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Saturday, June 24, 2017

How to create the Lo-Fi / phone line / old radio effect when mixing or mastering



Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to see how to obtain that "lo-fi" effect, that often is present in many songs to create movement: it's a very effective way to lower the dynamics of the track before making it explode again, and it can be heard at the second 30 of the song above.

Let's start by saying that this effect can be used on any instrument, but it's very popular on a single rhythm guitar track, or on vocals, or even during mastering the whole song (obviously it's important to use this tool with parsimony, because it is easy to overuse it and to make it sound boring).

The idea is to do create a very narrow eq filter in order to make it sound as it is coming from an old radio, basically only the mid frequences must be heard (so that when this effect finishes the low and the high end comes back in producing a very impactful effect).


In this image I have used a low pass and a high pass filter to narrow down the frequences, and at the same time I have created a sligh boost in the mid area, to increase even more the effect, but it's not mandatory.

Once we have our lo-fi part perfectly carved down we can play even more if we want by adding some other effect, like a slight phaser (as in the song above), or by damaging the part even more with some saturation, as it can be heard in some Linkin Park song, or some bit crushing, as it can be heard in some classic Muse song.

Have fun with this interesting tool and let us know what do you think about it!


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Saturday, June 17, 2017

How not to be a Stompbox Addict Part 3/3




HOW TO BUY THE RIGHT PEDAL


At this point of the article you are almost out of the pedal addiction, you know in the bottom of your heart that all those pedalboards are quite useless and just a way to show how big the ego of that guitaris is. You know your hands make the real difference and that is better to put money into a solid instrument and a good amp and not into boutique pedals. But you still need a freakin pedal. Well, this is the guide.


  • Take the best from what you have and improve your imagination. As said before maybe you don’t need a Reverb if your amp head has one, maybe you don’t need a distortion pedal too if the amp head sounds nice to your ears or at least try to have decent tone working on the knobs regulation before saying it’s crap.


  • Go to one or more of your local shop instrument and try different kind of pedals / If you have a lazy ass try a multieffect of one of your friend to understand well how the various kind of pedals work alone and together.


  • Project your pedalboard from the beginning in order to know how many and what kind of pedals you need.


  • When you know what kind of pedal you need just start searching online all the features of the various brands. Maybe find some comparison video on youtube to understand better the differences and what they do.


  • Try the pedal between your amp and your instrument, pedals don’t have ANY sound, they just modify the signal between the instrument and the amplification, so don’t trust just Youtube videos.


  • Don’t buy the cheapest/don’t buy the most expensive. Saving money doesn’t mean you have to waste them into awful pedals.


  • Buy with your ears, not with your eyes! No one cares if you have digital or analog pedals, or if they are built in Japan or Indonesia, no ones give a fuck! They must sound good to you.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

How not to be a Stompbox Addict Part 2/3



CLICK HERE FOR PART 3/3

You are almost out of the “pedal addiction” and you are maybe considering that you don’t need twenty pedals… but just ten. Well, if you are a hard one, here is a list about why all those pedals are going to be a big problem for you!


WHY USING LESS PEDALS IS BEST FOR YOU




  • The problems – More pedals = more jacks = more things that can randomly stop working and takes time to find the problem if the sound disappears = more sound degradation between the guitar and the amp (yes, even if they are true bypass and if you are using 150€ jacks) = MORE NOISE.


  • Improve your imagination – You must have crystal clear in mind what type of sounds you are after and then you must try to achieve it using as fewer steps as possible. Example: I need a really good clean for arpeggios. I can use the reverb on the amp head, its clean channel and a echo/delay pedal. Just buying one pedal you can craft your clean tone modulating it with the pedal and forging the core with your amp, which is almost always the best solution both for clean and high gain sounds. Use your imagination to build the shortest pedal chain as possibile and then look at the faces of the people asking you how it’s possibile that you have this awesome tone with that few pedals!


  • Tip Tap - Using pedals must be easy and you can’t dance tapping sixteen stompboxes during your live shows, or you’ll go crazy. Of course you can use a Midi pedalboard to simplify the selection of pedals but do you really need all those pedals? Less tap = more fun!


  • Save space for touring - Less is more, everytime, think about touring with a huge case full of pedals and then think about to travel with just a little bag with the essential you need.


  • Save money for Amp head and instruments – I know boutique pedals look gorgeus and they can do stuff you can barely imagine but to spend 600$ in pedals when your guitar costs 300$ is really stupid. They will never give you the tone you are searching for if your amp sucks and your instrument sounds dead.


  • The touch - I’ll be really frank now: what makes the differences in order to have an awesome tone is, first of all, your hands. How you play and what you play makes the real big difference in tone and sound, your way to pick the strings, to pull them down, the speed of your vibratos, the pressure of your fingers and how clean you’re moving them from a chord to another is what makes you sound better. No pedal can give you this skills. Stop craving for that damn ultra warm delay with seven knobs if you are not able to play a good arpeggio without it.

CLICK HERE FOR PART 3/3

Saturday, June 3, 2017

How not to be a Stompbox Addict Part 1/3



Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article! 
Today we are publishing a new article done by our collaborator Edoardo del Principe, and it is a humoristic take on the issue of the "stompbox addiction".
I hope you like it!
Most of guitarists suffer a serious illness called “stompbox addiction” which causes tons of dollars wasted in boutique pedals with nice finishes and 40 knobs. Even the poorest guitarist with this addiction has at least 10 Behringer pedals just to have a big pedalboard. I have mercy for them and I don’t want new guitarists to fall into this sick world, therefore this is the guide to not fall into “pedals addiction”!
The first and more important step is “prevention”. To do that you need to understand who you are.
A young teenage guitarist which is studying guitar: your eyes are full of hope and you are already dreaming to play as Steve Vai but your tone sucks and your 15watt combo can’t help you. Your solution is a basic multi effect as the Boss ME25. It has a preamp section which is useful to play without any amp, just using the output “phones” and connecting your multieffect to your headphones you can practice for hours without being stricken by your mom’s slipper. The Boss ME25 has everything you need and connecting it to your pc and downloading specific softwares you can find literally hundres of patches to sounds like AC/DC, Metallica, Deep Purple etc with FEW CLICKS. Boss Tone Central is the software to control your presets and patches and it can give you a really good tone with no effort.
If you are not into all these stuff and you just want to practice maybe with your acustic guitar my best advice is the Boss RC 3. It’s a looper and is really useful to learn to play over a drum track, creating loops, learning solos etc. The Boss RC 3 is a really good machine for every beginner guitaist and you’ll improve just using it. I promise.
Someone called me to play in a band, I’ve got just the Boss Metal Zone: Stay calm and don’t panic. I know you don’t want to fight against feedbacks so before doing everything and going into pedal addiction you must know what you really need. Are you being called to play in Thrash Metal band or in a Folk Rock band? After this you maybe don’t know if you need a Flanger or a Fuzz, so, my advice is to buy a sort of “live pedalboard” as the Boss ME70, Line6 Pod Hd 500 or other similar stuff. You have full control about the pedal chain and full control about every pedal in the chain: you’ll be able to craft your own sound in detail. You can use it with an amp head just putting off the preamp section and you’re ready to play every music genre.
If you are in one of these two categories following my advices you can being immune to the “pedals addiction” because in you early years of activity you tried every freakin’ type of pedal in the world so you thirst of pedals is satifistied (for now).

I’m practicing with my band but I want a better tone: Pedals are not the solution to your problem. On Youtube you can find thousands of video about how to improve your sound without spending a dime Pedals are the last part of a long process of sound crafting which starts at the beginning with the choice of your instrument and your amplification. If you have saved money in your instruments and amplification to put them into peadals you are following the wrong path. In order to have the perfect tone in your mind you need first of all a good instrument and give it voice with an amplification, this is the core of your sound. Pedals are the icing on top of the a cake. You need the right pedals, but if your cake is made almost entirely of icing, your cake will sucks. 

CLICK HERE FOR PART 3/3

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Review: Yamaha HS5



Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are reviewing an interesting pair of studio monitors, part of a wide range that features several sizes and wattages: Yamaha HS5!

In a market that proposes self proclaimed mixing level monitors for all price tags, Yamaha HS5 are in my opinion the entry level studio monitors to begin mixing with a sufficient degree of realism (and for realism I mean that a mix made through these monitors translates well also in other systems, such as car stereo, mp3 player, pc speakers and so on).
Mixing with cheap monitors that doesn't guarantee a good degree of realism instead means only one thing: the mix will sound well only from there, and as soon as you try to play the song somewhere else, it will sound completely unbalanced, with some parts of the mix too loud and others too quiet.

Here are some good criteria to keep in mind when choosing a pair of mixing monitors:

- the size of the speaker: the bigger, the more the bass area is represented well in the spectrum, but beware because some speakers can over emphasize it. 5 inches is a good starting point, below this size, the frequencies that are cut away are too many (arriving also to the mid area).

- the wattage: 70w as per these speakers is a lot, and it grants an impressive headroom. Also lower wattages are good, since the ideal mixing volume is the conversation level to limit ear fatigue, but beware of excessively low wattage monitors (like 10w), because in order to hear decently you will have to crank them, ruining the quality of the reproduction. To mix and master we need perfect clarity and headroom.

- the adaptability to the room: this is a blog about home recording, which means that most of our readers are bedroom producers, or enthusiasts that doesn't have a perfectly treated mixing room.
Some monitors, included these Yamaha, features a low and high frequencies equalizer to adapt the response of the monitor to our room, allowing us to limit the lower resonances or work on the high end to make the details pop out more or less, according to our necessity.

In conclusion I can't but recommend these speakers: they have the best price for what they offer, and they sound extremely clean and detailed; since I am using them the quality of my mixes has increased, and compared to the devices I was using before is like twice as easy to find the right balance.
Thumbs up!


Specs taken from the website:


- 2-way bass-reflex bi-amplified nearfield studio monitor with 5" cone woofer and 1" dome tweeter

- 54Hz - 30kHz frequency response
- 45W LF plus 25W HF bi-amp system for high-performance 70W power amplification
- ROOM CONTROL and HIGH TRIM response controls
- XLR and TRS phone jack inputs accept balanced or unbalanced signals

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Video day!




Hello everyone!

I have updated all the download links in the website and created two videos related to two previous articles, and I have updated them:

Review: Boss Katana Head (With 2 video samples!)

and

How to create guitar cab impulses from a song (free plugins and IR included!) PART 1/2

so now you can hear a direct usb recording sample for the Boss Katana and a sample made with the impulse created for the tutorial, free to download, which I find it's pretty realistic.

Let us know what you think!

Cheers!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Guide to buy a guitar for around 500€ / 500$ PART 3/3


CLICK HERE FOR PART 1/3

CLICK HERE FOR PART 2/3


Probably if you are looking in this price range you are searching for used guitars. Used guitars are extremly tricky by some point of view. We must consider two types of used guitar: the vintage and the more recent ones, because either way we are going to lose something.
Vintage guitars:
Vintage doesn’t necessarily mean good. Old Gibsons are famous for their warm sound and incredible manufacture but they cost three times what you want to spend.
If you are searching for a vintage guitar for 500$ or less you must look at some strange and rare brand that really few know. Especially in Japan from mid 70s to mid 80s a lot of brand were born. The economic boom of the Japanese industry hit also the instrument market, so you can easly find labels as Cimar, Tokay, Greco, Aria and Vantage on the online shops, selled by other people. What makes this guitars so special? Some of these brands were produced in the same factories used by Gibson and Fender to produce their models in that era in Japan so the same hands that have built a Les Paul Custom probably have built also an Aria Guitar or a Greco one. If you are lucky enough to find and know exactly that the guitar was produced in one of these factories you can be pretty sure that the manufacturing and production are great, and most of the times it equals to the most prestigous ones.
Wood can easly be extremely better than any wood you can find now on guitars of the same price, for the reasons I wrote above in the article. What you have to sacrifice? Sometimes details and PU, but there are models with good stuff even at this price range. There are just two big counterindications: the first one is the resale value and the second one the overall condition of the guitar.
For the first one you can’t do much, it’s really hard to sell a guitar with an anonymous brand for most of the guitarists, you can explain with the best words how good it is but that damn logo will be your curse. If you are going to sell one of these you’ll probably spend years to find a buyer interested and probably you will have to lower the price a couple of times.
For the second point you must pay attation to details as fret condition, scratches, repairs etc, because it’s easy to buy a fourth hand instrument with a lot of damages caused by the years, and sometimes it can be just an aesthetic problem, in others it can make your new instrument almost unplayable.
Last but not least! You must know where it was built, in what year, the overall condition and all the features. Sometimes catalogs are available, sometimes not, it’s a big risk to buy an instrument without knowing if it’s the exact model the seller is saying is it. You must know by what wood were made and how, what PU it holds etc. This makes finding a good vintage guitar for this amount of money a real journey through websites from all over the world to compare prices, search for catalogs and opinions of owners, but if you are not in a rush eventually you will find the right guitar.
More recent used guitar:
Here we have to distinguish 90s, first 00s and post 2006 guitars. For the first kind we can apply the same rules of the vintage ones, but you must be more careful about the unknown brands because after the 80s most of them started declining and producing cheaper guitars with all the counterindications we know.
On the other hand you can find really awesome pieces by the most known brands as Ibanez, Yamaha, Epiphone etc which still have a good manufacture and production. Maybe it’s better to buy a 90’s Epiphone than a newer one, also until 2006 they didn’t use tone chambers to make the guitar lighter.
Post 2006 used guitars” is the category I generally don’t advice to you, just only in few cases. If you have read all the article you know what you have to sacrifice here, since we’re talking about almost the same kind of problematics of the new ones. A 450$ used guitar maybe as new was sold for around 600 or 700$, and that assures you a decent quality of wood and features, probably with a pick up upgrade the guitar could become really solid. Even for 700$ you can’t be sure the manifacture is good and the production can be located in Indonesia, Vietnam or Korea and crafted in chain with all the problems you know. The drama is that the only two things you can’t change on a guitar is the way it was assembled and what types of wood they used. For the first thing you are literally jumping in the dark, for the wood you can be lucky to find a nice piece, anyway a recent used guitar can become a nightmare if you pay a nice amount of money and you receive a guitar with a knot in the wood, so it will sound “dead”.
Used guitars made in recent years probably are in a better condition than the old ones and it’s one of few “upsides” of this category.
In my opinion there are just two case where to buy a recent used guitar for 500$ or less it’s a real deal: when you find a fool or when you find a desperate one.
The Fool” is someone who doesn’t know what is selling and maybe it’s dropping the price drastically as someone who is selling a Gibson SG for 400$ just because he wants to buy a different model fast.
The other case is easy to recognize because sometimes you can read that the announcement is online for more than a year, which means that they are dropping the price to sell more easily.
In any case pay attetion to the fakes! Nowdays it’s easy to find a fake copy made in Indonesia of Gibson SG or LP and the only way to check the production is the serial number on the back of the head. If you find a Gibson LP custom for 500$ probably it’s made in Indonesia.

The guide is yours, now you have the tools to choose correctly your new axe!


CLICK HERE FOR PART 1/3

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