I shot a video testimonial recently with a less than desirable audio setup. I only had one mic for three interviewees, the mic was too far from the subjects which introduced room noise and a slight echo and there were kids playing in a nearby room down the hall. How did I fix this in post? I won’t go into extreme detail, but I’ll give you an idea of what I used and how I used it to accomplish the goal of cleaning it up and making it sound professional. I’m always interested in how others accomplish this task, so I thought I would pull back the curtain and show you how I do it in these situations. Leave me a comment and let me know how you do it. Enjoy!
Why Do Pros Hang The Microphone Upside Down When Recording?
I came across an excellent article this morning over at Bobby Owsinski’s Blog discussing why professionals have always put their microphones upside down while recording a vocal part. This technique has always baffled me and I was always curious what the benefits were.
My only guess was that it helped keep the microphone away from the lyric sheet. Keeping microphone stands clear of the lyric sheet is one of the reasons on his list, however, this technique goes beyond just microphone stands.
Here is a quick excerpt from his very informational blog.
• The rationale behind hanging a mic upside down comes from tube mics. The heat rising from the tube can cause the diaphragm to change temperature over time, which will change the sound of the mic. Placing the tube above the capsule will let the heat rise without passing over the diaphragm.
• Another thing that happens is that the vocalist sings slightly upward into the mic, which forces the airway open and encourages a full-body voice. Take a deep breath and sing a low note, start with your chin to your chest, and slowly lift your head until your chin has about a 15-degree lift. Hear any difference?
• Maybe even more important, the mic can be positioned so the singer is less likely to direct popping air blasts into the mic.
• It’s also easier for the singer to read any music or lyrics since it’s out of the way.
Paul McCartney Takes the White Album Track by Track in 1968
I am a huge Beatles fan and, just like all Beatles fans, I feel that I know pretty much all there is to know about the greatest band that ever existed. Many hour have been spent looking on YouTube for any Beatles rarity that might spark my interest. I rarely find the rare Beatles snippet, but once in a while I land on one and I just had to share this one.
One of my favorite albums of all-time is the White Album. It’s a great album and I actually love every single song on it. While looking around for Beatles junk on YouTubes just today I came across this very excellent interview of a young Sir Paul McCartney taking the album track by track. The album was hot off the presses at the time of this interview (1968) and he is going through song by song and describing the “behind-the-scenes” of each.
Its a bit long, but if you are a Beatles nerd, such as I, it’s well worth the time. Totally worth it. These are very hard to come by and every couple of years or so I seem to find one. I love the interwebs!
A busy weekend was had by the Dingo as I ventured to Visalia and participated in the annual CAPA Conference. This is a conference for paralegal organizations throughout the state of California. So, you maybe asking yourself, “why in the world is California Dingo slinging schlock at a paralegal convention?”. Good question. The truth is, I actually have a few organizations that attended this event that are clients of mine via my web design services. What can I say, I have the best prices and service in town when it comes to non-profit organizations. It’s always nice to step out and say “hi” to all my clients in one setting. I love schmoozing. lol. But, enough of my selling my services on my blog, let’s get to the matter at hand.
Audio is one of my favorite things in the whole world. I believe the reason is because I am fascinated by audio and how it can be manipulated and enhanced and essentially be used to trick our ears into thinking we are hearing something that really isn’t there. It’s just plain fascinating to me. For instance, when you listen to a live album, chances are… it’s not really live. It was re-recorded using some of the live elements, but that guitar solo? Um… no. It was recorded after the fact in a studio and processors were added to make it fit in the “live” sound so you have no idea that the dude is actually sitting inside a 10 X 10 recording room.
You see, this is common practice and has been since at least the 70s. Nowadays there are plug-ins that perfectly simulate a church hall or small studio, etc. These developers have really gotten good at it, so there really isn’t a need to go to an actual church hall and setup your mics and attempt to get the effect of a church hall when your singer is belting out your latest hit. It ends up costing more time and as we all know… time is money. Anymore, I think folks that do go to the actual environment to record do so, because like me, it’s fun to attempt to capture those sounds in the real environment. But, its not necessary.
Regardless, it is so interesting to see how real environments can effect sound. The following video shows a guy trying out the actual environments and it really is fascinating to see how just echo flutter and sound bouncing around a room can effect the mood of any given source. Check it out and I hope you find it as interesting as I do.
I recently took the plunge and bought IK Multimedia’s ARC 2 System for my project studio. What exactly is this, you ask? Well, allow me to explain.
ARC stands for Advanced Room Correction and a while back I wrote a post where I touched a bit on it while discussing room treatment for my home studio. At the time of writing that post I even reached out to mixing guru, Bobby Owsinksi, regarding his thoughts on the product. He wasn’t too much a fan, but for good reason. I agree with his comment in that one should use acoustic treatment first and foremost and attempt to correct any room issues that way before splurging on some digital gizmo to do it for you. So, I did just that. I added some acoustic treatment first and foremost and it knocked out a large portion of my frequency issues. Hooray! However, my budget and expertise in room treatment is limited and lo and behold, there was still some nagging frequencies roaming my room. Like most home studios, my room is not perfect and it would take some major time, money and know-how to knock out the remaining frequency issues via acoustic treatment. Enter ARC 2, to polish it all off. The theory is this gizmo will tell me where my room acoustics are now that the treatment is in place and correct the remaining issues for me.
So, how does it work? Essentially, you set up the accompanying omni-directional microphone and it picks up the sequential “chirps” that the ARC software spits out of your speakers and uses this to measure your room acoustics. After each set of “chirps” you move the microphone around the listening spot you are attempting to measure. Once all of those measurements are done, ARC then analyzes the data and gives you a measurement reading of your room acoustics. You’ll see this measurement reading once you open your DAW and instantiate the ARC plugin at the end of your mixing chain.
The process of using ARC 2 can seem a bit convoluted, but its actually very, very simple and quick to do. Here are a series of videos that do a better job of explaining the process and the product than I could ever do.
The idea is that ARC EQ’s your mix to eliminate the troubling frequencies that essentially hinder your listening space when mixing. So, if you have a huge bass buildup around 300Hz, it will EQ that out in an attempt to make a flat EQ response coming out of your monitors (ideal for mixing). That buildup at 300Hz is the bass bouncing around your room and back to your ears, not the actual mix. If you take that mix and listen through headphones you’ll not hear that bass buildup. So theoretically, by using ARC 2 you won’t be upping the levels of your higher frequencies in order to compete with the lower frequencies that aren’t really present in your mix in the first place. Thus, helping you achieve a better mix more efficiently.
At any rate, I did the measurements the other night and I must say that once I put this plugin on my mix there was a definite audible difference. In fact, I liked it because upon bypassing it I could hear all the bass buildup that it was removing. This can be seen in the photo below.
I don’t think my home studio is too far off from your average home studio in regards to the EQ measurement I received: plenty of low end. Ideally, one would want to just add the treatment needed to fix the issues and not mess with any fancy plugins in your DAW. In this ideal scenario, you would just use ARC 2 as a measurement tool only, not a correction tool. But, as I’ve stated earlier, this ideal scenario is beyond most home studio budgets and know-how, which makes the combo of room treatment and ARC 2 a great alternative. I’m pleased with the results so far. ARC 2 does what it says and its actually well-priced. You can pick one up here.