Episode 90, “Lies that cost you money”

In todays episode we talk about your electric instruments, expensive microphones, tube gear, power amps, speakers, and more. The more you understand about the world of clever marketing the more you can save.

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Breaking into live sound production“, a live sound product that explains everything you will need to know in order to begin your live sound career, including how I use what I call “the 4 M’s” to help destroy feedback before it starts.

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The “UPLIFT DESK” from The Human Solution. This is the standing workstation I rave about so much.

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Rock Solid Guitar Stands” are furniture grade multi-guitar stands that help me be more productive.

Trigger Platinum 2.0 (review/demo) from Steven Slate Drums

I got out of my home recording studio and got into live sound about three or four years ago. I have worked steady and gotten to a point that one of the services I now offer is “live multi track recording”. I also do the mixing and mastering, which leads me to todays’ post review/demo. If you record, mix, or master music, you should read this short post and watch this short video.

I do more and more live recordings. What I mean by this is that I record bands as they play out live. In a perfect world we would spend time tuning the drums, set up our best recording microphones around the kit, and spend hours making sure the parts of the drum kit were mic’d up to perfection.

That just does not happen. Usually there isn’t enough time for all of that. Most often the drums come out of a case from deep within someone’s van, not touched since the last gig. Were lucky if we finish setting everything up before we launch into a sound check. Recording considerations, like mic placement, come last in these situations. After all, we have a gig to play. Lets instead make sure everything is working and it all sounds acceptable. Everything else comes after, if there is enough time.

This means instead of nice recording microphones, we set up the cheap dynamic mics that are used in live sound. We set the mic stands where we can, and that becomes the spot. If they are not perfect for recordings sake, too bad. Instead of moving the microphones around until they are best placed, we move on to bigger issues.

This makes giving the band a great sounding “live recording” difficult. The drums always sound as if they were recorded by an amateur. Are you finding this same exact issue? I have a solution, and it is called Trigger 2.0 Platinum, and it is from (genius) Steven Slate, of Steven Slate Drums.

The blazing speed and ease at which you can easily perfect any multi track recorded drum tracks is astounding. You can blend in up to eight samples per track, which is mind blowing. You can pan, gate, tune, and blend each sample to taste. If you are responsible for recording live drums, recording drums, mixing todays’ music, or in the live sound field at all, you must at some point get Trigger 2.0 Platinum, its just that obvious. I am as speechless about the end result as my clients are, and they think it took me hours and hours to get the drums to sound so amazing.

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Episode 89, Increasing home studio output in quantity and quality

Yep, its so true. We can put out more music, way better sounding music, and in less time. Check out how in today’s episode.

Also, in Episode 89, I mention the following…

Breaking into live sound production” This is the career starting kick in the pants that you have been looking for! You want in on the lucrative world of live sound, right? Here is the product you are searching for.

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My own resource page with reviews posted.

 “UPLIFT DESK” from The Human Solution. Work longer and feel better with a standing desk!

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PreSonus Faderport makes writing automation, mixing levels, and recording away from your desk a breeze.

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5 things your probably doing all wrong in live sound production…

Hi, my name is Kern Ramsdell, and I am an all around audio nut.

I live and breathe all things audio. I own a humble home recording studio, live sound system, and at any one time I am a live sound engineer for local bands and venues. Too be completely honest about live sound, I just cant get enough of it.

That said, the world of live sound is far from perfect.

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I have learned the right way to do a million things but only after making a million mistakes. I just finished a live sound product titled, “Breaking into live sound production“, aimed at helping newbie live sound engineers, but if you would like more information about it simply click on the box below.

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Here are five mistakes I see live sound engineers making…

 

1) You cant think in reverse.

I believe that in order to be a better live sound engineer we should think in reverse whenever possible. Here is an example for you.

Stage volume is a constant battle with most bands. When a musician asks me to turn up (lets say) the vocals in their monitors, I don’t do it. Instead I think in reverse. I turn everything else that might be in their monitors down, making sure to not touch the vocals at all. Then, if need be, I turn up the volume level of the monitor.

So why go through all of this? The thing that usually happens is that you get sucked into a never ending cycle of turning things up, louder and louder. We should work hard to stay clear of these never ending volume cycles.

As we turn up one thing in a monitor everything else then seems quieter as a result. Next, you will be asked to bring up another instrument, followed by yet another. Once you turn one thing up everything else just seems too quiet. The volume knobs go up and down, so why not try turning everything else down. This way, they can hear what they want to, better than before. If it is too quiet after you turn down the loud channels, turn up the monitor slightly. They will not know that you did anything except what they asked for.

Believe it or not we apply thinking in reverse to things all the time. Ever apply “subtractive EQ”? I also use reverse thinking when something is too quiet in the mains. If the sound level is too low after my adjustment, I raise the whole mix ever so slightly. This helps keep a sonic-ally cleaner show with a much more constant volume level.

2) You have gotten comfortable doing things the wrong way.

There is probably a much better way to do some of the things you are currently doing, weather it be routing certain effects, applying compressors, or running your live sound rig. Whatever it is that we could be doing better, we just have gotten used to doing things the way we are doing them.

Hey, why change if it works, right?

I have encountered systems that flat out had things hooked up in crazy ways. As these systems grow, the things that are done in order to accommodate for improper connections or techniques grow and grow. At some point these systems become impossible to operate. It just becomes too hard to work that hard.

There is a saying I like to quote that states “As the twig bends, so grows the tree”. This speaks to me. I take it to apply that if you make exceptions to common sense and hook things up wrong, or use gear in ways that the manufacturer never intended, while the system is small, imagine how crazy things will be when you grow into a massive rig.

Read manuals and get to understand the gear you come in contact with. Learn alternate ways of accomplishing like tasks. Learn how to do less with more.

3) Your ignoring those unsolicited critiques.

We all get them and we get them all the time. Some nights I get more than one. People cant resist telling the sound person what they should do better. I used to think to myself, “Who are you to tell me what I should be doing?”. But not anymore.

I believe everyone has something to say. Hearing is dynamic. We all hear differently and we all have unique experiences and opinions. Ever walk around a venue as a band plays? Things will sound drastically different depending on where you stand. So what does this all mean?

I try to listen to what people tell me. I also look for common threads while listening to critiques. If we truly want to improve and get better at live sound production then we need to be open to critiques and learn from them.

Not only do I listen to critiques, I also try to help people express what they are trying to share with me. Not every person is into sound. They most often don’t know how to express what it is that they wish to say.

4) You have gotten tired.

You just don’t work with the same level of interest that you used too. You feel as if the spark has gone. This is not the same thing as becoming lazy, but they are related to one another.

Let me give you a few examples of this if I may.

Maybe you don’t listen to different microphone placements anymore. Instead you just take what you get when placing microphones in front of amps, and “just go with that” straight into the mixing console. That really stinks for everyone because if you try a few placements you will probably find the best spot for the mic, providing a much better production.

Another example might be never taking a second look at your stereo compressor (in line with your mains) as you work show after show. Before you know it things sound flat. When you finally do look at your compressor settings you notice the ratio is set to “full on limiting”, or at about a 20:1 ratio. This is a reach, I know, but it happens. Knobs will get turned and settings will get moved.

Lastly, maybe you have grown tired of listening to new ideas. Bands mention new things to you, like their ideas, expecting your excitement, but instead you just roll your eyes. I see it all the time. Everyone feels it too. Its tough to remain excited about work, and believe it or not, this applies to live sound too.

5) You are not open to new ideas and new technologies.

You have sworn off new technologies and new live sound products. You maybe say things like this, “Hey, if the Beatles didn’t need it back then why do we need it now?”. Bye the way,  that is the biggest load of garbage I have ever heard. The troubling thing is that I hear it, and things just like that all the time.

The truth is that the Beatles would have loved to have access to the gear of today. Back then people paid little attention to creating new products or technologies for music. Massive track count, multi track recording studios were decades away. Concerts, in the era of bands like that, were way under powered and problematic at best. The same goes for all aspects of the audio world, like studio work, songwriting, instrument manufacturing and design, and the list just goes on and on.

We live in an incredible moment in time. There are massive corporations staffed with thousands of people, all creating new products and technologies for the music industry! There are a lot of new gadgets out there, and I cant defend all of them, but I beg you to remain open to new ideas, new concepts, and new technologies.

Believe it or not, people once swore off computers as over complicated calculators. Can you imagine a world without them now?

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If you are thinking about getting into live sound production either as a freelance live sound engineer or as the “dedicated sound person” for your own band or venue, and you are curious as to what you will need to know, please know you are not alone. I just finished a brand new product aimed at answering the most common questions that most new engineers have. I also teach the principals that you will need to know and understand, like impedance and how to combat feedback before it happens. Its called “Breaking into live sound production“, and its ready to help your next production be your best!

Episode 88, Winner 3 and a creepy true story…

“Breaking into live sound production” is now complete and ready for your purchase and instant consumption! I am so proud of how it came out, and I am excited for all of you to check it out. My aim was to simply remove the painful embarrassment, sleepless anxiety filled nights, and all around stress that comes with live sound production. Please use the links provided for you or simply click on the product box below to learn more about “Breaking into live sound production”.

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Congratulations Kenneth Mort and Julia Breeze for their genius and their hard work on the catchy and elegant song titled “We can do anything“. It is a job well done and proof that only two tracks is sometimes just enough. I love this song and I couldn’t think of a better song to close out yet another successful year of the Home Recording Weekly Songwriting Contest.

Todays shout out is for a fellow live sound nut and a live sound tech guru, “Big Nate”. I have been watching and listening to Big Nate for a while now and he has a lot of interesting and a lot of valuable information to give to you. Please “Subscribe” to all three channels as I know you are going to love him!

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Here are links to his YouTube channels and to his podcast…

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Live Sound 101 (YouTube Channel)

AV Shop Talk Podcast

Episode 86, “Lets get weird about audio”

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Welcome back to another fun episode of the Home Recording Weekly Podcast. Today I talk at length about a phenomenon that has continued to completely overcome my senses as I work in live sound.

Mentioned in todays episode:

 “Working class audio podcast” from Matt Boudreau

Recoding Studio Rockstars podcast” from Lij Shaw

The UPLIFT DESK from “The Human Solution“.

This is what my actual UPLIFT DESK looks like…

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Thanks for listening to Home Recording Weekly.

Stay tuned to see who winner number three of the 2016 Home Recording Weekly songwriting contest will be…

Kern Ramsdell

Episode 85, “Winner number two of the songwriting contest”, plus a gear and techniques chat”

 

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Howdy, y’all. I was just blown away with Jose Neto and his great song, “Gotta place”. It seems as if everything has a nice place to live and there is a lot of separation. Great song and a job well done sir!

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Please use this link to jump over to Episode 81 where you can hear and read about all of the great prizes that are heading to Jose.

Amazing Products mentioned in todays episode:

UPLIFTDESK” from The Human Solution

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Programing drums“, from Joe Gilder

ReThink Mixing“, from Graham Cochrane

Mixing with compression“, from Matt Weiss

Ultimate mastering formula“, from Rob Williams

Dueling Mixes“, from Joe Gilder and Graham Cochrane

Pop Production“, from Kris Crunk

Op-2 Comp, from Lightning Boy Audio

This is a detailed review and sound demo of the “Op-2 Comp pedal“, an exquisite piece of boutique, hand crafted in the USA, vacuum tube based technology from Lightning Boy Audio. Spoiler alert: It sounds incredible!

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I feel that I should tell you right up front that I paid full price for this pedal, and it was not supplied in exchange for this review. I agreed that in order to keep this review as unbiased and as honest as possible, I should pay the full asking price.

I should also explain why I chose to purchase the Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal“. It is not a very long story, but it will take just a moment to explain. My vintage compressor pedal that I have used for years and years began to break down and it was injecting loads of noise into my signal chain, finding its way onto my recordings. I needed to purchase a new compressor pedal, so I began my search. I once had (and adored) a very special Lightning Boy Audio overdrive pedal and so I decided to see what they were producing. I actually reached out to Lightning Boy Audio because I had read somewhere that they were about to release this new tube comp pedal. I got lucky. Mike was willing to make one just for me even though the pedals were not yet ready to ship out to dealers.

The actual unit I poses is an older version than the one you will receive. Only the box has since seen a revision.

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The very first thing most people notice about the Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” are that there are two tubes rising up and out of the unit. We have seen this before as a purchase helping “gimmick” in a lot of cheap pedals in the past. This is not one of those what-so-ever. The Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal“is an all analogue, tube driven, optical compressor. Lightning Boy Audio  is the real deal when it comes to harnessing the full power of the atom, and let me add that the NOS 12 AU7 tubes that you see jetting out of the “Op-2 Comp pedal” are in fact part of the circuit, and they do add tube-like warmth tone to your signal chain.

How does it work and sound?

I find the dynamics of the Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” to be right what I had hoped for, extremely musical, and right where I want them to be. The knee settings (hard or soft) both sound and feel very nice and very musical to me. The tones I get are representative of the guitar I use so I would use the tag line “transparent” to help explain the sound, yet it does impart some warm analogue tube goodness. I love the range of compression on tap, as well as the amount of volume (make up gain) that is available. Turn the comp dial all the way to the left and you will have a very small amount of compression, all the way to the right and you will get a limiting style compression. The pedal is fun to play through, as I love to hold those bends for dramatic feel and effect.

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 If you decide to purchase and employ a Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal“, you will need to turn the pedal on 30 seconds before you wish to use it in order to allow the tubes to warm up. The L.E.D. lighting found inside the pedal (easily viewed from a standing position) is there to help you understand when the pedal is ready for your dynamic squashing, tube enriching enjoyment. There could be some misunderstanding about the LED lighting, so I wanted to set the record straight. Also, the Lightning Boy Audio Op-2 Comp pedal runs off of 12 VDC @ 400ma.

Since I am setting the record straight, let me add that I will never let go of this Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal“. I am simply way to in love with the pedal to let that happen. The Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” was created with my personal favorite compressor (the very compressor I reach for when it comes to guitars and vocals) the now infamous LA-2A circuit. This explains the simple to use feature set of the pedal and the incredible tones one can easily get from the pedal. I love the simplicity of the auto attack and release of the LA-2A circuit. It is just a very musical compressor in my opinion.

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About the actual Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” used in this review…

I should say in this review that I have a “Revision A” model Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal“. That means the switch labeled “On/Off” is really a switch for a “Turbo” feature, and will be labeled as such in the future. It is miss-marked, which I fully knew in advance. That is the price I paid to get an early unit.

All versions of the Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” are completely “True Bypass”, so it will not be a tone sucker when not in use. Two blue L.E.D.’s illuminate when the pedal is activated, as to avoid any confusion about weather it is working or not, just for those of us that are new to what dynamics might sound like or act like. OK, it can be tough to tell with a light compression, I will agree with you on that.

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When it comes to its overall construction, this pedal is “over the top” well made. What I mean by that is that they are made to military grade specs, by hand, one at a time. I dig the fact that they added a pair of protective “roll bars” to better protect the “NOS” tubes jetting out of the unit. All of the knobs, switches, and components found inside are of the highest quality, just like all Lightning Boy Audio products of the past, and feel very nice to use. I can tell you that Lightning Boy Audio strives for the absolute highest quality in both tone and in build quality.

There is no worry at all about placing the Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” on my gigging pedalboard for actual use and keeping. These are built tough and backed with a 5 year guarantee. Five years people! Although the Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” is a boutique piece of pro audio gear worthy of taking good care of, it was built to be used. It simply sounds too good to “put it away” after each use.

This short video should demonstrate the toughness of the Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” in much better detail…

The Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” that I have has two switches, two knobs, two tubes, and an on/off footswitch. The “Op-2 Comp pedal” is perhaps perfect for me, as a guitar player, as there is one knob for the compression. If I want more compression/sustain I turn the knob to the right. If I want less compression and more attack, I turn the knob to the left. Next to the “compression” knob is a “volume” knob. We all know what that does. I should say that dynamics will alter your output volume, so we all need a “make up gain”, or volume knob. Add to the well laid out and easy to understand controls a “Hard/soft knee” switch. This tells the compression how hard to add compression once you cross the threshold. The “Revision A” model “Op-2 Comp pedal” that I posses has another switch for activating the “Turbo”, which I believe will always be on. This adds a slightly thicker tube tone and a slight volume boost too. Add a single “Mono” in and “mono out” and we are off to the gig.

How I use the Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal“…

For most guitar players, we love to employ compression for a few good reasons. First, compression can help add sustain to our notes, letting us hold a note longer as we solo or play lead lines. Second, compression can even out our attack, or the very first part of each note and chord, so everything we play is at the same, even volume level. Third, compression can help our guitar or bass playing stand out in a dense mix.

The Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” imparts a warm, inviting tone that can be heard all the way from sparkly clean settings all the way up to overdriven settings. I like to place a compressor first in my signal chain. I like to give my effects and my amp as consistently an even signal as possible. This makes for a nice, evenly spread overdriven sound, and a warm thick clean sound. Of course this is all in my humble opinion. You might disagree with me on the placement of your compression, but that is another topic altogether.

I also use compression on just about everything I have ever recorded or mixed. I even use compression when I run shows as the “Live sound  engineer”. So it just begs to reason that I try the Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” on as many sources as I can, from live vocals to recorded kick and snare drums, just to see if I like what I hear. After all, this is not a plug in, or a digital emulation of a compressor, like I am used too operating when mixing, but a in fact it is a real analogue, tube driven optical compressor. This kind of experimentation can only be a fun, and one full of surprise and good fortune.

In use I find the dynamic reducing effects of the Lightning Boy AudioOp-2 Comp pedal” to be right on the spot, extremely musical, and right where I want them to be. The pedal is fun to play through, too, which came as no real surprise. I have owned a Lightning Boy Audio Tube Overdrive pedal in the past which went to a good friend. That was a mistake on my part. I have “first refusal rights” when and if the pedal ever goes up for sale. I miss the amazing warm sound of that pedal and the build quality of that pedal were just as incredible. Lightning Boy Audio is all about quality construction, high grade components, and superior tones.

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