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Saturday, February 17, 2018

How to use the Splitter tool when mixing



Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to talk about an interesting tool: the Splitter!
The interface we are using as example is the one of Presonus Studio One, but the splitter is available on many other high level Daws.

What is a splitter? It is a tool that lets us split the signal into two tracks, allowing us for example to send a guitar sound to two virtual amplifiers, or to send a bass track to a clean chain on one side and to a distorted one on the other, so that we can blend them together.
The possibilities are infinite.

How to use it? First off we choose the track we need to split, open the mixer window, click on the track edit button (the one with the potentiometer icon) and on the top of the resulting menu click on the splitter icon.
This will take us to the splitter window, the one that we can see on the photo.
From there we just drag the splitter button down inside the main window to create one signal split.
The signal can be split into as many tracks as we want and each split can be "sub-splitted", so we have a lot of flexibility that could lead us to some very creative solution and complex signal routing, impossible in the analog world.
How did they do in the "analog age"? They would for example send the same bass sound to two different mixer tracks and use them one for the "clean part" and one for the "distorted one" of the signal, blending them to taste and then routing both of them back to the same bus track to have a common master volume.

In the digital age, compared to the analog one the signal routing possibilities are endless, for example we can choose to split the signal into two identical tracks, or split it in a left and right stereo track (good for example for guitar tracks), or to split them according to the frequency, in order to treat the low end part of the signal differently than the high end one (this the ideal for bass tracks).

In each split track there is a vst insert, so we can create our plugin chain to process each track independently, but the amazing thing is that all this happens within a single mixer channel, so once we get used to this type of processing, we can literally reduce the number of mixer tracks of at least the half, on an average project, obtaining a much more streamlined, faster workflow and more control in the mixing phase.

I hope this was helpful!


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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Review: Jst Clip (with video sample)



Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to review a clipper: JST Clip, by Joey Sturgis Tones!

As we have already covered in our extensive article about how clippers work, a clipper is used in several situations: its function is similar to the one of a limiter, but it doesn't just increase the volume and limit the sound, it adds the gain in a way that adds saturation and increases the perceived transient (if not overused, otherwise it can also distort and ruin a signal).

In my video I have an acoustic drum sound (plus samples blended in 50% on the skins) and I add some Jst Clip to hear not only the volume increase, but also the other features: the result is a drum bus that is stronger, with just the right amount of saturation to cut through.

The idea behind this kind of plugins is to make a sound cut more through the mix without altering eq or raising the volume (that's why there is a Trim knob, to match the output volume with the input one and to use this plugin just for the transient shaping and harmonic enhancement).

All in all this is probably the blest clipper I have tried so far, the interface is sleek and intuitive, and I really suggest it to all of you.

Thumbs up!


The plugin features:

- A drive knob.

- A Mix knob to blend the processed sound with the unprocessed one.

- A 2x switch to double the gain.

- A trim knob to match the input gain with the output one, so we will have the processed signal but no volume increase.


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Saturday, February 3, 2018

5 reasons why Youtube video reviews can be misleading




Hello everyone!
Today we are publishing an article by our friend Edoardo Del Principe about his opinion of Youtube gear reviews. Enjoy!


Today Youtube is the largest archive of gear reviews, tons of monthly editions of Premier Guitar can't beat the enormous amount of reviews Youtube has. But We can trust about that kind of review? How muchcan we? Here are 5 reasons why most of the gear reviews we watch (and make) can be misleading (but non on purpose):

1) Feel the guitar
: Guitar reviews for me are not very reliable because the hand that plays the guitar is not mine. I can’t feel whether the neck is right for me, if the weight is too much for my back and how comfortable I am playing when standing of sitting.

2) Guitar sound?: Electric guitars, unlike the acoustic ones, doesn’t have any real sound. The core tone of electric guitars comes mostly from the Pickup, and although the overall sound depends from a lot of factors, the pickup is the main source. Since We talk about electric stuff it is essential to know the signal chain, because it’s what affects the sound in first place. What amp you are playing, what cables or pedals are involved? I never trust guitar reviews because changing the amp head or cab you change drastically the whole sound. So what are you hearing? A guitar or an amplifier? To understand how a guitar “sounds” you would have to put the guitar into YOUR signal chain. Only that way you can understand first of all if it’s comfortable, and second if it fits the sound your looking for.

3) Pedals don’t have any sound: As mentioned before the signal chain is essential to understand how electric stuff sounds like, from the mic in front of the cab to the strings, everything influence how guitars and pedals sounds. Pedals in particular are very sensitive. Power supplies, cables, amp, pickups and even strings gauge have an effect in how a pedal respond, so, if it’s not your chain what you ear can be very different.

4) “Not working as intended”: Only you know how you want to use a guitar, an amp or a pedal. If you play blues rock you are in a safe territory because most of the reviewers talk to that audience. If you are a metal guitarist this is going to be a little trickier, because every subgenre has its own “dogmas” about sounds and references, so unless you find the guy who is into the exact type of tone you're into, you’ll never be satisfied by a review. Volume is another issue very common in most reviews, because often amps are played in a low-medium range that doesn’t represent the real use of the gear because most of the time we want to play it live, or in a rehersal room. Amps, pickups and even pedals used in a live scenario can sound very different than in a studio performance.

5) An utopistic world: Gear reviews made by professionists are often played with instruments that most of the people can’t afford. If you play a pedal into a 2k Amp and 2k guitar I’m honestly sure that even if is a 20$ pedal, it will sounds amazing. Playing a 300 dollars guitar into a 3k amp is telling nothing to me and vice versa. If someone wants to demonstrate me how a 500 dollars amp sounds, he should take in consideration that the guy who spends 500 euros on an amp maybe will not use it with a 3000$ guitar.

Reviews are demonstrations of how something can sound, but of course they cannot be taken as a final word about an instrument. You are the final judge.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

How to mix acoustic drums with samples



Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to add another chapter in our drum production serie of articles:

- How to turn drums into midi

- How to mix rock/metal drums

- How to use Drumagog and other drum replacers

- How to use Superior Drummer or Slate Drums sounds in our acoustic drumset


And the topic of today is about how to mix an acoustic drumset using also drum samples to achieve better results.
Let's start by assuming you have read all the articles linked above, so I won't repeat anything, and let's assume that we have a good multitrack project, with decent takes, without too much mic bleed, and that the drum tracks have already been edited. Everything must be ready to mix.
Sometimes when we are in this phase we will realize that the sound is not optimal (maybe because we have used a 100€ all included mic set of 8 microphones, for a value of 12,5€ a microphone), and even if we eq and compress the hell out of each track, literally to the extreme, the result will be extremely poor.

In this case we can use drum replacers to take our acoustic track and add a drum sample on top (or to completely replace it).
In this example we are using Addictive Trigger, which can be downloaded in trial version Here, but we could use any other drum replacer, such as Drumagog, Slate Trigger, Aptrigga etc, the result is the same.

What we need to do is to load an instance of Addictive trigger in the insert of, for example, our kick track, and as a first step adjust the input gain and the sensitivity until we are sure that only the kick hits are catched by the drum replacer. This means that we need to cut out the snare bleed by narrowing down the "scope" of the trigger, until all snare hits are out. (On a side note, some drum replacer after this adjustment lets us also export a midi file with the hits detected, if we want to play them with a drum Vsti).

Now we can choose a kick snare from the list of the available ones (or use the samples of our drum Vsti as explained in one of the articles linked on top), and the idea is to choose the closest one to our ideal, final sound, in order to get there with as few moves as possible. In this phase is good to a/b constantly with our favourite reference track in order to not lose objectivity.
Once we have found the sound we need, we can decide how much to blend it with the original tone, for example 50% to retain some of the original sound, or 100% to completely replace it. Now some drum replacer offers tools to mix the sample directly in the box, otherwise you will need to process it externally, adding comp, eq etc in the vst chain (keeping in mind that doing this way, the processors will effect both the acoustic part and the triggered one, so if we are blending the sampled sound with the original one we might want first to process the acoustic part, and then to add the drum replacer at the end of the chain).

I have used the example of the kick because it is a quite difficult drum part to get properly without expensive gear, so it's the drum part that gets replaced more often, but usually the best results are achieved when adding some sample to basically all drum parts (except the cymbals), and blending everything tastefully.

The same process explained for the kick can therefore be repeated with snare and toms, if needed, and this technique is used by most of the modern studios, since it's a powerful, flexible tool.

Hope this was helpful!


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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Review: Epiphone Prophecy Les Paul Custom GX



Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to check out one of the top-tier Epiphone Les Paul models, if not the best on the market: the Epiphone Prophecy Les Paul Custom Gx.

This guitar can be seen and heard in several videos in our blog, like in the Orange Jim Root Terror review or the Harley Benton Sg Kit review.

This model is a Les Paul model with some unique features that sets it aside from most of the others, and that gives the instrument a modern twist, making it more suitable and comfortable also for shredding, especially with the neck thinner than the other models (Speedtaper D satin finish), 24 frets instead of 22 and radius 14" instead of 12".
All these features makes it very comfortable, without compromising the classic Les Paul feeling, also because the scale is the usual one (plus the body is full, no weight relief, for better sustain and resonance).

Besides the neck particularity, this guitar comes featuring top notch components, which are not very common in other models of the brand:

- Locktone bridge
- Non rotating output jack (which means that you don't risk to break the wires with the rotation of the jack inside
- Grover machine heads (for tuning stability)
- All metal 3 way toggle (instead of plastic)
- Gibson Usa Pickups

Basically they did all the most common upgrades that people do to a low price Epiphone, so the guitar is basically ready to go (and obviously this reflects also on the final price, which is usually 200 or 300 dollars higher than most of the other Les Paul models of the roster, so its price is around 7/800 dollars but these money are well invested).

Aestethically speaking the guitar is very nice, both in its passive and active pickup version: the top is quilted maple and comes in several colours (heritage cherry burst, black cherry, midnight sapphire and midnight ebony), white binding in body and neck, and pearloid inlays.

The guitar feels good to play, the neck is slighly thinner than the other Les Pauls, although not as thin as an Ibanez obviously, and the weight is around 4kgs, which is not light (the average for electric guitars is around 3.5), but also not unbearable.

Tone wise the Gibson Usa 490r and 498t pickups are a guarantee, they are among the best hi gain pickups ever made and their screaming highs are well counterbalanced by the dark sounding, heavy mahogany of the body.

All around this is one of the best guitar Epiphone has ever made, both in its passive and active pickup configuration (there is also a version with Emgs), and the price bump compared to the others is well balanced by the specs, considering that in order to buy all the upgraded components and having someone to install them on a guitar would be even more expensive, and the modded guitar would lose value in the market. This is also one of the examples of why Epiphone (which was acquired by Gibson in the 70s, although as a brand it is older than Gibson itself) is growing while Gibson is dangerously declining: it offers good quality at the right price, and the public is noticing it.

Thumbs up!


Specs taken from the website:

BodyMahogany
TopQuilt Maple
NeckMahogany
Neck ShapeSpeedTaper™ D-Profile Satin Finish
Neck JointGlued-in set neck
Scale24.75"
Frets24, jumbo
Fingerboardpearloid and abalone block and triangle inlays
Fingerboard Radius14"
BindingMother of pearl stickpin on headstock face
Mother of pearl and abalone block and triangle on 1,3,5,7,9,12, & 15th fret
Mother of pearl blocks on 17, 19, 21, and 24th fret
Nut Width1.68
Nut MaterialGraphite
Machine HeadsGrover® 14:1
Neck PickupGibson USA 490R humbucker
Bridge PickupGibson USA 498T humbucker
Controls1-neck volume with push/pull coil splitting
1-neck tone
1-bridge volume with push/pull coil splitting
1-bridg tone
Pickup selectorEpiphone all-metal 3-way toggle
KnobsMetal barrel with mother of pearl inlaid tops
BridgeLockTone™ Tune-o-matic
TailpieceLockTone™ Stopbar
Output jackEpiphone Exclusive non-rotating heavy duty output jack
StraplocksEpiphone exclusive
ColorBlack Cherry (BC) and Heritage Cherry Sunburst (HS)



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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Tuning tips from the producers (for various instruments)



Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are talking about tuning tips (click here for a dedicated article about Tuners), that we have received from a famous producer (whose name will remain secret :D).
These tips are for the standard guitar tuning, an extremely low tuning alternative, and to tune a sitar (made of 7 strings + 11 sympathetic strings, which are strings that resonates once one of the "main strings" is plucked).

The basic suggestions are to "always tune up", which means always tune the string from loose to tense, to use fresh strings (and to retune them a bit until they are stable), to use a good tuner, to have your guitar intonated, and so on, but the most interesting tips are those about the tuning.

Let's start by saying that in order to use these tips we need to have a tuner that lets us tune in cents of tone, like the Korg Dtr 2000 shown on top. The idea is that tuning some string some cent of tone down will make the overall balance more musical, and this technique has been used in studios for years, it can be heard in several famous records.
What do you think?
Try those settings in your recordings and let us know!

NORMAL TUNING:

1.E   in tune
2.B   in tune
3.G -5 cent
4.D in tune
5.A in tune
6.E -10 cent

LOW TUNING:

1.B  in tune
2.G  in tune
3.D in tune
4.A in tune
5.E -5 cent     (string .49 to .52)
6.D -20 cent   (string .65)

SITAR TUNING:

1.G
2.D
3.A
4.D
5.A
6.D
7.D (low)

SITAR SYMPATHETIC STRINGS:

low   1.D 2.C# 3.B 4.A 5.G 6.F# 7.E 8.D 9.C# 10.B 11.A



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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Is there any room for innovation in overdrive pedals?



Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're talking about Overdrives (Click here for a dedicated article)! Our good friend Edoardo Del Principe is sharing with us his opinion about the evolution of these amazing stompboxes.

Overdrive pedals are some of the most common kind of stompboxes you can find on the market. Since the 60’s thousands of players have used them to push their amps over their limits, but since then how far has the innovation of these tools gone? Since the early models, the Boss OD1 and Ibanez Tube Screamer (Click here for a dedicated article), the world has changed really quickly in the pedal industry, adding more and more types of effect, but Overdrive seem like stuck not far from its archetype. Independent modders have customized the two “Adam and Eve” of OD in various ways, and some of them has also achieved a certain popularity, like Robert Keeley and his famous mods that are today a “golden standard”. We can therefore say that of course the first models are being improved with constant upgrading on the circuit but they are still what essentially they are, and OD pedals do their job only in one way: with volume, gain and tone knobs.
Most of the changes you can do about these pedals are on their gain section: you can change diodes to have a softer (Blues Driver) or harder clipping (Klon pedals) and it’s all there. Of course you can change parts to cut mids or bass frequencies if you need a more sparkly sound, but in the very end most players who choose an OD look at the volume obtainable with as less clipping as possible. Someone calls them “transparent” overdrive, and there are specific pedals labeled like that, but in general most of the OD out there can be pretty “transparent”. When you heard or read this word the producer means that you are not adding gain to your sound but just pushing frequencies and volume. So at a certain point people started making booster pedals which are essentially a simplify version of an Overdrive with a lot of volume, high-mids and less gain. Essentially the tone quest of the last 15 years about OD pedals was in their transparency and how much volume and what frequencies they would push, because amplifiers now can give you all the hard clipping you can possibly need, so what you add with your pedal is just the icing on the cake.

What described until now is a static world, a formula so perfect that has been only improved but never changed, even in its aesthetics. You can recognize an OD pedal just watching the scheme of the knobs because 99% of them come from boss OD1 and Ibanez TS.

So now let’s try to answer the question: in overdrive pedals there is no innovation, and probably there will never be, because the formula is already perfect at its essence. If you add too much clipping it becomes a distortion pedal, if you take away clipping it becomes a booster, so overdrive pedals are stuck in between the two categories and you can barely change something without changing the essence of the pedal.

Ibanez is now trying to sell its new TS at 280 euros ,because it has a small “nutube” inside the pedal, and in my opinion it’s crazy. For around that price Boss released a new Blues Driver 

with JHS, and independent company who makes an modded version of the BD called “angry charlie”, so, essentially you have the original and its mod in one box.

Is there an OD who is worth all that money? Probably no. The schematics of an OD are so simple that there are literally hundreds of copies for a 1/3 of the price I mentioned, as good as the originals. Every pedal company has its own overdrive and each one is somehow still an overdrive at the end of the day, you can like more an OCD instead a Klon, a TS instead a SD1 but what you are searching is the same stuff you can find in the other variants. Well known guitar players used for their tours standard OD pedals as Brent Hinds and Ben Kelliher from Mastodon, Mario Camarena 

from Chon (yes, that stupid mini TS) and many others so, if you find a used OD for 50 euros it can probably be as good for you as one for double the price.

Is there a little bit of innovation? Someone tried, as Earthquaker Dives to give to player every possible voice you need with the Palisades Overdrive. Buy one OD to rule them all. Wren and Cuff, a small company famous for their version of common pedals from bigger companies, is coming with a new 25-volt-overdrive

The final weapon for the ones who miss a bit of headroom in their amp.

Every producer has tried to put on the market some good stuff, many failed, few succeded. OD pedals are the sharks of guitar effects, so perfect that they didn’t evolve so much in centuries.

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