Category Archives: Recording techniques

Working with Sonar X3 and your DAW

So there are a lot of helpful tools out there to help you in the creation process. If you are endeavoring to create the best music you can then at home or in a studio or both, you are sure to be inundated by the different DAW’s there are available to you.  If you are not familiar with what a DAW is , it stands for Digital Audio Workstation. Basically how you get your guitar, piano, or any other music into your computer for you to edit and tweak to share with the world.

I have found over the years you have to find what works for YOU. You may  hear folks swear by this or that but I have found a great tool that works for me and that is what you need to do for you. Find one that does what YOU want it to do and provides the necessary tools to get the job done.

I have used and been using it for years since the first one, I use SONAR Cakewalk Producer Edition, currently running X3 This is the reason why I am writing this little post. I been fine tuning this software every so often to keep my system up to date.  I thought about how this is so needed in today’s current business climate. You need to always adjust, tweak what you do to stay in the game and give it your best.

It makes me sad to hear other musicians I know and have met who say, ” I am NO good with computers so I do not use them” THen they wonder why they are not getting to where they want to be. Even if you just start a little bit each day you need to learn about the software and tools that are available to you. Your competition is. You need to take time out of every day or week to learn something new about your craft. This is one way to try to stay on top.

I am going to try to help facilitate you in your quest, I am trying to post information on my website that will help you both creatively, technically and spiritually. The three stones on which we are to build. If you take these little nuggets into your life you just MAY start to find somethings begin to change in your musical career and personal life.

So I encourage you to start with the videos posted below in this blog and also bookmark the other blogs on the website. You will also find other links and pages with tools to help you in your approach to this task of learning and applying what you learn.

If you are looking to find a great product to use as your recording software then I would suggest that you check this video out. Sonar makes a great plateform with a fairly easy learning curve . You will find a lot of great videos all over the net on how to get around it.

This is a great video called SONAR X3 Clinic by Craig Anderton – Berklee Online

Watch, learn, and listen to the Chief Magic Officer: Craig Anderton outline a number of his favorite features in SONAR X3 including:
-The MIDI advantage for songwriting
-Using loops for both songwriting and EDM
-Speeding up workflow to prevent “inspiration atrophy” (effects chains, track templates, browser techniques, etc.)
-Creating your own mixer architecture
-Using “spot” timing correction to tighten timing without destroying feel
-How to make amp sims sound great (e.g. effects chains)
-Mastering in SONAR

 

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Tips for recording better acoustic guitar

Whether you are a seasoned pro or an absolute beginner when it comes to recording acoustic guitars, here are 10 snippets of advice that will help you get a better recorded sound. You can find that tone you always dreamed of if you take some time out to do it the right way

1. Try a different guitar

Whether you choose from your extensive collection, or you borrow a guitar from a friend, it’s worth trying at least a couple of different guitars when recording: they can sound radically different.

2. Practice makes better

This is obvious. If you know what you’re playing and you’re playing it confidently, it will sound better by default. If you don’t, it won’t and all the tonal ‘trouble’ you’re having will snowball.

3. Be aware of reflections

What’s beneath you, to your sides and above you when recording? For example, you’ll notice that recording on a hard floor sounds very different than when you’re on a thick carpet, because of the reflected sound (or not) coming back to the mic. Experiment, listen, learn – you don’t have to kill the reflections, but you do have to be aware of what they’re doing.

4. Sometimes, lo-fi works

Jez Williams, Doves: “Sometimes, in the studio, I like the [acoustic] guitars to sound quite trashy, like an early Bowie sort of sound, and you can get that by using dictaphone microphones, and blending it with an expensive mic signal. It puts a load of middle crunch on it.”

5. Try a different pick

If you’re layering a strummed rhythm part, try using a thin PICK (plectrum). Different thickness picks can have a remarkable effect on tone, so before you stampede for the EQ knobs or buy that expensive mic, first try shelling out 79p on a thin pick.

6. Try an X-Y crossed pair

A step on from basic mic techniques, take two cardioid mics close together, around 90-degrees to one another, around a foot from the guitar. Point one towards the neck/ body join, the other towards the soundhole: a classic Nashville recording technique. Rode makes a single mic for the job, the NT4.

I have placed another blog posting showing different configurations of mics that may help you out. The little things sometimes make the biggest changes.

 

7. EQ gently

If you find you’re needing to EQ things radically, you probably have a fundamental issue with mic choice and placement. Get that right in the first place and you’ll save yourself a great deal of work. But…

8. Cut bass

You might like your acoustic all fat and bassy. It can be good when solo, but it’s a problem in a band mix because the acoustic may clash with the bass. Try rolling off frequencies below 100Hz, creeping up to around 350Hz to taste. Notice how mixing just got easier? Remember to use your EQ a little bit at atime. You should not have to be to drastic as you think. I am all for experimenting but you do not want to make something to booming then you have no headroom in the rest of the mix.

9. Flock of seagulls?

If you’ve ever tried to mic up a guitar with brand-new strings, you’ll know all about finger noises: we call them seagulls. To avoid them, get a good few hours on the strings before recording. Coated strings (such as Elixir Poly- or Nanoweb) can reduce squawks too.

10. Just feel it

The most over looked yet most important factor is if your not into it your not going to make it sound good. Just relax maybe take a break. If it is somehting for someone else see if you cannot do something to make it your own or find something in the song that is cool. Just chill. if your not into playing the acoustic and your head is not in it, walk away and try it again later.

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Mark Allan Wolfe online Radio Interview TONIGHT!

I am proud to announce I will be giving a radio interview on a radio program called, IT MATTERS RADIO at http://www.itmattersradio.com/
also the page for this is located here

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/itmattersradio/2013/10/25/its-all-about-the-music-we-follow-in-life

The program will be available for live listening and also podcasting so if you miss it you can still go and listen to the podcast. It should be informative, fun and if you know me a little crazy. I hope you will tune in and share the link with your friends and either listen to the program live or download the podcast.

I will be sharing about the upcoming new release of my CD “Passing Thru”, music licensing and other topics of interests regarding the music of Mark Allan Wolfe. I hope you would tune in or at least help me share this information with folks. It should be a great time.

Also feel free to visit http://www.markallanwolfe.com/ for more info abouot what I am doing, working on, past and future. You can also visit http://www.wolfiesmusicpublishing.com/ for the same lets stay in touch and stay connected

Sign up and set a reminder @ http://www.blogtalkradio.com/itmattersradio/2013/10/25/its-all-about-the-music-we-follow-in-life

Life has ups and downs, highs and lows yet it is the music we follow within our heart that will ultimately define who we are and what we become. Tonight, we present to you, the gifted composer, Mark Allan Wolfe.

Mark Allan Wolfe is a composer and an artist in the truest sense. His film and TV compositions run from thought-provoking, high energy, laced with adrenaline and atq times sincerity. Combining heart-pounding Rock ‘n Roll with tributaries of Electronics, World, Hip-Hop, Pop and Americana, Mark’s songs draw on his 25 years of striving for professionalism and musical merger of sound and genre.

His fans span the world and the 1500+ compositions verify that diversity on TV, internet, film and commercials. You may have hummed one of Mark’s tunes not even realizing the tunesmith behind the music. Web site: Mark Allan Wolfe

http://www.youtube.com/v/TMoaJEA1Au0

Grace Peterson is an author, garden columnist and blogger. Depending on the weather, she can be found either pecking on her laptop or puttering in her garden. She is a member of the National Association of Memoir Writers and the Association For Writing Excellence and her work has been published in several anthologies.

Tonight we will speaking of her first book, Reaching. Is it Demon possession or mental illness. A personal descent into cult extremism and the aftermath,.

Grace lives in western Oregon, sharing a home with her husband and four furry felines while their four grown children come and go. REACHING is her first book. Her gardening memoir is slated for publication later this year. Web-site: Gracepete.com

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How to get paid in the music business

While doing some research on the subject today I stumbled upon an interesting graphic located at the future of music coalition.org website. There is a great article filled with several graphics explaining the how’s and who’s. THis is a nice peice written by Kristin Thomson.

There are several graphics which open to larger ones but if you scroll on thru to the bottome or middle of the page there is a large graphic easy to read. I would like to thank every one over there for this information it was quite helpful. So lets dig in….

http://www.futureofmusic.org/article/article/music-and-how-money-flows

How are musicians and songwriters compensated when their music is played on the radio, sold on digital platforms, webcast or streamed on interactive services? Click on this infor graphioc to learn how.through any of the infographics below to see how the money flows, at least on US sales, performances and streams.

http://www.futureofmusic.org/article/article/music-and-how-money-flows

graphic of how money flows thru the music business

 

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I’m Back

Well I thought I would take a few minutes to fill you all in on a few things since a lot of you have been emailing me and such to find out things, just seemed to be the best thing was to write it down and share whats going on in a mass posting. So lets dive in shall we?

I would like to start off my saying thanks to all of you who have been so kind as to offer your prayers and support for me and my family as I am recovering from surgery. A few of you knew that for a while I have been suffering in my hands with numbness and it was getting unbearable and I could not do basic things really it was really bad.  On top of other health issues I was dealing with I had this to go thru which was interesting. So I am glad to report that my surgery on my RIGHT hand went according to plan. Turns out one of the problems I had was a very severe case of carpal tunnel and pinched nerves in my wrist.

As I am recovering trying to get strength back and working on my fingers and such, I will be working holistically on my left hand hopefully I will not have to have the same surgery on my left hand but if I need to I am going to go for it. I am not looking forward to it in a way because of the lack of mobility I have experienced and the strain it puts on things like family and work but you have to do what you have to do.

While I was recouperating and had the loss of my right hand pretty much I was in the studio working on mastering files for my upcoming new CD. I must say it sounds totally different from my last few but I think all musicianas say that lol Really this CD will be some what of a meditation, queit time sort of thing. I recorded several tracks a while ago and some were recorded right up till the time I went under. I had been working on this back n forth for some time and I wanted to have something to do while I was letting my hand get better.

I will be posting some more info on that CD as the release date approaches. I can tell you there are a few tracks I have pre released on my website, soudcloud and reverbnation. On that note I would like to point you to a soundcloud player that has a few NEW songs on it from the upcoming release. Srill working on some artwork and name. If you sample some songs from the player bellow and would like to share your thoughts or even a possible name for the CD let me know you never know it might jsut be the name I use, would not that be cool right on?

Ok so I also have more music being placed in a lot of cable TV series such as Barter Kings, American Pickers and NY Ink amoung others. Many being on Discovery Channel networks of whci I am VERY thankful and happy for the opportunity to place my music with them. So you never know you may have been watching some programing and heard yours truly jammin :o)

There is a LOT on the horizon that we are working on which is hard for me to talk about just at this moment until I get the clearence yet it is very exciting. I am so thankful for my sweet heart helping me in so many things I just could not do alone due to what has been happening. So if you have written me and wondered why I was taking so long to get back to you hopefully this blog posting helps explain why.

FInally I would like to share with you that I will be adding a few new tools to the blogs and the websites where it is easier to download the songs and help share. Been making some wonderful connections and partnerships and collaborations with people all over the globe . So if you are wanting to collaborate or network perhaps join in the fun some how or way just email me or give me a shout when ever you can.

I leave you with the   message I give to all my friends, hang in there life gets better, if your in a bind be of good courage THIS TOO SHALL PASS right on? so keep on making music, keep on making love and do the right thing and all shall work out .

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Recording Acoustic Guitar Tips

Acoustic guitar require a rather different approach from electric guitars. For example when recording an acoustic you rarely would send it thru an amp. A much more common way would be to run the signal through a DI box, Mic or both

 

One thing that makes the acoustic guitar different from the electric is the character of the sound starts with the source. It maybe plain and obvious but it is the reason why when recording the acoustic you do not throw it through an amp for it tends to sound artificial.

From the strumming, the picking of the strings, the air floating in and out of the sound hole, the type of strings even the pick all help to create the sound even the wood which is probably the most important but that is another discussion all together. It is better for you to take the time and experiment with the placements of the mic’s then trying to figure that you will fix it in the mix.

Some cool things you can do to try to capture the essence of the acoustic guitar in recording would be as follows. Start by investing in new strings! Take care to set the action and tuning right for your guitar. If you are trying to capture a great rhythm or strumming groove to make a main music bed, try using a thinner pick. If you want to capture the guitar solo or lead use a thicker pick.

Audio-Technica AT3031

When you are ready to record the guitar, start by placing the microphone close to the sound hole. A small diaphragm condenser is ideal, such as Audio-Technica’s AT3031 or a studio condenser like RodenNT1-A both are excellent and fairly affordable choices and will work well in working in recording other instruments as well as vocals.

Place a mic around 16 inches or so (40cm) from the guitar, aiming it towards where the neck joins the body. It usually gets you a full bodied sound. It will capture some of the dynamics coming from the sound hole but yet will also pick up the sounds evolving else where from the guitar.

Rode NT1-A

What I would suggest is moving it around to find that sweet spot. If you move up the neck you tend to get higher frequencies lower towards the body emphasizes lower frequencies. You will want to experiment for the dynamics of the room your in, placement of the microphones, strings all the stuff just mentioned will depend on the tone you capture.

If you are able and have the finances to I would get two microphones set up. Set one up on the sound hole and another directional microphone aimed at the neck near where your hands play. You will capture separate styles and tones when balanced right will actually bring out the best.  You can also place the one microphone in front of the sound hole and another one down deep below the body of the guitar which will emphasize the deep tpnes as well. All I can say is experiment to find out what works best.

The greatest thing is nothing you will be considered strange I have set up my amp in the closet of my apartment and placed a mic in front of it, ran the chord all the way down the hall into where I was playing. I had all kinds of clothes hanging in there. The clothes acted like sound proofing in a way. A poor mans version lol. It isolated the tones and you did not hear the fret buzzing or any other oddities. I also placed an amp in my shower stall,(remember to not turn the water on!) the tile in the bathroom acted like a natural reverb of sorts.

Something I have been experimenting as of late has been combining a DI signal (from a DIRECT BOX) as well as including the several different mic placements. When you mix them all together in the mixing portion you can find a nice balance between the both to create a sonic palette that may just be what you are looking for.

I hope some of these ideas may help you out in your quest in finding that all illusive number one hit. One thing I cannot stress enough is you are only limited at times by your own imagination.  Just because some producer or famous engineer has not thought of it first does not mean it cannot work for you. The greatest thing in making music is YOU are the painter that is holding the brush on the mind of your listeners.

Acoustic guitar mic placement ideas

 

  1. Big body, big bottom. You’ll get your low-end (as well as boomy, so be careful) and a general warmth of the wood in this area well behind the bridge, but not too close to the edge. The clarity of all the notes are not as… clear… here, however, so don’t rely on it to get everything you need.  Try placing your mic off axis to decrease the proximity effect of the cardioid microphone.
  2. Twang between bridge and sound hole. Closer to higher strings for more of the brightness. The string sound here is tight and twangy. Off axis will slightly decrease the harshness, as well as pulling it further away by inches. There’s a “solid” sound to the wood as well in this area. If you lower the mic below the strings so it’s approaching the edge where the guitar starts to narrow you’ll get less string twang and more of the “tight” sounding wood tone.
  3. Sound hole balance. Angling down towards the lower strings (again, angled of off axis to help control any boom from close mic’ing). You should get a fairly balanced high to low tone here, but depending on the guitar will lose some of the high-mids.
  4. Bony Shoulders. I’m sure you’ve tapped and slapped the wood at various places on acoustic guitars. Start there to help understand what the sound will be like placing a microphone at position four. The wood is tense and there’s not a lot of space for it to resonate and release, so it’s got some tight mids and a solid woody tone. Of course, being close to the strings and neck, you’ll get a decent amount of pick attack as well.
  5. 12 fret subtle and smooth harmonics. Great place for a small diaphragm mic, angled inward to get a balanced string tone with all of the complimentary harmonics from the string vibrations at that position. If you EQ out some of the more harsh (1-3k) attach sounds, you can get some good sounds here that balance with any other mic placement on the body.
  6. “over the shoulder” as a possible microphone placement

A cool link to find some other interesting ideas as well as some test and sound samples of various other microphones and placements that you might find helpful in other areas. I do not know much about the website but I found this page to be a great resource and thought heck you might as well if you came this far your into what I am trying to share with you and your a pretty serious dude or dudet. Check it out here.

http://recordinghacks.com/2012/09/20/acoustic-guitar-tube-mic-test/

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