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Tech Tips

inSync Tech Tips cover over 4,800 music and audio topics spanning 15 years of technological development. Look here to find answers to your tech questions, cool tips and tools for making music, and more.

Live Sound Tech Tips

MIDI Amp Switching

Q: I have a guitar set up where I'm using a couple of rack effects boxes that I'm controlling with a MIDI switcher pedal. I really want my amp to change channels when I call up certain programs, but the amp doesn't... Read more »

Effects Placement

Q: I have a new guitar amp with an effects loop, and I'm trying to figure out which of my effects should go in front of the amp and which should go in the loop. Can you help? A: Generally, pedals that do gain... Read more »

Plug-in Order

Q: When mastering, what order should I run my plug-ins? EQ first, then dynamics, or the other way around? A: Sorry, there is no single correct answer to this question — every mastering engineer has their own... Read more »

Compressor Placement

Q: Where should my compressor pedal go in my guitar effects chain? A: As with pretty much all guitar pedals, you can place a compressor stompbox pretty much anywhere in the signal path that you want — you're... Read more »

Comparing Apples to Apples

As audio geeks, we spend a lot of time A/B comparing pieces of gear to choose which one is best for a given task. The key to making quality comparisons is to match the volume levels as exactly as possible. If the... Read more »

Structure Instances

Q: I'm using Structure in Pro Tools to do the horn parts in a blues song I'm working on. Should I be using a separate instance and track for each instrument (trumpet, trombone, alto and tenor saxes) or should I use... Read more »

Down and Dirty

Q: I want to run some of my tracks through my guitar stompboxes when I'm mixing. What do I need to make it work? A: You'll need a box that can convert the line-level output of your recorder/mixer/DAW to instrument... Read more »

When to replace tubes?

Q: When should I replace the tubes in my guitar amp? A: It is difficult to come up with a definitive answer to this question — it also difficult to come up with an empirical test; for example, pulling out the... Read more »

MIDI Out and Thru

Q: What is the difference between a MIDI output and a MIDI thru? A: A MIDI output sends out data that was generated within the device, by playing its keys, turning a knob, moving a performance controller, or... Read more »

Record MIDI

Q: Does Propellerheads' Record include MIDI tracks? Or do I have to have Reason to work with MIDI? A: Record supports MIDI tracks, can record MIDI, supports MIDI control surfaces, and has a full-featured MIDI... Read more »

Mix Preparation

The next time you finish tracking a song, and are getting ready to do the mixdown, go ahead and set up several reverbs and delays in your mixer ahead of time. Go for a long hall, a medium plate, and a short room... Read more »

Cool Tool Alert

From the "Why didn't I think of that?" file: ProCo Siamese Twin cables. You're going to want these cool tools for your studio or live rig. The idea is to combine XLR or TRS cables with IEC power cables into one... Read more »

Multiple EQs In Series

Another tip garnered from the man himself, acclaimed engineer/producer Frank Filipetti, during his seminar at Sweetwater's GearFest '09 on how to mix using the Universal Audio UAD-2 plug-ins. There's nothing wrong... Read more »

AES vs. S/PDIF

Q: Can I connect AES digital signal to S/PDIF input, vice versa? A: As far as the data goes, there should be no problem connecting these two digital formats. Electronically, in most cases, interconnecting them will... Read more »

Multiple Compressors in Series

During producer/engineer Frank Filipetti's seminar on using the Universal Audio UAD-2 card during mixdown, which he presented at Sweetwater's recent GearFest '09, he had several tracks set up with more than one... Read more »

1176 vs. 2-1176

Q: Are there difference between having two separate Universal Audio 1176 compressor/limiters and a 2-1176 Twin compressor/limiter? A: In both cases you have a pair of 1176s that can be used dual mono or linked for... Read more »

Turn It Down!

Another tip drawn from the Sweetwater GearFest Producers Panel discussion, this one coming from mixer/remixer/producer/studio owner Fab Dupont: "You're recording too loud!" Fab doesn't mean that you should turn down... Read more »

Using Returns and Inserts

Q: I'm confused about when I should insert plug-ins directly onto a track and when I should use an aux send and return for them. Can you help? A: The answer depends on what you're trying to do and what type of... Read more »

Multiple Limiters

Many engineers use a limiter plug-in to raise the overall level of final mixes when mastering. The problem is that pushing the limiter too far will result in audible artifacts. (Why we push the limiter too far is... Read more »

Save It All

With today's input-laden DAW systems, there's no reason not capture as much information during a session as you can — though you may never need the extra tracks, it's sure nice to have them around as safeties... Read more »

MIDI Connections

Q: I opened one of my MIDI cables to fix a broken wire, and noticed that not all the pins are connected. What gives? A: MIDI uses a 5-pin DIN connector; but only pins 2, 4, and 5 are connected - and, in fact, pin 2... Read more »

Easy Adjustments and Mic Placement

Deciding on the best place for a microphone on an electric guitar or bass cabinet can be numbingly boring for a player - having to repeat a lick over and over while the engineer tries to find the best spot. If... Read more »

The F8 Spaces Trick

We admit it, as much as we try to stay up on all things computer- and music technology-related, we completely missed how cool Apple's Spaces virtual desktop feature is. But, now that we've sat down and put it to... Read more »

Manual Compression

In the "old" days, we used to ride the faders during tracking and mixing to control the peaks and dips in the level of certain very dynamic tracks. Nowadays, the tendency is to reach for a compressor or limiter to... Read more »