It's probably the biggest challenge we're all facing when we're starting out making records.
And we can almost think of it as the audio engineer's job description. A problem you need to solve over and over again for every single record you're working on:
Translating the sound in your head into a recording.
As some of the most frequently asked questions we get are also about this exact challenge, we decided to talk about it on the podcast and help you get there faster.
Listen now and find out how to make your recordings match your vision.
This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.
TSRB Podcast 065 - How To Translate The Sound In Your Head Into Your Recordings
[00:00:00] Malcom: [00:00:00] I like the sound of strats playing country licks. That's probably going to be a terrible guitar tone for a heavy metal, you know, just because it's good. Doesn't mean it's good for what you're trying to do. So having this vision creates the outline of what you're trying to cover it. Absolutely.
Benedikt: [00:00:16] This is the self recording band podcast.
The show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are, DIY stuff. Let's go.
Hello and welcome to. The self recording band podcast. I am your host Benedick time and I'm here with my friend and cohost. Malcolm owned flat. How are you, Malcolm?
Malcom: [00:00:37] Hello? I'm great, man. It's good to be back one more week again, like we've been doing this for so long. That was just crazy. It blows my mind like, wow.
Benedikt: [00:00:47] same, same. I just saw a post, like your story. I think about the imposter syndrome episode of the European sex business, uh, sex at business.
Malcom: [00:00:57] That sucks. Business. I like
[00:01:00] Benedikt: [00:00:59] sex ed business podcasts. You guys should check that out by the way. If you haven't listened to it yet. Um, and I saw your story and it said like episode 55 or something, I don't know, 53 or whatever, like 50 something.
And I was like, mm. Damn, like that's been a year already and just started after this podcast. So it's crazy. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:01:18] Yeah. We've got quite the routine going on. Oh yeah. It's good. For me. It forces me to get out of bed on time, on Mondays and get to it.
Benedikt: [00:01:27] Yup. Yup. It forces me to get things done on Monday in time so I can have time at the afternoon for this.
So, yeah, that's a really great thing. Well, definitely. Um, I wanna ask you, uh, one thing before we start today, if you don't mind, of course. You are a pro tools user and I'm not. And I had a client and it's not the first time that I hear this problem. And this way, it's just decided to ask you on the podcast.
And maybe it helps more people. I had a client asked me something, and that is, um, he records with an Apollo. And he says, [00:02:00] when he's got full sessions going with a couple of plugins, he records through the Apollo and the monitoring is fine. He's no latency, no issue during recording, but then on playback, the recording seems to be delayed or like the timing seems weird.
Like it, for some reason doesn't seem to compensate for, um, the latency or something like the monitoring is great. But then after the fact. The what he recorded to the already recorded tracks, so to speak is not sinked anymore. Interesting. It's not the first time that I hear that. So it's, I assume it's sort of a known or a common issue and it's probably easy to solve because I don't think everybody has that problem.
So I just wondered whether, you know, what that could
Malcom: [00:02:39] be. I have not had that problem. Um, So I am not sure. Do you know if they are monitoring through, uh, through the UAA console software for that like zero latency thing? Or are they just using a low buffer and monitoring
Benedikt: [00:02:55] through protocol? No, they use exactly.
They, they monitor through the console, [00:03:00] so that's why they don't have latency, but when they do that, it, it just find the record with no latency to, but that there is a latency, they just don't hear it because they use direct monitoring and then it's not. Sync with the playback.
Malcom: [00:03:14] All right. Yeah, it definitely should be.
Um, and there is under options on pro tools. There is a low latency monitoring button that you can actually select, um, which will mute your record enabled tracks while you're recording. Right. Just, it makes the workflow a lot easier. But I almost wonder if maybe that's necessary, like rather than just clicking mute on the track.
You actually use that function. I wonder. Okay. That might be necessary perhaps. But yeah, I was just doing overdubs into like a full, mixed session using the console or low latency kind of set up and everything lined up. Great. Okay. So I haven't had this problem.
Benedikt: [00:03:50] It should detect the latency compensate for it, right?
Malcom: [00:03:55] Yeah, it should.
Benedikt: [00:03:57] Yeah. Okay. That's good to know because I [00:04:00] was not sure if that's just the way it is or if there is like a something you can do, but okay. Yeah. That's that maybe helps already. So thank you for that. I dunno why I, I hear things like that about pro tools more than I hear it about any other task.
Malcom: [00:04:15] I will definitely that pro tools is, uh, the furthest behind in the delay compensation category, um, of all dollars does it would seem, which is unfortunate.
Benedikt: [00:04:26] Yeah. Anyway, thank you. Um, now it has been first weekend for you after the, um, recording the two different bands. Outside of your own studio? I think so.
Yeah. I hope you could relax a
Malcom: [00:04:39] bit. I did. I relaxed a lot. Yeah, it was great. It was fantastic. Um, and, and yeah, I'm actually heading back up to record with, uh, the billing guys, again, this coming weekend. So back at it. Um, but I had my little recharge there, which was awesome. So stoked to get back at it.
Benedikt: [00:04:56] Oh, cool.
So how much time do you in general, [00:05:00] like half between the production and then the mix. Do you intentionally leave a gap there to be fresh again? Or do you like to start the mix like the day after you finished like producing or is there a certain approach?
Malcom: [00:05:12] I, I would like at least a week. I think two is better.
Um, normally I think in a situation like this, we're going to go finish cutting them, and then I'm going to spend the next week. Cleaning things up. I've been actually taking your workflow. Benny, where you, you, you like to edit drums right after drums are done, but then you kind of save the bulk of all the other editing until like, after everything's done.
Yep. Um, and I'm, I'm taking that approach just to keep the tracking workflow. Um, and, and that's been nice, you know, I just relax, have a cup of coffee and do all the editing after the fact and that's working out really well. So thank you for that. Gotcha. That's cool. Um, and, uh, so I'll probably be doing that after this, this coming session, I'll, uh, be picking away at cleaning them up, uploading refs to them, um, and whatnot.
And then. I will mix some time after that. Um, [00:06:00] since it's a full length album, it's going to be, I'm going to like block out a lot of time in advance. So it might be a little bit of delay to make sure that I can have that whole block period where I don't have to think about other albums. Um, and actually they're recording their own vocals.
I don't know if I mentioned that. Um, but they are self producing their own vocals, so I will have to wait for them to do that before I get
Benedikt: [00:06:22] the tracks. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's pretty quick anyways, like if you take a week to prep everything and, and edit everything, get the mics ready. That's that's, that's pretty quick.
So sometimes for a full length between the producing and the mix, there's more than a week of gap often here. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:06:40] Yeah. There definitely could be. Um, But a week, it would be, yeah, I think a week would be the minimum just to get my head where I want it, you know, just to be hearing the songs a little bit fresh again, um, and not be worried about the timing of stuff and
Benedikt: [00:06:53] all that.
Yeah. Agree. Cool. Cool. Good to hear. I was just always wondering about these things because some people have [00:07:00] really, really long turnaround times. Others are ridiculously quick and I just always interested in how people do this. And I feel like I need a little break between. I mean, I'm not producing any more, but I needed a little break in between just to fresh again, especially if I have to do creative decisions.
Like, um, if I have to do any post production work or add to the arrangement in some way, I just need the distance and yeah. From
Malcom: [00:07:23] the Western bands. This is good for you to hear as well, because when you're recording, you get caught up in that being your goal. So you can actually get like attached to recording in that you think that you have to keep adding no matter what it's like, that's our objective.
Every time we get together, we need to keep adding to these songs. But at a certain point, it has to be done. Right. So giving yourself that break can kind of help and addict yourself to that process.
Benedikt: [00:07:47] Yeah. Absolutely. Totally cool. Now, uh, to today's topic, I guess. Yeah today, we're going to talk about how to translate the sound in your head [00:08:00] into recording, which is one of the most requested topics like that question in some way, some shape came up a bunch of times now.
So whenever people join the Facebook community, which you absolutely should go to the self recording band.com/community to join that. Whenever people join the community. They, I asked them what the biggest struggle is when people join my email list, I asked the same. I just want to know what people are struggling with so we can help them.
And one of the most popular things they say is, or the most common issues they have is exactly that they have an idea of what they want the record to sound like, but they don't know how to translate that into the actual recording. They find that the recording stones sound like what they hear in their heads.
And. While it, it always depends on, um, or it always comes with experience. Of course, this is not a really good answer. Um, we want to help you more than just telling you, you have to practice that. So I, we think that there are a couple of things you can do to speed that up, or [00:09:00] to help you with that, like that could help you with that process.
And that's what we're going to talk about today. So what can you do to get clear about what you're hearing and then. Um, picking the right tools and techniques and strategies to actually make that come up out of the speakers, right?
Malcom: [00:09:16] Yeah. There's my main mentor in, in audio. This guy named Zach Cohen, who owns the woodshop recording studio in town here.
He was showing me mixed bus compression ones, which is a term probably people have heard. Um, and he was like, it's like putting in. Lines that you can shade within and you're mixing into a box now you've like you've given yourself borders. Um, which makes the, there's now kind of, it's not limitations, but there's like something to mix into.
It's not like this empty void. Yeah. And I think doing this as the equivalent for your production, you have to track down and, and create a vision of what you want. So that there's actually something to aim at, and you're not just [00:10:00] throwing stuff into the, into the void. Um, and coming up with, you know, maybe this is a cool bass tone, but is it a cool base tone for what we're trying to do?
Um, you know, I like the sound of strats playing country licks. That's probably going to be a terrible guitar tone for, uh, heavy metal, you know? Um, it's just because it's good. Doesn't mean it's good for what you're trying to do. So having this vision creates the outline of what you're trying to color in.
Benedikt: [00:10:25] Yeah. Absolutely. Couldn't agree more. And it's fascinating how. That that getting clear about the vision and then doing everything you can to make that reality, how that impacts the whole yeah. The whole thing and how that changes is the end result and how that changes the whole process and everything.
I'm just working with an amazing artist from Austria. Uh, his name is and hope I pronounce that right. V Lou maybe. Um, and like he's amazing. And he, he, even in the quote request that he sent me, he. Put [00:11:00] so much detail it to everything. He really put so much thought into how he wanted all the individual elements to sound, but also the whole thing.
Hmm. He clearly knows how he wants to be perceived as an, as an artist. What he wants the song to sound like. He knows the vibe of the drums. He knows what the guitar tones are going to be. And he was tracking sounds that actually are pretty close to that already. And he chose session musicians for certain things that he couldn't do on his own and to chose the right ones, they could actually deliver that sort of vibe.
And I was just fascinated by all the detail he put into that and how well it all came together. Even before I start mixing. And it's, it makes the whole process so much easier. And it's a lot of fun to work with people who really are clear about the vision and who have an idea of how to, how to make that happen, actually.
And I still guide people like that, of course, but it's much easier than having to figure out what it actually is that we're going for. Right.
Malcom: [00:11:57] Definitely. Yeah. So [00:12:00] essentially define the sound in your head. Exactly. That is the that's the first step. Right. Um, and then, and like, we've been trying to do over this podcast, medium, where we can only use our words.
You have to put it into words. You have to define it in your head and then put it into words that you can use to describe it and communicate it with yourself and your band mate, and whoever else is helping you on your project. Um, and that can be tricky. You get better at describing music as you go.
Benedikt: [00:12:30] I think it's necessary to describe it.
Quote, unquote, correctly. Like you just put it in your own words. Just try to. Um, it could be something like, I want a lot of bass in that sound, or I want a clear, shiny top end, whatever that means. Or I want a clear mix or a dense mix maybe, or I want aggressive guitars or I want soft guitars, stuff like that.
Just find words that make sense to you. Try to put it into words. Maybe even write it down and just try [00:13:00] to be as clear as possible about all of that. Um, because it will help you make decisions later. Um, and I know that some things maybe are hard to describe, but just, just try, just try and get clear about, about it.
Just yeah. Define it. Yeah. And then.
Malcom: [00:13:17] Be aware that it's the same word can mean something different to somebody else. So be prepared to explain what you mean by what you've described. Um, like for example, buzz versus hiss to me means totally different things. Um, I've discovered very recently on a project that it does not mean anything different to one fellow, which is they weren't wrong necessarily, but I was listening for the wrong thing and I was just like, I don't hear a hiss.
Oh, but there's a buzz. I totally agree. That's like, of course that's like a, you know, an audio engineer is going to think those are different, but why would a guitarist, right? Um, yeah, it's just noise. Uh, so, um, yeah, be prepared to [00:14:00] expand on things. If somebody is not understanding what you mean. Um, and the easiest way to do that is by finding references.
That helped convey your ideas. Um, so that's kind of step two is you define it and you put it into words and then also find other songs that have the, the core essence of what you're getting at represented. So you can be like, look, this is pretty much what I'm aiming for for this instrument. It doesn't have to be the whole song.
It can just be an element of it, you know? Um, that's something to point out, which is so helpful. Um, both in you getting even more clear on your vision, but also in communicating it to other people.
Benedikt: [00:14:37] Absolutely. Yeah. Both of those things, even if you're on your own, even if you're mixing yourself, Um, I, I would always suggest, and I set that up in another episode.
I think I would try to find the extremes. If you want a record with a big, low end for example, I will try to find references that have really, really big, low end or things that you perceive as a big, low end or a lot of [00:15:00] bass. And I would really try to find the extremes. And then I would try to find songs that sound thin compared to that, so that you see what the.
Yeah. W w where the bar ballpark is and where the limits are, where the extremes are, same as with, if you want a very aggressive sound, for example, and you know that you want aggressive, harsh sounding guitars. For example, for some genres, that's a good thing you want to find out again where the extremes are, what other production sound lag, and maybe you find that you don't want to go.
As far as you thought, or you might find that you have to be even more aggressive because it's because in comparison to other, um, projects, uh, productions, it might still seem soft. So just listen a lot to other. Productions and try to put that into words, what you hear there and then compare it with what your vision is and your head and find out things you like.
And don't like, and then I think over time, you should be able to form [00:16:00] sort of a, an idea or a vision for, for your own songs. It's really a lot of listening and analyzing, and I assume that most people who are not producers listen to music differently than. Then we do. So you might have been listening to songs or records for years without ever thinking about, um, the qualities or certain things in the production.
Um, and now you have to try and listen the more, a little bit more analytical and right. Yeah. And really zoom Sumin on different parts of it. And like, what does the kick drum sound like? What does the snare drum sound like? Is there. Um, what's going on at the top end. Do I hear a lot of symbols? Are they really quiet?
Are there other things what's the siblings like the vocals, all those things you need to analyze that, and then you probably will find a vocabulary and, um, yeah, just, uh, it will just get a perspective I think, and it will be easier to, to form your own vision. Totally.
[00:17:00] Malcom: [00:17:00] Um, I think this kind of leads into our next point as well.
Yeah. Uh, so the next point we had was choosing specific instruments based on your research via those references and your experience. Um, so if you like the drum sound of when the levee breaks by led Zeppelin, you got to look that up and there's actually a cool story in that case as well. Um, but. That's kind of, you can give yourself shortcuts, essentially figure out how they got that sound.
And you're going to have a much easier time getting a sound along those lines. Don't expect it to be an exact match, probably. Um, but some kind of idea, a perfect example. I've got a song with my band called control. Um, my band is called banner Rascals. If you want to check it out, it's like a fuzzy octave guitar tone, riff.
Um, and. I recorded with this guy named Eric rats, who happened to do this band called Billy talent. Who's a pretty big band. And they have a song called devil in the midnight mass, which is a fuzzy Okta guitar tone. And he was like, [00:18:00] well, let's start there. He gave me the same guitar, same app, same pedal. It was like go.
And we ended up swapping out the pedal for my own Okta fuzz thing, but I'm pretty sure everything else was the same, actually. Um, And it was like, that was awesome. We knew that's like essentially the guitar tone we wanted, it's going to be different because it's my hands. Anyways. It won't sound the same and it's different riff and whatnot, but it definitely got us in the ballpark really quick.
And in that case, it was a combination of a reference like, Hey, that's kind of the sound we want and experience in Eric's part. He was like, I know exactly how to get that sound quick. Here we go. Um, and that is actually one disadvantage. You have. Uh, as a self recording band is you don't have that experience probably yet.
Um, if you work with a producer, they generally are going to be quicker at getting sounds because they know how they've gotten them before. And that experience is going to help them make decisions and already be reaching for the right guitar, uh, or symbol or, [00:19:00] or microphone, whatever. Right. Um, or set up in general, they've got that advantage.
You have to do that yourself. You have to. Go in and AB all your gear, uh, you know, try out this microphone for your vocal versus this microphone for your vocal, all of that. Um, so do research on how your favorite bands recorded and then start learning how your own equipment can also be used. Um, and you might have to find new equipment to get the job done, or maybe you can use a piece of gear that you've never thought to use to get the job done as well.
Benedikt: [00:19:37] Absolutely. Um, that leads to the next point, which you already touched on and that is learn your gear because once you've defined the vision and once you know what other people used, you need to know what your gear can do and how you can use it. And then you sort of have all the pieces ready, basically, you know, what it should sound like, and then you know what to reach for and how to [00:20:00] use it to make that a reality.
So, because it doesn't help to have a very defined vision, if you still don't know. How did what to do then, you know, it's the first STEM, but when it comes to actually capturing that, um, you will be guessing a lot at first, but the more you do it and the more you experiment and the more you learn about your gear, you'll be you become quicker and more intuitive in picking the right stuff and using it properly.
So I know a lot of people have like at least two, three, four mics, but they never use them on. They different things then they, they, they basically, some people, for example, a lot of people by an SM 57, because they want to record guitars, but they might never have tried it on vocals or a kick drum or whatever, like things you usually don't do.
Quote unquote, but. It could be the right thing to do. You just don't know, or maybe you always put it in the rights, in the, in the same spot on your guitar camp, because you once found that out and you thought it sounded cool. And you've [00:21:00] always used it in that spot since maybe for your next project, you need to move it or angle it or combine it with another make or do something you usually don't do.
And you just need to experiment a lot and you need to make either like mental notes or like real notes. Um, on, on those things, you, whenever you come across something that you like, or that has a certain character or vibe, just, just take a note and then the next time you need a sound like that, you can just look into your notes and just do whatever got you to that sound before.
Right. So even if it's not appropriate for that session, you're working on this, you should still make a note. And then when another song, when you record another song and you want exactly that sound, that didn't work for the last song. You at least know how you got it and you can reproduce it. So it's just a constant experimenting and learning thing.
And that's the, as you sat Malcolm, that's the advantage you have when you work with a producer, because they already put in their 10,000 hours and half their experience and just know what Mike to pick and where to put it. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:21:59] A lot of [00:22:00] producers will bring a bunch of gear because they figured out that like this piece of gear is an incredible solution for a lot of problems.
So like I never go anywhere without my red, best Paul on the wall. Cause it's just like a beast. It just constantly seems to win shootouts for me. So it'd be, uh, I would feel like totally, um, Limited if I didn't have that in my arsenal for most recordings. Um, and I mean, sometimes I don't bring it cause I know it's not the right thing, but generally it's like this covers so many bases.
We do need to have it in the room and you'll see that with like some, some producers will bring symbols that they just know fit with distorted guitars really well. You kind of start getting these wins and these. Pieces of gear become your secret weapons. Um, and you bring them as, as backups or, or as like we're going to use them,
Benedikt: [00:22:49] but keep in mind that it's always the piece of gear, plus the individual totally unique filter that everyone has in their heads, like [00:23:00] your ears and the way you hear things is unique.
And it's interesting that every producer has their own, um, That their go tos that they always bring with them were always used, but not every producer has the same go choose, not at all, but they all make it work and they all are. They get great results. And that's just because it's always the gear plus how someone hears things and react to things and use those things.
So could be that, that guitar always works for you. But could be that if I had it, I would never want to use it because for me another guitar would win. I don't know. So many people swear by an SM seven for all their vocals. They just use the SM seven, whatever, and they make great records and every record sounds awesome.
And then there are a lot of producers who just can't get a great sound with an SM seven. For some reason, do you like there's some seven vocals? I do. Okay. I really don't. Yeah,
Malcom: [00:23:52] exactly, exactly. I've definitely had at work occasionally. Um, but uh, for some reason I it's normally not
Benedikt: [00:23:58] my favorite. Yeah. And that's [00:24:00] exactly the thing.
And so it's, you have to keep that in mind because those things are a great starting point for sure. But it's not, um, you should not just copy what someone else does because that might not be your thing.
Malcom: [00:24:14] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I would, I would say that actually the little I call them like Goldy lock pieces is that if I bought the same Les Paul and had a second one, I swear it wouldn't be the same.
Um, and it wouldn't be, I mean, it would probably be pretty close, but there's something about this one that just works for me all the time. Um, same with my bass bass just keeps winning. I love it. Uh, And there's. Yeah, it's not like any Les Paul would do the job.
Benedikt: [00:24:40] That's exactly why you need to experiment and make notes and do your own research and experiments.
Uh, because it's not that there is a database where you can just look at things other people do, and then just pick whatever worked for them, because chances are, it might not work for you. You need to create your own database, sort of, you need to create your own notes. Do your [00:25:00] own research, your own experiments and find out what works for you, because it might be completely different to what works for me or, or Malcolm.
So that's exactly the reason. Every, every piece of gear is different. Every like two SM 57 stone sound the same tool as Paul Stone sound the same. And then there's always your personal taste and. Um, ears and everything. So just experiment. And there are starting points though. And one of those starting points is what you just said.
Nothing. You can do the research with other, what other producers used on your favorite records. Maybe even reach out to them and ask some are open to that. Others, not so much, but you can try, you can find interviews and stuff like that. And then there's also when it comes to instruments and amps and stuff like that.
There is a pretty interesting website. It's not like a hundred percent accurate. Of course it's sometimes the bands, um, say they use certain things and then the producer used something completely different that the band didn't even know. So, but there is a website called equip board.com. Um, yeah, it's [00:26:00] I put it in the show notes where you can.
Do some research and, um, find out what some bands use live, for example, or on a record, maybe? Um, it's not always a hundred percent correct, as I said, but it's still a good starting point because when it comes to choosing guitars, for example, it's pretty likely that they use something that gets the job done both on stage and in the studio.
So they won't probably use the, they will not use something super crazy live for example, and something, something completely different in the studio most of the time. So it's a great starting point. And if you're really unsure about what to buy or with the something you have could be used or not just have a look, it might help for basic decisions.
Like, um, whether. Like, if you, if you have to decide between a strap and an ESP with some active pickups or something, you can definitely get an idea which guitar is best used for [00:27:00] what sort of shot and things like that.
Malcom: [00:27:03] Yeah. Yeah, totally. It can. It definitely just kind of helps you hone in a little bit.
And, uh, gets you a little bit closer, I think. Um, so after that, I think we're talking about pre production, which I could, you could argue that everything we've talked about is part of the production. And I would say it is, um, but what we're actually saying is start recording it. Um, put it down to tape and make demos, uh, or pre production sessions.
So that maybe a step beyond demos really where it's all to a click and you're recording it as if it's kind of going to be it. Um, and trying to get the sounds actually, that's something that people, not all people do when you're doing pre-pro you should be trying to make it sound like you want, um, with the, you know, the expectation that it will be improved upon later, but if you get it.
Awesome. Right. And this is a great opportunity for you to do what we just said by trying to get the sound you want in your pre-pro. You're going to end up experimenting with your gear and learning [00:28:00] about it and finding out what does get you close to, to your goal. And you will also might learn just as valuably that you don't have what you need to get that job done.
And that just means that you have to, you know, do more research source, some more gear for the real session, whatever it may
Benedikt: [00:28:15] be. Right. Absolutely. I think pre-production is. Uh, where you should do all the experimenting. I don't think you should do too much of that in the actual recording process, because then it's the time to focus on the performances and the vibe more than anything.
So you should definitely, that's part of why pre-pro is so essential and we've, we've done a whole episode on just that. So, um, yeah, pre pre-pro is absolutely crucial and that's where you should experiment and where you have all the time to experiment. And then when it comes time to actually track, you already know.
What works and what doesn't work. Yeah. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:28:45] Pre-pro is actually what the creative part of accordion is meant to be.
Benedikt: [00:28:49] And I've heard it a lot of producers say, and I totally agree that pre-production is probably the most important phase or part of the process of the whole recording or production process actually.
It's more [00:29:00] important than anything else. Yeah,
Malcom: [00:29:01] definitely. Um, yeah, I think most of the times we've talked about pre-pro, we've actually talked about like the benefits of learning your parts, creating tracks to use in the studio and stuff. Um, but yeah, this, this benefit of. Seeing if your gear gets the job done too, like in the direction that you're actually wanting it to that's, that's a huge benefit.
It's like, wow, our guitars, don't terrible. We have to figure it.
Benedikt: [00:29:25] Yeah. Yeah, totally. Now we've talked a lot about gear. Now. I wanna, um, jump ahead to, um, one bullet point here on our list and that is that during the pre-pro phase and during the experimenting. Yeah, the gear is one part of it, but the most important part, I think when it comes to recording or producing music in general is how your music makes the listeners feel or how the kind of music feels, how, um, whether or not it [00:30:00] works.
If you will, like, if you want to write a set, uh, write and record a sad song or an angry song or a happy song, does it actually make people sad, angry, or happy? Does what comes out of the speakers actually, um, create the emotions that you want it to create or, um, do, yeah. Do that, does it work basically and right.
That's all, it that's all that matters in the end. Really like the whole point of making a record is to invoke those emotions or maybe make people remember a certain moment in their lives, or like it's all about emotion. It's all about how, how people react to the songs and that will. Determined, whether they like your music or not.
So what you should do, I think during pre-pro and during writing actually already is you should show your work your pre-production to a lot of people and not tell them anything about it and just observe how they react, just see what the music does to them, how they [00:31:00] feel when they listen to your music and that way you can, and then collect feedback of course.
And that way you can. Find out whether the song, the arrangement, the tones you use, whether all of that works or not, and you might have that vision in your head and you might be able to record it. And you think it's like that, but you don't, you are not objective enough and you probably don't react to your own music as other Stu and you might be pretty close, but you also might be pretty far off.
You don't really know unless you ask someone. So, I, I really think you need to get feedback a lot and you need to test everything about your production. And that includes the tones. That includes the sounds you're actually getting, because you might think something sounds really aggressive or really exciting, and you might find out that other people think it's pretty boring or dull sounding or whatever.
And yeah. So I think that's just a big part of it because that's, and also that's the, that's the most important thing of [00:32:00] it all. Yeah. No,
Malcom: [00:32:01] I'm, I'm totally with you. Um, I. I don't think I would show it to a lot of people. Yeah. Yeah.
Benedikt: [00:32:09] I thought the same way while I said it, so you're right.
Malcom: [00:32:12] Yeah, you're right. Uh, I'm like, I'm pretty big fan of not sharing the record with like anybody, you know?
Um, but at the same time, somebody would have to have somebody you trust to give you honest feedback. Um, like I've got people I share mixes with, um, and, and. You know, I, I trust that they're going to give me the hard truths and stuff like that. Right. Uh, I don't want to be surrounded by yes. Men in that situation.
Um, and the same applies for this. I think you don't want to show it to your mom because your mom's going to say they love it no matter what,
Benedikt: [00:32:45] but yeah.
Malcom: [00:32:49] We'll get into that later in our therapy sessions. Um, and, uh, yeah, so. Choose those people wisely. I think there are probably people in other bands, you know, [00:33:00] um, that you can trust. You know, it depends for everyone, you know, I think about that seriously though. Um, but tangent, uh, people that share their demos with their, like they're like fans, I think that's such a huge mistake.
You're getting taken away. It's such an important experience for them hearing it as it's meant to be heard, um, what a missed opportunity to get people on board with your, your project.
Benedikt: [00:33:23] Tell us we couldn't agree more, never share it with the people you actually want to share the final product with. They need to, um, experience the first impression is so important.
So don't ruin that, but I would suggest picking up a couple of people that you yeah. That you trust, but I would also suggest picking people. Like non audio people, not engineers or people who know too much about the technical side of things, because you really want to get feedback on. You want those people as well, to give you just feedback on the tones and stuff.
But I think for the whole emotion thing and whether the song works or not, it's important to [00:34:00] show it to just normal music listeners. I think.
Malcom: [00:34:03] Yes, that's a good call. Um, uh, if you have a non-musical girlfriend or boyfriend, That can be a great person to bounce it off if you've been together long enough that they are totally honest with you.
If you're in the honeymoon phase, that's not going to work. No.
Benedikt: [00:34:21] Sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. Um, and, uh, but I think it doesn't work without feedback, but not a lot of people, but it doesn't work without feedback.
Malcom: [00:34:30] Yeah. They're like focused testing it. Does this provide the emotion
Benedikt: [00:34:33] it's meant to. Yeah.
Well, and then, um, part of a more specific part of the whole defining the vision and making things sound a certain way, something we haven't mentioned, we've, I've talked a lot about like frequencies harsh or Dell or base or bright and stuff like that. And I mentioned density or clarity. That's one thing, but there's also another aspect that, um, Is pretty [00:35:00] huge and, um, hard to learn, or that takes a bit of experience and listening to a lot of stuff and a little bit of thinking about it and trying to define it.
And that is the, the space, the perceived space of, of the things you record the individual elements in your mix and recording. So think of what you want to see when you listen to your music and close your eyes. Do you want to see abandoned front of you? Like a realistic band, like on the stage? Do you want to have something supernatural, larger than life kind of thing.
Do you hear certain things very upfront, other things far in the back? Um, do you hear big reverbs in rooms or things? Super dry. Just think about the space everything's in and whether or not that is the same space for all the elements or things can have different, can be in different spaces, but that's something you absolutely need to define because that's a big part of the emotional side of it.
And also. Um, it totally, it's totally important [00:36:00] to, to be clear about this because it determines where you're going to record stuff and how you're going to record it. Like the room you do choose to record it, or how you treat the room and where you put the mix and all that. Is that what you would do already?
Uh, what you also meant with space?
Malcom: [00:36:16] Yeah, I think it is, um, mostly I think when I, the first thing that comes to mind when I say space is like the drum room. Cause that's often like the only perceivable room, um, in a, like, you know, a modern rock recording, for example. Um, so I think that's really important.
Uh, but like lately I just did a session with like violins and all that stuff. And. W we chose the right room for it. And it was like, Oh my God, I just can't even imagine if we had done this in a different space, it would be a totally different song. Um, and so if you have that type of song where the room is just so present, uh, That it's going to be part of the experience and just really important to choose it.
Um, there's that, uh, I do [00:37:00] have no idea how to say their name, Jose or Hozier. I have no idea. Do you know who I'm talking about? Um, but, uh, amazing artists and, uh, what a vocal sound. I think a lot of that's this crazy reverb chain. I did some research on that, but. But that's kind of part of the equation too.
It's still part of the space. It's like it's giving the listener an impression of space, um, around them and that they're in this kind of gospel church setting. Right. That's I think that was the goal quite obviously, on, on those records. Right. Um, and that should totally be accounted for and planned for
Benedikt: [00:37:33] a hundred percent.
Agreed. And I also think, I totally agree, also with what you said about, even if it's reverb, you got to know it before we record in a way, because. I at least for me. And I'm curious if it's the same for you. If I want a natural room sound, I'm going to pick a room that has that sound. If possible, if I want.
Um, if I know that I want to use a lot of rework or a certain digital effects or things I can do after [00:38:00] the fact, I actually probably want a pretty dry, pretty controlled sounding recording because that gives me more flexibility to do those things later. So sometimes both can work, but sometimes when you have a lot of room in the recording, It's can sound a little weird or you have less control over what the reverb sounds like when you then combine it with a big reverb.
So even if you think you're going to add a bunch of reverb anyways, it's still worth thinking about the room you're recording.
Malcom: [00:38:28] Definitely. Definitely. I agree. Um, yeah. Again, going back to drum sound it's I think that's one that's really important. It's like which, which drum studio it's one of my favorite parts about making records is choosing the studio.
Benedikt: [00:38:41] Yeah. Yeah. I agree. I haven't been in that situation too often. I have been, but not too often, but I can definitely see. Or every time I did, it was a lot of fun and like, um, I enjoy working with. Drum recordings that from different like rooms and with different approaches, [00:39:00] I really liked it. I don't want to work on the same things all the time.
And I'm always curious to hear what people chose and why they chose it. And sometimes if, you know, like in my case, if you know, you only have your recording room most of the time, your lab room, and it has a certain sound and it doesn't work for that record, you're working on. You need to make it as controlled and dry as possible and try to get the vibe otherwise, or you need to program your drum.
Just for that reason, I can record drums really well in my room, and I can make them sound big in there. But if it's not the exact vibe that I want on the record, I might go for program drums, even though I have, like, I don't produce any more. But when I did, I had all the gear, I had all the preempts, the mix, um, everything, and still sometimes I would choose to program drums just because.
It was a certain vibe that I was after, because I knew that the room mikes in a certain library sounded amazing. And for that record and, and that's the way
Malcom: [00:39:55] to go. Yeah. Yeah. It doesn't just because you have, it doesn't mean you should use it. That's [00:40:00] definitely a great point. Um, I think we should talk about hiring a mixer and, um, choosing a mixer that works within the scope of what you're trying to do.
Is vastly important. A mixer can like transform what you've done. Uh, it can make sometimes, like it's a, it's kind of almost like mastering in that if what you've done is really close, they might not veer away from the vision that much, but sometimes you really need to, um, especially with the DIY setups where maybe you're just giving them dis and stuff like that, and they need to do all the real champion or whatever, um, that, that, uh, That can just totally transform the perceived space and, and balance and vibe with your mix.
So choosing a mixer that is like on the same page as you artistically, I think is hugely important. And the reason we're bringing this up is because it is also, I think, I think we both agree on this, that choosing a mixer as part of pre-pro still, um, you have to. Start [00:41:00] communicating with them as soon as you can ideally.
Um, so that they you're making sure that they're on the vision. They might have thoughts of how you could do the record as well. That could be valuable. Um, yeah, just communicate with your mixer in advance. There's no downside to that
Benedikt: [00:41:15] period. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:41:17] Period. Love
Benedikt: [00:41:18] that. Yeah. Totally like, yeah, absolutely. Um, have you ever heard a record or maybe experienced it yourself?
That got ruined because people pick the wrong mix. So like, even if it was a very good one, like obviously you can pick a wrong, the wrong mixer. If the person is just not good, but sometimes people. I don't know. Have you ever had that situation that people definitely make sure that that's actually a good mixer, but it was just the wrong person for the project?
Malcom: [00:41:47] Yeah. I I've seen that for sure. Um, famously I could point towards inflames released an album with CLA mixing it and it's just awful. It's just like, you know, great band with like, arguably one of the [00:42:00] best mixers in history and it's just taught garbage. Yeah. But
Benedikt: [00:42:03] I don't know. I agree. I totally agree.
But I don't know whose fault it is because CLA because CLA has done mixes that were much more aggressive and punchy than this one. And for some reason, this just sounds soft. And like, it sounds as if like, The close mikes were muted and you only listened to the overheads or whatever. Like it's like, everything is just so not, not aggressive and weird for that sort of band.
So I totally agree. But I also know, I also think that CLA could have done a different job here and I wonder why he didn't. So, but yeah. I agree for example,
Malcom: [00:42:39] and you know what it's like, we're, if you compare it to a lot of other people's works, it still could work. Like he's still did a, a good mix technically, but it was just like, the mismatch was just like, it didn't work.
Benedikt: [00:42:53] And maybe, um, you like that. Record. If you listen to this episode, now, maybe you like how it sounds. It's [00:43:00] just hours objective opinion. So
Malcom: [00:43:03] shared by many. Yeah. That's
Benedikt: [00:43:04] SharePoint, but yeah, I don't know. I don't actually know if I like outside of the audio circle or if the audio world, if people perceive that the same way, I just know our audio friends making jokes about it, but.
I don't know, maybe, maybe it's a pretty popular
Malcom: [00:43:21] record I have. Could be. Yeah. Um, and you know what, I listened to it first off and was like, just like emotionally, like, uh, I'm not feeling what I felt on these, the original versions of these songs. Um, and then it kind of took me a while to trace it back to the mix.
Just being like, not correct. So, um, I don't know. That's just, there could be any reason that happened. CLA is obviously an amazing mixer, so
Benedikt: [00:43:44] exactly. But yeah. Choose the right person. Yeah, exactly. And talk to them early, as you said, get help with the whole vision thing, because if you, you, you already have the, this, the, that, um, this advantage of not having a [00:44:00] producer.
Maybe you can get your mixer to become sort of a remote producer and help you during the production phase or the pre-production phase. Some people are open for that. Maybe not so much, but I enjoy that a lot. For example, if I work with bands, Then, uh, as a mixer, which is what I do all the time, then I love hearing demos, giving feedback.
Like I don't do too much of it because I want to stay objective, but I still love helping them get the vision. Right. Because I know that the final product is going to be so much better than, and
Malcom: [00:44:32] yeah. Yeah. They can transform the ability you have as a mixer as well. Right. Um, just being like, Oh, just like.
Did you record the eyes? Cause I'm not sure about your, your guitar setup kind of thing. And then I guess like, okay, we're going to be fine. Keep going like, or, or, you know, do it again if you can, whatever, but, uh, just make, it gives you a chance to catch little things that are going to really make a difference in our ability to
Benedikt: [00:44:54] mix later on.
Yeah, totally. And every time I don't do that and people just think [00:45:00] they made the right decision and don't need feedback every time that happens. Not every time, but often when that happens. When would we get when we get to the revision phase or like, um, details and refining stuff. So often we are in the situation where I'm like, man, if we just, if we had talked about this before we started, that would, would have been so much easier to solve or it would be, we would have gone into a completely different direction maybe.
And. Yeah. It's just a shame. If that, if that happens, like sometimes people say they want it a certain way, but they actually mean something completely different. And if they had sent demos or references or anything I would have known and then, you know, so, and that can happen to you, you within the band as well.
Like if, even if you don't work with a mixer, It could, could be the same thing could be that, that you only find out when it's too late, because you haven't talked about it enough or you haven't defined it clearly enough. We have done the research and then at the end of the process, when the mix gets together, you [00:46:00] suddenly notice the things that are wrong.
So it definitely definitely pays to, to prepare well and do all the things we've been talking about in this episode. Absolutely.
Malcom: [00:46:09] Absolutely. Um, yeah. Uh, wrap it
Benedikt: [00:46:12] up.
Malcom: [00:46:13] I think so. I feel like that's a pretty good comprehensive episode. Uh, I really enjoyed that conversation as well. I do have one question for you though.
That is unrelated. I'll add. Um, but it just occurred to me when we were talking that I had a question come up from a listener and they asked about using like flex time or elastic audio to edit things. Um, and I don't think we've ever really honed in on that before. Um, and I was curious what your thoughts are using that, how often you use stuff like that.
Um, essentially this listener was wondering, they're like, Oh, I just discovered this in logic flex time. I was thinking that I would just edit the drums. And I was like, no, don't, uh, I steer people away from Dex time all the [00:47:00] time, which is, as soon as I did that, I was realized like, well, no, I use that stuff, but it's almost always a last resort or on something like backing vocals to sync up to a lead vocal, like stuff.
I know that's going to be. Worried, I think it's a real time saver and honestly effective. You can't stretch audio with slip editing, for example. Um, but, uh, as far as like the primary edit of drums or bass or something like that, I'm quite against it. Um, and I'm curious about your thoughts.
Benedikt: [00:47:28] It's interesting that this comes up now.
Um, first of all, I need to like my hat just. Came to a full, full stop because I wasn't prepared for that. Uh,
Malcom: [00:47:40] yeah, that was totally off topic. I'm sorry. Should it be in the start of an episode?
Benedikt: [00:47:44] Totally, totally cool. But I'm fine. Interesting that this came up because Thomas and I, Thomas has works with me in my studio and he's just amazing.
He does all the editing for me, the prepping, he also edits this podcast and we came across an issue that I haven't been aware of for a long [00:48:00] time. And it, um, Yeah. W we discovered that we had a bunch of artifacts in multi-track edits that we did at that have I haven't noticed as much before. And we found, and I was a logic user before and now I use Cubase for.
I don't know, eight years now or so, but before that I was a logic user, so I know flex time and I know the Cubase, um, time stretching, elastic, audio thing. And I also know beat detective and pro tools, elastic audio, because I've used that a lot as well, so I can kind of compare. And what's interesting is that with flex time, when I edited drums and use the elastic audio thing, it was almost always, or I would say always good.
So it didn't mess up the phase. It did it like, um, It, the, the important thing is if you have, if you had multitracks like rums or multiple guitar mikes, when you stretch it, you need to make sure that it's simply accurate and stays in phase. And that's the common [00:49:00] problem. If that's not the case, you get weird.
Phasing sounds symbols. Start to sound weird. A snare around might lose the punch or attack. It might even flambe or do weird other things with multiple guitar mags. You will notice a weird phasing sound and stuff like that, but flex time never really did that and worked well. With pro tools. It's sort of the same, most of them as, as far as I can remember, I never had big issues with that.
And with Cubase, I haven't had issues for a long time as well, because I'd only did it as a last resort also. And with various in various short, small parts, but we used it more and more lately or try to use it more and more. Instead of step editing. Sometimes we just wanted to know whether that would solve some, some other problems.
And it was, it is totally unusable in Cubase. Totally unusable. It creates weird phasing artifacts, nothing stays in phase. Um, so I would totally advise against using it in Cubase. Um, But I, I don't think flex time and logic or beat detective [00:50:00] has the same problem, but I am very careful with that statement because it might have, I just haven't had problems with it as much as I have now in Cubase, but in general, if you can avoid it, avoid it because it's dangerous.
And I would always try to slip editing first and only if that doesn't work at all. And only if it's like a very small part that you need to fix or something like that, you can try. Elastic audio. Um, it's a little different, I think with individual, um, signals though. So a single vocal or a single guitar mic.
It's not that dangerous. So, no. Yeah. I
Malcom: [00:50:35] I'd agree. It's a, it's always slipped out at first. Um, because when you slip that it, it doesn't change how something sounds. The audio is preserved when you're making something shorter or longer using time stretching, uh, algorithms. There is a change, even if you can't tell what it is, something must have changed.
Right. And, uh, I did a record once with it and. Didn't think there was any negatives, like, cause it, the phase all worked out and [00:51:00] stuff like that until I started mixing and making things louder. And then I was like, my symbols sound awful. And I had to go back and fix it all. It was awful. Uh, yeah. So, um, just because you can't hear the damage doesn't mean it's not, there would be one example, uh, And that, you know, we've talked about that before.
It was stuff like recording vocals, like, Oh, the vocals don't sound too roomy. It'll be fine. But until it makes her has to deal with it and they start compressing it and then it's like in an echo chamber. Um, so be really careful with that. Now the one, uh, catch that I thought of is that it's actually fantastic for pre-pro.
Um, you might run the risk of, you know, not being able to use your pre-pro in the final recording, which is, uh, obviously it's really cool when you've done something in pre-pro and you get to use it in the final recording. It's like, wow, we saved a lot of time. That's great. But, uh, it saves so much time with drum editing, for example, to just grid something, how you want, uh, using elastic audio is like really quick, especially in like flextime with logic.
Um, and then you can just, you know, have tight guitars tracked to that and all that. I [00:52:00] think it's worth it for pre-pro. Um, just, I don't want people to be confused with how drum editing normally works on like a real record. Normally there's no time stretching going on. Um, because it's been played well enough that you can slip edit it just fine.
Benedikt: [00:52:13] Exactly. The one scenario where we slipped editing often doesn't really work. And that's a real problem that happens a lot is at least for me is whenever a kick and a snare are too close together, for example, and you need to. Yeah, increase the gap between that. And then you have it, it just doesn't work.
You know what I mean? Like the one, two, three, four, usually it's not a problem, but when there is an eighth note on the kick drum, right after the snare drum, and it's too close to the snare drum, sometimes you just can't slip edit it because then you have Tuesday drums or two kick drums or whatever. And that's where I try to stretch it, but that sometimes doesn't work.
And that, yeah, it is a problem. But there's one thing I want to ask you. And if you're listening to this and you know the answer to this, please message me. I want to know. Because what's fascinating is time [00:53:00] stretching multiple, like multi-track recording of drums. As I said, doesn't really work in Cubase.
It does, but it does mess up the phase and everything. So it doesn't really work. But at the same time, I have sped up the whole, a whole song full of drum tracks by like 10 beats per minute or so, or I've slowed it down by a lot and it worked. Perfectly. And that's nothing else. Like that's also stretching or like compressing it or making it shorter or longer or whatever you want to call it.
So I wonder why that works perfectly with you here. No artifacts. It's just, I was, it really was, it was incredible to hear how well that works. Um, so I've done that successfully, but I can stretch it a little bit sometimes if I just use the stretch tool, even if everything is like locked together and I don't know why that is.
So maybe if you have the.
Malcom: [00:53:49] The big, the big jump was on like a single way file for example, or was it across the multi-track across
Benedikt: [00:53:55] the multi-track? I took a whole song where the drums, like 12 tracks of drums or Lake [00:54:00] or 16 tracks of drums. And I changed the tempo from, I dunno, 160 270 let's say or so. And it worked perfectly without any artifacts, perfectly amazing.
And, um, but I can stretch. A single hit if I need to. So
Malcom: [00:54:17] I can't answer that. Um, I have been told and then it makes perfect sense. Um, that making something shorter. Works better. Yeah. Because like, for example, speeding it up because you are squishing information. There's more than enough information to make it work.
But when you're stretching something out, it has to create information to cause like the audio file is being made larger. So it has to fill that space with something. And, um, that's where artifacts are prone to, to kind of be created, I guess. Yeah.
Benedikt: [00:54:47] Yeah. Now that's a perfect segue into a future episode that we're about to record and that's how we should end this episode also.
And that is, that's the one thing where my opinion, it makes sense to discuss [00:55:00] different sample rates, because usually I'm a big fan of just 48 max. I don't go over 48 because I don't think it's does any good or it's, it's important to you. It's useful. But if you know that there might be a little time, a lot of time stretching involved, a lot of editing, a higher sample rate could pay off.
So, um, I still, I'm still not a fan of multi-track time stretching as we already discussed. But for example, with vocal editing, it's pretty common to stretch and, or make shorter, or like single, single signals that don't have a phase relationship to another signal are easier to edit that way. And for me, I do stretching or stuff like that in Melodyne or the Cubase equivalent all the time.
And it works perfectly. But I think it works better with higher sample rates and it makes sense to me. Yeah. So it does, that's the one situation where if you have a really, really rough vocal performance and you know that there's going to be a lot of editing necessary, it might be a good idea to use a higher sample rate.
[00:56:00] And we're going to record an episode on sample rates and bit depth and all of that, um, soon, because that's also been requested a lot. Yeah.
Malcom: [00:56:08] Great. All right. Yeah, let's wrap it up. Um, thank you for listening everyone.
Benedikt: [00:56:12] Thank you. Yeah. See you next week. Bye.
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