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!
I have had the pleasure of recording some metal guitar work for a local band this past holiday weekend. It’s always a thrill to record good musicians. This was to be used as a guide for the rest of the band to learn the songs. In turn, the working relationship seemed to go quite well and we will be adding bass and drums as a result of how well the session went. I was impressed by this guy’s playing and look forward to hearing the whole band. They are in their late teens/early twenties and they play old-school metal. How cool is that?
As a side note, their rythmn guitarist was present as well and she can play piano. So, my newly purchased organ/leslie got tickled by someone who has skill. That was a nice treat. In hindsight, I should have recorded it. Oh well, perhaps I’ll have her back over for that specific purpose.
So, as I have stated/mentioned in prior posts, I have long had a “home studio” in a spare bedroom in the house. I used the room as is, with just my furniture “cleverly” situated in odd areas. As an example of my odd layout, I decided to put my desk in a corner of the room. Why? Don’t ask me. I guess I was trying my hand at eccentric interior design? Not sure. Plus, I had no acoustic treatment, which didn’t affect the layout, but it did affect the “sound” of the room. As a graphic design / web design office it was just fine. As a music studio? Not so much. Needless to say, over the course of me recording, mixing and mastering audio, I began to realize this room was dishing out all sorts of problems. For instance:
Recording – Too much ambient room noise, and not the good kind. When recording voice overs, echo-flutter was all too apparent. It became a nasty problem once I was in the processing phase, because once I added any compression that echo-flutter was very, up front and center. It made me work harder in the editing phase, attempting to knock out the noise wherever there was a pause in the vocal. I still do this when editing, but I had to get real surgical when dealing with all the echo-flutter. Talk about time consuming, not to mention the echo was still somewhat present during the voice over. Maybe no one else heard it, but I did and I’m the only person that matters… besides my wife. 😉
Also, when attempting to record, my room had… well, no room, thanks to my eccentric interior design (I wish I would have taken “before” pics. I always forget to do that). The layout was horrendous which led to me pulling cords outta my guitars or knocking over my preamps. I looked like one of the Marx brothers when trying to record.
Mixing/Mastering – This is where the acoustic treatment was badly needed…only I didn’t know it for quite a while. Being that I’m married and my studio is in a house that my wife lives in, I typically use my monitors, KRK Rokit 5s, for referencing only. However, the acoustics in my room made referencing a bit more daunting. The mix from my monitors sounded totally different from what my headphones were telling me. This would lead me go back to the mix and try and fix what the room said needed fixing, only to go back to the headphones and find out that the changes I just made, based on my monitors, sounded off. Once I studied up on acoustic treatment the light bulb went off and I began to understand that my room was playing a dirty trick on my ears.
So, I sat down, did some research and discovered that I needed to change the layout and add some acoustic treatment. Upon realizing how much work was going to be involved I decided to also change the color of the room. You see, I made my home studio in a kiddie bedroom. It had a baseball-themed light fixture and powder blue paint. Perfect for a little boy. But, it has been annoying me since I took the room over as my office/studio. Now was my chance.
Let the work begin…
Whew! It was a lot of work, but I love the results. Part 2 will cover the addition of acoustic treatment to the room. Let me know what you think so far.
So, it’s been a while since I’ve checked-in (a little over a month to be exact). But, that does not mean I’ve been sitting idly. Nope. In fact, I’ve been quite busy with a little thing called “the holidays”, not to mention I’ve been steadily revamping, rearranging, re-everything my home studio. Yes, I’ve realized the importance of creating a better atmosphere and overall working environment to the home studio. So, I rearranged the furniture to make better use of space and I repainted the walls to make it more…studio-ish. You’ll see what I’m talking about once the pics are up.
On top of all of that I also installed some acoustic treatment which, not only I, but my wife also noticed how much extra room ambiance this stuff cuts out. It’s truly incredible. I can’t wait to start recording/mixing/mastering in the place now and really putting it to test.
The best part? I documented the whole thing. So, there will be a series coming very shortly (as soon as I compile everything) showing how I did what I did, why I did what I did and what the results appear to be. Mostly this series is a result of me looking for answers and not finding them. 🙁 So, I was left to my own devices to figure out a few things here and there all on my own. But, being a bit of a handy guy, it wasn’t much of an issue. Let’s just say Home Depot and I are on real good terms.
I’ll be starting the series next week, so I hope you’ll come by and check it out. In the meantime, I wanted to plug a blog I regularly go to for mixing advice who is at the moment doing a series of their own. It’s The Recording Revolution and the series is called 5 Minutes to a Better Mix. This is actually the second time Graham Cochran (the owner of the site) has done this sort of thing. I learned a ton from it and anyone out there looking to improve their workflow or general knowledge of mixing will benefit as well, I’m sure.
So, check it out and mention California Dingo sent you while you’re at it. Meanwhile in Gotham City, I’ll be compiling my own adventures on improving my studio environment.
I’ve recently been doing a lot of audio mastering lately. This has opened my eyes to a little something I’ve heard about from other mixers and mastering engineers….acoustic treatment. What is this you say? Well, I’m not entirely an expert, but in a nut shell, acoustic treatment is treatment you do to your room (adding absorbers and diffusers on the walls) to keep audio frequencies from bouncing back and forth and altering your ability to hear correctly what is happening in the mix. For a more in-depth explanation go here.
All’s I know is that I’ve recently been realizing how much trouble I’ve been having trying to “hear” my processing on a song I’m mastering. I get it sounding great only to take it out to the truck or play it on my CD player in the room and…..I’m hearing all sorts of strange things that weren’t there previously. So, I’ve heard others talk of this mythical thing called “Acoustic Treatment”, saw a little cash lying under the pillow (thanks tooth fairy) and took the plunge.
I’ve yet to use them, you see I’m actually opening the box tonight (10/25). But, it appears that these things should really do the trick (alongside my new headphones & monitors). I’ll get back to you with pictures and let you know how it’s going. It may take me several weeks to get this stuff up…not because it’s hard, but because I’m lazy. True story.
At any rate, upon researching these suckers I’ve also been reading A LOT about digitally altering your room. Yep. Using a “plugin” to “correct” the frequency problems in your room. You can read about that in more depth here.
I happen to have mastering software that let’s you utilize this feature. I’m not interested in using it, but out of curiosity I thought I’d see what a Pro has to say about using digital correction over acoustical treatment.
Bobby Owsinski is pretty darn renown for producing/engineering and nowadays for all the books he puts out on said topics. I follow his blog religiously and have read many of his books. I emailed him and here is what he said:
None of these (referring to several digital room correction products I mentioned) are the cure to a bad room. The better the room sounds, the better they work. I think ARC (IK Mutlimedia ARC System)is a more comprehensive than the ones built into the speakers, but I think you’re still better off to treat your room first. It costs less to treat your room than to try to electronically fix it, and it’ll sound more natural as well.
Personally, I’d rather just determine the deficiencies in the room then learn how to live with them.
So, there ya have it. I feel much better about my purchase now. Looking forward to opening the box and will be posting pics soon. Do you use acoustic treatment? Tell me about it below.