Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mac OS for Audio

It turns out that Samplitude is going to have a Mac version. That's interesting because I've been insistent upon having a PC specifically because I use Samplitude. Now that wouldn't be as important a reason to be a PC-shop.
PC's are, however, cheaper than their Mac equivalents. So unless that new Mac Pro turns out to be reasonably priced, I'm not totally seeing going to Mac for audio.
Besides which, I'm trying to wean us off of the Mac OS altogether by moving to Premiere Pro from Final Cut Pro.

But that's not all.
Logic Pro X has been updated and is now only two hundred bucks. Which, you know, is a pretty good price for such a full-featured program. That is... interesting.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Welcome to Diatomaceous Earf

Slowly I'm uploading more songs from the last Diatomaceous Earth rehearsal. See post below for the expanding song selection.
50 Mixing tips. Not that I really do many of these things. The only mixing tip I have is to solo any track you're wanting to put an effect or EQ on just to make sure you're actually working on the track you think you are.
That whole thing where we're close - miking the kick and snare has really reduced the amount of hair-pulling-out that goes on in mixing. I'm a lot more delicate with the overheads. Less compression is more betterment.

Friday, July 19, 2013


That's a 51-minute version of Luscious Earth. That's right.
But you're here to talk about my rack, aren't you? So I'll tell you about it. One day I'll actually label the inputs on that patchbay. Won't that be lovely?
I can record 14 channels. I get hella "lost ASIO buffer" errors with my little laptop, but I can't hear them. On this recording I may or may not have used some sort of drumagog thing to replace the kick and the snare (I'll never tell!) but the short answer is that the two toms, the bass, and Greg's guitar are using the built-in preamps on the Tascam US-2000; the kick and snare are using the Lindell preamps there on top; the drum overheads use that pair of Neve preamps in the main rack, the sort of "distance center kick-ish" mic uses one channel of that Neve under the computer on the right, while my guitar uses the other channel of that Neve (which isn't actually mine but my friend Scott's).
Although things may change in the future, the mix I've done here is a "laptop mix". It's extremely simple without any fancy limiters or anything. Plus it's not really "mixed" in that I'm not riding levels or anything during the, er, 51 minutes of the song. I just set them and let the mix roll off. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

And that's all I got.

Apparently with Diatomaceous Earth I'm the guy who keeps saying "This is the most brilliant rock music every created" and the rest of the guys in the band look at one another and think "What did he smoke before rehearsal?"
I think I've figured out our rack situation. I wish... well honestly I wish we could just leave all the gear set up and then I just walk in and someone hands me my guitar all tuned up and we start playing.
Hmm... what was I smoking?
In any case I'm feeling fairly confident about the new direction of things. When we play out I think I will wear a kilt.
So anyway, I think we have most of this all figured out recording-wise. I feel pretty good about our ability to record everything. I suppose I might be inclined to wish we had an even better drum kit. The sound of the snare sort of made me feel bleh last time. It's a wooden snare drum. Which is... weird. I mean at least to me it is.
Could we replace the snare with something like Drumagog or such? Sure. Do I want to? Not really. Lou would prefer DW drums. I don't have any experience with them. I do know that I like Gretsch drums though. Word on the street is that DW's are easier to tune.
Remember that fantasy world we I live in? Well in that world we'd have some sort of permanent space with everything set up where we can just go in and lay down tracks after turning everything on. That being said, our recording rig is remarkably mobile for being so confoundingly, er, confounding. One 6-space rack, one 1-U rack, a computer, and a suitcase of microphones and mic cables. The monitoring system (so far) tucks into the rack when we aren't using it. Everyone (in theory) brings their own headphones.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Bastille of the Comforted Milieux

Above (if you click through) is our newest "album". Yup. Only two songs. We of The Diatomaceous Earth, found a thing we do and are happy with -- space rock which goes into funk and other sections. This is a "laptop mix" -- fairly quick and dirty. But honestly with the tom and snare (and extra kick) microphones it's much and vastly easier to mix. The bass was Lily playing Ethan's fretless Jazz bass through that lovely little Fatman tube compressor. (Set to... "Bass 2" maybe?)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


It's true. I simply do have have a decent way to create an input list. What I really need is a cable list. I feel as though I need some XLRF to 1/4"TRSM 18" cables. But I'm not sure now am I?

So in order to make a mess of this blog, I'm trying to figure out what cables need to be in the rack. Good times, amiright?
These are the inputs to the Tascam US 2000. We already know how to patch into the associated preamps.

5. Low tom -- short XLR 
6. Hi tom -- short XLR 
7. Greg guitar -- patches directly into front via XLR 
8. Lily Bass -- patches directly into front via TRS 
9. Kick close -- short XLR F to 1/4" TRS M (from Lindell)
10. Snare -- short XLR F to 1/4" TRS M (from Lindell)
11. OH L -- short XLR F to 1/4" TRS M (from Neve A)
12. OH R short XLR F to 1/4" TRS M (from Neve A)
13. Distant kick short XLR F to 1/4" TRS M (from Neve A)
14. Drew guitar short XLR F to 1/4" TRS M (from Neve A)

I think this means that eventually I'm going to need at least four more XLRF to TRSM cables. And maybe a half-dozen short XLR cables. 

Input channels

1U rack Neve outputs to 11 and 12 on XLR bay to 13 and 14 on Tascam
    Distant kick and Drew guitar
1. Lindell pair (inputs 7 and 8 inputs on XLR bay) and outs to inputs 9 and 10 on Tascam
    Kick and snare microphones
2. Neve (inputs 9 and 10 on XLR bay) outputs 11 12 on Tascam
    Ear Trumpet Labs overhead microphones
3. Tascam A/D converter
4. XLR patchbay
5. 1U Power

Here's an input list:
5. Low tom
6. Hi tom
7. Greg guitar
8. Lily Bass
9. Kick close
10. Snare
11. OH L
12. OH R
13. Distant kick
14. Drew guitar
We only need 10 inputs until we add cello, flute, a second bass, and vocals.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Blogger has been awfully buggy lately. There was that thing where it kept whining about not having a blog title as soon as you started a new post. Then sometimes it just decides to not actually allow you to have a bandcamp link (the first few tries you make to publish one.) Anyway, I'm (almost) done with complaining about that.

Saw Annie Activator at Otto's Shrunken Head the other night. I had a mai tai. For the first half of the drink I was all like "this drink isn't very strong at all."

Then, instantly, I was plastered. Furthermore later on in the evening Ethan then bought me some other tiki concoction which actually glowed a radioactive green. Just because he thought it was funny. I took a bus home.
Also, Ethan lent us his Fatman compressor. The manual for it is here. I had a devil of a time finding it because I kept googling "HHB Fatman manual" and that only led me to links talking about how the compressor has a manual setting on it. Ha-rumph.
So, in a way, I'm sort of pleased that the Aphex preamp is dead only because it means that there's one fewer things for me to deal with.
That being said, cabling is something I do have to deal with and I haven't done anything about it yet. The Tascam US-2000 actually has 14 analog inputs. This pleaseth a Drew. The only thing is that my laptop can't really handle the ASIO drivers at low-latency without causing errors. I'm working on that.
In any case, we'll try the Fatman on the bass. We just need to keep the very high-amplitude stuff (slapping) from breaking up the rest of the analog chain (our monitors).

A 6U rack just might not really work for the recording setup.
1. Lindell
2. Neve A
3. Neve B
4. A/D box (Tascam US-2000
5. 1U Power strip
6. Input XLR patchbay strip

See? There's no room for connectors for the monitor system or the computer in that setup. If we keep one of the Neves in a separate rack we might be able to make the whole thing work. I have to figure out the way that stuff gets in through the input XLR patchbay though.

You know you love it when I share my notes out loud to the universe.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Well That Could Be. Too.

C'mon. Jalopy. I haven't even been there and yet still I know it's the most awesome music venue.

In the Vast Iteration is a City Samanas record. Well. Maybe. It may be a Diatomaceous Earth album. In any case, Greg has somehow been saddled with the responsibility of arranging the elements of this album into a single song -- like "Roundabout" or Pink Floyd's "Echoes". Ha! 
Might this also be a part of The Imaginary Opera? Well, that could be. Too.

Tom Tom Notes

So I'll admit it. I failed. I tried a 3-microphone setup on drums. And I just couldn't quite get the sound I've been looking for all this time.
The only things I know about recording drums are what Eric Rachel at Trax East has told me. One thing he pointed out is that recording toms and making them sound good is relatively easy. And to rely on the overheads and room mics.
We're not using room mics because the room isn't that awesome sounding anyway. But just putting microphones on the toms makes mixing the drums so much vastly easier because I'm not over-compressing everything just to get the toms to sing. Instead the cymbals can sit where they need to (most of their sound comes from the overheads) and the toms will go boom when they're played.
This is an improvised rehearsal. There were some songs or song-like things which some of us knew but others didn't. All the mixes were done on my laptop with an archaic version of Samplitude. This is because my main mixing computer lost its power supply and I'm waiting on the new supply to show up. So we're using the Tascam US-2000. The overheads are a pair of very sweet-sounding Ear Trumpet Labs mics going into Neve 1272 preamps.
There's a "distance" kick mic which is a RODE NT1 feeding a 1272.
The bass goes direct into the US-2000's DI input. The guitars are both recorded with SM58's. Mine goes into the last channel of my 1272. Greg's (in this recording at least) is preamped with the Tascam's internal preamps. Which sound surprisingly good.
The snare goes through an Equation Audio hypercardioid. And then it hits a Lindell 500-series preamp.
There's no close kick-drum mic on this recording. That'll be different next time. Also, my listening to the mix makes me want to do, er, things with the drum sound. And before we go and release an album with this material I want to actually mix it -- bring some instruments up and down rather than just setting the faders and letting it run all the way out.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Invaded Their Home With Myself

We recorded a new Diatomaceous Earth rehearsal.
This was the first experiment with close-miking the toms and snare (and, theoretically, the kick). I had been under the impression that everyone hated the way I'd been recording the drums so I went to all this trouble to set up a system where the drums could be recorded a tad more conventionally. As it turns out, apparently the other band members claim happiness with the drum sound up until now.
To which I say "feh".

So. Some things.
The Equation Audio kick drum microphone was DOA. But we slapped a pair of mics on the toms and one on the snare. We continued to use the distant "kick drum microphone" which is a Rode NT1 about a meter from the front of the kit.
The other thing that happened was that the Aphex dual-channel microphone preamp which we were using on Greg's guitar and Lily's bass pretty much just crapped out. The signal just faded in and out and started crackling and so we gave up. Instead we used inputs 7 and 8 on the Tascam US-2000. The preamps on the Tascam sound pretty good actually.
One issue is that we'd got very used to the soft limiting on the Aphex and in order to give Lily the headroom she needs on her Schecter bass we have to turn the preamp down pretty low and then turn up the monitor output on our headphone system. Which does make the whole thing noisier to listen to.
Next week we hope to use Ethan's compressor as a limiter on the bass just to control the "funk". And that will help us keep the levels up a bit.
Me? I'm under the impression that the close mic of the toms and the snare does in fact help betterize things. Not in the manner that I was thinking though. We have bleed through all the mics like crazy. And sometimes the cymbals sound pretty good on the off-axis tom and snare mics. I know. It's weird. I believe the mixes you hear above have pretty heavily compressed toms and snare (and maybe even kick) but the overheads are left wide open without much (or possibly any) processing.
The effect of the snare drum mic is that we put a bit of plate reverb on that channel but it's not super-duper loud in the mix. Most of the snare sound (I think) is coming from those overheads and the "kick drum mic". Right? I know.
If you want to know anything about Afton, here's a view. I mean, the concert business is rough anyway. I'm not really one of those "the musicians deserve to get paid" folks just because, it seems impractical. As long as the sound mixer is paid it's all right with me.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Whack a Letter

Teen Getaway is another cool Alabama band. Dig this review.
But you're asking yourself: how are you going to arrange the preamps and A/D converters in order to record Diatomaceous Earth?
I know. I know you're asking this. I will try to help.

US-2000 input -- Source              -- Preamp used
1.                                                 --  Tascam preamp 1
2.                                                  -- Tascam preamp 2
3.                         Low tom mic --     Tascam preamp 3
4.                         Hi tom mic --         Tascam preamp 4
7.                         Greg guitar    --       Aphex preamp L
8.                         Bass DI --              Aphex preamp R
9.                         Kick close mic        Lindell L
10.                        Snare close mic      Lindell R
11.                        Drum OH L            Neve 1
12.                        Drum OH R           Neve 2
13.                        Kick distant mic     Neve 3
14.                        Drew guitar            Neve 4