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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“Home Mastering EQ” course by Ian Shepherd, reviewed and explained

EQ is so super important in everything we audio folk do. We use EQ at each step of the process, or when performing, producing sound, recording, mixing, and of course, when mastering. When it comes to mastering “EQ” is the tool at the top of the list of most important tools.

Mastering is crazy though, because as always, we must keep in mind things like, “less is more”, and “everything we do is most often too much”. The idea is to use reference material and then open up tools that will force our material (or our music) to sound like the reference material (music). This may sound easy enough, but it is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. People can spend a lifetime trying to figure out mastering and how to even begin doing this all important step. Thank goodness I know someone that is very good at mastering. He actually does mastering as a profession, and he loves to teach it. His name? Ian Shepherd.

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Let me add that although inside “Home Mastering EQ“, Ian recommends his favorite EQ plugins, EQ’s that Ian loves to use himself, you do not need to purchase any EQ’s in order to get an incredible amount out of “Home Mastering EQ“. This course is more about learning the critical musical frequencies on an EQ, applying EQ to these frequencies in much more practical ways, and making stereo files sound much better using EQ at the mastering stage.

I should also point out that “Home Mastering EQ”  is not your run of the mill “beginners EQ course”. Ian begins with the assumption that the viewer should already know the parts that make up an EQ, and they should have a good understanding of how EQ’s work on a basic level.

If my math is right, then “Home Mastering EQ” will run you about 67 British Pounds, or roughly about 86.00 US Dollars, at the time of this review. Ian Shepherd also offers an amazing 60 day, 100 percent cash back guarantee if you are not completely happy with the “Home Mastering EQ” course. That means you can feel safe that you are in the right hands.

I would also like to point out that at the end of this review I offer you two bonus courses, free of charge, if you decide to go ahead and purchase “Home Mastering EQ“, using any of the links in this review. You can’t loose!

OK then, on with the review for “Home Mastering EQ“:

Video 1, “Introduction

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Ian Shepherd begins the “Home Mastering EQ” course by explaining some great mastering techniques. These are techniques that not only does Ian himself do, but he highly recommends that we do the same. He explains how to find and employ reference tracks, how to properly monitor when mastering, and lots of great useful “mastering advice”. Ian also goes deep in this video, and closes with some more choice topics like which spectrum analyzers he uses, which ones he recommends, and how he actually sets them up and uses them as he works.

Ian speaks clear and has a very easy to digest flow about him. He speaks with an authority that one only gets from spending a career in mastering. I could listen to Ian speak all day, and especially when the interest level is kept so high by all of the pro level tips and techniques that continue to come from the videos that make up “Home Mastering EQ“.

Video 2,  “Bass

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Ian gets right down to work by explaining eight critical EQ frequencies that he routinely finds himself wrestling with, how they sound when you boost or cut, using six different reference mixes as examples as he does so. These, he explains, will be great reference points to use as we master. We begin with the bass side of music, and Ian is about to demonstrate a few EQ cuts and boosts at three of the most commonly selected low end frequencies.

Learning what these frequencies sound like boosted and cut, and what usually lives in the range, actually is a great exercise. Actually listening as Ian shows the changes on a spectral imager really brings home the points he is trying to make. Ian continues to give solid advice as he goes through each example. This is where the gold is in my opinion. We are getting our monies worth watching the course material, but all of these nuggets of mastering wisdom that can only come from years and years of working as a pro mastering engineer, really bring value on top of value.

This one video of the “Home Mastering EQ” course is almost an hour in length guys. That means Ian is packing each frequency example that he gives with lots and lots of extra mastering advice and pointing out all kinds of subtle details about all sorts of EQ matters. It is very informative and I am learning a lot here. Let me add that I have been through a few great mastering courses before, and I have been working on my personal mastering for years and years now. Yet with each reference song that Ian opens up, and applies choice EQ boosts and cuts, I am hearing new things. This is of course all thanks to Ian patiently pointing these intricate details out to me. There is a lot to learn here with this cool exercise, sure, but Ians breakdowns of what he is hearing can be very illuminating as well. Hearing what boosts and cuts can actually do to a stereo track in terms of energy, impact, and brining out certain parts of the instrumentation is very alarming. Ian Shepherd is really teaching a lot about both mastering and EQ.

Let me add that Ian explains a cool trick that will certainly help me to get my low end (low frequencies) of a song in order. After Ian explains this idea about boosting where there is little to no frequency energy at all, and why we might want to do this, he opens up another EQ curve and demonstrates a very cool way to better control bottom end. I had never though about this idea, but now I have this cool technique in my tool shed. I have seen other mix engineers do this type of thing but they have never explained the ideas behind it before. Ian Shepherd fully explains it, and I now can replicate this cool EQ technique. This just goes to show that Ian continues to deliver and all of us can learn a lot just by listening and watching along with “Home Mastering EQ“.

Video 3, “Mids

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In the next 57 minutes of mastering EQ video inside the “Home Mastering EQ” course, video 3, “Mids”, Ian begins video 3 with some EQ theory, which is some more gold piled in, and how this EQ theory works when applied to the mids. Ian continues on through the EQ spectrum making his selected boosts and cuts to the same six reference tracks, pointing out some incredibly detailed tips and techniques as he moves along.

The learning takes place when Ian describes what he hears, what he notices about each boost and cut. He details very particular details about such things as bass, vocals, snare drums, just for a few examples. Then, when Ian goes back and applies the boosts and cuts for a second time you can really pick up on what he is trying to teach us. It is a great way of teaching and let me tell you it is working. Mastering is all about learning to hear what a move does in positive and in negative, or “give and take”. Ian is pointing this stuff out with each boost and cut, so the viewer is really getting a crucial understanding of what mastering with an EQ is really about with these exercises.

Let me point out that I wish I had someone go through these sorts of exercises before because it would have been extremely helpful and it would have helped me a lot. Inside  “Home Mastering EQ” Ian is taking the needed time to share what he hears and what is really happening in these frequency ranges, like where excitement lives, where hollow, ringing tones might be hiding waiting to ruin your mix. This is great stuff for sure. I was pleasantly surprised time after time, EQ curve after EQ curve, reference track after reference track.

Video 4, “Top

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The low frequencies are where most people think the money is. This means the better the low end is in a master, the better the mastering engineer is. I have heard this debated, sometimes its the top end that gets all the attention. Either way, I have learned in “Home Mastering EQ” that mastering is about learning all the frequencies, and how they interact with each other in a stereo file. Each slight cut and/or boost has lots of consequences.

Ian continues on discussing what he has learned from a career in mastering (again, this is the gold nuggets of wisdom) and then he backs it up with example after example. He keeps sharing extremely helpful and pro level tips and techniques, with each new example. We are discussing the high frequency ranges now, but the lessons and techniques keep coming. I wish I new about “Home Mastering EQ”  years and years ago as it would have taken out many countless hours of guess work and trial and error.

Ian Shepherd, inside “Home Mastering EQ“, is doing exactly what most folks can only dream about. Imagine sitting with a pro mastering engineer as they slowly, methodically, spend hours going through the frequency bands of an EQ, explaining what each band does, what is contained in each band, and how to treat these bands of the EQ when mastering. Ian is sharing cool tips, fantastic ideas, things to look out for, things to listen for, and so many amazing and cool mastering EQ techniques. This is the good stuff. I am learning so much, and I am enjoying every minute of it too.

Video 5, “Techniques

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The final hour of  “Home Mastering EQ” video is pro level EQ techniques. When it comes to applying EQ to a mastering session, we have all asked, “Where do I even start?”, and this is where Ian starts his video. Ian gives solid and wish advice as he explains how he begins his mastering jobs. Be warned that we are only talking about EQ and volume matching after we make EQ moves. In other words were not mastering an tracks, just doing some EQ exercises for sakes of teaching. But get ready for some very detailed examples, using volume matching to keep things consistent and even some metering and metering watching help.

For just one example of what you can expect here, Ian plays an example piece of music. He then details what he hears, making sure to point things out on frequency meters and decibel meters. He then gives a couple of fixes that might work, again, explaining them in rich detail. Then with viewer in tow Ian completes these fixes so we can then compare and contrast them. This is the EQ course that I have been looking for and I am blown away with the level of understanding I am gaining.

Ian continues to sculpt stereo tracks, EQ mastering job after EQ mastering job. Keep in mind this is real world kind of teaching as not everything he does works the first time. Mastering is a game of give and take, and Ian Shepherd is only human. It is great to watch Ian add some here, take away some there, turn up the volume here, reduce the volume there, as he works along. He continually thinks out loud as he works along, so that the viewer knows exactly what he is trying to accomplish with each move. This is the part of “Home Mastering EQ” where all of the prior techniques, all of the things Ian has pointed out thus far, all come together and really pay off.

Look, applying EQ when mastering can be overwhelming for the beginner. Heck, I have been mastering for years now and I still get overwhelmed from time to time. I have been searching for a course that could help me overcome the issues that I face, and “Home Mastering EQ” is exactly what I have been looking for, but without knowing it.

What I mean to say is that “Home Mastering EQ” is that boost in mastering confidence that most of us are seeking. EQ is so important, but confusing and powerful to boot. In a world where less is more, and everything we do has both positive and negative consequences, what are we supposed to do? I can all too easily feel that burning in my stomach as the  confusion and the stress take their place. Mastering is not supposed to be so stressful nor so awful an experience.

This might sound funny to you, but I guess I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. When it comes to mastering training we probably just don’t know what we are looking for, or where to even look for it. Well I am happy to share what I have found out. “Home Mastering EQ” is a great place to start. It is also a great place to continue learning if you have been mastering for some time now, but know you could use some confidence. I was happy to learn that a lot of the techniques that I use are correct. I was even more happy to learn hours and hours of new and exciting tips, tricks, and techniques that only a real pro mastering engineer could teach.

Ultimate offer

OK, hold on. Since you are reading through this review that tells me that you are looking to improve your mixing and mastering skills, so let me “sweeten the pot” a tad. Let me toss in one great big special bonus offer, just for you.

As my way of saying thank you for using any of these links to make your purchase, I will give you some very special, very detailed gifts, aimed right at you, the person that is willing to learn more about recording, mixing, and mastering.

Let me tell you about the new Home Recording WeeklyUltimate Bonus Offer” that is all set to go and just waiting for you. Inside the Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer” you will find not one, but two amazingly helpful video training products that will transform how you approach recording, mixing, and mastering in your home studio. They are titled, “The Pro Mixers Playbook”, “DIY Mastering”.

Each of the two video training products found inside the “Ultimate Bonus Offer” contains lots and lots of “How to” style videos that are made up of “screen capture” style videos, shot right inside my very own home studio, just like you are sitting down with me.

Let me break down, quickly, what is covered in each training series:

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The Pro Mixers Playbook

Learning how to mix like the pros can be the most rewarding thing we ever do. It can also be the most frustrating thing we ever do. Why does learning how to mix have to be so difficult?

The truth is there is a lot of information out there, broken up into quick little video chunks, some over here, and some over there, and, well, in a lot of different places. Learning just one brand new mixing technique can take you to many different places that all seem to have somewhat competing information.

For this very reason, I have been hard at work, putting something rather special together that I call “The Pro Mixers Playbook”. I have made over 4.5 hours of training videos together, in one easy to download PDF file. I have listed, and then made corresponding videos for the most powerful, the most “mix-shaping” 15 Pro mixing plays that have had the most impact (hands down) with my own mixes. This is a mixing foundation just waiting to happen. There is something new and rewarding, for new mixers and pros alike, inside in “The Pro Mixers Playbook”.

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DIY Mastering

Learning how to master can be confusing too. Figuring out how to get our stereo tracks to sound clean, wide, big, phat, and massive is a struggle. There are a lot of conflicting videos online that all help to confuse the viewer and help wreck your music. There is nothing else online quite like “DIY Mastering”, I guarantee it.

Included in “DIY Mastering” are training style videos that explain some of the most helpful, most impactful mastering techniques that have all come together to make my masters sound clear, clean, and huge. Video after video we go deeper and deeper into the strategies that really matter when it comes to getting great sounding masters.

The entire Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer” is just my way of saying “THANK YOU”, for using any one of my links to purchase any one of the training videos that I have reviewed for you, right here, on Home Recording Weekly.

If you are interested in learning the best of the best of the best techniques, the best techniques that have taken me years and years to learn and master, the best techniques for creating the best mixes and masters, all in “over the shoulder” training video form, then get your own copy of Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer” today. Make that purchase.

Here is how:

When you use any of the links that I have provided for you in this review post to purchase, I will allow you a download code for the Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer“.

As a matter of fact, before you purchase any studio training videos or memberships, come to Home Recording Weekly and use any of the links that I have provided in any of my reviews. That way I can view the sale and send you your free “Ultimate Bonus Offer“.

All you need to do is send me an email (kern@homerecordingweekly.com) with the words “Ultimate Bonus Offer” in the subject line. Tell me the product that you have purchased, using my link, and I will send you your free copy.

If you are thinking about purchasing any of the training video products that I have reviewed, than now is the time to make that purchase! Get you own Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer” today!

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5 Things you must own as the sound person

Ah yes, the sound person. This is such an important role, yet one that is often times looked at as if it is only an after thought of the band. After all, who is there to check out the sound person? We all know the truth as audio folk, the better the sound person really is, the better the band will perform and sound. This is fact.

It really is up to the sound person to make sure the band gets what they need in order to play their very best, and it is up to the sound person to make sure the band sounds their very best to the crowd. This might sound easy, but there is a lot involved.

Let me quickly tell you who I am and why I feel knowledgeable enough to type this article.

My name is Kern Ramsdell. My name is Kern Ramsdell. I am the guy behind Home Recording Weekly Podcast, YouTube channel, and host of the yearly songwriting contest.

I started out my live sound journey gigging in a small band as a rhythm guitar player. I quickly got into recording, which took me into the world of mixing and mastering. I learned about getting things right at the source, which then got me interested in live sound again. Long story short, I began working at a small venue as the resident sound person. Before I knew it I was running sound for a handful of small acoustic type acts. I got bit by the sound bug, and craved bigger and bigger productions. I am currently running the sound, full time, for two rock bands. The bands couldn’t be more different, so I get something new and exciting each time I go to work. I absolutely love being a sound person. If you ask me, it is simply addicting.

 I should also tell you that at some point along the way I reached out for some help. I wanted to learn everything I could about being the sound person. I mean, am I doing the same things as every other sound person in the world? I also craved to learn a few tricks from industry veterans, you know things like what is really happening in the frequencies and what its like to run sound in different places, so I checked out a few resources. The one resource that I really enjoyed and learned from was the  “Live Sound Survival Guide”  from Bjorgvin over at Audio Issues. I highly recommend that you invest in the single most important part of your system, yourself. Pick up some training and then put that to good work for you.

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Here are 5 Things you must own as the sound person …

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1) The smaller the gig the more you will be responsible for.

This is just how the universe works. You would think that the less money that is involved the less work we actually do. That is the farthest from the truth.

For example, smaller gigs will require you to provide all of the gear, then its up to you to hook it all up, and then you will “run front of house” and the “monitor mix” all night. After the small gig is over you get to wrap cables and haul off the gear too. The greater the gig, in size, the less you will be responsible for. For the large gigs you will start at the bottom and work your way up. You will most likely be tasked with rigging up gear and wrapping up cable for the first part of your career. Greater attention is needed for things like monitoring mixing and FOH mixing, so greater and greater experience levels are required when big money is on the line. Those jobs are coveted so forget about jumping right in as the “FOH” mixer.

2) There are several loops of audio going on at the same exact time, with each fueling the other.

Each instrument has an amp that is feeding into microphones which all head into the console. In turn the output signals get amplified and exit the mains. Add to this simple equation a portion of mic’d up signals get routed through the monitors, and this adds to the noise. Turning one part of the system up up turns up the chaos in the others.

Microphones pick up all of this sound (its known as “mic bleed”) and send it to the amps, which then sends it back to the console again, creating what we call a “loop”. This loop is what in turn creates the awful feedback that we all fight with. It is known as a feedback loop, and you better understand it if you even want a chance of preventing it from happening in the first place.

Learn the mantra, “less is more”. This is perhaps the quote of the post. It is so deep, and so powerful that I will stop typing about it now and let you think about it.

Less volume will only help you figure out what is really going on. Less frequencies coming out of the monitors will only help reduce audio bleeding into through the vocalists microphone, causing run away feedback as it does so. The less frequencies that come out of the mains will only help to open up the whole spectrum and provide more punch for the crowd. Less is more people, apply that everywhere.

3) You will need to fully learn how to apply EQ at every part of the system.

Learning the frequencies, how they work in a live environment, and how to cut unwanted frequencies from the parts of the system is a must. Knowing which frequencies to cut, and where you need to put those EQ cuts into action is paramount. Cutting unwanted frequencies out of the signal path is just what we do as audio engineers, but it goes further than that for live sound. Look, each venue is different. Each space will have different resonant frequencies. Each room will behave differently, and that will change as the room fills up with people. Certain frequency bands will get feedback loops going and they will churn out of control if left to feed on themselves. You must be handy with subtractive EQ practices. (link to my video)

I have learned a few tricks along the way, but these tricks have become necessity the more and more professional in nature the gig is. These tricks are things like learning how and where to cut the low end out of monitors. This is a is a wise idea because the band does not need them in the monitors anyway. Finding the resonant frequencies of a room is also a cool trick to learn, but quickly becomes a must. You will need to cut those bands out with an EQ, in a few places, if you want a good sounding show.

First the monitors need feedback prone frequency bands reduced, or maybe cut out completely, or feedback will be rampant. Cutting these EQ bands back a little, in the Mains, will also remove the “mud” from the overall sound. Just to show you how important EQ really is each night, I have listed the things I do each night, in order of time and importance, as I get a gig up and running and it looks like this…

Pre gig:

1) set up gear

2) get channels routed and working

3) EQ mud out of each channel

4) Route monitor sends and set monitor send levels

5) EQ out low end mud and resonant frequencies from monitors

6) Set channel levels in mains

7) Slightly EQ resonant frequencies from mains

As show unfolds:

1) Ride volume levels song to song for vocals and solos

2) Fine tune master EQ, and master compressor (for FOH) if possible

4) Knowing your gear inside out is paramount.

I have learned that knowing your gear, and what it is and what it is not capable of, has been one of the most important things I could ever have learned. For example, I can set my mixing board up in a number of ways, to accommodate a number of gigs. I can leave the effects behind, or I can route them in a number of ways. I can use stage volume to my advantage, if needed, or I can mic everything up to go through the console if needed. I can have instruments like guitars and bass “go direct” or play at full amp volume, or any combination of the two. I can route effects through board inserts or directly through the units, or in anyway the band needs. I can run a show in mono or stereo, with a sub out or in full range. The list just goes on and on.

Here is the bottom line. Going into a new gig is scary. There is a lot of responsibility on the sound persons shoulders. Bands look to the sound guy for almost everything. Knowing what you are capable of, knowing what you can do with the gear you have, will help calm your nerves and the bands nerves too. Having this level of responsibility is not for the faint of heart. I happen to thrive under this level of pressure, and I consider it one of my strengths. I mean it when I tell a band “I have your back tonight”.

5) Be approachable, remain humble, and be open to critiques.

It seems to never fail. Someone from the crowd makes their way over to me. They all seem to pause just so and then they do it. They give me their feedback. At first I felt like “who the heck are you to tell me what you hear?”, but since have changed my mind completely. Please, get over it. People will come up to you and give you some unsolicited feedback about the show. It is going to happen. They are helping you.

People all hear differently. This means we all hear frequencies differently. We also hear things differently depending on where we are standing. That is why I walk around the space as the band plays. I can get a sense of the room, or what the room is actually doing to my audio. Then I make my way back to the console to make any necessary changes. It is amazing what you can hear from one lap around a club.

Look, these people believe they have some important information to share with me. They believe that they are helping me in some way. You bet I want to listen to what they have to say. Each person that has ever come up to me at a show has had a valid point, weather I knew it at the time or not.

But be ready to read between the lines. Strangers at a show don’t always know how to explain what they hear. They don’t always have the right adjectives they need in order to describe what they hear. We are the people that do sound every weekend and we have learned all of the sayings that go along with it. Help them to get their point out. I also do a couple of things for these folks. I like to try and ask them two questions about what they bring up. For example, if they tell me they cant hear the vocals very well, I might ask them if they sound too bass heavy. Then I will follow up with “what would you suggest I do in order to correct it?”. The point of this is to acknowledge their input and to let them know I take them seriously. I suppose asking them a couple of questions might seem silly, but it might help to make them feel as if they helped to contribute to the evenings overall sound.

Then, after I have listened and possible made some changes to the audio, I will look for that person and ask them how it sounds after I have made those changes. This lets them know that their input was valid. This lets them know that the band is there to perform for them. I have had people thank me for this attention to detail, and tell me that they really appreciate it. They usually tell me how impressed they are that I actually took what they were saying seriously, and then the fact that I made changes according to what they told me made them feel important.

Its funny how ego can make us act. When I got started running live sound I was horrified. The stress can cripple the weak at heart. The very notion that someone from the crowd actually had the nerve to approach me just to critique what I was doing made me upset. I mean, who are they to tell me anything? Well, times change. Now that I am a bit more comfortable with the whole live sound thing, I see this phenomenon differently. People just want to help. People will let you know what they think.  Its going to happen to you anyway, you might as well turn it into something positive, right?

Lastly, take it from me that a little help goes a long way. I enjoyed the “Live Sound Survival Guide” from Bjorgvin over at Audio Issues, and I took a lot of killer insight away from it. There was a lot of great information about running live sound packed inside the eBook that comes with the “Live Sound Survival Guide“, as well as the whole guide on the frequency spectrum that is inside. Honest and sincere help is hard to find in the real world, so try to take advantage of it when you can find it. Check out the “Live Sound Survival Guide” from Bjorgvin over at Audio Issues.

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Episode 84, Winner 1 (of 3) of the songwriting contest plus more cool stuff

Winner 1 of the 2016 Home Recording Weekly Songwriting Contest is Michael Jensen with his great song titled, “Awful Things“. I love it. You can follow the link provided to see the rules for entering and the list of prizes for this years contest. Please listen to the podcast above in order to hear Michaels great song, and a quick rundown of all the great prizes he has coming. Please, if you have not done so, enter the 2016 Home Recording Weekly Songwriting Contest today. There is still 60 days left to enter and two more people are going to win the same exact prizes!

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The UPLIFT DESK from The Human Solution has helped me make a lot more music then I ever could have without it. Having the ability to rise up and continue working, or to then sit down without missing a single beat, while working along, has been a gift. You know I have ongoing back problems, so the UPLIFT DESK from The Human Solution allows me to work longer hours.

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Thanks to everyone that has entered thus far. You are all winners in my book. Precious few of us ever finish songs, yet along allow others to listen to our creations. Imagine entering your song into a contest where it is judged against others? It takes courage folks, and each person that has entered is a winner. Congratulations to all of you.

Stay tuned to the Home Recording Weekly Podcast to see and hear who winners #2 and #3 will be.

7 Mixing techniques you simply must master…

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Below are what I feel are 7 of the most critical mixing techniques that we all must master. Also I supply the actual courses that I learned these techniques, and way more, from. Enjoy!

First, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kern Ramsdell. I am the guy behind Home Recording Weekly Podcast, YouTube channel, and host of the yearly songwriting contest.

1) Applying EQ

EQ is perhaps the most important tool that we as mix engineers have. I cant think of a more used tool for shaping sound than the all powerful EQ. I could not believe the incredible differences I heard once I learned how to properly EQ a track and a mix. It will take a lot of learning and then some practice, but there is no denying the power of EQ.

When you first get used to yielding an EQ, you might find yourself thinking about applying EQ in two steps. First, try filtering out those frequencies that you do not want or need first, and then apply another EQ in order to sweeten up what is left of the track. Below I have listed a few valuable resources for better explaining EQ and understanding how you can use it to get killer mixes!

Link to EQ Episode of the Home Recording Weekly Podcast

Understanding EQ” from Joe Gilder of Home Studio Corner

ReThink Mixing“, from Graham Cochrane of the Recording Revolution, has a lot of EQ training within its video chapters.

EQ Strategies” by Audi Issues guru Bjorgvin Benediktsson, is a great course for the newbie to EQ. Inside the videos that make up “EQ Strategies”  you will be shown what the knobs all do and how to use EQ’s to their fullest for your very next mix.

I have made a great “two part You Tube video series” for the EQ, titled “Beginners guide to subtractive EQ“. I first explain the parts that make up an EQ, then I explain subtractive EQ. Please make sure to watch both part one and part two. I hope you enjoy these two free videos.

2) Applying Compression

Compression is super important to learn. But compression can be confusing and it can be hard to even hear its effects when we first get working with audio. If you didn’t know, Compression is most often used as a way of leveling out the peaks and valleys of audio so that it can all be heard equally. We lower the loud parts of a signal and turn up the quiet parts, both with a compressor.

I feel the same about compression as I do about EQ. Once you grasp what compression is and what it can do for your tracks and mixes, you will be astonished. Depending on how you apply compression, it can totally enhance each note of each instrument or add life to your whole mix. It is an amazing tool that I am still continuing to learn about. Here are a couple of gems in the learning compression camp…

Understanding Compression” from Joe Gilder of Home Studio Corner, is where I began my compressor training. Joe gave me all of the fundamentals I needed in order to properly apply compression in my first years of mixing. This is a must have course in my humble opinion.

Mixing with Compression” from Matt Weiss of the Pro Audio Files is the training video that really helped me to fully comprehend dynamics, the parts that make up a signal, and how compression can alter all of it. I gained more confidence from this one training video than I have from any other course, period. Well, when it comes to applying compression, de-essers, transient designers, and even limiting. Matt truly gives the viewers everything he knows about compression in “Mixing with Compression“. Since I watched it, I now use compression when playing guitar, recording, mixing, and running sound in a live sound gig. This course has paid for itself, easily, ten times over.

3) LCR Panning

 LCR Panning is perhaps one of the most obvious techniques once you learn about it. Basically when you produce up a song, track up a song, and then mix the song, you pan “like instruments” to one of three places, hard left, hard right, or right up the center.  I love to use LCR Panning since it limits my choices and thusly speeds up my production, tracking, and mixing.

Here is a link to Episode 22 of the Home Recording Weekly Podcast, “LCR Panning”

ReThink Mixing“, from Graham Cochrane of the Recording Revolution has quite a bit of LCR packed inside of it. Graham details LCR Panning inside the videos that make up “ReThink Mixing“. I think I first heard about this technique in this course, and have since tweaked it ever so slightly. One should learn it, and use it when working, but there are no hard and fast rules in making music. Bottom line is learn LCR and then use it to your advantage.

4) Parallel tracks or “Bus tracks”

Commonly used with effects like compression, reverb, and delay, these tracks mainly allow effects to be added in parallel. That means the host track to comes through along with a percentage of the effected track. It may sound confusing, but it is very simple. As a matter of a fact, this one technique is what separates the novices from the pros. After watching the suggested training courses below you will in turn know what it takes to turn in a great mix. To put it another way, simple moves like parallel bus tracks are the exact techniques the pros use in order to better fine tune the tracks that make up a whole mix. Each little technique you learn will improve your mixes. Here are a couple of courses that taught me all about such techniques…

The Art of Balancing a mix” from mixing engineer Matt Butler explains all of these mixing techniques in great detail, plus tons more.

The Complete Jumpstart Series” from Graham Cochrane of the Recording Revolution explains everything mixing from editing to mastering. It is designed for the novice and it will get you mixing better from just one watch through. What can I say, like countless others I learned a lot, and I owe a lot to, Graham Cochrane and his amazing training courses.

The Ultimate Mixing Formula” from mixing/mastering engineer Rob Williams blew my mind. No joke. Rob teaches way more than the usual mixing hacks. Rob gives the viewer everything there is in order to learn mixing as an art form. If it can help you better understand mixing, its in “The Ultimate Mixing Formula“. If you can’t tell, I absolutley loved this series.

5) Bus compression and master bus compression

Bus compression is a combination of techniques, both applying compression and doing compression on bus tracks. Master bus compression is “MBC” on your master bus. This techniques can do many things for the mixer, like add body to a track like bass or drums, add depth to a vocal, and it can even supply a leveling gel to a whole mix when placed across the master fader.

Mixing Acoustic Pop Music” from Pro Mixing Engineer David Glenn, has a lot of master bus compression going on inside of its videos.

The Art of Balancing a mix” from mixing engineer Matt Butler explains bus compression techniques and gets the viewer compression like a pro in no time at all. Matt Butler has a great way of teaching and it pays off for the viewer. Video after video we learn everything Matt Butler thinks about and does in order to get a great mix, time after time.

6) Multiple Band Compression

Multiple Band Compression is a technique that might come across as a little bit advanced. It is indeed a compressor that effects dynamics, but were talking about controlling frequencies here and not volume levels. There are a lot of things happening all at the same with Multi Band Compression, but once you get the grasp of it you can easily control the balance of frequencies for an entire mix. You can also use Multi Band Compression on a bus track to enhance certain frequency ranges of a track, like the mid range of a lead vocal for example.

When I think about where I learned about Multiple Band Compression, one name rises to the surface. David Glenn…

Mixing Acoustic Pop Music” from Pro Mixing Engineer David Glenn, has a lot of Multiple Band Compression techniques inside, as does Davids, “Mixing Vocals“. Two amazing training courses that give way more than you could ever imagine. I rave about the valuable “MBC” lessons that David Glenn squeezed inside of “Mixing Vocals“. His teaching has not only helped me to get the best vocals I have ever mixed, but to also get killer guitars, bass, and even drums, using the same MBC ideas and techniques.

7) Automation

Yep. This is why I will never go back to the old ways of doing things. DAWs and computer based recording simply gives us such incredible control of everything we do, from panning changes to changes volume. We can make a mix shine, or sound way better with simple automation techniques that the pros all know and use. For some examples, we can accent single words with quick volume boosts for sake of clarity. We can auto mate drum buses for gigantic sounding tom toms that do not get in the way of the rest of the mix. We can generate movement in a whole mix by automating compressors and dynamics that feel like they are in three dimensional space. Want to learn this stuff? Here is where I picked all of that cool stuff from…

Volume automation for clarity of lyrics and vocals in general. “Guide to Rock Mixing” by Nashville producer and studio owner Kevin Ward, A.K.A. the Mix Coach, is packed with tricks like this very gem. In fact, Kevin shares a lot of his techniques here in order to get the viewer up and mixing like a pro. In just one watch I learned skills that I still use to this very day, among them is this amazing volume automation trick. You can use it to make sure each word is clear, but not overly loud at all. Amazing!

Drum automation for bigger than life drums, “Mixing Drums” from David Glenn. Imagine what you will learn from a course that covers just drums! As you might be guessing, it covers every technique that David uses from phase to delays. Automation is just one of the pro level techniques that you will soon be applying to your mixes after watching “Mixing Drums“. I can tell you that thanks to David Glenn my drums sound huge but clear without muddying up the rest of the mix. That is no easy trick to pull off, but David guides the viewer through it all at an easy to digest pace.

Mixing EDM” from Matt Weiss. EDM is of course “Electronic Dance Music”, but that is only a genre. Matt teaches the good stuff that others seem to keep for themselves. Matt explains what it takes to get a song to move, to come alive, and it is not as hard as you might think. Matt always blows my mind with the cool techniques he supplies the viewer with and the kind of explanations that you will not find from any other source. Matt thinks like a pro and explains things like a novice, if that makes sense. However you want to say it, you will learn an incredible amount from “Mixing EDM” and Matt Weiss.

Ultimate offer

Many of these techniques are discussed in great detail inside of my two video courses, “The Pro Mixers Playbook”, and “DIY Mastering”. These are two video products that I give away as bonus courses when someone uses any of the links embedded in this post, or in any of the review posts I have made for all of these courses. Its my way of helping the new mixer, my way of giving back, and my way of saying thank you for making a purchase. Please follow any of the links to learn ore about how you can get your two bonus video products when you decide to make a purchase. Look, its your music that were talking about. If you are serious about hearing your music like it should be heard, you will need to learn some techniques. If you make a purchase I will give you two cool bonus programs that will also help to get your next mix sounding the best they have ever heard.

“Mixing 101” reviewed, Matt Weiss, The Pro Audio Files

Mixing 101” from Pro mixing engineer and The Pro Audio Files member, Matt Weiss, is a new training course designed to help the newest to audio and audio mixing. This is not only a “start to finish Mixthru course”, but instead it is a complete breakdown of the mix practices, with in depth explanations given. As an example, instead of watching Matt simply flip the phase of an drum overhead track, Matt totally explains what polarity and phase is, and what you should know in order to work with polarity, phase, and time in drum tracks. Matt still manages to move along quickly, as to keep a nice flow of critical information. Matt makes sure to use plugins that every beginner mixer will certainly own, stock plugins, as he works along. Don’t think of this as a mix explanation as much, where the mix engineer breaks down what each plugin is doing, but “Mixing 101” is more of a crash course in what mixing is, as we go through the steps of a mix.

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Mixing 101” downloads in no time at all and contains 10 separate videos. If you are new to the exciting and often times frustrating world of mixing, this course is for you. Inside the videos that make up “Mixing 101“, Matt works very hard to explain everything most new mixing engineers ask, need to know, or will need to know in order to complete a decent mix. Matt begins with the basic necessities of audio, and how it works, and then he builds on top the things he explains. By the end of the course you will fully understand how your recording gear captures audio, how the signal flows through your “DAW” (Digital Audio Workstation) or your software, and of course how to mix a song. There is a lot to cover, and Matt is the man for this job.

 I have learned a lot from Matt Weiss. I used to struggle with applying compression while mixing, mastering, and while working as a live sound mix engineer. After watching Matts (the link is to my review for the course) “Mixing with Compression” I gained two things. First, I gained a full understanding of what compression is and what is possible with compression. Secondly, I gained a sense of confidence when it comes to working with compression. I can now figure out what it is I wish to accomplish with a compressor, and then I can now apply a compressor to do the job at hand. Like I have said, I struggled with these tasks before watching “Mixing with Compression” and now I have no struggle. I cant recommend “Mixing with Compression” enough.

I have also learned more about mixing from Matt Weiss then I could ever type out in a post. I learned a lot about getting a mix to have depth and movement from watching (link jumps over to my review) “Mixing EDM“. Inside of “Mixing EDM” Matt (of course) mixes a song from start to finish, but he also goes way beyond that level of training. Matt explains professional level mixing techniques that will help take your next mix over the top. “Mixing EDM” is also one of my all time favorites that I go back and re-watch routinely.

Please allow me to also share with you the fact that Matt has a collection of “Mix Thru” videos that will help you learn more than you ever dreamed possible when it comes to mixing multi track sessions, or songs. There are quite a few genres now, in the collection of titles to choose from. Each “Mix Thru” is priced right and packed full of pro level mixing techniques that you can totally take and work into your next session.

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Video 1, “Intro Basics of recording”

Matt begins this amazing course with a breakdown sort of discussion about how audio works in the real world, how the gear in your home studio collects analogue audio and (then) converts it to a digital signal, and last, how your computer converts is back to analogue audio as it exits your monitor speakers. This is a detailed explanation that should help newbies to better understand all of the parts of a chain, and how they all work together in order to record audio. Be prepared to have your questions answered. In this great and detailed chat, Matt explains things like mic levels versus line level, pre amps, gain stages, convertors, and more.

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Video 2, “Signal Flow”

Matt continues the learning here and explains what really happens to your tracks once they get inside your “DAW”. Matt details the signal path and what mixing engineers do with a signal once it enters a DAW. You will fully learn and understand such terms as tracks, series and parallel tracks, bus tracks, bus sends and returns, pre/post sends, just to name a few. Matt explains the many ways in which we process audio tracks weather it be in line (series) or in a parallel type of processing arrangement. Matt even opens up a couple of effects just to help explain the signal flow. Even the newest to mixing will have no trouble following along with Matt inside of “Mixing 101“. I wish there was someone around to help explain all of this stuff to me back when I was getting started. I felt as if I had more questions then any of you could ever have. “Mixing 101” would have been a much welcomed blessing.

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 Video 3, “Gain Staging”

Next, in “Mixing 101“, Matt opens up a great discussion about gain staging, what it is, making sure to explain the two types of DB scale, and the differences between them. These two types are “DBVU” and “DBFS”, if you did not know, and Matt goes into great detail about how to work with them both. Included in the chat are words like ceiling, clipping, noise floor, distortion, nominal operating level, gain, and so much more. Matt explains everything you will need to know about signals and the gain needed to make them loud enough without being too loud.

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Video 4, “Session Set Up”

Moving along, in the course “Mixing 101“, Matt explains session organization. We, as mix engineers, all like our sessions set up in a particular way. You might get your professional start in the pro audio world as a “mix session prepper”, or setting up mixes for another pro mix engineer. Matt explains the important ideas at work here, like instrument grouping, track orders, track lay out, color coordination of the tracks, where the master bus should be, levels, group channels, track routing, finding and setting the BPM, labeling the parts of the song, and the like.

This is the stuff that you must learn, as not-so-glamorous as it might be. There are folks out there that make a very good living doing nothing but track prep for pro mix engineers. The idea is to learn what the mixer wants and then give it to them. You just cant deliver, or you wont get started if you don’t know this all important information. So stop reading about how good and informative “Mixing 101” really is and take my advice and purchase it right now.

If you take my advice and purchase “Mixing 101“, using any of the links that I provide in this review, I will give you two bonus courses. That’s right,  I will give you the Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer“.

Let me tell you about the new Home Recording WeeklyUltimate Bonus Offer” that is all set to go and just waiting for you. Inside the Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer” you will find not one, but two amazingly helpful video training products that will transform how you approach recording, mixing, and mastering in your home studio. They are titled, “The Pro Mixers Playbook”, “DIY Mastering”.

Ultimate offer

Each one of these two video training products contains lots and lots of “How to” style videos that are made up of “screen capture” style videos, shot right inside my very own home studio, like you are sitting down with me. Each training product inside the Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer” has been recorded, edited, and mixed down with a few main things in mind…

First, each video contains quality, unique content that I, personally, just could not find anywhere else. I have worked very hard to create video training that is helpful in nature, unique in content, and killer in features like audio and subject. These are the best mixing and mastering tips and techniques that I have learned, that have taken my music over the top, and rocketed my skill sets to the best they have ever been.

Let me break down, quickly, what is covered in each training series:

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The Pro Mixers Playbook

Learning how to mix like the pros can be the most rewarding thing we ever do. It can also be the most frustrating thing we ever do. Why does learning how to mix have to be so difficult?

The truth is there is a lot of information out there, broken up into quick little video chunks, some over here, and some over there, and, well, in a lot of different places. Learning just one brand new mixing technique can take you to many different places that all seem to have somewhat competing information.

For this very reason, I have been hard at work, putting something rather special together that I call “The Pro Mixers Playbook”. I have made over 4.5 hours of training videos together, in one easy to download PDF file. I have listed, and then made corresponding videos for the most powerful, the most “mix-shaping” 15 Pro mixing plays that have had the most impact (hands down) with my own mixes. This is a mixing foundation just waiting to happen. There is something new and rewarding, for new mixers and pros alike, inside in “The Pro Mixers Playbook”.

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DIY Mastering

Learning how to master can be confusing too. Figuring out how to get our stereo tracks to sound clean, wide, big, phat, and massive is a struggle. There are a lot of conflicting videos online that all help to confuse the viewer and help wreck your music. There is nothing else online quite like “DIY Mastering”, I guarantee it.

Included in “DIY Mastering” are training style videos that explain some of the most helpful, most impactful mastering techniques that have all come together to make my masters sound clear, clean, and huge. Video after video we go deeper and deeper into the strategies that really matter when it comes to getting great sounding masters.

The entire Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer” is just my way of saying “THANK YOU”, for using any one of my links to purchase any one of the training videos that I have reviewed for you, right here, on Home Recording Weekly.

If you are interested in learning the best of the best of the best techniques, the best techniques that have taken me years and years to learn and master, the best techniques for creating the best mixes and masters, all in “over the shoulder” training video form, then get your own copy of Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer” today. Make that purchase.

Here is how:

When you use any of the links that I have provided for you in this review post to purchase, I will allow you a download code for the Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer“.

As a matter of fact, before you purchase any studio training videos or memberships, come to Home Recording Weekly and use any of the links that I have provided in any of my reviews. That way I can view the sale and send you your free “Ultimate Bonus Offer“.

All you need to do is send me an email (kern@homerecordingweekly.com) with the words “Ultimate Bonus Offer” in the subject line. Tell me the product that you have purchased, using my link, and I will send you your free copy.

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OK, back to “Mixing 101” from the awesome Matt Weiss…

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Video 5, “Source Prep”

This is the part of “Mixing 101” where Matt begins making edits. Matt dives right in, as mix engineers should, editing things that might be mistakes or miss recorded info. You know what were editing here, quiet passages, un-timely hits, and perhaps artifacts that he believes need just a little help. Matt explains how he tackles this job and he gives his favorite shortcuts as he works. That is super helpful and these little tips can help shave a lot of time from the task at hand.

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Video 6, “Phase and Polarity”

As Matt says in “Mixing 101“, this is the “nitty gritty” stuff. I will go way past that statement and tell you that this is the all important, mandatory, must know “nitty gritty” stuff. You simply must understand phase and polarity if you want your mix to sound full, rich, full of frequencies that you captured, and simply just sound right. Time after time, I am amazed at what a solid and impactful difference simply flipping the phase can bring to a mix.

Just as important is actually knowing the importance of these things like polarity, time alignment, phase, and what they mean when it comes to mixing. Matt explains these important things in an actual mix, making sure to play these tracks in a “before and after” type of setting. Track after track, Matt shows how he gets things in phase and sounding so much better.

Matt also explains why we don’t want to correct every time issue. This is just as important to know, as you don’t want to loose the whole “live feel” or three dimensionality of a mix. Matt really knows what he is doing and he explains it very well. “Mixing 101” is a killer way to dive into mixing because he is making sure we get what we need to know, in an easy to digest way.

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Video 7, “Drums”

Now that everything is edited, in proper time and phase, we get to begin the actual mixing process. If you are like me, than this might be the most anticipated part of “Mixing 101“.

To be completely honest, I have been here before. In fact, I have been here many times before. As a fresh new mixer, I didn’t know what to do next. I mean, where do we even begin?

To help answer this common issue, Matt opens with a quick discussion on genres, and what you can expect. Then he explains where he starts most often, the drums, and he gets to work mixing the song at hand. Watching Matt work is a blessing for the new mixer. Matt makes sure to “think out loud” as he tackles each step of the process. This is awesome as “Mixing 101” is for the beginner mixing engineer.

To give you an example of what is going on here, at this point of the “Mixing 101“, Matt groups the drums through a drum bus track. Matt opens up a stock EQ plugin and then dives into a quick EQ lesson. Matt makes sure to give “before and after” examples as he makes the well explained changes. He makes sure to detail high shelf filters, and what the different slopes, or “Q’s” sound like. If that sounds foreign to you, “Mixing 101” might be what you are looking for!

Matt brings in the drum tracks, one after another, and works them into the over all kit. Were talking about working out the EQ, pan and phase of overheads, room mics, top and bottom snare mics, kicks, and all of the usual types of multi-tracked drum tracks. Matt explains where the microphones that recorded these tracks most likely were as the song was recorded. This is helpful for the mixer to know in order to treat the tracks. Matt keeps working through the drum tracks explaining things like EQ, panning, phase, and he makes sure that he talks the viewer through the whole process.

After a quick explanation of dynamics, and what a compressor does, Matt opens one up. Matt explains how he employs a compressor to add excitement to the snare tracks. Matt wants each snare hit to come across, yet maintain some dynamics. Ghost notes should be quieter than the big snare hits after all.

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Mixing 101” is really paying for itself at this point. Matt has explained some very important topics by now. Matt has explained and demonstrated polarity, phase, time, EQ, and now Compression. Matt explains dynamics in the drums, and how we can alter them with a compressor. He also makes sure to explain the parts that make up a compressor in action.

Keep in mind that “Mixing 101” is not a course that focuses in on EQ or Compression. If you need more schooling on EQ and Compression, Matt has made in depth (and incredible) courses on these two all important tools, what they are, how to use them, in “Mixing with EQ” and “Mixing with Compression“. Those are two courses that have helped me more than I could ever explain with words.

Matt explains step by step how opens up and sets up compressors in order to make sure each hit of the entire drum kit is heard but not squashed with compression. The drums become bigger and way more exciting in just minutes. Matt is one of todays greatest mix engineers and he is one heck of a teacher! If you want better sounding mixes of the music you make, for your band, or if you want to learn more about mixing, “Mixing 101” is amazing.

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Video 8, “Bass”

Next, in “Mixing 101“, Matt dives into a well recorded upright bass. It was recorded via two microphones, and hence it is printed on two tracks. Matt explains that it sounds great as it is, but we could try a few things since we are mixing. The idea is to add contour to the bass in order to compliment what was recorded. Matt continually gives great audio explanations of what he hears and what he is trying to accomplish as he works along.

Matt EQ’s in some body and resonance on the bass, which covers up the kick drum. This is all too common in mixing. So, Matt explains how he fixes this with another EQ move. This is important to learn if you want to be successful in mixing, and “Mixing 101” gives it to you. Matt continues on mixing as he forces the bass to shine in body and then he brings out the string noise of the bass.

Matt finishes this video segment out with a nice crash course in the power of adding distortion to bass and drums. He of course explains what is really going on first, and then we get to watch as Matt adds to the overall sound of the mix with another stock plugin. This is awesome!

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Video 9, “Vocals”

Matt digs into the vocals next in “Mixing 101“. Matt first explains what were dealing with as far as editing, and then we dive into the dynamics. We want each word to be heard which means we need to dynamically reduce the loud parts. Matt Weiss opens up a stock compressor and gently sets it up and it is already beginning to sound amazing.

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Next is the time that we need to tweak the tone of the vocal, so we reach for the stock EQ. Matt explains what to listen for as he surgically repairs the vocals to perfection. Once this new, effected, vocal is played with the rest of the mix is just floats in there and sounds great. But Matt is not done yet. Matt next opens up a De-Esser and tops off what we have worked so hard to perfect. The vocal sounds amazing, it can be heard well over the top of the entire mix, and there is no sibilance.

Next Matt adds some space to the vocal. Matt opens up a stock reverb plugin, on a buss send/return track, and begins teaching. Matt explains what he hears as he moves through the reverb types, teaching as he does so. After setting up what might be the best reverb for the track Matt plays a quick before and after. Wow, does this sound amazing! If you are having trouble understanding what the settings of a reverb are “Mixing 101” has your back. Matt explains all the knobs , what they do, and how he likes to set them up.

Matt follows suit with a stock delay plugin. Matt has the vocals sounding deep and wide in no time flat, explaining each step as he goes. Amazing! I wish I had “Mixing 101” back when I began mixing as it would have saved so much time off of my learning curve. Imagine learning all of this stuff, in one easy to digest place, instead of making all of those mistakes that I have made along the way. Look, if your ready to begin handing in better mixes right away, “Mixing 101” is what you are looking for. Matt keeps a calm demeanor as he takes the viewer through a multi track session, pointing out the important stuff as he does so. First you get the technical editing stuff (phase, EQ, how audio works) and then you get the important track to track mix sweetening stuff (EQ, compression, distortion). Its all in “Mixing 101“.

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Video 10, “Conclusion”

Matt winds up with some great information about mixing. Matt describes what perhaps might help most of you to know what is important and what we should pay attention too. It is broad advice, but it is helpful and honest advice. This is great advice, from a real pro mix engineer, so I will take it. “Mixing 101” is awesome.

Remember, if you decide to purchase “Mixing 101” using the very links in this post I will send you two courses free of charge, the Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer“, 5 hours of mixing and mastering techniques that will help you get way better mixes and masters in your home studio.

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Episode 83, “Why your music sounds thin and mono-like”…

If you think you would like to enter one of your amateur songs, a song you or you and your friends worked on, and possibly win thousands of dollars worth of audio training, plugins, and more, click right here (2016 Home Recording Weekly Songwriting contest) or on the 2016 HRW Song writing contest image below for rules, prize list, and entry instructions. No professionals this year, please. As of this posting you still have over 60 days to enter! Three people will win equal prize amounts! Enter right now!

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If you have not downloaded your free “Home Studio eBundle“, please do it very soon. I cant give it away forever. Besides, it might be time for something new to go up. Enter your email and I will send it right out to you. To download your free “Home Studio eBundle“, look in the upper right hand corner of this web page.

If you are thinking about purchasing some audio training and my review helped you to make up your mind, please use one of my links to make the purchase. That way I can give you the “Ultimate Bonus Offer” as a free gift, just for using my links. I do get a small commission from the retailer, your price does not go up at all, and the “Ultimate Bonus Offer” is my way od saying “Thank you so much”. The “Ultimate Bonus Offer” is about 5 hours of video broken down into two products, “The Pro Mixers Playbook”, and “DIY Mastering”. You do not want to miss out on the “Ultimate Bonus Offer” while it lasts. Ultimate offer

Lastly, todays episode was meant to be helpful. I should have titled it “Why your music sounds thin and mono-like and how to help fix it” but that would have been too many letters. As you listen, I am sure you will get the point. Try new things and make sure to swap it up!

Subscribe today and please leave a review over on iTunes if you would be so kind!

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Rock Solid Guitar Stands “Elite 6”

Rock Solid Guitar Stands has been in my home studio for years and years now. I currently own the Rock Solid “Elite 6” guitar stand and I couldn’t be any happier with it. Please allow me to explain.

The Rock Solid “Elite 6” guitar stand showed up in a small enough box and of course it needed some assembly. The whole assembly process was simple and took me 30 minutes from start to finish. Please keep in mind that I was pausing from time to time to make a demo video of the process, hence the 30 minutes in time it took me to assemble the stand. It should take most of you about 15 minutes to assemble the pieces that ship in the box.

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The Rock Solid “Elite 6” guitar stand that I opted for is made of a solid mahogany wood and is simply gorgeous to look at. The two runners at the bottom are wrapped in a soft grip like material as to safely grab and hold your favorite instruments and hold them in place. Each of the six neck rests or neck supports is covered in the same safe grip material, as to keep the necks of your guitars and basses safe from any damage. The whole unit feels solid and well made in my opinion, and should last for as long as I do.

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Let me please explain why I went so big and opted for the Rock Solid “Elite 6” guitar stand. You see, I only own a few instruments these days. I expect clients and friends that I work with to bring their instruments to my home studio, and they will require a safe place to set their electric guitar, bass, or acoustic guitar. Honestly, I can’t imagine a mandolin would fit into the stand, but a banjo sure would. That said, I cant imagine a banjo on any of my tracks unless maybe its a six string banjo. However, when it comes to art, I have learned to never say never.

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The Rock Solid “Elite 6” is made of solid wood, mahogany, no particle board or plywood here. This is great as it looks fantastic to boot. The bottom slats as well as the neck rests, offer a soft yet sticky rubber grip-like material that is both a non slip surface that holds your instruments in place, and a safe enough material as to not harm your instruments finish. I feel absolutely safe leaving my vintage American made instruments in the Rock Solid “Elite 6” for long periods of time without any worries.

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So here is the bottom line. I wanted a guitar/bass stand for my home studio. I went big. I also went with the best I could find. The Rock Solid “Elite 6”  is the biggest “instrument stand” that Rock Solid Guitar Stands make. I believe Rock Solid Guitar Stands make the best instrument stands on the market. You will absolutely love the looks and feel of the all solid wood construction, and the safe feeling it provides. But if you use this link right here, (Rock Solid Guitar Stands), you will see that they also make some other sizes and some other configurations of their incredible good looking guitar stands.

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Rock Solid Guitar Stands is a name that I have come to trust. It is a name that I say often, too, because everyone that sees it asks me about it. Check out Rock Solid Guitar Stands and please make sure you watch the video that I put together for it. I love my Rock Solid Guitar Stands and I am betting you will too.

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