The Waves CLA-76 compressor plug-in on snare drum, with video

The Waves CLA-76 compressor plug-in on snare drum, with video

A practical demonstration of the Waves emulation of the Universal Audio 1176 compressor on a studio recording of snare drum Read more...

Is it time to reinvent the physical mixing console? Is it time to reinvent the physical mixing console?

Although the mouse and keyboard interface works and is cheap, many of us yearn for something more like the traditional analog console interface. But is it time for a complete rethink…?

What basic equipment do you need to make professional recordings? What basic equipment do you need to make professional recordings?

You can't make recordings of professional quality with substandard equipment. So what is the basic level that you need, to achieve professional standards?

What is production? Part 4: Mixing What is production? Part 4: Mixing

Mixing can be the process of getting the best out of your original multitrack recording, or it can be an amazingly creative process in its own right. But first you'll have to fix the faults…

When using a drum virtual instrument, should you record each drum to its own individual track? When using a drum virtual instrument, should you record each drum to its own individual track?

You can use the stereo output from a drum virtual instrument just as it is, or you can record each drum, the hihat and overheads to individual tracks. Which is the better way of working?

New vs. old guitar strings: Part 3 - The case for conditioning your guitar strings New vs. old guitar strings: Part 3 - The case for conditioning your guitar strings

If new guitar strings are too zingy for the sound you want, and used strings too variable, then perhaps there is a case for conditioning new strings, so they have exactly the sound you require.

What level of background noise is acceptable in a recording? What level of background noise is acceptable in a recording?

An Audio Masterclass student lives close to a busy road. Is it acceptable to have background noise in his recordings?

Recording a cymbal from different mic positions (with audio) Recording a cymbal from different mic positions (with audio)

An interesting audio comparison of microphone positions on cymbal, sent in by an Audio Masterclass student. The choice of mic is interesting too...

Q: Why do I have to record acoustic guitar twice? Q: Why do I have to record acoustic guitar twice?

An Audio Masterclass visitor would like to record his acoustic guitar just once and not have to double it. And he thinks he has found an easy way...

Recording acoustic guitar in stereo - should you use spaced or coincident mics? Recording acoustic guitar in stereo - should you use spaced or coincident mics?

Spacing your mics can create a rich open sound. But can there be too much of a good thing?

Setting the recording level control in GarageBand Setting the recording level control in GarageBand

Several Audio Masterclass students have used Apple's GarageBand DAW and achieved excellent results. However, GarageBand's recording level control can be confusing. Other DAWs don't have one.

What is this strange-looking piece of equipment? What is this strange-looking piece of equipment?

An Audio Masterclass student spots a strange piece of equipment in a photo. What could it be?

Demonstrating the Waves J37 analog tape emulation plug-in and comparison with a real tape recorder Demonstrating the Waves J37 analog tape emulation plug-in and comparison with a real tape recorder

A video demonstration with examples including sine wave tests, female vocal, bass, background vocals and drums

Can you hear the difference between a square wave and a sine wave? Can you hear the difference between a square wave and a sine wave?

A comparison between square waves and sine waves of various frequencies, displayed on an oscilloscope, with commentary.

One simple step you must take to make sure your masters sound really great One simple step you must take to make sure your masters sound really great

How do you know for sure whether your master is an improvement on the original mix? Here's a simple way to tell...

The importance of monitoring in the recording studio The importance of monitoring in the recording studio

When you make recordings, you will be *monitoring*, not merely listening. Monitoring is vital to the recording process all the way from basic tracks through mixing, mastering and quality control of the finished product.

A brief introduction to working in professional audio A brief introduction to working in professional audio

In nearly all cases, Audio Masterclass students want to be able to work to a professional standard. They may want to become employed in the industry, write and produce their own music, or do unpaid work as well as a professional would do it. This introduction will help you to understand the ways in which you can work with audio professionally, or to a professional standard.

A brief introduction to reverb and effects for the home recording studio A brief introduction to reverb and effects for the home recording studio

It's a rare recording that sounds great without reverb, natural or artificial. Reverb and effects are an important part of modern recording techniques.

A brief introduction to microphone preamplifiers for the home recording studio A brief introduction to microphone preamplifiers for the home recording studio

Any professional microphone must be connected to a specialized microphone preamplifier to function correctly. The preamplifier will boost the signal voltage from the microphone anything up to 1000 times so that it can be handled correctly by the following circuitry.

Do some microphones respond to EQ better than others? Do some microphones respond to EQ better than others?

Conventional recording wisdom says that you should choose the mic that sounds right in itself, rather than expecting EQ to solve any problems. But do some mics work better with EQ than others?

Is there such a thing as Photoshopped audio? Is there such a thing as Photoshopped audio?

As a major fashion chain ditches the use of Photoshop for a more natural look, should we do the same in audio?

Why won't publishers listen to your music? Why won't publishers listen to your music?

It's one thing being rejected. But when publishers won't even listen to your music, what could you possibly be doing wrong?

What is the easiest way to convert watts to decibels? What is the easiest way to convert watts to decibels?

An Audio Masterclass visitor wants to convert watts to dB. Is this even possible?

What information do you need on your CD (to make money)? What information do you need on your CD (to make money)?

Getting the music done is one thing, getting the artwork finished is another. But what about all the other information a CD needs?

M-Audio Studiophile AV 30 monitors - Could they be Auratones for the digital age? M-Audio Studiophile AV 30 monitors - Could they be Auratones for the digital age?

Can an $89 pair of monitors really be an effective tool in the recording studio? Or are they only good for 'media creation?

Why haven't you had a Hot 100 hit yet? Why haven't you had a Hot 100 hit yet?

Anyone with a home recording studio now has the means to create a hit. So why haven't you yet?

Can you print a vinyl record on a 3D printer? Can you print a vinyl record on a 3D printer?

Amazingly, the answer to this question is - almost - yes!

When working in a new theatre, always find out where the tielines go When working in a new theatre, always find out where the tielines go

Any theatre would have tielines from the stage to the sound control booth. But from one side of the booth's window to the other?

Would you record vocals like this? Would you record vocals like this?

Two singers, one microphone. Could it cause an Internet sensation?

A hum generator plug-in? We want one! A hum generator plug-in? We want one!

You can get a plug-in to emulate virtually any analog audio process these days. But what about hum? Where's the plug-in for that?

When is a click not a click? When should you fix a click, and when should you leave it alone? When is a click not a click? When should you fix a click, and when should you leave it alone?

Clicks occur for all kinds of reasons - imprecise editing, random noises, gremlin infestation. But when do you need to do something about them?

Avid's new upgrades - great for mere 'content production' Avid's new upgrades - great for mere 'content production'

Content can be art. Art can be content. But when content is just a commodity, there is surely something going wrong.

An asymmetrically biased microphone with a really fruity tone [with audio] An asymmetrically biased microphone with a really fruity tone [with audio]

Do you like your microphone to produce a clean, accurate sound? Or do you like your vocals rich and fruity?

A rare Neumann U48 - for sale on eBay A rare Neumann U48 - for sale on eBay

It isn't often that a Neumann U47 or U48 comes up for sale. But you can grab one now if you're quick...

A simple 8-mic drum mix, with video A simple 8-mic drum mix, with video

Joe Clancy plays drums in Abbey Road Studio 3. Audio Masterclass is there to make the multitrack recording.

Q: Can I use a low-pass filter to remove noise from my recording? Q: Can I use a low-pass filter to remove noise from my recording?

An Audio Masterclass student has a problem with acoustic noise. Is it an acceptable solution to filter it out?

What is production? Part 5: Mastering What is production? Part 5: Mastering

When the mix engineer has squeezed every last drop of perfection out of the original multitrack recording and turned it into a stereo mix, the mastering engineer will attempt to perfect it even more…

Audio problems at the BBC - TV drama audiences can't understand what the actors are saying Audio problems at the BBC - TV drama audiences can't understand what the actors are saying

The BBC's recent broadcast of Jamaica Inn has drawn comments and complaints. "The actors are mumbling", "The sound track is faulty", "Like listening through mud". So what has really gone wrong, and who is to blame?

New vs. old guitar strings: Part 2 - The case for used guitar strings New vs. old guitar strings: Part 2 - The case for used guitar strings

For recording, sometimes it is better for your guitar strings to be used rather than new. When would used guitar strings be more appropriate?

Demonstrating the Waves J37 analog tape emulation plug-in and comparison with a real tape recorder Demonstrating the Waves J37 analog tape emulation plug-in and comparison with a real tape recorder

A video demonstration with examples including sine wave tests, female vocal, bass, background vocals and drums

What is production? Part 1: A&R What is production? Part 1: A&R

If you spend a lot of time reading and viewing videos about professional audio on the Internet, then you could easily get the idea that production is all about having the right equipment and software, particularly plug-ins. It is very true that getting the right sound is an important part of production, but there's a lot more to it than that. In this series, I will take a look at the five major components of production. A&R, arrangement, recording, mixing and mastering.

How much mastering does a Pink Floyd soundalike band need? How much mastering does a Pink Floyd soundalike band need?

If you want to sound like a 1960s psychedelic band, are 21st century mastering techniques appropriate?

Q: Should I upgrade my Shure SM58 and use technical solutions for noise and ambience? Q: Should I upgrade my Shure SM58 and use technical solutions for noise and ambience?

An Audio Masterclass visitor wonders what the next stage in his journey towards pro audio should be.

The professional way to make sure your mics are connected correctly The professional way to make sure your mics are connected correctly

Get your microphone connections wrong and you have a huge problem, possibly bigger than you think. So how can you be sure you have got them right?

Buy an SSL mixing console for a quarter of its price when new! Buy an SSL mixing console for a quarter of its price when new!

If you're in the market for a quality post-production console, this might be of interest to you...

Setting microphone preamplifier gain to achieve both adequate headroom and a good signal-to-noise ratio Setting microphone preamplifier gain to achieve both adequate headroom and a good signal-to-noise ratio

Demonstrations of preamplifier gain settings showing the importance of headroom, the consequences of too low a gain, and that raising the gain does not increase acoustic background noise.

The Making of a CD - FREE DOWNLOAD The Making of a CD - FREE DOWNLOAD

How up-and-coming band SinFiction financed, produced and brought to market their first CD album, 'Led By Verses'

Make your recordings richer with double tracking Make your recordings richer with double tracking

To achieve a richer sound from vocals, guitars, and even drums, the 'old school' technique of double tracking is extremely effective. And it costs nothing but a little extra dedication to your craft.

Q: "Why is the signal from my microphone low in level and noisy?" Q:

Sometimes a perfectly adequate microphone connected to a perfectly adequate audio interface will sound pretty bad. But there's an easy explanation...

A brief introduction to soundproofing A brief introduction to soundproofing

You don't want background noise on your recordings, and you don't want to annoy your neighbors. But you don't want to spend more money than you have to, and you definitely don't want to waste money on soundproofing that doesn't work.

A brief introduction to mixing in the home recording studio A brief introduction to mixing in the home recording studio

The function of mixing has changed since the beginning of the modern era of recording techniques in the late 1960s. In earlier times, the band and vocal would be recorded all together simultaneously, directly into mono or stereo. Mixing therefore took place actually during the recording session. But as multitrack recorders developed, eventually it was possible to place each instrument and vocal on its own track, and leave the mixing until later.

A brief introduction to equalization for the home recording studio A brief introduction to equalization for the home recording studio

Equalization, or EQ, is one of the most basic yet most important tools in recording, live sound, and all other activities of sound engineering. Equalization is used to repair problems, to make individual instruments and voices sound better, and to help instruments and voices blend together in the mix. It is also used to improve the mix, and to make tracks on an album flow seamlessly from one to another without sudden changes of frequency balance.

Does inverting the phase of one channel of a stereo signal always sound bad? Does inverting the phase of one channel of a stereo signal always sound bad?

The two channels of a stereo signal need to be in phase with each other. But are there times when it doesn't matter?

Spot the Stradivarius violin - REALLY test your ears [with audio] Spot the Stradivarius violin - REALLY test your ears [with audio]

Can you tell a priceless Stradivarius violin from a $5500 copy from a $60 chain-store clunker?

A heroine for live performance on TV? A heroine for live performance on TV?

Viola player Natalie Holt throws eggs at Simon Cowell on Britain's Got Talent. She protests at having to mime playing her instrument.

Which came first - Pirates of the Caribbean, or Gladiator? Which came first - Pirates of the Caribbean, or Gladiator?

An eagle-eared RP reader spots similarities in music for the movies.

An interesting example of miking for TV An interesting example of miking for TV

If you're recording in the studio, you can put your mics anywhere you like. But for TV, it's a little different...

Are certain mic/preamp combinations special? Are certain mic/preamp combinations special?

An RP reader finds that a certain combination of microphone and preamp works much better than he expected...

What is your main concern if your interest is voice over? What is your main concern if your interest is voice over?

So you're setting yourself up in the voice over business. What should you think about before anything else?

To mic or not to mic the backline? That is an interesting question raising fascinating further possibilities To mic or not to mic the backline? That is an interesting question raising fascinating further possibilities

An RP reader fears losing cabinet resonances if the backline of his band is miked up through the PA. But perhaps it is innovation in live sound that has been lost over the years.

If AKG makes a USB microphone, does it mean that the time has come for USB mics? If AKG makes a USB microphone, does it mean that the time has come for USB mics?

AKG makes some of the best mics in the world. AKG also makes a USB mic. A great USB mic?

Preparation for mastering: Don't do any mastering yourself Preparation for mastering: Don't do any mastering yourself

Are you planning on getting your tracks mastered? Then the first rule of preparation is not to master the tracks yourself.

Would you put your head inside a piano? No? Then why place a microphone there? [with video] Would you put your head inside a piano? No? Then why place a microphone there? [with video]

Sometimes unusual microphone placements can capture an interesting sound. In this instance, the sound is completely wrong.

Is Pro Tools 11 really the 'new standard for audio production'? Is Pro Tools 11 really the 'new standard for audio production'?

Audio production - it's all about the DAW isn't it? Well that's what marketers would have you believe.

Manchester United's fans are too quiet. Quick! Call an acoustics expert! Manchester United's fans are too quiet. Quick! Call an acoustics expert!

Manchester United's fans are not normally known for being a timid lot. So why can't they be heard at the other end of the stadium?

A rare Telefunken ELA M 251 E - for sale on eBay ('only' $19,999.00) A rare Telefunken ELA M 251 E - for sale on eBay ('only' $19,999.00)

If you have a classic vintage vacuum tube, chances are you don't want to sell it. But someone does (for a price)...

The Waves CLA-76 compressor plug-in on snare drum, with video The Waves CLA-76 compressor plug-in on snare drum, with video

A practical demonstration of the Waves emulation of the Universal Audio 1176 compressor on a studio recording of snare drum

How much should you charge for your audio services? How much should you charge for your audio services?

You've been asked to make a recording of some local musicians, and they expect to pay you. Wow - you're a pro! But how much should you charge?

How complicated do your monitors have to be? How complicated do your monitors have to be?

Do your monitors have digital FIR filters; digital fine-tuning for volume, trim, bass and treble settings; soft fade-in and Crimson Aramid fibre drivers? Your listeners' loudspeakers don't.

What is production? Part 3: Recording What is production? Part 3: Recording

Of the five stages of production - A&R, arrangement, recording, mixing and mastering, clearly recording is central. And there is a lot more to it than choosing and placing microphones.

New vs. old guitar strings: Part 1 - The case for new guitar strings New vs. old guitar strings: Part 1 - The case for new guitar strings

This is an age-old debate in the world of music making. Is it OK to use old guitar strings, or should you change them often?

How to set a graphic equalizer How to set a graphic equalizer

The graphic equalizer is a very popular tool for live sound. You can also use it in the studio. But why would you use a graphic, and how should you set it?

What is production? Part 2: Arrangement What is production? Part 2: Arrangement

Good musical arrangements don't happen by accident. Either the band can arrange themselves, or someone else can take charge of the orchestration. Either way, it is the producer's job to make sure that everything sounds great before the microphones are positioned and plugged in.

How not to run a recording session! How not to run a recording session!

Make your performers comfortable, find the best microphone positions, run the session smoothly and record clean signals. But not in this session...

Even the best sound engineers in the world can't be trusted - apparently Even the best sound engineers in the world can't be trusted - apparently

The reason that the Red Hot Chili Peppers mimed their performance in the Super Bowl half time show is that the NFL were worried that something would go wrong with the sound!

How to get started quickly in home recording How to get started quickly in home recording

Do you need to wait until you have a fully-professional studio setup? Or can you start recording tomorrow?

Who should be responsible for the fade at the end of a song - the producer, mix engineer or mastering engineer? Who should be responsible for the fade at the end of a song - the producer, mix engineer or mastering engineer?

Who should decide whether a song needs to fade out at the end? And who should do it?

Click removal at the start of a track Click removal at the start of a track

It's always good to have a clean start to a track, and removing even a tiny click can make a significant improvement.

How to become a better singer How to become a better singer

To improve as a singer you need better tuning, tone and emotional communication. Here's how...

How to double track easily and efficiently How to double track easily and efficiently

Double tracking is a powerful technique to create a rich texture in vocals and instruments. You can do it the hard way - or do it the easier way...

"There is background noise in my studio. Should I use a noise-reduction plug-in?"

An Audio Masterclass student asks whether it is OK to use a noise-reduction plug-in instead of proper sound insulation.

A brief introduction to acoustic treatment A brief introduction to acoustic treatment

When you have achieved good soundproofing in your room, you will need acoustic treatment to make it sound good both for recording and monitoring.

A brief introduction to mastering in the home recording studio A brief introduction to mastering in the home recording studio

The process of mastering has changed a lot over the years. In the days of vinyl records, the object of mastering was to transfer a finished mix on tape to a lacquer master disc, which could then be processed to form the metal stampers that would create the records the public would buy.

A brief introduction to compression for the home recording studio A brief introduction to compression for the home recording studio

The original purpose of the compressor was to reduce the difference between low-level signals and high-level signals so that equipment from an earlier era of recording, broadcasting and public address could handle them more easily.

A brief introduction to microphone techniques for the home recording studio A brief introduction to microphone techniques for the home recording studio

Microphone technique is the art and skill of selecting an appropriate microphone for the job in hand, in terms of type, model and sometimes even the individual microphone, as microphones that were identical when new can come to sound different as they age.

This ultimate vintage collector's item gives you bragging rights that almost no-one else has This ultimate vintage collector's item gives you bragging rights that almost no-one else has

You might buy a piece of vintage equipment to achieve a vintage sound. Or you might buy it for the simple pleasure of ownership. Enter the Studer D820X *digital* reel-to-reel recorder...

How to insult a sound engineer [with video] How to insult a sound engineer [with video]

Sound engineers are normally a pretty thick-skinned bunch. So what is it that really riles them?

Have your music recorded by a real symphony orchestra Have your music recorded by a real symphony orchestra

If you have a spare 665 euros among your loose change, you could have 60 seconds of your own music recorded by a 70-piece orchestra! For real.

If you had no dangly thing at the back of your throat, how well could you sing? If you had no dangly thing at the back of your throat, how well could you sing?

That dangly thing at the back of your throat, properly called the uvula... Could you sing without it?

Is it possible to *produce* classical music? Is it possible to *produce* classical music?

Classical music just needs to be recorded, doesn't it? Well in some cases it really can be produced.

Can a pianist's wrong note played in 1962 be fixed in 2013? Can a pianist's wrong note played in 1962 be fixed in 2013?

A wrong note that has resonated for more than half a century is fixed - without the aid of a time machine.

Can guitarists be trusted with their own equipment? Can guitarists be trusted with their own equipment?

What sounds good to the electric guitar player doesn't necessarily sound good to the audience. A live sound engineer explains...

An interesting microphone setup for violinist Nigel Kennedy An interesting microphone setup for violinist Nigel Kennedy

If you're miking one of the finest violinists in the world, should you point the mic at the double bass instead?

Top producer 'steals' song as part of massive publicity stunt Top producer 'steals' song as part of massive publicity stunt

A major producer has 'stolen' a song from a pair of unknowns. A crime, or normal everyday life in the music business?

Hum - Can you hear it, even if you can't hear it? Hum - Can you hear it, even if you can't hear it?

If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound (if no-one is around to hear it?) If you can't hear hum, then is there no hum?

An inside view of the weirdest recording session ever, at the BBC! An inside view of the weirdest recording session ever, at the BBC!

Take a 300-year old bass line, a cello player with just seven days' experience, and some highly uncool-looking musicians... and make a recording that is really top of the pops for weird!

Should you make decisions as you record, or keep your options open until later? Should you make decisions as you record, or keep your options open until later?

There are so many decisions to be made during the process of recording. Should you make them one at a time as you go along, or let them pile up so that you have a mass of decisions to make in the mix?

This composer was so obsessed with his image, he posed for his own deathbed photo while still alive This composer was so obsessed with his image, he posed for his own deathbed photo while still alive

We think of image-obsession as being a feature of the the current media age. But Sir Edward Elgar was at it 80 years ago...

Live album review: Sparks - Two Hands One Mouth Live album review: Sparks - Two Hands One Mouth

If you're a Sparks fan, you'll want to own this live album. If you're a live album fan, you'll want to show your support for the format. Are live albums about to make a comeback?

Sequence THAT! Sequence THAT!

We live in a precisely-ordered digital world these days. But what did music sound like when it used to be played by musicians? Perhaps something like this...