Macbook Pro with Digi 002 Rack running Pro Tools 7.4 and Propellerhead Reason (“underneath beat”), Line 6 Gearbox and Waves plug-ins. Focusrite ISA-One preamp, Universal Audio M610 preamp, PreSonus DigiMax. BLUE microphones: Kiwi, Blueberry, Woodpecker for vocals and overheads on drums, Shure SM57 on snare and toms, Shure Beta 52A and Yamaha Subkick on kick drum. Gibson acoustic guitar, Fender Jazz Bass.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: There are certain times when we get reminded that Recording is truly a magazine devoted to the recording musician. Travis has submitted a performance that is full of passion and energy, from the “Black Mountainside” Jimmy Page-style acoustic guitar, to the highly emotive vocals throughout.
Over the years we have been privileged to follow not only the march of technology in our industry, but also the continued raising of the bar in terms of both the performing and recording skill sets of our readers. Trust us when we tell you that you folks are making huge strides out there.
That said, we have yet to come across an instance where any of you have begun your journey as a recordist first, musician second. Not saying it hasn’t happened, but if it has, we are unaware of it. So why is this important? Well, it’s simply that the musician side of the equation has in most cases had a fairly large head start in terms of attention and time spent in practice. When we stop to realize that, to a large extent, the recording process resembles the playing of an instrument, time spent in practice becomes a critical factor. With this in mind, then, let’s see how Travis did with his submission.
The track certainly starts out on a good note. The acoustic guitars are nicely panned and have a slightly edgy “rock” feel to them. Unfortunately this same expansive feel doesn’t apply when the rest of the sound sources enter. Instead we are met with a fairly clogged center, and coupled with the fact that Travis’ voice, the guitars, the snare and cymbals all exist in rather sympathetic frequency ranges, we begin to experience some unflattering high-mid frequency buildup. We also found that the snare volume was overwhelming at times, and the short reverb applied to it felt somewhat out of character with the rock ballad vibe.
Suggestions: Panning and frequencies are but two of a whole host of ways that a recordist can “play” a mix. Understanding their impact is as important as understanding chord changes and amp settings, and of course the more you practice, the better you get. In the case of “Hotel Song #1” we suggest that Travis try adopting our recordist/musician theory and begin to examine the relationship between all of the elements that comprise his mix.
Travis is obviously well past the novice level with his recording skills and his musicianship. Just as a guitarist has the freedom to choose string gauges, pickups, speakers, etc., a recordist has similar options regarding panning, eq, reverb, and other “ingredients”. We suggest he experiment and practice his “chops” starting with opening up the center of his mix, and really take notice of the symbiotic relationship between all the various elements. Each one affects the other in ways that may surprise you.
Summary: Play away!
Contact: Travis T. Warren, firstname.lastname@example.org