Matthew C Good : Musician, Software Engineer, Hobbyist.

Posts Tagged Recording

PWM Pedal

I was scrounging around yesterday, looking for something I could build/make…  When I realized that with but one quick trip to Radio Shack, I could be the neato PWM guitar effect pedal that Collin Cunningham video demo’d for Make Magazine.  So I did:

PWM pedal (foreground) with a few homebuilt friends

PWM pedal (foreground) with a few homebuilt friends

Here’s the guts:

PWM Guts

PWM Guts

It’s a really cool pedal.  Way different animal than other guitar effects.  It makes sounds that most closely resemble a synthesizer.  Hope to use it for some fake-synth parts on some of my tunes in the future.  It’s kinda “glitchy” though, which I think is by design.  But every now and then the pedal does something weird, and I can’t tell if there’s something wrong with the it, or if that’s just the way the weird pedal sounds.  For instance, it doesn’t always pick up every note, and I don’t know if that’s just how it works (it *is* glitchy) or if I’ve got something loose in there.  I’ve also got some rhythmic clicking going on when the pedal is engaged but I’m not playing.  I don’t think this is umm… desired behavior, but I checked my wiring and I think it looks good.  It’s not awful, and since I mostly do recording, I can edit it out fairly easily, but it would be much more nice if it just didn’t happen in the first place.  If I figure it out, I’ll update the post.

Trotsky -> Shostakovich

My "Shostakovich Overdrive" pedal, built into an electrical junction box.

My newest completed pedal, based on Beavis Audio Research’s Trotsky Drive.  Real simple circuit.  I didn’t even have the special Russian transistor Beavis used, but it still sounds cool.  But I kept with the Soviet theme, and named it after one of my favorite composers, Dmitri Shostakovich.  Though, if good ol’ Shosty were really distilled into pedal form, it would scream one or two whole hecks of a lot more than this one does.

Oh yeah, you’re not seeing things.  That is an electrical junction box you see there.

Fat Head II Ribbon Mic Clips

I got myself some ribbon mics the other day.  Here’s a few clips of the first time I used them for any actual recording.

I played my junky old Sorento guitar through my Fender Prosonic on the dirty channel with a heavy dose of amp reverb, and stuck an sm57 about a foot away through one of the Octopre preamps, and used the Fat Head II on the other side of the room, pointing at the amp, and ran that through my Seventh Circle Audio A12 preamp.  So we have a close/room mix.  For the record, there is a slight EQ on the fathead tracks, mostly just a rumble (read: Heating Noise) reducer:

I forgot this was on them until I bounced out most of the tracks, so tuff luck- there’s EQ on them.

First up is a section where I’m playing a crappy guitar solo.  I have no chops.  I have clips of the 57 alone, FH alone, mixed, and then in the context of the song.  Remember the placement is VERY different on the mics.

sm57 Solo

Fat Head Solo Guitar

57 + FH Solo Guitar

In Context 57 + FH Guitar Solo

Then I’ve got the same thing for a crunchy section.

SM57 Crunch Guitar

FHII Crunch Guitar

57 + FH Crunch

In Context 57 + FH Crunch Guitar

I really like the mic.  I’m gonna try to build some portable cheap acoustic panels out of rigid fiberglass insulation to improve the room sound somewhat…  I am also planning on swapping out the stock transformers for some luhndals.  They sell them this way on their website, but I can order them and do the mod myself for less money.  And I’m going to mess around with my Little Labs IBP plugin for my UA card to see if that makes the mics play any nicer together, but even as is- with minimal fuss, I think the combination of 57 + ribbon adds a nice beefiness to the texture.

I also cut some demo vocals with the thing, and they sound pretty neat too.  If I determine the clips are suitable (read: minimally embarrassing), I’ll have some clips of that as well.

My First Piece of Behringer Gear.

I just got two Behringer BCF2000 Control Surfaces (because they were ridiculously cheap) and they are pretty nice so far. Check em out, ready to mix:

Behringer BCF2000s in the studio

Behringer BCF2000s in the studio

I scored these two as scratch and dent deals on MusiciansFriend.com for $161 each (including shipping, no tax).  I was worried that they wouldn’t play nicely with ProTools, but it turns out that they do a great job working with the software.  Expect a forthcoming full review, but for now, I’ll just say that I really, REALLY like faders.

Also, I was not able to find anywhere on the internet that could confirm if you could use multiple units at the same time with Pro Tools.  Well, I’m here to tell you that you can.  I probably could have hooked up a THIRD one of these if I wanted to.  You just set up each one in the Setup->Peripherals menu in Pro Tools (use the baby HUI emulation) and they work like a charm.  Shifting through the banks works as expected and everything.  Spiffy.  This should make my mixes better.

On Editing Drum Flams

I was editing some drum parts yesterday that my friend Seth Rouch played (for an as-yet metaphysical, theoretical upcoming “album” of mine), and I came upon an interesting problem that I thought I would share with teh interwebs.
Drum flams: where’s the beat? You all may call me crazy, but IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE, I swear.
For those of you that may not know what a drum flam is, you probably won’t be interested in the rest of this post, actually, but I’ll explain it anyway (and try to keep things interesting). Normally, a drummer only hits a drum once with one stick. (Okay, sometimes, the stick will bounce on the head, and sometimes this is intentional, sometimes it’s sloppy. But that’s not the point.) A flam occurs when the drummer hits the head of the drum with both sticks at nearly the same time, but not quite. It’s a sort of accent. You’ll hear it in the clips below, so don’t worry.
So there’s two hits in a flam. Which of the two falls directly on the beat? And which is a little before or after? (Or do you split the difference? I can’t imagine this would sound good, so I didn’t test it, but I suppose it’s a possibility…) Well my friends, here’s a quick rundown of how I tried to edit Seth’s tom & snare flams in my song.
I need to first give you the setup for these sessions. We had VERY little time. I moved all of my recording gear (computer, rack, mics, and all) into his house while his roommate was out of town for a couple days. We ended up tracking like 5 songs or something in several hours. He also hadn’t heard the songs much before hand. So, let’s just say that any slight timing issues are not Seth’s fault. Here’s Seth’s playing in this section, without any editing. Flams are on the toms and also some on the snare.
[Original]
(All mp3s in this post are encoded at 160kbps.)
The second hit of each flam is louder. I figured this would mean that the first is like a “pickup” to the second and that the 2nd should fall directly on the beat, with the first hit just a teeny-tiny bit before. After several people seemed to agree with this when asked on Twitter and Facebook, I gave it a go. So I edited it all together that way, and came up with this:
[2nd hit on beat]
As I was listening back, I found that I was subconsciously holding my breath. Not a good sign. It sounds to me like the Tom hits are early, kindof like the drums are rushing. This is not good. Not at all. So I said what the heck and tried it so that the first hit of each flam fell directly on the beat, and the 2nd was ever so slightly late:
[1st hit on beat]
Ah-hah! Much better! There may still be some issues with it, but I was breathing normally, things grooved better, and I was much happier. Mmmkay… bit did the snare hits sound a little late now? I made another edit in which the 1st hit of the toms was on the beat, but the 2nd hit of the snares was on the beat. Here’s that one:
[1st hit toms, 2nd hit drums]
Eh… hard to tell. I don’t think I like it. I think I’m getting a little overzealous there. So What I think I will do is make minor edits to the “1st hit” drums. Just to make sure the feel is spot-on.
So… That’s what I came up with. What do you think? Is there a rule here? Is there really a “right” way of doing it, or is it dependent on the music? Is it part of a drummer’s style or groove? Do you like it the other way better? Am I some kind of recording mad scientist, bent on the destruction of all worlds through obsessively-edited drum tracks? Well, yes, but that is beside the point. I would really love to hear your comments, if only to hear that somebody else is just as crazy/obsessed as I am.