Studio Tips 2

Sound Equipment

Studio tips 2

Covering the following subjects
Compressors /Limiters
Studio Monitors (Speakers)
Recording in the Studio
Production techniques (Mix down) 
(to follow) 
Recording live performances
Recording Backups
Handling Clients

Anyone building their own studio could benefit from the following Pages and Headings:-

 As a former Engineer and Producer, I can first offer this advice to Bands or Artistes when it comes to Recording, let the Engineer get on with it!, when it comes to input signals, basic set up of tone, noise, compression and levels most Engineers know how to get the best performance out of their equipment. Before even starting a recording session, share your outline plan and idea with the Engineer, how many songs are you wanting to record? How many tracks do you want to record on? He or she should suggest where to set up and which Track or Channel to use to enable good recordings with the ability to make overdub corrections (or Drop ins) should the need arise.

Mixing In these modern times, one may be able to record endless amounts of audio tracks on computers, however there is usually a limit on the amount of Channels available for mixdown on the biggest of Mixing Desks. Again your Engineer would usually start by getting basic levels of sounds in the mix and maybe suggesting what effect would enhance various tracks.
 Bringing back Effect and Reverbs through EQ channels instead of Aux returns (which usually have only basic tone controls) and blending the tone with the original source can also further enhance effects, this tends to use up more channels on the Desk however careful planning should enable you to do this Reverbs
I have found that Reverbs are one of the most important effects when mixing, you may think many songs or pieces of music dont use reverb however it is usually used in a such a subtle way that it compliments an instrument or voice without it actually being noticed in the mix. That is to say you cannot here any reverb effect after say a single note on a piano has been played, but the reverb kind of places the sound or instrument in an environment or room that will make it stand out or blend in the mix which ever is required.

 Most people think of reverb as sound slowly decaying away like when in a church or even a bathroom (why do people sound better singing in the bathroom?), the reverbs I suggest you try for instruments and Drums, use very short decay times from points of a second up to several seconds, try also altering what is known as pre delay or initial reflection for even more dramatic effects (especially on Snare Drums and Vocals). Some Studio's may pay hundred's of pounds for one really good vocal reverb units, (TIP:-Recorded stereo reverb effect to a pair of tracks to free up a top quality reverb unit for another voice or instrument in the Mixdown, you can never have to many reverb units in a Studio!) A personal favourite of mine for Vocals and quite cheap was the Lexicon LXP -1 which you can still pick up on places like EBAY or second hand music shops.

 Gates are usually used for Instruments like drums or guitars, they can be used for almost anything and in different ways. It is a device for allowing signal (Guitar,drums etc.) to be shut off when it is not being played or hit, to cut out the background noise. This is done by setting a threshold to open the 
 gate when a signal reaches a certain level, hold the gate open for a period and then close again, an analogy would be, think of a real gate in a field to allow sheep though, you have to push hard on it to open (threshold and also Attack) then hold it open (hold) then how quickly it closes (Decay). Other uses for gates include triggering the gate to open with another source for example using a kick drum to open the gate acting on a Bass guitar giving the effect of hearing the two sounds strike at the same time making the Bass sound tighter.

One advantage of using Gates in a Studio is to create silence on Tracks when instruments or sounds are not being played. To enable recording sounds like Snare drums onto one single track, to enable effects (Like Reverb) to be added in the Mixdown.
The advantage when playing a less Mic's are open all the time so less chance of Feedback but primarily to enable drums like Snare's or Kick drums to have a specific reverb added to them, but not to any other drum sounds!


Dual compressor/gate/limiter



These devices kind of Squash, squeeze and/or boost sounds, probably one of the most common uses are to set the output signal of a compress or to not exceed a certain limit or level, the unit will squash down any increase in sound (this sometimes takes out the Dynamics or Transients (spikes) in the sound) and can make instruments sound at a constant level, this can sometimes be helpful when recording inexperienced musicians playing with erratic levels.

They do enhance sounds like vocals, guitar, bass etc. when used correctly but do not usually compliment instruments like drums and the like. If set correctly, a compressor can increase a poor signal source and act as an automatic gain boost bringing low level signals up to a constant level or vise versa, capping strong signals down to a ceiling level without taking the life (or Dynamics) out of the sound/performance to much.