Latest "Audio Engineering" Posts
Was the leaked Britney Spears track before Autotune Real?
Yesterday the social media and interwebs blew up with the “leaked Britney Spears track before Autotune”. The track disappeared from existence after about an hour. But it’s still floating around.
Britney Spears – Alien NO AUTOTUNE by dioguinhoblog
I’m not posting the video to add fuel to the flame, so that you can all hear for yourself. But a couple things happened that show the significance of such a clip surfacing. Here’s what the world learned or probably should.
The Process of Audio Engineering is a Mystery
The track producer William Orbit posted a statement Monday, July 7, explaining that the track is a vocal warm-up session, not Spears’ final take. Anyone who has experienced ANY recording session knows that it is a creative and time consuming process. Personally I have not heard the recording, but I can atest to some incredible singers warming up in very unattractive and scary ways. When the takes begin though, they flip a switch and lay down some incredible things. If you think any artist walks in a studio, presses record sings the song once and that is the final cut, you are sadly unaware of the time of editing that takes place. Not because the artist’s aren’t talented, but because we as an audience are picky. We want to hear the perfect mix with zero errors, that takes a lot of time.
In the Case of this track, if the vocals were going to be autotuned to the point which they were for effect, than maybe to make it easier, they knew it could be sung less than perfect. We weren’t in the studio.
Artists are not Robots
Why is it so hard to believe that an artist doesn’t sound perfect all the time, that they warm up, that they get tired. Especially one that performs almost 7 days a week in a Vegas show. Imagine, that you were a runner, everyday you ran for 4 hours. Some days you may be sore, you may need to stretch out a bit more or maybe the whole day is a struggle. I’m not a Britney Spears apologist or even fan ( I do like her work but I wouldn’t say I’m a Fan), but when you work day in and day out with artists, you know them as people. They aren’t super humans and I’m sure they would be the first to tell you that.
Is the recording Real?
My answer would be yes. But the purpose of it is unknown. Do engineers really record warm ups? Sure. Should the tapes have leaked? No. Needless to say, someone lost a job.
Why did they pull it so quickly if it was just a warm up?
I can’t say 100% for sure, but do you want people watching you take a shower? Probably not. Warming up in front of people is difficult, it is like them seeing you get ready for the day, it can be embarrassing and can show an ugly side of you. There is no reason to believe it was anything more than that.
What do you think? Is it much ado about nothing? Does it make an artist any less talented to use AutoTune? Let us know your take!
Pink Floyd has made a huge impact on my life, music and even engineering. It spent 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988 on the Billboard Charts. With an estimated 50 million copies sold, it is Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide. It has twice been remastered and re-released, and has been covered in its entirety by several other acts. The profits also helped fund Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But all of that aside, it created a new standard for recording and the creation of albums.
The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, in two sessions, between May 1972 and January 1973. The band were assigned staff engineer Alan Parsons, who had worked as assistant tape operator on Atom Heart Mother, and who had also gained experience as a recording engineer on The Beatles‘ Abbey Road and Let It Be. The recording sessions made use of some of the most advanced studio techniques of the time; the studio was capable of 16-track mixes, which offered a greater degree of flexibility than the eight- or four-track mixes they had previously used, although the band often used so many tracks that to make more space available second-generation copies were made.
Beginning on 1 June, the first track to be recorded was “Us and Them”, followed six days later by “Money”. Waters had created effects loops from recordings of various money-related objects, including coins thrown into a food-mixing bowl taken from his wife’s pottery studio, and these were later re-recorded to take advantage of the band’s decision to record a quadraphonic mix of the album (Parsons has since expressed dissatisfaction with the result of this mix, attributed to a lack of time and the paucity of available multi-track tape recorders). “Time” and “The Great Gig in the Sky” were the next pieces to be recorded, followed by a two-month break, during which the band spent time with their families and prepared for an upcoming tour of the US. The recording sessions suffered regular interruptions; Waters, a supporter of Arsenal F.C., would often break to see his team compete, and the band would occasionally stop work to watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus on the television, leaving Parsons to work on material recorded up to that point. Gilmour has, however, disputed this claim; in an interview in 2003 he said: “We would sometimes watch them but when we were on a roll, we would get on.”
Returning from the US in January 1973, they recorded “Brain Damage”, “Eclipse”, “Any Colour You Like” and “On the Run”, while fine-tuning the work they had already laid down in the previous sessions. A foursome of female vocalists was assembled to sing on “Brain Damage”, “Eclipse” and “Time”, and saxophonist Dick Parry was booked to play on “Us and Them” and “Money”.
Take a look behind the creation of this epic and timeless album in Classic Albums: Making of Dark Side of the Moon.
An Engineer friend of mine shared an interesting video with me. The video is by Ian Shepherd of http://productionadvice.co.uk/. Ian illustrates why the loudness wars are destroying the quality of music in digital playback. Using several U2 reference pieces over the past 30 years, Ian shows us why it’s important to mix your CD’s as dynamically, not loud, as possible. It’s a fun technique you can do on your own at home as well.
More importantly with itunes being one of the largest digital music retailers in the world, he shows you how mixing your songs too loud can take away any dynamic and sparkle when hosted on the site. He uses not only the auditory samples but also creates a cool visual example of how the loudness wars are destroying mixes.
The title engineer is typically associated with someone that can completely control any aspect of a trade. Engineers are typically stereotyped as incredibly intelligent and problem solvers. So why give a guy that sits behind a board pushing faders and setting up wires an engineer?
Because a great audio engineer knows not only the mixing or even recording aspect of music making. A great engineer knows his studio inside and out. Engineers should be able to not only trouble shoot anything that arrises but also fix it. Audio engineers are jacks of all trades, they never stop learning and they never say no.
So lets say you are getting distortion through a channel that is miking a vocalist. Would you know where to start? Great engineers are troubleshoot and fix these things on a daily basis. They can solder a cable flawlessly, replace capacitors and know why the air conditioning isn’t turning on. You are the ship’s captain, the artist’s paintbrush and the president’s chief of staff.
The audio engineer can make or break a session. So what does this mean to you? This means you should never stop learning, make mistakes and realize there is a lot more to making records than pushing faders and turning knobs. It’s more than great beats and expensive gear, it’s being the guy that anyone can go to with their problem and find a solution.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share with us? Let us know below!
Auto-Tune is designed to help pitch correct vocals and instruments. Its main purpose is for pitch correction on vocal tracks. It can save a lot of time, but it can also degrade the sound quality of a track if not used carefully. It is not effective on stereo instruments or polyphonic material. There is a simple process to follow to edit correctly and efficiently, but ear training is always the most important aspect of learning to tune well. The method we teach for Auto-Tune is to selectively tune individual notes, and can be done very transparently and quickly. It does have limitations, however, and it’s important to be attentive to be sure you aren’t degrading the sound quality of your track.
Always Duplicate the playlists that you intend to edit before changing any audio. This is a universal guideline, preventing you from accidentally losing your clients data. It’s also best to do a Save AS on your PT session and add the suffix AT after the session name.
For ease of navigation, it’s best if your Pro Tools counter is set to Min: Secs, as this the format that will be displayed in the Auto-Tune window. This will enable you to accurately jump to specific times within the song.
Often, toggling Insertion follows Playback on and using a Pre-Roll of one or two seconds can speed the workflow.
INSERT AUTO-TUNE PLUG-IN
-On the track you wish to edit, insert Auto-Tune EVO Plug-In as the first insert.
-Select Input Type and choose the most appropriate setting for your audio. Most male vocals will be set as Low Male Vocal, high males and most females will be Alto/Tenor, and very high females will be Soprano. If tuning bass guitar use the Bass Inst setting. Other monophonic instruments such as brass, strings, guitar leads, etc. can often be tuned using the Instrument setting.
-Select Key and Scale to match your song.
-Place your Pro Tools playhead before the first note of the audio and press Track Pitch, then play the entire length of the audio file to allow it to detect the original pitches of your audio.
-Once Auto-Tune has tracked the audio in and has finished its pitch detection, it will draw a red line where the pitch was detected, it will also show the waveforms below the scroll bar as a reference.
While in the process of tuning, work in small sections of perhaps one phrase at a time, and check your work frequently.
-Using the Line Tool (Access this tool by pressing 1), target the pitch for each note that you wish to tune. Do this by clicking once where the pitch correction should begin and double clicking where the pitch correction should end.
-If you need to edit your line, use the other tools (numbers 2-8) to create line breakpoints, move breakpoints or lines, or select entire areas for various purposes.
-Be careful to avoid drawing the line over note transitions, as this can cause tuning artifacts. Listen especially carefully to vibrato, which Auto-Tune cannot always tune this way without phasey high frequency artifacts.
Some notes, transitions, or vibratos cannot be tuned effectively using the line tool.
-For these it is sometimes effective to use the Make Curve and/or Import Auto functions. To use these tools, first select the desired pitches using the Selection Tool (Number 7). With your desired note selected, press Make Curve. This will create a target line exactly the same as the original, and it is not yet applying any tuning changes.
-Using the Arrow Tool (Number 4), move either the entire pitch or the individual segment breaks at the edge of your selection so that the performance is in tune. Listen carefully, as this is not a foolproof backup to the Line Tool.
-Another option is to try the Import Auto tool. This will simultaneously make a curve and pull it towards nearby pitches. It sometimes works quicker than Make Curve, but it is also less reliably transparent.
-If you still cannot get the tuning to operate transparently, try selecting the trouble area and adjusting Retune Speed or Adjust Vibrato controls at the bottom of the screen. This will change the setting on only your selected area, and can help transitions to be less artificial.
-Once you have corrected pitch, it’s vital to check the entire track for errors or omissions, as there will inevitably be something you have missed.
-Watch and listen as you play through to correct any wrong notes, any pitches that didn’t get pulled accurately to the center of their note, and transitions that sound artificial or abrupt.
Learn the sound of bad tuning so you can avoid it. Better yet, learn and understand how great singers negotiate pitch in their performances. This may help you to avoid the trap of overtuning because it LOOKS bad.
-After approving the edited vocal, create a new Audio Track (with an appropriately descriptive name) to record the output of your Auto-Tuned track. Be certain that Auto-Tune is the only plug-in active on the original track, and that the output volume is set to unity.
-Use ProTools’ bussing to route into the new Audio Track and record from the start of the song. This will save your tuned track as a new audio file which can be played back on any computer, not just one authorized for Auto-Tune.
-Bring the newly printed audio up to a new empty playlist on your original track. This will keep all versions of this track in one location. It’s best to perform a Save As at this point so that if you want to get back to your tuning information you can quickly and easily do so. Once your editing is safe and secure, don’t forget to remove or make your Auto-Tune plug-in inactive.
Do you have any tips or questions about Auto-tune? Comment Below.
During my holiday break, I decided to take some time and research what kinds of things engineers should always keep in mind, and many times it’s the little things that we tend to overlook. So I came up with 5 Tips All Sound Engineers Should Know!
“Command S” All Day Long!
Back in the day, a hard drive was something that you could brag about having and feel proud that you were being proactive with your work, but now with a terabyte being not even 100 bucks, there’s no excuse not to keep up with the trend of ample amounts of storage space for your important work and data.
Can you imagine having worked around the clock on a project, only to come and find that in the middle of your payed session, technology decides to remind you that it is not 100% guaranteed perfect. Stuff breaks and gets older, so protect yourself and invest in yourself.
Warm Up ALL Your Instruments
The better the source, the better the product; that was one of the most insightful pieces of advice I had found while doing my research. Proper tuning whether it is with vocals before tracking, a set of guitar strings, or replacing a drumhead, tuning is apart of giving the best quality of sound any musician possibly can, and being warmed up and prepared is a weight that everyone should be pulling together.
NOTHING Leaves Without the Green!
This might seem like common sense, but obviously there is a reason why this tip was found when I did my research. NEVER let any mix of any kind leave your possession without first having the money for it in your hand, pocket, but preferably bank account.
Remember that this includes mp3 deliveries via email and CD-Rs that you send with a rough mix… NOTHING leaves!
Keep Things Simple
One of the biggest problems commonly found among new engineers is trying to be too fancy for your own good. Much of your time and money as well as your clients’ will go to waste trying to do too many things at once. Examples I found were doing too many vocals, using a stereo track when a mono would have been just fine, and recording too many guitar layers, and I am sure the list continues. Reputation takes time and working your way up is just the name of the game. Enjoy the process!
Set Up Shop
So this tip I found was one that I personally would not have thought of probably until a situation occurred where it was needed, but keeping spare parts seemed to be a popular suggestion. Like I said before, stuff breaks and it is always wise to have a spare or two just to be safe. Some examples are mic and instrument cables, drum sticks, guitar strings, etc.
What Tips or Skills do you keep in your arsenal?
For an Audio Engineer, Producer or even Home Studio the importance of how to identify jacks and plugs is as important as breathing. Mark my words that someday someone will walk in with a piece of gear and say, “Can I just plug this in?” For the most part jacks and plugs (or connectors if you like) are usually pretty common. Most people now the difference between a TRS and TR 1/4 in plug and an RCA. But in the world of technology and audio engineering there’s a unique blend of “Old School” and “New School”.
Old School Connectors
Even if you don’t know what a TRS is that’s ok. We’ll Go over it.
TRS stands for (Tip/Ring/Sleeve) a TRS is used for a Stereo connection. The Tip and the Ring are separate channels. These are typically seen on Headphones and Ipod cables. Do NOT use a TRS for an instrument unless it’s an electronic instrument that is stereo.
TS as you could guess stands for (Tip/Sleeve). The TS is also called an instrument cable because this is the type of cable you would use for a guitar, bass or other mono instruments.
Both TRS and TS can come in several sizes, but typically 1/4 and 1/8 inch.
XLR: The connectors are circular in design and have between 3 and 7 pins. They are most commonly associated with balanced audio interconnection, including AES3 digital audio, but are also used for lighting control, low-voltage power supplies, and other applications.
X – The original connector used was a “Cannon X” from the ITT-Cannon corporation.
L – In development, they added a *L*atch to the Cannon X. They took the letter L from latch to create a title for their new “XL” cable.
R – Finally, they combined a *R*ubber compound to the contacts, and took the letter R from rubber to create the XLR.
Typically an XLR will be used for a Microphone. But they are also used for live sound quite a bit because of their locking capability.
MIDI is short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Midi cables connect midi devices to interfaces, mixers, computers and other midi devices. The signal is digital so therefore can communicate between devices. MIDI carries event messages that specify notation, pitch and velocity, control signals for parameters such as volume, vibrato, audio panning, cues, and clock signals that set and synchronize tempo between multiple devices. These messages are sent to other devices where they control sound generation and other features. This data can also be recorded into a hardware or software device called a sequencer, which can be used to edit the data and to play it back at a later time.
Something to remember! If you are pluging in a MIDI Devices, IN goes to OUT and OUT goes to IN. So if you are plugging in, let’s say a MIDI keyboard into an interface one cable will go from the Keyboard MIDI OUT to the Interface MIDI IN and vice versa. IN does not go to IN and the same goes for out. think of the cable as a tunnel, the sound goes IN one end and comes OUT the other end.
RCA is typically not used for professional sound, but is often used for older mixers and gear as well as home appliances. If you have a Surround Sound you have more than likely used RCA’s.
Be sure to join us for Part 2 Next week, the “New School”!
Hello everyone! My name is Tony Bostic and I head up admissions for Dark Horse Institute in Franklin, TN. This premier audio engineering school is based on a principle that traditional classrooms, and college experiences, miss the mark when it comes to training the next generation of audio engineers. It is our belief that the road to success begins with a full-immersion, hands-on approach to education; and our unique 14-week program provides just that.
Located within the heart of historic Franklin, TN, Dark Horse Institute offers two state-of-the-art locations. One nestled in the comfort of a laid-back horse ranch, and the other with a more urban-vibed facility housed in The Factory of historic downtown. Both campuses, each housing two unique studios, offer top industry equipment and world-class rooms. It is here that our students are exposed to hands-on training, administered by experienced and professional engineers, in real working studios.
Probably the most common question I receive in admissions is, “what are you looking for in a candidate for your program?” The answers to this question are greatly important and are really broken into 3 responses. Why three? Because here at Dark Horse Institute, we have three main admissions tools that we use–Application, Essay, and Interview.
Let’s start with the application. You might not think that this would matter a lot, but it actually can tell us a great deal about the potential of a candidate. For instance, we look for those applications that have been filled out completely and correctly. If someone does not take the time to fill out the entire application, then we assume that they have no attention to detail. When it’s not filled out correctly, we assume that the applicant does not process information well. Attention to detail and being able process information are vital components when taking our program, and an applicant showing the previous signs would be a red flag.
Another important part of the admissions process is the essay. This is the candidate’s opportunity to give a well thought out response as to why he/she would be a great fit for our audio engineering program, and what contribution they feel they can make to our industry. We look for essays that are well written as well as grammatically correct. The content allows an applicant to show us their determination and passion for the music industry. We want people who are not only technically savvy, but who possess a strong desire to do well and make their mark on the business. Music is a tough way to make a living, but those who work hard and are passionate, as well as knowledgeable, can do very well. This is what we look for in the essay.
Finally, the interview is the best way to prove oneself as an outstanding candidate for our audio engineering program. During the interview we ask a varied series of questions designed to uncover what the applicants’ experiences, prior knowledge, and passions are. We want students that have realistic expectations of the music industry and who possess a strong work ethic. One’s work ethic is so important not only for our program, but also for a new engineer working to build one’s business. We pay close attention to
how an applicant acts, speaks, and listens during an interview. Someone who looks me in the eye, shakes my hand, and gives articulate answers, has a strong chance at doing well in this business. Assuming the application, essay, and interview go well, we would offer this candidate a seat in one of our classes.
Someone once said that success is reached when the line of preparation intersects with the line of opportunity. Dark Horse Institute aims to give students the best preparation for a career in audio engineering and production. Applicants interested in taking this step towards their dreams should pay close attention to their application, essay, and interview. Following the advice laid out above will give you the competitive edge to make yourself stand out from the crowd. We will give you the tools you need to be a great engineer. However, you must then work hard and network well in order to create lines of opportunity that will lead to your success.
If you have any questions for Tony about our Audio Engineering Program you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for more information
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Want to train for a career in audio engineering? In today’s post, we look at four stats that confirm what Dark Horse Institute students already know: For aspiring audio engineers, Nashville is the place to be. Ready to start your journey now? Give us a call at (615) 791-7020.
In July, The Atlantic published a fascinating study about the Nashville music scene. But it wasn’t the typical feature story about Nashville, gushing on about the Music City’s beautiful venues and the chances of bumping into a celebrity on Music Row. Instead, author Richard Florida set out to demonstrate what Nashville’s awesome music scene means for Nashville’s economy.
Sound boring to you? I guess I can understand that. But we’ve taken the liberty to pluck out four incredible statistics from this great article that audio engineers just have to take a look at. They affirm, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what we’ve come to realize at Dark Horse Institute: There’s just no place like Nashville. And if you’re serious about starting in the music production business, you just can’t beat the Music City.
1) There are 56,000 music industry-related jobs in the Nashville metro area.
What it means for you: You can start your career in an economic oasis that is always looking to hire.
Did you know that Nashville has accounted for almost all of the growth in the music industry since 1970? That trend doesn’t seem to be slowing, according to Mr. Florida. In fact, he has called Nashville “the Silicon Valley of the Music Business.” What does it mean for you? Studying here can mean tons of opportunities—all without leaving your own zip code.
2) Nashville has the “deepest concentration of the music industry in the country.”
What it means for you: Attending Dark Horse Institute is a networker’s dream.
According to Mr. Florida’s report, Nashville has “extraordinarily strong concentrations” of jobs in music publishing, record production, instrument manufacturing, and musical groups. In fact, the Music City has a whopping 7.8 music industry jobs per 1,000.
Where do other popular music studio Meccas come in? Well, Los Angeles boasts 2.8 jobs per 1,000 and New York City claims just 2 per 1,000. Where does Winter Park/Orlando (home of Full Sail University) come in? It’s nowhere to be found.
At Dark Horse, you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to network in a city filled with music professionals. And once you’ve graduated, we don’t leave you hanging—you have access to our full body of career development resources, including our list of industry contacts.
3) Nashville producers and engineers make 156% the national average.
What it means for you: You’re less likely to have to worry about scrapping it out as a new producer.
What’s one of the most frightening prospects of becoming a music producer? Having to live by the skin of your teeth. Fortunately, in Nashville, that happens a lot less often. In fact, only Los Angeles music pros earn more compared to the national average. Nashville shells out over 3 BILLION dollars each year in labor income for the music industry. And there’s still a piece of the pie left for you.
4) 1 in 5 Nashville workers is self-employed (23%), largely within the music industry.
What it means for you: Looking to own your own studio? Nashville is built for it.
At Dark Horse, we’re serious about helping you achieve your dreams in the music industry, especially if that means working for yourself and owning your own studio. After all, that’s how this school was started—born out of a legendary Nashville recording studio. In Nashville/Franklin, you’ll be surrounded by people who are serious about music and know how to build studios from scratch. How does that sound?
So what are you looking for in an audio recording school? What would you like to see from the city that you go to school in? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below to join the conversation.
Insiders View From Dark Horse Institute
The best way to become one, is to learn from one! You will also need to develop a good set of ears, so you’ll want to study in a place that allows you do just that. Passionate audio students enroll in programs that are solely audio-focused, allowing a significant portion of their time for tracking, editing and mixing. If you are pursuing a career in audio engineering and searching for a dynamic place to learn your craft, Dark Horse Institute provides tactical learning, within a real working studio, taught by professional engineers. A degree is not necessary in this industry; however proficiency in Pro Tools, critical listening skills and detailed client services are a must.
Many students don’t have the time to go to college for four years to earn a degree and then look for a job. Most people don’t even have two years to attend a trade school. Both are expensive, not only in tuition, but in room and board, travel and lost income. We know that time is of the essence and we want to help you find your dream job more efficiently. That is why Dark Horse Institute has a Fast Track 3-month program so you can learn what it takes to be a great audio engineer faster than you ever thought possible and for a fraction of the cost of traditional schools.
Our instructors will have you practicing your skills from day one so you can begin your career sooner. We understand that you may not want to go the traditional route of a 4-year college or 2-year vocational school, so we cut out the unnecessary general electives and we solely teach audio engineering. Every minute of every class is spent in a real recording studio or at a Digital Audio Workstation.
Dark Horse Institute graduates are often working in the field long before their peers who opted for a traditional learning environment. We’re so committed to teaching you the essentials, we even have you practice what you’ve learned in your final project: recording, editing, and mixing a 6-song EP for two bands of different genres.
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