Author Archive

An introduction to mic types and how they work

Published by | Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Have you ever wondered how dynamic, ribbon, and condenser mics vary in function, price, and utility? Or how a mic picks up sound, and how that mic’s pickup pattern might affect its placement in the recording process? In this blog post, I will explore these questions offering visual examples from our recently released Audio course, Audio Recording Techniques.

Playing the Smart Strings in GarageBand for iPad

Published by | Friday, September 28th, 2012

You may find the Apple iPad touchscreen useful for many things in your everyday life, but did you know that you could use it to play violin, viola, cello, and upright bass? Even if you use a different Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for your music production, you might want to consider using Smart Strings in GarageBand for iPad if adding a string part to your songs is something that interests you.

In iPad Music Production: GarageBand, Garrick Chow shows how to play the Smart Strings, including how to play in chord mode and note mode. In chord mode, the chords are made by up to five instruments: 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello, and bass, or any combination of the five. Choose the key of the song and eight chord strips appear, one for every chord in that key.

Using delay effects in Ableton Live 8

Published by | Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Ableton Live is an incredibly versatile digital audio workstation that allows you to be really creative in many different ways. One tried and true creative tool that DJs, mix engineers, and live performers have been using for years is delay effect. Delay effects delay or hold a copy of a signal for a user-defined amount of time, and add a sense of depth or dimension to the overall sound of a song when mixed back in with the un-processed signal. Creatively using delay effect can add depth and interest to just about any song, and the family of Ableton Live delay effects is extensive including both modulation-rich effects like flanging, face-shifting, and chorusing, and modulation-free effects like doubling, echo, and slapback.

Delay Effects panel in Ableton Live 8.

When applying a Simple Delay effect in Ableton Live, there are a number of parameters that you have to tweak to create your own unique delayed sound. Above, the Feedback control and delay time settings are adjusted to establish number of repeats and how long it takes for the signal to be repeated.

Adding a soundtrack to a video with Adobe Premiere CS6 and Audition CS6

Published by | Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

It’s a fact that Adobe Premiere CS6 and Audition CS6 tend to play nicely together. It’s this compatibility that makes it very easy and convenient to use these two applications together when working on a video project that has any sort of audio component. While Premiere does have some very basic audio editing functions, Audition is a much more fully-featured application for audio recording, editing, and mixing requirements. So, using Audition specifically for editing and mixing dialog, sound effects, music, and foley, is a good way to improve the sound of your video’s soundtrack.

How to use the Pitch tool in Melodyne to tune a vocal

Published by | Monday, May 21st, 2012

Artists use Melodyne for corrective or creative pitch adjustments in nearly every genre of music. When using Melodyne for pitch correction, you may not hear the effect. However, when using Melodyne creatively, the idea is to hear the effect. Regardless of the application, the Pitch tool and its related subtools are often the tools of choice to create pitch alterations in Melodyne.

Strategies for using a de-esser to eliminate sibilance

Published by | Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

We’ve all heard that annoying hard “s” sound that happens when a vocal track is recorded with a less-than-optimal microphone choice. That high-pitched irritation is called sibilance and it can be found on all kinds of vocal tracks, whether your recorded voice is singing, or speaking words for a podcast or a book on tape. This challenge is very prominent in the recording world, and for anyone recording an individual with a natural accentuation or particular penchant for emphasizing words that contain the letter “s,” a de-esser can be a welcomed friend of the ears.

Also known as a frequency-dependent compressor, a de-esser is made specifically to only compresses certain frequencies that we want it to reduce in volume, and does not compress the rest of the track’s frequencies. For vocal tracks, this usually occurs in the frequency range between 6-8 kHz. When the de-esser compresses the particularly offending frequency, it leaves the rest of the frequencies in the signal alone, which maintains the natural sound of the original performance.

Foundations of Audio: Tips for creating groove-based, rhythmic echoes

Published by | Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Well-timed long delays (echoes) are an excellent way to fill in part of a song’s rhythm track. Examples of echo effects can be heard in current electronic music, classic rock, reggae, and many other genres. Where would U2 be without the sound of The Edge’s delay pedals? Where would Steel Pulse be without their delayed snare hits?

The reason echo effects work so well is their ability to stay in-time (locked to the tempo of the song) and their ability to create interesting rhythms that add dimension to the overall sound of a song.

When creating delay effects with long echoes, you can define specifically when echoes are heard in rhythm with the entire song. For instance, you can set echoes to repeat every quarter note or every eighth note. Or, you can get more complicated and create a unique rhythmic pattern by placing the echoes on multiple subdivisions within the groove of the song.

Tips for getting rid of hums, rumbles, and buzzes on audio tracks

Published by | Monday, April 9th, 2012

Noisy audio tracks are one of the most common problems encountered when producing video. Voiceover tracks, dialog tracks, background noise for a scene, and any other type of audio source may include unwanted hum, rumbles, or buzzes. Having high-quality audio is a major factor in producing excellent video content. So, what do you do if the audio for your video project is subpar and includes a lot of noise? Here are some tips on how to reduce the noise on your audio tracks.

First, it’s important to know that these unwanted noises are actually made up of harmonic tones, and to start reducing these noises, knowing what to listen for can help.