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Category Archives for "Gear Tips"

You Gotta Love Your DAW

Daily Blog - June 28th 2021

I don't care which DAW you use. What you use doesn't matter to me. But it definitely matters to you. And you should take that decision seriously.

You Gotta Love Your DAW
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Dynamic Vocal Mic Or Condenser?

Daily Blog - June 17th 2021

For many people using a dynamic vocal mic can actually be a great idea! Especially in heavier genres and in a DIY recording setup at home.

Dynamic Vocal Mic Or Condenser?

Here are 3 reason why I often recommend good dynamic vocal mics to self-recording bands:


  • Good dynamic mics, like a Shure SM7B, a Røde Procaster, an Aston Stealth, an Electro Voice RE20, etc. typically sound better than condensers in the same price range. If you go with a condenser, you’ll probably have to invest a little more.
  • Most rooms are problematic, especially if you record at home or in the jam space, you'll probably have to make the most out of a less-than-ideal acoustic situation. Dynamics are much better for this, as they are far less sensitive and don’t capture as much ambience/reflections/room sound as condensers do.
  • Aggressive vocals are typically a good fit for dynamics because of the "gritty" midrange character and smooth top end of those mics. Condensers can sound a little too detailed for this, sometimes a little harsh, sibilant or brittle and some lack the punch and grit in the mids. Not true for every vocalist and every mic, but for many of them, especially with budget condensers.

At the end of the day, you'll have to try and find out what works best with your voice, your style of music and in your room. Just don't think you have to use a condenser, even if that's what you see in most studio pictures. Google "records made with an sm7" and I bet you'll feel more comfortable about using a dynamic mic. 😉

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

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Is My Computer Good Enough For Recording Music?

Daily Blog - June 16th 2021

Yes, your computer is probably good enough. Please don't overthink this. It's not nearly as important as people think. There are records being made on cheap laptops all the time. And think about it, people have made amazing records on computers 20 years ago! Why wouldn't you be able to do it today?

Presets & “Fully Mixed” Sample Packs

Here's what really matters when it comes to audio workstations


Mac vs. PC

Mac or PC doesn't matter. Forget about it and choose whatever fits your budget and whatever you prefer. The workflow is different, but with the exception of some Apple software, like Logic Pro, all the important programs run on both, these days. The debate will probably never end, but just let me tell you that it's pointless.

CPU

Any modern CPU will do the job for recording. If you're also mixing, you'll want the fastest one you can afford. In most cases clock speed (GHz) is more important than number of cores. So when in doubt, I'd go with a faster quad-core instead of a slower 6-core, for example.

Build Quality & Stability 

Stability is the most important thing. You want a tried and true system that just works. Built from high quality parts. That's always more important than the actual features.

RAM

RAM is important when you're using a lot of samples and virtual instruments. If you're "only" recording or mixing, it doesn't matter nearly as much as people think. If you can upgrade later, start small and upgrade as needed.

USB and/or Thunderbolt Ports

Make sure you have enough fast USB connections (or Thunderbolt). USB 3, USB-C and or Thunderbolt will enable you to record a lot of tracks simultaneously with low latency and they will also make archiving and transferring files much faster, compared to USB 2. Firewire is obsolete at this point. Get a good, high quality hub to connect all your stuff if the built-in ports are not enough.

Hard Drive

Get as much hard drive space as you can afford. This doesn't mean internal hard drive, although I would make that as big as possible, too. I would go with an internal SSD that is at least big enough to store your system and all of your software. Then get an external SSD for current projects you're working on (keeping those separate from the system is generally a good idea) and maybe another external SSD for sample libraries, depending on how big your internal drive is. Then get two big external HDDs for backups and archiving and replace them when they're full.

Screen

Get whatever screen you like. Can be the one built into your laptop or a big fancy curved ultrawide. Whatever you prefer. Some like multi monitor setups, others use TV screens. Whatever you feel comfortable working on and whatever gives you the screen real estate you need. Tiny screens Don't underestimate the importance of enjoying your workspace!

Cooling & Fan Noise

If your computer is in the same room while you're recording and you're recording quiet acoustic instruments or vocals close to the computer, make sure to get the quietest machine you can afford. Otherwise it doesn't really matter, as long as the cooling system is actually capable of keeping the temperature low enough for stable performance over long periods of time. Some modern laptops with big CPUs are struggling with this. They either overheat quickly or they are loud as hell.

So a stable workhorse machine that you enjoy working on, that has all the ports you need and that has enough hard drive space is what you want for recording. As long as you're not mixing large projects, the CPU Performance, RAM and other things are less important than you'd think. You can probably just use the laptop you currently own. Clean it up, set it up correctly and start making music!

If you are mixing large projects, using tons of third party plugins, virtual instruments, amp sims and sample libraries then you'll probably have to bite the bullet and get a top-notch laptop or a powerful desktop machine. 

Determine what you really need, do some research and always remember: Buy once, cry once.

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

One sound fits all?

Daily Blog - May 4th 2021

When recording an album, are you really doing what's best for each song? Maybe one setup for the record doesn't cut it.

The Best Microphone

When I was starting out I often set up the drums, guitars, etc. for the record once and then just recorded everything with that setup.

Seems reasonable, right? At least if you're a band with a certain sound and vibe that doesn't change much from song to song.

But the truth is that if two songs are written in different keys, you might need to adjust. Same with faster and slower songs. And what about space, width, etc.? Does every part feel exactly right with the same exact setup? Are you doing every song justice?

Why do we often prioritize making the record sound super consistent, even if that means making a whole bunch of compromises along the way?

It will actually sound surprisingly consistent anyway, because you made it, everything gets filtered through your ears and brain and your taste is your taste. No matter what.

Next time you record a record, try different snare drums, different tunings, different guitar cabs or instruments to make each song (or each part) feel exactly right. The consistency will still be there and can also be achieved otherwise later in the process. Focus on the song first. Then the record.

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

The Best Microphone…

Daily Blog - May 3rd 2021

...might be the one you already have. Because limiting yourself forces you to learn everything about your signal chain. It forces you to experiment. It forces you to figure it out and make it work. 

The Best Microphone

We often try to solve a problem by throwing money at it.

But this might not be the best solution. And it might slow down our progress as we try to get better at engineering.

Part of the problem is that we tend to like the thing we've just spent money on. We want to justify our purchase. This means you're probably gonna like that new mic you're about to buy. Whether it's truly a good choice or not. 

And it might even sound better right away, so you'll be happy and stop experimenting for a while, but you'll never know how amazing your old mic would have sounded in a different spot at a different angle with a different setting on your amp.  

Then, as soon as you get tired of the new sound, you're gonna buy something new again. Because you'll remember that it solved your problem last time. So you'll never really learn that second mic and all its potential, as well. 

And you still won't know all the details about your signal chain, your room and all the options you already have available. All the cool things you could already do with your gear if you tried harder. You'll never figure out that changing the mic position, setting up your instrument differently or improving your playing technique often makes a bigger difference than switching to a new mic.

I had a whole mic locker full of wasted potential until I began to use my mics on things you're "not supposed to use them on" and started paying more attention to everything that happened in front of the mic. Once I started experimenting more, once I really committed to learning my gear and always trying hard to get the best possible results with whatever I have available, I began to discover the coolest tones and most exciting textures I've ever recorded. And I haven't bought many mics since then.

Happy experimenting!

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

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