Archive for the ‘Production Diary’ Category

Quit Pro Tools

Hey guys, it’s Andre.

Time flies. It’s almost three years since entering Benztown and starting to write for this blog. In this time, I could watch Benztown and this blog growing as well as me. Three years ago, I had no clue about radio or production and now I can hear my work being played on stations around the world.

Always with me was this wonderful Blog, Radio Imaging, Music Production and Content Development.

Like this blog, I also grew over the last three years and for me it’s time to leave the nest and search my luck outside of Benztown.

I just want to use this space to say thank you to everyone at the Benztown team, everyone who took the time to teach me everything, I know and especially I want to thank you guys. You made this blog what it is now and gave me the motivation to learn, write the diary and grow in a quantum way.

Keep on the effort and great feedback and continue to make this blog the imaging community, we’ve been dreaming of.

Peace, guys. I’m out.

Ozone Match EQ

Hi guys it’s Andre.

We’re always looking to get our sound as close as possible to the big artists played in the radio. How do they get that full sound with such a clear singing voice and how come it doesn’t go down in the instrumental?

So we took some popular songs through all genres and analyzed them with the screenshots feature of Izotope’s Ozone, one alternative to Logic’s Match EQ (by the way: thanks for all the great ideas and suggestions for alternatives, you send me after the last post).

The result was pretty simple: all instrumental Pop songs are lowered when it comes to frequencies in higher ranges.  In the screenshot on top (click for full view), you can see the analyzed spectrum of some pop songs shown in purple, yellow and white. They all look pretty similar and they all are lowered in the higher range from 2kHz to 10kHz to leave room for the voice. After matching the EQ to one of the pop songs Ozone’s EQ is showing me a cut starting around 2kHz which is going down more around 5kHz and even more around 10kHz.

After seeing this, we tried to apply this technique to our work parts. Lowering the range from 2kHz to 10kHz in the mastering EQ, really helped. Now, imaging directors can use our Loops and Musicbeds without extra EQ-ing to make them fit the VO.

One industry secret is solved, dozens more to come.

Cheers and have a great weekend.

Hi guys, it’s Andre.

The last days, we’ve been experimenting with Hybrid FX – Sound Effect combos including short FX and also spheres like Drones and Pads. Our goal was to create FX combos, which can be used on their own to create a full element to talk over without using any additional FX.

Here’s a little preview of the hybrid FX, which are now available for all our libraries:

I just wanted to ask you guys what you think about this kind of FX. Do you like using donuts with predetermined length or do you keep thinking: ‘Dammit, I wanted to use this element, but it’s two seconds shorter than I needed it.’?

Are fully produced FX combos a relief for radio producers or do you guys tend to build everything by yourself? Let me know what you think.

Cheers and have a great weekend.

Hey guys, it’s Andre.

A few months ago, I was taught a valuable lesson, which every producer and everybody else working with audio should learn.

I was suffering from ringing in the ears or a so-called tinnitus, which completely threw me off track for weeks and left me spending my days in complete silence, alone with that painful ringing. ‘I’m not 50 yet, a 23-year old does not suffer from bad hearing, that’s weird.’, I used to think, but this is an issue, which should everybody of you be interested in, no matter how old you are.

Producers, musicians, live performers, DJs, we all do our daily jobs under the risk of hearing loss. Working in a noisy environment on a daily base combined with stress, might cause bad hearing or worse. Hearing is what’s most important for most of us. Losing this ability is like the worst thing which could happen.

Hearing loss and ear damage is no disease, which only happens to the elderly and we all should be aware of that. I want to use this post to share some techniques with you guys on how to preserve your hearing and how to prevent hearing loss.

Just follow these tips and keep your hearing safe for the future. (more…)

Hi guys, it’s Andre.

For a lot of producers, traveling is a part of their job. Not everyone is bound to one specific studio, especially when you’re recording, mixing and mastering jingles and radio imaging for clients all over the world. Sometimes you need to leave your own beloved studio and move to another for different projects. Some Pro Tools Sessions have been traveled around the world through various studios until the projects are finished.

To keep your sessions prepared and compatible, here’s a little traveling guide for mobile producers. (more…)

DAWs

Hey guys, it’s Andre.

The big audio software companies recently presented the latest versions of the most popular DAWs. Pro Tools 11, Logic Pro X, Cubase 7, Studio One 2, Ableton Live 9 – plenty of tools to mess around with.

With all these various DAWs with their own features and functions, I always get the feeling of missing out something when I prefer one DAW over another.

Learning a new DAW always means investing time and money and changing your workflow to the new functions and features. Is it really effective to have various DAWs and always switching around various programs and audio and session formats during your work? Isn’t it more effective to have one good DAW, you’re perfectly handling than using three DAWs all with less knowledge about each and every program? How many DAWs do you use and do more DAWs make you a better producer?

Automation view

Hey guys, it’s Andre.

Volume automation is a pretty nice feature in every DAW. It’s pretty simple and easy to use, but there’s one thing which really annoys me while using automation — your faders keep clinching to the value you’ve chosen in your automation and every time you want to change the overall volume  of a track by using the faders (at least I’m used to simply pulling faders), they automatically go back to the old value.

Okay, that means changing the volume with automation. Select the track, switch to volume automation view, make the track view large to do small volume edits with automation (on a 13 inch laptop, that means you can see nothing but the one track, you’re editing at the moment), then switch back to the smaller size and the normal waveform view — how circumstantial!

To avoid getting your fader jammed and unable to use while automation, there’s a function called volume trim, which enables volume automation just like the normal volume automation without affecting your faders. Check out how it works.

Trim Select (more…)

EQ Top

Hey guys it’s Andre.

Getting started in mixing sure is not the easiest part of production. Especially clashing signals in the same range can be a problem, which not always can be solved by simple volume adjusting.

To make you start with a bit of help, I did a little example picture showing some common frequencies and how boosting or lowering them will affect your mix. Also some EQ-ing tricks, I learned from friends, own experience and tutorials.

Frequencies

These techniques are very common to most mixes, but of course you need to adjust your values to your mix. These are just a few tips for quick edits, but if you want to get the best result, you need to trust your ear.

Another tip: Mixing with references will help you get close to that professional sound and provide a quick A/B comparison.

Cheers and have a great weekend.

Hi guys, it’s Andre.

One of our trainees showed me a plugin, which really made me jealous of Apple’s Logic Pro. It’s the built-in Match EQ.

This one is a little gem. It analyzes the average frequency spectrum of an audio file, enables you to save it apply it to another EQ with another signal. This feature makes it pretty useful helper for cleaning up your mix. If you’re having problems with two or several elements clashing together in the same range, the Match EQ will help you fix it with ease.

For example, if you’re having problems with bass drum and bass clashing together, use the Match EQ to analyze your bass drum, apply it to your bass and then just invert the peaks and troughs on your bass EQ. This will filter the spectrum of the bass drum out of your bass and they won’t clash anymore. Combined with side chaining, this is a pretty easy way to avoid clashing. The same technique  works for VO, FX and anything else in the mix. Especially if you’re not into spending a lot of time with analyzing audio and tweaking your EQ’s settings to the max, the Match EQ will give you pretty good help to start with professional EQ-ing.

A pretty cool thing for ‘just’ a built-in plugin in Logic and after seeing this one in action, I wanted to have my own kind of Match EQ and guess what… I could not find anything like this one. Izotope’s Ozone features a similar feature, but it wasn’t as comfortable as with Logic’s Match EQ. Asking the big G,  lead me forum threads from like six years ago and not much more.

So here’s my question to the imaging and production community:

Does any one of you guys know something similar to Logic’s Match EQ? 

Maybe some of you know the right plugin or gear to use, because getting Logic because of this one EQ might be a bit too much. I’d love to hear from you guys. Any ideas or recommendations are welcome.

Cheers and have a great weekend.

Hey guys, it’s Andre.

How often do you guys mix in mono? – A question, you should really ask yourself. A nice stereo mix might sound pretty cool on your studio speakers, but do you ever think about the worst case? Not everybody owns decent studio speakers or a hi-fi setup. A lot of people might hear your work on old mono speakers, which might end in a bad surprise, if you didn’t consider the switch from stereo to mono.

Hearing your mix in mono will give you an image on how your work will be heard on older mono systems. Check if everything is as clear as in stereo, so you can be sure all listeners will get it, either in stereo or in mono. Especially heavy stereo effects on your VO might sound weird in mono, so make sure your VO is clear and good to hear in mono as well.

Mixing in mono will focus your mix on volume more than in stereo. Some volume differences might be overheard in a stereo mix, because the sounds are more separated in stereo. In mono, you’re able to mix with less distraction by the position of the sounds and more focused on the actual volume.

Also keep an ear on phase cancellation, when you’re hearing your stereo mix in mono. Different phases, which were separated correctly while mixing in stereo, might collide and cancel each other in mono. (A short insight on phase cancellation and how to use it to create acapellas can be found here) Most analyzer plugins also feature a phase correlation meter, which will help you to discover phase cancellation in mono. Stereo imaging tools (like Waves’ S1 Stereo Imager in the pic below) also might help you to fix these issues.

S1 Stereo Imager

Most monitor controllers feature a simple mono switch, so give it a try to double-check your mix in mono as well, maybe this might save it one day.

Cheers and have a great day.