Category Archives for "Video"

Lady Gaga “Paparazzi” Isolated Vocals

Lady Gaga PaparazziLady Gaga’s debut album was a worldwide smash, and the 5th single off the record, “Paparazzi” continued a streak of hit singles that would last for years. The song was written by Gaga and former manager Rob Fusari, who also co-produced the track. The mix was done by Robert Orton and mastered by Gene Grimaldi at Oasis Mastering. Here’s what to listen for.

1. The vocal in the first verse has a short stereo 1/16th note delay to give it some space, yet keep in almost dry and in your face.

2. An additional longer delay (sounds like an 1/8th note triplet) is added to the vocal when the choruses begin. This fills the spaces in between the phrases towards the end. Mixer Robert Orton likes to use delays much more than reverbs, and this track is a great example of that.

3. The bridge changes to a lightly flanged vocal that’s panned fairly wide (about 10 and 2 o’clock) leaving a big space in the middle.

4. There’s a fair amount of compression on the vocal but it’s really done tastefully in that you hardly hear it pump or pull. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that there were several compressors used in series to keep it so steady without any side-effects.

Isn’t it fun to listen inside a big Lady Gaga hit?

The Clash “London Calling” Isolated Guitars

The Clash London CallingThere are some songs that get ingrained in rock n’ roll memory and become classics, and The Clash’s “London Calling” certainly fits that bill. It’s always a great treat to hear inside a song as there’s usually much more happening than we’re aware of in the full mix, and this song is no exception. Have a listen to the isolated guitars. Here’s what to listen for.

1. The famous opening riff is actually a combination of two guitars – one is Joe Strummer’s rhythm that’s playing the Em to Cm sus, and the other is Mick Jones straight Em against it. There’s also a E pedal note that gets louder as the intro goes along.

2. The rhythm guitar stays on the Em with a reggae pattern for the first half of the verse while the bass and lead guitar play the Em to C pattern. For the second half of the verse the rhythm goes back to the straight 1/4 notes like in the intro.

3. In the second half of the B section a second guitar joins with a chordal line that’s often missed when listening to the full mix.

4. The b7 at the end of the B section (some might call it the chorus) is way out of tune. Intentional? It certainly does add tension.

5. The interplay between the 2 guitars is off rhythm-wise during the second part of the 2nd verse. You don’t hear it in the track though.

6. You can really hear the backwards guitar solo pretty well here (it’s pretty buried in the full mix).

The final mix of The Clash’s “London Calling” is all kick, bass and vocal and the guitars are mixed pretty far down (listen at the bottom) so it’s fun to be able to hear exactly what’s going on. As always, there’s always a lot more there than you hear on the final mix of the record.


The Magic Of Foley

WB Foley StageMost people (even many audio engineers) don’t realize that the sound effects that they hear in a movie aren’t real. They’re recreated to sound more dramatic or “more real” than they actually sound. That’s the job of the Foley artist, and there aren’t many of them, even in Hollywood.

The process is named after Jack Foley, who started working at Universal Pictures back in 1914 in the era of silent films. When the first picture with sound was being made, the producers realized that the microphones weren’t picking up much beyond the dialog and the movie sound needed help if it was going to be another close to realistic. The call went out around the lot for anyone who had previously worked on radio, where live sound effects were part of many of the broadcasts. Foley stepped up and used what he already knew, and discovered many new tricks for adding sound effects to movies along the way. Most of his methods are still used today.

What’s interesting about the following video (from the Great Big Story network’s Frontiers series) is the everyday objects that are used by Warner Bros. Foley artists Alyson Moore and Chris Moriana.

I’m lucky in that I live close to most of the big Hollywood studios (I can walk down the block to 2 of them, with 2 others a bike ride away), so I’ve been in Foley stages numerous times over the years. They always strike me as someone’s messy garage, yet everything is there for a reason. This video is only the tip of the iceberg of how Foley works.

[photo: Warner Bros Sound]

New Music Gear Monday: Antelope Audio Orion32 HD Interface

Antelope Audio Orion 32 HDOne of the problems with audio interfaces is they just don’t have enough I/O sometimes. Most interfaces are either 8 or 16 channels, which is plenty in some cases and not enough in others. While the price for a single 16 channel interface might seem reasonable, when you put two of them together to meet your I/O needs, the costs can quickly get out of hand. Antelope Audio’s Orion32 has been a great solution, with 32 analog ins and 32 analog outs in just a single rack space. The new Orion32 HD takes that yet another step forward.

The Orion32 HD is unique in that it’s compatible with any DAW on the market, making it an option for users of both Pro Tools and Native systems via HDX or USB3 at up to 192kHz/24 bit. It also includes MADIADAT, and S/PDIF connectivity and 32-in/32-out analog connections via DB25. There are also two word clock or loopsync outs that allow the Orion to serve as the center of a recording setup (thanks to its outstanding internal clock), or make an easy connection with an external clock. Two monitor outputs that Antelope calls “mastering-grade” since they’re the same as the ones on Antelope’s Pure2 Mastering Converter complete the I/O setup.

Orion32 HD also includes a library of over 30 free plugins that include the latest collaboration between Antelope and BAE Audio, with two new EQ models based on their 1023 and 1084 equalizers, as well as a free version of PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW software. The unit retails for $3,495, which may seem high, but it’s still cheaper than paying for 2 high-quality 16 channel units. Find out more on the dedicated webpage or view the video below.

James Jamerson “Ain’t That Peculiar” Isolated Bass And Drums

James JamersonMost musicians and producers hold Motown in a certain reverence, and well they should, since the music has influenced a few generations of artists, players, arrangers and producers. One of the icons of the Motown studio band is bassist James Jamerson, and it’s always fun to listen to anything that shows his genius. Here’s the isolated bass and drums from the Marvin Gaye hit “Ain’t That Peculiar” that doesn’t so much show James’ technique as it does his ability to lyrically pick what to play.

1. The sound of Jamerson’s bass is a little on the distorted side, and what you’re hearing is a miked Ampeg B-15. He also muted the strings on his Precision bass with foam to get his unique sound.

2. There’s lots of leakage, but that’s because the whole band (piano, horns and all) recorded at the same time in a relatively small room about the size of a double garage. When you look at it in that context, the leakage really isn’t that bad.

3. Jamerson plays a repeating line that’s unusual in where it fits with the rest of the song, but listen to the notes he plays around the line. Once again, the notes never seem to fall into the places on the bar that you’d expect, and that’s what made him a genius.

4. The drums are pretty straight, but again, when there are fills they usually aren’t what you’d expect. The sound of the drums is also pretty flat, but that was before we knew what “big” drums sounded like.

5. The interplay between the bass and drums is fairly loose. If you’re used to being in the studio a lot, it’s even a little jarring at first, but by the end of the song it just feels so right!

Oh, for the good old days of people playing together in the studio! Here’s to the great James Jamerson.

New Music Gear Monday: Radial Studio Q Talkback Box

Radial Studio QOne of the byproducts of just using a DAW and not having a console in your home studio is the fact that the monitoring and communication features that we were all so used to are suddenly absent. While monitor controllers are pretty much everywhere now, that still leaves communication with the artist’s cue mix a persistent hassle, and that’s where the Radial Studio Q talkback box comes in.

The Studio Q connects in between the DAW’s cue mix output and the headphone amp and allows the engineer/producer to easily talk to the artist with the push of a top mounted switch, which can also be activated via a footswitch. There’s a built-in mic, but you can also connect a better sounding mic via an rear panel XLR. The unit has a volume control for the talkback mic as well as the cue program, and trim controls for both the internal and external mics. There’s also an adjustable dim control that lowers the level of the program when the talkback button is selected.

One last cool thing – the Studio Q also has a remote output designed to drive an LED light in the studio that tells the player (who may not be able to hear you because of the volume level) that you’re trying to talk to him.

The Radial Studio Q talkback box retails for $299.  You can find out more details in the video below.

Rush “Tom Sawyer” Isolated Guitar Track

Alex LifesonThere is probably no other group that has as a fanatical a following as Rush. It seems like there’s no in-between with the band – you either love them or hate them, intensely. There’s no denying that Rush has had some huge hits though, and “Tom Sawyer” is one of their biggest. Here’s the isolated guitar track from the song. Listen for the following:

1. The guitar uses the same sound throughout the song. It’s a big stereo chorus that takes up a lot of space. In a power trio there are fewer instruments and mix elements so you have to make each one bigger in the mix and that’s what happens here.

2. There’s also a room reverb with a short decay on the guitar. It may even be the original room ambience.

3. The guitar solo is clearly an overdub with a slightly different sound. It doubles with the original guitar at the end of the solo and again at the end of the song.

4. As you’d expect, Alex Lifeson plays with extreme precision, although there are a few notes here and there that are ever so slightly rushed (like in the outro). Boy, you have to be pretty picky to even hear or care about them, and certainly you never hear them in the context of the mix. That said, this was an amazingly precise performance given the time it was recorded in (1980) and the tape technology that was in use.

January 5, 2017

6 Ways To Spot A Fake Fender Stratocaster

Fake StratocasterThe Fender Stratocaster is the most popular guitar in the world, and because of that, there are a lot of imitations out there. That’s not a problem as we can decided quickly whether we’d rather have the imitation instead of the real deal. The problem comes with the many fake Strats that are available.

What do I mean by fake? The guitar looks like a Strat, and says it’s a Strat, but its a cheap knock-off that will cost you too much money for what you’re getting. In other words, you might be paying $1,000 or more for a guitar that’s worth a couple of hundred at most.

So how do you know how to spot a fake? The following video by Kennis Russell shows you how. In brief, there are 6 ways:

1. The logo decal

2. The bridge

3. The frets

4. The nut

5. The truss rod

6. The string tree

There’s really no one thing that will tell you the Stratocaster is a fake. It’s the combination of the above that will alert you. Check out the video for more details.

December 30, 2016

Happy New Year With Dan Folgerberg – “Same Old Auld Lang Syne”

Happy New Year 2017This isn’t exactly a traditional New Years song, but it’s a great one. Dan Folgerberg was an exceptional artist and unfortunately passed away about 10 years ago. He did leave us with some wonderful music, and this song, “Same Old Auld Lang Syne,” is one of his best. It’s live and the playing is superb, but I have to admit that the lyrics get to me every time. You can’t say that for many songs.

Enjoy, have a great New Years eve, a peaceful and prosperous 2017, and thank you again for all your support!

How To Sound Like The Beatles Using Modern Gear

Beatles GuitarsIf you ever wanted to record some of those authentic Beatles guitar sounds but didn’t know how to go about getting them, then this is the video for you. It uses only modern gear and relies mostly on pedal combinations. Granted, the amp is a Vox AC30 and the guitars and bass are modern versions of what John, Paul and George used, but the sounds are pretty much nailed.

Here’s a list of the timings and what gear combinations are used.
0:00 – Hard Day’s Night
0:31 – Nowhere Man
0:47 – Taxman
1:00 – Paperback Writer
1:18 – Think For Yourself
1:45 – Revolution
2:05 – Happiness is a Warm Gun
2:31 – I Want You (She’s So Heavy)

Equipment
Vox AC30 Amplifier: http://bit.ly/2igi9Hw
Rickenbacker 330 Electric Guitar: http://bit.ly/2hCh8tG
Rickenbacker 360-12 Electric Guitar: http://bit.ly/2ibAA3R
Epiphone Hummingbird Pro Acoustic/Electric Guitar: http://bit.ly/2hdssjq
Epiphone Casino Electric Guitar: http://bit.ly/2haJ4GV
Hofner 500/1 Violin Bass: http://bit.ly/2h2Hcg2

Pedals
MXR Studio Compressor
Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
Dunlop Germanium Fuzz Face Mini
Sola Sound Tone Bender Mk IV Fuzz
JHS Colour Box
DLS Effects Versa Vibe
Keeley Caverns Delay-Reverb
Boss FBM-1 Fender Bassman Overdrive
TC Electronic Ditto Looper