Saturday, September 28, 2013

Amazonian Mouse

The new Tyrannosaurus Mouse Album is available now on Amazon:
 
It's also on CreateSpace. I don't know how much the record is. The price does change around a bit.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Analyze This

Speaking of heavy musical analysis, did you want too much analysis of Grateful Dead's Dark Star? You know you do. So here it is.
I've been playing the song for over a year now and I had no idea that it goes to Em and D from the A and G that most of the rest of it is in. This is why I should never be allowed to play rhythm guitar.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tyrannosaurus Mouse Album Version 2.0

So now here's an interesting article on music economics. And when I say "economics" I do mean "flashbacks to that class in college with the cute TA who tried to use the Chicago band The dB's as an example but nobody knew who they were because my class was filled with losers" economics.

"In most small businesses, pricing is a percentage whacked onto the marginal cost, and the setup cost is paid for in the percentage. Your setup costs are S (recording, designing the packaging, etc.). You can’t charge the customer upfront for those so you need to whack a percentage margin onto your marginal costs. This is the cost of each additional unit after the setup costs (pressing one more record, shipping one record, etc.), which are M per unit. So your total cost is S plus (M times units), and your return is (M plus percentage) times units."
Speaking of marginal costs, I created a new master of The Tyrannosaurus Mouse Album. There may be a bit of EQ. But there's a bunch of compression emulation. And I did it. Which is not, in and of itself, a good thing. But my mastering engineer won't return my phone calls anyway, so I may as well.
Did I make it too loud overall? Probably. Sorry. It's hard not to. But at least all the songs seem to be the same relative volume now. Don't they?
Click through and tell me.
I do like this album though. I think it should just go on CDBaby.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Elephant Mixing

I believe that Wednesday's Diatomaceous Earth rehearsal was the first one where the entire band of miscreants everyone was there. We had Greg, Lily on her Schecter playing through an Alembic preamp (directly into a Tascam hi-impedance input), Ethan on his Chapman Stick going through Countryman direct boxes (one of his and one of mine) into Lindell preamps (with just a hint of EQ added to them), Lou on drums, and me (Andrew) on guitar (recording chain is an SM58 going into a Neve 1272).


I'm going to go ahead and admit that the drums are almost entirely replaced. I think those are a DW kick, and DW Edge snare, and Yamaha toms. But the overheads are Ear Trumpet Edwina microphones going into Neve 1272's. I'm not sure how much better you could record them. I think they sound great.
And, for me, I'm finally able to set the cymbals appropriately for the rest of the kit. This is partly due to the kit replacement therapy but also because I've discovered the LA-2 emulator plugins. I can't get the Fairchild emulators to do anything I want. The LA-2 and the 1176 however... those I can get to glue me some drum kits, make basses sound fantastic, etc and so forth.
Note that I'm replacing all four drums in the kit and that I simultaneously think that Lou is the best at getting less-than-par drum kits to sound fantastic. Even so, we're just not getting that million-dollar sound out of the kit at the rehearsal studio without a little help from The Box. 
I'm mixing very dry for me. For most of these mixes there's no reverb on the snare and the rest of the kit is completely dry. Um. I mean except for the kick. I usually put a kiss of reverb on the kick. The overheads are limited with one LA2 (oh, I'm sorry Ethan, I mean compressed. There. Happy now? ;-) and the rest of the kit is in another group.
I'm not using any mixing board non-linear-type emulation on this mix. When I A/B the emulators of the EMI board, the SSL board, and the Neve board against the natural 2-mix buss in Samplitude I invariably choose the less "collapsed" nature of the Samplitude 2-mix buss. So much so that if someone told me it was in and of itself an emulation of the old EMI tube board I'd be all like "Yeah, this is the only way to mix."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lost Mouse

So wait. What happened?
I lost the masters to the Tyrannasaurus Mouse Album.
You? Don't you always have like four copies of everything?
Except for, apparently, these.
When you say "masters"?
I mean the 2-track stereo mixes.
Are you sure you've lost them?
I know the sub-directory they should be in. They aren't there. Nor does a search of any online or offline backups reveal the folder or any of the files.
Can you go back and re-mix the album?
We could. But lots of little things were done after we'd mixed in order to make songs better. And that would all be lost.
(Remix cat remixes.)

Now just a minute. You used the word "would" there. And I see a blue link in the text above. You have a copy, don't you? 
There's the finished album on Bandcamp.
So you're a liar.
No. That version on Bandcamp was mastered by me. Not by someone competent.
So there's compression on it. Tastefully added by you.
When you say "tastefully" you mean "irretrievably".
I guess I mean "it's the best we're going to get."
Exactly. But here's the thing: for some reason "Ice Maiden" was mastered at a much lower level so I'm going to have to add some compression to it in order to get it to sound like the rest of the album.
But on Bandcamp, the files are in .flac format -- which means they're lossless. Right?
Yes. But they're only 16-bit.
That shouldn't make a difference with one pass of compression.
You are correct, Sir.
So what did you do when you realized the only copy in the world was on Bandcamp?
I changed the price to $0 and downloaded the files, that's for sure.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rehearsal Recording

This rehearsal was Lou, Greg, Lily, and me. No Ethan, ergo, no Stick.
Now. I've been putting a lot of effort over the last year to record drums well. And you know what? I've given up. At first I was trying to do a 2-mic setup, then I moved to 3 thinking I was gonna be all avant and cool and everything. But then I got so many complaints -- and honestly, I couldn't get the toms to have that big sound without miking them individually. So we now have mics on the kick, snare, both toms, and two for overheads.

And I don't know if it's just been that I've been influenced by Dave and Lou but I'm not happy with the sound of the drum kit. Even now that there's a metal Ludwig snare it's still... meh.
So like I said, I've given up. We throw cheap mics on the kick, snare, and two toms. And they just go right into the Tascam's mic preamps. And from there they get freakin replaced in software.
The drum replacement plugins out there in the wild are... sweet. I mean they work great. They sound just like you were playing a better drum in the first place. Weirdly, too, when you insert one of those plugins on a track it cleans the track up 100%. I mean, you're not hearing any of the original kick or snare or whatever, the plugin is listening to the track and triggering a sample of appropriate dynamics and such. We used a DW Edge snare drum sample set on this recording. Lou has been telling me how great those snares are. And now we don't have to lay out a couple thousand dollars for one.


Now look, the overheads are recorded with a pair of beautiful large-diaphragm microphones going into Neve 1272 preamps. You can't get much better than that. And I'm free to make the overheads sound good rather than trying to balance the compression of the toms with the airiness of the cymbals.
But the drums themselves? Forget it. I'm done with drums. When they can be replaced this easily with drums that are always in tune, don't buzz, whose snares don't rattle constantly, that aren't affected by the humidity, and aren't creaking randomly then I'm all agog with the replacement.
Now bass. Bass we did something different with. The thing with bass is that we can hear the articulation nicely in the headphones but we lose the nice punch-in-the-chest of the low end of the instrument. Now back in the day when I was trying (foolishly, as it turns out) to record drums, I wanted the bass to be direct so that any processing to the bass didn't affect the drum sound. But now that doesn't matter. So I'm no longer on the bass DI crack pipe. It's nice to be clean.
We have this nice fretless Jazz bass which Ethan lent. And the rehearsal studio now has a beautiful tweed Fender Bassman reissue in a 4x10 (? I think) cabinet. So Lily plugs directly into that and it sounds... wonderful. I mean it sounds great. We throw a Rode NT1 on it (just draping it over the handle) and go right into a Neve 1272. It's a monster.
Halfway through rehearsal we decided to put the FatMan limiter on the bass' output of the computer which feeds the headphone mixer. This was met with much rejoicing.
I still have a pair of the Lindell preamps. And I'm still wondering what we want to do with Greg's guitar. Right now it's going from an SM58 into one of the Tascam's preamps. I've put it through the Neves and I've put it through the Lindells and so far the Tascam's have made me feel more, er, something. I have no idea.
Maybe I'll break out the Apogee Mini-me and use its preamps for guitar and for part of the Stick. Or something. I'll have to sleep on it.
Now note that this recording is just a rehearsal. This isn't for regular humans to listen to, just us. But if you want to hear what too much compression sounds like, listen to the last track -- the turbo weasel version. The bass is having a party through an LA2 emulator and most all the rest of the instruments are getting smacked real good with 1176 compression emulation. Those emulators sound sweet boy. And I like them better than the Fairchild, which actually doesn't do that much for a Drew.
One day I'm going to need a vastly more powerful laptop computer.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Photoessay

The mic clip on one of my Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina microphones took a complete break with reality. Actually, the brass knurled threaded piece which was glued into the clip just let go. Twice.
This means I managed to drop the same Edwina twice onto the kick drum about 5 feet below it during the same rehearsal.
Oof. And both times it hit the mic in the same place.
Such actions dented the grill. I don't really care what happened to the kick drum.
Lily suggested that I open the mic and push the grill back out from the inside. Which was very smart.
Disassembling the Edwina.
Another view of the flat-ish grille.
The microphone unscrews in a fairly intuitive manner but then once you've got all the screws undone it sort of explodes in your hands. Now note that my initial plan (before Lily set me straight) was to take a small needle nose and pull the basket back into shape. But there's pop screens built into the mic which make it easier to push the grill back from the inside.

I actually have no idea what is up with this picture.
The element itself didn't look damaged. And the recordings we did last week after this reassembly was complete didn't sound damaged. They sounded remarkably good actually.
Putting it back together required a bit of a balancing act, but it all fit nicely.
Much better.
These are very sweet microphones. I love them on many things -- drum overheads, guitars, acoustics, vocals.