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92: Q&A – Priorities, Committing, Gear, Live Recording & Snare Sound

92: Q&A – Priorities, Committing, Gear, Live Recording & Snare Sound

November 2021 - Q&A - Part 2!

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These are some of the questions and struggles from our community members that we've covered on the show:

  • "If I’m recording at home, my recordings end up sounding not as “full” as I’d like them to be. Is it because I struggle with using compression properly?

    Or is it my gear (SM57 + Scarlett interface)? Whatever it is, how do I get the most out of my recorded tracks?"

  • "What I’m struggling with is the final order of things. I do a static mix, then tweak till I have a better recording. But then what?

    The final mix-flow plan is what I'm missing. Not sure when it's ready for mastering. I just seem to keep tweaking. Never committing, knowing I can always change it."

  • "We are recording demos of our next album right now and for some of the songs we have our singer singing into the p.a. and then we mic the p.a.. This results in that "vocal" track being more like a room mic for the drums than the vox.

    Also because it's recording the speaker it’s incredibly muddy. I know you usually advise against recording vocals live, but for these demos its really helpful to know where the vocals come in and out."

  • "Why do you double mic the snare? I’ve done it before, but it didn't really work because i don't understand why you would double mic the snare in the first place on a fundamental level."

Book A Free Coaching Call With Benedikt:


This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.

Benedikt's voice on this episode has been recorded with the Antelope Axino Synergy Core.


Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast #92: Q&A - Priorities, Committing, Gear, Live Recording & Snare Sound

[00:00:00] Benedikt: I think we should do that more often. Actually, these are fun episodes and these are really like helpful and actionable and not just the big picture stuff that we usually talk about.

[00:00:08] So, 

[00:00:09] Malcom: Yep. I love it. Nitty gritty. And it makes me think about things as well. So loving it. 

[00:00:28] Benedikt: Hello, and welcome to the self recording band podcast. I am your host Benedick tine, and I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm owen flood. How are you Malcolm? 

[00:00:38] Malcom: Hello. I mean as, yeah, 

[00:00:41] Benedikt: It almost feels weird to ask that at this point, this episode.

[00:00:46] Malcom: without dragging people on for five minutes of depressing talk, there was like a crap load of flooding around where I live and, and, and a bunch of other stuff. It's just been a, it's been one of those weeks 

[00:00:58] Benedikt: Yeah. 

[00:00:58] Malcom: or months. I'm not really [00:01:00] sure anymore, but. All in all happy getting to do my podcast with my friend and, uh, Yeah. Things, things are still good. Just challenging. That's all. If you listen to this and you also live on Vancouver island, you know exactly what I'm talking about and, uh, hopefully you're in a place where you can listen to this well being dry. 

[00:01:18] Benedikt: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. 

[00:01:20] Malcom: How are 

[00:01:21] Benedikt: Oh, man. Um, yeah, uh, say like not saying when he should think about water or floods, but, um, a different kind of flood, a flood of, of too much work and my inability to make like set priorities correctly. And I feel a little overworked and tired, but I don't want to complain because I think this is actually a good problem to have. So, um, yeah. It's, it's been, it's been all right. I don't know that the flood thing seems to be a theme this year, because earlier this year it hit Germany. Um, And now it hit you and it's like, yeah, I'm afraid we'll see more of these in the future if things don't change.

[00:01:57] Malcom: Yeah, I'm, I'm worried about the same [00:02:00] thing. It's like the weather on this island has changed so much in the last decade, two decades, especially it's just like, where's this going? Not good. 

[00:02:10] Benedikt: Yeah. Oh man. Glad, glad though that you are fine and that nothing has been, uh, probably there has been damages, but like you said, that that most of the most valuable stuff survived. So 

[00:02:20] Malcom: Yup. Yup. As far as gear goes, I'm in the car.

[00:02:25] Benedikt: That's the most important thing, isn't it? 

[00:02:29] No, 

[00:02:29] Malcom: let my girlfriend or sorry. Don't do not let my fiance listen to this old man. I'll be in deep trouble, double trouble there. 

[00:02:36] Benedikt: double trouble there. Yeah, yeah, yeah. What about the cat? 

[00:02:40] Malcom: The cats were told the fine and they'd be, I was giving them shit cause they didn't wake me up. Let me know there was flooding.

[00:02:49] Benedikt: Awesome. Awesome. All right. Um, Let's jump into today's episode. And what we'll going to do is we basically continue what I started last week. So I [00:03:00] started with a Q and a episode. And we have still some questions left that we're going to answer today and maybe even next week also, because they've just, yeah, we have a couple of questions. And just if in case you haven't listened to last week's episode, go do that. I explained there where these questions come from and they come from me reaching out to people after poll we did in the Facebook community. So if you are not a part of this community, go to the self recording band.com/community and join us there. And every once in a while I ask a question there or we ask questions there and I did a poll asking people, what's what the number one thing was that they are struggling with right now. And some people chose mixings, I'm chose drum productions, I'm chose vocals room, acoustics, whatever. and I reached out to some people, and just ask like what it is specifically that they're struggling with. And that resulted in a bunch of really interesting conversations and a bunch of really interesting questions. That I thought I should answer. So some of them I could solve in [00:04:00] the DMS, but as you know, like it's a little hard to, to re give in-depth answers in a messenger DM. So I just decided to take it to the podcast and like, answer these questions here. As I said last week also, I couldn't reach out to all of them and ask for permission to, um, tell the names on the show. So, so just to protect everyone's privacy, we'll just gonna read the questions without the names of, I hope that's okay. Uh, but those are real people from the community and, uh, yeah. I hope that that helps you all. All right. 

[00:04:28] Malcom: I love this idea because everybody eventually comes across the same problems, like very often. So if, what is one person's question is probably multiple people in our communities question. So we're kind of, it's like one person right now has a specific problem. And if we can help solve that where we're hopefully helping a bunch of you, 

[00:04:47] Benedikt: Yeah, totally. And I encourage 

[00:04:49] Malcom: problems. They don't even know they had. 

[00:04:50] Benedikt: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah, absolutely. And I also would absolutely encourage you to answer, um, questions or like, or post questions in the community and to, [00:05:00] to respond to a poll like that. If we do one, because this serves multiple purposes, actually, I don't know if you're aware that, like, what that does is first of all, we can, like, as of now we can just um, just like now we can answer your questions and really help you. Then I can, I might reach out and like talk directly to you and help you. We also get a better understanding of like topics that are relevant for you when we create new episodes. So if I look at a poll like a poll like this, and I see that 90% need mixing advice, then Malcolm, and I know what we need to do on the podcast and the substance in so many ways. And also I just, I want to be completely open and transparent that. I been on the phone with a bunch of people doing like coaching calls and discovery calls with people. And I try to help everybody as much as I can, but also I of course try to figure out whether or not I can help someone with my coaching program, for example. And in case that doesn't like in case that doesn't happen, I still want to help you. I'm not just reaching out to you to [00:06:00] sell your coaching. I'm reaching out to help yourself. I just. Answer these questions and not just take advantage of you responding to my polls and stuff. So I'm just completely honest and transparent here because I see I've seen that myself and that's why I'm bringing it up. I've seen that myself in other communities where I wanted to get help and I answered to such a thing, and all I got was a sales call or like a sales conversation. And I don't want to do that. I want to actually help you And it's up to you to decide if you want to do anything more than that. So there's that.

[00:06:28] Malcom: You'll get the answer. If you just pay a for our coffee for a year,

[00:06:31] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Exactly. No 

[00:06:33] Malcom: that would actually work. I would help, you know 

[00:06:35] Benedikt: that would help for sure. Yeah.

[00:06:37] Malcom: what? We'll help you anyways.

[00:06:39] Benedikt: Yes, yes, totally. All right. Let's dive in. I'll do it. Um, Just like I did last week, I'm going to. Read the questions, and then we give you your thoughts and this time I'm not alone, which is beautiful. So I'm going to read it and then I'll just ask Malcolm what he thinks about it. Question number one, if I'm recording at home, my recordings end [00:07:00] up sounding not as full as I'd like them to be. Maybe it's because I'm struggling with using compression Properly. It could also be inadequate preempts that should boost the signal to begin with. So for example, I've used an SM 57 on a guitar amp and use a Scarlet, uh, interface, a Scarlet as my interface. And it still sounds like demo quality. So I suppose my question would be, how do I get the most out of my recorded track? This is, this is interesting and difficult to answer because, yeah. What, what are your thoughts? And then I go mine, I go.

[00:07:30] Malcom: All right. I think maybe we should start with what it's not like, but the problem is the problem. Definitely. Isn't your interface. Definitely. Isn't your preamps and it probably isn't your use of compression either. So I'd probably rule out the, the three things that you can. Your, your instinct may be pointed you towards? Um, I think as always, it, it kind of starts at the source. So I, I don't think there's any reason. That you shouldn't be able to get a full sounding production without the use of [00:08:00] compression and with the exact gear you mentioned there. Um, now I guess we don't know if we're, if we're talking about like post mix or pre-mix, but even if it is pre-mix the recorded sounds shouldn't seem like they're they're demo quality essentially. Right? They, they should, we should be able to capture them in a way directly. And, that doesn't seem demo quality regardless to if it's. So essentially forget about preamps and interfaces. You've got enough there, I think. Do you agree with that? Benny 

[00:08:30] Benedikt: I totally agree. I mean, 57 has worked on countless hit records and this is definitely not the issue. I think while the preamps honor, like the stock built in preamps on any standard, like, um, beginner interface or even an immediate interface while they will not be. Like premium quality or like the best you can, you can use. They will still be good enough. And records have been made with way worse, like with much worse gear back in the [00:09:00] day. And these days, this, this stuff is just incredibly good at the premiums and the converters. All of that, even in the beginner interface are really, really good. So that's not The issue as well.

[00:09:10] the use of compression. I don't think that has anything to do with you with your ability to record guitars properly. Like if you're complaining that your guitar, amps recordings like doesn't sound full enough, that's not that that's got nothing to do with compression, for sure. So I think, if you're like, your question is how do I get the most out of my recorded? So as always, I would really start at the source at the, at the beginning. I would make sure that the tone that comes out of the amp, if we're talking about guitar recording, that this is like, exactly like you want it like that, it sounds really awesome in the room. I would make sure you have the right strings, new strings, the right instrument, that the playing technique and all that is like, perfect. And then if you just stick an S and 57 to the. And find the best position and just record that without doing [00:10:00] anything. It shouldn't sound awful. so when it comes to guitars, I assume the problem happens before the microphone actually. Um, So th that's just when it comes to guitars, if you think that in general, you're recording still didn't sound as full as you like them to be. Maybe it's what you set MOCA. Maybe you just need to get used to and accept the fact that it, it doesn't sound like a finished record. It will never, probably. And there are things you need to do after it's been recorded to make it sound like that. And that is totally okay. It shouldn't be technically like problematic, but it will also not sound like super huge and polished. If you just put a microphone on something and recorded into your Scarlet Scarlet, I mean, can, but usually it won't. So these are, these are my thoughts. Like be okay with the fact that it won't sound like your favorite record right away, but also. Try looking for the problem or try looking to solve the problem in front of the microphone. 

[00:10:56] Malcom: Yeah. Now we're, we're gravitating towards guitars because you gave a guitar [00:11:00] example in your question. Um, But the, the first sentence kind of makes it sound like you're talking about the whole mix. So I'm not really sure, but sticking with guitar. Generally like, if, if this could be a hard truth for you, but generally the problem with guitars sounding like we can demo quality is the plane. It is usually the right hand, even with fresh strings, which we preach constantly. Right. Um, but it it's, it's probably a performance thing. Um, That makes it sound maybe not as. Punchy and, and forward it's probably just like, you know, overly dynamic or, or, or something, um, like that it might not be, I don't know what we haven't heard your tracks or anything like that, but if we're going in orders of likelihood, I would say that right hand is probably number one. Tuning would be number two for me, because tuning makes things sound. Complete.

[00:11:54] Benedikt: Yeah.

[00:11:54] Malcom: Um, And, and, and like, that's like such a signature for a demo quality kind of sound is like, [00:12:00] ah, I've got guitars that are kind of coursing with each other. It doesn't sound big and full and modern. Right. So immaculate tuning with immaculate performance, and then cone, honestly, those get those two other things. Right. And, uh, like kind of weird tone can totally. 

[00:12:17] Benedikt: Absolutely. I was talking about the exact above, like exactly this thing yesterday, um, to one of our community members and like on a zoom call. And I thought that the vibe was, was really awesome in his songs. Like the song that you sent me, I thought that the tones were maybe not perfect, but like pretty close already, even though it was just a demo. But what I immediately heard was like weird sort of strumming patterns between the two guitars and like these, these timing differences that weren't, that don't fall under the category of like, feel that they were just off. And this distracted me so much that I couldn't even really appreciate the great tone. So as long as the performance is not there and the plane is not right, it will never sound [00:13:00] really big and full even, even though you have, you might have good tones. So this is just so important. And I think that the majority of people who listen to music, they only start caring about how it sounds when the performance is not striking them anymore. As long as there is something distracting or some, or it's like weak or inconsistent playing, or like overly dynamic things, you've just mentioned not come as long as these are issues. it doesn't really matter how great the tone is.

[00:13:24] Malcom: Yeah. Now, if we take it out of just guitars, it's kind of the same thing. Um, Like with drums, with singing, it's, it's usually like overly dynamic inconsistent performances that, that lead to these less than full, modern sounding professional recordings. Um, You know, get a studio drummer. You'll be amazed at how compressed their performance looks. If even if you don't use any compression tracking their drummers, their drums, it's just bizarre. 

[00:13:54] Benedikt: Yup. 

[00:13:55] Malcom: And, and that is it. That's the difference. I same with a good singer. They, they are able to sing [00:14:00] everything at a consistent level and very full, and it's like, It's self compressed almost. So when you use a compressor, it's not acting weird. Um, it's amazing at how controlled the dynamics are on every instrument when there's a professional behind. 

[00:14:15] Benedikt: absolutely. That's something you've just said, I'll come, makes me think of a different thing. And that is, um, Hmm. It sounds, you said it sounds compressed without even using compression or like, even if you don't use any compression, the funny thing is. If you try to recreate that or solve that with compression, it might result in a smaller sound because that natural compression that just comes from a consistent performance sounds really big. And it's not like compromised in any way. But if you take an overly dynamic performance and then squeeze it to make it more consistent, it ends up sounding smaller. So what also, what would, could be an issue here as well? Especially if you like, because you said you struggle with using compression properly could also be that in your [00:15:00] mixes, you just overcome press things might be because of the performance might be because you're just, you're not sure how much to compress. And that is something I see a lot in like amateur mixes or when people don't really know what they're doing, they just slam things into limiters or compressors. They just. Use whatever they saw in a video or something, they don't really know that like, if, whether they should compress five, like five to beads of gain reduction or like 20, and they just smashed things and it makes it somewhat consistent and you can hear everything. And it sounds good to begin with, but actually everything ends up sounding pretty flat and small if you do that. So maybe that is also. Part of the reason why you're recording stone, don't end up sounding as full as you'd like them to be. Maybe you need more consistent performances, so you then need to compress less. Um,

[00:15:48] Malcom: Yeah, it could be that you're using compression to try and fix performance issues, which is always to be avoided. 

[00:15:53] Benedikt: I mean, we're just totally guessing here. We don't really know, but I just sum it up. I think we both think, I guess that.[00:16:00] If the performance and the source tone are great and you put an S and 57 in front of whatever and recorded with a Scarlet, it shouldn't sound terrible. And then you shouldn't have to use tons of compression to make it sound really full. So I think that, that we can say that. And if so, part of the reason is probably probably wrong or too much compression. And part of the reason might be a performance issue.

[00:16:24] Malcom: Okay, one more thing. One more thing that I always forget about. It's you know, you and I take it for granted because we've been doing this for a

[00:16:31] Benedikt: Yeah.

[00:16:31] Malcom: but uh, other people, it doesn't click for until they've been doing it for a lifetime. And it is that so. much of the tone of any instrument, but especially a guitar is not the guitar in a production. You know, the bass tone jelling with that guitar tone is easily. Twenty-five percent, if not 50% of the guitar tone, the drums are a huge part of the guitar tone. Um, like so much of everything else in the mix makes the guitar sound good. I've done so many mixes [00:17:00] where the guitars, if you sold them are pretty weird,

[00:17:04] Benedikt: Yeah.

[00:17:05] Malcom: you know, especially in like metal, like so much of the aggression of guitars is the base and metal stuff. So, um, That could be it too. You could be looking at it out of context. 

[00:17:17] Benedikt: agreed. A hundred percent agreed. Yeah. Okay. So I hope, I hope that helps, um, let us know, um, you know, who you are when you ask that question, like just let us know in the, in the community or just shoot me a DM again and like, well, let's, let's keep the conversation going, but I think. I think there's something helpful in there for you, by the way, because we were talking about guitars and like tuning and stuff and strings, which we have talked about quite a bit on the show. Um, Our friend Diego, who did a wonderful episode with us, he did also a webinar for our community earlier this year, like in January or so. And. He also sent me a whole bunch of videos from different angles and with like, um, yeah, like a [00:18:00] full mini course, basically that. The instructions of how to set up your guitar start to finish. Like he's a guitar tech working for like big bands in the studio in life. He had, we had a wonderful episode with him on the show that you should listen to, um, that teaches you how to set or like what's important when it comes to setting up a guitar or choosing strings, he did this webinar and I've just finished today, editing his, his course together. It's been. In the making for very long time, but it's like, it's done. And it will be part of the academy for everyone who like purchased that course, it will be available for my coaching students. And I might, I'm already thinking about making it available as, as its own thing in a way, because it's so important and it's so super well valuable. And yeah, it's, it's basically a full mini course, so that might be something coming very soon. I don't know like how, but you'll, you'll be able to get your hands on that and I highly recommend it because I've been watching it today and it's like super awesome. So 

[00:18:56] Malcom: I want it. Can I have it Benny, please? [00:19:00] 

[00:19:00] Benedikt: yes, you can. You can get it and shout out to Diego, Diego cassius, you are awesome.

[00:19:04] Malcom: Yes. 

[00:19:04] Benedikt: Uh, he just did that because he wanted to, like, I didn't ask for that. He just was a guest on our show. He did that webinar and then he just offered to send me additional videos because he felt like he didn't add enough value. And I was like, are you kidding? And then he just sent me over to this, this, these things. And it's crazy. It's like so much content. So thank you, Diego. You are

[00:19:24] Malcom: I've I've really listened to that episode that we did with Diego, I think two times now, because there's so much in there that I constantly need to refresh myself with. It's like a masterclass. Um, and yeah. And then, yeah, he helped me out with my ever tune when I first got it, just like called me up on Facebook or FaceTime, uh, like the video call and then talk me through it, how to use it and stuff like that. And it was just like the echo you're the best man.

[00:19:46] Benedikt: Yep. He also still immediately jumps on questions. Uh, What, when somebody asks about intonation or tuning or something like that, or set up in our community like yesterday, I think, or today somebody asks about an ever tune with a multi-scale [00:20:00] guitar and immediately Diego came and answered that question. So, yeah, it's just, it's just amazing. 

[00:20:06] Malcom: a beacon of truth and the guitar world. 

[00:20:09] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So here's his entire masterclass with all the content that I have from him will be available soon. That's for sure. All right, let's move to question. Number two. So I think that's the question. I think what I'm struggling with is the final order of things I do aesthetic makes then tweak till I have a better recording, but then what the final mixed flow plan is, what I'm missing. Not sure when it's ready for mastering. I just seem to keep tweaking, never committing, knowing I can always change it.

[00:20:37] Malcom: Awesome. 

[00:20:38] Benedikt: Um, yeah.

[00:20:39] Malcom: you okay. I'm sure you've seen this many, but the, have you seen the meme where there's A skeleton over the mixing desk is got cobwebs all over him and stuff. He's just been there for ages and it's like, the mix is almost done. 

[00:20:51] Benedikt: Yes.

[00:20:52] Malcom: This is so classic. Um,

[00:20:54] Benedikt: is never done. It's just abandoned at some point. So

[00:20:58] Malcom: Yes. And [00:21:00] a perfect is the enemy of done, um, as well. So whoever you are that submitted this, you're not alone. This is everyone. This is, this is everyone. Um, You do have to, I think it's super important to come up with a flow that you can repeat because by creating that ritual, um, this process, that's how you make a complete. I do a lot. Like you, I do a static mix and then I've got like my two bus section and I'm back into the, the, the individual files. And then I kind of have like a stem mastering kind of thing. And then I print a mix and I call it mixes a Euro, and then I leave it and I come back the next day I listened to it and I jumped back in, do all my changes. And once I'm done those changes and I made notes, once I finished those notes, I print another one. And that's what gets them. 

[00:21:48] Benedikt: Yep. 

[00:21:49] Malcom: that's, I'm really unhappy, but generally I'm like, oh, this is really close. I just need to change this, this and this and this. And I do that. And then I mix one and it gets sent off. So that is like, and [00:22:00] that it's important that I stick to what's I wrote down when I listened, because otherwise I'll just keep going forever. Like, like you did. Right. Um, So by creating this recurring process, it kind of solves it for me. I guess it's hard to know when you're going to call it on mixes zero. For me, that's often just the end of the day, 

[00:22:18] Benedikt: yeah. 

[00:22:19] Malcom: but you kind of get an idea, um, to speak to that, actually, maybe it's when you start second guessing yourself, as soon as it's like, like, does this sound good? It's like, okay. My ears can't tell anymore. 

[00:22:33] Benedikt: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, This is really everyone. And I kind of answered the same question last week or a similar question. And that's just because everyone has this problem. And I, I do similar thing, a similar thing, like you do Malcolm, where I just have a process for myself that I just follow no matter what, more or less. Uh, And I, I try to never. Undo things. I mean, that comes with experience [00:23:00] also, but I try to always move forward. Like I make a decision and that decision has been made and I don't second guess it, I just move forward. I never go. I rarely go back sometimes when you change things, other things change. So you have to go back. But usually I try to avoid that. I try to make very intentional decisions and I just move on and I live with whatever decision I've made. So. For me, like, I also start with, a static mix, like for sure. Um, I start with, as I've often described, I started with a, with a, a rough mix with just levels and panning. Most of the time I saved that as a rough mix because that's my initial gut feeling of how the levels of what the levels should be like, Then the next step usually is like solving problems, like removing frequencies that annoy me with like digitally queue and like precise, surgical, acute moves. Then I might remove some civil ENS or Boomi stuff or boxiness I might filter things. So that's, I think the first thing that I do after I've I have a, just a [00:24:00] volume balance going then I usually go to polishing things up a little bit, or like shaping things when it comes to frequency. And then I try to shape the dynamics and the attack and sustain, and not necessarily in this order always, but that's my thought process more or less. But I feel like everything's hitting as hard as it should or as at when everything's as soft as it should be. Whatever I want when the attack and sustained parts of each signal just sound right when the impact is right. When the frequency balances, right. When the levels are hopefully still intact at this point, then I move on to like character things and. Try and more creative things, or like go to two different sort of types of saturation or add like delay throws and like more of the creative stuff And like effects, echo, whatever I want. and then I start automating and putting the final, the finishing touches on it. So I go through that process and of course, sometimes I switched, I switched up the order of these a little bit, but that's usually how I think about it. And I just move through that and [00:25:00] I try to focus on one thing at a time and try not to get distracted. So for example, when. When I'm listening to the mix and I want to fix, or I want to get the impact of the drums, right. If that's what I want to do right now, if I feel like the next step is to get the punch of the kick and snare. I try to only listen for that. I try not to be distracted by other things, because what can happen is you, you, your intention is to fix the drums, but then you hear some guitar chords that bothers you. And then you jump over to that guitar track and try to fix that. And then you've forgotten what you actually wanted to do with, with the drums. And. To really do the thing that I set out to do, fix that and ignore everything else until that thing is working. And then I go to the next thing. And then the next thing that's, maybe it's just how my mind works or my brain works, but I can't focus on too many things at a time. Same with automation. I tried so often to just do a pass and then, then I was like, it would be so cool to just play the console, like a, like an instrument and like move all the faders at once. And like do the whole, like, as, as it's often seen it in, like on the. Yeah. When, when, when [00:26:00] big Ellis mixers talk about how they use all their fingers in real time to do a mix on an SSL or whatever, I don't know. Maybe that comes with experience. I can only really focus on one thing at a time. So when I do automation passes, I automate the drums or the bass or the guitars or the vocals, but not everything. It all, because if I try to do everything at once, I see some things, just something. just slips through the cracks. I will definitely miss something. If I try to do that. 

[00:26:28] Malcom: Yeah, focus. is such an important element of mixing, um, and sticking to that workflow is part of being able to focus. I agree. I think this kind of question inadvertently reminded me of something that's super important and it's that the order that you mix things will affect how the mix sound. Um, So there there's people that start with vocals first, which is totally crazy to me, but they, they get amazing work like results and their vocals always sound incredible. Like there's definitely something to it. It's, uh, it makes sense. Maybe not for [00:27:00] rock music necessarily, but for pop. Sure. So that that's like you said, you changed the order of things and I do as well. Not that often, but it's sometimes it's like, I think. To prioritize something else is going to get bumped earlier in my process. Um, And, but essentially there is a structure and we're just changing. The ingredients of that structure, the start and end are probably the same for us. Um, so, so I think develop a structure if you don't have one, I would just, you know, maybe just write one down, just kind of use what you think is logical. You're going to change it as you had experienced with it and try it out. It's it's going to be like, okay, this doesn't really work in practice. I'm going to change this process to be like this. And then just keep trying to stick with that. Keep it down.

[00:27:46] Benedikt: Yeah, I think that's a very good idea. Just write some process down. Doesn't have to be perfect, but just try to sit down and try and capture how you think about mixing a record. Like what makes sense to you and then just write that down and then [00:28:00] try to, to stick to that. And also I think the committing thing, like the ability or inability to commit to things this comes from. Um, From being intentional and having that vision and that sound in your head first, I think. When, you know what the end product should sound like, that the more precise that vision is, the easier it will be for you to commit and move on because you have that reference in your head that you are comparing your results to, if you don't have that, it's very hard to commit. So that can be an actual reference, like a reference song that you just load into your dye, and then you compare your, your mix too, but it can also be that that reference in your head. That sounds. Knowing where you want to go. If you don't have that yet, I would work on that. I would, I would analyze as many songs as you can. I would develop a taste and the vision, and I would really, go into a mix with like that intention intentionality, because yeah, because I, I simply think that this, this not [00:29:00] being able to come to commit or not being sure when it's ready for mastering, this is just because you don't have the end goal in mind. I think because you don't exactly know what you want. And if you have that, you can, you can tell when you arrived at that point, I think that this is also an experience thing, but I really think this is important. I really think it's important to not just start mixing and then not just tweak some knobs and then hope that something magical will happen. But before you touch any knob, you should know why you touch that knob. I think. 

[00:29:31] Malcom: Yep. Now, one more thing to pull out of this. Um, you say I'm not sure when it's ready for mastering, I would say 99.9% of mixers do a pseudo master. When they mix these days, um, to solve that exact problem because they need it to sound finished and they need to be at the sound finished so they can listen to it in the car without having to like pin the volume knob. Right. And stuff like that. when I get sent a mixed tape to check out and it's like not somewhat loud, I'm kind of [00:30:00] confused. Um, so, so most people are doing some kind of pseudo mastery, even if they don't intend to keep it. so that you might want to put that into your workflow that might help with this kind of like finished feeling. You're looking for. Um, Now if you don't want to do that, the other way that actually I used to do this is I would work with a master and engineer and I would just send it to them. They would kind of be my, they were the last step in my process, but, okay. What do you think. of the mix so far? They would give me their notes. I would do one more round of notes. I knock those off together. And then in the mixer, the mastering engineer was like, Yeah. it's ready. Send it over. So you can always do that route as well. 

[00:30:36] Benedikt: Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. I think you actually should. I think. I think doing a little bit like, yeah. Some mastering while you're mixing is a really good idea these days and, and yeah, totally. Just, just do it, just try it. I don't consider it real mastering. It's just part of mixing, but um, but it's very valuable to these try and make it sound as, as finished as you possibly can. [00:31:00] Yeah. So, okay. All right. Let's get to question number three. And this is actually a two-part question. So, um, the first part is. We are recording demos of our next album right now. And for some of the songs, we have our singers singing into the PA and then we make the PA interesting, this results in that vocal track vocal in like quote unquote vocal track being more like a room mic for the drums than the. Also because it's recording the speaker, it's incredibly muddy. I know you usually advise against recording vocals live, but for these demos, it's really helpful to know where the vocals come in and out. So, first of all, I want to say that I don't think I advise against recording vocals live. It just depends on whether or not you're in the same room and like how you do it, but like for demos, I absolutely think you can do it live. It's just for the real recording. I would do it as an overdub or in a separate room, just because the vocal will be the quietest thing in the room probably. And there will be everything else on that, in that vocal mic, which will make it hard to process [00:32:00] later in tune and all that. So that's the reason, but for demos, absolutely. You can record the whole band live for sure. But I don't know about the whole speaker thing. I wonder what the reason for that actually is. And I'm curious to hear your thoughts here. 

[00:32:14] Malcom: Yeah, I guess it's so that they, cause they need to, I'm guessing there's a gear limitation and they need to hear the vocalist while there everybody's playing. But they don't have a way of getting a direct feed from It, I'm guessing. Um, it it really look into your gear and see if there's a way to just grab that vocal before it hits the speaker. That would do wonders for you because it's just physics. Whatever's loudest in that microphone, which is going to be the drum kit. So what you're going to hear, um, so, so you just need to dissolve that essentially. Or if you can get the vocalists in a different room that would help to. In any case you're then sending a loud speaker of vocals into all your drum mix as well. Right. Um, so it's not really an ideal situation, what we're hearing here. okay. Um, I'm just kind [00:33:00] of reading it again, looking for what the true question is here. 

[00:33:04] Benedikt: Yeah, I think, I think they, they want to do that. I think that the vocal just don't sound right, but, and they, they probably are not really intelligible or not clear enough in their demos, but they would love to record them in the demos. And I also, I just say, if you have. You can record everything else as well. Right? So if you have the inputs, probably so, because if you can put a microphone in front of the speaker and capture that you have some sort of recording device, and so you should probably be able to just either like split the microphone up and like record recorded and send it to your PA, or maybe you can grab a direct out of the PA into the interface, or maybe using a digital, a digital mixer. And you can just. Uh, With the, the internal routing options, maybe you can just record the vocal mic, but however you solve that, you should just try to record the vocal directly from the mic that the singer is singing into and not through the PA. Like there should be a way [00:34:00] to do that and that will solve your problem

[00:34:02] Malcom: Yeah, that, that 

[00:34:03] Benedikt: for demo. 

[00:34:04] Malcom: almost all of the problem. Anyways. Um, One more idea would be to, if you have an interface separately, you could just set up a second vocal mic right beside the first. So they're kind of singing into two. One goes to the PA one goes to an interface. Now that will that'll help. So, so much you'll have a, like, like a a hundred percent better vocal for sure. I'm sure the positive. If you can get the vocalist out of the room, it will really become great. Um, and, and, and then you can turn down, what's in the speaker as little as the drummer needs or whatever. Hopefully there's another way to do that as well. Just headphones or something, if you can get it out of the speaker. Great. Um, That doesn't really make sense to have it go into a speaker, but if you, Yeah. if you can get that isolated Mike into an interface and then isolate that mic from all the other noises, you'll be loving. You know, even like setting up like a mattress, you know, or something, we would go a long way. I think. 

[00:34:54] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. For sure. You know what I'm going to put. Something in the [00:35:00] show notes here. I know that in the academy and in my coaching program, I have sort of a setup guide for like live recordings or different recordings, scenarios, and practice room jam space scenarios. Where I describe what I think is the ideal, like set up the positioning of things in the room, if you want to record lives to avoid or minimize bleed. Um, and that includes like position of amps and microphones, but also like. Um, Portable absorbers or things you can put in between other things. So, anyway, I'm just going to put that in the sh I'm going to find that page of that PDF and put it in the show notes for you to download, because that might be really helpful because if you don't have a second room with, I know that with this setup, it's just what will be very well, even if everybody's in the same room at the same time. And if that's all you can do. That's I think how you can get the most out of the situation. So if you go to the self recording band.com/ 92, this will be the show notes page for this episode. And they are, you should find this download, which, which will give you a starting point of how [00:36:00] to set things up in a room for a live recording situation.

[00:36:02] Malcom: Yeah, that'd be great. 

[00:36:04] Benedikt: All right. Part two of this question is also is interesting. Um, And I think it's really relevant and that is one of those things where we just assume, like we don't even talk about it because it's so normal to us, but it just goes to show that some things that are perfectly normal for us are not so super clear to most people probably. And the question is. Um, Double making the snare. I've done it before, but it didn't really work because I don't understand why you would double Mike this scenario in the first place on a fundamental level. So, as I said to me, it's the thing that I've done forever. I assume double miking. You mean putting one mic on top and one on the bottom. If that's not what you mean? Sorry. I misinterpreted. And maybe we can. Um, Talk about some other things you could mean, but if that's what you mean, then that is something very common. And, but yeah, I can totally remember when I was starting out that I wasn't entirely sure why I would do that and how I would do it properly. So let's talk about that. Like, why would you double mic?

[00:36:59] Malcom: [00:37:00] essentially, it's just at the bottom of a snare. Sounds totally different than the top of a snare. And when we hear a drum kit in front of us, we hear that. Um, and so when you're close to making a drum and you stick out Mike on the top, you don't really get much of what that bottom sound is like you would, if you were standing in front of the kid, um, where you kind of hear both together as a single instrument. So it's really just us trying to recreate what we're used to hearing and adding some of that snap. Crack buzz of the wires that are on the bottom, back into the picture. Um, And honestly you don't have to, there's some great records made without a bottom. Sometimes I just delete it. When I get sent to me, I'm like, Ooh, that's not going to be fun. Let's get rid of that. And you can have an amazing sounding snare without it. Um, and it, sometimes it's kind of cool. Like there's some Kings of Leon stuff that sounds really great. That's, it's kind of this really poppy snare without a bottom. Um, and if it works for jokier king works for him. But it can also be awesome. Um, And just what you needed to make the snare come to life. So I recommend doing it as a rule of [00:38:00] thumb, even if you get rid of it later, 

[00:38:01] Benedikt: Yes. I agree. Also to me, the bottom snare, Mike does other things as well. It's actually not only for the snack room sometimes for me, sometimes it as the realism that I'm missing, especially when I layer samples on top of things, sometimes having a bottom snake. Gives you more natural ghost notes, more natural roles. Like when you need to automate like ghost notes in, and you can't really do that with your one-shot samples that you want to use and stuff, you can just bring up the bottom snare, Mike, in those parts to make it more natural, you can have like, yes, nail roles, as I said, and also the overall like realism and making it sound like a kit because the beater of the kick drum oftentimes will be pretty loud in, in the bottom snare mic sometimes. And the snares of the snare with. Um, Yeah, we'll react to the kick drum and to everything else and the kit. And sometimes I want that sometimes that makes it feel real and like a real kit. And sometimes I want that interaction between the elements of the kit. So I often just use the snare bottom, like in certain parts. If I, [00:39:00] if I think the kid feels a little disconnected or unreal. Uh, so this can be really cool. Also. There's a cool trick. Like there's so many things you can do with that. There's a cool trick that I've seen from, uh, Kristin call it Kristin. Coleman's Lena. Great. Metal engineer from Germany here. And he uses that to make snares wider. So usually snares are a mano instrument, but you can actually filter and then like you can filter the bottom end out of the bottom snap snare mic. You can boost a bunch of top end to really get the air in the sizzle, and then you can use it in an image or a widening tool and like widen the bottom snare. And then you can mix that in with the top snared room and that can give you this really large, super wide splashy, like big sort of sneered rum. That's, that's cool for some explosive parts. And I think there's a YouTube video where he does that. And I tried it a couple of times as well, and I really like it so you can get creative. It's sometimes it sometimes helps to [00:40:00] add top end to a snare that you can't get from the, from the actual top mic. Because if you, if you queue it and you add a bunch of top end, you get too much high hat maybe, or too much symbol bleed, but you can actually boost a bunch of top end on the bottom snare. So you get some additional snap and, um, yeah, some, just some overall top end from that. So lots of use cases and, uh, as, as just that Malcolm, it's not necessary, but if you can just grab one and see if you need it or. 

[00:40:26] Malcom: Yeah. Now you mentioned in your question that it didn't really work. now there's a couple of reasons I can think of that. The number one is that you have to flip the phase on a bottom snare mic because you're making the same source as your top mic, but the other direction. So the diaphragms are moving away from each other. It's going to cancel out and you're. So when you add in that bottom one, it's going to make your drum sound worse, right. Uh, which we don't want. So we have to make sure that the polarity is flipped on the bottom of. Um, to, to align with our top Mike essentially. Um, I, I always take my top Mike as the [00:41:00] master anyways then. Uh, So that, that could be one reason. The other is just, sometimes you just don't know what you're looking for because the, the bottom mic sounds weird on its own. So you hear it and you're like, this sounds like garbage and it almost always does.

[00:41:13] Benedikt: Yeah.

[00:41:13] Malcom: Um, But that's the sound and it's, it's not until you've combined it with everything else that it kind of makes you. 

[00:41:18] Benedikt: Uh, Great. Also, I think when you, you not only have to flip the phase, you have to get the distance, right. You have to play with that maybe a little bit, because if you have, if you end up putting it in a really weird spot, then. Either way will sound bad. So you can, you will flip the phase and it might sound slightly better, but still not ideal. And that's because you have a, you, you didn't get that the distance. Right. So I aim for a similar distance to the snare drum, uh, that I have with my w with my top mic. But sometimes that's also not the right thing to do. You just have to move it a little bit and find the right spot, basically. So usually when I have, let's say you have 2 56. And usually if I have the, sort of the same position that I have on the top, if I have that same [00:42:00] position on the bottom, more or less, just like inverted, basically, that usually works pretty well, but that's not general advice. It depends on how deep the snare drum is because there's a timing distance at difference between the top at the bottom hat. And like, you just have to find the right the right spot, or you just have to look at your way forms in the doll. If you can't get it right. And just align the two. And that will also work. So. 

[00:42:21] Malcom: Yeah. That's a good clue to zoom in and be like, oh yeah, that, that, Mike's way delayed. And it's not aligning well. 

[00:42:28] Benedikt: Yep. I can think of another reason why it might have not worked and that could have to do with the drum tuning because I found that a lot of people spend, like if they, if they spend time tuning it all, they spend a lot of time tuning the top head and completely ignoring the bottom head or a nod, or maybe they haven't changed the bottom head in ages. And like, I think that. Actually the majority of snare drum problems that I've heard, like tuning problems come from the red, from the bottom hat, from the resonant head, if that is not centered correctly, or [00:43:00] if it's like super old and. Or if it's, um, if it's just too loose, if the snares are not snappy enough, if it's just too slow, if it doesn't really react to you hitting the snare room, that results in a really weird snare sound. It's not responsive. It's not quick, it's not snappy. And, um, it can, it can also have like weird. Tones that you don't want in there, like weird buzzes that don't belong to the actual, I'm not talking about the actual snare rattle because that's supposed to be there, but sometimes there can be a or something like that that you don't want to have there. And that's a result of like tuning issues or issues with how the wires are set up and stuff like that. So might be the case in your case, maybe it, it actually sounded crappy and no matter what Mike use or how you position it, it just, it sounded weird. 

[00:43:49] Malcom: Yeah. 

[00:43:49] Benedikt: Yeah, T to pay attention to the tuning off the bottom hat. And when in doubt, I would make it tighter than the top has. So usually I go with a lower top hit to get the, the [00:44:00] body right. Of the snare and to get my actual pitch. Right. But I'm, most of the time I'm really cranking the resonant hat because that just gives me a quicker response and more control. And yeah. So that's one quick tip here. And maybe this, maybe this is the issue.

[00:44:15] Malcom: That's a great tip. Now, the last thing I think we need to touch on here is just in case he didn't mean the bottom mic and he meant like a double mic on the top or like a side mic. Essentially, this is unnecessary, biochemical. That's all it is. It's like, okay, I know that this mic is brighter than my 57. And I want like, uh, you know, a more full range sound throw a pencil condenser mic beside The 57 on the top is it's almost more of an option, but you can blend them. Of course. the side of a drum sounds very different than the top of a drum. If you like take a mic and kind of just were to move it as somebody was hitting it from like pointing out the skin and then going over the rim and then down to the side, you'd be really [00:45:00] amazed at how much the sound changes. So you can kind of get those different characteristics to mix in there. Um, But you can also play with that balance with just the one mic as well. 

[00:45:08] Benedikt: Agreed. So, yeah, basically what you can't get with one, if you can't get your S your sound that you want with one mic, try adding another one and see if you can get a bad way, but only after you've tried everything you can with one mic, I think because the more mikes you have, the more problems you're going to get. And so, yeah, I would sometimes do that. I, I love combining a dynamic with a condenser actually, actually on the snare, but I know exactly what I'm going for in that. I can't just achieve it with one dynamic mic. If I want that. And I don't just do it because I can, I mean, you can always experience, but yeah, like that's basically what I'm saying. They always be intentional. Emphasize my thing. I think that's also a matter of taste. I know a lot of engineers who swear by it and always do it. Doesn't really work for me a lot of times. I've I've I keep going back, going back to it and trying it. I don't know it's I used it very, very rarely and it always kind of [00:46:00] sounds better without it to me, but that's just me. I know a lot of great engineers to do it all the time. There's also a simple library. Or multiple sample libraries that have there probably, but one of my favorites, uh, from the room sound sample libraries, the blasting room, Labrie like the blessing room is a legendary punk rock recording studio, and they have a signature drum VST like virtual drum instrument out there. It's buy, buy room, sound, the company. And in that library, they have. A snare side mic. So you have a top aside and the bottom, and that actually sounds pretty cool. And I use it all the time, but for some reason I can't get that same effect when I use a snare site. Mike, I don't know why, but it just doesn't work for me usually. I 

[00:46:39] don't know. 

[00:46:40] Malcom: Yeah. I think I've used that one time that I actually kept it in the mix.

[00:46:45] Benedikt: Yeah. It's like,

[00:46:46] Malcom: It's a rare thing for me too. 

[00:46:47] Benedikt: Yeah. All right. So, um, I hope that was helpful. Let's finish the episode with these questions. I think that was plenty. And we have still some left for next time. And I think we should do that more often. Actually, these are fun episodes and these are [00:47:00] really like helpful and actionable and not just the big picture stuff that we usually talk about. So, 

[00:47:04] Malcom: Yep. I love it. Nitty gritty. And it makes me think about things as well. So loving it. 

[00:47:09] Benedikt: Awesome. All right, then have a great week everybody and see you next week. Thank you for listening. Bye bye. 


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