Sound Tip #9 – When Something Doesn’t Work, First Things First. (My Biggest Tech Secret)

I am not kidding when I tell you that this tip is actually my biggest secret in engineering. Once you read it, you might discount what I have to say and that is ok, it’s your loss and your head ache. This is typically something seen more regularly in broadcast engineering. I have based a large part of my career around being able to fix very difficult broadcast technical problems and have been asked a number of times “how did you know how to fix (fill in the blank)?” The answer is my biggest professional secret… I likely didn’t know how to fix it! What is the...

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Lessons in Live Audio: Sound Tip #8 – Don’t give up! Get creative!

I’m going to have to post this in both the Pro Tips section and the Blog section. I had a client this weekend have a conference and during their last night they had a 6 piece band scheduled to play, and they hired my services to run sound for the production/event. I was told that equipment would be provided and they just wanted a person to set up and run the board. This was a great event and what might have been a bad experience for many, was turned into a venue for creative sound design and a few valuable lessons. The event was held at a nice hotel in Nashville TN in a standard size...

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Sound Tip #8 – Mixing and Mastering are NOT the same thing!

This is a touchy subject for a lot of audio engineers. The reader is welcome to disagree on much of what I am about to say, however let’s get the rule out of the way. Rule #8 – Mixing is what happens when you mix your multi-track audio down to a Surround, Stereo, or Mono listening track. Mastering is leveling and processing the mixed track, in order to match the entire sound design of the project as a whole. NEVER do them at the same time. Personally, it is my opinion that the persons mixing an audio project (typically music) SHOULD NOT be the same collective of professionals that...

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Sound Tip #7 – Ribbon Microphone Care

If you are reading these tips and taking notes (what you’re not taking notes???? Why do I even bother?), then you already know about the two most common types of microphones (dynamic and condenser)… Buuuuut do you recall the most famous fragile reindeer microphone of aaaaall??? The ribbon microphone… The amazingly delicate and warm sounding ribbon microphone! This design is like the Faberge egg of the microphone family. It sounds amazingly warm and gives you that awesome Motown vocal recording sound, but I swear if you even sneeze near it, you’ll break the thing. I...

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Sound Tip #6 If you got the room… use a boom!

I wasn’t planning on this being a sound tip. Sometimes, like in any profession, there are things we just do and never stop to ask “why?”. I received an email a few days ago from a gentleman going into field audio on a commercial shoot and he asked “if we are using lavaliere microphones on all the actors, do we even need to use a boom mic?”. My rule has always been, use a boom (also known as a shotgun microphone) any time you can. Sound Tip #5: ALWAYS use a boom microphone as an addition to any shoot whenever possible. What if all the actors are on lavaliere...

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Sound Tip #5 – All mixes are NOT created equal.

When mixing audio for media, it is very important to know your media’s mix standards. This is where the majority of people who start in music production and move into audio for visual media go horribly wrong. Typically, when mixing audio, you have to think about your projects final destination. Much like the movie “final destination”, if you’re not careful you can kill your project just with the mix. Here’s what I mean. When you are producing music for an artist album, CD, itunes, you are hoping to get “on the charts” right? That happens by selling a...

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