Thanks in part to this thread, I've started experimenting with a mic on the guitar. I have a lot to figure out, but its already a definite improvement.

I have been there, done that, so many times. I may have to force myself, but things turn out better if I record the guitar first. Then record the vocal separately, on another track. Difficult for me because I have always been used to playing guitar and singing at the same time.

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Another advantage I like of directly into interface, especially for recording instruments, is that I don't have to worry about barking dogs, air conditioning, or tv noise from the next room. With my Flying V, I don't really have to turn on the amp for the sound I am looking for. I have a Roland GS-6, a professional rack mount digital effects processor / modeler that I bought used back in the 90's. I have several pre-set amp models to choose from and can change the parameters of any of the effects. I could even save it, at the cost of deleting on of the factory pre-sets. It has MIDI out, XLR out, instrument cable out. Low, medium, and high impedance selector. High for single coil, medium for dual or humbucker (I have humbucker pick-ups on the Flying V,) and low for bass guitar and other low impedance instruments that have the less than line level signal.

I could plug in my dynamic mic into the GS-6 and switch to high (single coil of the mic) if I wanted to do so.

Then, after that, I can choose a cabinet emulator in Reaper. It results in this truly monstrous guitar sound.

The Casio, I can play bass or drums with that in what is always the "perfect" room.

But don't worry, even with all these abilities, I can still mess things up. I have toyed with "Dance the Night Away" by Van Halen, proving that I can take good instrumentation and still make a crappy mix. But I have had so much fun with it that even the doggy doo-doo results have been fun and a learning environment for me. If I have not made a mistake, it is because I did not do anything today.

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15 hours ago, ronws said:

And to answer G's question, yes, Felipe plays guitar. So, a handsome man with the beauty of youth on his side, a great singer, a multi-instrumentalist, awesome recordings and he could be a recording engineer or his own label, even. It's just not fair to the rest of us. Survival of the fittest, and all that.

Seriously, I do learn stuff from Felipe, even if I am old enough to be his father.

 

I wonder what he meant when he said he can't play it properly then. Was wondering if he meant he actively practices or hasn't really tried. I've come across a lot of people who just never thought they could really learn.

 

 

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On 6/16/2016 at 4:18 AM, Gsoul82 said:

 

I wonder what he meant when he said he can't play it properly then. Was wondering if he meant he actively practices or hasn't really tried. I've come across a lot of people who just never thought they could really learn.

 

 

It could be humility on the part of Felipe.

Just like, I know there a lot of guitar players who are better than I am.

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I could go hog wild about recording instruments and may well do that but I wanted to concentrate for a moment on just singing against karaoke track. Especially for those of us who do not play an instrument or or not well enough to produce a music track for what we want to do.

So, in that case, you bought a track from the link Robert has at this forum. And I would always recommend that link and not for the reason of being on Robert's good side. I mean, it is always nice to get along with your brethren in singing. But also because it is a really good site and you can order the track to your custom order. With or without BV. With or without guitar solo, in case you want to noodle some guitar, as well. And all for about a buck or two. And it is professionally mixed and tight.

So, you drag that into a track in Reaper or Logic Pro, similar actions.

Then all that is left is to sing. All you need is a mic. If you only have money for one mic, get a large diaphragm condenser. Or get one of the home recording bundles on the page in this forum that Robert has provided. The price is right, trust me. If you bought that stuff separately, it would cost you more.

So, how do you make a recording as well and professional sounding as the recordings from Felipe? Well, you have to be a little bit like him. Or a lot. No, you don't have to dance salsa, though it couldn't hurt. :D

Here is the Felipe "secret," if I may be so bold to reveal it;

Don't keep crap. Everyone, Felipe, Ronnie James Dio, even you, make mistakes. A bum note. Slightly off time. Garbled word in a lyric. Don't keep it. Do it over. This may take some time. You will get no awards for recording, editing, and posting within one hour by the clock. I have recorded stuff in one take and it was well received. And I have recorded something twenty times over two weeks and it was not well received. And all the variations in between. So, if you think you have crappy recordings, be aware that I am the king of crappy recordings and just offer this advice as a fellow miscreant.

So, 400 takes or partial comps later, you finally have a vocal that sounds like you want. Use shift and tempo tools in your DAW that makes sure it is on the beat and not dragging. And then, to save on processing power, render that comp'd track to a new unified track. With one exception. In Reaper, each section of lyrics or sound can be a separate item. And you can do effects and stuff on each item. If that is not important to what you are doing, then create the new track of pieces into one. This saves processing power and speed.

Now, you are going to do all your mixing stuff. EQ, delay, reverb, or both. And we could go way deep into that and probably will but for brevity, I wanted to talk about the workflow, in general.

Take your time. I have read so many books on recording and mixing and more than once. You really should not record and mix on the same day. Your ears are tuned one way for singing. They need a rest to be tuned to mixing. Don't spend too long mixing. You start second-guessing and doing drastic things. Better to give it a day or two and then listen with fresh ears.

That being said, let me sound contradictory and say that you should set a deadline for release or posting. Here is why: no mix is ever "finished." Especially in the day of digital editing. You could edit and mix forever. Pick a stopping point and let it go. This will cause you to focus on major moves and sounds and not get bogged down in minutae. So, spend maybe a week total on the project but not more than a month.

Don't talk about how long or little it took you to do it. It does not matter and I promise I am not going to be impressed if you recorded in one shot. Because I have done it, too. So, big whoopie ...

Or how long. I don't need to know how dedicated or perfectionist you are. All that matters is how it sounds. I am not a technical reviewer. I want to be entertained. So, make me want to sing along.

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On 16/06/2016 at 6:18 AM, Gsoul82 said:

 

I wonder what he meant when he said he can't play it properly then. Was wondering if he meant he actively practices or hasn't really tried. I've come across a lot of people who just never thought they could really learn.

 

On 18/06/2016 at 10:00 PM, ronws said:

It could be humility on the part of Felipe.

Just like, I know there a lot of guitar players who are better than I am.

Oh I meant I can't play it properly, as in if you gave me a guitar today, and asked me to play a few songs with your band, I can't even wrap my mind around what I would need to do to prepare for it. I would not even say its being humble, I can see how I am just terribly naive on it. I've mentioned that because if you use this technique with someone that is more experienced on the instrument and can play with a good sense of flow, rhythm, etc, it really sounds great ( I will record something in this setup soon with the help of the guitarrist that works with me).

But you know what, mdew said something in the lines of begin from the basics, and I've been doing that , its part of my daily routine now to pick the guitar and study something on it for at least 30 minutes. Let's see what happens a few months from now!

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Something else I learned in guitar playing. Simplify, don't try to play a whole band arrangement on one guitar. Especially if you are singing along with the guitar in a live situation.

Another thing I have found through harsh experience and study of others, keep simplifying parts when recording. Otherwise, you can wind up with a shredded mash that is too busy. A song is not about how many parts you can put in it but about how the story gets told.

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