Tips For Recording Electric Guitar

There are lots of different ways to record electric guitar.  The sort of default way in the past was to plug the guitar into your amp, stick a Shure SM57 mic in front of it (the amp), plug the mic into your recorder and shred (or strum, or whatever).  You can also alter tone by changing what part of the cone you point the mic toward, or changing the distance.  If you were really adventurous you might also add a large diaphragm condenser mic for added flexibility and tone in the mix. Of course in the recent past it has been possible to dispense with the amp altogether. You can get DI (direct inject) boxes and amp modeling software now as well. Here is an article that gives you some tips and no-nos for recording electric … [Read more...]

Reverb Effect Has Many Uses In A Music Mix

Most people know what reverb sounds like at its most basic.  All by itself on a single track it can make a voice sound like it's in an empty gymnasium, a cavern, a bathroom, or any number of different kinds of spaces.  When I was in college I used to play guitar and sing in the stairwell because of the reverb sound in there.  Weird Al recorded some of his early pieces (back in the Dr. Demento days) in a bathroom for its natural reverb. It's something that my wife (Lisa Theriot) does not like when I put too much of it on her voice in a recording.  When I first started recording, I used to put it on everything.  I used too much because I liked how it sounded.  But I ended up making the mixes sound muddy and, well, reverby.  As usual, my wife was right.  Too much reverb can mess things … [Read more...]

Bad Audio Of the Day – TV Ad During US Open Tennis

Yesterday I put up the first in a new series called Bad Audio Of The Day, which will consist of my observations of inexplicably poor audio quality in otherwise professional productions.  Yesterday's example was a TV commercial played during the US Open Tennis Tournament by an internet company called  As bad as the audio was, the company is a very small one.  So on some level it isn't terribly surprising. However, today's example is just unbelievable to me, coming as it does from an internationally established sports equipment company - Dunlop Sport.  They are known as one of the most successful sports brands of the 20th century.  Their TV advertisement for the Biometic Series of tennis rackets that aired around 3:00pm CST on the Tennis Channel looked stunningly … [Read more...]

3 Audio Mixing Habits To Avoid

I just read an article that has some tips on a few very common mindset traps you should avoid.  As I read through them I realized that I have had them all at various times, and it never ends well. The first bad habit is to assume your tracks will sound better once they are mixed with the other tracks.  Now I actually don't think it's 100 percent wrong all the time.  But in general, you should make each individual track sound as good as possible and not count on the "bad" to be less noticeable when in a crowd with other sounds.  The one exception that comes to mind, though, is how sometimes individual tracks, when soloed out of a mix, may not sound great on their own after you have applied EQ and other effects to individual instruments to allow them all to be heard in a mix.  For … [Read more...]

Audio For Videos: Do Not Let Bad Sound Ruin Great Video

The audio for videos, especially the videos produced in a home studio, always seems to take a back seat to the visual aspects involved in the project. I can see why this might be. They are, after all, called "videos," which seems to imply that sound is less important. But boy is that a mistake! Nothing says "amateur" to me faster than crappy, echo-y, thin voice audio on a video, no matter how good it looks. I'm betting I'm not alone in this. So the question is: why would you go to all the trouble to make a video look good if you were just going to ruin it with crap audio? I could guess. Maybe it's because folks don't understand how to GET good-sounding audio on a PC recording studio. Maybe they think it isn't important. It's possible they believe that it requires an expensive studio or … [Read more...]

Should You Use A Click Track?

I always use some form of tempo guide, like a click track, when recording music.  For one thing, it leaves open the option to add MIDI drums or percussion later in the project.  But it also allows you to copy and paste parts of, say, a guitar part that may have had a buzz, or a screw-up.  If the whole song is locked to the same beats per minute (BPM), it's a lot easier to copy a section of it (say the same guitar chord without the buzz or screw-up) and paste it into another part of the song.  And if you plan to send your part of a recording to a drummer who lives in another state, it sure helps him/her to lay down the drums after the fact if the song has a steady and consistent tempo. So for me the only question is whether I want to use my recording software's built-in click track ( I … [Read more...]

How Delay Effects Help Us Mix Audio

The use of delays in audio recording, either in between a sound and the reverberation that follows it, or between two otherwise very similar or identical sounds, is very useful for a number of reasons.  But all these reasons have to do with the way our brains tell us which direction some sound is coming from, or how far away it is. Thanks Mother Nature for that.  These kinds of things help us to survive in the world, and understanding how our brains interpret sound location and distance can also help us do things to our audio productions in the studio to make the sounds more meaningful and rich to the listener. The tips in the article referenced below are mainly focused on how we sense the front-to-back sources of sound. If you add these tricks to the other ways to make sounds appear … [Read more...]

Recording With 2 Microphones And Making It Not Sound Weird

If you record something with two microphones, either for stereo effect or to capture two separate sound sources, you run the risk of having it sound weird when you listen to the result combined in your DAW (digital audio workstation software).  This is due to the way the different sound waves interact with one another.  You do remember your wave mechanics classes from school right?  The issue is that there are two versions of each signal that get picked up at slightly different times in each microphone.  For example, if your record a guitar player who is also singing, and you use 1 mi on the voice and a second mic on the guitar, the voice will get picked up in both mics, though it had to travel further to get to the guitar mic.  So when they are combined, you might hear a sort of hollow … [Read more...]

Q&A About The Rode NT2-A Microphone

Someone sent me a question this morning after listening to the audio samples in my review of the Audio-Technica AT2035 large diaphragm condenser microphone here: I thought I'd share his question and my answer. Here is his question: I was looking at your review of the AT2035 and i noticed an emphasis on the mid range.  The Rode NT2-A mic sounds better to me. Now, I'm looking for a microphone that i can record my electric guitar ( loud volumes but not blistering loud) my voice, and my acoustic guitar.  So I was wondering - can I record my electric guitar with the Rode mic that you demoed in the video? Thanks! Here is my answer: Yes the Rode NT2a is definitely the better mic no question.  And you can also … [Read more...]

Mixing Music Is Like Cooking

I've often felt that there were tons of similarities between mixing music and cooking.  I'd probably see more similarities if I could create meals in the kitchen that didn't involve a bag of some kind or a jar of peanut butter.  But I get the concept.  One of the similarities that comes up a lot is how one thing can mask or overpower another thing.  The best chefs use multiple flavors that complement each other.  And if one ingredient is not as prominent as it should be, the right answer may not always be to "add more."  Sometimes a flavor can be coaxed out more by doing something with the heat, or adding a touch of another thing that makes the first thing stand out more. If you followed any of that, you may sense where I'm going with this.  In a music mix, if the acoustic guitar seems … [Read more...]