Archive for DAW

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Posted in MP3's, Music with tags , , , , on December 18, 2015 by The Buddha Rats

Happy Holidays!

Recording At Home: A Little R&R.

Posted in Commentary, How To's, Making Music with tags , , , on December 7, 2014 by The Buddha Rats

Writing and recording at home is challenging. Resources are scarce.  My room is all but untreated (unless you count the odd painting on the wall, a kingsize bed in the room, no echo chamber, no mixing board, no vocal or drum room and no access to real tape other than Scotchtape). I just read an article in which someone thought that his Mom’s cooking rivaled or surpassed anything he’s had in a “proper” restaurant. Oh yea, peasant cooking… rustic cooking at it’s best is a real pleasure. Same thing with Rustic Recording.

Here are tips for getting the most out of your recordings. You won’t win a Grammy, but isn’t Coldplay nominated this year?… You see my point?

1) Use mic distance to your advantage.

Recordings aren’t just stereo or mono.  Create depth using multiple mics as well as by using reverb and EQ to great effect. The brighter the sound, the more up front it appears. Using lo-pass and hi-pass filters as your “go-to” tool will keep things sounding natural and make sounds that compete for space easier to manage and fix.

2) Go DI for bass.

Bass signals plugged in direct to your daw will end up lifeless, but you can “fix it in the mix”. I always go DI and end up duping the original track 2x. Now that I’ve got 3 bass tracks:

  • Leave the DI track as is.
  • Route track 2 through an ampsim.
  • Route track 3 through a fuzz or distortion box.

Blend these tracks to create a tasty bass track.

3) Perfect your performance before you hit record.

If you can’t play it all the way through without that red light on, you’re not ready to have a go at it. Seriously- learn your material. Make sure you can sing it and play it.

4) Buy the best instruments you can afford and use them.

And this doesn’t mean that you have to subscribe to the myth that your guitar needs to be a 1959 Les Paul in order to be considered “best”. I like Elliott Smith and was pleased to learn that the entire Roman Candle album was recorded using a cheap Domino parlor guitar.  Best= what works best for the material. New instruments might not work as well as something old or beat up even (have you seen the hole in Willie Nelson’s Martin?).

5) Drum machines suck.

They’re repetitive and lack soul. Pepper any drum machine track with real tambourines, claps, woodblocks, etc. anything that sounds real- even shaking a key ring full of keys will go a long way to impart that touch that only a real human can. Or better yet, just find a real drummer.

6) Don’t marathon mix.

Take breaks every hour. Let your ears rest for 15-20 minutes. It will make a big difference. Ear fatigue, especially when listening to high volume rock tracks, is a death sentence for quality.

7) Audition your mixes before and after.

There are people who can actually mix well using headphones. Just be sure to A/B them on car stereo, home stereo, etc.

8) Elevate you demos with proper mastering.

Home recordings can sound cheap because they often aren’t mastered properly. Even Ozone (when used sparingly) can yield great results.

9) Mistakes= Happy Accidents. Keep Them.

You are making music for real live flesh and blood people to hear. Your music should sound like it was made by one. Mistakes happen. Nothing is perfect. Remember that.

10) Always, always experiment.

Do something you haven’t tried. It might make your song better.

TG Mastering Pack Presets

Posted in Plug Ins, VSTi Presets with tags , , , , on January 3, 2014 by The Buddha Rats

I’ve been meaning to make these presets available for a long time. They are so f’ing awesome and I should charge for the download, but then I said to myself, I said: “Self… you should give these away”.

And then I did. So here is what you get in this bundle of awesomeness:

  1. Acoustic Guitar 1
  2. Acoustic Guitar 2
  3. Acoustic Piano 1
  4. Acoustic Piano 2
  5. B3 Organ Warmer
  6. Drum Overhead 1
  7. Drum Overhead 2
  8. Drum Overhead 3
  9. Drum Overhead 4
  10. Electric Bass 1
  11. Electric Bass 2
  12. Electric Bass 3
  13. Hi Shelf Brightness
  14. Lo Shelf Boost
  15. Master Mix 1
  16. Master Mix 2
  17. Master Mix 3
  18. Master Mix 4
  19. Percussion Claves
  20. Rhodes 1
  21. Rhodes 2
  22. Vox Backing 1
  23. Vox Backing 2
  24. Vox Female
  25. Vox Male

Grab them all here then send me an email and thank me at TheBuddhaRats@gmail.com.

One more thing- do not re-distribute or sell these presets. And don’t be an a**hole by uploading these to some shite pirate/torrent site.

Peace and Music,

The Buddha Rats

Has Technology Destroyed Music?

Posted in Commentary, Music with tags , , on May 27, 2012 by The Buddha Rats

This is a cool post on GS. It really got me thinking, because while I use a DAW to track all my stuff, the music I like and like to make has always been acoustic, electric, and organic. I’m never 100% ITB, since I play several instruments and also take advantage of vst technology.

Anyway here’s my take:

“Don’t hate the technology, hate the musician.
What technology has done is made it easier for people with questionable taste and margin-able talent to make music in abundance. It’s never been cheaper, or easier to do. There are a lot of people calling themselves musicians who know absolutely nothing about song construction, much less how to play a real instrument. They can rely on loops, MIDI packs, and pre-made construction sets to write, and because it’s all laid out there in front of them, they tend not to think outside of the box they just bought.

Another thing to think about is that it’s not about making Art anymore. Yes, some people care about quality, but most don’t. They care about being famous, and/or making a lot of money. Record companies love the crap because it’s no-brainer stuff. It’s easy for the sheep of the world to digest, which makes it easy to market and sell.

We’ll just have to dig a lot deeper to get to the good stuff.”

When to add compression?

Posted in Recording Basics with tags , , on May 14, 2011 by The Buddha Rats

It’s often abused (I’ve done it myself), but compression is an important part of the link to getting a nice sound.

Add compression (and EQ) at mixing. Each track you’ve recorded might get a little to help shape, gel and tame the sound. I even like to add more compression as “glue” and consistency on the master bus.

Remember that certain genres get more compression than others:  You don’t mix a Beatles track like a Bobby Timmons track.

Try and resist the urge to make everything LOUD. You can get a nice full mix without pushing every track up to that 0db line. Your master track should be at 0db, but pull the other track faders back to around -6 or -9 and give yourself some headroom. You won’t get ear fatigue as fast, and you’ll make more accurate mixing choices. Besides, you can make a sound seem louder just by making it brighter with some eq. Take some high’s away, and it sinks back into the mix… Remember that the end result of the effects you add on your master bus is not the same thing as sending your track to be properly mastered! You will be very hard pressed to get your tracks the same volume as something that is offered up for commercial consumption.

In the end, it’s all about trial and error- you’ll figure out what works best for your music.

Good luck.

Tracking with Effects

Posted in Recording Basics with tags , on March 27, 2011 by The Buddha Rats

This is more or less a response to another music blog’s post about whether or not instruments should be recorded with effects enabled. I always track my instruments and vocals with effects processing enabled. Why you ask? Because I want to get a good idea how my final track is going to sound. The only time I’ve tracked raw (adding processing at a later date) is when there wasn’t enough system resources to handle the VSTi or cpu heavy effect.

Here’s why you might want to record with the effect:

  1. Tracking  with processing forces you to pick a creative direction and establish a vibe for your song early on, and that’s important. Of course it’s easier to do if you have been recording for awhile,  know your gear, and know what kind of sound you are after.
  2. You can play along with the effect. Think about how your vocal tracks change when you sing along with a slapback reverb, instead of leaving it dry. Try it- you won’t go back. And if you don’t like the effect, just record another take (or import  a copy of your raw track and try a different effect). I’ve got a lot of different versions of the same song lying around. Each version brings something different to the table and has made me a better musician.
  3. Always keeping your options open by only tracking raw sounds can leave things open-ended too long. Lets face it- if you track on a modern DAW you’ve got choices. Perhaps too many choices and that’s not necessarily a good thing. You can spend so much time trying to find that elusive “magical” plug-in (you know- the one that will turn your track into gold) that you lose momentum. My advice is to track with the effect, but always keep a copy of the raw track in case you need to change it later on.

Before you even start to record, you only need to do one thing:

  1. Do your homework, and make sure your song is well thought out with regard to structure. Have all the parts in place, such as verse, chorus, middle eight, etc.. That way you don’t end up with a hard drive full of half finished tunes. Besides, you can always change the arrangement/move things around once all the parts are tracked.

Like I mentioned earlier- don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s how you learn and get better. And that’s the point of it all, innit?

Happy playing.

Make Real Sounding Tracks Using Samplers and Romplers

Posted in How To's with tags , , , on February 26, 2011 by The Buddha Rats

I’m a big fan of real bass, drums, piano, and guitar. I know how to play each of these and over the years I learned how to track things so that they sit pretty well together (the highest compliment paid to me is when people say that my songs don’t sound “tracked”).

Before I learned how to actually play all those instruments, I spent a lot of time trying to make realistic sounding tracks from samplers and romplers, and I was never really satisfied with the results I got. I quickly came to the conclusion that it’s (almost) impossible to create a realistic guitar track (particularly lead guitar tracks) using samples, but there are ways you can record songs using samples so that they have a good feel and sound. Here are some the things to consider:

  1. Start with good sample sets. Use a high quality vst with multiple velocity layers, and high quality samples. For bass and guitar make sure it’s got a few articulations such as finger slides, etc.. You might not be able to trigger these sounds quick enough to make a perfectly realistic track, but you’ll be able to overdub, and splice something cool together. For drums make sure it’s got an “anti machine gun” feature as well as “round robin”.
  2. Real musicians can’t keep perfect time. Some players play in front of the beat, some play slightly behind. Some players know when to speed up or rush things slightly as well. This all goes a long way to a realistic sound and feel- especially with a sequenced drum track.
  3. Real instruments are never perfectly in tune with each other. There are always some slight differences.  Some notes are a bit sharp, some flat. Not every sample set is recorded the same way, and if you only own one sample set, that’s OK,  but it’s always best to mix things up. Take a piano from one library, the bass and drums from another, etc.. You’ll  get some nice variety in texture, tuning and sound.
  4. When sequencing drum parts remember this:  A drummer only has two hands and two feet, so resist the temptation to trigger everything at once. When in doubt, just find a song that you like and try and copy the drum part. It’s good practice.
  5. Don’t approach your guitar parts like a keyboard player.
  6. Resist the urge to quantize everything until it’s “perfect”.  You want things to sound as if a human played them, not a robot,
  7. Make good use of compression, EQ’s, and reverb. Too much or too little of each can yield a lifeless mix.
  8. Watch your volume, and overall levels.
  9. Add an analog tape saturation plug to the master track. This will fatten up the sound, glue things together and make things less sterile sounding.

That’s about it.  I hope this post helps.