Posted on Leave a comment

Why it’s so important to finish your music and share it with the world

Why it’s so important to finish your music and share it with the world
Why it’s so important to finish your music and share it with the world

Some people join a gym but never end up going
Some people start a book but only read the first chapter
Some people buy a guitar but never learn how to play a single chord
Some people create an artist Instagram account but never release any music

Let’s say you’re going on vacation to Spain so you want to learn how to speak Spanish, but after one lesson you decide it would be easier to just hire a translator. Sure, you solved the problem of not being able to speak the native language while on vacation, but you’re also succumbing to your tendency not to finish things.

Giving up on something you set out to do when it stops being fun or relevant saves time and frustration, but it also reinforces an extremely detrimental habit. I’ve never been good at finishing things. I don’t think I completed a single self-motivated project until I was well into my adult years. And at age 30, it’s still something that I struggle with.

I decided to change when I realized that not completing projects was taking a drastic toll on my self-esteem, confidence, and ultimately my happiness. That may sound dramatic but it’s true. It was almost like I was living a lie and my brain knew it.

I knew I could actually do the things I wanted to but I still didn’t have much of anything to show for it. Time and time again I would set out to do something and be unable to mark it complete and share it with the world. At the time it was hard to correlate my unhappiness and feelings of self-worth to my ability to complete projects, but looking back now it’s blatantly obvious.

I realized that finalizing and sharing my music was the part that scared me the most. I was afraid. I was afraid of marking something complete because then I would have to answer to my own work. I could and would be held accountable for the result, which my perfectionism was never going to be happy with. If I was going to wait until I was 100% happy with something, I was going to be waiting a very long time. But sharing what we create with others is the whole reason the majority of us make things. We create to inspire, invoke emotion, entertain and teach and that doesn’t work without an audience.

My whole life I was coming up with excuses as to why I didn’t finish things and since these were mostly personal endeavors there were no immediate consequences. The consequence eventually caught up and arrived in the form of my inner turmoil. My soul couldn’t stand being a phony anymore. My brain subconsciously was trying to protect my ego at the cost of my happiness. If I don’t finish something then it can never be judged, and if it can never be judged, then I’ll never have to answer to the true quality of my work. If people can’t judge my work than I can continue pretending I’m better than I really am. 

The truth is talent has nothing to do with any of it. I was being held back by an extremely detrimental habit. It took a deliberate change in my mindset and a newfound dedication to self-discipline to snap out of it and begin to realize my potential.

Unfortunately, there’s no quick easy way to break a bad habit. It’s a long, drawn-out, and uncomfortable process that requires taking a lot of small steps. I was going to have to do the one thing that I was most afraid of, declare my projects complete and send them out into the world. The main thing I needed to work on was changing my mindset. I needed to stop judging the quality. My goal needed to change from completing a great song to completing a song.

One trick I’ve started to adopt that’s extremely helpful is giving myself smaller checkpoints to reach. According to PsychologyToday.com “It’s possible to manipulate your dopamine levels by setting small goals and then accomplishing them” Keeping a list of small things that you need to do that will lead you towards completing whatever you’re working on will make you feel good when you go to cross them off. This keeps me motivated with daily tasks.

For instance, if you want to be an artist but can’t finish a song. Start small, give yourself a task of completing a 10-30 second piece of music with no vocals. Make a list of the instruments you want to include, then give yourself a reasonable time limit. When the time limit is up, stop. Mark it complete and share it with the internet or even just a friend. Pretend that you’re being commissioned by a client and you have a deadline that can’t be missed. In the real world, deadlines are a very real thing and it’s extremely rare you’ll ever have an unlimited amount of time to work on something. So why give yourself that kind of freedom when working on your own projects? This was my problem. I was giving myself an unlimited amount of time to work on things so I was using it! A lot of us work better with restrictions. Leaving tasks open-ended and giving ourselves too many choices can lead to being less productive. If you’re struggling to finish your songs try giving yourself fewer options. Leaving projects open-ended makes things feel daunting and difficult to complete.

Start treating projects like they are jobs. Be a professional. Professionals don’t need motivation or inspiration. They show up to work and do their job. Start treating your projects, whatever that is, whether it’s writing a book, starting a youtube channel or learning a language, like you’re a professional and it’s your job. You’re not always going to be motivated to work on something.

Whenever you first start something you enjoy it’s fun and exciting but that feeling doesn’t last, it will fade away and you’ll realize there’s hard work to be done. Projects aren’t always going to seem fun, exciting or even relevant. You might not get an immediate reward, it might be difficult, annoying, or strenuous but there’s a reason you started them.

Embrace failure. Focus on completing your art rather than judging the quality.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned”

– Leonardo da Vinci

Related articles:
Cultivating new habits and why you shouldn’t wait for motivation
The most embarrassing audio mistake I’ve ever made
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon

Posted on Leave a comment

What the f*ck is oversampling?

What the f*ck is oversampling?
Cytomic The Glue Oversampling
Oversampling options for Cytmoic’s The Glue.

Plugins have been drastically increasing in quality over the last 10 years. We are at the point now where we have some very innovative developers creating some truly remarkable sounding plugins. Not just digital emulations of classic analog gear but also new types of processors that wouldn’t be possible in the real physical world.

Unlike hardware, plugins require the use of complex algorithms and the sound of the plugin is dependent on the coding of the developer. The better coders will be able to achieve better-sounding plugins much like a better electrical engineer can design a better circuit for a compressor. Trained ears matched with talented developers allow software companies to turn out some very high-quality plugins.

So, what is oversampling or upsampling?

Oversampling is when a plugin converts the audio to a higher sample rate for processing. Processing at the higher sample rate usually removes some of the negative artifacts associated with processing digital audio; mainly aliasing. Aliasing happens when information outside of the frequency response range of the digital converters and sample rate you’re using are interpreted by the converter to be different frequencies.

oeksound Soothe Oversampling
oeksound’s Soothe, a dynamic resonance suppressor for mid and high frequencies.

Oversampling mitigates issues including aliasing and will usually yield smoother more pleasant-sounding results at the cost of using more CPU power. But all oversampling algorithms aren’t made equal and some are better than others. You may even find that you prefer the sound of a plugin with the oversampling turned off. It’s not necessarily guaranteed that oversampling will make the audio sound “better.” If you see a plugin or DAW that offers oversampling and you have the CPU power to spare, try it out and see if you prefer the way it sounds. If you are short on CPU power you’ll probably want to keep oversampling off, unless you decide to freeze the tracks.

Related articles:
What the f*ck is 32 bit floating?
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions
What the f*ck is a power conditioner?
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon

Posted on Leave a comment

The top 9 most popular music producer memes of 2019

Top 9 Memes of 2019

It’s the end of the year and that means end of the year lists! Here are the top 9 most popular music producer memes of 2019 according to the Audio Hertz Instagram account.

Number 9

Top 9 Most Popular Music Producer Memes Of 2019 - Number 9


Number 8


Number 7

Top 9 Producer Memes Of 2019 - Number 7


Number 6


Number 5

Top 9 Most Popular Music Producer Memes Of 2019 - Number 5


Number 4

Top 9 Most Popular Music Producer Memes Of 2019 - Number 4


Number 3

Top 9 Most Popular Music Producer Memes Of 2019 - Number 3


Number 2

Top 9 Most Popular Music Producer Memes Of 2019 - Number 2


Number 1

Top 9 Most Popular Music Producer Memes Of 2019 - Number 1


Related articles:
What the f*ck is 32 bit floating?
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon

Posted on Leave a comment

The best gifts to get for music producers in 2019

The best gifts to get for music producers in 2019

Disclosure: Audio Hertz is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


NEW! The best gifts to get for music producers in 2020

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us… or the most annoying time of the year, depending on your holiday spirit. Regardless of how you feel about the holidays, most of us still need to succumb to the gift-giving traditions passed down by our great ancestors. I mean, what better way is there to show someone that you love them than spending money on them?

Finding gifts for your loved ones can be a horribly daunting task. The truth is the best gifts aren’t the most expensive. It’s the thought that counts! The perfect gift is something that the recipient needs and can use, with bonus points added if they normally wouldn’t buy it for themselves. The purpose of giving a gift is to show the person that we care about them.

If one of your loved ones is an audio engineer or music producer, the good news is that I’ve put together this comprehensive guide that will take all of the thinking out of it. These are all gifts that every single recording musician would be glad to receive this holiday season! You can’t miss!

I separated this list into different categories based on how they would improve the recipient’s life, and I tried to keep the cost below $100 with some exceptions.

Here is my list of the best gifts to get for music producers in 2019.

Improve their room

Hipster lamps

These cool Edison bulb lamps aren’t just for hip coffee shops. Spice up any studio with a few of these and help give the room a more rustic industrial look that’s sure to impress anyone from Brooklyn.

Color changing LED light strips

These LED lights have become a staple in studios around the world because they are an extremely cheap and easy way to add interesting accent lighting to any room. These come as adhesive strips, making it easy to run along the studio’s edges and corners. They also include a remote, so you have the ability to change colors based on your mood.

Color changing light ball

It’s an 8 inch LED ball. Buy a few and spread them around your room for those futuristic vibes.

Decorative string lights

Wood trim panels for their favorite pieces of gear

What’s sexier than an analog synthesizer with wood trim panels? Nothing. The answer is nothing.

Aromatherapy essential oils diffuser

Spending long amounts of time locked in a studio can get the air smelling a little funky. With an essential oil diffuser, they can start recording with the sweet scent of peppermint and eucalyptus wafting in the air.

Improve their health

Air Purifier

Like I said, a recording studio can get funky! Make sure the air their breathing is so fresh and so clean.

Better chair

MARKUS from Ikea

The desk chair is the heart of the studio. We spend the majority of our time sitting on it! I see many engineers posting pictures using expensive pieces of outboard gear while they sit on a hand me down desk chair that’s falling apart. The MARKUS from Ikea isn’t cheap, but with a 10-year warranty, it should last those long nights and obese clients.

Earplugs

Protect their ears with a pair of these Eargasm earplugs for musicians.

Improve their workflow

Backblaze subscription

$5 a month for unlimited cloud storage! That’s right! $5 for one computer and as many files as they can throw at it. The desktop application automatically backs up their drives and stores them in the cloud. They’ll never lose another session.

Sonarworks Reference 4

I can’t say enough good things about Sonarworks Reference 4. It’s an absolute game-changer, and I honestly wouldn’t be able to work without it. For $300, you can make a drastic improvement to the monitoring situation of any studio. This gift will make you a hero to any music producer.

Shortcut keyboard covers for their DAW of choice

Shortcuts are a pain in the ass to learn, but these keyboard covers from KBCovers.com make it a lot easier. They have covers for every DAW and MacBook keyboard style; just make sure you buy the correct one.

Improve their productions

Teenage Engineering PO-33 KO

This little calculator looking device is really a super-powerful sampler that includes a built-in microphone with sound quality that’s good enough to use in your productions. These are really fun to play with but are also a legitimate musical instrument to create with.

Stylophone

Invented in 1967, this stylus-based analog synth is a fun time for the whole family! Okay… Maybe not for the whole family, but they definitely are a fun, cheap toy that can actually be used as a real instrument.

Korg Volca FM

Considered to be the portable version of the famous Yamaha DX7, you can really get some tasty synth sounds with this thing. The Volca series has a bunch of exciting synthesizers, but for me, the FM is the standout and something that every studio could benefit from having around.

Subscription to Splice

This subscription service gives you monthly credits that allow you to download samples. The desktop application makes it easy to search for new samples to download and drag and drop on to your sessions.

Take them to school

Subscription to Mix With The Masters

Mix With The Masters is such an incredibly valuable resource for engineers and producers of all skill levels. For the first time, we get to sit in with the industry leaders and see how they think and the techniques they use to create the songs we know and love.

The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski

This is the only book on mixing anyone needs and the only one I would recommend gifting. Bobby Owinski nails it.

For more gift ideas check out 20 unique things for your recording studio on Etsy.

RELATED ARTICLES:
THE BEST GIFTS TO GET FOR MUSIC PRODUCERS IN 2020
20 QUICK AND EASY TIPS THAT WILL IMPROVE YOUR PRODUCTIONS
5 MIXING MISTAKES THAT I USED TO MAKE… AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
THINGS I WISH I LEARNED SOONER ABOUT AUDIO ENGINEERING

Posted on Leave a comment

Everything you need to know about reverb

Digital Reverb Unit

Disclosure: Audio Hertz is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Audio engineers and music producers are often after a very direct sound. This is the reason microphones are typically placed very close to the source. This captures the source with a lot of detail but also takes out most of the natural ambiance of the room. Most producers usually prefer to use emulated spaces that are exaggerated. The ability to use multiple types of reverb with different tonalities helps give the production depth, contrast, and keep things interesting. It also helps engineers deliberately place certain sounds in a mix. For instance, I may want to drench the pad synth to make it sit further back in the mix, so it doesn’t interfere with the lead synth line.

Panning gives us the ability to move sounds left and right and time-based effects give us the ability to move sounds forward and back.

What is reverb?

Reverberation, or more commonly referred to just as reverb, is the sound created when sound waves are being reflected and interacting with the world around us. The time it takes these reflections to dissipate or be absorbed into other objects is the decay time.

When a sound is made in a room, what we are hearing is not just the sound directly from the source but also the waves reflecting off all the surfaces in the room that are then bouncing back into our ears. For instance, if someone yells at you, you’re not just hearing the waves coming directly from the person’s mouth but also how it is interacting with the physical surfaces and walls of the room you’re in.

I have a very early memory of asking why it sounded better when I sang in the shower. The highly reflective tile in most bathrooms creates a natural reverb that helps with your pitch, making it more fun to sing into. I always recommend when recording a vocalist to make sure they are monitoring their vocals with effects like reverb to create the best sound possible. If the artist sounds good in their headphones, it will yield a better performance than if they were monitoring only their dry vocals straight from the microphone.

The history of reverb

Artificial reverb or reverb that isn’t the natural ambiance of the room you’re recording in was first used on a musical production by Bill Putnum and Robert Fine in 1974. Both of these pioneering audio engineers separately came up with the idea to put a speaker in another room, record it with a microphone, and then mixed it back in with the original dry sound. Decay times were adjusted by changing the room acoustics or by moving the microphones. The problem is these require an entire room for just a single reverb, something we can do today with a free plugin.

Hammond started putting reverbs in their organs in 1940, and Fender began to put them in their amps in the late 1950s. Still, it wasn’t until 1957, when EMT released the 140 plate reverb, that studios were finally able to ditch the chambers that took up an entire room for something a little more practical. The 140 plate was the first artificial reverb that studios adopted because it had an incredible sound that could measure up to the finely tuned chambers that were found in the elite studios of the time. The 140 plate was an enormous success, and its sound is so coveted that developers continue to try and replicate the gorgeous sound. In 1976, the EMT 250 was released, the first-ever digital reverb, which opened the doors to seemingly limitless possibilities.

There are three ways an artificial reverb is commonly created. The first type of reverb available to recording studios required a physical or real element, such as an entire room or a humongous steel plate.

The next two types, algorithmic and convolution, are digitally based. With greater computer processing power came the ability to develop convolution reverbs, which use impulse response or IR samples recorded in real physical space by sending a burst of white noise into the room and recording the decay. This gives engineers the ability to capture and reproduce the sound of any room or their favorite plate or spring reverb. These impulse responses are designed to mimic the decay that was initially recorded, which makes them useful when trying to replicate a specific type of ambiance. This makes them extremely useful in post-production when you need to rerecord audio that was recorded somewhere else. An impulse response taken in the original location would allow the mix engineer to add in the same sound of the room when rerecording.

The second way digital reverb is created is through the use of algorithms. The EMT 250 is the first digital reverb ever made and was algorithmic based. I had the honor of talking with Bill Blesser, the original designer. You can view the entire article here. Algorithmic reverbs are created using a mathematical formula that is calculated and rendered by the processor in the hardware or your computer if its a plugin and then spit back out your speakers.

EMT 250 Digital Reverb

These are the 6 most important types of reverb you’ll need to know about.

Room reverb

You know what a room is right?

Room reverbs to create the response of a… you guessed it… a room. Usually, a small room as these reverbs most commonly have a short decay time, typically under 1 second. This reverb can give the sound life and put it in a space that’s familiar to our ears. Because of this familiarity, it adds a pleasing effect to our ears and aids in getting sounds to fit together in a mix. I commonly find myself using room reverbs on drums, especially snares, percussion, and other acoustic instruments that are a bit too dry but don’t need a longer reverb with an audible decay. Because the decay time is so short, the reverb is usually felt rather than heard when putting it in a mix.

Plate reverb

Plate reverb, like the aforementioned legendary EMT 140, consists of an 8 x 4 x 1-foot wood box with a sheet of steel hanging inside. A transducer then sends the signal into the sheet of metal, which causes it to vibrate; the result is then picked up via another transducer and mixed back into the dry signal. The length of the decay is adjusted via a damping mechanism, which can also be controlled via a remote. When I interned at Trout Recording in Brooklyn, New York, owner Bryce Goggin had just purchased a 140 plate, but it didn’t have a remote. I fondly remember being assigned to go down to the basement to adjust the decay time whenever necessary.

Plate reverbs have a very pleasing sound and work well on pretty much everything. Sound waves travel faster in the metal plate than they do in the air, which gives them a higher density, smoother tail, and ultimately a very desirable sound that engineers and producers all over the world have grown to know and love.

Radio City Music Hall in New York City
The famous Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Hall reverb

This type of reverb simulates a finely tuned concert hall. Concert halls are auditoriums that are designed with acoustics being the main priority. These halls are meticulously tuned to remove any negative artifacts that can be detrimental to the sound, such as rings, standing waves, and uneven tonal response. These are a classic artificial reverb that became popular with the rise of digital time-based effect units. Since these rooms are designed for optimal acoustics, it’s no surprise that they are often emulated. Halls can be used on just about anything with successful results. One of the most popular hall reverbs is the Lexicon 480L which can be found at many of the most esteemed studios around the world.

Chamber

Chamber reverb is usually a small to a medium-sized room made up of different types of reflective surfaces strategically placed at different angles. A send and return are set up using speakers and microphones. Chambers offer a thick, dense and lush reverb without being overpowering. These are most commonly found on vocals and acoustic instruments but are great for any source that needs some character.

Echo chamber reverb

Spring reverb

Like a plate reverb except instead of a sheet of metal, these use an actual spring. Spring reverbs most commonly have a short or medium decay time and is used on guitars and keyboards because they are small enough to fit into amplifiers. Don’t let that fool you; spring reverb can sound good on many different sources, including vocals, synths, piano, and of course, guitars. The sound can be described as metallic like a plate but more lively, just with less depth. 

The inside of a spring reverb tank-- Everything you need to know about reverb
The inside of a spring reverb tank.

They are most popular for the sproingy sound they make when you physically shake the reverb tank causing the springs to jostle around. Using a ton of spring reverb is a requirement when playing surf rock or producing dub music. In the late 1960s, AKG released the BX series of spring reverb units that became popular with recording studios.

Ambiances

These are extremely short reverbs with reflections happening between half a second and shorter. This type of reverb is mostly used to add tone since the decay time is so fast, they are more likely to be felt rather than heard. Adding an ambient reverb return and sending multiple sources to it can have a nice gluing effect.

If you got this far, you finally know enough about reverb, maybe too much. Now it’s time to get out there and start reverbing!!! Put a reverb there. Put one over there. Put some reverb everywhere!

Related articles:
Can you tell the difference between real and fake plate reverb?
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon

Posted on Leave a comment

9 things you should do to win over your clients

9 things you should do to win over your clients

Disclosure: Audio Hertz is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


One of the most common questions I hear young engineers and producers asking is “how do I get clients?” They should really be asking how do they keep the ones they already have. It’s way easier to keep a client than it is to gain a new one!

Win over the client, win more clients.

– Russel Crowe’s character in Gladiator I think

Make sure the client knows what to expect

It took me a while to learn that one of the more difficult parts of this job is managing the client’s expectations. This is especially important when you’re working with someone that has never been in a recording studio. Before every session, I like to have a short exchange with all of my clients either via email or phone to get an idea of what they are trying to accomplish in the upcoming session. This allows me to effectively plan how I’d like to run the session. I can also answer any questions that the client may have.

Clients can be overwhelmed by the whole experience. Recording can be extremely intimidating for any artist. Easing their worries is only going to make things go smoother and make the session more enjoyable for everyone. A common misunderstanding I see clients making is underestimating how much time they will need. It’s important to make sure they are aware of how long things like setting up, breaks and exporting and transferring files can take. On large sessions, setting up may take a few hours. It’s crucial to make sure that everyone involved is aware of this and to make sure they are comfortable while they are waiting. This is where having a nice lounge area in your studio comes into play. Everyone will appreciate having access to a TV, video games, and other time-consuming entertainment to help keep them occupied. There is nothing worse than having five band members standing in the control room talking while you’re trying to dial in sounds.

Be prepared, have a plan

You know what they say… If you don’t plan, you plan to fail! Everything’s better when you have a plan.

Writing out a plan forces you to think of possible scenarios and what you might need to prepare for them. During my initial conversation with the client, I like to ask questions to get a better idea of what we will be recording and what they are trying to accomplish. How many people are going to be recording, what instruments, what type of music? What would they like to leave with? In most cases, I’ll already have everything I need ready to go but there will be those times when you don’t. Making sure you have all the tools you need for your session will save you a lot of stress.

I’ll also ask the client if they have any particular preferences on how things should be done. Are they recording completely live? Are they using a backing track? Do they need a specific guitar sound? What kind of kit does the drummer usually play?

Then I will map out the physical setup and where I’d like to place things in the room. I’ll also write out a rough itinerary with a schedule to help me manage time more effectively. I want to make sure the client walks out with exactly what they expected to, and hopefully even more.

Lastly, when things go wrong (and they will), try to remember that nothing ever goes exactly as planned. The ability to adapt to any situation is a skill that every great audio engineer must possess.

Have water, coffee, tea, snacks, and other necessities available

This one is pretty self-explanatory. One of the most important parts of a studios job is to make sure their clients are as comfortable as possible. This means making sure they are well hydrated and have something in their stomach. If you’re working a long session it’s surprisingly easy to forget to eat or drink. A good way to mitigate this is to always have some basic refreshments readily available; this way at least everyone isn’t completely starving or dehydrated. It also shows the client that you are putting in extra effort to make their experience better.

And, coffee. You always need coffee. You can’t record without copious amounts of coffee.

Manage time efficiently

It’s important to keep the session flowing smoothly. Clients are artists and they can be hard on themselves (and sometimes even delusional). There are times when someone you’re working with might want to spend hours doing something that’s not working and is only bringing everyone’s morale down. Fostering positive momentum is extremely important when creating; getting stuck on something for too long can have a detrimental effect on everyone’s mood.

You should’ve already made a plan and figured out how you’d like to manage your time. If you have 10 songs to record in one day and you’ve spent 4 hours on 1 song… That’s probably not good. Whoever is running the session needs to make sure they’re always aware of the clock and make sure things are getting completed in a relatively timely fashion. In the past, I had been way too passive and let the client dictate how their time would be spent. I’d find myself working on a guitar solo for 10 hours when I knew, in the end, it wasn’t going to make any difference. There are certain times when it might be right to work on something for that long or however long but usually, it’s best to just move on. You can always come back to it later.

Set the mood

I feel a lot of studios fail to emphasize how important the actual physical environment is to a recording session. Creating a good vibe in the workspace will not only make you and your clients feel better while working but it will invoke different emotions and feelings that wouldn’t be there in a sterile, harshly lit, plain white room. One of the first studios to realize this is the Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland Studios in New York City. John Storyk, the original designer, made sure the bright, colorful, relaxing environment catered to the vibe of the studio and invited all that entered to create.

Luckily today we have a Home Depot and Amazon which have a ton of options for new ways to spice up your studio on a budget. A good place to start is the lighting. String lights and LED lightbulbs and strips are easy and effective.

Don’t forget about the smells! Our sense of smell is extremely powerful and us studio rats sometimes have a tendency to disregard it. There’s also always the classic lava lamp or what I consider to be the modern lava lamp, the Himalayan Salt Lamp.

Get personal

Yes, this is a business transaction, but it’s much more than that. You’re helping someone create their art, which can, and probably should be a very personal and intimate experience. The easiest way to get clients to come back is to get personal– be friendly, talk to them about their past, their history, what they like, what they don’t like, and why. Everyone wants to work with their friends. The more a client becomes a friend, the more likely they are to want to keep working with you. That doesn’t mean fake it, although at times you might have to, it does mean opening up to be more personal with everyone that walks through your studio’s doors.

Control the session without being controlling

There’s an art to being able to direct a session effectively while also being able to keep it fun. Sometimes you’ll need to tell someone when something isn’t that good or that the best course of action is to move on to the next thing. Artists can be extremely insecure and difficult to work with especially when they are creating something that’s personal to them. Sometimes they are just looking for approval or someone to tell them what to do. Or sometimes they want the complete opposite. The skill there is learning how to read the situation so you can lead the session while making sure the client is happy, and producing a good product.

Do something the client wasn’t expecting

Bring out a cool guitar amp that they’ve never seen, add real tube distortion to the lead vocal, add an instrument the band has never heard of, splice in a dropout, completely edit the arrangement. Enhance their music with impressive production tricks. Make a point to emphasize your special touch (whatever that may be). This helps leave a lasting impression and they’ll know who they need to come back to next time in order to get that same badass production.

Exceed their expectations, make the client sound better than they do

Exceeding the client’s expectations is the most surefire way to get a repeat client. The client will go into the session with an idea of what they want and what they hope the final product will sound like. If you’re able to exceed these expectations and produce a product even better than they had originally imagined, they’ll likely want to return so they can experience the same thing. Now the client isn’t just booking a recording studio, they are booking you because they know you’ll make them sound good.

This is how you form a team and partnership with your clients that can turn into a long term working relationship. If you ask any successful engineer they will tell you that these types of relationships are paramount to sustaining a career in this field. Your loyal clients are not only valuable because of their direct business– they’re also going to be putting your name out there, spreading the word and ultimately bringing you more clients. Word of mouth advertising is by far the most form of marketing for any engineer or producer.

Related articles:
What the f*ck is 32 bit floating?
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon

Posted on Leave a comment

5 more things they don’t teach you in audio school

Music production and audio students

If you haven’t already, check out the first part of this series “5 things they don’t teach you in audio school.”

I don’t know the curriculum for every audio program but I do know there are required skills needed to be successful in the recording industry that can’t be learned in a classroom setting. These skills need to be learned the old fashioned way, by doing it and making mistakes. These mistakes are a right of passage. The truth is that not everyone that goes to school to learn how to be an audio engineer or music producer is going to have what it takes to turn their passion into a lifelong full-time career.  It’s important to remember that music production is an art form that’s entirely creative based as well as extremely technical. Like most great art, you can’t just learn a set of procedures and become a master. One thing that every great producer must start with that can’t be learned is good taste. Because of this, going to school for audio and production does not guarantee you’ll come out with the ability to produce high quality recorded music, it’s more likely that you won’t. On top of that, even if you’re a technical wizard, make the hardest beats, and have the best mixes, none of that matters if you’re not likable and you don’t meet the right people. After graduation clients aren’t going to be knocking on your door because you have a degree.

You need to have characteristics and skills that go beyond just turning knobs and making things sound good. Now I’m sure some schools with music production programs will touch on some of the things that I am going to mention, but touching on the subject and emphasizing it, are not the same thing. From my experience and what I know about audio programs are that many tend to be very focused on the technical side of things. This is likely due to the large majority of the students being very new to recording and production. The thought process there is before you do anything creative you have to know how to use the equipment. The other issue is a lot of these programs are run like for-profit businesses and there’s a lot of money in selling a dream of working in a recording studio alongside your favorite musicians that you hear on the radio. This is where it starts to taste a little sour for me. When schools focus on selling the dream without giving their students the right knowledge and tools to be successful in this industry.

If you’re trying to decide if studying music production is right for you, read my article “Should you go to audio engineering school?” where I explain things you should consider before making any decisions. 

Troubleshooting

Things can go wrong. And they often do. It’s extremely difficult to be able to remain calm and think clearly when there’s a catastrophic problem, time is money and important people are staring at you waiting for you to get things going.

An often underappreciated skill is the ability to troubleshoot constructively and effectively, Troubleshooting is the process of figuring out the source of an issue so you can fix it. In order to do this, you must start at the beginning of the signal chain and remove variables that could possibly be at fault one by one.

For instance, if you have a microphone connected to a console that has a preamp, you can first try to switch which channel you’re using on the console. If the microphone doesn’t work on the second channel then we know its most likely not the console and more likely something with microphone or cable. This type of guess and check work is essential in order to solve issues in the field.

The next time you find yourself in a situation where there’s a problem, use it as an opportunity to practice troubleshooting. Fixing a problem gives you a great sense of accomplishment.

Working under pressure and making decisions on the fly

We discussed troubleshooting in the previous section but I didn’t talk enough about how much more difficult it is when you’re working under pressure. If you’re the sound guy and the wireless mic goes out, everyone is looking at you to fix it. All eyes will immediately turn to you and give you the “what the f*ck happened?” look. Trying to fix something while hundreds of people are staring at you while you scurry around a stage chasing cables. My point is, this job can be stressful. When working in the studio, broadcast or live environment we are responsible for capturing events that are happening in real time. If we mess up, it’s a mistake that can never be corrected. You can never get that performance back.

There’s no class in the world that’s going to teach you how to work well under pressure. You need to be fed to the wolves, you need to make mistakes, and you need to fail. Then, after you’re embarrassed, humiliated and humbled, you can start to learn from your failures and actually become decent at this job. It’s okay to make mistakes, I’d say it’s necessary to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. It’s also helpful to try and remember that mistakes are part of the process and keep moving forward.

Managing stress

Working under pressure causes stress. The circle of life. Isn’t it beautiful? A lot of gigs in this field require working long hours for long stretches. It’s not uncommon to have a project that lasts multiple weeks and requires 12 hour days. It’s easy to disregard your health and fall into the habit of not eating or sleeping well. It’s going to be extremely difficult to keep up with what can be a strenuous lifestyle if you’re not taking care of yourself. Make sure you make time to relax and enjoy yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the grind. It’s okay to take a break sometimes.

Managing yourself as a freelancer and business

When I started school way back in the year 2007 I mistakenly thought that there were still opportunities for full time jobs. I thought I could start as an intern, work my way up the ladder and in a few years I’d be tracking Kanye and Drake. I soon realized that wasn’t going to be the case and that full time jobs at recording studios weren’t quite as readily available as they used to be. And by not quite as readily available… I mean pretty much non-existent. 

It was years after I graduated that I finally realized that if I wanted to make a go at this thing that I was going to need to make myself the business. I needed to find a way to set myself up to get my own gigs and be my own boss. It turns out, it’s easier than I thought if you think of yourself as a business, you can start treating everything you do as such. If you keep working at it consistently, eventually you’ll start seeing results. Going to school didn’t help me find this path, and that’s not so much the school’s fault. You can’t teach someone how to make good life decisions. The audio industry has been changing so drastically in the last 10-20 years. Today, it’s the wild west, audio professionals are finding new ways to make a living. You need to be creative in how you market yourself, what services you offer and how you’re offering them. There’s a lot of money to be made in music production but it isn’t in all in recording the actual music. Try to find a path that makes sense, is sustainable, relatively future proof and gets you excited. Then just start running down that path as fast as possible.

Work ethic

Now that I have my own business, how do I… um… do work? I know what it’s like to go to a 9 to 5 desk job, clock in, do the task I am assigned for the day, and then clock out and go home.  Now I have to make my own schedule!? Hold myself accountable and make sure the quality is held to a standard. That takes a completely different set of skills that are not new to me and I’ll be honest, I am terrible at it. The first step is recognizing that I am terrible at it and then working towards correcting these bad habits. I never cared much about school work so I never developed a good work ethic. Finding ways to manage your time is crucial when you’re trying to build a business especially when you have other things going on in your life. I find it helps to focus on setting a schedule for myself. I’ll figure out what I want to accomplish each week/month and then map out what I should do every day in order to achieve that goal. It’s also really helpful to write down specific times you want to do things so you can hold yourself accountable.

Related articles:
5 things they don’t teach you in audio school
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon

Posted on Leave a comment

What the f*ck is a power conditioner?

What the f*ck is a power conditioner?

Disclosure: Audio Hertz is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Furman M-8X2 Power Conditioner
Furman M-8X2

We’ve all seen them. Those black units at the top of just about every single rack of gear. Sometimes they even have cool lights that pop out and an outlet on the front so your buddy can easily charge his JUUL. But what do power conditioners really do and when is it worth it or beneficial for you to buy one for your studio?

Rack of audio gear with a power conditioner

The goal of a power conditioner is to filter, clean and stabilize incoming AC power. This, in theory, should preserve your equipment as well as improve performance. There’s an overwhelming amount of varying opinions on what exactly a good power conditioner is. A common sentiment on internet forums and messages boards is that most cheaper and more commonly used power conditioners are nothing more than an expensive box with a surge protector in it. A surge protector is used to prevent a power surge from causing damage to your electronic devices where a power conditioner is used to prevent noise and voltage fluctuations from causing issues.

Even an opinion piece on a supposedly reputable website like Computerworld.com, in which the author attest to the benefits of using a power conditioner, still come with no definitive proof. Just reading the author’s choice of words exude uncertainty, like he’s not even sure what the truth is.

“I can’t say with certainty that it [power conditioner] has improved the service life of my electronics, but I haven’t suffered a power related failure in the past 15 years”

Not exactly the best commercial for Team Power Conditioner. In fact, if I was making a commercial for a power conditioner and that was one of the customer testimonials, I’d probably leave that one out.

The author then goes on to cite a specific instance when he heard a hum through his guitar amplifier and his power conditioner was able to instantly remove it, claiming this as proof of the magic powers of his power conditioner. The only problem with that is that hum is usually caused by a ground loop and a power conditioner doesn’t have anything to do with that.

So what’s the truth? Are the thousands upon thousands of audio professionals using the base model Furman power conditioners stupid for wasting their money? That seems unlikely but it was still hard to find a clear definitive answer because the internet is littered with contradicting information and opinions. There seem to be four different schools of thought on how to properly power professional audio gear. I’ll explain each way and then I recommend you make your own educated decision depending on your situation.

Rack of audio gear with Furman Power Conditioner

The first school consists of people that believe in using a power conditioner. These people believe a conditioner is an effective and necessary tool that allows you to get the most out of your gear as well as preserve its components by providing the unit with consistent, stable, and clean power. They believe it reduces stress on their gear from things like brownouts and voltage sag.

The second school is made up of people that don’t believe anyone in the first school. They believe that any power conditioner within a few hundred dollars is not really conditioning anything and is nothing more than a rack mountable surge protector. Because of this, they choose to buy a $10 surge protector power strip, or a $30 rack mountable power strip and call it a day.

The third school believes in using a pure sine wave UPS (they almost always include a built in a surge protector). It is important that you look for a UPS that puts out a pure sine wave as many of the lower priced units use a simulated sine wave, which can cause some power supplies to buzz and are not recommended for professional use.

The last school believes you really need to use a voltage regulator. Voltage regulators, which are also made by Furman, can run you well over $1,000. It seems that many people believe their power conditioners are regulating the voltage when that’s not actually the case. The Furman P-1800 AR Advanced Level Voltage Regulator/Power Conditioner, claims to offer “True RMS Voltage Regulation delivers a stable 120 volts of AC power to protect equipment from problems caused by AC line voltage irregularities.”

There are obviously some other ways of going about powering your audio gear and you can certainly combine all three schools of thought for the ultimate peace of mind, but these three are definitely the most common.

As for proof on what inexpensive power conditioners are really doing and if they work? Sorry, I can’t help you with that. That will continue to be debated by audio nerds for decades to come, right alongside “Do cables make an audible difference?”

Related articles:
What the f*ck is 32 bit floating?
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon


Posted on Leave a comment

20 unique things for your recording studio on Etsy

20 unique things for your recording studio on Etsy

Disclosure: Audio Hertz is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Robotic Drum Kit from RobotRickshaw

We all hate drummers. Well, now we don’t need them anymore! You can buy this silly robot for the low low price of $3,865. That’s all it takes to rid yourself of drummers forever! Small price to pay, if you ask me. #drummerjokes #drummersarestupid

12-Bit DIY Arcade Sampler from DigDugDIY

If you asked me last week what a 12-Bit DIY Arcade Sampler was, I would have given you a blank stare. Well, not this week! This week I can tell you exactly what a 12-Bit DIY Arcade sampler is. But you know what? I’ll just show you this video instead, why waste time writing out an explanation. This thing is fucking cool and you’ll want one. Check out the DIY artist collective DigDugDIY based out of Rochester in upstate New York. They make some super unique synth instruments and effects.

Hand-wired stereo rack mountable spring reverb unit from RecoveryEffects

I’ve always wanted a real outboard spring reverb unit. In plugin land, we have access to thousands of reverb algorithms and impulse responses. What we don’t have is real genuine physical reverb, waves bouncing against a spring, plate or room and fed back into your mix buss. Real is exactly what you get with a spring reverb unit. The Endless Summer Deluxe Reverb, not only sounds great but is also very reasonably priced. I wanted to build my own at one point but for this price, there’s no way I’d be able to build anything of this quality for the same price.

Altura Theremin MIDI Controller

This one isn’t as much a professional tool as it is something that’s fun to play with and would be an interesting talking point. This little device converts Theremin data into MIDI. Have hours of fun waving your arms and controlling whatever you want in your DAW! I haven’t bought my own yet but when I do I’ll report back on whether it’s possible to pretend you’re conducting an orchestra while also adjusting the levels of faders.

Wood diffuser wall art

Who doesn’t want a sunflower sound diffuser in their control room!? Alright, so maybe sunflowers aren’t your thing, well you can find a ton of different options on Etsy for cool looking wall art diffusers that will spice up your studio. There are funky ones like the sunflower, but also others that are more suitable for non-sunflower lovers.

Sunflower sound diffuser from Pixelood
Handmade from reclaimed wood diffuser from LiamReidlinger.

Guitar pedals built into funny housings from IndianolaLabs

You can put a guitar pedal in anything these days and that’s exactly what Indianola Labs is doing. Find fun guitar pedals in all types of things like a band-aid container, E.T. lunchbox, or a doll head.

Circuit bent anything and everything from Psychiceyeclix

I just want one of these so I can have a Furby and Buzz Lightyear phone in my studio.

Who wouldn’t want this creepy circuit bent Furby?
Or this Buzz Lightyear phone?

Wooden Eurorack suitcase from ModularSynthLab

If you’re like me then you’ve dreamed of bringing a suitcase to work every day. Now we can! If you show up to the studio with a beautiful wooden suitcase full of eurorack modules you’re going to be an absolute legend. Don’t you want to be a legend?

Wooden eurorack case
Imagine walking into work with one of these?

Weird synthesizers

This fuzzy pedal looks like that fiberglass insulation in walls that you’re not supposed to touch but hey, it sounds cool and will definitely draw some attention.

The interesting looking fuzzy exterior of the M1 from TinyDiodes.

The Drone Jar optical synth responds to light from MichaelRucci.

Passive Filter by MichaelRucci

This simple but potentially life saving device will help filter out any instrument of your choice, passively, for only $25.

Weird microphones

Hand-wired Telephone Microphone and Preamp from Recovery Effects

Wasaphone MKII Live Lo-Fi Microphone

Tin Can Microphone from FunWithHands

Turn a can of Hunt’s Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce into a unique lo-fi microphone. The mic comes attached to a top that fits just about every tin can you have in your pantry. You can listen to a vocalist using it at a live show here.

Make your own instrument kits from Bestzimo

Build your own instrument kits. I don’t have anything funny to say about these.

Make your own violin kit

Weird guitar hangers from GuitarGrips

Hang up your guitars in style! Why put your guitar on some stupid old guitar stand or wall mount when you can gently place it into a copper hand or tree stump? Come on now, this isn’t rocket science!

Antique copper hand guitar hanger
Lumpy tree stump guitar hanger

Homemade cigar box and oil can guitars

Etsy was made for Cigar Box Guitars or CBGs as the kids call them. There’s a whole community of people that love these things. They sound horrible but I guess there’s something interesting about them, if you like that type of thing or if you’re on a farm and there’s no way you can get to a Guitar Center and Sweetwater or Amazon won’t deliver to you.

Korg MS20 pillow

It’s a pillow that looks like a synth. Pretty cool, right?

Just think about how good you’d sleep if your head was resting on one of these bad boys.

Tape machine that was turned into a lamp

It’s not cheap but this lamp made out of a Telefunken Magnetophone 201TS tape machine is a great way to light up any control room!

Audio engineer bobblehead

Your studio doesn’t have enough audio engineer bobbleheads, trust me, you need this. Some even claim it makes their mixes sound fuller.

Also a great gift for Mother’s Day.

Die cast aluminum iLok case

You don’t want to lose your iLok… Trust me. I had the wonderful experience of misplacing my iLok a little while ago and had to email all of the developers I had purchased plugins from to ask if they could resend authorizations to my new account. Some companies even charge you for this. This nifty alumbium box adds some weight to that valuable USB stick and also looks pretty damn bad ass.

It’s also bulletproof! Ok, not really but that would be cool.

RELATED ARTICLES:
20 QUICK AND EASY TIPS THAT WILL IMPROVE YOUR PRODUCTIONS
20 QUICK AND EASY TIPS THAT WILL IMPROVE YOUR PRODUCTIONS (PART 2)
5 MIXING MISTAKES THAT I USED TO MAKE… AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
THINGS I WISH I LEARNED SOONER ABOUT AUDIO ENGINEERING

Posted on Leave a comment

20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions (part 3)

20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions (part 3)

You can read the second 20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions here!

Quick tip 41

On a vocal try using one compressor with a fast attack to control the peaks and a second with a slower attack for tone and character.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bmjl3mXA69Z/

Quick tip 42

Try closing your eyes and listening to your mix every once and awhile. We mix with our ears not our eyes!

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bm34SGRA5CO/

Quick tip 43

Try using a predelay with your reverbs to help with clarity. This lets the dry signal through ebfore the reverb tail is heard.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnCMh2mAUIg/

Quick tip 44

Learn how to troubleshoot! Don’t expect other people to solve your problems for you.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnUUjGIA3Oc/

Quick tip 45

The higher the mic preamp gain, the more sensitive the microphone will be.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BncFn_PgeNC/

Quick tip 46

Use delays, vocal effects, and other ear candy to fill in the empty spaces of a song. This keeps the production intersting and the listener engaged even when the elad vocals aren’t in.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnrQ2d6lGaP/

Quick tip 47

If frequencies are clashing and panning isn’t enough, try using a stereo width plugin to spread out a track even further.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnzPOETFZSr/

Quick tip 48

Try using a high pass filter on the sidechain input of your compressor to let the bass frequencies pass through withouit affecting the amount of compression.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BoCpym-AlOg/

Quick tip 49

Start to maintain a favorite samples folder. After you finish a song, take your favorite sounds and export them to a seperate folder.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BoRgU4IAWQQ/

Quick tip 50

You have to try a lot of things that won’t work before you can know what things will work.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BocWqpplnnZ/

Quick tip 51

Finishing the project should always be your number one goal. It doesn’t matter how good it sounds if you never finished it.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Boy0Cglg1XA/

Quick tip 52

Mastering is always better left to a professional mastering engineer that has a fresh set of trained ears in a finely tuned room.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bo7WFJxAWIW/

Quick tip 53

Try lightly tucking a quarter note delay into a lead vocal to thicken it up.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bo_sEQ-A-67/

Quick tip 54

Track vocalists with compression, reverb, and delay to help yeild a better performance.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpsaNc1FIxD/

Quick tip 55

Try not to spend too long working on a single instrument, remember to constnatly listen to the gbig picture and not the indivudal parts.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpwpoM7Bw-f/

Quick tip 56

Don’t be afraid to stack multiple plugins and don’t be afraid to leave a sound untouched.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp6_b4HFYUp/

Quick tip 57

You really don’t need that piece of gear! Spend more time learning about the gear you have and actually using it.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqH6NBmF5B6/

Quick tip 58

Louder always sounds better. Make sure when A/Bing two signals that both are being played back at teh same level so you can accurately judge what sounds better.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqX5l2hhR-M/

Quick tip 59

Every DAW offers teh ability to write notes directly into a session and on specific tracks. When you hear something that needs to be fixed, make a ntoe of it so you’ll remmeber what you wanted to do later.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bq2mZx8la–/

Quick tip 60

Set aside time for experimentation where you try new processors, effects, adn techniques that you wouldn’t normally use.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bt_IRrElwfG/

Related articles:
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions (part 2)
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
Things I wish I learned sooner about audio engineering