Readers' Letters: How to get a drummer to play in time to a click track, and more...

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of

Thursday November 30, 2006

In response to How to get a drummer to play in time to a click track, Brian writes...

It also helps to have a decent set of isolating headphones so a), you can hear the click well and b), doesn't get drowned out as soon as you start playing, (personal experience). Old open-backed headphones or Sony Walkman earphones do not work! ha ha

In response to How can you record a whole band at the same time?, Dontwarrior writes...

Well, Alesis have one of their new mixers with Firewire : 16 inputs, mic preamps, line chanel inputs and atractive price. This is what you might be looking for, I am not sure for the model.

RP response: This looks like a good way of working. Combining the audio interface into the mixing console is much simpler than having a separate interface.

In response to How can you record a whole band at the same time?, Wade Campbell writes...

Thank you very much. Just the answer that I needed. I tried splitting the signal with two soundcards..but things got pretty hair raising. And since I'm trying to stay on the low cost side of things(to cut down on overhead). Do you know of a cheaper 8 input interface?

Thanks again for answering my question.


In response to Why aren't the record labels actively looking for YOU? Take 2..., Loren writes...

Let's talk about how to bypass the record companies and just write good music, record it beautifully, sell it internationally.

RP response: Yes, and we're working on that, right here, right now...

In response to Giant-killing $5 mic preamp - its secrets revealed, Freddy Gabrsek writes...

Hi, I'm going to build this circuit and see for myself. Thanks for the ear-opening shootout!

I'd like to try it with an output transformer you know if it will work with a 600/600 ohm (1:1) xformer?

RP response: There's no reason why it shouldn't work with a transformer. Try it without first though and see how you get on. Don't forget to send us some audio examples!

In response to Why aren't the record labels actively looking for YOU? Take 2..., Joe Calluori writes...

Thanks for the insight. Your article not only explains why it is so hard to get a record deal, it provides a clue as to why major labels are crying the blues today. All the good stuff is on the pile of unopened submissions.

Seriously, as a lawyer and sometime musician, I think artists should be think very carefully before signing with with a traditional record company. Artists have to be a realistic about what they can offer the company, and what the company can do for them.

Artists today live in a somewhat confusing time. "Records" really do not exist any more, and "record" companies may be fossils designed to serve the needs of another era. Many of their traditional functions are becoming either obsolete or are being outsourced to more efficient entities.

For example, inexpensive technology makes high quality recording readily affordable. Therefore, artists do not have to rely on "record" companies to advance (read lend) them $$$$ for recording.

The companies' control over istribution, their other perceived advantage, is also in danger. The rise of the Internet, which provides a low cost alternative for distributing music to the masses, has the potential to eliminate the distribution of tangible recordings -- i.e., CDs.

Unless they want to, artists do not have to pay for the creation of thousands of CDs and jewel cases, or the shipping costs required to send these things to record stores. Nor does anyone have to pay the price for storing the excess inventory. There is also less chance for the CDs to disappear, and no need to give stores a discount or a certain amount of free CDs to cover "breakage." Last but not least, artists, who sign with a reputable Internet distribution group, may get a more honest sales count.

For many artists, it may make more sense to record one's own songs and distribute them over the Internet. When the artist begins to generate some credible sales numbers and favorable publicity, the big guys are more likely to "suddenly discover" the artist.

The first thing an artist should do is to protect his/her work. There are some excellent books that cover the basic issues like copyright, publishing, recording contracts. For nonlawyers nd lawyers alike I recommend Donald Passman's books.

Obviously, anyone who does music for a living should find a good entertainment lawyer. Oddly enough that is not my specialty, and this post is not meant as an advertisement. People seeking legal advice should consult someone in the area where they live. If you don't know a good lawyer, call your local bar association for a referral and/or check the music trade papers.

In response to Output impedance - does it matter how much current an output can supply?, writes...

I always wondered why the impedance is so high on guitar pickups. It seems that if the impedance was lower it would amplify easier and therefore sound better, and be more compatible with mic pres and other studio gear. Some guitars(like my Washburn electric-acoustic have both hi and lo-z(impedance) outs, and the lo-z are always balanced. Why arent more guitars equipped with balanced outs? At least we wouldn't have to buy these little impedance matching and balancing direct boxes, would we? Is this another electronics corporate ploy for us to buy more stuff?

RP response: A standard pickup takes the energy from the string and turns that into an electrical signal. Going back into history it has been traditional to provide a reasonably high voltage, but with little current capability. Hence high impedance. The solution is to have a preamp in the guitar, although this involves the inconvenience of having a battery that will need changing every so often.

In response to How can you record a whole band at the same time?, Phil McIver writes...

The problem with getting the band to play all at the same time and still have each instrument on a different channel is spill, sound WILL spill over onto other instuments' mics (unless you have a seperate sound proofed room in which each member can be...)

But if you want a good set up here is what I use, and this works fantasticly!

2x 8ch Soundcraft desks (2 because of foldback and talk back, etc..)

1x Delta 1010 - has 8 inputs but if you reverse the insert lead then you can get 16 out of it.

Cakewalk Sonar 6 - This will interface with the Delta 1010 to record each channel onto a separate track.

In response to Announcing the WINNER of the Second Audio Masterclass Creativity Competition!, Winstone Robinson writes...

Most of the contestants are just woeful including the five leading entrants! However, there was one entrant I thought displayed a glimpse of some potential and that was "LA Blues" by Drew Burasco.

Imagine being an Intern in a recording studio and having to go through a few hundred demos of dribble [like this mob here] a day. It would drive me absolutely mad!

I'm not a fan of the voting system in any talent quest or creative competition, however one chooses to call it. I've seen too many gifted contestants like Jennifer Hudson [American Idol} fall through the cracks in this system.

RP response: Come on then, YOU do better! Send us your Beatle-flavored track and we'll publish it right here on the website. I'm sure visitors will love to comment on your work.

In response to Why would you ever want to place a microphone behind the instrument?, Jonathan Reynolds writes...

"However, one does have to wonder when that forward-firing French horn will be invented."

As a Horn player I can explain your question, as well as correct you on your assumption that a forward facing horn has not been invented.

In the context of an orchestra, you're explanation that using normal micing set up should produce the natural sound that the audience would hear is the answer. You explained it yourself! If you have ever been behind a horn section you will know that horns sound harsh and raw from that point of listening. This is why the sound desired is one of reflection. Another explanation is the fact that a horn player constantly uses his hand in the bell as a means to adjust pitch to correct intonation problems with the horn. This would be problematic with a forward facing horn. The hand also dampens the sound a little bit more.

Lastly, a forward Horn has been invented. It goes by the name of mellophone. This instrument is used in he context of marching bands, and drum and bugle corps. These do not poses as nearly beautiful a sound as the Horn. They are also in a different key, and use the same fingerings as a trumpet, as well as it's valve system.

There is a marching Horn which is usually pitched in Bb, but is less commonly used.

In response to Why the music industry doesn’t want to listen to your MP3, Chris Smith writes...

Dear Record Producer,

I enjoyed your article and wholeheartedly agree with all of the points raised.

Can I send you a CD?

Kindest regards


RP response: Yes. A factory CD, shrink wrapped with a barcode. Plus promotional materials so we can write about you. Could be the start of...

In response to Behringer has fouled up - again!, Royce Faggotter writes...

I have bought Behringer products in Australia, as well as renting them. I find them excellent and don't understand all the hype. I also have EV and have had plenty of problems with their equipment, but you don't hear about those products. I would consider that behringers legal eagles would have to know their compliance requirements so it doesn't make sense. I tend to agree with you about the fine.

In response to Do you find this photo scary? You should., Paul writes...

I respect the opinion of the author, but I have a hard time agreeing with an article that the author has written without even having experienced the microphone technique.

It would be probable that ones’ first opinion of the 4061 being mounted in a piano is a bad idea, but DPA obviously advertises that option for a reason.

I say all of this having used a stereo pair of 4061’s mounted inside a quarter of a million dollar Bosendorfer piano...and it works. We will still use our Neumann GFM 132’s but I will definitely try the DPA’s again.


“Next time, use the biggest mics you can find, on the chunkiest stands. Position them to perfection and get exactly the sound you want, without compromise.”

This paragraph really leads me to question the authors audio background.

RP response: Thank you for your letter, but you really haven't read the article properly have you?If you use a similar technique and it pleases your clients, that's fine. But any newcomer to audio who thought that putting mics inside a piano is a good way to get a natural sound would be heading in the wrong direction. I, David Mellor, am the author of the article and you can read all about my background at

In response to Why aren't the record labels actively looking for YOU? Take 2..., Violet From The Local Band 'Tear' In Utah writes...

Yes excellent advice....scary and more pressure now, but informative. Thanks for giving us great info!!

In response to Why are loudspeaker cabinets made out of wood?, Jason Knight writes...

There is only one company that I know of that does not make the cabinets of their speakers out of woods. Wilson Audio uses a product that's 14 times the cost of MDF. It's called "X Material" and made of a phenolic resin.

This is the website where you can read about it.

Great job with I love your site.


In response to Do you have problems recording bass guitar?, Gerald Lopez writes...

Just a short one, try to increase the distance between mic and cabinet, low frequency waves needs space, try about a meter.

In response to Why are most record producers men?, Jen Scaturro writes...

I enjoyed your article on the lack of female record producers. It made me feel unique.

solo female recording artist & record producer

RP response: Enjoy your uniqueness while you can! :-)

In response to Why some people will simply never make it into the music recording industry, Sergio Parreira writes...

Hi , hope i'm talking to the person who did the article "Why some people will simply never make it into the music recording industry"

Simply loved it, and would really love to know ( not saying you have the answer for it, but) if i will make it or not, been reading your site, cause it came through on my google searchs for music related jobs and started reading all those articules about all those things i love =)

David seems to know a lot about the industry i love the most and wish to make a career in.

Now i will tell a little about myself, and hopefully, i'll get an answer telling whats wrong and right, what shall i do or not. Plus, i'll talk on other things and this might become a biiig Comment ;)

Im 25 years old, from which 20 were spent listening, playing and doing music. lol no they werent always like now ( beeing now an extreme where if possible i wont even sleep so i can spend the night doing music )

From 5 to 10 years old there wasnt really any Great deeds in my life, besides learning how to play acoustic guitar and piano, had a couple of bands and gigs, at 12 i got my first bass, went two years on the conservatoire for double bass and studied 7 years of music in the public school. Now im 18 and i've done so many gigs and had so many bands that i think im huge ( at least i was in my home town ) ^_^

No, i wasnt huge, and better yet, i didnt liked what it brought, that fame thing, where you wake up everyday, go for a walk, and everyone knows you and they're so kind and all..#$%#$ For all that, at 22 i was already noticing that having bands wasnt really the thing i wanted the most in my life, altough i was on one that was pretty famous in Algarve - Portugal i just felt it wasnt that good, i wasnt a very sociable person, all the guys from my bands wanted that, fame, girls, money..

I didnt.. I wanted to play, and yes the live acts were really nice =) To feel an audience of 2000 persons Screaming and shouting for you . .

well its always a warm nice feeling. I was considered by many in my region as the best bass player around, many still say the same, there arent many good bass players, not here not anywhere =| Just dont know why. . but seems that more and more they are needed! And it seems more and more for me, that i will use what i know to live from it, i want to live from music, nowadays i dont have a job, friends nor a life, why? it all went away, the bands started to piss me, better yet. . i wasnt liking anymore to be part of a Group of musicians that only wants fame money and womens, the ones that want that, are the ones we find at weekends at recording studios jamming, and we join them ;) So more or less at 22 years of age i left my last band. .

www.myspace.comoxygenius (hope the link is right) doing that, i started to loose that fame, the friends that werent really friends and started to see things how they are today, looking bad =|

From 23 to 24 i didnt did much related to music but then at 24. . two years ago more or less, started to make music with my pc for entertaining and found it quite amusing!Fruity Loops! lol

today i can say im a fruity expert..

but then, not only. . i can use almost any software that is music related, why?

because i understand whats into it, the things that change the sound into that lovely sound we like to ear, after all its all about that, music its supposed to be an art, so like in any other art, millions can say. . i'm an artist, but then how many will really live from it?

This art so called music, for me its not my way of living, but since this year vacations i had in london for two months i've decided, that maybe if i went there to live, maybe i could have a life from music, since That in Portugal is pratically impossible because there is no music industry, and the few there is is destiny of those who have knowledge in other parts of our society as politics or media, sons of DR. Such . . Cousins of the Mayor Something.. .and they are so few of them living from music, that no one in portugal can really think " ah im going to live from music " So if i do want to live from it, i thought to myself, i better live on other part of the planet, since London is for me and many the capital of arts, why not ? =) Im leaving soon, maybe until the end of this month, to do what..

good point!

Im not the only one there looking for a job in the music industry, just like i said there are millions trying to have a go at it, and not much will really live from it, i hope i get that thing separates me from the rest, better yet, like you said on your article, some say they have "it"

Well to be honest you got me thinking very much because of that. .

There isnt a "it"

There's This :

You're an artist, or you're not.

Like any other art, artists almost kill each other to have better earnings and a better position on the industry, so that, for a newbie in the industry its like a nightmare, because the competition its soooo huge, that for example, scares us!

I dont think i have "it"

I just think im an artist, im good at arts specially in music, but not only! Design, 3D, photography, writing poems, or even making a doll out of that brown yuckie thing with my hands which i dont remember the name in English :) Pardon..

Im hoping to get to London on the 20th of October, and get a job ASAP, not a music related job ( if possible yes i would love to start as soon as possible ) but i just need something that gives me the chance to settle in, something that pays, then after im settled. . most surely the beginning of 2008 i will be taking a full dj course at Pointblank, why? Because not only i have huge producing skills, i think i can be a dj..

I know what people like to hear, or at least i think so , becase we're never right =|

I do have the skills to use any machine instrument or Thing that is music related, they just borned with me. . so i've tried a little with lol

Virtual DJ..

Yes much of my production skills and mixing are all pc based.. .

No problem! Because nowadays its becoming more and more used, technology is the key for the future and i am embracing it for a long time now. So ill go there, take the course and try to see what is possible to do, get to play at some parties, even become resident of a club or something, doing that, i would be able to let go the job ill start now once i get to london and have a much easier life ;)

The life of an artist, and that way i will be able to start looking for the real thing Producing! I dont know what kind of jobs i can get, that is a fact. . i really dont know that can i get some help from you please? I do know more or less the jobs we can find on a label, recording studio or radio, but i dont know which one i fit the best, im thinking maybe on a recording studio composing producing recording and masterizing beatiful songs of any genre!

And now and then making some nice parties djiing ;)

Beeing on the dj side, will get me some conects, for when i get to really work as a producer ;)

Music its such a vaste world..

I can go and look for a huge band looking for a bass player, go to studios and look for those who need a composer or producer, go to labels to see if they want a new djproducer, there are so many ways out of this, and all i wish is to be able to live from music, the more ill do the happier ill be and yes i think i will be able to do loads of things, play in a band beeing dj, record for a label some rock bands, produce some hip hop beats for mc's and so spend some nights at a club putting down those phat beats..

ohh god, this was a huge Comment, thank you if you've read so far, means you're kind! I better stop writing or it will never end,its almost 5 am and im still up, better i go to fruity and produce something =)

ohh by the way, my last work


its not my favorite thing but its my game in the present. . dance music.

Trance House D&B Tecno Electro

Then hip hop and in last, the thing that made me begin Rock, indie, punk and everything that is really made by hands and instruments and not some machines ( reason why i still respect so much other kinds of music besides dance music is that, its the really music, i love classic music, jazz , soul, ethnic. . im a GREAT percussionist and to feel that music its done by something real like an instrument and an artistic hand or person its way better then listening to something that most surely was entirely made on a computer or in a studio fullfilled with machines ) I am not a man of one genre of music, no. . im all music, all instruments, all kinds of music making..

And i do play lots of instruments, the same way i know how to work with lots of software and hardware.

Am i the kind of person that will make it through? Because i do wish to become worlwide known for my art, i want to give music to the people!

Thankzz for the time and hope to hear from you!


Sergio P. aka DJ Sunas

In response to How to get a drummer to play in time to a click track, Mick P, London writes...

Over the years I have learnt from several top-class drummers what they like to hear in the headphones if working to a click. Percussion loops are a favourite - congas/shaker/electronic 808-style sounds; as you say, something between the cracks to give a sense of groove rather than mere time-keeping.

Alternatively in a live situation and if there is only a click, the rest of the band (As a session keyboard player I was never very keen on computer generated metronomes either).

Occasionally no click is necessary; the drummer's timekeeping is immaculate, and everything else can be constructed around it (sequencer parts included). For me this has got to be the best way, precision plus feel!

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