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What is your favorite studio 'trick'? (07-06-01)


What is your favorite 'trick' - i.e., using a piece of gear in an unconventional way to produce a result seemingly unobtainable by other means? (We know we're asking you to reveal one of your professional secrets, but work with us here, alright?)
July 6, 2001 @06:48pm

Well, one trick I come back to again and again for really ear-catching noise is feedback loops. I patch the output of my analog mixer thourgh a mult and back into the input. So whatever signal I'm running through the mixer, I can add different levels of feedback to it. By adjust the EQ on the master channel, as well and the inpput channel, I can create different tonal qualities to the feedback.
The same thing works well with DAWs, though some of them try very hard to prevent this from happening. The digital feedback has a much more metallic and grating sound (because of latency), and the analog is generally higher pitched (I think because there is no limit to the frequency range of the feedback - no sampling rates!)
I guess this isn't for everybody, but I think it is great fun .)
July 7, 2001 @01:07am

Since we have so many "tools" at our disposal now I'm not nearly as creative as I used to be in looking for new sounds. When I started out the only drum machine I had was an old Lowery "Magic Finger" dual-console organ and would play the bass pedals with my hands for lack of coordination. The quality of my recordings may not have been near what they are today but I certainly came up with more "tricks".
July 7, 2001 @01:21am
Aubrey Litvack

I have been recording meny percussion tracks to accompany my guitar playing, but have never really budgeted for the cost of authentic interesting percussive devices such as the udu drum (not sure how to spell). One day while heading toward my home studio i took hold of a clay plant pot lying by my starcase, and struck my hand across the open mouth of the container. To my surprise, it gave off a rich resonant tone, reminicent of an authentic udu drum - only difference being that this plant holder cost $13, and the cheapest udu i had ever seen was still $75.
Nonetheless, after recording a part using this clay pot, miked about 1 foot away and at about a 25degree tilt from the open mouth of the container, using a neuman KM184; it turned out to sound teriffic. during the mix, i compressed the clay pot sound with a a short attack setting and late release (aprox. 447ms) a ratio of 3.5:1 and the opto setting (waves Rennaisance compressor), the track sounded identicle to even the high priced udu drums i had heard sampled before.
July 7, 2001 @02:40am

..but true..
take a McDonald's medium soft drink and slide the straw in and out. If you do it just right it makes a perfect conga drum finger slide.
I really used this one time to make a GM conga set sound much more authentic.
(I actually recorded a couple of good ones, then I sampled them and played them where I needed them)
July 7, 2001 @04:08am

in tune when using headphones...
An old trick I used to use all the time is to set two small speakers up in front of the vocalist as their monitor. The "trick" is to reverse the polarity of one speaker and be sure they are aimed at the null or back of the microphone. With the speakers out of phase most of the signal cancels out as it enters into the microphone. Unbelievable, but true!
It always amazes me to see how little bleedthrough there really is.
It especially works great for live, rock singers who are used to loud stage monitors.
July 7, 2001 @04:18am

Well, for old engineers I'm sure these are old hat, but for me they work well. I've been doing alot of stuff lately where there are many layers of vocals, 8 to 10 tracks of harmonies, counterlines, etc. Its rather difficult to mix all of then together and get a proper level, because the detuning/level shifts of the voices creates peaks and dips in the frequency spectrum that shifts continuously. I'll buss the entire vocal section, lead, backups, everything...out a stereo bus on the console and patch it to a tube compressor, then to a tube EQ. It is MUCH easier to manage, I find the recordings I use with this technique require much less multiband compression during the mastering process. Another thing I do often is drum repacement. Nothing destroys a mix quicker than weak drums. Sure, youve got choice mics on the kick and snare, but if the kit is poorly tuned or was poorly mic'd, or was ....well....cheap sounding, I'll employ triggers. I'll always record the kit/performance first and then decide what needs to be replaced (including the drummer). First you have to gate out all but the attack of the kick/snare (this process works on anything). Use an equalizer in the sidechain of your gates to block everything but the drum you want to replace, even if you have to reduce the snare down to a tinty click. Now you can feed this click into an Alesis D4, Roland TD7/10 etc and have a clean playback. OK...youve recorded the playback of the trigger device to tape but....Whats this? its late....yes most drum triggers/machines play back a little late so now you have to shift the track backwards in time. If youre using a DAW this is easy, if youre using an ADAT you will have to delay the rest of the tracks by the desired amount. Remember, there is no "secret formula" for a great radio mix, its just a bunch of little tricks all working together.
July 9, 2001 @06:45am

I am pretty new to recording and so I imagine this is nothing new to most of you. I recently set up at home and ended up with a Digi001 and a couple of mics, one AT sterio condenser and some AT dynamic vocal mics. I have found the condenser to be great for some things and the dynamics good for others. I have a "Blue tube" mic pre to use when I want to add warmth to my PT sessions (It also pushes a little higher gain than the Digi001.) I ended up creating sterio input tracks for both types of mics. I also have the usual midi and aux track to allow me to hear my midi device. Lastly, I throw on a Master Fader track. Right now I am recording acoustic instruments and they vary from session to session. So I have saved an "acoustic" session template just as outlined above. I then open it and "Save as" it to a new directory to begin a new session. This saves me lots of time whenever I want to set up a new session. Once in a new session, I just create the instrument tracks, route the I/O and I am ready to record. Any plug-ins I ad to the instrument tracks as needed.
This forum is a Great idea Sweetwater! Thanx!
July 9, 2001 @04:56pm

Although my Rane headphone amp has six output channels, I often find it necessary, when recording larger ensembles, to jerry-rig a few extra cue headphone amps. To do so, I dig up all my old tape decks and various other consumer audio gadgets, and feed their inputs with the appropriate signal, plugging the 'phones into the output aptly labeled "Phones" (bear in mind that, fo some devices, it's necessary to place them in record-ready for this to work properly). Thus, the musicians are able to not only individually control the volume of their cue mix, but can listen to the hot New Kids tape I left in there ten years ago between takes!
-Joe Sussman
July 12, 2001 @09:59pm

A 50 watt open back combo amp on a stool. 4 wireless microphones each taped to a different blade on a ceiling fan. Pan accordingly during mixdown.
July 13, 2001 @01:25pm

when i run out of inputs (particularly when i'm recording huge drum kits), i use my q-mix headphone distributor's "inject" inputs (there are four) to add a quick couple of inputs, while i send the "headphone" outs onto the tape. obviously this is something that should only be done in a desperate situation, or one where excellent sound quality is not neccessary (recording a friend's band's demo for example). it's cheap, fast, and effective.
August 2, 2001 @01:38am

One great trick that all of you probably already know is to tape a quarter to the batter head of a kick drum right where the beater strikes the head. this adds considerable punch, particularly if the beater is wood or plastic (as opposed to felt). If still more punch and cut is desired (often the case when I'm recording metal bands), I tape another quarter to the beater itself.
Add on top of that a little enhancement using a unit that adds high end harmonics or distortion and you've got one hell of a kick sound that cuts through anything. This method works especially well if you pull all the low end out of the kick (leaving the low end to be filled by the bass guitar), something I do when I'm recording a band with lots of double bass drumming.
August 18, 2001 @01:36am

my favorite trick that one day will work is to convince the artist or artists to have all their groupies to come over after we get done recording....espri recording....and to think some only do that after skiing
September 28, 2001 @04:16pm

80's Distorted Synth Recipe
Just run the mono out of your Casio CZ5000 through the original Smokey Amp (the Marlboro one works the best for this) into your mixer. Ok, now what your going to want to do is pan the distorted CZ5000 hard left and turn the mono AUX send that goes to your delay all the way up. Now, unplug the left AUX return from your delay. Turn the delay to around 500 milliseconds. Play some cool syncopated monophonic 80's riff.
- from Xeet Street Studios
September 30, 2001 @05:15pm

Sounds like your on a tight budget bro!! (hehe) I would have panned it hard right though, hard left messes up the spacial enhancement of that ero of keyboard.
October 2, 2001 @03:30am