Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Welcome back, old friend!

I love headphones. Conventional wisdom is that studios should NEVER use headphones for mixing and mastering, because mixes created on headphones don't sound right on speakers. Bullshit! If you know what you're doing, understand the differences between how we hear headphones and speakers, and finally USE THE RIGHT HEADPHONES, there's no damn reason why you can't mix on headphones. It's my FAVORITE way to mix, because I can hear more clearly how every piece fits in the final puzzle that is my MIX! Each individual strand is clearly audible.

I write, voice, and produce for radio. The most important questions during the "process are:

1)-Is your music bed overpowering the voice?

2)-Does the voice sound both full, AND crisp?

3)-Is everything in the mix clearly audible, and in proper proportion?

4)-Is the audio spectrum well filled-out. Is there something going on "down there", and if so is it balanced with the rest of the mix? Is the octave to octave balance in proper proportion? Too damn many radio and tv commercials are PIERCINGLY bright! IT'S ABOUT BALANCE!

5)-Does everything CONGEAL into a mix that's greater than the "sum of it's parts"?

ALL OF THE ABOVE IS EASIER TO HEAR WITH HEADPHONES! Especially a truly revealing pair, like the Sony MDR-7506 (also known in consumer circles as the MDR-V6), LONG MY REFERENCE! Mixes done on these things sound immaculate, and hold together on far less revealing speaker systems! YES they're a little "clinical" sounding (on the "brightly lit" side of neutral). That'll keep you from making things painfully bright! They have FULLY extended bass (down to the "bassment") without any "bloat" or bass emphasis. And they're supremely comfortable! You can wear them for MANY hours (and I have, for a long, LONG time!) My 13 year-old MDR-7506 has been out of service a while because both earcups were split. I just ordered replacements from B&H Photo ( ), and after much prodding, the THIRD PAIR OF EARPADS IS IN PLACE! Welcome back old friend!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Recording with Vista

On Dec 21 my new computer arrived...a Dell Inspiron 531 (Athlon 64x2 5000+, 2GB RAM, 500GB hard drive), The operating system? Vista Home Premium! I decided I'd evetually have to make my peace with the new OS, so I went for sooner.

WELL, Adobe Audition can only be coaxed to work if you right click on the icon and choose "run as administrator". Otherwise, you're unable to save files. I can deal with that. What's REALLY strange is the way Vista deals with audio. My old HP system had a mute control. When I turned on my mic, I muted the speakers to avoid feedback. Well try to get feedback with Vista. It doesn't seem possible. First of all, when you plug in a board or mic preamp, NOTHING COMES OUT OF THE SPEAKERS UNLESS YOU'RE IN PLAYBACK. NOTHING! You can record, but NOTHING emerges from the speakers during recording.Then there's the record mixer in Vista. Actually there isn't (a recording mixer in Vista). Vista attempts to set levels on it's own. I can turn the input, and output on my mic preamp all the way down, and for most of the pots' travel Vista turns the level an aggressive AGC! But I still had to experiment before I found an input level that yielded clean audio. I CANNOT make Adobe Audition's meters reach 0dbfs, but I can sure as hell make the incoming audio sound distorted. WEIRD!

Update: A program from a small company called "Actual Solution" fixes Vista's mixer issues, by adding back all the control available in XP (and then some). "Power Mixer for Vista" is 18 bucks, and money well spent! My computer is stable now, no BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) in many days. I'm beginning to think I will actually be able to tolerate working on a Vista PC!