Disclosure: I am in no way connected to the Mellowmuse company, or the Auto Time Adjuster plug-in. No one approached me to write a review. This is not an advertisement. I am in no way getting any form of compensation for writing this blog post. I’m simply excited that there is a finally a tool that will allow us Pro Tools LE users to have a form of automatic delay compensation, and that this tool is inexpensive.
Here’s something I’m pretty excited about. Auto Time Adjuster (ATA). I was flipping through the latest issue of Tape Op when I came across ATA in the gear reviews section. If you spend a significant amount of time working in Pro Tools LE (like me), I’m sure you’ve grown frustrated many times when dealing with plug-in latency. The lack of automatic delay compensation in Pro Tools LE can create so much extra work and stress.
While ATA isn’t perfect, it’s definitely worth it in my opinion. Using ATA in your sessions will further complicate the signal flow, unfortunately. But that’s still not even close how complicated things can get when having keep track of manual delay compensation times, or how many samples you nudged specific regions. Save if anything changes.
No more manual plug-in latency compensation. And it’s only $49.
Take a look at the website, which has some tutorials. http://www.mellowmuse.com/ATA.html
Compression is a great tool. And I love the way it sounds when applied as an effect of sorts.
But I think everyone can agree that compressors have been used pretty generously in record making over the last fifteen years. If the amount of people who hit Producer Notes because they put some term relating to dynamic compression into Google is any indication, I’d say compression is the number one thing people are interested in regarding recording and mixing music (Buss Compression is one of the most viewed posts on this blog). And I’m not even going to start up on the loudness war.
But why not trade out the compressor for automation? Most DAWs and consoles have fantastic automation capabilities these days. Why not simply turn up the track when it needs to get louder, and turn it down when it needs to get quieter?
I understand that there are particular contexts in which automation can’t do the job (which is really a very specific amount of contexts), but for everything else, why not automate it?
From my experience I find this approach lends to a much more musical, open, natural, and, (not so) ironically, bigger sounding recording/mix overall.
Have you read Unleashing the Idea Virus or Tribes by Seth Godin? Or The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell? All very inspiring books about how truly great ideas can spread and gain traction when the right people are rallied around the idea.
Jackson’s Science Fair Project is the current living example of these books. I met a band from Canada a few weeks ago-Oceanship-through a friend of mine. Turns out there is a 7th grader, Jackson, who really likes this band, and has decided to connect people together by creating a tribe on Facebook. It’s all a part of a science fair project assignment he is completing for school.
This is a perfect example of how new marketing can be very powerful for the music industry. Jackson’s Science Fair Project has been very successful very quickly because it creates meaning, tells a story, and connects Oceanship fans to one another.
Here’s a few quick ideas for crafting your tone when recording electric guitars. Because many of us working at home in our project studios don’t have access to a lot of outboard EQs (I sure don’t), I’ve left the use of EQ out of the equation. Personally, I’m of the mentality that you should work with the source you’re recording to craft the tone, then use microphone selection and techniques to further craft the tone you’re looking for. There is certainly a place for EQ, but I’m a believer in not only keeping things as simple as possible, but also holding out on EQ as much as possible-using it only as the last coat of shine to a source that is already great.
Using multiple mics allows you to blend the response curves of the mics together, creating a tone full of warm nuances. It’s kind of like taking a photograph with several different lenses at the same time, and then blending the qualities of these lenses together to create a picture with a unique look.
Grab an amp splitter or A/B/Y pedal. There are lots of companies that manufacture these. You can get a simple two-way splitter (A/B/Y pedal), or if you’ve got a little more cash on hand you can get more sophisticated with a multi-way splitter.
In any case, split your guitar signal through two or more amps. Then blend the tones together just like in the technique above. You can use the same type of mic on every amp, or try different combinations for more complex tonal shaping.
Layering parts with different tones
One of my favorite things to do is to have the musician perform the same part multiple times, but change different parts of the setup, such as the guitar, the amp, the pedals, the mic, the pre, or all of it. This way, you’re not only getting variations in the tone of the guitar, but also in the nuances of the musician’s playing. Really makes the overall track have a big sound in the end.
So there’s three fairly basic and widely used techniques to capture a great guitar tone in recording, but I thought I’d throw in a few extras as a bonus.
There is some great outboard gear, as well as some software phase alignment tools on the market. These tools allow you to play with the phase of the signal-continuosly sweeping it from anywhere between 0 deg to 180 deg in phase adjustment. When it comes to electric guitars (especially in rock) playing with the phase of signals can create some really interesting and inspiring tones.
Another way to play with the phase of signals is to simply change the placement of two or more mics in relation to one another on a source signal. Equally as interesting and inspiring as above. When positioning microphones, play around with their position and distance on an individual speaker as well. Mic’ing directly in the center of the speaker (mic pointed at the dust cap) will get you a tone that has a lot of high frequency content (but could sound thin). As you move the mic to the edge of the speaker the highs will begin to roll off. Playing with the distance of the mic to the speaker will cause the proximity effect to come into play.
My favorites are fuzz and octave fuzz boxes, clean boosters, and chorus/short delays. But distortion boxes, EQ/filter pedals, compressor pedals, and phasers/flangers can all be great as well.
If you try some of these techniques out, please come by and share your thoughts or links to sound clips in the comments. Got any of your own techniques? Feel free to post those in the comments too.
In other words, don’t overcommit yourself to more projects than you can handle, and stick to your guns-both in negotiations, and in the forward-thinking creative ideas you put into your career.
Being a yes man all the time won’t make you achieve the success you’re after. However you’ve chosen to define that.