Troubleshooting and solving problems are just part of making records.
Things will go wrong at some point and we need to be able to deal with those issues fast, so we can continue working on the art, stay in the zone and keep the creative energy and vibe up at all times.
- Have you ever felt the frustration kicking in after hours of searching the internet for a solution to some seemingly trivial problem?
- Has making a record ever seemed like a tedious and difficult process to you?
- Have you ever been wondering why something just doesn't sound like it's supposed to and you are kind of stabbing in the dark trying to get it right?
We've been there and want to make your life a little easier by sharing a whole list of solutions to common "audio problems", so you don't need to go through the same frustrating process of figuring it all out on your own. Instead you can apply the advice right away and continue focussing on what really matters.
This is a two part series, as there's really a lot that can, and will, eventually go wrong. Let's jump into part two, where we discuss "tone problems" as well as typical arrangement/songwriting issues that you need to overcome if you want to capture exciting sounding songs.
TSRB Podcast 026 - Troubleshooting - What To Do When things Go Wrong (Part 2)
[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] So if there's anything that we haven't covered here, or if we have covered stuff, but you don't fully understand what we mean, go to that page. The Suffolk hoarding ban.com/audit terms explained. And I'm pretty sure you'll find your answer to whatever problem you have. This is the self recording band podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are, DIY stuff.
Hello and welcome to. The self recording band podcast. I'm your host then at the time. And I'm here with my friend and cohost now, Malcolm and flood. How are you today? My friend
Malcom: [00:00:38] Lou. I'm great. Just did a big road trip up North, uh, in BC, Canada. And it was beautiful. So three bears and a coyote. Really awesome.
Benedikt: [00:00:47] Yeah. Like in the wild, so
Malcom: [00:00:48] yeah. Yeah, just like, you know, after the, cause it's all through the mountains and stuff like that. And, uh, You just see them on like walking off the side of the road or down in these little river beds and stuff like that. That was pretty [00:01:00] cool.
Benedikt: [00:01:00] Cool. But you were in a car right? Or
Malcom: [00:01:02] safe in the car?
These were only black bears, so like, they're pretty small as bears go. Um, but we were in grizzly territory at the end, but we didn't see any Grizzlies.
Benedikt: [00:01:11] Okay. Okay. Yeah. But that's, that's super cool. We don't have, we don't have really dangerous animals here. They're like, there are some Wolf's again. They were kind of extinct here, but they are back.
Oh, that's pretty much the only, but it's only a couple of them, so that's the only potentially dangerous animal. And of course, like what's the English word for the, uh, word for, um, the hairy pigs boars.
Malcom: [00:01:38] Yeah. Yeah,
Benedikt: [00:01:38] exactly. They, um, they can be dangerous. Actually, yes. Um, yeah, those are the, the ones that you should have at least respect, like
Malcom: [00:01:51] yeah.
Benedikt: [00:01:52] Yeah. But we, um, no bears and stuff like that, but I always think that's, I always think that's, that's kind of exciting. It might be [00:02:00] stupid, but I always. Wish I would see a Wolf when I'm hiking one day or something.
Malcom: [00:02:04] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I would rather see one, not hiking perhaps, maybe in my car again, but I mean, maybe one's fine, but a attack would be kind of stressful on a hike in the middle of nowhere.
Benedikt: [00:02:16] Don't want to, don't want to see that. Yeah. Definitely. Wow. That's cool. I got to go to Canada one day. It's always been one of those dream destinations for me, just because as the nature and the lakes and everything. Yeah,
Malcom: [00:02:27] yeah. Come hang out, man. I'll be here.
Benedikt: [00:02:29] Yeah, that would be super awesome, actually.
All right. Um, I got a little fun fact as well for this week because I just, um, went through our past episodes. And we crossed the 24 hour Mark. So we've already put out a full 24 hours of content, which is pretty cool. So you could listen now for a full day and night, um, through our podcasts. So I think
Malcom: [00:02:50] that's been, we encourage that.
Benedikt: [00:02:54] Exactly.
Malcom: [00:02:56] That's pretty cool. Get enough sleep. Have you hour break in there? Oh [00:03:00] yeah.
Benedikt: [00:03:00] Oh yeah. So that's pretty cool. Like 25 episodes, 26 actually now over 24 hours of content. And, um, yeah, it's been, it's been pretty, pretty great. And also I got this week, I got, um, a lot of emails and, um, requests for certain topics and questions and problems that people have.
So, um, there will be a lot of episode ideas. I think that will come from this, which is super cool. So keep, keep telling us about your problems and your like, where you're stuck or the progress of your projects or whatever, because there's always something interesting in there that we can unpack on the show.
Malcom: [00:03:37] Yeah, definitely keep doing that. Thank you.
Benedikt: [00:03:39] Awesome. So, um, we do part two of this episode that we started last week and it's about what to do when things go wrong troubleshooting. Uh, we started with technical issues. We went on to tone problems or things you can do when you're not getting the tone you're going for, or when there is issues with how it [00:04:00] sounds.
And we'll just continue where we left off. And that was, um, w we talked, we were talking about rums basically, and the next, um, bullet point here was harsh symbols. And that's, I think a pretty big and Collin one can be a lot of reasons for that. And I think that's one of those things. That's, I think most DIY recordings that people do without guidance on their own, um, half this problem in some way, like symbols.
Very rarely sounds super great when I get them from people who recorded them in there. Practice spaces. And, um, so why do you think that is
Malcom: [00:04:39] actually, I see what we've written down as an answer here, but I think before that, even it's, it's often the symbols, Ben's sorry, actually, that's not really true. I don't want to say generically bands always choose that symbols, but, but a beginning bands definitely do be symbols are really expensive, good ones.
Um, so people end up with just like their starter symbols that may [00:05:00] became with the drum kit in some cases. And they're pretty terrible sounding. Uh, it seems like they just get amplified and how terrible they are under a microphone as well. So having some extra symbols around is a really good idea. Um, I'm actually recording a band right after this.
I'll be heading out to start producing a band and, uh, I had them go and rent an entire additional set of symbols and we'll have some options then. So he's got this set that he's always happy. He kind of knew you had the, he was self aware enough to know that they're kind of cheap and might not do the job.
And then we've got a whole new set. That is just rented from a music store over here. And they're super nice. So we'll we'll have options and you know, sometimes you actually want to change the symbols based on the song you're doing. So we can have different symbols for each song if we really need to. Um, but after that, after having good symbols, I would say it's normally this early reflection kind of thing where there's like a hard surface normally might be, you know, walls on either side of you.
If you're in a smaller room, And the [00:06:00] symbol is just kind of like reflecting right off of that, back to the microphone and you're getting this kind of comb filtering thing going on. And it just sounds really terrible.
Benedikt: [00:06:09] Yeah, exactly. Low ceilings as well. Um, low, low untreated ceiling. So if you're in a, in a high room, like with high ceilings, sometimes you can get away with an untreated ceiling if it's far enough away, but in general, like some cloud or some.
Absorber or diffuser or whatever above the, the drum kit is a good idea in most, in most rooms in every room, basically, but especially with, if you have a low ceiling and that's the same, the same issue, it's just the reflections from the wall. Hit the microphones almost at the same in time as the direct signal from the symbols and those two mix.
And it sounds weird. And also it will sound like overly bright and harsh. Oftentimes. And now. Yeah, totally. But I totally agree with the symbol choice as well. That's probably the first issue here and I get it. Symbols are expensive and like they break. So you need to buy them over and over again, oftentimes over [00:07:00] your career, depending on how good the symbols are.
But, um, yeah, that, like, I always say to people that you could get away with cheap shells. If you put great hats on them, if you're chewing them well. So like, but the first thing I would always upgrade are the symbols on the drum kit. So
Malcom: [00:07:17] yeah, that's a very good point. Uh, I realized, as we say this, that putting in a cloud is not a super attainable thing for a lot of people in their DIY recording setup.
Um, you know, maybe you don't own your drum space, so you can't announce something into the ceiling. So. I guess just don't overthink it, treat what you can. Um, if you can put up some stuff on the walls, that's, that's, that's better than nothing, you know, just do what you can and make it work. Um, plenty of drums do get recorded with this still going on and the mixer makes it work.
That's another reason to have a good mixer.
Benedikt: [00:07:52] Yeah, totally, totally. Right. And that's, as far as simple choice goes, it depends on course on the sound you're going [00:08:00] for in the Shandra, but. Symbols are one of those things where one of the rare things where I really believed that more expensive symbols just are better.
Um, it's not always the case, like with other gears, sometimes cheap options can be really great. But with symbols it's really expensive. Symbols almost never sound really terrible, but very cheap symbol symbols almost always sound pretty terrible. So. Just buy good ones. And also for recording in general, I would say as a rule of thumb larger, but thinner symbols are a great choice often because they tend to be darker, fuller sounding and not as harsh and like annoying.
And also the weird thing is people are often afraid of buying like thin cymbals because they think they will break them earlier. But I found that actually the opposite is true. I found that very stiff, thick symbols break more often. Um, so you don't need to be afraid here actually. And, um, yeah,
Malcom: [00:08:53] that's totally true.
Um, my drummer Marcus explained it to me that, uh, But then being thinner, lets them kind of [00:09:00] bend and absorb you, smashing them. And the stiffer ones don't have that flex and there's too rigid and they eventually snap on you. So thinner last longer. And I agree you want fuller symbols and I generally like larger ones as well.
Um, I almost always tend to prefer that darker thing, but I that's that's we can't say that's the rule because it is totally dependent on the song and stuff like that. Um, for example, again, the session I'm going into today, we're going in, it's like a country rock record and we had to make the decision.
Do we want that Southern kind of Chris Stapleton thing where it's really dark and big symbols or do we want a more modern pop country thing where it's thinner and prettier? And so that was like a decision we made in pre production.
Benedikt: [00:09:46] Alright, what did you end up? Um, dark. Okay. But it could have been other way, so yeah, yeah, yeah, totally.
Yeah. I agree. Uh, but again, bright, expensive, good symbols will be better than cheap, bright [00:10:00] symbols. So. Yeah, definitely. Cool. Um, let's move on with like, um, another thing here with the symbol sound. Sometimes I find that and I I'm interested in hearing, what would you say about this? If you agree, sometimes the picture, the balance and the overheads or symbol max can be a little weird.
So often I have, like, I get tracks where the high hats are really loud or. Sometimes they're very, very pingy, right. Bell or whatever, but the crashes are not clear or loud enough. So when I turn up the overheads, because I want more crashes, I end up getting overly loud hi-hats or assembled Bella would write bail or whatever.
So that that's, that's also sometimes, um, Sometimes an issue when you don't have like spot mics, um, on the crashes, especially, it can be tough to really get those explosive crash hits when a new part comes in or whatever. And it's so important and you have to automate a lot and like a lot of problem solving in the mix.
So that balance within the whole symbol kit is like, um, [00:11:00] pretty important actually. And the thing that often goes wrong. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:11:03] Uh, I there's kind of two primary causes for this. I think one might just be the positioning. You know, you have to, if you're using two mikes as overheads, you have to just choose two spots that do the best you can.
But depending on what the setup is under those mikes where those symbols are actually placed, it might be impossible to cover everything with how that set up, um, while still getting a balanced, like mano kick and snare up the middle as much as you can and stuff. Right. So, yeah. Look at moving those symbols.
If you need to, um, again, this is something that is best kind of prepared for, even if it's just mentally letting your drummer know that they have to be open to their symbols moving because people are really drummers are really particular about where their stuff is. It's, it's almost like a. Weird freaky thing.
How they can just tell if something's been moved, like the slightest little bit, they have, every guitarist who's gone is played on their drummers drum kit before they showed up for practice. And then there's [00:12:00] gotten off in the tremors, like sat down and been like, Who touched my kid.
Yeah. It's so weird how they could tell, like they just always know. It's like, they put like a little thin hair over the snare or something it's been, it's been moved. Um, but, uh, so yeah, they really get particular about how it's set up and you know, you see it before shows are just tweaking and the angle and the distance of everything.
Which makes sense, you know, imagine if the guitar frets removed to be awful. Yeah. But, uh, but I'm with recording. We need to have that flexibility of maybe moving that, uh, left crash further towards the drummer. So it's more under the overheads or further away, depending, you know, whatever needs to happen.
Uh, you know, the high hats, something that I often request to be moved, um, just to increase my snare. Bleeds situation, you know, a few inches on that makes a huge difference. Um, and also can make it quieter because it's probably going to move further away from the overheads, depending on how you've got things mixed up.
Benedikt: [00:12:57] Oh yeah, totally. And also I [00:13:00] think how you hit it, how you play, it plays a big part. And that goes along with the positioning of the, of the Hyatt actually, because I found when you place the high hat, a little higher, which is a good thing because you have less Hyatts in the snare mic. But it also kind of, um, it's, it makes it harder to really smash the high hats.
So the higher up they are the quieter people tend to play them. And because you're like, if they are down there, you can really hit them hard. And if they're little up, it's like, yeah, it's just, usually people play quieter. And that's also something like. You can really, if there's a new park coming in and you want really big explosive crash symbols, you can like hit them really hard and make them sound explosively.
And then the high hats you should usually play them really like in a controlled way, you should control the crashes as well. But some parts of the song may require you to like really hit the symbols heart. So that balance in the playing income combination with the positioning of the actual symbols. Um, is often it's often the key and, uh, people, I [00:14:00] think a lot of people know now that it's.
Generally a good idea to have allowed shells and quieter symbols, but sometimes they forget to do that with a highest as well. So they still play the high heads pretty loud, but not the crashes and like, yeah. And then it gets weird. Yup.
Malcom: [00:14:14] Definitely. Yeah. There's a lot of coaching going on for, for different parts and be like, okay on, I know I've been telling you to hit the symbols, quiet for the entire song, but on the entrance to the bridge really hit it, you know, like smash or crash, huge there kind of thing, stuff like that.
It can be just single instances or whole parts. Um, and then, yeah, so the positioning and how they play it are obviously gonna be the two biggest factors, but yeah, don't be afraid if you have the channels to throw up a spot mic and get something directly on the microphone, just to reinforce that and make sure you've, you're capturing that and have a, an option there.
Benedikt: [00:14:46] Oh yeah. And that can be again are often recommended SM 57 or something. It doesn't need to be an expensive condenser, micro something. Just any mic you have left over can be used as a spot mic. It's just too, to have that extra. Channel where you can like [00:15:00] push, um, And the fader up a bit and bring the, the crashes out more.
So it doesn't need to be pretty oftentimes just something that's yeah. Gets a little more volume to it.
Malcom: [00:15:09] Yep. Definitely. My most common spot Mike is actually probably the ride, if anything, I think. Um, and it's just because I like having attack. Like a really clear pingy attack, uh, from, you know, the Mike's as close as I can get to the stick, hitting the symbol, and then that's something I can just sneak in there cause it's going to be in the overheads.
But now it's, there's like this illusion that it's really an overhead.
Benedikt: [00:15:30] So yeah, totally that, and sometimes, I don't know if you have a lot of drummers that do that, but when people crash the ride, it can be, if you don't have a spot mic, it can sound late and kind of distant. It just takes a time, some time to get loud and.
Um, it should be in the room. It sounds pretty powerful and full, but sometimes on the recording, it just disappears. So I love, I love having a spotlight on the ride for that. Somebody crashes the ride as well. So
Malcom: [00:15:56] yeah, another tip for the metal folk. If you have a [00:16:00] splash, told the spot, make that soccer, they really have a hard time getting their, their spot in the mix to stand out.
So I would really emphasize, uh, small symbols.
Benedikt: [00:16:09] Oh, totally. Yep. That and, and effect symbols in general. I think so if you have a China on a Fort on the far right or something, that's also. Good idea often too to Mike that even if it's just hit once in the song, but you want to
Malcom: [00:16:22] China, that's never hit. That's like behind the drummer, it's so far away, but when they
Benedikt: [00:16:28] hit them, you want to capture it.
Malcom: [00:16:30] yes. Yeah. The drummer will love you for it.
Benedikt: [00:16:34] Totally. The rest of the band hates it, but the drummer would love you. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Awesome. Um, I think that covers it pretty much. And then there's this early reflection thing again, of course the face issues. That's always a big one, like phase with drums, always a thing.
So it could be that you have all those things in place, but still like you have bleed from one crash into the other overhead and like vice versa. Right. So it's just not defined. They may be loud, but then it sound weird because they're [00:17:00] firing back from all the walls. So again, same issue.
Malcom: [00:17:02] Definitely. I have a quick story to tell China symbols.
Um, I love the way Shauna's symbols sound. I don't know why that is. And maybe it's just like, I listen to a lot of metal growing up and I think they sound really cool. But, uh, in the rock realm, especially like the type of rock that my band band Rascals is. They're not a thing, you know, they're, they're like for the metal kids, they were really popular in the two thousands.
And, uh, but myself and my singer, Sam really, really loved them. And we were always trying to convince Marcus our drummer to get one. And he's like, no, like they're, they're dumb. Like it's not happening. And he's like, Oh, he's lifting them off. And we're always trying to convince them to get one. And I think he had one, but he would never put it on the kid.
And, uh, Then we went into the symbol or into the studio with, with our producer Aircrafts at the time. And, uh, Marcus was recording in a way and we're like, Hey Eric. And, uh, Fabio, which was our, uh, or flat Flavio, which was our drum tech for the session. And we're like, Marcus really hates, uh, [00:18:00] China's symbols.
But could you ask him to put one on the song? We just want to see if he, like, if he agrees with you or not like, you know, because these he's getting told by these two really popular producer kind of folk. So what's he, what's his reaction going to be, to getting told, to use the China simple by these guys instead of us.
Yeah. So he's dead. He say, Hey Marcus, we've been thinking, you know, what would be awesome. And this song really needs, it's a China symbol. Oh, okay. Okay.
Sure, sure. Bring it out. I think he was like very skeptical that he was being screwed with, but,
Benedikt: [00:18:38] but funny how that works when someone else is telling them, instead of friends at that meets
Malcom: [00:18:44] Toby, did you end up using it then or? No, not at all. One story.
Benedikt: [00:18:50] Yeah, I bet I can relate to that. It doesn't the punk rock world.
It's kind of the same. It's like, yeah. For the metal kids, as you said, but I agree. I like how they sound, especially [00:19:00] like the that's the one yeah. Exception. Um, by the way to the expensive symbol rule that I just said, I think the cheapest channels actually sound pretty cool. Oftentimes there is some very, very cheap China's that sound pretty cool and trashy and they sound cool because there's sound like trash that's.
Malcom: [00:19:15] Yeah. It's meant to like stand out. Yeah.
Benedikt: [00:19:17] Yeah. You can build something like that yourself, by the way, without going into debt, but like not, not a China, but you can pretty cool effect facts and stuff like with a trashy, China and another symbol on top of it or whatever. It's stuff like that.
It's always cool to experiment with. Definitely. Anyway, talking about harsh and annoying things, um, vocal sibilance, it's the next year on our list. So also a very common one. Um, sometimes it's just the voice or the way someone sings. Um, there's not much you can do about that. Um, I've had singers that have just problematic S.
Um, sounds compared to others. Um, but that in combination with, uh, with a cheap, harsh sounding microphone can be a real problem. So some, some of these cheap Chinese condenser microphones [00:20:00] can be a problem. That's why we always recommend that trying dynamic makes sense that in the same price category. So B just because cheap condensers sometimes sound horrible and like, emphasize that.
Um, but if you have the right. Mike. And, um, so that's all good then. There's still a couple of things that you can try and do if there's still a siblings problem. Um, what's the first thing usually that you would do Muslim?
Malcom: [00:20:23] Yeah, it is tricky. Cause it seems like every voice you get has to be handled a different way.
Um, I have a hard time finding like a tried and true. Uh, solution. And I like to compress on the way in with vocals quite a bit as well. So that really just kind of amplifies the battle for me. Um, but as we've talked about before, it's, it's usually best to start as close to the source as you can get. So, I mean, the singer's probably not going to change how they say asses on the fly, but the microphone would be kind of the next thing you have to look at.
Um, so there there's a lot of things I would try. There's there's like distance, you know, [00:21:00] somehow that helps don't actually understand why that helps you think the S's are still just going to be as loud, but it definitely changes like the, the tonal response, I guess that's probably what's going on. And then, uh, most effectively though is angling the mic.
I find that I kind of go from like, Uh, directly on to Anglian a little bit further down sometimes. And that seems to help me. But what do you find with that?
Benedikt: [00:21:24] Yep, same thing. I angle the mic down, but put the mic up a little bit. So it's like from, um, it's looking down at the mouth of the singer and they should not sing directly into it, so they shouldn't like sing upwards, but they just stay straight, but the microphone just points down and that is because I think.
That, um, if you make an S the air and you can feel that on your lower lip or like your chin, if you make an S the air goes downwards, like the S I dunno how I'm not a, I can't explain it in a scientific way, whether it is, but just somehow an S a is formed in [00:22:00] your mouth and the way that the, the air streams.
Down out of your mouth. And if you have the microphone, like slightly underneath you, that just amplifies that. So if the Mike's a little up and pointing downwards, then I've got the best results most of the time. Right? Yeah. And that, and just like angling it and like breaking, not having the direct airflow into the diaphragm helps a lot already, just some angle or just saying slightly, um, to the like, not straight into it, but either.
Below or to the side or whatever, sometimes just helps. Um, depends on the mic you're using. It works better with condensers because they are not as, yeah, you don't have to eat the mic as much, like with an SM seven, you have to be pretty close to the microphone all the time. So. Um, yeah, but still this angling thing, uh, helps a lot.
And I don't know. Have you heard about, or have you used that pen trick?
Malcom: [00:22:51] I have not used the pen trick.
Benedikt: [00:22:53] Okay. So yeah, I have the pantry is, uh, it works for plosives and it can also work for siblings and that is [00:23:00] you take a pen and you put it in front of the diaphragm, like right at the spot where you're singing to the microphone and you attach it with like a rubber band around the mic.
And that kind of just breaks the air before it hits the. The diaphragm and it doesn't alter the sound much or at all actually, but it just kills plosives and sometimes siblings. So I've tried that a lot in almost every time it worked,
Malcom: [00:23:21] actually. That's pretty awesome. Yeah. I mean, whatever works, whatever works.
Benedikt: [00:23:26] I think I saw that from, I don't know if it was. I think it was Kurt Ballou where I saw a picture we did, but I can't remember definitely. But aside from some producers that I admire and I just figured I'd try it and it worked, so, yeah.
Malcom: [00:23:38] Right. Cool. Yeah. I mean, with going on to plosives, it's like the same thing, you know, a distance makes a big difference.
Uh, getting the diaphragm out of the way of like the direct air blast from a sound, right. Um, yeah, that'll do a lot. That is one that I do coach, uh, like where I said, I don't really try and get them to say their assets differently with. Uh, with peas and stuff like that, [00:24:00] I'll try and get them to just aim slightly off for those words, like, you know, just like a slight angle, um, of where they're directing their voice can make a big difference on those, uh, P words and B words and stuff.
Um, and it kind of is possible because normally you're punching vocals, you know? So it's just like, okay, this line, just on that word, China name off a little bit, and you can kind of coach them into a keeper. Take that way. Um, yeah, I thought it, Oh, one thing I think worth mentioning, because you said you can like you move the mic up and kind of aim it down at them.
Is that like acoustic guitars, the sound doesn't necessarily come from our mouths all the time. You know, I'm so acoustic guitars. Some people think that the sound is coming out of the hole, but that's actually just like the air coming out of the hole. The piece of wood on the top is actually vibrating.
That's creating most of the sound. The strings are driving a kind of vibration into that piece of wood. And that is being amplified by this vibrating piece of wood. So [00:25:00] the. Whole, I mean, there's definitely noise coming out of there, but it's not, it's not like the source really. And that's why we don't make it.
Um, you know, where w w with a, with a vocal it's kind of the same thing? Uh, I mean, there's, I think there's probably more sound coming out of a mouth than like the guitar analogy, but there's this thing called the mask and it's like, you're kind of nasal and cheek area, and there's a lot of tone coming off of there.
Um, I've had like a vocal mic up by somebody's forehead pointing down at them and it sounded great before. So experiment a lot with that. I just keep laughing because I love how you just,
Benedikt: [00:25:35] how you just compared the head of a singer with a vibrating piece of wood
Malcom: [00:25:42] more accurately than you'd ever know, but it's yeah,
Benedikt: [00:25:48] totally true. And that there's, um, Well, you could actually do it. It may look kind of weird, but it really works. And it's in a great book called mixing with your mind. If you want to pick that up, it's a pretty expensive, but super great book. It's I think it's the [00:26:00] best book on engineering and mixing that I've ever read.
It's by an Australian engineer and author, and it's like, yeah, it's super expensive that you get it. They ship it from us from Australia, but it's like a really, really, really great book. And what he does is he explains how he would listen to a singer. Um, and like walk around their head or like move his head around their head and just listen where like, what it sounds like, because what what's also true is that not everybody sings, like, like not everybody has their mouth, like straight to the, to the front when they sing some, some people sing slightly to the side or like, you know, like everybody makes like some weird things with their face when they sing.
And for some people, it might be a wise decision to put. The mic slightly on one side of their head or something. It can be totally different depending on how they sing, how they move their mouth and how, how it sounds. So he would actually walk around them and then just listen how it's out. So you might get a weird look if you do that.
Yeah. But, um, uh, can be worth it and yeah, just [00:27:00] experiment. Everyone's different that I think. The main takeaways here, don't just put a microphone in front of the singer and assume that's all you can do. Just experiment with positions and angles, and you will find a spot that works for plosives and siblings, I guess.
Malcom: [00:27:13] Yeah. I think one common problem I see in, in files I'd get to mix. Is people throwing a condenser mic on a vocalist way too close? Um, they just kind of assume it's, they can SM 57 or 58 or something and they just think it's meant to be right up on them. But that's kind of the cool advantage of these condenser mics is that you can be like a foot away and that's just going to kind of increase the chances of capturing everything that's coming out of them, not just like the spot of like that you've gotten right up against.
Um, and then it's going to help a lot with the closeups and sibling stuff as well. Oh yeah. It's kind of like the proximity positioning, the overheads, like we, we just talked about with drums, you kind of doing that with their voice.
Benedikt: [00:27:52] Oh, yeah, totally. And also the proximity effect, like the closer you are, the more you have, like the base, um, the increased base response and [00:28:00] yeah, totally helps.
Uh, one last thing here before we move on, because you said you compress a lot on the way in with vocals. And I know that some of the people listening to this podcast do that as well. Even in DIY situations, some might Trek through a plugin or they have some hardware compressor. Uh, if you have a compressor with some side chain functionality, there's also something you can do.
You can, uh, have like a side chain filter, a high pass filter where you, or low cut, depending on what they call it. If you use that, you, you still have to plosive, but you won't get the, we are pumped from that. Plosive as much. So the compressor won't react to the plosives as much, because that can also be a problem.
If you compress on the way in. Because those plosives are pretty loud. And if the compressor reacts to that, you will get a lot of gain reduction on that. Plosive and it will pump and sound weird. So you can use that to kind of hide that from the compressor. And also if you use something like a distressor or distress, a plugin or some.
Van I chain a compressor. You can actually boost the upper mid range or top [00:29:00] end a bit. And, um, the compressor will react more to siblings or harsh and annoying things. And that, that is it's something I really, really love. I use my destressor all the time when attract vocals and. If you engage the site chain, our permit boost there, it will really smooth out siblings.
And also when like a singer goes up higher and the, the vocal starts to sound a little more like yeah, annoying or harsh, then it really gets that and rounds it off. And it's just a super cool thing. So those two combined on the destressor, the, the low cut combined with the upper mid boost and the side chain that really sometimes I don't even need a DSR if I use that.
It's just works so well.
Malcom: [00:29:40] Cool. That's awesome. Those are great compressors.
Benedikt: [00:29:42] Yeah. All right. Um, then let's move on guitars. Um, if you are recording guitars, that's, that's, that's something that I get asked a lot actually in our community as well. That guitar science sounds somewhat distant or not direct [00:30:00] enough or not like aggressive enough.
They. They hear it on their favorite records. And it's like, when you listen to some rock records on good headphones, it's like the guitars are like scratching your ear drums, you know, like they're so close. And so, so direct and people have a hard time getting that sound. So, um, what do you think could be an issue if your guitars are allowed in the mix, but still not really present or direct sounding?
Malcom: [00:30:22] my instinct would be like too much distortion, probably. Um, like people just go way dirtier than they think. Um, there are no. They think they need to be way dirtier than they actually do. And you just kind of like build up a white noise and less substance to your guitar tone. Um, but then yeah, the other thing is, is mid range, which guitarists are just terrified of.
It's hard to find a guitarist with their mid range, not told, totally turned down on their amp. Um, but, uh, that's uh, that you have to have mid range if you want your guitar to be punchy. I think anyways,
Benedikt: [00:30:57] Yeah, it's a midrange instrument to me, more than anything. [00:31:00] So yeah, the thing is, if you scoop out the mid range, it might sound huge soloed, but in the mix that they can just disappear.
The guitars. So it's a tricky balance. I mean, I totally get it. You don't want honky or nasal sounding guitars as well, but you do need the right amount of it in there in order to make them really like upfront and yeah. That's just part of it.
Malcom: [00:31:20] Yeah. Yeah. I think really the solution for that then is trying to think like how to make this actionable is that you have to try and EKU your guitar.
In the mix a little bit. Um, so, you know, you'll probably dial it in and think it sounds cool. But then like Benny just said, it sounds huge on its own, but in the song, it just kind of disappears because I mean, drums and bass are taken up all that low end and high hand was w high end with symbols and stuff.
So your guitar isn't filling that middle spot. Like it's meant to.
Benedikt: [00:31:46] Yeah, totally. I would also say like, the last thing here for me to say is sometimes I think people overdo it and overcook it with guitars. So they use too many microphones and then they will, they will queue a lot because they can't get it right.
And that [00:32:00] sometimes makes the guitars weaker. So I'm a big fan of like a really simple signal chain when it comes to guitars. So one grade amp with a great cab and an esam 57 should, should give you a pretty direct, like. Upfront and great sound actually. I mean, we often talk about combining mikes to get rid of resonances and that can be cool, but only if you get the phase, right.
And when in doubt, a single microphone in the right spot with a great amp should sound great and should be the most. Um, yeah, upfront present signal you can actually get, because there's, there should be no cancellations. It should be just the pure upfront guitar tone actually.
Malcom: [00:32:36] Yeah. I'm a big fan of the throwing up the 57.
And if I need to throw up another goal for that, but you shouldn't, you normally shouldn't have to like, normally that works.
Benedikt: [00:32:45] Exactly. Yeah. Totally. So keep it simple. Don't over. Think it here. And, um, it, it, it should be like if you have to queue a lot and use a ton of mikes, that's usually another issue. So yeah.
Uh, one thing just in case we forgot to [00:33:00] say it, that we mentioned with the closest that we mentioned the pop filter. Just going back to the local real quick, because that's an August one, just one sentence, use a pop filter. If you don't have one that's that small, often black screen thing in front of the microphone.
Uh, that just again, breaks the air flow and like, um, softens the plosives. So,
Malcom: [00:33:20] yeah. Yeah. Depending on what you're working with, you might have to use to just be aware. It has happened very rare, but. Sometimes.
Benedikt: [00:33:28] Yeah. All right. Um, so yeah, our notes are a little over the place, so there's one again with like a, um, that's all about drums again, but we don't have to talk a lot about this.
I think we talked about phase a lot. The next point here for us was weeks nears and Tom's. So this time is not the guitar of the problem, but the snares or shells of the drum kit, especially are kind of weak and not cutting through. And even if you turn them up really loud, they're just weak and not punchy.
And phase is the first thing that comes to mind, right?
Malcom: [00:33:58] Oh yeah. It's [00:34:00] definitely phase, um, episode four of this podcast was all about drunk phase. So definitely check that out. If you don't know what we're talking about, this is like the best thing you could do to make yourself a better engineer. It's just understand phase.
And we talked about it a lot on episode four.
Benedikt: [00:34:15] Yeah. And it's not only that we think it's so important. It's really a thing where that's why we decided to make a whole episode on it because it's a little complicated. If you're not like a tech person or an engineer and half don't have that experience, it took awhile for me as well to get the concept actually.
And it's like, Yeah, it's a pretty common one. And it, it seems to get more common and problematic with more and more people using virtual drums and original instruments. They don't know how to deal with microphone setups anymore. I have the, I have the impression, so I've talked to, I've been talking to a couple of engineers, also on my other podcast, the Outback recordings podcast, and some of them had actually sat there that they think that many people.
Um, don't really know what phases anymore, because you [00:35:00] don't need it if you program drums all the time, but it's such a valuable skill, um, with guitars, with drums, with everything. So do yourself a favor, learn about that and listen to that episode. And that will solve most of your drum problems.
Malcom: [00:35:12] It's something you even have to be careful about just in the box with using different plugins and stuff like that.
You can still get into trouble with face. So having an understanding of it, knowing what the phase button looks like, so you can go find it, you know, definitely worth learning about
Benedikt: [00:35:27] cool. Now let's say your snare is great. Your Tom's a great you guitars are great, but the basis disappearing. Um, so again, mid range, maybe.
There's also an episode on this. I think we did one, right? Yeah. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:35:42] Um, I mean, something we've talked about unlimited times and we'll continue to talk about unlimited times is just using new strings on bass and guitar strings, always. Uh, but, uh, That it is probably a lack of mid rage. [00:36:00] Um, and, and it could also be phase, um, people tend to track a DEI and an app with base.
It seems like I normally get both. Yeah. And that, or a bass amp with multiple mikes, um, ever since Royal blood became a big band. I get like these weird guitar amp. Things happening. And, uh, I really wish that was easy to do and pull off, but it's really hard to get that. And like so far nobody's sent me a bass amp sound that was meant to be like Royal blood that has actually worked.
Um, so thankfully I found other ways to make it happen for him. But yeah.
Benedikt: [00:36:35] As long as they send the da, you should be exactly. Do something like that. Yeah. But that's totally true. Like phases, a big one. Um, Yeah. So when in doubt, don't, don't, I'm big on committing to things, but in this case, when, in doubt, don't commit and don't mix your DEI and Amtrak's before you send it to the mixer, but just send the da separately.
So there's actually something you can do about this. Uh, the mix, um, yeah, [00:37:00] the lack of mid range. I, I just looked it up it's episode 12, um, of the podcast and it's called bass tone is more than just low end. So yeah, that's basically that listened to that episode. Um, w we talk about their, uh, about that they're in, in great detail and yeah, it's, it is what the episode is called.
Like it's not just low end, there's mid range. There's pick attack. There's a lot of things that you need to have to make up a bass cut through a dance arrangement, especially it might not be as, um, problem attic and other Chandra's. But when we're talking about rock and pick guitars, you've got to have some mid range, some, maybe some drive or some like pick attack, something to cut through those guitars and make the base audible on small speakers as well.
So a dull Subi based tone won't work in most cases, new strings, mid range.
Malcom: [00:37:46] Yeah. Um, Oh, this was just kind of the observation that I just thought about. And this works with the guitars and bass amps. Pretty much anytime people are trying to do too much by throwing more and more mikes at it. Um, even with drums actually.
[00:38:00] Uh, like when I get like four different room, Mike options, crush mix and stuff like that. Uh, it's not uncommon for me to just choose one of those mics. So if somebody sends me like four mics on a base cab, I'm probably going to try and use one of them instead of all four, because take there those four aren't working together.
So this is just like another argument for SIM, like make simple work and stop wasting time trying to like add all this stuff. One of those microphones should pull off the, um, the whole thing.
Benedikt: [00:38:28] Yeah, totally. There was this, this interview with Tom Lord energy that I listened to. I think I am, I might have mentioned it on the podcast already.
I don't know where he was. Like whenever people send me multiple guitar mikes, I just look for the one that says S and 57 and then immediately delete all the others.
Malcom: [00:38:43] So
Benedikt: [00:38:46] you can listen to the others. It just wants that one. That might be a bit extreme, but you get the point. Keep it simple. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:38:51] Yeah. That's awesome.
Benedikt: [00:38:54] Um, yeah, also it could be there, things are masking each other, but with a base, it could be, you have a, like a [00:39:00] substance or whatever that you program with it, or some, um, or low tune guitars. If you're tuning really low, the guitars can conflict with the bass sometimes. So you gotta make sure, especially in the low end that things are not stepping on each other and that's, it can be softened the mix sometimes, but it's a good idea to.
Think about that when you're arranging and writing just the what? Like what, what the baseline actually is, which instrument is going to play the baseline. Should there really be two elements doing the same thing? Or should one be maybe an Okta above or below or something like that? Just make sure there's room for every element and that the most important elements have the space.
So that, yeah, that couldn't also be an issue often. Definitely. And that brings us to the third bucket here. The third category of problems that can occur in that is like the arrangement problems. Um, and oftentimes people have the technical stuff down. They, they know what they're doing. The tones are great.
Basically. They think there's no technical issues, but still somehow things don't really [00:40:00] work. And often it comes down to the, the composition, the arrangement, the songs themselves. Um, and there's a lot, you can, a lot of simple things you can do. And it's also obviously like a creative thing where there's no clear right or wrong oftentimes, but there's some things that, that are just worth knowing about and thinking about, so, yeah.
Malcom: [00:40:22] yeah. Um, so yeah, I think the first one we were going to talk about was. Is the vocal cutting through, right? Like, and that's obviously a hugely important part of any production. Um, generally the vocal is the most important part of the production. So if we don't have that, right, we've got, we've got problems.
Um, so I guess we should talk about what some scenarios are that we've encountered to why that is happening. And, uh, some stuff that we normally do to try and ensure that. It works.
Benedikt: [00:40:52] Oh yeah. So basically, is there enough space for it? Same thing as with the base that I just explained, if the vocal is really the most important thing, did you write [00:41:00] everything on, in the range, everything in the way that it supports that vocal or is there maybe the, do you have this, this lack of a clear focal point in your song?
It's like their stuff that competes with the vocal. Is there a lead. A guitar that is trying to get the attention at the same time as the vocal is there. And like it, that can be a really problematic thing. So if the vocal is the most important thing, you gotta write everything around that basically, and make sure everything supports that and leaves enough space for it.
So you might use, you might place things in another register. You might go up a bit or down or remove the lead Kylie because you don't need it because the vocal is the focal point. Anyway, it's just making sure there's enough space, right?
Malcom: [00:41:42] Yep, definitely. Um, so I like to think of this in kind of two primary ways.
I think at the start with the first one being frequency. So if, say the voice that I'm talking with right now say that was the lead vocal range. If there was another instrument that was just in that exact same range. [00:42:00] That's probably going to be more problematic than if that that instrument was up and active, right?
So by kind of like getting some, uh, separation and frequency that can really help allow things to live together and, uh, and supplement each other. That's not to say that things can't be in the same range. Uh, That cause that totally happens all the time, but that's just like a good trick to kind of solve it.
So maybe it's an added synth part that got mailed into you. Um, and you're like, okay, cool idea. But it's just eating the mix. Let's try out, up and down an octave or, or dropping a rock to have a, you know, stuff like that. Um, so the frequency, you gotta think about that, but then the other thing is kind of positioning.
And so much of what I do is focused around trying to keep things out of the center of the mix. Um, like as few sources up the middle as possible is generally my goal. Uh, that's just how I like things to sound. So in a perfect world, there's a kick drum, a snare drum, a bass guitar, and a vocal coming up the middle.
And that's like, literally [00:43:00] yet everything else is off to the sides. And that creates so much room for this vocal to live and just stay in front of the listener. Right. So they can just kind of picture it.
Benedikt: [00:43:11] Totally. Yeah. And the reason why you need to think about this, even if you're not mixing is because you need to make sure there are enough, like elements to get a balanced picture around that center vocal or the center elements.
So. If you only have one rhythm guitar, basically, but you want to do what Malcolm just described. You might need to double all that rhythm guitars, so you can have one on the left and one on the right. So yeah, you can actually get it out of the way, uh, out of the center. So thank you. Just thinking about that there, that if there's one thing on the left, There should be some counterpart on the right.
And yeah, just arrange the song in that way with the mix in mind, kind of make a rough mix as you go, just to make sure that this actually works. So don't just listen to it and motto, but make them make a rough mix. And, um, yeah, put the things like in the spot, in the, in the stereo field where you think they're going to [00:44:00] go and then.
Yeah, you will immediately see if in here, if there is enough space up the middle and I totally agree with Malcolm. Um, it's either to me, most of the times it's heart left heart, right. And center. And some things like Toms or so might be in between a little bit, but most of the time it's really wide and in the middle, there's the vocal, the kick, the snare and the bass.
Malcom: [00:44:17] Yeah. So people don't really realize this, but what you're sending the mixer is kind of dictating where they're going to put things, because like you said, if there was only one guitar and there is nothing to balance it out. So, and it doesn't have to be a double of the guitar, the bounce it up.
That's just kind of like the modern solution because it totally works. You know, it's like it's symmetrical and full sounding, but, um, you know, sometimes it's a guitar and then a piano is on the other side or a banjo would be a great, great example. Another stringed instrument. So there are kind of the counterparts to each other and that works.
Um, so if I got a guitar and a banjo and this country song, theoretical country song for you here, I would totally try that. I'd be like, alright, banjo hard, left, maybe guitar hard, right? Or maybe the opposite, depending on where the high hat is pad. Um, and then [00:45:00] that would work. Uh, but if there was no banjo and I just had the guitar now, and there's like no other kind of instrument that could live to balance out this guitar, I have to try and experiment a little bit.
And maybe that lives hard, left or hard. Right. Still, but maybe it now it has to kind of creep towards center. Cause it just kinda sounds too weird being off just on one side. Um, and, and then there's nothing on the other side, there's sounds empty over there. Which is a problem, usually because now as I'm going into the center, I'm now taking up that vocal space we talked about and, you know, there's tons of great mixes that have that going on.
Uh, there's tons of great mixes with the guitar right up the middle with the vocal. But it is a lot easier and, and traditionally works out better if we can leave that space for the vocal, um, especially in like modern sounding productions, I'd really recommend try new, uh, arrange and produce your, your tracks to leave that room up center.
Benedikt: [00:45:52] Totally. Right. And the last thing here is you said like frequency and then positioning. And also timing is a bit a big one for me with vocals. I [00:46:00] really like vocals to be in time. The reason why I mentioned that when it comes to vocals, not cutting through. I just had a record that I mixed, where I wanted the vocals to be allowed an upfront and explosive sounding sort of it's a very rhythmic vocal in the chorus, almost like it was a rock song, but it was almost like a rap.
Kind of rhythm and really, yeah, it just had to be spot on. And I liked the vocal. I thought it would be like, the timing was good and I just couldn't get it to pop, like the way I want it to. And then I going a little more and I adjusted the timing a little bit to make it a little more perfect. And once it really locked with the kick and snare, all of a sudden the vocal was there because the kick and snare emphasize the rhythm of the vocal.
It kind of got one, one thing. And all of a sudden the vocals just jumped out. And before that it was, I was kind of undefined thing where it just didn't work. So timing is a big one for me as well, with vocals. If it just sits there in the right spot, it's so much better. And that's works. Yeah. Cool. Okay. [00:47:00] So talking about left and right.
And stereo field, um, guitars not wide enough. Um, that's also something that I get that people say when they sent me stuff to mix, we want the guitars really to be really wide. And for some reason, in our rough mix, we can't get it. Um, to be that wide and we want it to sound like XYZ. So what can you do from as an artist?
Not as a mixer too, to make sure you have white guitarists in the end,
Malcom: [00:47:24] right? The stuff I feel, your pain people. It's just, it only lets you go so far left or right. And you think it's wide and then you hear something else and you're like, how did they it's like their faders go further than mine. I don't get that.
Um, and that is a weird illusion. The. To battle and get, get good at. Um, uh, but yeah, so talking about guitars specifically, um, another big problem that has come up quite a bit less. So it seems now it's like the word's getting out that this doesn't work, but at the beginning I used to get tracks like this all the time.
If you duplicate a track, like literally copy and paste the same guitar performance and pan it [00:48:00] left and right, that doesn't actually work at all. Um, even if you nudge it or delay the signal a little bit, it's not the same thing. Um, and we're essentially the point I'm making is you have to actually record it twice and, and have a real performance on each side.
Um, that'll do a lot for you with, um, so Benny question for you, do you like doubling the same guitar or using a different. Tone and guitar for the double.
Benedikt: [00:48:26] Totally depends. If the main factor here is if the band wants it to sound like one guitar or one thing, but wide, then definitely the same rig, the same guitar, same everything, same player.
Uh, it should just basically sound like one guitar, but wide if they want, um, Some bands are really big on, like, we want this to sound like we're sounding life. We want people to hear that this person is on the left and this person is on the right. If that's the case, we use a distinct guitar sound for.
Those people and it may [00:49:00] still be a double, so it might still be the exact same riff or whatever, but with a different rig, just so you can still hear who is on what side. Um, but that's basically it, if, if this, if the separation is not as important and it's just about a big wall of sound and it should be very tight, um, then, uh, yeah, same rig depends on.
Malcom: [00:49:19] Yeah. I, I find that I I'm normally using the same rig, uh, But when I do want it to be extra wide, I might use a different sound for the other side, but there's a total trade off there. Um, so like I said, generally the same thing is the solution. Cause it is tighter and more intonated and just works out a lot better.
It's more reliable, but know that the answer's there, you know, you can kind of introduce this wider spread by, by another, um, different tone. Yup. Kind of creates a course in effect.
Benedikt: [00:49:51] Yeah. And also one thing I would be, I would warn people, um, not to, not to overdo it with this, or maybe not even use [00:50:00] this, depending on what you're going for.
There are some Sims and software solutions where you can record like a stereo guitar and make it wide. And like the, the, the, those things put out the stereo signal and you can kind of cheat and make a stereo signal with one performance. Of course, there's ways to do that. And it can work. But usually either a cold, sometimes it collapses as soon as you listen to Moto.
Or it just doesn't really sound as wide or you have to totally overdo it. And then it sounds kind of a like, yeah, it's this weird sensation where you feel like your deaf on one ear has been it's totally out of phase and supernatural wide. So sometimes I got stereo tracks from people where they use whatever they used, but they used some, some sort of effect or Epsom.
They put out, puts out a stereo signal and that's their wide rhythm guitar, but it doesn't really work, but I would be very careful with, with artificial, like after the fact widening and all sorts of these effects, there's also a pedal that does something like [00:51:00] that. It's meant to be used live weight. I think it's by TC electronics.
It's pretty, pretty cool. Actually that pedal. So it's meant to be. When you play live and you only have one guitarist and you use two amps on either side of the stage, uh, it kinda sounds like there are two guitarists that makes it wider. And that really works well. It works surprisingly, surprisingly well in the studio as well.
So you can track one take and it sounds like a, like a double, but it's still not the same thing. It's still weird with the phase and everything. So be careful. And when in doubt do a real double just played another time.
Malcom: [00:51:32] Yeah. Yeah. If, if, if width is the goal, a doubles, really the solution, and that's not to say I don't use stereo guitar.
Stuff sometimes. Um, but, uh, for, for rhythm guitars, especially double it up.
Benedikt: [00:51:46] Yep. Okay. So another guitar thing, the lead melody disappears. Sometimes I get it when, when people say, okay, we want this lead to be loud. No, we don't. We want the state to be audible, but not really loud. So it's not a guitar [00:52:00] solo.
It's just the lead melody. And it should be audible, but it shouldn't be like the focal point. And it's a, it's a fine line. Um, And it's kind of hard to nail. And so it's, again, it's about leaving space and getting tones that work with each other. So you don't want the rhythm guitar and the lead to be too familiar.
The two's too similar, I guess. And you don't want the lead to be conflicting with the vocal, right? So, what, what would you do with the lead? What, what would be a typical difference between a rhythm sound and the lead town for you? Right.
Malcom: [00:52:33] So when it's not meant to take over like the vocal. I tend to have them panned out as well.
So this is a case where the lead might even be doubled again. Um, if not, it is like one of those stereo effects like you've talked about, and I've tried to make it, it seem as wide as I can. And that's again, with the same goal of leaving space in the middle for the vocal. Um, cause the vocals still has to be lead in this situation.
Right. So by [00:53:00] maybe panning it out, I can still do that. But then the problem comes, uh, is it gonna fit with the guitar? Right? Like, so if there's a rhythm guitar and this is a league guitar, if they're both panned out, uh, to the same spots it's going to. Maybe be tricky to have it cut through it. Right. And not just kind of get lost in the rhythm guitar.
So that then just comes down to arrangement. Um, is the melody written using the same, uh, range and Okta of the rhythm guitars? That's going to be problematic. So generally that has to get up, you know, and I think most people naturally do that. Their, their leads and normally, you know, an Okta from the rhythm.
And stuff like that. So it's not normally a problem for me, but I would definitely recommend keeping leads that are not meant to be the sofa because panned out or wide as possible.
Benedikt: [00:53:42] Yeah. Agreed. Another thing is where I would tend to use a little more mid range with leads just because, um, I don't need the scratchy present stuff of leads that as much, and I don't need low end as much, but I really want the part where the actual [00:54:00] music is the notes.
So a boost a little more mid-range sometimes maybe filter the top and bottom a bit. And that way I can make it quieter in the mix, but still make it audible. So I don't have to make it super loud in order to make it audible. And that oftentimes helps. So it might sound a little thinner on its own. But it just works in the mix because things that have a strong mid range and really like no definition, don't have to be as loud in order to make them audible, I think.
Malcom: [00:54:25] Right. Yeah. I guess the only other thing to add to that is that sometimes it's more about texture than a boat audible and, and then for those situations effects can be really your best friend.
Benedikt: [00:54:37] Something to make it stand out is yeah. Yeah. Totally. Totally.
Malcom: [00:54:41] Yeah. Even a like weird like phaser and Flander stuff on leads can be used to really small degrees.
So it's just like changes, you know? And it's like this constant thing where your guitars now modulated a little bit more and that can really set it in there in a cool,
Benedikt: [00:54:56] yeah, exactly. And also it creates depth, which means it doesn't [00:55:00] conflict with the vocalist much anymore. So you can have it a bit louder, but it will still be behind the vocal if you add a delay or some modulation effect, because the vocal will be more upfront in most cases.
And even though a pretty loud lead might still be behind the vocal if you do that. So you're creating this amazing depth that way though. Yeah, totally good one. Okay. Um, so, Oh yeah, that's also that the next one here is a very, very common one for me. So people say you have. A verse. And then there is the bridge or solo or the chorus or whatever.
No, not the chorus. Let's stick with the bridge or the lead part or whatever. So you have a verse or some part and then comes to the next part and you put it like a lead on top of that, but you're not actually putting it on top of that. Just one of the guitarist switches from Cortes to the lead part. And then the part that's supposed to be bigger or like a step up sounds actually smaller.
Then whatever it was before. Right. So that's super common for me and they wonder why, why it doesn't hit as hard as they, their plan is to make the next part more exciting, [00:56:00] but it gets smaller.
Malcom: [00:56:00] Yeah. Yeah. This is like a, a staple effect from, uh, like early van Halen and like older recordings where like, literally.
That's what happened, they're playing it and the one guitar band, and then he just switches to lead and there is no rhythm guitar anymore. The lead is still packed off to the side, you know? And that's, that's the thing, you know, sometimes you might want to use that trick from your tool bag to get that effect of like, Oh, this sounds a little more vintage, but normally that is not the goal.
Normally we want this to be as big and bombastic as possible. So a record. Rhythms and leads separately and, and, uh, yeah. Record the whole song for rhythms. Usually we're almost always doing our rhythms first. Um, and if there's like this whole in the song, I mean, that's, that's weird. Right? So do the whole song rhythm, get it all down and you can always delete something.
Um, and then that'll solve that problem. Now you're gonna put a lead on top of it. And I think that also helps you be more creative with making those lead tones really awesome, because maybe that you're [00:57:00] not used to having a rhythm guitar, they're taking up space and making it sound fuller. So you have to like do a better job at making this wicked lead tone.
Getting cool lead parts and, uh, and effects in there to make it really stand out over top of this now fuller arrangement as well. So it's like a win, win.
Benedikt: [00:57:15] You're having a thought about that, but that's totally true. It gets you a better lead sound in the end. And I think that people are often afraid to, to cheat here.
So they think we have like two guitarists and we don't want three guitars in a part, but I think that's not, not an issue because. Listen to what? Just won't care. They hear it. Yeah. They hear the rhythms. And then the next part is a solo that comes on top of that or somebody part and a. They don't, they're not like, Oh, wait a second.
There's still two guitars. And now the third one's coming in, they don't care. It's just, the next part is bigger. And there's a rhythm. There's a lead done. Like you don't have to be afraid of the thing.
Malcom: [00:57:52] Nope.
Benedikt: [00:57:53] Nope. So yeah. Do that, put it on top instead of put, add a new layer instead of changing one of the layers and do, [00:58:00] as Malcolm said, or recorded rhythms and lead separately and just try it.
And also what might come said was you could always delete stuff. So when, in doubt, You record just an additional layer. And if it's too much, you can always mute it. But if it's not there, there's not much you can do, just make sure that it works from part to part and that the part is as big as you thought it should be.
Malcom: [00:58:19] Yep.
Benedikt: [00:58:20] Cool. Same thing with choruses. Sometimes the chorus is often, or most of the times the chorus is supposed to be the biggest part, the highlight of the song, right? Um, but sometimes they just don't kick and like they, the chorus comes in and it just doesn't pop the way you want it to be. And, um, same thing.
Add stuff to the chorus instead of changing what's there. Or maybe reduce what's before the chorus, like make the verse smaller, do just, just as something. To make sure that there's a step up, basically.
Malcom: [00:58:52] Yes, definitely. Um, yeah, this can be tackled in so many ways and it's kind of like one of the main tricks that a [00:59:00] producer has to have available to kind of be like a quote unquote good producer is like figuring out how to always make that chorus pop.
Um, so let's run through some ideas. Uh, common tool bag trick for me is more vocal errors, you know? So say you've just got like the vocal up the middle for the verse. Now come, the chorus kicks in and we add in like harmonies or big doubles, or I really like adding in like a low octave of the whole course, you know, so we just got them to sing the low Okta part as well.
And that just adds like this really. Deep rich layer to it. You know, that can be really cool high octave as well. It can be awesome. Um, so more vocal production is like a really classic tried and true fix that pop people use all the time. I mean, every genre seems to use that a lot. Uh, but that's definitely not the only way, you know, you can, you can really add anything.
Um, you can have a synth kick in, you can have more guitars, even if like you had a, a guitars, you know, [01:00:00] so you've got a left and right. Double through the verse, but now you have an additional left and a right double with a different tone kicking in for the course. Um, just beefing it up a little bit. That can be really cool.
And then, like you said, Benny, sometimes the trick is actually to make the verse smaller. Um, so taking something out through that, I actually, she trying to go for that in the mix a lot. Um, you know, maybe I'll take some high end out of the drums or the some low end or the drums for the verse and then let it back in for the course kind of thing.
So it's like this kind of illusion, well, it's not on the ocean, but the listener doesn't really even know. No it's gone until they hear it kick back in on the course. Right? Yeah. Um, Yeah. I mean, it's unlimited ways. Good arrangements. I find do this on their own, you know, like there's like a short pause right before the course, or it just breaks down to just a vocal for like a bar.
And then the course kicks in, you know, Sometimes the guitar doesn't even start till the course, you know, you know, uh, so writing around the courses like this fascinating thing, and it's [01:01:00] not always like the right call for sure, but I think you should always try to think about that. And, uh, the people that do it tends to pay off and really make explosive dynamic songs.
Benedikt: [01:01:09] Oh yeah. Totally things that I have enjoyed lately, and that I had a lot of fun with on the last couple of records that I did is, and that I also recommend to people now often when they record themselves is like, Don't be afraid to use additional elements in the chorus that are not part of the actual band.
Like, cause the same thing, you might just be like five people, bass, two guitars, drums, vocals. But, um, there's no like no, nobody, no one can, can, uh, stop you from still using like a very subtle synth or whatever in the chorus, like a, a low. The octave below the base, where is subtle just to give more weight to the chorus, for example, or some pads to open it up, not even really audible, just something you can feel something that makes it a little bigger, more open, whatever.
Uh, don't be afraid of that. I often recommend that two bands, even two bands who one sound [01:02:00] really authentic because you don't need to make it obvious. You don't need to make it sound fake, but just. Some of those additional production elements are really helping with this. And we see this more and more with modern production also in the rock world that there's a lot of post production going on.
Often the bands experiment with that more often, great producers do that all the time. So don't be afraid to try that. You can always delete it if you find a cheesy or if it just doesn't work, but don't be afraid to use whatever you can to make the course bigger or just connect more. And, uh, and then there's also one thing that I I've.
Just tried recently alone. I wonder why I didn't do that more often before I sometimes use, um, some substance since generator with the base or some like October or something like that below the base. And the chorus is just very, very, very subtle. Um, the can sound really cool. Just, it gives you that feel of like added weight and size in the chorus
Malcom: [01:02:56] and there's just this unbelievable thickness.
Benedikt: [01:02:57] Yeah. There's this great. [01:03:00] I'm so in love with this plugin, there's this great, um, plugin by BrainWorks the BX substance I think is called it's. So, so damn good for that. Um, I use that all the time in the mix, but you can do that when you're tracking as well. You can, there are pedals for that. You can do all sorts of things you can, um, yeah, just experiment with additional weight in the chorus.
I love it. That end on the top end side of things like additional, like something that opens it up some wide shiny pad or whatever can be great, or it guitar player or something, just a single note with a delayed it's more of a. Like a, that sounds more like a path than a guitar or something like that can be really cool.
Malcom: [01:03:38] Absolutely. Yeah, it can really just like make all of the difference. Uh, something that is becoming more and more normal is mixers, adding production. Hmm, and it is something I do, um, quite a bit. Uh, it sounds like you do as well with like the substance and stuff like that. So it'd be, it's becoming more normalized for mixers to get a little creative and start throwing in extra stuff.
You know, like I [01:04:00] I've kinda gotten into like some bass drops and, you know, reverse symbols and then, you know, stuff like that. I love little like cinematic moments and stuff when, when it's called for of course. Um, but. Not every mixer does that. And you definitely shouldn't count on it. Like pretty much, I'm just doing it because I feel like the, whoever recorded the tracks before me, didn't do a good enough job in a way, you know, not that I didn't think they did a good job, but it's like, okay, well I think this needs a little extra magic sauce.
I'm not just adding it for the hell of it. Um, so you should be taking that into account as a self producing band, as a self recording band being like, okay, does this need special effects? Yeah, let's, let's hit it. Let's get some stuff in there and make some little extra layers pop. And then. If your mixer mixers awesome.
And things have another cup of cool things that help people more great. But really you should have that figured out before you send it to them.
Benedikt: [01:04:49] Yeah. Until then. Totally tell them if you want stuff like that in there. Because one great example is I was mixing a record for a bank called Lester from Germany.
They are awesome. So shout out to them. I [01:05:00] love that record. It's going to be out. Later this year, I think. And it's, I really love it. And, um, they are a really authentic punk rock, indie alternative kind of band. And I didn't do any of that. I didn't put bass drops in their reverse symbols or anything like that because I like the raw energy of the band.
And I never thought that this would be something they would actually want on that record. So it didn't do it and send it back to them. And then. In the revision process, they came back to me with like, Hey, would you think, what would you say? What'd you say that it would be cool to have that bass drop on the first hit of this chorus or half the reverse symbol in this transition and stuff like that.
So they asked me to do this stuff and I was like, Whoa, really? Like, you want to do something like that? Cool. I'd never, I wouldn't, I would've never done that on my own because I thought that it doesn't fit the, um, what they were going for, but they were totally right. It worked out very, very well. So. If you think that it would be a great fit or make the songs better, or if you just want to try out those things, let the mixer know because they might just [01:06:00] interpret it differently.
Or they might not like, in that case, I just wanted to respect what they, what they sent me. And I don't, I didn't want to change it too much, but if they tell me that they want to do it, I'm all for it. And yeah, I did it and it turned out great. So just, just let the mixer know. If you will, you're open to stuff like that, because if it's a good mixer, they can become creative for that and add stuff that could really, really.
Um, add another level of excitement to it.
Malcom: [01:06:28] Yeah. And I feel like we should just mention that different mixers are gonna respond to it differently. Um, some people just are like, you get, like, you're going to send me stuff. I'm going to mix it. That's my job kind of thing. So, you know, this isn't really a mixers job, so it's kind of like a bonus fry.
Benedikt: [01:06:44] Um, Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
Malcom: [01:06:45] And then, uh, also bringing it in like, um, you and Lester. Have a good, a good relationship,
Benedikt: [01:06:51] you know?
Malcom: [01:06:52] So it's not like this band that's put you through six rounds of revisions for no reason is now like, Oh, and add some extra stuff. Like that's going to, [01:07:00] like, if that happened to me, I'd be like, no problem.
It's going to be at this hourly rate to do that because that's. Totally outside of the scope of work. So just, it's just kind of weird. You should always have that upfront and you should always actually provide it upfront. Yeah,
Benedikt: [01:07:12] yeah. Totally forgot to say that. Absolutely. Right. And I actually, and the Leicester boys will confirm that I, uh, I actually replied and said, you know what, I'm going to do this.
And I think it's a cool idea and I'm open for it, but that this is not part of the revision process. Actually. I just want you to know that it's actually production so we can do that. But if there's a lot of this stuff coming now and we basically start producing again, we have to talk, you know, So that's what to be fair.
That was what I said to them when I sent them back. And, um, so always do that before the mixing process starts. So you can factor that in and like, know what you, what, what to expect. And, um, yeah, that's not part of, of mixed revisions actually. So, absolutely. Yeah,
Malcom: [01:07:49] yeah, yeah, yeah. It's like you said, it is production, so it's a little out of order, but you're doing it there.
So try and figure it out in advance. And again, if your mixer knows, if you're [01:08:00] counting on them for post production, if you tell them that you also want. Post-production they're going to do that first and then mix, you know,
Benedikt: [01:08:08] so totally. Yeah, totally. All right. I mean, I guess that's it that's that were two pretty extensive episodes on troubleshooting.
We covered a lot of things in there. Um, I don't know if there's anything you want to add to this list now that we've been through it.
Malcom: [01:08:24] I think we we've probably overwhelmed them enough.
Benedikt: [01:08:27] I think so, too. And there's one more thing I want to send you too. If you're listening right now, and this is an article or a series of articles that I wrote, and if we we've gone through this episodes pretty quickly, and there might be the term or a thing that we've been talking about that you don't really understand or not sure what we mean.
Um, so I've made an, an, a series of articles that explains audio terms and it's technical terms. It's, um, terms used to describe the process of making a record. It's like, yeah, it's this [01:09:00] resource where you can look, just look up things in case you don't know what it is. And it's pretty extensive. It's pretty detailed.
It's a series of five or six posts. I think it's called. What does the damn thing actually do? And how does this all work? So the link to that is the surf recording band.com/audio terms explained. And, um, you'll find like a, um, an overview of like all the content and it's separated in general audio terms, the production process routing and processing microphones and micro assessory is preempt converters interfaces, cables, connectors, computer software, audio files.
So. All those categories. Um, it's in a logical order, you can search for terms. So if there's anything that we haven't covered here, or if we have covered stuff, but your don't, you understand what we mean? Go to that page. The self recording band.com/audio terms explained, and I'm pretty sure you'll find your answer to whatever problem you have.
Malcom: [01:09:59] That's a pretty [01:10:00] awesome resource actually. So totally take that up, download it.
Benedikt: [01:10:05] Yeah. You don't even have to download it. It's just a block post, right. Then the
Malcom: [01:10:08] link reference. It is what I mean.
Benedikt: [01:10:10] Yeah, exactly that. So yeah. Do that. Tell me if there's something missing. I'll, I'm happy to update that constantly.
And I would love people to, I would love to see a lot of people use that, that reference. Um, yeah. Awesome. Cool. Then, um, I think that's it.
Malcom: [01:10:28] Yeah, man.
Benedikt: [01:10:30] Um, we'll be back next week as always, and, uh, try and our community, Facebook community, leave us a review, send us your thoughts. Send us your questions and issues.
Just like you did that during the last couple of weeks, which was awesome. We'd love to hear this stuff firstname.lastname@example.org. Um, this after getting bent.com/community, it's the Facebook community and see you next week. Absolutely.
Malcom: [01:10:54] See you next week.
Benedikt: [01:10:55] Bye. [01:11:00]
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