Saturday, December 26, 2015

How to prepare your tracks for someone else to mix (a guide for dummies)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are talking about a topic that is often overlooked but that often makes the difference between a perfect record and a flawed one: to set up perfectly your tracks before sending them to the mix engineer that will mix your album.
When giving tracks to a professional mixing engineer there are some rules to follow, otherwise your album will sound sub-par, no matter how good the music is:

1) Decide, together with the mix engineer, wether to make a project for every single track, or a project with the whole record inside, and set up bit depth and sample rate as the mix engineer suggests (e.g. 24bit / 44khz). You can then decide with him wether to send him the projects with the tracks inside (if he uses the same DAW you use) or to send him just the exported wave files.

2) Label your tracks the same way (e.g. 01 kick, 02 snare...) for every song  and make sure to export them all starting from the same point (therefore every track in the same song all must start from the same mark, e.g: point 0).

3) Do editing and autotuning before exporting the tracks, or hand them over to an editing/autotuning engineer first, since not always the mix engineer does the editing (which is a long and tedious process) too, and anyway talk about it to him before exporting.

4) Send along with the tracks a text file in which you list for every song the particularities (like "on song n.1 there are 2 tracks more than the others: "16 - whistle" and "17 - fart", and they should be treated with reverb etc..")

5) Set the gain staging properly and, especially, keep the gain levels as consistent as possible throughout the whole project: the more the volumes are consistent, the more the album will sound coherent and the less automations will have to be done.

6) Send the tracks as dry as possible: if possible, send the guitar and bass tracks dry (for reamping),  and same is for every other instrument (including vocals): if you effect a track, like exporting a track with already a reverb on it, it's impossible to revert it or modify it, and it will surely create problems.

7) Export all tracks in mono. The only tracks that can be exported in stereo are certain keyboard tracks like pads with particular stereo effects, otherwise leave them all mono and centered, and let the mix engineer to place them in the stereo field.

8) Export the tempo track (for example as a midi file), or set it up properly inside the project and send the whole project with the tempo track done. It is a good habit to set up perfectly the tempo track, with all the tempo changes in the right moment, in order to not drive the mix engineer totally crazy trying to figure out what changes when.

Guitar Nerding Blog wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Review: DP Music Cristorsore

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to review an interesting piece of hardware, with a name that can be very well considered a blasphemy from a Catholic point of view: il Cristorsore (a joke with words between Christ and Distorsore, distortion in italian), made by an italian artisan producer called DP Music.

This unit is a boutique variation of the classic Tube Screamer scheme; we had the chance to try it thoroughly and compare it with other classic tube screamers, like the Ibanez Ts-808, the Mxr Zakk Wylde and others, and we must say it has a very harmonically rich sound, and more gain than the original version.

Besides the different names, the three controls are the classic OD knobs: gain, tone and level, but this unit features also a switch which changes the style of this OD (actually the switch is not in every unit since the producer customizes it with the requests of the customer, and it should adapt the stompbox to a bass or a guitar input) adding additional gain, making it sound more like a distortion. In general this stompbox sounds hotter than a Tube Screamer, and ranges from a tone boost to a very hot saturation; the only bad note we can say is the fact that it has a bit more noise than its competitors, using similar settings.

A honorable mention to the graphics, which represent the former pope with 2 red leds for eyes. Brilliant!

Check out also the other stompboxes of Dp Music, most of which have some religion-related pun on their name, and you will discover that this producer features a pretty wide range of products for being a handcrafter!

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

How to use Guitar Cabinet Simulators (with free Vst Plugins)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to talk about Guitar Cabinet Simulators, in an article that should be taken as an evolution of our first article about Speaker Impulses, which can be found HERE.

After we have chosen our favorite Guitar Amp Simulator from this list, it's time to find a good speaker, and we'll be good to go for recording or even for live playing, if we have an audio interface that grants us a low enough latency.

Today there are essentially 2 ways of simulating a speaker sound:

- A way that tries to recreate how actually the cabinet works and that usually lets you play with the interaction between one or more types of microphones and the speaker.
Usually programming this type of simulation takes a lot of work and this is why you can find it mostly on paid plugins (like Amplitube, or Overloud Th2), but that sometimes some producer still provides for free, like the good Mercuriall CAB 2.1 and 3 which lets you choose among various microphone types and positionings.

- By using convolution impulses (IRs), which are basically a "photo" of how the interaction of a certain sound source, a certain ambient, and a certain tracking hardware respond to an audio signal.
These Impulses can therefore recreate easily the behavior for example of a Celestion Speaker on a Mesa Boogie cabinet, miked with a Shure Sm57 straight to the dustcap.
Convolution impulses are a way to "start from the end", from the final effect of the microphoning instead of going through the recreation of every single component, and they often lead to results which not only has nothing to envy to the classic approach, but also avoids the usual "digital grit" of the old way to simulate a speaker.

There are many IR loaders made specifically to load impulses for guitar, some of them are paid (like Redwirez MixIR2, or Kazrog Recabinet), and some are free. Let's see the best Free IR impulse loaders:

- Rosen Digital Pulse
- Ignite Amps NadIR
- Kefir
- Lepou Lecab
- Voxengo Boogex

And now let's see the best free guitar cab IRs to be loaded in the aforementioned Cab Simulators:

- Our Exclusive TRIDENT Ir pack made by Guitar Nerding Blog
GuitarHack Impulses part I by GuitarHack
Recabinet Demo by Recabinet
Free Redwirez IR Library by Red Wirez
Kalthallen Cabs by Kalthallen
IR Library by Noisevault
God’s Cab by SignalsAudio
Fredman Impulses by Catharsis Studio
Beamsonic Impulses by Nick Beamso
Orange Cab Impulse by fearcomplexmusic
IRs by le Ch√Ętelet