New Green Day Masters – A Loudness War Victory

So I know what you’re all thinking…

…not another Loudness War level-comparison video! …but there is a specific reason for this one.

Most people agree that the Loudness Wars are a bad thing and that music that’s been crushed doesn’t sound as good as music that has been given a bit more room to breathe.

But not everybody, and in fact, I have often heard it argued that certain styles of music, for example: heavy rock – need that very dense, squashed, compressed sound that currently they all seem to have – and for some reason it’s Green Day who are often used as the example of this.

I don’t know where that example comes from, but this video is basically to show that’s not true.

Even Green Day sound better with more dynamics.

The reason this has come up is that recently I saw a post on the “End The Loudness War” Facebook group from a guy called Michael, posting this picture here…

…showing the difference between the original CD release of “American Idiot” by Green Day and a new version of it that’s become available on Now the main reason for HDtracks is actually to offer uncompressed 24/96 downloads of as much music as possible, and if you’ve read my blog or watched some of my other videos, you’ll know I’m quite sceptical about the benefits for most of us of 24/96 versus 16-bit 44.1kHz audio.

But I certainly think there is a benefit to having uncompressed audio and this master is a little bit different because it actually has more dynamic range.

It’s a remaster by Ted Jensen, which is a name that will be familiar to anybody who has been following the story of the Loudness Wars.

It was done 100% analogue, I understand, and has just been released so I was really interested in hearing how this sounded and I thought I’d show you what I found out.

So here are the 2 versions – no prizes for guessing which is which! We have the 2012 remaster down the bottom here…

…and we have the original CD release up at the top…

…and if you zoom in on the waveforms, its quite easy to see how that loudness has been achieved.

The original CD release was clipped fairly heavily. And you can see there was none of that on the reissue which seems like a good start.

They are obviously very different in level so the first thing you need to do to make a fair comparison is to adjust them – and what I usually do is listen to the loudest section of the song to do this.

So let’s have a quick listen…

This is the HDtracks’ version…

So that’s kind of an RMS level of about -10.

Let’s compare that with the CD…

So that’s got an RMS of more like -6 so that’s about 4 dBs difference.

So let’s try turning the CD down by 4 dBs to get a fairer comparison …and take a listen.

Incidentally, in case anybody decides that maybe the things that I’m showing in this video are due to the 24/96 format of the HDtracks version, I’ve actually converted it down to 16-bit 44.1 kHz.

So this is a fair comparison between these two.

So let’s flick between the two using the solo button and see what we hear…

The CD version still sounds fractionally louder to me, I’m going to turn that down… try -4.5.

I think you’ll agree they are fairly well matched in level now – and probably the first interesting thing to say is that the difference is not huge.

Depending on how sensitive you are to this stuff, you may be listening to those (and you can hear the slight skip when I move from listening to one version to the other) but you may not think that’s a massive difference – and I guess I might agree with you.

So one interesting thing is that even though this CD version at the top here has been quite heavily clipped and is 5 dBs louder than the 2012 reissue – there’s not enormous change in the sound.

Let’s listen to one of the other sections in the song, a quieter section just to see how that compares…

Now that same section from the remaster – the HDtracks’ version…

…now there I CAN hear a difference.

Listen to the drums – basically, listen to the snare sound as I flick between those 2 different versions.

So we’ll start with the HDtracks’ version…

Now there you can hear quite a big difference – and it’s an interesting difference because, to me, the CD version now sounds slightly louder – even though we balanced the levels up at the end here…

When we go to this quieter section the CD sounds louder and we would expect that this is because this has been pushed up harder towards the 0 dB limit at the top of the digital scale.

So the loud sections have been reduced in volume and the quieter sections are increased – it has less dynamic range – it has less dynamics.

But then the question comes: What’s a fair comparison between those two? Should you balance the loudest sections and compare them or the quieter sections? If we’ve got the louder sections sounding quite similar – maybe it’s ok that the quieter sections sound a bit louder, maybe that’s the point.

That might have been true in the past, personally I would argue that the open punchy quality to the snare in that section there on the more dynamic version was well worth trading 1/2 a dB of level for.

But of course now we have the new broadcast regulations for loudness coming into play.

They’re law in America, they’re being adopted here in Europe – and I predict they are going to move on to be used in consumer devices like iPods and other MP3 players in the near future.

So what I did is I measured the loudness of these 2 songs using the new R128 standard that has been adopted here in Europe which assigns an overall loudness to each song – and the numbers it came up with specify that according to this new method of measuring a song – there is a 5.2 dB difference in loudness between these 2 songs.

So if these 2 versions were played side by side on the radio – this louder one would be turned down by 5.2 dBs to fit the loudness requirements for broadcast.

So now let’s compare those two with THAT adjustment.

This is the CD version…

You can hear and see the difference on the meters there very clearly.

The CD version, when the levels are balanced with this method sounds quieter than the more dynamic version, and to me it suffers in comparison.

I want to just show you that difference using one other method – which is a new loudness meter that has become available called LCAST, made by MeterPlugs.

And it’s very similar in terms of the information it gives you to the Nugen “VisLM” Meter that I’ve used in previous videos.

The nice thing is, as you can see…

I can zoom in and out – and tweak the scale of the loudness range.

And what I want to show you is the change in loudness in one of the sections of the song on this meter so you can see how the R128 standard measures these 2 songs.

Sp first of all we’ll do the CD version, and I’m going to zoom in as the meter allows me to get plenty of resolution.

And now let’s try the same section listening to the HDtracks more dynamic version…

…and you can see that immediately the HDtracks version has at least 1/2 a dB if not 3/4 of a dB more loudness in the louder sections.

These quiet sections are very similar in level when the two are balanced in this way – and that’s a visual and technical confirmation, if you like, of what we just heard and saw maybe a little less precisely on the TT Dynamic Range Meter.

The more dynamic version has more loudness range to play with.

It has more impact in the louder sections and even if you don’t hear a huge difference between those two – I think you will agree that the CD version of the track doesn’t sound any better, they sound very similar.

When you listen for longer periods of time, you may not be able to pick this out on YouTube – you really start to notice the distortion and the lack of impact in the snare on that original CD release.

I think that’s a real shame, it achieves nothing, especially in future as this loudness standardisation becomes more widespread – but I think it certainly proves the point that heavy rock music like Green Day doesn’t “need” a super-compressed, super-limited, super-dense sound! It sounds fantastic, and you can probably imagine, I’m delighted by this.

This is exactly the kind of remaster that I was hoping for as a result of initiatives like HDtracks and Mastered for iTunes.

Whether or not you agree that the 24/96 format offers any audible benefits – there is no question that more dynamic masters can sound better than less dynamic versions.

Examples like Jack White’s “Blunderbuss” with a dynamic range of 10 dBs getting to Number 1 in the Billboard charts prove that, and I just hope, we see more releases like this in the future.

My name is Ian Shepherd, I hope you found that interesting.

Thanks for watching, there’s loads more discussion about issues like this on my website… Please head over and check it out!

Compression 101: How to Use a Compressor

In this video, I’ll be providing an introduction to the use of compressors for audio engineers. I’ll be presenting this material at a foundational level for those of you that are new or inexperienced to using compressor.

I’ll talk about the basic functionality of how a compressor and also get into the key terms that are necessary to understand for using a compressor.

Now for an experienced audio engineer, a compressor is nothing more than a dynamics processor for loud sounds. I’ll get to what that means in a second.

Compressors come in all different shapes and sizes. They come as hardware compressors. They come as software compressors that can be used inside of a computer. For those of you that are working with a digital audio workstation, most of the time these days your DAW will come with a stock compressor plugin that you can use to process audio that you record.

Now, when you first open it up, it might be a little bit confusing about, well, what do all these controls do, and what can they be used for, and I’ll try and cover all that in this video.

There’s also a whole bunch of other third party plugins that you can purchase that can be used inside of your digital audio workstation, and many times they even emulate hardware compressors that you can purchase and use for your recordings as well.

They might look all a little bit different and seem like, well, I don’t really understand how this one works versus another one, but if you understand the basics of how a compressor functions, you can use all these different ones even if they have slightly different controls.

You can have compressors that are great for different situations in your mix. Maybe it’s good for compressing individual instruments. Or, you could use a compressor across your entire mix to compress all the signals when they are summed together.

The thing to know though is if you understand how one compressor works, all these different controls on one compressors, you can then experiment with different compressors in the same situation and find out what works best for you and your particular situation.

Let me get to now, the topics to cover. I want to cover what is a compressor, how does a compressor work, and what can compressors be used for then, most importantly. To begin with, what is a compressor? In very common language, a compressor is a processor that deals with loud sounds. So what does it do? A compressor will detect when a signal that you have recorded is loud, and when it detects that a signal’s loud, then it’s going to respond to that loud sound by making the signal after that quieter.

To put this in language that an audio engineer would work, a compressor is a dynamics processor. It deals with loud sounds. It’s going to detect when the amplitude of a signal is greater than a threshold. That’s what it means when it detects that a signal is loud. Finally, it’s going to respond by attenuating the signal’s amplitude.

Let’s look at, how do compressors work? For those of you that are working with a digital audio workstation, hopefully a diagram like this isn’t something that’s too confusing for you. This is a signals wave form that you’ve recorded. This might be an instrument like a bass guitar or a flute that has a long, sustain. What you’re looking at is how the amplitude of the signal changes over time.

Now for a compressor, many of them do not respond to a lot of the minor fluctuations and variations in the signal that are a result of the signal’s pitch, that show up in the signal’s wave form. But if it’s going to just respond to loud sounds, the compressor wants to ignore when the amplitude of the signal changes very fast.

If this is our input signal that’s going into our compressor, what’s going to happen is the compressor’s going to actually analyze the signal to get out something along the lines of what’s called a signal’s envelope.

That looks something like this, where the black line, it just gets out kind of the average amplitude over time, and it’s going to work with the envelope rather than all these minor fluctuations in the signal.

There’s different kinds of dynamics processors that actually work with and detect the peak of a signal, but a compressor for the most part is just going to work with the detected amplitude of the envelope.

Let’s get into now how it actually works. First off, we have the threshold.

The threshold can be set a lot of times on a compressor. What’s going to happen is when the signal amplitude is lower than the threshold, the compressor’s not going to do anything.

It’s not going to attenuate the signal. It’s not going to decrease the amplitude. So these parts of the signal over here that are below the threshold, the compressor doesn’t do anything.

Then there’s the part of the signal that’s above the threshold. During this part, the compressor in theory is going to decrease the amplitude.

How would this work in an example, then? We have our signal coming into our compressor, and initially it’s below the threshold. As soon as it goes above the threshold, how does the compressor respond? It’s going to attenuate it, but how much attenuation is it going to apply? This is where the ratio comes into play.

This is a control a lot of times on a compressor. You can have compressors that have a fixed ratio, where you can pick different ones. You can pick two, or you can press four, or eight. Or you can also have a compressor that has a variable, where you can select anything in between these different integers.

So to begin with, let’s look at a ratio of 2:1 that can be selected. What this means is that when the signal, the input signal is two dB above the threshold, or a level of two above the threshold, the output of the compressor is only going to allow a half amount of that amplitude to go through.

The output signal that’s above the threshold is going to be half of the amplitude going into it. You can also have a ratio of four to one. That means the output signal is a fourth of the amplitude of the input signal whenever it’s above the threshold.

Then you can go all the way over to limiting, which is a very high ratio, maybe in some cases it’s listed as ten to one, or it can also be listed as infinity to one, where basically none of the signal that goes above the threshold is going to be any louder than the threshold. It basically sets the level and says the output cannot be above the threshold. That’s the idea.

There’s been one important assumption that I’ve made throughout this basic example to begin with. That assumption is that compressors behave instantaneously.

What do I mean by that? I mean that as the signal came in and went above the threshold, right away the compressor started to attenuate it, and then at the end, when the signal went below the threshold, that right when it went below the threshold, the compressor stopped attenuating the signal or making it quieter.

In reality, compressors have controls that allow it so that it does not behave instantaneously. Let’s go back to this example when I looked at our ration of 2:1, and it looked like this.

One of the controls that shows up on a compressor many times is the Attack time. What this is going to mean is you’re going to delay the amount of time that a compressor takes before it attenuates the signal at its steady state level of, in this case, 2:1. You can use the Attack time and vary the amount, the time that it takes for the compressor to respond.

As soon as that signal goes above the threshold, the compressor’s going to detect it, but then you’re going to say, well, wait a few milliseconds or a little bit of time before you get to the part where you are really attenuating the signal.

Each compressor can behave a little bit different on how the attack time works, and that’s what gives each one of them their own characteristics, but for the most part, you know the general idea is something like this.

The same thing goes for the Release time. As soon as the signal goes below the threshold, you can tell the compressor to continue to decrease the amplitude of the signal even after it’s below the threshold.

You end up with something like this, where the quiet signal that’s below the threshold is actually attenuated like this, where the compressor, it takes a while for it to go back to not compressing or attenuating the signal. That’s the basic idea.

Let’s look at an example where our signal looks a little bit different.

Many times when you’re working with audio, the signal doesn’t look like some boxcar shape, but many times if you have drums or something, and you want to compress drums, the signal looks something like this, or the envelope looks something like this. We have a transient at the beginning and then, the sustain.

Here’s what you can use a compressor for in this kind of situation. One would be to have a sharp, a very fast Attack time that’s going to decrease the amplitude of the sharp transient at the beginning, and then also a very fast Release time, such that as soon as the signal below the threshold, it’s going to stop attenuating it.

What this is going to do is decrease the amplitude of the transient and allow the sustain to be relatively louder compared to the transient.

If you want to decrease the amplitude, your drums are too Attack-y, you have too much snap in them, you could decrease the amplitude like this.

Another common thing to do with this kind of situation after the fact that you compress it is to actually apply what’s called Makeup Gain, and this is another knob that can show up a lot of times on a compressor, where you compress the initial transient, but what you want to do is bring up the overall level and change the dynamic range or the difference between the loudest part and the quietest part.

You can use the Makeup Gain to add it back in so that you’re not decreasing the perceived level, and in many cases you’re actually increasing the perceived level, because the sustain now on the envelope has been increased relative to the transient. So this is one example.

Another thing to do instead of using a fast Attack and a fast Release control, would be to use a slow Attack, where you tell the compressor I actually don’t want you to respond initially when the snare drum hits or the kick drum hits, that you want the Attack to pass through the compressor or the transient to pass through and wait a little bit of time for the Attack to kick in.

After that Attack time, then what we’re going to do is actually decrease the sustain. You set a long Release time then, where as soon as the signal goes below the threshold, the compressor’s going to continue to decrease the amplitude or attenuate the amplitude of the sustain.

What does this mean? This means that your drum hit is actually going to, you’re going to be emphasizing the transient. It’s going to make your drums a little bit more punchy, stick out more in the mix because you’re emphasizing the transient of every time the drums hit.

These are different things that, depending on your mix, depending on your song, you might want to try out and see, well does one work better than the other? And that’s the basic idea.

In summary, a compressor can be used to control how loud a signal is, how loud a signal can be. You can limit it and say ‘I do not want this signal to go above this level’. Many times, that’s a very useful application.

You can control the dynamic range. You can make loud sounds quieter, or you could also make quiet sounds quieter.

Finally, you can use compressors to enhance aspects of a signal’s envelope.

You can emphasize the transient, or you can emphasize the sustain or the decay in a signal.

Hopefully, this gives you guys a better idea about the different controls and things that show up on a compressor, what you can use them for, and now all it means is just going and experimenting with a compressor in your actual mixes.

So good luck and hopefully you guys have a better idea now about how to use a compressor.

Greg Calbi: Exclusive Interview on Mastering Techniques

Today we’re here at Sterling Sound where we’ve been for about 12 years in the Chelsea Market, beautifully designed and I am really happy here.

Granted the storms and the vicissitudes of the music business over the last 12 years. The amount that’s needed to master a record really has diminished a lot, because of having, basically, digital files. They sound strange, but when you have mixes on analog tape of an 8-hour session, at least 1,5 hour I mean, it sounds incredible but.. this is a tremendous saving for a client not to have to spend an extra $500 to rewind tape.

When given more time to experiment you can probably come up with something a bit better, so.. you’re kinda working with budgets, in a time constraint, and by doing that you have to learn to work more efficiently.

The main element with mastering, I think, is never really be satisfied. There’s always something better, that you could have done and you can’t do but I think that drives you forward. And, it’s… really, very necessary I think to do your best work.

Number 1: Accurate listening environment.

You know, over the last 5 years particularly there’s just an endless amount of problems in the low end and the reason for that is rooms where people are working are not tuned properly, so they really don’t know what they have in the low end..

and they will admit that they don’t know exactly what they have in the low end. But to achieve.. a balanced room, in a home environment, or in a low-budget studio, takes a tremendous amount of financial resources and constant tweaking and attention.

Number 2.. talking about Sterling Sound and particularly in my room, the access to analog tools along with plugins.

Ok so, we have the space, we have the ergonomics to be able to accommodate you know, maybe 8 or 10.. compressors, limiters.. different tools that are accessible and ergonomically set them so I can actually hear them.

Whereas in a home studio, all kinds of impediments to that would occur.

So there’s another sense, an ergonomic sense that has to be taken into account.

And the third thing would be a professional who has the experience to, you know, not to master one record that sounds good but to constantly turn out products from completely different sources you know, I do probably 150 records a year you know, you want to be able to.. to work with somebody who is a professional who can take what you give him to the next level and it takes an understanding of your genre and of.. you know, of what..

what things are supposed to sound like in his.. in that professional’s imagination, in his ear.

You know, when I hear a vocal in here I know that that vocal sounds a certain way, I’m in the same exact environment I’ve been in this room for 12 years I know what things are supposed to sound like and when something’s even a little bit off it occurs to me immediately.

Stem mastering is something which is very, very connected to the politics of the project, before it gets to you.

It’s a combination of the relationship with the mixer to the mastering guy, but the of the mixer also to.. whoever his client was be it the band or the producer or if he’s the producer then the band or whatever.. To come in to a mastering session with stems introduces a certain vulnerability by the creative person.

Just break down your mix into categories: So, you got your drums on one stem, you got your bass on another stem, you got your background vocals on another stem, you got vocals on another stem.

Ah, let’s go.. keyboards, you know.. horns, whatever.. synths. Ok.

Now, each one of those stems everything can be broken out with a D/A converter, into the Dangerous box, right? And then that box outputs to stereo, so immediately..

there’s an enhancement that comes from having less information kinda jumble.. jumble together inside the “desk” of Pro Tools.

At that point, now.. I have the mix.. and I have the elements, and I also have an analog output of each of the elements..

So, for example: a singer who has a very, very kind of high scratchy voice and used a very bright microphone.. now, I want to enhance that vocal and I am able to use an analog equalizer and add some richness or an analog compressor to handle the peaks.

You know, particularly with vocals, but also tremendous help with bass, because you can handle bass and bass drums separately.. Ok, the usual mastering dynamic. “I’ve done my work can you sonically enhance it to make it better?” That’s one level. Now, the next level of stems is: “I’ve done my work, but I don’t really know what the relationship should be between the elements on these stems, which could be guitars, drums, bass, vocals and whatever.. keyboards, synths, reverbs or whatever.

Ok now: somebody that comes in with that feeling in their production, is coming in really kinda naked in terms of, like.. “Have I done a good job or not?” – so that’s why I think that 90% of the time or 95% of the time, not a good thing for a producer or engineer to project that vulnerability.

However if the situation in the record has been such that there’s been so many elements in the mix because of the budget, because of the geographical location of the of the musicians: “ok, we had to do the guitars in Wyoming, and then we went to a studio in Miami to do the drums and blablabla”, and it’s been this whole pudge project thing so that everybody in that project is off-balance to begin with perfect opportunity to come in with stems and let somebody outside the project, evaluate it and have the ability to balance it a little bit.

Anything that gets to the goal line to me is, always.. I am happy to help and that was one thing, with the Dangerous box, that we’re able to get really a good result from the stems. Now.. that being said, once we start talking about this idea 3-4 years ago, a lot of people started to setup their home studio so that they were actually doing the same thing before it got here.

So, you know, it’s kind of like a hybrid, like the mastering kind of spills over into the mix, the mix spilling over to the mastering.. you know: we all really do the same thing! I really do like to add at least one piece of analog gear every year.

It kinda lets you re-evaluate the rest of the stuff in your rack.

Let’s have a Focusrite, an API, this Prism, Maselec.. and I have a Manley.

Each one of them has a high-pass filter.

Each one of them sounds completely different..

but they sound much closer to each other then to the BAX.

It’s been a great addition to the room, I mean, it’s something which.. there’s not a single.. project that goes by, without me checking out to see what it does in the low end because it has a very distinct quality in the low end of.. being able to.. harness the low end without altering dynamics.

Now, if the mix doesn’t need those dynamics the BAX doesn’t do enough to help you bring it in But, if the.. if the bass drum and bass are recorded in such a way where those dynamics are really necessary to make the mix work..

there’s nothing that works like the BAX.

It adds a 3-dimensional quality in the bottom that I don’t have with any of the other pieces.

It actually is a pretty go-to for.. for the low shelf in terms of adding a little bit of clarity to the bass. – 74, right? Ah, sure.. 74. More than any other frequencies occasionally I pick.

not too much up at 230 but that’s a frequency which generally is a roll-out frequency rather than an add frequency.. Every single thing I do in the low end it’s always the go-to and it’s the first go-to when I hear harshness.

The way it has to roll out some harsh frequencies between like.. what it is: 3.7? 3.4, 4.8, I mean, I.. again, it’s a constant go-to when something.. I use the word irritating when there’s an irritating element to guitars or the vocals or the mix in general.

It as a way of.. smoothing, without taking away, like.. to kind the sound of a reverb and kind of smearing everything up.

The hardest thing to do is to equalize something which is both bright and dull at the same time, which is frequent well, not frequent but it happens! So, you know, it’s nice to have the BAX, for that! What I do now is I do captures.. I listen to a mix, I get an idea what I wanna do and get something close, on usually on a Focusrite first, and then capture like 20 minutes of that, then immediately try the same frequency pretty much the same frequency on the BAX.

From on the BAX fine, then I shoot the BAX out with the Prism, when it comes to low end, So, all this is like 30 seconds once so on the boom, boom, boom – back and forth and then get an idea.. everything starts to take shape at that point.. Mix starts to open up, have some dimension, and then once I settle on that, I’ll so another song or two..

And it seems like there’s a.particularly with international projects it seems to be much more all done in the same room.

There’s a consistency in terms of production, Anything from Spain, from Italy, from France, usually, it’s not like in the US where you can have 12 songs in like six completely different studios, producers or whatever.. So, you know, if I am settling on the BAX for doing something, I usually stick with that for the whole album and if I get to a song where it’s no longer working or it doesn’t feel so good then I kind of go back.

So it’s all these quick captures all I can say is the BAX is a very big player in I’d say 80% of what I do, in terms of participating in the shootout or actually being used.

And that does the perfect example where stems being valuable, because once you start taking out the super highs from a stereo mix, you just kind of take the life out of it. There’s no way.

What’s going on musically in the low end? What’s the bass player doing? How can I make this record as warm as possible without making it muddy? So, you’re shifting the focus away from the high end.

Very, very dangerous territory. This is like: instantly alert, like.. ‘This is going to be a tough day’.

But.. That would be.. my first impulse is to Just see.. ok: How’s the vocal sound? Can the vocal be richer? Can the guitars have a little deeper sound? Once I get something, I go back to the mix and I set the mix up so that the peak level of the mix flat, is exactly the same peak level to my ear and to my eye on the meters and then, when I go back and forth just be completely, brutally honest even if I spend half an hour on a song.

What am I loosing? Because that’s what that’s what the person is going to be listening to before it gets here.

He’s listening to his mix! And a lot of times he’s listening to his mix 8dB lower! So I gotta listen to that and I gotta say: ‘Ok, even though the other one would hurt my ears, it just sounded more exciting!’ ‘Ok, now I have to re-trench.. go back.. spot the difference, take a little bit out, find it as a spot, and then.. Also, at one point, you gotta say to yourself: ‘Ok, there’s a limitation to how good this is gonna sound.. let’s anticipate what the client is trying to do with the mix.’ And.. if people like high end and like their ears to be singed and they like the excitement and the.. and that frenetic nature of the top.. Give the people what they want and make them happy! I recently had a run of 2 or 3 albums where the cymbals were way too loud on the drum recording, and if musicians are involved in the production part, they really.. they really loose high end, those guys! Like drummers, you know, if they’re involved those sounds.. just don’t bother them! And they really impede listening to a record loud.

And, we all like to crank up and listen loud, but no one wants to get hurt listening loud, you know? And I.. Anytime there’s an album, and there was one, one time.. I forgot the name of it, but I remember the.. there was no cymbals on the drums, I was like: ‘This is my dream come true!’ It sounded so listenable, you know!

Choosing Audio Gear, Equipment and Crew for Documentary Productions

Most people don’t realize that audio is the most important part of any production. Simply put, if you can’t hear the narration or interviews, no one will know what your story is all about. That’s why it’s so important to get the right gear that can make your audio sound clear.

A good audio kit doesn’t include just a microphone. That’d be too easy. Instead, in order to rent or buy a good audio package you’ll want to look at the features of a good field mixer, external capture device, headphones, and cables and adapters. Of course, you’ll also want to make sure you look for the right features in good microphones such as pickup pattern, frequency response, wireless capabilities and design. This way you’ll be able to make sure that you have the best sounding audio kit that your money can buy.

The most important part of any audio kit is the microphone. Having the right microphone for your production can be the difference between capturing crystal clear audio and noisy drivel.

The first factor to consider in a microphone is it’s pickup pattern. A pickup pattern is the shape and area where a microphone can pick up sound. There are three major types of pickup patterns used in documentary microphones. The first, omnidirectional, can pick up sound evenly from all sides of the microphone. The next type of pickup pattern is the cardioid.

This pattern resembles the shape of a heart and picks up sound mostly in front and to the sides of a microphone. This pickup pattern is the best to use for capturing the human voice. The last type of pickup pattern, hyper-cardioid or directional picks up sound mostly in front and slightly to the back of the microphone. These kinds of microphones are used most often for field shooting since they can be further away from subjects than the other pickup patterns and still capture great sound without picking up background noise at the same time.

The next important factor is frequency response. Frequency response refers to the sensitivity of the microphone to the different pitches of sound. Some microphones tend to pick up higher frequencies better, while other microphones can pick up lower frequencies well. For documentary production, you’ll want to make sure you pick up a microphone that is at least sensitive to the frequencies of the human voice which tend to be in the 80 to 7000 Hertz range.

However, a flat frequency response in which a microphone picks up all frequencies evenly is preferable.

One of the worst things about audio is having to deal with cables. They are tripping hazards, have hundreds of different connection types and limit movement. That’s where wireless audio comes in. It can eliminate the need for long cable runs from your microphone to your camera and allow you to be quick, mobile, and less intrusive. Especially for quick interviews on the street or in a studio, wireless handheld and lavalier microphones can help your talent to feel more natural. Since no one wants interference in their audio feed, make sure you spend a little extra money by buying a UHF model microphone which tends to get less interference.

The last thing to consider when buying a microphone is it’s design. Most microphones come in one of three flavors: handheld, lavalier, and shotgun.

A handheld microphone usually has a cardioid pickup pattern and is held in the hand as its name suggests. It is great for news-style interviews and are extremely easy to use but are hard to get at the correct distance from a subject and can be seen easily in a shot.

On the other hand, a lavalier is an incredibly small cardioid or omnidirectional microphone that can be clipped straight to a lapel, shirt, or tie. These microphones are great for controlled interviews, hidden wide shots, and are far from intrusive. However, they do take time to mount, are prone to clothing noise, and have parts that can be easily lost.

Lastly, a shotgun is a hyper-cardioid style microphone that can pick up audio from a distance.

These microphones allow the microphone to be out of the shot and freedom of movement for your talent. However, they will require an additional person to operate the microphone and can pick up lots of handling noise if not mounted properly. This is why most people will buy a carbon fiber telescoping boom arm with a shock mount for their shotgun microphones.

The arm allows them to get close to a subject with the microphone while the shock mount eliminates almost all handling noise. Also, many people choose to purchase a blimp and windjammer. These items can help you to further isolate wind noise from the sensitive body of the shotgun microphone. Overall, most documentarians will be best served by having at least one to two lavalier microphones for interviews and wide shots while having a shotgun style microphone for run and gun shoots or active subjects. With these two microphones at your disposal, you should be able to get every shot you need.

Another essential item to have in your audio kit is a field mixer. A field mixer is a device used to control the volume of a large number of audio inputs. The beauty of a field mixer is that it can allow you to have more than just the two audio inputs that a camera usually provides. It can also help you eliminate camera shake when correcting audio levels on the camera body as well as powering more than two microphones at a time. The best mixers will come with live compressors or limiters which prevent distortion and normalize the audio level before they reach your camera. Though they are more expensive, these kinds of mixers are almost always worth it due to the time they save in the editing room.

If you want higher quality audio capture than a camcorder can provide, capturing to an external audio device may be just the ticket. Many of these devices can record audio as uncompressed WAV files at 98 kHz and 24 bits which is much higher than the 48 kHz 8 bit audio typically offered by standard camcorders. Recording at this higher quality means that you’ll be able to put more equalization and compression on your audio in post without any major audio glitches.

Lastly, capturing great quality audio also requires that you can hear what your capturing in the field. This is why having a good over the ear or around the ear style of headphones is so important. These headphones will block the most outside sound from your audio which will help you to better hear any mistakes the audio might have.

Having great audio equipment is important. Using it, you can capture pristine audio that will allow you to get the message of your documentary clearly to your viewers.

Best Audio Interface: 3 Top Picks You Need To Know (2018)

Searching for the best audio interface for your home studio? You’re in the right place. Jason from Behind The Speakers breaks it down in this video.

The first audio interface I recommend is the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre.

Now this is a USB audio interface, and it has two mic preamps, so you can record vocals and acoustic guitar at the same time.

And one of the very cool things about this audio interface is that it has an “air setting” on both of the preamps.

So you press that air button in and it engages an emulation of one of FocusRite’s more expensive transformer-based mic preamps.

So it gives you a little bit of character and tonality that’ll help just add some spice and again character to the tracks that you record through these mic preamps.

Now this interface also has an ADAT input, which will let you route a number of external mic preamps into this audio interface.

So if you find that down the line you want to record drums with six mics or something that obviously is beyond the capabilities of these two mic preamps, you can just basically purchase another piece of hardware and then route it into this interface, and that’ll allow you to expand down the line depending on what your recording needs are.

Now this audio interface includes quarter-inch outputs on the back so you can plug in your studio monitors, and it also includes really great plug-ins – some compressors, EQ’s – stuff that you can use in your DAW to make your mixes sound even better.

Now this audio interface retails for around 400 dollars as of the time of this video, and again this is just a great overall choice.

So if you’re looking for a good workhorse audio interface that’ll tackle just about anything you can throw at it, this is the audio interface that I would recommend.

The second audio interface I recommend is the Apogee Duet.

And this is also a USB audio interface just like the Focusrite one, and it also has two mic preamps.

But Apogee is known for crafting really high-quality mic preamps and converters.

They’ve been in the pro audio game for a long time, and this is their most accessible piece of hardware other than the single-channel preamp and audio interface.

Now similar to the Focusrite, this also has quarter-inch outputs for your speakers, but one of the downsides to the Duet is that it does have a breakout cable on the back of the actual device itself.

So you have to plug in a cable, and then that cable splits out into different plugs that you can use to either plug in your mics or your speakers in this case.

Now one of the great things about the Duet is that it has really high-quality metering built right into the hardware unit.

So right on the audio interface you can see what the levels are of the mic signals, and what the output levels are on your speakers, so it’s a great way to just visually be able to see very quickly – without going into your DAW – whether or not you’re too hot when you’re recording.

And so I like this a lot because you can just adjust the levels right there, and see things very clearly.

Now the Duet has a really sleek design so the hardware unit itself looks great, it’s made of really high quality aluminum, and it’s also got a great control panel software.

So all the settings can be accessed from this control panel and you can adjust things like mic input volume and your speaker outputs right from that control panel as well.

And one of the very cool things about the Duet is that you can actually plug it into your iOS devices.

So if you want to do some recording on your iPad or iPhone, you can actually use the Duet with your iOS devices as well as your computer.

Now the Duet is a little bit more expensive than the Clarett so it retails for around 600 dollars, but if you can afford to spend this kind of money on an audio interface, you can’t go wrong with the Duet.

I think it’s a cut above the Clarett in terms of high-quality preamps and converters, certainly just a great-sounding unit, and you can’t go wrong with Apogee.

They’re just a fantastic company, so I would definitely recommend the Duet if you can afford to spend a little bit more on your audio interface.

The last audio interface I recommend is the RME Babyface Pro.

Now this is also a USB audio interface, and it’s actually pretty similar in design to the Apogee Duet.

But the key difference here is that you don’t actually have to use a breakout cable on the Babyface.

So all of the connectors are actually built into the hardware unit itself.

So it’s a little bit more user-friendly in this respect because you don’t have a bunch of cables kind of flying out the end of it using this kind of flimsy breakout cable solution like the Duet.

That’s the one thing I really don’t like about the Duet, and this problem is totally solved with the Babyface.

Now one of the cool things about the Babyface is that it actually has four inputs.

So not only do you have two mic preamps so you can record two microphones at the same time, but you also have two quarter-inch inputs as well.

So if you want to plug in something like an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar with a pickup output or even a bass, you can do that at the same time and record everything in parallel.

So it’s got a little bit more flexibility and control in this respect than the two other interfaces that I mentioned earlier.

Now similar to the Clarett, this also has an ADAT input so you can expand the mic preamps down the line if you want to buy another piece of hardware and plug in another eight preamps, you can do that too with the Babyface.

Now one of the things I love about RME is that their hardware is built to last.

So I used to have an RME interface and it was rock solid.

It never failed, I never had problems with it.

I think RME is one of the best companies out there when it comes to building hardware that’s really built to stand the test of time.

So if you’re looking for something that you can really depend on for years down the line that’s not gonna bail two, you know, years into purchasing, RME is one of the best companies out there for this.

And one of the other main benefits to the Babyface is that it’s actually bus powered.

So you don’t need a power cable with a big clunky adapter that you have to plug into your wall to power this unit.

So you can just plug it directly into the computer, your Mac or PC, and it’ll actually run off bus power directly from your PC.

So no need for another clunky power cable clogging up your wall outlets.

Now the Babyface is the most expensive out of the three audio interfaces we covered today.

So it runs for about 750 dollars new, but if you’re looking to save some money on any of these audio interfaces you can usually find them used on eBay.

And so if you’re willing to wait a little while and scope out a deal, you can usually get a really great bargain on any of these, because they’re all really popular units.

So I hope this video helps you make the right decision.

How Do I Make Money as an Audio Engineer?

Hey folks, Matthew Weiss here —,, and tonight, we’re going to answer the question, “How do I make money as an audio engineer?” This is a question I get pretty often, and I always have the same answer, it’s two steps.

Step number 1, get really good at what you do, step number 2, make sure everybody knows it.

Now of course, this is much easier said than done, so I’m going to give you the heads up, this is not a sprint.

This is a marathon.

When you decide you want to pursue this career, understand this is a 10 year process before you start making regular income, but I’m going to start breaking down these steps in a way that makes sense.


Number one, get really good at what you’re going to do.

The backbone of this industry is being able to do the job.

It is very, very competitive, and people are going to put you to the test.

So getting good is definitely paramount here.

The best way to get good is tacit knowledge, which means hands-on experience, and there’s a few ways you can get hands-on experience.

The number one way is auto-didactically.

So teaching yourself.


So let’s say you want to be a mixer for example, you get yourself a DAW, you get a computer, you start going online, you download stems, you go to mix competitions, you download the stems, and you just mix.

And you mix for 5-7 hours every single day, because that’s what the musicians on the other side of the glass are doing, they’re picking up their instrument and they’re playing 5-7 hours a day to get really good at it, so you owe it to them to be putting in that same kind of effort.

Okay, number two is to get yourself in the right environment for it.

So for example, going to an audio school.

Now, I think there’s pros and cons to going to schools.

There’s definitely good reasons not to, but if you are going to go to an audio school, the question I would ask the students, the faculty, the alum, is how much hands on experience am I going to get? And if the answer is tons of it, then you can consider going to that school.

If the answer is anything else, you need to pack your bags and you need to run, because it ain’t worth the price of admission.

Of course, the other way to get hands on experience is an internship.

Internships are hard to get, but if you put your effort in, you just keep being persistent, you can get in there, you can do it.

And of course, you can do it the way that I did it, which is to simply bug the living crap out of every musician in Philadelphia, and say, “Hey, I will do whatever it takes to record you.

I’ll record you in a garage, I will record you in a studio, I will help you pay the way to get into a studio so that I can record you there in that professional environment,” and you’ll simply learn by doing it.

Which, incidentally, is how I got my first in-house position, but whether or not that works out for you, the bottom line is that you get that experience.

Okay, and the third way is supplementary knowledge.

Supplementary knowledge is what you’re doing right now, watching this tutorial.

Going to give you a shameless product pitch, if you happen to be in the world of mixing, if that’s something that you need to learn, I believe that I make the best mix tutorials on the market.

I’ve got that link in the description.

I know that that is a totally shameless product pitch, but I stand by it.

I am very passionate about teaching, and I believe that I do it in a way that can really accelerate your learning process.

You know, my goal is to make it so that what would take you 10 years to learn, you can cover in three.

Okay, so the fourth component of getting really good at what you do is understanding that the whole process of making records is a bunch of moving parts, and every gear kind of turns the other one, so even if you’re say, focused on being a mix engineer for example, it’s really important that you at least understand what happens in the world of mastering, what happens in the world of recording, and I would say that it’s also really important that you pick up an instrument and you at least learn your way around it a little bit.

I myself have picked up maybe seven or eight different instruments, only to put them back down again because I’ve never really taken to any of them, but at least good enough so I can get, like, some scales and notes coming out so that when there’s somebody on the other side of the glass, like say, a guitar player, and their sound needs to be brighter, instead of reaching for an EQ, I can say, “Hey, can you switch over to the bridge pickup?” Or you know, “Move your playing hand a little closer to the bridge,” and that’s going to produce a brighter sound.

I know this because I know the instrument well enough to know that.

That’s a really important part of this whole process, so you know, learning a little bit of theory, learning a little bit of arrangement, and learning a little bit of electronics is also really important.

You know, if you can pop open your preamp and you can take a volt meter and say, you know, “Okay, this cap, it looks like it’s maybe not running so great, alright, let’s grab a little wire cutter,” and snip snip, and pull it up, then you put another cap right on in there, and you solder, and there you go, you’re good to go.

You’ve done a little minor gear repair.

Not only does this save you a lot of money, and not only does it really help if you’re going for an internship and that’s one of your skills, but also it gives you an understanding of how the actual electronics work, and that’s a really valuable part of this whole process as well.

Okay, now the getting everybody to know it part, this is a process where the getting good leads the charge, and the getting other people to know it follows in suit.

So a lot of people I think make the mistake of trying to go online and say, “Hey, here I am! I have a DAW and I can mix records!” Or, “I have Ozone and I can master records!” And it’s like, that’s all well and good, but at the end of the day, it’s a very, very, competitive, saturated market, with a very low ceiling, particularly online, and so you’re going to find that model will fizzle out fairly quickly.

The cream will rise to the top, and the online world is not really the best place to develop that.

The best place to develop that is real life, in your location.

Chances are, wherever you are, there is a community of musicians, and it is your job to know all of them, and make sure all of them know you, so go to the gigs.

Talk to them.

When you’re doing this, you start learning about their experiences.

You know, if you play an instrument, join a band.

You want to know what it’s like for the musicians that you’re going to be recording and mixing, because that’s going to not only inform your musical sensibilities by asking questions like, “Hey, what do you look for in a record? What is good to you? What do you think makes a song work once the microphones are put in front of it?” You know, that’s supplementary experience you’re getting right there.

On top of that, you’re going to sort of understand what they go through.

You’re going to know their life when it comes to how they get paid, how they get treated, and being able to respect what bands and artists go through to get into the studio gives you an appreciation for what you need to be doing on your end.

And that’s really important, and as you develop that, you start to develop a rapport with all of these people.

The people that you meet on day one, they’re not the ones that pay off on day two, they pay off on year four, but if you start accumulating that reputation early on, as things build, as you start getting better, then you start getting the confidence and knowing that when the musicians say, “Hey, I need to trust somebody with my hard earned money and my precious art, who’s that person going to be? Oh, I know that person because they’ve been around the scene and they listen to me, and I can have confidence that they’re going to take what I’ve put so much effort into very seriously.” So I would start there, and I do think the online world is part of it, but I would just say that it’s not the heart of it.

I get good gigs from online.

I’d say for like, every one good gig, there’s probably about maybe 50 that are just not worth the time and effort and probably don’t get past the negotiation stage, but for that one that is an awesome client, it’s totally worth it for sure.

It’s just not the beating heart of the business, from my experience.

Okay, so a couple of other things that have just personally helped me, this is going to sound a little bit ridiculous, but I’m going to put it out there because I think it’s worth knowing, one of the things that really helped me was watching Shark Tank. [laughs] I know how stupid that sounds, but you know, watching that show, it was like, I’m a musician.

I’m in the world of music, I think emotionally, I see the best, and I’m very optimistic, and you know, I function the way artists function.

Those guys are business guys.

They are straight to the point, they talk money, they think money, and watching people talk that way has opened my eyes to how business people think, and has allowed me to incorporate that thought process into the business side of it, which is very important.

So I started learning about things like equity, and royalties, and interest, and loans, and that kind of stuff.

And it’s paid off! And I’ll give you an example.

There’s a woman named Afrodile Trane, and she makes really, really fantastic R&B music that’s got like, Soul, and Hip Hop kind of tucked into it with some Jazz kind of vibes tucked into it, it’s just some really cool stuff.

She came to me and she said, “How much do you charge?” And I gave her my quote, and she said, “Okay, well I can’t pay that,” and I said, “Okay, let’s find a number that you’re comfortable with.” Because that’s important to me, I don’t try and get as much out of somebody as possible, I try to get a number that people are comfortable with, and that ended up being half my rate, and I said, “Okay, well, since I’m doing half rate, what I would like is 2% equity in your songs,” and that means that net receipts, 2% when she makes any money off of her music, I get 2% of whatever that is, and that’s the way of balancing out the money that I didn’t get up front, and by negotiating that way, that allowed me to get paid in a way where I could pay my bills, and also get paid in back end later down the line, which seems like a small and insignificant thing, but imagine if I did that 500 times.

That’s going to start to add up.

So this gave her the opportunity to work with me in a way she was comfortable with, me to work with her in a way that I was comfortable with, and a means in which I was able to get what I was worth.

And this is now a year and a half later, where she’s starting to get some sync placements, so I’m seeing, okay, this is something that does pay off down the line for this particular project, not every time you negotiate for back end will work, but at the time, when I was making this decision, I said, “Okay, well, she’s taking it very seriously, her music is awesome, I love it, and she’s got some connections, and she’s got some established producers that she’s working with, so is this something that could make some money on the back end? Absolutely, it can!” So you know, you think that way, and then the other thing to think about is, you know, your strategy in terms of a negotiation.

I used to give out a card rate, when people said, “What do you cost?” I said, “Here’s what I cost,” but I started realizing that model doesn’t actually make sense.

It’s actually slightly disingenuous, because there’s a spectrum of the way projects go down.

You’ve got your Pop projects where it’s like, chances are if I’m mixing a Pop project, I’m going to be working on it for one, two, maybe as many as three days, because the revisions can add up since there’s so many different cooks that are in the kitchen, and there’s huge track counts, you know, 50 vocals, 100 instruments, there’s pitch correction involved, editing involved, I mean, it’s really a process.

It can take a long time.

In that same span of time, I can mix an entire Jazz album, because the players are taking care of their tone, the players are taking care of their dynamics, the recordist probably recorded it in a very similar setup from song one to song ten, and so once I get that first song right, everything else just dominos really easily, and so it doesn’t make the same sense to charge in the same structure for a Pop song as it would to work in a Jazz song, so it’s like, you know, when I charge for one Jazz song, maybe that makes a bit more sense to have a similar pricing structure, but if it’s a full project, no, definitely not.

So thinking this way has allowed me to get more gigs in the door.

Realistically, how long does it take me to work on an EDM song? Well, if I’m counting revisions, probably 10 hours.

Something like that.

The clients just tend to be really micro-managerial, they’re super tuned into their sound, it is a very sonically competitive genre where everything has to sound like everything else and be the biggest, brightest, boomiest, kickiest, most dynamic, most loud that it can be.

It’s really, it’s a taxing process.

A Rap song? I can do that in three or four hours, and I can do that without cutting corners.

It will sound like a full day mix, so do I need to charge the same for both projects? Absolutely not.

Different pricing structure for different projects.

So I hope that this little talk tutorial thing has given you some food for thought, and means in which you can conduct your business.

You know, just understand that you’re going to be driving that Uber for a little while at first.

That’s okay.

That’s a transitional stage for you where you’re going to be getting better at the same time you’re going to be building clientele and letting people know, and you’re segueing into being full time.

That’s going to take you 5 to 10 years, and just brace yourself for that.

Be focused, be patient, you’ll get there.

It’s just not going to happen overnight.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that, and if you like this video, please hit that like button.

If you dig what I’m doing on this channel, definitely hit that subscribe button, and I pitched the product before, but I’m just going to pitch it again.

If you want to strengthen your game when it comes to mixing, I think I’ve got the best supplementary stuff online, it’s going to accelerate your learning process.

What would take you five years, you’re going to get down under your belt in two after watching these tutorials, and the link to that is going to be in the description below.

Alright guys, until next time.

Top 10 DAWs (2018-2019) – Best digital audio workstations

So you’re serious about audio production and you need a DAW.

But before you go and spend your hard-earned money, you’ll want to know what options are out there first.

Look no further, we’ll be walking through 10 of the best DAWs in the industry to help you make a better decision on what one to buy.

*Totally epic intro jingle* Hey everyone it’s Transverse Audio and we’re going to be taking a look at these 10 amazing DAWs.

With all these being listed here, we simply cannot say one of them is better than the other.

The best DAW all comes down to what’s best for you.

There’s also three others that we just had to mention because of how good they are but didn’t quite make a list for various reasons.

We’ll be taking a look at those right after these 10.

Now it’s getting to the list.

Live is a highly customizable DAW that has a minimalistic user interface.

This really helps keep things organized and distraction-free.

Not only is this a great benefit for studio sessions but also live performances, and yeah, Ableton Live handles live performances really well.

You can also get the Ableton push if you want to jam out on some hardware that’s actually built for Live.

Cubase holds a robust archive of tutorials clocking in at over 5 hours of content for most versions of the DAW.

You get around 30 minutes of tutorials from the basic version but hey, at least something.

Cubase comes with a pretty basic notation editor if you’re into using sheet music.

Now if you love to collab, there’s a great cloud-based collaboration feature built into the DAW.

Packed with some unique editors above the typical DAW, Digital Performer gives you access to a notation and a waveform editor.

Not only can you edit notation but you can integrate lyrics and even transcribe it to actual sheet music too, all within the DAW.

This DAW comes with the ability to edit and automate the pitch of vocals and really any other audio with ease.

Not to mention, the pitches can be converted right to MIDI.

When you buy FL Studio you get free updates forever.

You’ll never need to worry about paying for the latest features as this DAW will evolve with you for free.

You can even make music on your phone or tablet if you purchase the app.

The user interface on both computer and mobile is quite impressive and it’s constantly evolving.

If you want to learn hands-on, there’s quite a lot of project files that you can study from within the DAW itself.

Logic Pro is quite easy to understand and use.


The value this DAW brings to the table comes at a pretty reasonable price.

Now this DAW doesn’t actually have a demo version of its own but with GarageBand being so similar to it and it also being free, it’s considered to be the demo version of logic.

Maschine is a DAW developed with hardware in mind.

It comes with a MIDI controller that has been tailored to extend the capabilities of the DAW.

Seamlessly integrates these two together and unleash your finger drumming finesse.

The best part about it, you can use the Maschine hardware with other DAWs too.

There are also 4 versions of the hardware to choose from, although the DAW itself is the same across all of them.

If you want to try before you buy, Machine is without a demo of any kind.

It’s one of the few things Native Instruments doesn’t actually have a demo for.

If you’ve got the money and want to be on top of the game, Pro Tools is definitely one of, if not the most expensive DAW out there.

Packed with features and industry-leading technologies, its price is going to come with its perks.

At a price that’s less than most plugins out there, Reaper is a pretty good DAW for those on a budget.

Better yet, it’s fast to spin up and runs efficiently.

This is another one on the list with a notation editor and a well done interface for the entire DAW.

Even if the default theme isn’t appealing to you, there’s a lot of custom themes made by the Reaper community.

Reason takes synthesizers to another level with stock synths such as shape-shifting, a polysonic, an analog, and a really unique Graintable synth that combines granular and wavetable synths, all in one.

And they don’t stop there.

There’s plenty more instruments and effects that come with the DAW itself.

The least expensive DAW on this list goes to Sonar.

Although it does have the most inexpensive entry-level version, there are a few other upgrades to the DAW if you wanted to get more out of it.

If you do decide to upgrade, you get access to a ton of additional features one of them being a plug-in called Melodyne.

This comes with the last two upgrades to Sonar and a demo of it with the version above the lowest.

This lets you hum, whistle, or even sing melodies and Melodyne will convert it to MIDI for you to use with instruments in the DAW.

If none of the DAWs on the top 10 appeal to you, the next three might be what you’re looking for or at least want to try out.

Studio One’s demo is basically a free DAW and is listed in our video about the best free DAWs out there.

This is a pretty good DAW with a crossgrade option for people wanting to switch to Studio One from another DAW they already own.

You’ll get the professional version at a pretty significant discount.

Adobe is well-known for their industry standard in…

Well, pretty much everything to make.

[Adobe] Audition holds up to the high quality of Adobe’s other products but because they only provide monthly subscriptions and you can’t actually buy this DAW, it didn’t quite make it into the top 10.

With that aside, it’s a really good workstation and especially for voice talent.

Bitwig has a pretty unique story.

It was made by engineers that left Ableton to create a DAW that wasn’t as heavy as Ableton Live, and it even supports Ableton Link.

As a bonus, if you get a copy of this DAW they’ll give you a year free upgrades, so at least you’ll stay up-to-date.

Now there are plenty of other DAWs in the game right now and many more to come.

It’s worth repeating, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to Digital Audio Workstations.

You really have to check them out and see if they’re a good for you.

Although going with a more popular DAW does come with the benefit of a promising future of updates, active community, and there are more people learn from and share ideas with.

Mana Modular 510 – New way to build your dream mixing console

This is Mana It’s a new way to build and configure your own console.

This is the model 510 it’s the new mini mixer from Mana Modular.

It’s a small format mixer that’s been designed to allow the user to configure their console however they need, to get the most out of their analogue and digital equipment, in one small package.

Suitable for recording, mixing, mastering or education, the 510 combines the functionality of a 500 series rack unit, a summing mixer with auxiliary sends and also a mastering grade monitoring section You can than link together up to 4 of the 510, which gives you 32 channel operation The rear panel of the 510 features XLR mic inputs, it also features D-SUB line inputs, the inputs for the summing mixer, the direct outputs and than also the console link connection.

You can connect up to two sets of monitors with separate artist headphone monitoring with also the ability to add an additional module which will give you an ADC DAC converter you can than also connect it up to external monitoring.

The channel section features premium P&G faders. It’s got 2 auxiliary sends as well as the solo and cut functionality.

There is also the assignable soft button which scrolls through the different functions for each channel.

The soft button enables a number of different channel modes and signal flow options for the 510, including a hard wire bypass and the ability to cascade channels in either stereo or in mono.

The direct outs can either come pre or post fader, and the input for the summing mixer can either come directly from the summing inputs or it can come from the output of the 500 series modules.

All of the compressor sidechains can be linked.

One of the key features of the 510 is the ability to switch between a “classic” and a “modern” summing path.

So that’s either current summing, or you can have a voltage summing via Carnhill transformers and a class A mix amp.

The 500 series rack on the master section of the 510 is at a pre fader insert point. We also have the ability via the rear panel of the 510 to patch in other rack gear at this insert point.

The mastering grade monitor section of the 510 features: 4 monitor points, including this 3.5mm jack at the front here you can also see next to that we’ve got the headphone port, which can either run your main mix or also the artists headphone sends, so you can check on what your artist is listening to The other features of the monitor section are summ and difference and mono modes and also a talkback, auto talkback and listen modes.

So as you can see every channel has a LED peak meter. The peak meter on the monitor section has the ability to switch from peak to also the VU metering, there is also an output on the back of the unit to run an analogue VU meter.

As we mentioned earlier, the 510 is a part of a modular studio solution, and there is two more units which are soon to be comming out from Mana. There is also going to be a 508 companion chassis, which is going to be an 8 chanel expansion for the 510, and than we’re also going to have Mana Rack Frame, which will give you the ability to house a Pro Tools Avid Artist Mix, down in this kind of a mixer section, and than up the top a 3RU patch bay, or even a DYI Eurorack synth.

Which is really kind of giving you ultimate flexibility in a console in a kind of small, digital studio environment.

So there you go, that’s the functionality of the 510 mini mixer from Mana.

I think this is a really great product, given that the majority of studios these days are going more and more in the box, and the large scale consoles, although great, require a lot of room and maintenance. Something like this with such a small footprint that gives you that ability to harness the sound of a large analogue console, with such a small footprint, and than also the ability to add 500 series modules to that, giving you just a whole range of sonic pallets in the analogue world. I think there is a really great option for anyone who is looking to expand past the in the box setup.

Mastering 101: How to Master a Song

Mastering Basics — Matthew Weiss breaks it down in this video. When talking about mastering, it’s very important to realize that it’s basically just another level of mixing. It’s solidifying the entirety of the record, ensuring that it translates, making last minute tweaks, things that you will want to see happen to the overall mix. In a perfect universe, you wouldn’t be doing necessarily much to the master. Sometimes, you might be doing things to the master simply because the effect works better there, but in general, if it’s to fix something, you usually want to address that in the mix. In fact, a really good mix does not need much when it comes to mastering. Alright. So, let’s listen to this record.

OK. So, when I ask myself about mastering, I’m essentially asking the same question that I’m asking myself through the mixing process, which is what do I want. What do I want to hear? Is this good enough? Does something need to go back to the mix? OK. Here’s my thoughts. First of all, I think that the mix is good. I’m happy with it. I think everything is sitting right. I think it’s all good. The only things that I want to hear is I want to hear a little bit more brightness and pop to the overall mix, and I wouldn’t mind if there was a little bit of extra sort of punch on the drums or some kind of homogenizing type of vibe, some kind of a compression vibe going for that kind of rock and roll sound. So, with that being said, what I’m going to do here is I’m going to pop in my outboard gear. I’m going to explain to you what I’m doing.

So, the first thing that I’m going to do is I’m going to just show you what the sound sounds like when I start engaging all of my outboard gear. So, this is with no processing being done, just going through the actual sound of all the devices. So before After There’s a certain nice little bit of saturation that I’m getting from my equipment that’s giving me a tone that I like to impart over the entire mix. It makes everything sound a little bit bigger, not vastly different, just a little bit. But when we’re talking about mastering, every inch counts. OK.

So, the first thing I’m going to do is… I sort of work it in reverse order. My signal chain here is an EQ to a compressor to another EQ. I’m going to do the final EQ first because the final EQ is just a very gentle treatment. I’m going to click it in right now. Actually, I’ll do a before and after. One more time. Listen to the top end specifically. Before.

After. That’s the Clariphonic equalizer. It’s one of my favorite EQ’s because you can add more brightness into something, somehow without changing the tonal balance of things. I don’t exactly understand, like it’s still a mystery to me how that’s even possible. It kind of does that, and so I feel like I can kind of put it on any mix. I can just make things pop a little more without actually disrupting anything.

Alright. Now, my first EQ. What I want to hear is a little bit more presence range. What I did is I sort of clicked around some different presence frequencies, and I ultimately found that 2.7 is the one that seemed to make it sing the most. I’m just going to pop that in real quick.

This is just a two decibel bump, nothing else. Before. After. Didn’t take much. That’s just a two decibel bump at 2.7. Suddenly, the mix just popped out. That’s cool. That’s all that I needed. I don’t think that it needs any kind of other EQ. It all sounds good to me.

Lastly, I’m going to engage some compression. When I’m thinking about compression, there’s sort of two different ideas. It’s a misconception that compression on the mix bus is about loudness. It’s really not. In fact, a lot of times, you’re going to lose potential loudness by using compression, especially in the fashion in which I’m using it. The way I’m using it is actually very slow attack, medium release compression. What that’s going to do is it’s going to cause the drums to trigger the compressor, but it’s not going to cause the compressor to actually reduce the transient impact of the drum. In other words, it’s going to make the drums a little punchier.

And at the same time, I have the release time just right where it preserves air, but it also creates some kind of similar movement throughout everything in the mix. So, it’s going to give it a little punch and a little bit of what people might call glue, but what I would call movement.

Alright. So, let’s pop that in. That’s before. Notice how we actually lost some level, even though the peak volume is staying pretty similar. I mean, the peak volume actually is being reduced slightly as well. We lost some level, but the drums stayed pretty prominent and pretty smacking. So, relative to everything else, the drums are becoming a little bit more prominent. That’s the way that I’m using the mix compression here. But, this is all dependent on what the mix is calling for. If I had really, really sharp pointed drums already, then I probably wouldn’t need to use compression in this sense. In fact, I would probably be doing the opposite, using faster compression and a faster release just to round the drums out.

Alright. So, that’s my mastering chain here. Let’s give the before and after. So, I hope you guys learned something. Take care.