Readers' Letters: If you could make ONE change in your studio setup, what would it be?, 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 If you could make ONE change in your studio setup, what would it be?, Tom Ghent writes...


In response to your comment regarding my statements concerning studio acoustical treatments, it would seem to me that if cost, as opposed to effective sonic control and ambient response, were the 'bottom line', the major recording facilities all around the world would be using acoustic foam rather than customized room treatments. T.G.

RP response: Apologies if it wasn't completely clear. In professional applications, most acoustic treatment is done using commonly and cheaply available materials - drywall (plasterboard) for soundproofing for instance. Using proprietary systems for soundproofing and acoustic treatment is more expensive. There are some areas however where proprietary systems are better because they are easier to acquire and install - studio doors for instance. There is a balance to be struck between convenience and cost.Note that acoustic foam is not a complete solution for acoustic treatment. Low-frequency absorption must be provided, and diffusion (rather than absorption) is an important aspect too.

In response to Why isn't your music making any money?, Jan Franklin (Inspiration Sounds) writes...

You can actually cut out the label completely and get your tracks (and most of the profit from your sales) released on iTunes, Rapsody and many other major download sites.

Visit - I am not affiliated with this site but I have recommended it to several people who have seen a fairly good return. Only downside is you need to your own graphics for the CD cover for each release, and I understand you have to pay a one-off submission cost per release, apart from that, you will see a hell of a lot more profit coming your way by dealing direct.

Kind regards,

Jan Franklin (Inspiration Sounds)

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Anthony Linden Jones writes...

The solution may not be to your taste, but . . . . . perhaps consider a MIDI wind controller and a decent sound module (real or virtual). The range of timbres produced by a clarinet is not so broad that the results from a synthetic version of same is completely unusable (as is the case for, say, a string instrument).

Going this way also allows you to use a broad range of sounds, as well as the clarinet emulation.


anthony linden jones

Kurrajong NSW Australia

In response to Why does sound engineering have to be so LOUD?, Neil writes...

The reason why most music (rock or not) is LOUD is because the mixer operators are all (partially) deaf through years of playing everything TOO LOUD! And thus the musos are also likely to be deaf, too, so they don't notice. And thus the punters are likely to be deaf too, after a while. God help us all!

In response to Why does sound engineering have to be so LOUD?, Dave Stergo writes...

I totally agree. As a classically trained vocalist and and electronics engineer, the two paths were destined to cross. I regularly mix sound for various artists and a pattern emerging is that he artists who have regularly invited me back to mix sound, enjoy dynamic contrast and tonal nuance in sound. The inexperienced rockers don't tend to like me a great deal as they tend to like it loud and over the top without much musicality. I'm not that old but I feel like an oldie sometimes. I actually like to hear the words and the fingernails.

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Dave Stergo writes...

The problem is not cause by the microphone. the problem is a combination of microphone and monitoring. The simplest way of eliminating feedback is to reduce the level of the monitoring system. The catch is that you can't hear yourself. Investing in a personal in-ear monitoring system would eliminate these problems and they are really not too expensive. Some of them can be configured as a DI device where you can plug your personal effect loop into it and have a line going off the the PA. Another thought is having an Acoustic Guitar amp which will give you the tonal spread you need and as this sits behind you you are less likely to have feedback , particularly with the AMT microphone system. Your body acts as a sound absorbing gobo. Being a slave to whatever monitoring is served up to you by clubs is a not a pleasant way to fly. If you want further info just google my name and you should find my myspace page.

In response to How to have a hit record by sampling someone else's track. Twice., J-Hoon writes...

I reckon people these days put too much weight on sampling or the matter of whether it is original to use a sample.

The logic is simple, chefs all over the world use similar ingredients, spices and slaughter the same kinda of animals. Yet there are so many different cuisines and why do we not give them crap for NOT BEING ORIGINAL.

The identity and the originality of a piece of music come in how the RESULTANT masterpiece is being PUT TOGETHER. One should focus on the means or the 'elements', the consequent emotion that the music evokes is where you put the judgement. Not on the same type of salt or pepper they use

So what if those three songs carry the same VOCODER effect, they generate three distinct EMOTIONS.

This should put an end to those silly accusations of producers sampling.

Keep sampling mates, we are all different architects in our own league.


Its post modernism. Mix it up!! Match it up!! Old minds should be updated!!

Welcome to the future of music!


RP response: The Audio Masterclass Akai S900 is twenty-one years old and there were a number of samplers available before that. So the future of sampling has been around some time already. It was only a matter of time before people started to sample tracks that were themselves constructed from samples. Anyone thinking about sampling Kanye and adding another layer?

In response to Why isn't your music making any money?, Len Church writes...

Very real world, nuts and bolts analysis of product/compensation issues today. I couldn't agree more that marketing is the key - great product and talent will ultimately get relegated to oblivion without it - so hang on to your day job if you have one.

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Dave G. writes...

I'm no pro. or anything but hows about the 31band EQ's on the "wedges" (mon.) cranking up those speakers to their operative levels and ringing out the mic. by waving close or near to the speakers and tweaking the mon. EQ so it won't feedback?

In response to Why isn't your music making any money?, Greg Sarge writes...

Great article. And it seemed relatively painless. Besides, everybody knows that their music will sell. It's the other band who's music will be destroyed for someone eles's career.

In response to It doesn't matter how good your compressor is, it ALWAYS increases the noise, KW writes...

Well, yes and no.

If you are compressing a noisy track, yes. But if you are compressing before going 'to tape', coupled with a gate, you shouldn't have any noise.

It's a matter of how you use it.

RP response: Trust us, it always does increase the noise. 10 dB of gain reduction on peaks brings those peaks 10 dB closer to the noise content of the signal. Apply 10 dB of gain make up, to bring the peaks back to where they were before compression, and the noise is 10 dB louder.That doesn't mean that you shouldn't use compression of course. Just be aware of what it's doing to the noise and be prepared to deal with any problems.

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Dale writes...

I just saw this post. Yes, Feedback eliminators are nice and work to a degree, do try some of the better ones. Some items to consider, turn the monitors away from you directly, perhaps even place them to the side of you, behind you or off at a angle to you in front. Run them in mono mode. Cut other mixes out of the monitors that are not needed. Cut the frequency that is feeding back the most, a 5-10db cut, a good 20+ band EQ is very handy for this. Try reversing the phase of the signal feed to the monitors. Try a little bit closer with the mike to the clarinet and yes, you should use a mike that fits it right to get the sound. The clip on's are workable but loose a lot of the sound quality. Consider some isolation pads on the monitors, like those used on lights to direct the light, pads, blankets or felt boards can direct the sound away and to what you want, some call them baffles too.

Compressors, used right they can help cut out feed back and keep the level up. You need someone at the controls live like to adjust while you play to set to fit the stage. If you are using effects like reverb, often used with wind instruments, see if you can dry it out a bit, less on the wet. Spring verbs always give me hell sometimes when the stage is not isolated, I use a pad or blanket to dampen the floor.

Just some thoughts off the top of my head of things I done, use and keep near by when I run sound for bands.


In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Brian Wallace writes...

Check it out! Use a contact mic clipped to the reed and run it through a multi effects pedal. If you are going to rock the clarinet ROCK IT. It also sounds like you aren't playing loud enough. I have that same set up and it works fine if you are contributing a hot enough signal for the sound guy to not have to open up the pre that far.

In response to How to have a hit record by sampling someone else's track. Twice., Chizzle writes...

I liked this article cuz I sample songs but I think they are all hot each one has its own flavor there is nothing wrong with using a sample over and over.

In response to Super producer Tommy D can use any monitors in the studio as long as they're KRKs, Mister Man writes...

This "article" is mildly informative. But it reads more like an endorsement in a KRK advertisement than anything else.

RP response: It's a press release. That's why it starts "PRESS RELEASE". Press releases are supplied to us by manufacturers and distributors. We publish those that we feel will be of most interest to our visitors.

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Ron Hoag writes...

Optical Pickups have been very promising for feedback control in stringed instruments. My experiments with drums, have also shown, that Optical pickups will work with them as well. Before my retirement, I was looking into the reed instrument application. I have not gone far into this, but if I use a version of my guitar pickup and more experiments with reed and drum methods, this could be the answer. I know this is not a "ready for prime time pickup", maybe someone could come up with one? For those who would like to experiment, go to my web site and you will find my circuits there.

Ron Hoag

In response to "IT" by George Kaufmann, Anthony writes...

What great sounds you have there. Sounds very 60s much like the Animals or the Kinks or the Byrds or something and with vitriol level 8 in the lyrics every bit as annoying and temper-inducing as the many current venom-filled pop songs. Why is it so damn trebly though?

In response to Why isn't your music making any money?, Gerald Sharp writes...

I found this article interesting and wanted to talk to the person who wrote it. I however can see no link. Is there one?

Kind regards

Gerald Sharp

RP response: You've found it! You can send a letter or ask a question from any page of the site. If you do not want your message published, just say 'not for publication' anywhere in the message.

In response to The equipment you need to master at home, FSM writes...

Very good!! I won't and never have diluged with photos of my studio!! Two reasons, it's PROPRIETARY and really kinda messy!!!! I used the best photo I could find that somewhat had a vague familiar sense of my gear!!

As far as the Mercedes, yeah, it's over the top, but when it comes to "trueing" a song.... FSM is BEST!!!

Don't be dazzeled by the gear list which I so hate!! Listen to the music!!! After all, isn't that what matters?

Most recordings that come to me are IN time will be way off 50 milliseconds, EQ's will be too thin in places and too fat in others. OUT fadeswill be targeted with noise issues and the drop will either be wrong or chopped and peaks will either be buzzed or far short of the -0.02db barrier and the bottom up -10.0db will be non-existant!!! I'll most likely have to de-click it beyond industry standards and have to noise suppress the crap out of it!!!

The proof is in the pudding!!! If you don't sound this good, you haven't been mastered by FSM!!

-dave FSM

In response to Why isn't your music making any money?, Lanny Papp writes...

This is all part of the record industry's master plan to monopolize who "makes it", and who doesn't. As far as trying to break your music out on the internet goes, you might as well send it to Mars. The web is so flooded with music that it would take decades just to listen to 1 percent of it. This is exactly where the powers that be want us to end up. They will not relinquish their strangle hold on the industry in any way. They've been churning out these clone rock bands, mundane rap acts and sickening pop groups for years now, forcing them down the throats of the consumers. The real talent out there doesn't stand a chance. You see, the big corporations can make mega billions of dollars signing and pushing these mildly talented "musicians" - there's literally millions of them out there. Why would they settle for less money and put the real talent up front? There is perhaps 1 truly talented act out there for every 1,000 of the crap acts that the record companies are promoting. It's all in the numbers.

In response to Why isn't your music making any money?, Trina writes...

I really agree with the article. Thanks for helping me make better decisions for my future music career.

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Montgomery Fox writes...

How about if you think the other way round and get an in ear monitor- this will cut down feedback, and you only need to worry about the PA. The mics you've already tried might respond differently also.

In response to Why isn't your music making any money?, Bill Stottlemyer writes...

I agree with your editorial - up to a point. But most of the music I've heard on-line suffers from one common problem. It all sounds the same! The creative spirit is dead. How many guitarists today understand the pioneering creativity of Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Django Reinhart, etc.

Most guitarists today buy a Les Paul guitar, buy a Marshall amp, and three dozen processing boxes then declare themselves the 'new Jemi Hendrix'.

Chet Atkins developed the wah-wah sound on the Teensville album by shorting out his tone control - in the 1960's! He synchronized his guitar with the tremolo and recorded "Slinkey".

These songs were incredible examples of the creative spirit - light years ahead of anyone else. Les Paul did sound-over-sound with a single one track recorder long before multitrack before fashionable. Secret - he re-arranged the tape heads.

If you want to get noticed, develop your own style. Don't just copy the current headliner. Elvis had it right - You gotta be different.

Sorry for the rant. But you only got it partly right. Marketing helps. But creativity is what really drives the market.

RP response: We agree. Creativity is king, or at least it should be. We would still contend that it takes marketing to actually get it to the people in preference to all the work of lesser creativity out there.

In response to Why does sound engineering have to be so LOUD?, Geoff Barnard writes...

Great great great - a voice of reason. You don't have to shout to be heard.

DAVID!!!!!!! If anyone disagrees with you on this article issue, send them see me ...and I will shout it out at them, just to pursuade em.

Perhaps you could have also mentioned... there is also a distinct difference between persons who claim to be singers, then scream and shout into the mic..

Singers sing - rock vocalists shout, and dont bother to argue coz I do both.

thanks David.

Just coz the *knobs* say 11 don't mean it has to be there.

Bye bye thanks all and stay happy.

RP response: Er.. pleased to be of help.

In response to How can you get a home-made CD to look like the genuine article?, Trevor writes...

When I first started sending out demo's, I was using those stick on CD labels, then I was introduced to the print on type. Both were ok, but they did not have the professional look that I really desired.

I was then introduced to Lightscribe, where the image/text is lazer etched directly onto the CD. I am more than happy with this system, it does look a lot more professional. The biggest drawback I have found is that it takes an age to print each CD, and if you up the quality, then prepare to age somewhat before you get the result.

The CD's are also more expensive, and some stores have stopped stocking them, because they are not hugly popular, but of course, if more people used them, the price should come down.

You can also get Lightscribe DVD's too

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