How To Fix 5 Common Recording Mistakes

1- The root

Make sure to always focus on what’s most important most cases the root of the issue is the music or musician not the gear. Sometimes if a song is not sounding great it might be the song itself.

2- One Take Wonder

There have been  many classic songs that were the first take but that does not mean you should only do one take. There is nothing to lose with doing more takes. This especially true with vocals which can be stitched together from multiple takes to get the best parts from each.

3- Bleed

Bleed can make mixing a pain and can muddy the over all product. Most of the time to fix this just try pointing amps or loud sources of sound away from other microphones. This tiny change can drastically improve sound quality.

4- Mixing

Mixing as you go will help you get a more realistic picture of what the song will sound like in the end and will help you make more informed decisions on overdubbing and the like.

5- The room and tune

Sometimes the placement of an instrument within the room can change the tone. You can use room to get the most out of the sound put up a carpet, cover concrete, and move furniture. Finally ALWAYS CHECK YOUR TUNING!! nothing is worse then getting a good take on song and having to scrap it because someone is out of tune.

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Live Recording: Things To Consider

Live recording is a delicate procedure and the way you go about doing it depends a lot on your environment. The type of venue, how much authority you have, the type of music, the sound equipment, the reasons you are recording. All of this and more must be taken into careful consideration before even starting to record.

Image result for concertSweetWater.com has a very thorough article on the fundamentals of live recording. That will be linked here and it is definitely worth a read.

The first thing to think about is what you want the final product to be. Are you recording for a smooth, polished live album? Do you just need the audio for a well produced live video? A quick social media post? Thinking about these questions will dictate the equipment you use and how much time you spend on this project.

The process for getting the audio does not have to be a grand set up of a dozen microphones placed all over the music area. For example, if you need a decent quality stereo recording and are under a short time limit than a Zoom H4n microphone will get the job done. This is a good way if you need the audio for a live video of the band. After using the H4N then the rest of the work is all mixing.

Image result for h4n zoomThe most important thing to keep in mind when mixing live audio is to be careful not to distort the audio. It is very easy to add too much gain on a live recording or mix the low ends too high. SoundOnSound has a very in-depth article on mixing live recordings. That article can be found here.

The most important things is to be in good communication with the band and venue so they know what you are wanting to attempt and can help as needed. Understand what your role is as an audio gatherer. And as always always expect the unexpected.

Hardware Vs. Software

Today we will be going over the pros and cons of a hardware rig or software rig both for recording and live performance.

  1. Price

    Hardware will always be more expensive then software unless you can find something on craigslist that the owner might not know is valuable. On the other hand so plugins can emulators can cost a pretty penny but for the most part they are recreating hardware that would cost thousands of dollars.

  2. Versatility

    Software takes takes the lead here. If you have the ability to store 100s of synthesizers and a recording studio all in one laptop than is quite versatile. Hardware can be versatile in its uses but it does not come close to a computer.

  3. Image

    Now this one seems obvious, nothing is cooler than some vintage synth or mixing board covered in knobs, lights and switches and finished off with wood siding. Compare to the lifeless screen of a computer.

  4. Sound Quality

    This is really up to the user. Some people search for the warmth and character of hardware and vintage gear meanwhile some people prefer the accurate and crisp sound of a digital recording. So this is really up to you. Hopefully this helped you with your decision and now go forth and build your rig whether it hardware or software.

5 Methods to Miking Your Guitar Amp

When it comes to recording your tracks miking your instruments is half the bill. If you are recording the wrong way there is a very small percentage you will be pleased with what you get in return. Although researchers have found the cure and it’s proper mic placement. With guitars being no exception here are 5 methods that will help you make the product you dream of.

There are many different forms of guitar recording but this article will focus on guitar amps exclusively. If you have a mic that doesn’t reach the standards of “top notch gear” don’t worry these methods can be used universally by all recording mics.

 

Method 1: On Axis1

Your mic is pointed towards the center of the cone (speaker) and is roughly 5 to 7
inches away. This produces a very sharp sound that is overwhelming and vicious.
Method 2: Off Axis

Your mic is pointed towards the edge of2 the cone keeping your 5 to 7 inch distance. This produces a softer tone that smoothes over together. This one
specifically is used a lot by sound engineers (professionals).

Method 3: Angled

Your mic is pointed towards the cone at 3an angle maintaining the 5 to 7 inch distance. This is the extreme of Off Axis in terms of smoothness of the sound it produces.
Method 4: Room Mic

You place your mic in the center of the
room. This technique doesn’t involve as 4much of mic placement as instrument
placement. Rooms can be used as a tool for creating a faded sound and “realistic” tone. Moving your amp to different corners or even just a few feet from the center can create the sound you are looking for.

Method 5: Two Mics

If you happen to have two different types of mics and two amp speakers then you can follow the methods only applying two mics. This method will allow you to experiment even deeper into the sound you can produce. Recording with this method gives your sound a uniqueness to it and can help you cover different elements of recording depending on the type of mics.

When using two mics you have to take phase cancellation into account. Phase cancellation is when two signals of the same frequency perfectly overlap at 100% or are exactly at opposite poles at 180 degrees. This will cancel out the sound and leave you with nothing. Be sure to check the phase between your two mics before recording.

Wrap-up:

Finding the right sound can be difficult but keep trying until you achieve the sound you want. Experimenting will be your saving grace and never holding back from trying something new is how you get there. If you are to learn one thing from this article it is to never begin recording until you are 100% satisfied with the product.

Packing A Car For Your Tour (What You Need To Know)

So you’re finally there. You’re right at the point of no return. A tour. You’ve got the supplies needed, you know where you’re going, your instruments are tuned and ready to head off, but wait. How are you going to get all of this in your car? Moving vans are useful but they can be expensive, especially if you are already on a tight budget. However, there is no need to fret because the DIY-FI team has got your back. We have a couple of tips to maximize the space in your car.

Image result for volkswagen van

Starting From Scratch

The best thing you can do to prepare packing your car is to clear it out completely. Starting from a blank slate will let you take stock of the space within your car. This is also a good idea because you don’t want your car cluttered with unnecessary waste while on your journey. It lowers stress levels and makes for a more comfortable drive.

Getting A Head Start

No matter what you do it’s always a good idea to start as soon as you can. So getting started the day before is heavily encouraged. You do not want to be rushing around in the morning trying to figure out what goes where.

Priority Packing

Make sure you are only bringing the essentials on this trip. While it may seem like a good idea to bring along a Playstation for the hotel, you don’t want to sacrifice the limited space you have.Image result for packed car with instruments Plan out outfits ahead of time and be wary of how many luxury items you bring along.

Also when packing larger drums and amps make sure these are put in first. After they are securely put in start placing the rest of your gear around them. Guitars and other string instruments are always last.

Safety First

Of course it is of the utmost importance that you can safely operate your vehicle. You do not want to block your vision. Make certain that no luggage or gear is blocking your rear window. If safety becomes a concern then you’ll want to dig out those last few dollars to rent a larger vehicle. Safety is always a top priority.

Well there you have it. A few tips to get you started on your big journey. Just remember that it’s always better to be safe and cautious on your trip. Unnecessary risks, more often than not, come back to bite you in the bum.

3 Essentials for Cheap Home Recording

Imagine yourself recording your first track in your home studio, what do you see? You’re probably envisioning state of the art gear: Your Ams-Neve 88RS soundboard with scoring panel, stem maker, joystick pan and expanded patch. Accompanied by your 34 inch Acer Predator X34 desktop monitor connected to your duel KEF X300A speakers. And to finish off your setup you are recording with one of the slickest microphone in the business, the Neumann U87 to capture every particle of sound on set. This is the ideal set-up although most of us don’t have thousands of dollars to throw down for our ideal home studio. To compensate for our loss here are 3 cheap alternatives for recording at home.

Digital Audio Workstation 

The first essential to producing a track is a platform to mix it with. This is referred to as a Digital Audio Workstation and comes in forms of computer software applications and soundboards. The cheapest form are computer softwares and the best part, they are free. Mac users are offered the application Garageband. It can be downloaded from the app store and is known for its user friendly format. PC users are offered the application Audacity which can be downloaded from Audacity’s website. The downside to Audacity is it’s complicated format, although with a little bit of practice anyone can use it like a pro. And don’t worry both of these applications are used universally by beginners and professionals, so don’t think that you are getting a watered down version of software.

Microphone

The second essential to producing a track is a microphone to record with. A widely accepted misconception is only quality equipment will produce a quality product. There are plenty of bands and solo artists that don’t use top notch gear to record their music. Many artists will use single microphone recordings, using the built in microphone in there computer or smart phone. A Lexington, KY band, Jovontaes, have produced many albums and singles under Woodsist Records, Hello Sunshine Records, and Sophomore Lounge Records. They have released multiple cassettes of recordings using only an iPhone. They also produced their second full length album “Paranoia Makes a Crazy Gift” with primarily single microphone recordings with the built in microphone in their iPhone. There fans love their one microphone recordings and if you are still skeptical check them out for yourself on Bandcamp.

Headphones

The third and final essential to producing a track are headphones to help you mix. You don’t need big, heavy headphone to help you mix your track. All you need are headphones that allow you to hear all the essentials of your track. If you have an iPhone chances are you have the apple earbuds that come with it. Those are perfect for helping you mix your track. If you don’t have apple earbuds do your best to find earbuds that come close to an equivalent. There are many websites like Ebay and Craigslist that will give you some cheap options, but make sure to read and double check that they are in good condition. A general rule to keep in mind, any headphones are better than no headphones.

The recap the 3 essentials to cheap home recording: a platform to mix your tracks, a microphone to record with, and headphones to help you mix your track. There are cheap methods out there you just have to be resourceful and know how to use them. Good luck to all with producing your next track.

Making a CD

Today we will talk about the pros and cons of making and duplicating your own CD’s or going to a company like Disc Makers and doing it professionally. We will address the differences in price, customization, and quality/quantity.

Price:

DIY:

DIY is a perfectly cheap option for a short run of CD’s and if the amount is under 100 then doing it yourself would be a good option.

However it is harder to find large quantities of discs on your own without going through a company like disc makers.

Professional:

Professional is worth while when you want to produce a large number of CD’s and becomes more affordable the more you get.

However you will most likely not be able to order less the around 50-100 CD’s.

Customization:

DIY:

Your imagination and your skill are your only limits.

However some things such a 6 panel folding CD cases may be out of reach.

Professional:

You are limited to only what the factory can produce.

However you can have more options, such as jewel cases and multi paneled cases.

Quality/Quantity

DIY:

The quality of the packaging may be harder to achieve but you could double check every single product.

Meanwhile quantity is less worth while. If you were to bulk order cd it would not cost much to have them duplicated and packaged as well.

Professional:

You are less likely to see the all the products a double check every detail. They may give you a test print of virtual version to show you what the CD would look like.

Quantity is easy here because it is being made in a factory designed for large mass orders and will be able to handle your order efficiently and at low cost.

What Makes A Good Album Cover?

An album cover is arguably the most important aspect of an album. It is the sign above the arch letting all who go here know what is contained within. It can be a warning, it can be a persuasion, but most importantly it’s the first thing a listener experiences when entering your musical domain. It is a very important decision. The DIY-FI team wants to give you some tips when coming up with your album cover. There are no rules, an album cover is controlled entirely by you but if you are looking for some help or inspiration we are here to serve.

1. Letting The Audience Know Who You Are

The artistic side of an album is all fine and dandy but if a listener can’t see the name of your band than this can be a problem. There is an argument to be made that perhaps now, in this digital age, a name on a cover is not as important. Anyone streaming you can see your name float across the front Image result for fuzz album coverof their iPhone. However, physical copies of records are now yet obsolete and it is a courtesy to your listener to have your name easily identifiable on the album.

Fuzz’s self-titled, debut album has a cover that showcases a nice marriage between artistic expression and information. The psychedelic creature lets the audience know what’s in store for them in this album. The bottom half of the creature’s body then morphs into the band’s name and the title of the album. This is an important step and something to consider when beginning to construct your album cover.

2. Letting The Audience Know What You Are

Similar to the step before letting an audience know what kind of music they are about to here is a key ingredient of a well crafted album cover. It is easy to get caught up on a cool graphic or interesting font for your name but you have to consider, “Image result for king gizzard paper macheIs this portraying my music appropriately?” A comic sans font for a doom metal band probably isn’t the best option. Especially if this is your first album you want to let the person holding your album know exactly what it is you do.

An example of an album cover that pulls this off very well is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s seventh full-length album, Paper Mache Dream Balloon. The cover of the album has an almost “Thomas the Train-like” appearance. It depicts what looks like a frame from a stop-motion animation of each member of the band playing their respective instruments in the middle of the field. The band name is centered at the top of the cover in a bubbly font. The letters are blue with a red stripe across the middle. You immediately get the impression of a very mellow album with feel good riffs and lyrics. And this is a very appropriate description of what Paper Mache Dream Balloon sounds like.

3. Grabbing The Audience By The Eyeballs

Your music can sound like the rebirth of Jimi Hendrix but no one is going to pick it up if it looks like it was designed by a 40-year old man from Cleveland. You want your album to be downloadeye-catching, to stand out, make people want to hear what’s inside. The cover can perfectly encapsulate exactly who you are but that’s nothing if nobody wants to listen to it.

In conclusion, you want your able to clearly define who you are and what you do. It is your creation and your vision so no matter what you do make sure you like the final product.

Micing Your Drum Kit

When performing or recording miking your instruments is one of the most important jobs. Without a proper miking you are robbing your audience of all you have to give them. Miking your drums can be particularly challenging. Here are the basics to miking your drums.  Before you begin take a glance at the vocabulary and Drum Kit Diagram at the bottom of the page. 

Are Mics Even Needed?

Before you start the hassle of miking your drums ask yourself if you need too. Pay attention to the size of the room you are in and what you are currently doing. Is it necessary? Also ask yourself if your PA system can handle it. If you believe your drums sound clear enough, use your best judgement and decide whether or not the hassle is worth it. But if miking your drums is needed and 9/10 times it will be, here are some useful methods.

Two Types of Mics

Dynamic: You can rest easy when using these mics to record a clear, clean sound and can withstand high sound pressure levels. They shine their brightest when miking loud sound sources like guitar and bass amplifiers, and drum kits without any form of distortion or damage. The mic also built for quieter settings. The mic is good at picking up mid-range and is sturdy enough to take a few miss-hits. The majority of dynamic mics reject sounds coming from behind them in addition to boosting bottom-end when placed close to the object producing the sound.

Condenser: These mics are great for capturing precision in the studio. This method of recording does require power and will need a mixer or direct box with phantom power. The drum you are attempting to record using a condenser mic will get the job done as long as the sound pressure levels aren’t too high. Condenser mics also tend to be more sensitive than dynamic mics because of the low mass of their moving parts. Condenser mics are good for recording drums, although dynamic mics are great and preferred by the professionals

How Many Mics

How many microphones you place on your kit depends on the number of mixer channels available. If you only have the capacity for one mic, you can use the one mic method. There are three locations for this method: room mic, drummer’s perspective mic, and front kit mic. The room mic is about 10 feet away from the kit and captures more of the character of the room along with a distant sound. The front kit mic is 2 feet from the kit and 4 feet up capturing the most powerful, “boomy” sound. And finally the drummer’s perspective is considered the logical and similar to the front kit. The mic should be a few inches away from the kit and 4 feet above, peering over. This will capture the clearest sound possible with the one mic method. If you have invested in a few opinions for the ideal set up.

The Whole Kit

For recording the whole kit you will need at least have 2 ambient mics on the drums. These are called Overhead mics, because they are placed over the kit. There are two methods for placing these mic. The first method is X-Y. These are placed about 2 feet above the cymbals, placed side by side, and are aimed in opposite directions. The other method doesn’t have an official name. Both mics are placed on opposite ends of the kit and are angled down. They should be 3 to 6 feet apart and 2 feet above cymbals.

Kick Drum

There are three different ways to mic your kick drum. The first method is putting the mic inside the drum head. There are two ways you can do this. One, you take off the head to place the mic inside. Two, you create a hole to put the mic in. The mic should be a good 2 to 3 inches away from the drum head and a inch or two off center to produce a nice sharp audio beat.

The next method is placing the mic halfway in the drum. Make sure that the mic is somewhere close to the center of the kick drum and is aimed towards the spot where the beater hits the drum. This will record the overall body of the drum.

The third method is placing the mic outside of the drum and will record a boom sound. To do this you will place it roughly 3 inches away from the head and aim it towards the center of the head.

Snare

To mic a snare is very simple. Place your mic above the snare and be sure to point it towards the center. Using the three finger rule, make sure the mic is at a good distance. This will ensure to capture a clean sound with each hit.

Tom-Toms

There are two different toms to record, floor toms and rack toms. For rack toms you can record with one mic and if you can spare another, two mics. If you are only using one make sure your mic is roughly 5 inches away from the rims. If you are using 2 mics then you should have your mic 2 to 3 inches away from each rim. For floor toms the same applies. Place your mic a couple inches away from your rim and if you have more than one floor tom place your mic in between the two.

Hi-Hats

Hi-Hats are a little different. They should be recorded with a condenser mic pointed down to ensure a clear cut sound. Many don’t deem miking the Hi-hat’s necessary because it gets picked up by your other mics. If you are going to mic your Hi-hat’s do your best to use a noise gate on other mics to ensure they don’t pick up the sound.  

Conclusion

Do what works the best for you and trust your best judgement. If something doesn’t sound right, move your mic around. Don’t judge your equipment off of what you see in this article. Use this article as a guide and slowly make adjustments to your needs. Good luck to all the drummers out there and make some music.

 

Vocabulary

  • Size of the Room: This will affect the sound produced by the drums.
  • PA system: A public address system (PA system) is an electronic sound amplification and distribution system with a microphone, amplifier and loudspeakers, used to allow a person to speak to a large public.
  • Mixers: Subgroup Channels. Larger sound desks usually have a set of subgroups, which provide a way to sub-mix groups of channels before they are sent to the main output mix. For example, you might have 10 input channels for the drum mics which are assigned to 2 subgroup channels, which in turn are assigned to the master mix.

Full Drum Kit Diagram

drum-2