Recording Gold Records
I’ve found vinyl and the program Serato, to be great for sampling. To trigger the sample you don’t even need a controller, you can just use the keypad, numbers 1-5 for each sample you want to be triggered. To emulate Kanye West, all you need now are some rapping skills and an 808 drum machine or mixer with pads to layer drums over the samples. Or just audiotool for free.
Pro Tools and Logic
First, the fun stuff. If you want some recommendations of the best amp, compressor and EQ plug-ins, I’d try the plug-ins by Kush Audio, Softube, Sound Toys and Universal Audio.
Second, the basics, you need to setup your interface. If you are using an Apogee Duet for example, you do this in Pro Tools by going to Setup, and choosing Apogee as your Hardware and Playback Engine.
In Logic, it’s under preferences and devices. Here is a video to do it with Logic.
If you want to record using a keyboard with the built in program sounds, in Logic choose software instrument, in Pro Tools choose Instrument Track.
In Pro Tools, go to the mix window and choose one of the 5 inserts to choose an instrument. You can put effects in the other inserts.
Check the input before recording, try instrument one or two if you are using a microphone.
To record without key commands, just hit the red circle, which is record, to record enable, and then hit play to record.
Key Commands in Logic
Record = R
Save = Command S
Command Option N = New Track
New Session = Command N
Play / Stop = Spacebar
Record Enable= Control R
Open Session = Command O
Fast Forward= shift .
Fast Rewind= Shift ,
Import Audio= Shift Command I
Bounce = Command B
Open Arrange Window= Command 1
Open Mix Window= Command 2
Close Session = Command W
Pro Tools Key Commands
Save = Command S
Record= command spacebar
Command E = Make slice in waveform
New Track= Shift Command N
Close Window = Command W
Open Session= Shift Command O
Close Session = Shift Command W
Mix Window = Command =
Import Audio= Shift Command I
Scrolling speed = Choose 1-4, one being the slowest.
Command [ or ] zoom in and out
Command Enter = Go back to the start of the track
Famous producer Max Martin suggests hitting the chorus within fifty seconds of a song. He also suggests repeating the melodies over and over again in a song, a trick he calls melodic math.
Theory of the Microphones
Microphone placement. Where you place the microphone is essentially a matter of personal taste, but obviously some placements are technical standards, and some are more popular than others.
AC/DC would hang the microphones right over the guitar cabs, not even using microphone stands.
When Loveless was being recorded Kevin Shields faced two amps directly facing each other and put the microphones in the middle of those amps.
Nirvana’s Nevermind producer Vig recommends just a pair of stereo mics on the drums. In my opinion, gating the drums, and using a more minimalistic approach worked much better than when Steve Albini hung microphones everywhere and recorded the drums in the kitchen for In Utero. In Albini’s favor, experimenting with sonic possibilities is always a good thing… as long as you go back to the tried and true, if the experiment does not sound good.
For acoustic guitars and singing, you can just watch this video by Guns & Roses and figure it out.
A word on practicing and equipment. When I was younger I was under the illusion that becoming a good musician consisted of a magical formula of drugs, guitars, pedals and stumbling upon a good melody and rhythm by random chance. This has no logical basis. Why do you think albums like Nevermind, Dirty and Loveless are good all the way through? It’s because Kurt Cobain made his band practice five hours a day, it’s because Kevin Shields spend a full year practicing with just his whammy bar. It’s because Sonic Youth spend years experimenting finding new sounds and using rare tunings. It’s not your innate talent, everyone crawls, everyone starts out drawing stick figures and improves through hard work. It’s not your equipment, the Replacements rocked out a cheap kids guitar on their best album Let It Be, and Polly was recorded on $40 acoustic guitar. At the same time, they were recording in million dollar recording studios. Stellar sound quality comes from the equipment. But! Excellent musicianship comes from you, using what you have. Perfect your instrument, master your style. Passion for music is the only road to excellent musicianship and recording.
Not only in music. In life, you become better at what you focus on. The moral is do what you enjoy. Do what’s productive. If you want to become a famous soccer player, play soccer. Do what you love and become great at it. Skip math, if you don’t enjoy it, in the grand scale of things, we are meaningless, so, what good will it do you anyway? In our little ant colony, we are not meaningless to ourselves, and we are not free of consequences, so do what you enjoy. Do what you dream of, do what you would like to see yourself doing in the future. You reap what you sow, so, as Fred Wolf said, “Life’s a garden, dig it.”
For MP3s you want to avoid 128 which is less than half CD quality (320). Lossless files are the best to go for. Soundcloud and Bandcamp stream at 128, but Bandcamp has the option to download at 320. Vinyl through tubes still has the best sound since it is a pure waveform, if you can avoid dust on the record.
Headphones and Professional Audio Vs. Hi-Fi
The troubadour headphones for charity are the best I’ve ever heard. The response isn’t flat, but the consumers aren’t listening to flat response speakers either. In my opinion, you can mix with anything that covers the entire frequency range of our hearing. NS-10s, some of the most popular studio monitors in the world, don’t have a flat response, they’re failed consumer speakers. End of review.