2016 HRW Song Writing Contest Begins…

The 2016 Home Recording Weekly Songwriting Contest is now up and running!

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Each year, since 2011 (that makes this year 6), Home Recording Weekly has given away thousands and thousands of dollars worth of cool prizes to fellow home studio nuts, recording and performing bands, and amateur song writers alike.

This year is no different in the prize department. I have (however) changed the rules a bit from the contests of years past. Please listen to Episode 81 of the podcast by clicking the “Play” button above and then read below to fully check out how the rules have changed, and how the list of killer prizes has grown, year by year. I always try to deliver the very best in prizes, and I try to reward the very people that I believe follow Home Recording Weekly. The contest runs for three months and I select three winning submissions, one in July, one in August, and one in September, each of the three winners receiving the same prize chest.

Here is a quick look back through the contests from years past….

2011 HRW Songwriting Contest link (not much left online of this years contest)

2012 HRW Songwriting Contest link

2013 HRW Songwriting Contest link

2014 HRW Songwriting Contest link

2015 HRW Songwriting Contest link

Again, please listen to the podcast episode above first. That is the best way to fully understand who may enter and what you can expect to win.

That said, here are the rules for entry and here (in no special order) is a list of the courses, plugins, loops, and tools that I will be giving away to three lucky winners.

Here are the 5 easy rules to follow:

1) This year I am rewarding the amateurs. I am looking for entries from those among us that are trying hard to get that music out of their head. If you are a song smith and you are tracking up your own music, song after song, trying to figure out what mixing is, working hard at figuring out what the whole process of recording a song is, if this sounds like you, well then this contest is for you. I aim to reward the solo song writers this year, and not the bands. Also, if you are a professional (you receive money or goods in return for your services) this contest is not for you. Please do not enter if you would consider yourself experienced, or if your a professional studio folk. I listen close to each submission and I actually talk to each winner, so please follow the rules here. In a nutshell, the song must be your own, and something you made yourself. You may have friends help you with instrumentation of course, as we all loan our talents for each others recordings, right? There is a fine line here, so please email me if you are not sure weather you may enter or not. I will respond quickly.

2) You must subscribe to Home Recording Weekly by simply entering your email (above and to the right of this post) and receive your free “Home Studio eBundle” video series. Besides, you’d be crazy not to. If you are already receiving emails from HRW, you may jump to step 3.

3) Please, head over and “Like” Home Recording Weekly on our Facebook page. Here is a link to our Facebook page. Hey, you don’t want to miss out on what I am doing in my home studio, right?

4) This step is very important to get right, or I will not enter your song into the contest at all. Sorry, but I cant chase links around to listen to your musical creations. Place your MP3 into a “Compressed ZIP File/folder” (follow link to learn how to do that) and then email me at kern@homerecordingweekly.com and attach the ZIP file (containing your MP3) to the email. Be sure to write “2016 song contest entry” in the subject line of your email. Please, again, do not send me links to your song or your videos. That will not work. If you win, I will play your song on the podcast, so I must have a copy of your song.

5) Sit back and enjoy each episode of the Home Recording Weekly Podcast. That’s easy since you all love the show, right? I will pick one lucky winner a month for the next three months of summer (July, August, and September). Good luck to all.

BTW… If you don’t think you are good enough to enter, don’t be fooled. You are exactly the people I am looking to reward.

Prizes for three lucky winners (all three win the exact same prizes) in no special order….

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From professional mix engineer and Mix Coach associate extraordinaire, Matt Butler, “The Art of Balancing a Mix” training course. Don’t be fooled by the title, this is an amazing mixing course. But the truth no one else is sharing is that you must build a foundation first, before you can get that perfect mix. Matt Butler takes you through a mix session in “The Art of Balancing a Mix“, sharing how he builds the foundation, what is most important in mixing, and of course how he mixes some of todays greatest music.

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From the company that puts musicians first, IK Multimedia, a copy of mixing/mastering plugin bundle “T-Racks3 Deluxe“. This prize is massive. Not only will you receive all the best of todays plugins (the very ones I reach for) but you also get a complete metering suite, and a total mastering suite all in one package.  IK MultimediaT-Racks3 Deluxe” is the freakin bomb guys! This is the mixing suite and mastering suite all of the professionals rave about, and so will you! I simply wouldn’t know what to do if I woke up to find out I had lost my T-Racks3 Deluxe. It would be a bad day to say the least, since I use their EQ,s, compressors, limiters, and so many other plugins each time I make audio. This prize is serious.

 MixEDM

From professional mix engineer Matt Weiss, “Mixing EDM“. This has been one of long time favorites on account of what Matt Weiss teaches about getting a mix to move. Yes, sure, you also learn how to mix an electronic song, but if you ask me the real gold is near the end of the mix series. Matts wisdom really comes thru as he demonstrates ways to get a mix to be wide, deep, and not sterile. “Mixing EDM” is one of the best!

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If you are trying to learn more about anything that is related to the topic of recording, mixing, and mastering, I cant think of a better place to learn then “Groove3 Training“. Groove3 Training is donating One Year, “All Access Passes” to their full training catalogue. Weather its brushing up on EQ and/or compression training, or perhaps your wanting to learn how to master an album, Groove3 Training has exactly what you are looking for. In years past this was the prize that folks started to enjoy immediately. One winner actually found out that he had won while having his auto repaired. He texted me from an automotive garage to let me know he couldn’t believe how amazing  “Groove3 Training” was.

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From professional mix engineer David Glenn, a fresh copy of his newest training series, “Mixing Modern Rock“. This is amazing as rock is my favorite genre to mix. But if it is not yours, don’t even worry. You still will learn essential mixing skills like EQ’ing and compressing the tracks that make up every session we will ever mix. David Glenn is one of todays hottest mixing engineers and he is absolutely killing it in the world of Pop, Rock, and the Christian world of music. David is at the top of his career and he wants you to learn everything he does in order to get a song to sound like a million bucks. No matter what genre you love, “Mixing Modern Rock” will not disappoint.

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From the good folks at Audified, comes the amazingly easy yet professional sounding U73b Compressor The  U73b Compressor is sure to (not only) speed up your workflow, but help you gain better control over those pesky dynamics. Weather you are trying to get a lead vocal to be more present in a mix, or your trying to gel a whole mix together, using the U73b Compressor will quickly get the job done. Follow the link provided to check out my demo video and review post for the Audified  U73b Compressor. But it does not stop there.

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Audified asked if I could give away even more incredible prizes. I assured them I could, so here it goes… Audified would love to reward the three lucky winners with a fresh copy of the brand ne w “MixChecker” plugin. This is a very special tool that allows recording, mixing, and mastering musicians the ability to check their mix on most of the devices that our music will be played back. Lets face it, there are a lot of different ways to playback music and media these days, ranging from home stereos to iPhones. “MixChecker” supplies the mixing/mastering engineer with a close example of what their music/media will sound like when played back across them all. This is such a brilliant tool and a great prize!

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From Home Studio owner and Engineer, owner of the cool and hip “Audio Issues” website, and all around music making professional, Bjorgvin Bendikson, a copy of “Music Production Strategies“. Ka-Freakin-Boom! What could possibly be more topical and more helpful then this amazing prize? Despite his youthful look, Bjorgvin has been in the world of music and professional audio for a long time. He has had his hands in tracking, production, performing, mixing, live sound, and well, the list just goes on and on. I predict “Music Production Strategies” will be exactly what puts your “song-smithing” into overdrive, and helps bring your own ideas to the big stage. You are going to completely devour this course, I guarantee it.

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What can be said about the incredible product designer and professional mixing engineer Steven Slate that has not been said already? Instead of telling you who Steven Slate is, let me just cut to the chase. Steven Slate knows you are going to need to have a copy of his “Trigger 2 Platinum” drum replacement software if you are going to ever turn in a professional mix. “Trigger 2 Platinum” is a well known “must have” workhorse in the music industry. Every mixing engineer has a copy, and now, so will you. I told you that I really want to help the newbie to gain a footing in the world of music making, and here is even more proof. I will be reviewing this precious resource and tool very soon, so please keep an eye out for that.

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Brian Hood is one of todays top mixing engineers, especially in the world of metal. Brian Hood was recently on Episode 79 the podcast (link to that show) and we learned a lot about his studio, how he turned a home studio into a six figure a year business, and a lot more, but he said precious little about his training course. As a matter of fact, he only mentioned it once, and not by its name. Please, allow me.

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Brian Hood wishes to reward the lucky winners with a copy of  his incredible training course, “From Shit to Gold“.  “From Shit to Gold” is not only a super catchy title, but its the only course you are going to need in order to learn how to record, mix, and even master music, from hard rock to molten metal, right inside your home studio. Inside the video modules that make up “From Shit to Gold“, Brian gives away all of his metal making secrets, and I mean everything! I not only watched “From Shit to Gold“, but I learned more about the most important tasks in todays music making that I have not ever even heard mentioned everywhere else. You will learn all about re-amping bass and guitars, “mic’ing up” loud guitar and bass cabs, tracking loud amps in different sized rooms, and so much more. But don’t be fooled into thinking that you will only learn things attributed to making amazing metal music, because these things are important and used all the time no matter the genre. From start to end “From Shit to Gold” is packed with solid, useful information that you just will not find anywhere else.

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Positive Grid… Wow, Positive Grid has already done a lot for todays music makers. Positive Grid has introduced a lot of todays best sounding programs for bass and guitar, and now they are entering the mixing/mastering game with the same mindsets and products that have totally changed how we think about making music.

Positive Grid released three cool and refreshing compressors this past year, the Positive Grid “Professional Compressors“. These compressors were like no other compressors that have even been released before. Let me try to explain… Imagine building the compressor of your dreams out of components and parts from your favorite gear. Were talking about tubes, transformers, and everything in between. Positive Grid has the technology and so they put it to work.  Positive Grid “Professional Compressors” allow you to quickly and easily swap out the parts that make up compressors. Even if you aren’t into electronics and components, and you don’t know the parts that make up a compressor, its ok. You can use your ears and come up with amazing tones that you just wont find anywhere else. Not only can you can put together a compressor that you just cant find on Earth, but you can use it in your very own musical projects. Follow the links provided to check out my demo/review video that I put together in order to explain the amazing, the powerful, the great sounding Positive Grid “Professional Compressors“. Here is a link over to the Positive Grid website.

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From Home Studio Corner owner and professional mix engineer, Joe Gilder, a copy of the totally world famous and completely freshly overhauled “Understanding Compression“. I don’t know why Joe felt that he needed to improve this amazing series, the single video series that started my path to way better mixes, but he did. “Understanding Compression” has been updated and added to and is now even better than it has ever been. I have watched the new version of “Understanding Compression” and Joe has gone all out here. This is one of, if not the first video course I took, and it not only transformed my understanding of compression, what it is and what it does, but it helped me to incorporate compression into my mixing and mastering. I can actually say that the skills I learned from simply watching “Understanding Compression” have also helped me get much better results in my live sound mixing career. I get comments each time I perform live sound, and the bands hire me time and time again. I use compression in many ways, each time I run a live show. I want the lucky winners to have what I have, hence the gift, the prize that is “Understanding Compression“.

TBS

Lij Shaw is a professional studio owner (Toy Box Studios), live sound genius, and mixing guru located in Nashville, TN. Lij routinely records some of the biggest names in the “Pro Nashville musicians circle”, performs live music recording sessions for some of todays hardest touring acts, plus he even records the bands each year at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in the famous “Hay Bayle Studio“. Lij is also the bearded man behind “Recording Studio Rock Stars Podcast“. Lij has worked his way to the top of the ladder and has served the Nashville music scene through his very own “Toy Box Studios“. Lij wants to help those “in the musical trenches”, by donating his most valuable commodity, his time. Check this out; three lucky winners will receive a 30 minute Skype lesson, from the bearded one, Lij Shaw. Lij made it perfectly clear to me that the winners can ask him about anything recording/mixing! Wow, this is freaking amazing! I couldn’t believe this generous offer when he said it, and I sure as heck didn’t give him a chance to take it back! If you are one of the three lucky winners, you can ask Lij for help with whatever it is that you feel you need help with. This is a killer prize, guys, one that I wish I could have for myself!

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Bill Dewees is not only the final word in all things successful voice over, but he is the “Voice Over Expert”. You can listen to our incredible podcast interview by clicking here. Bill has actually put about everything he knows about the world of voice over into one amazing course, titled “The Voice Over Playbook“. This is the course that I constantly rave about, and let me tell you why. Bill Dewees explains everything from recording ideas and editing tips to how you yourself can start finding paying gigs immediately. Bill details everything he has learned about the exciting world of Voice Over from finding clients, branding yourself, and even how to get paid time and time again. I have watched this amazing resource myself and I believe “The Voice Over Playbook” to be not only a “turn key opportunity”, but also one heck  of an investment. I have also used the things found inside “The Voice Over Playbook” to make money. Oh, did I forget to mention that Bill Dewees makes over six figures a year doing Voice Over work? This is one fantastic prize that will continue to pay back over and over again.

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Kevin Ward, AKA The Mix Coach, is perhaps one of the most famous Nashville based home studio mixing gurus. Kevin knows all stages of music making from production, recording, tracking, mixing, and mastering. I have learned more from Kevin Ward then I could ever possibly repeat in this musical lifetime. Kevin Ward would like the three lucky winners to go through his “Guide to Pop Mixing” course. Let me add that Kevin leaves nothing out as he teaches mixing. He has countless pointers and ideas that will unlock the creative side in you. Kevin knows what is important and he gets right to the teaching in a very face paced, but laid back style. Not only is Kevin Ward famous for teaching people how to mix, but he is famous for teaching people how to mix many different genres including pop, country, bluegrass, folk, jazz and more. Maybe that’s why Kevin Ward is the Mix Coach? Guide to Pop Mixing” is the perfect prize!

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Pro Audio guru Rob Williams of “Pro Sound Formula” is one of the newest professional music makers to make a splash onto the pages of Home Recording Weekly. I actually was able to speak at length with Rob on Episode 75 of the Home Recording Weekly Podcast. Rob has been making professional music for a long time and it shows. His training courses knocked me out and energized me in a way no other course had ever done before. You see, the “Ultimate Mixing Formula” teaches what no other training courses have ever explained. Rob Williams actually breaks down each step of the music making process and explains it in easy to understand terms before he dives in and gets technical. You actually grasp the concepts that he is teaching at the time he is teaching them! Rob Williams has an incredible amount to share as he brings the viewer along on professional recording, mixing, and mastering sessions. But don’t be fooled here, inside of “Ultimate Mixing Formula” he only shows you the in depth stuff once you are prepared for it. The courses offered over on Robs “Pro Sound Formula” are some of the most in depth and inspiring courses I have had the great fortune of watching, period. I still explain this each time I mention Rob and his training courses.

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Nashville producer Kris Crunk knows how to produce pop music from scratch. Kris has been tracking up Professional Pop songs for his entire career and he has learned an incredible amount. I know this because he shares it all inside the insanely packed full of tips, tricks, tutorials, “Pop Production“. There is a ton of industry knowledge packed inside this amazing course, and this is one I watch again, over and over!

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If you are the one person on Earth that has not heard of Graham Cochrane and the amazing Recording Revolution (that he has created singlehandedly), let me be the one to knock you awake: Graham Cochrane is the easiest going music maker, song writer, mixing engineer that you will ever have the good fortune of meeting. Graham started making music in high school and simply never looked back. Lucky for us he has a strong passion for teaching, and thank goodness he does because he is very good at both teaching and making music. Inside the “ReThink Mixing” mix training course Graham calmly and methodical explains each step of the mixing process from pocketing drums to polishing off the vocals. Folks, its all inside of  “ReThink Mixing“, and here is your chance to win.

Episode 80, Remember me?

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I have been going absolutely crazy here, without the power of being able to podcast. My recording interface took a turn for the worse and then quit working on me all together. While having that interface repaired, I replaced it with an interface that would not work with Windows 10, and then I had to get rid of that one. Meanwhile, I was dead in the water. Well, all of that is over now, knock on wood, and I am back online.

I have a lot of great content coming your way, as you will hear all about in todays show.

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I use and love the UPLIFT DESK from The Human Solution. Not only does the UPLIFT DESK allows me to work longer hours more comfortably, it lets me play instruments, while standing up, as I work. If you suffer with an injury that prevents you from sitting or standing too long, the UPLIFT DESK from The Human Solution is your solution. I can’t tell you how much my life has changed for the better after receiving my UPLIFT DESK from The Human Solution. You can also see the Dual Monitor Arm set up I have which makes using multiple monitors a breeze.

 

My brand new (vintage) electric guitar rig….. Tube Works RT-922 tube pre amp, Carvin TS-100 100/50 watt (mono/stereo) Tube power amp, Chemistry Design Werks Holeyboard M-3 in blue, and an “Iso Cab” that is still in the works. I will share the actual building of the “Isolation Cabinet” with you folks as it unfolds.

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Look, if you are wondering id “going digital” with the Mackie DL32r Digital Mixer is for you and your band, I made this video that explains exactly what our band has learned about the process.

We went from all analogue mixing console, loud guitar amps, bass amps, monitors, rack effects, compressors, gates, EQ’s, to running amp cab sims with bass and guitar, in ear monitoring, and the Mackie DL32r. This band has never played better, and never sounded better.

Ultimate offer

Make sure to pick up your own copy of the Home Recording Weekly “Ultimate Bonus Offer” when you decide to purchase audio training, or you join a mixing membership. The “Ultimate Bonus Offer” is hours of mixing and mastering training packed inside two products, “The Pro Mixers Playbook”, and “DIY Mastering”. Simply head over to Home Recording Weekly and read the reviews for the product you wish to purchase. Simply use any of the links in the review when you decide to purchase the products, and do exactly what is says to do in the review. All of the information is placed inside my reviews.

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Make sure you get your free “Home Studio eBundle“, a 100% free video training bundle, yours when you join the Home Recording Weekly newsletter. This is a great video series that explains a lot of todays cool recording, mixing, and production tips for writing MIDI, recording guitars, drums, bass, and so much more.

Episode 79 my interview with metal/mixing/mastering/business expert Brian Hood

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Yep, that title has a lot packed into it. Brian Hood is one cool cat and he has a lot to share with us. First, he loves that metal music. I know, I know, who doesn’t love a little bit of metal in their day, right? I know I sure like a bit of metal with my coffee.

But Brian Hood, more importantly, is my guest today on account of his home studio business practices and mindsets. This guy knows how to turn your humble set up into a very lucrative and very successful studio, and he wants to let you have this information for free.

Please go right now (well, as you listen to our interview) and bookmark these pages…

456 Recordings

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The Six Figure Home Studio

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Please make sure to download the amazing “Keys to a six figure home recording studio” eBook today. You will be amazed at just how much you learn in such little time. Brian’s writing style is to the point. You can only fall in love his style.

Send in that email if you wish to be included in the “Original Song Production” email/video membership. I am closing it down very soon, so please do not hesitate another minute. Send me that email right now! Send an email with “Original Song Production” as the subject line to kern@homerecordingweekly.com . I will do the rest. It is that easy.

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DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor from Softube

Guys, I love multiband compression. True story. I love it more and more each time I mix and/or master a piece of music. Once you figure out what it is that multiband compression can do for you, the more uses you can find for it. On the same thought process, once I learned what to listen for when mixing and/or mastering, the more precisely I learned to apply multiband compression. Weather for effect or as a tool, I find new and exciting uses for multiband compression each time I work. I use multiband compression to reinforce vocals, back up guitar tracks, and to even out the unruly, over dynamic frequencies in a mastering session.

The DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor from Softube is my newest tool. It is a three band FET compressor that alters the dynamics of frequencies, the frequencies that you tell it to alter. This can unlock a world full of cool and creative uses for the DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor. I will also tell you that I love, love, love the two filters built into the Softube DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor. I also love the fact that I can apply it more creatively using stereo or mid/side mode. Add in the ability to use as little or as much of the DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor, using the “mix knob”, and this unit kicks butt!!

Just to be as transparent as I can possibly be, I have three multiband compressors that I usually reach for. The DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor from Softube is the one that is getting the most use. It took only one sitting to completely figure out what is happening with the knobs and features. It is well laid out, like the hardware unit is too, and it sounds amazing! I am most likely going to use the DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor as my “go to” mastering multiband compressor (MBC) from here on out. The features of the DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor are just perfect for mastering, well, at least if you were to ask me anyway. I will probably use the DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor last in my chain, just before the limiter.

I really cant believe how quickly I can dial in great sounding music that is dynamically under control across the entire spectrum. I love having the ability of selecting the crossover points via a well labeled knob. I love the metering layout which makes for easy dynamics reduction settings. The “Big” and the “Air” filters seem to be perfectly set and they inject magic into the music that I am working on.

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To wrap up my thoughts about the DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor from Softube

Weather you are just starting to learn about the powerful tool that is multiband compression, or if you have been using MBC like a ninja for decades, the DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor from Softube is a serious addition to any professional tool set. The plugin is easy to wrap your head around, and it just sounds extremely musical. The fact that it is a serious and professional level MBC shouldn’t scare away those of you that are just learning about the many uses and possibilities of MBC. I would say that a professional can get instant gratification from the DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor from Softube, and the novice can easily begin their MBC journey, learning how to apply MBC with the DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor from Softube.

I love the DRAWMER 1973 multiband compressor and I will be placing it across each and every master I bounce out for the rest of my career. The good people over at Softube know how to make incredible sounding, easy to use plugins.

4 Reasons our songs fail in comparison…

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1) Your song is just not meant to be…

I have song parts the I just know are great. They will etch their names into the history of music at some time in the future, but not just yet. Why not? I cant make them work. I have had them for years and years, tried them in every genre and style, but they just aren’t coming out as I envisioned them. I tell myself that one day they will fall into place, perhaps when I only figure out how to make them work.

The truth might also be that they aren’t ever going to work. That’s ok because I have had complete albums worth of ideas that I at first thought sounded like hits. These parts never married up with other parts in order to produce songs. These versus just never found choruses that matched, or flowed together nicely.

Again, there are some pieces of music that I know are great, I just haven’t finish them yet. Other pieces of music get tossed aside regularly. I think knowing when to give up on an idea is the topic here. Some of my best ideas just become forced sounding and just never sound like nice flowing music. Don’t fall in love with every musical idea that you have ever had.

I suggest taking some time to learn simple song writing. Learn as many songs as you can. Study the greats. Why? Writing a simple song, and having the parts come together, is just so powerful. You will be amazed as the lead lines or the lead parts write themselves into your song. You will learn how choruses and versus work in unison, how things like bridges come into play, and what to place importance on when writing songs. Learning how to “write songs” has helped me grow as a producer. Looking back, that last statement only makes sense.

I suggest you join my favorite home studio membership, too, just to learn better practices and better song structure processes.

2) Lack of emotion…

Lack of emotion is something my music suffers from. Emotion is majorly important. But how can we inject emotion into our music?

Don’t strive for perfection. Take after take, we try to get things as right and as perfect as we possibly can. The problem with that is that with each new take we lay down, the emotion fades more and more. Things become more and more about “getting it closer to the grid” and less and less about feeling as we work. Our songs become more and more sterile as we aim for “perfect”.

Keep those early versions and early takes. Those first takes usually end up being the best, emotionally speaking. As I grew as a recording engineer, I have often times remade those song that sounded unprofessional, only to learn that I like the original version much better. Why? They had the raw emotion that my new polished version did not have. Keep those first takes, too, and use them as a guide or reference take.

Also, I use mood lighting. Not to put me into a trance, but to remind me that it is ok to feel emotions. I pause from time to time and try to “place myself back in time”, back to the place in time that I am singing about. Digging up those raw emotions will help remind you what it is you are trying to say with song.

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3) You are being too technical…

I once had a (non musical) friend of mine listen to one of my freshly produced original rock songs. After listening he gave me an elegant critique. He said, “You need some Yeas! in there”. His comment was short, sweet, and right to the point. I understood what my friend was saying. I never forgot his words either.

I had focused on the timing of the parts and the musical side of things so intently that I forgot I was having fun. Were making art folks. Were also supposed to act like humans and not like robots or computers. Some of my all time favorite rock songs contain the occasional “Yea!” or “whoo-hoo” sprinkled in for good measure. As a matter of a fact, there is one part of John Cougar Melloncamps’ hit, “Jack and Diane” that I cant let pass by with out singing along with, and its a “oh yea”. Go figure.

I guess we need not take things so darn serious all the time. Perhaps a little bit of “K.I.S.S.” tossed in from time to time will go a long way. Back off the technical stuff once in a while and allow the fun to poke through. Maybe this is why some of our best material seems to write itself. We get out of its way and just allow it too.

I actually awarded a ton of prizes to Jon S., the winner of the 2014 songwriting contest (month number 3), with is great song, “As the world turns”. He simply hit “record” on his iPhone one day, and recorded his song in one take. Yep, there were pops and glitches in the songs recording, but it was such an emotional performance that I was “taken to another place”. He won all those prizes because the song was good, but his emotion, oh yes, his emotion was great. You can listen to it by clicking this link right here.

4) You are using the wrong production techniques…

This is something that happens all too often, but rarely gets sorted out. Your masterpiece just takes a turn for the worse and try as you might you just cant pull it back. People fall in love with their songs as they take shape, and they just hate to start over when things don’t sound right. So people continue to pile on track after track of instrument after instrument, hoping to steer it back on course.

I know this issue all too well. I can usually trace it back to an instrument or a track that I introduced. We tell ourselves that if we continue working it will sound great again, so just keep working. The truth is that we have passed the point of no return and we need to stop.

It can be as simple as allowing the introduction of room noise when what you really want an intimate (dry) take. It could be a strong (far from the mic) vocal take when you maybe should have been a lot more softer (close to the mic). With me it could even be the wrong effect on the guitars. Who knows.

But the point is that these things can and probably will happen. Get used to it. You must learn the craft of production, and making mistakes is how we learn. Kevin Ward calls it “Getting egg on our face”, and I have come to like the feeling of egg on my face. It means there is a chance for me to learn something new if I only look hard enough.

Again, learning proper, or perhaps better production techniques will only make your production increase in volume and in quality. With each new bit of advice we get, with each new tip we pick up, our music will improve. As time unfolds we notice great improvement, but only if we keep an open mind and allow learning to happen. I keep myself in constant learning by being an active member to this home studio production service. I highly recommend that you check it out.

The Mackie DL32r digital mixer and my honest review

I will start this review, a review of the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer (Mackie 32 channel Digital Mixer), with an assumption. I assume that you are just like me. I was on the fence about purchasing the Mackie DL32R for a whole host of reasons, and to be fair, I had a lot of questions too. I could not find the answers to my questions anywhere online. That struck me as odd, but the unit is still a new product, and so I brushed it off. However, I promised myself that I would one day type out a full and honest review. A review that explained exactly (warts and all) what I have come to find out about the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer and what the band that I work with as a sound person for has come to learn about gigging with the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer.

Let me begin with some back story. I am in love with audio. I write record original music as an absolute passion. I mix and master music as a passion and as a side income. I am a professional sound person, to some degree anyway, and I came to the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer on account of a handful of problems that I was having as a sound person. I also record local bands and I was trying to come up with an easy, affordable way to offer this as a service. I have been collecting expensive gear in hopes of one day being able to record more than 16 tracks in a live situation (mixing board, splitters, preamps, laptop, hard drive, cables, 100 foot snake, etc.). The Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer is very good at this very feature, too, as I was about to learn.

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The band I was working with was old school, but looking to come into the new age. What I mean is that the five band members had a lot of stage volume and that came with ample doses of feed back. The band only had enough gear to send two monitor runs, too, which was a never ending issue. I had to use two (of the four available) monitor sends for effects routing. That left only two “sends” for five monitors. On account of only two customizable monitor runs, the members could never hear themselves good enough. Toss in the loud amps scattered about the stage and, well, the members of the band could never hear the monitors well enough. They would ask me to turn up the monitors, more and more, until feedback was rampant. It was not their fault what so ever, it just was how it went due to the gear we had at the time.

I am a man that loves to turn knobs, dials, and push faders. I say this on account of the reason I was most afraid of purchasing the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer. As the night begins, I quickly set levels and adjust the overall sound. As the night unfolds, I constantly tweak the sound, with panning moves, fader rides, tap in the delay time song after song, adjust effect level sends and returns, and so much more. I love the feel of knobs, dials, and faders so much. Could I ever get used to performing all of these functions on an iPad?  Is it even possible? I mean, could I get this level of a show by touching a screen and wiping my fingers across an inch of plastic? I am jumping ahead a little bit, by typing this “knob, dial, and fader bit”, so let me back up a little bit. I typed this paragraph just to show you that I had the same fears as you might have about switching over to the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer.

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When I met the band they had amassed a good bit of gear. They had a Mackie 1604 mixer (my personal favorite for small gigs), a rack full of effects, some amps for the mains and not too much else. Those mains were cheap, and like I warned them, they blew up on the first gig. True story, they caught fire during the first set of their first gig. Due to my request they had purchased some quality used monitor floor wedge speakers, and they finished that gig using the monitors as mains. We pieced together a decent set up consisting of new mains, better monitors, and some other miscellaneous parts and pieces, all for the most part, housed in Gator Rolling racks.

But there was so much gear! There was the instruments, the instrument amps, the microphones and stands needed to route the loud amps into the mixer, the amps for the mains and monitors, the effects, the….well the gear list went on and on. We had to load, unload, and then set up so much freaking gear that we were exhausted before we played the first note of music. You can forget what you have heard about Metallica, we were the hardest working band in rock and roll.

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One thing rang true though, the band sounded and performed great by the time we replaced the mains. But I kept hearing the same complaint as the gigs came and went. If you are a sound person yourself you can say it with me if you like, the  members of the band would tell me, “I cant hear myself very well”. We hear it all the time. I still only had two monitor sends, thanks to the Mackie 1604 mixer, so getting a custom monitor mix was impossible. That meant I had to turn up the monitors until feedback ruined the show. It a common problem. I needed a way to send each member of the band their own custom monitor mix.

Heck, while we were putting out fires, why not consider getting rid of the loud monitors all together? The band had once shared a gig with another local band that had an “in ear set up”, and I never heard the end of it. They wanted in ear monitoring but like I would tell them, the problem would persist. We only had two monitor mixes to send out to five people. Wait, if we don’t need monitors then we don’t need loud amps either, right? I mean there will be no reason for the guitar and bass to crank up their amps since they have in ear monitoring, right? Right.

OK, looks like its time to do some homework.

I was so scared of using an iPad to mix that I first tried to figure out a way to “create” two more monitor sends. I routed the effects another way and over effected a gig. I tried to move the monitors closer to the band members only increasing the feedback. Something had to change. It was at a late night band practice that the drummer had enough. It was so loud in the room that we were practicing in that we all decided enough was enough. Turn up the monitors so they could hear themselves. Turn up the amps so they were louder than the monitors. Turn up the mains so I could hear over the amps and monitors. UUUGGGHHH!

It was now time to get a new mixing system. One that would solve all of the bands current issues, plus a long list of features that I wanted too. The mixing solution had to had more than enough monitor sends, eight or more would be nice. The new mixing solution had to support a host of in ear monitor set ups, since the volume wars had to end. I was tethered to the mixer all night at the shows (via a new and expensive 100 foot snake), so it might be nice to have wireless mixing capabilities. Lets face it, the band sounds different from each spot in the room.

But the “list of wants” for the new mixing system was a lot longer than just trying to solve the noise versus feedback issue. I also wanted a way to easily multi track record the band, gig after gig, if that was possible. I wanted to “dial the band and the mains” at each venue, as a preset, and then save that preset for the next time we play there. I wanted to get rid of the rolling racks full of effects and amps. Was I asking for too  much?

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We came across the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer. I have come to trust Mackie mixers with my life. Night after night they work flawlessly. But the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer was a new sort of machine all together. It was a digital mixer and that worried me. To be completely honest, there were a lot of good points and only some bad points about choosing the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer. Come to find out the bad points were all in my head, and not really there at all. But that hadn’t proved itself just yet.

All I knew at the time was that the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer has effects built in (two independent reverbs and a stereo/mono delay with tap tempo) so we could get rid of our rack effect units. I like analogue. Remember, perhaps just like you, I like touching real knobs, dials, and faders. Could I even run a show using an iPad and the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer?

The answer is YES!

Yes, I can run a show using an iPad and the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer. Let me be the one to put all of your fears to rest. Not only can I run a show, a new show with much more accuracy and finite detail, but the show has never been easier to set up and the show has sounded better. The stage noise is gone. The feedback is history. The built in effects sound great. The routing of inputs and outputs is easy, flexible, and totally recallable. I can easily swipe to where I need to be on the iPad, and adjusting things like input levels and delay tap tempo is a breeze. Its funny how fast I got used to running a show with just my one index finger.

How the technology really works…

The Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer has a computer built into the unit itself. The iPad is needed to run the App which runs the shows settings. You need the computer in order to perform the duties of the digital mixer like recall the preamps, raise and lower gain stages, route the inputs and outputs, and take care of the effects and recording options to name a few. Each band member will need an iPhone or an iPad (the App is not yet on Android) in order to raise and lower the inputs headed into their monitor send. You will need to purchase a router for the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer. I was unaware of this until I read the manual, but it does make sense. The Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer uses the router in order to connect all of the devices that I have mentioned. In order to multi track record (or stereo record) you will need to purchase a “spinning hard drive” too.

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Before I knew what had hit me, I had gotten really good with working on the iPad. I didn’t own an iPad until the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer arrived, so I was a little scared about getting used to working with one. Before I had a chance to think about it, I had the settings all customized for the band. The inputs were color coded with icons as the input types, the iPad was set up as to only show me the tracks I wanted to see, and I had the gig routed as I wanted it. I had drums, keyboards, and vocals going through three parallel compression tracks, and a stereo bus compressor all working before I knew it. Working with the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer is much as you think it is going to be, only easier. You only need to set it up and read through the manual one time to wrap your head around what is really going on. Then, your instincts take over.

Let me try to break down just some of the many other benefits were finding about switching over and using the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer.

The 32 preamps are great sounding, flexible, and 100 percent recallable night after night. I can set up the mixer for a gig (or a venue), save it, and recall it anytime in the future. I can do this for as many bands as I want. Imagine the time that would save you as a sound person for a local venue! The flexible routing for inputs, outputs, channels, effects, is just amazing. There are two reverb effect tracks with sliders, one stereo or mono delay with tap tempo, assignable bus tracks (parallel tracks), return tracks for MP3 players and the like, and customizable tracks for assigning things volumes from groups of channels to a single fader. I can save a practice session in a second and recall it week to week. I can do the same for each club the band plays in. This feature alone not only puts a smile on my face each time we sound check, but saves countless hours of warm up/sound check time.

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The band has never sounded as clear and as punchy.

Each band member has purchased an “wireless in ear monitor unit” which has allowed them to not only hear perfectly from anywhere in the venue, but play better then ever before too. They each have a totally customizable wireless mixer for just their monitor send. If they want “more me” they simply use their finger and turn themselves (or any instrument or vocal) up or down. They each also need an iPhone or iPad to do this. This eliminated the need to own and haul the stage monitors and the amps that drove the monitors, and miles of cables. This got rid of a lot of unnecessary stage noise entering all of the microphones. The band members leave their instrument amps (guitar and bass) at home, too, since we found that we just don’t need them. We use a Bass pre amp pedal that has a DI, and the guitar player is looking at rack mounted pre amp for a quiet stage. This has all added up to help them become the cleanest, most professional sounding band that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

Each of the 32 inputs on the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer has two types of EQ’s (vintage and modern) a gate, two styles of compressor, effect sends, monitor sends, and customizable routing that will blow your mind. I have gotten rid of the racks full of compressors, gates, and EQ’s that we used to lug around and set up for each of the shows. The Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer even has a master EQ and compressor, so I sold the stereo EQ and Compressor I had serving for those duties. The gear required for a gig has dwindled down so that it all fits into an SUV.

I can save “screens” as views, as the sound person, so that I only “see” what I need to see, (like inputs and effects levels) and everything else disappears from my view. Saving these views is just amazing and makes life easier. Please, if you are worried about going on without knobs, dials, and faders, don’t be. Make the jump into todays technology and become as happy as we are.

With the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer I can easily multi track record up to 32 tracks at once (or do a stereo record) all night long with the addition of a cheap spinning disc hard drive. I have already tested this on a practice, and it was flawless. This means that you can record a gig, say a wedding, and then quickly burn CDs to sell to the wedding party as they leave for the night. I actually brought the multi tracks into my DAW and mixed a quick “before and after” mix to show the band what was possible.

 As a side note, there were some steps required before I could take the multi track file from the hard drive and open it up in a DAW for editing and mixing. I had to first download some free software in order to “pull off” the whole editing and mixing trick. The Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer records 32 tracks as a “special wav file” that contains all 32 tracks in a “special stereo file type”. The software that I downloaded pulls out the 32 separate tracks from the wav. file. It worked flawlessly, and the time needed to pull this off was not even worth discussing. It is all in the manual.

Promoting bands is a must in todays online world. Record labels are long gone and it is up to us to do all of the promotions. I plan on taking a multi track recording, mix it to as close to perfection as possible, and place it into a video capture of the same gig. I can then cut it up into songs and place those great sounding videos on YouTube and FaceBook for easy, great sounding promotion. Imagine offering this feature for the bands that play out in your local area. I am working on getting a side business going, offering live multi track recording and mixing.

But we did loose some stuff since we switched over to the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer. I must be completely and totally honest with all of you. Please, let me explain.

 I have since gotten rid of racks and racks that were full of gear, lots and lots of problems, and lots and lots of headaches. Gone are the racks and racks of EQ’s and compressors that we once had for each input, for the monitors, and for the “stereo outs” that left the mixing board and headed to the mains. Gone is the new 100 foot snake that I had to purchase, haul to each gig, and then divided the dance floor into two halves. Gone are miles of cables that once crisscrossed the busy stage. Gone are countless equipment set up and tear down hours. Gone are the back aches that began in the first set and left me miserable and about useless by the last set. Gone are racks of EQ’s, reverbs, and delays, once used for each of the four vocal microphones. Gone are the old rack towers that once housed the mixer and several heavy, hot, and bulky power amps. Gone are the monitor speakers that once cluttered up the stage, and gone the power amps that made them so loud. Gone is the ridicules amount of stage noise that the monitors once force feed into each of the microphones. Gone is the feed back that always crept in between songs and ruined the mood of the crowd. Gone are the loud bass amp and guitar amp that were always way too loud in the first place. Gone are the venue managers that constantly asked (harassed) me to turn down the guitar amp, the bass amp, the feed back. Gone are the never ending requests from band members to “turn me up” in the monitors. Gone are the “professional sound people” that always come up to me, each time we play out, to tell me that the guitar or bass is way too loud. Well, that last one might still happen, but maybe less often.

If you are ready to loose all of the stuff that is actually holding you and your band back, then its time to upgrade and get yourselves a digital mixing system. We got the Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer and we have never been happier. We sound way better now, with a fraction of the gear and none of the headaches. Please, I beg you, take it from a “knob loving, fader riding, dial turning sound person from the rack owning analogue days”, its ok to make the leap into todays digital world. You will be better for it.  Get yourself the new Mackie DL32R Digital Mixer. We all are loving ours.

Episode 78, “10 mindsets that all home studio owners must posses”

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Welcome back to the Home Recording Weekly Podcast. Todays show is one of those shows I wish I heard back when I was starting out in recording and live sound.

Also, I just completed a brand new track right here in my humble little home recording studio, and I just completed a new “bonus course” that I am very proud of, titled “DIY Mastering”. The new track is featured, as well as mastered (step by step) in the 2.5 hours of mastering fun that is “DIY Mastering”. I just know you are going to love it. If you want to learn more about the art of mastering, or how folks master music from home studios, you owe it to yourself to check out “DIY Mastering”.

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First of all, I wanted to see if the music I am making now sounds any different to the music I made before I watched any training at all, you know, after all these years of learning from watching all of those training courses that I am constantly recommending to you, and after being an active member of those monthly mixing memberships that I belong to. I think the difference is night and day. Please check it out as it is in todays episode.

If you want to learn more about how I make my music sound like I do, and how you can too, then simply send that email to kern@homerecordingweekly.com today, with “original song production” as the email subject line. I will place you into a folder that will receive special behind the scenes footage of the entire process.

“DIY Mastering” is a free bonus gift that you can have, along with “The Pro Mixers Playbook”, when you use any of the links provided to make a purchase of any of the training products that I have reviewed.

Fun Bonus: Want to see what my absolute favorite piece of home recording gear is? CLICK HERE to learn more and to get a closer look at my favorite piece of home studio gear (of the last year).

Episode 77, “Bass like the pros”

Welcome to the Home Recording Weekly Podcast, Episode 77.

In todays episode I talk a lot about getting bass tracks to be in time, in tune, and sounding as killer as I know they can be. If you struggle with bass, like I do, then maybe you will appreciate todays episode. My work around is simple yet very effective. If having a solid low end is your goal, I might just have what you are looking for.

My bass tricks, tips, and techniques are all available in video form, all in one place, in a totally free video product. You can download your free eBundle here, on the Home Recording Weekly website.

Also mentioned in todays show:

From IK Multimedia, the amazing and powerful Amplitube 4, guitar and bass amp VI.

The cool and affordable, Audified GK Amplification 2 Pro

Also, here is the new BIAS FX, and my “BIAS FX with a bass” review/demo video

KAUSSA Cerberus Bass Amp. Here is a link over to my review video for the KAUSSA Cerberus Bass Amp.

The Human Solution UPLKIFT DESK (my rising and lowering workstation).

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