Computer with TASCAM US-122L interface running Steinberg Cubase SX3; Behringer XENYX 1002 analog mixer; Apex 210 ribbon mic; Hagstrom "Swede" guitar (circa 1976), Fender Jazz bass guitar, Roland Juno synth, Zoom MRT-3b drum machine.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: Alan's submission is a cool little rock/electro number with a Cars-Devo feel. Our overall impression of the recording is that it lacks warmth and air. Alan tells us that all of his sound sources, with the exception of his vocal, were tracked straight to digital. Whether that means that he bypassed his Behringer mixer on the way in is anyone's guess, but we would loved to have heard some eq and reverb applied to the drums and the piano track.
We're also a bit perplexed by the vocal sound here. Ribbon mics, by design, are typically lacking in extreme high end due to their frequency response. Unfortunately here, Alan's lead vocal has a thin, spitty quality that wears after awhile. Strange.
Suggestions: Okay, folks, it's been a while since Marty went on one of his "what about the monitors" rants, but the time has come (again). Come on, people, get with the program! Along with room treatment, your monitor may be the single most important piece of gear in your studio. Period! All the pricey mics, preamps, signal processors, converters, and plug-ins in the world don't mean a thing if you can't hear properly. Computer advances aside, we still make and hear music with our ears, not our eyes, and all that stuff is pretty to look at but won't sound worth much at all if it's not coming through a monitoring system you know in a room you can trust.
Since Alan ( and many, many, many others of you loyal followers) failed to list any speakers or other listening device in his gear list, we don't know if he even heard the issues that we are presenting. Let's put it this way: if you need a reason to think of monitors as "sexy", how about this... the pros use them and so should you! Can I get an amen, brothers and sisters?!
Well then, I feel better... how 'bout you? Getting back to what we can hear on Alan's track, we suggest that he find an appropriate reverb to apply to his snare drum and that he also experiment with his eq to achieve a fuller sound from his kick. As for the ribbon mic, they need a lot of gain and a lot of clean headroom in order to function at their best. We suggest that Alan check his specs to determine whether his signal chain is up to the task, and to consider renting or buying a good clean high-gain pre that's ribbon-friendly. After he sets himself up with a proper monitoring system, that is!
Summary: Vive la Monitor!
Contact: Alan Kreko, firstname.lastname@example.org.