Mixing Rap Vocals 2: Advanced Techniques from Matt Weiss

 From Matt Weiss and The Pro Audio Files comes yet another smash hit training video, titled “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” and more to the point they are labeling the series as “Advanced Techniques”.

The 10 videos that were downloaded within “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” are titled,  #1-”Intro”, #2-”Murs”, #3-”Exciters”, #4-”Snoop”, #5-”Multiband Compression”, #6-”Juicy J”, #7a-”Unison Doubles”, #7b-”Adlibs and Punch Doubles”, #7c-”Chorus Vocals”, #8-”Arrested Development”.

 Let me add that I have had the pleasure of “running into” Matt Weiss before. I have reviewed his amazing training video titled “Mixing with compression“, and it changed the way I will forever use compression. Really, it is very, very, very good, and it will help you out with all aspects of compression. I also learned what to think of before applying compression, and how to get that tone I hear in my head by using compression. I you can only ever purchase one video to help you use compression with confidence, “Mixing with compression” is the one to purchase.

I have also interviewed Matt Weiss, on the podcast, and here is a link over to that interview. I learned a lot about Matt and I learned a lot from what he had to say about so many unique audio topics. The most important, or the “take home facts ” about Matt are that he is a very talented recording and mixing engineer, and he excels at teaching others.

Matt also made the “Mixing Rap Vocals 2”  series to be a continuation of sorts, that better flows after watching “Mixing Rap Vocals“. You do not need to watch the first one to understand what Matt is doing in “Mixing Rap Vocals 2“, but he does use practices discussed in the first series. Matt also makes reference to the first series from time to time. However, if you really wish to become the best mixing engineer that you can be, why not buy them both?

Matt gives a lot of “high value” information to the viewer, here in “Mixing Rap Vocals 2“. Matt will thoroughly explain some very complex techniques to you, and then give you detailed “before and after” listening scenarios. Matt explains techniques like “upward compression”, “parallel compression”, “find the singers vocal sweet spot and enhance it”, and then, to top it all off, he gives us a lengthy explanation of “multiband compression”. He explains, in great detail, what multiband compression is, and then demonstrates how he likes to use it in vocal tracks. You will learn an incredible amount here, so you better be prepared for that!

Video 1, “Intro”

Here is where Matt tells us what to expect. He uses some “matter of a fact language” which tells me I have the right guy, about to show me all of the right stuff. Matt lays out what sorts of things we can expect to learn. Matt ends the video by saying this, “We are going to be creating something great. This is what I do. This is all of my secrets. You bought it, you got it, lets get started.” Who can argue with that?

Video 2, “Murs”

Matt plays us a sample of the song he is about to sprinkle with magic mixing dust. It is a nice rap track from a rapper titled, “Murs”. He explains that the vocals were recorded in less than perfect circumstances. This is paramount. How many times have we, home recording nuts, recorded vocals in a closet, a car, a mobile home, a (insert object)? Matt is about to show us exactly how to work with these sorts of recordings. Awesome indeed!

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Matt details exactly what he does, exactly what he uses, to get amazing vocal mixes. Matt shows us what to listen for, and how to apply plugins to help the vocals sound so much better. He uses EQ, de-essing, parallel compression, distortion, multi-band compression, and all of the usual suspects, but that is not the point of “Mixing Rap Vocals 2“.

Matt teaches us how  to mix vocals. He explains why he is doing what he is doing, and he gives us “before and after” listens as he moves through the mixing process. He constantly details what he hears, teaches the viewer to hear it, too, and then shows us how to get the best results. He opens up plugins and actual demonstrates how he is applying them. He is such a detailed teacher, and that is so worth the price of admission. “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” is like sitting down with a great mixing engineer, and being in their head.

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Matt has a great way to add excitement to a vocal track. He uses EQ, compression, and EQ to accomplish this “excitement feel”. Once he brings in this trick, the vocals leap out of the mix. He says it is “subtle” but it really makes the track bounce. Wow, this is a cool trick that I will use way into the future.

Next Matt brings life to the vocals with an double effect using Izotope Nectar. This is a wide, doubling, distorted type of effect. Then he demonstrates what this brings to the vocals. Everything is subtle, but improves the vocals, step by step. You sure do not need to own a ton of plugins to accomplish these effects, but this is how Matt mixed the track. He uses Izotope Nectar and so he wants you to learn how he uses it. Great stuff for sure.

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Matt then explains that these new vocal sweetening tracks go into a delay that makes things “wider”. He sets up a stereo delay to make the vocals sound wider than the mono counterpart. This really is sweetening the vocals, and it makes it sound very professional. I am learning an incredible amount about mixing vocals, already, and this is only “video one” of the whole “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” series!

Video 3, “Exciters”

After a quick explanation of just what “exciters” are, Matt goes about showing us several ways that we can use plugins to bring that excitement to a vocal track. As video 3 unfolds, Matt will detail many different ways that he uses to get that attention grabbing excitement to a vocal. Here is a play by play run down.

Matt digs right in, and starts mixing once again. He plays the same mix that we have been working on, and details what he would like to do next. Matt begins by isolating the harmonics with a simple EQ, and its’ High Pass Filter. Who knew?

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Next, Matt explains why we would either compress the harmonics or distort the newly isolated harmonic content. Then he “sweetens up the vocals” by creating a cool excited parallel effect track, using the harmonic content and distortion techniques. The end result takes only seconds and yet it brings the vocal a sense of clarity and a new sense of excitement.

This is the stuff that I am tripping out about most. Matt is constantly talking about ideas and techniques before he demonstrates them. This is how folks like me learn. Matt is a great mixer, and an amazing teacher. He understands how to get techniques across to someone, and then he drives it home with examples.

Next, in “Mixing Rap Vocals 2“, Matt goes above and beyond. Matt delivers on the last technique, which was a parallel exciter effect track best suited for hip hop. He then goes on and creates a very cool parallel effect track that does the same sort of thing, but for other sorts of genres like pop or rock music. Matt employs this crazy EQ to achieve a cool sweetener effect.

Within the videos that make up “Mixing Rap Vocals 2“, Matt is constantly detailing how one plugin will add certain things to the original recording. He knows about the “give and take” characteristics that plugins will bring, when you use them. If you do not know, every plugin that we use on a signal changes that signal in two ways. Each change we make to a recorded sound will bring “intended changes” and “un-intended changes” to that recorded sound. For an example, with some “positive changes”, like EQ cuts, come some negative changes, like volume cuts.

Matt constantly points out these principals, when they happen, and how to better mix a track, keeping these things in mind. These are the things that pay back in time, and they will pay back over and over. Knowing what happens, intended and un-intended has helped me grow as a mixing engineer, and Matt has helped me the most in this area. He is just a wise person, and what he points out is extremely helpful. This stuff is just another reason why I feel confident in saying your mixing will improve drastically just by watching “Mixing Rap Vocals 2“.

For example, Matt just added a mad EQ cut as a parallel effect track. This was an “indented” action as he got rid of all of the “un wanted” frequencies with this EQ cut. He then explains that this new parallel EQ track is adding sibilance to the overall vocals. This is the “un-intended” action. Matt must then bring in a De-esser followed by a compressor to combat the newly created sibilance. This is just one example, and I hope you can follow what I am trying to explain here.

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Next, Matt changes gears completely, and covers a radically different way to add excitement to a vocal. He comically calls this technique the “Weiss Vocal Cutter”.

Here is the idea: Matt starts off this technique with a low level (quiet) copy of the original vocal track as a parallel effect track. Like a mad chef, Matt adds a radical EQ setting, distortion, compression, and de-essing. Would you believe that at 23 db below the original vocal track, this doubled track is cutting through and adding excitement? It does. This is a cool trick that we can use and even make our own.

Matt shows us yet another way to accomplish some excitement in a vocal by using a parallel effect track. He uses Izotope Nectar once again to accomplish this particular idea, but you can do this process in other ways, using other plugins. “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” is paying off in spades.  Matt takes the viewer through his Izotope Nectar settings, just so that we better understand the process, and his thinking.

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Making parallel effect tracks is a lot of fun, and really allows us to surgically add excitement and polish to a vocal track. Matt has given us a lot to think about, and a lot to use in our own mixes. Matt was not kidding when he said, “We are going to be creating something great. This is what I do. This is all of my secrets. You bought it, you got it”.

Video 4, “Snoop”.

Here we go. Matt starts off with a new Pro Tools session, and a new idea to teach us. We give a song a listen to, and then Matt starts making decisions. Matt helps us define our end goals by better defining what it is that the song needs. He does this just by listening close, and by a few cool tips via Matt.

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Then, as the title suggests, we get to hear (The one and only) Snoop Dogg do what he does so well. The vocal track is dirty, bass heavy, and flat. Matt is going to take this vocal to perfection, and I get to follow along. “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” is so amazing!

  Distortion first? Yep. But, as we learned with each intended thing we get, we get an un-intended artifact. The track was bass heavy to begin with, and since we added distortion, the lows are even more apparent.

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Can you say Pultec EQ? Matt can. He gives a very good explanation of how the plugin works, and why it sounds so good on tracks like vocals. If you are wondering how these plugins work, with both a boost and an attenuation engaged, Matt can help you. Matt cleans up the lows and adds highs with one EQ. Amazing. Matt has helped me learn how to better apply Pultec EQ’s.

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Next, some more “corrective” EQ’ing, followed by some multi-band compression. Keep in mind, I am not just watching Matt mix. Nope, not by a long shot. Matt is demanding my attention, pointing out how single words sound. His mixing precision, and attention to detail is actually helping my ears learn what to listen for. Then, and only then, after I understand the issue, does he explain how to best fix the issues. This amazing detail can only come from someone that is at Matts level of mixing genius. Matt has mixed a lot of records, and his experience can be yours, by purchasing “Mixing Rap Vocals 2“.

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Matt continues mixing, applying all sorts of tools, and the vocal just keeps sounding better and better. This has all been in series mind you. Then, we bring in parallel compressed tracks. Tracks just like we have been putting together since the first video in the series. Matt adds a parallel EQ track, a parallel exciter track, and then some parallel reverb. Perfect!

I really feel as if things are really coming together for me. I actually understand what is going on, and the concepts Matt is employing now make sense to me. Like I have said, Matt has a great way of explaining things so that everyone can grasp the concepts and follow along. Trick by trick Matt mixes the vocals, and the backing tracks to perfection. It is amazing how much Matt has to share.

Video 5, “Multiband Compression”

Up until today, Multiband compression has eluded me. I get the concepts involved with it, well, sort of, but I feel intimidated when it comes to applying multiband compression. It can be rather confusing for me. If you were to ask me, I would honestly say that there is a complete lack of confidence on my part.

Let me tell you a true story that totally relates. I felt this same exact lack of confidence before, only it was stemming from my lack of compressing skills. I knew what all of the knobs of a compressor were for, and what they all did, but I just could not see the forest for the trees when applying compression. Then I watched “Mixing with compression“, also from Matt Weiss, and it rocked me. If you can’t hear the finished sound, before you apply compression, then I suggest that you check out that powerful video. My “compressing confidence” was propelled higher than it has ever been. Now I know what I want to do with compression, before I even open a compressor, and I know how to make that sound in my head happen with compression. It transformed my mixes overnight. True story!

Matt has included this video, which he calls a “workshop”, just so that he can remove the mystery that surrounds multiband compression. This is exactly what I need! “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” is paying for itself once again. Matt is about to do for multiband compression in “Mixing Rap Vocals 2, that he did with compression in “Mixing with compression“. My mixes are going to rock!

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 Matt puts the mix aside and just talks. He explains what multiband compression is and how we most commonly apply it. I enjoy listening to Matt, too, as he explains things very well. Then, after the quick chat, we get back into a mix. It is Snoop Dogg again, much to my enjoyment. This is a vocal I am familiar with and I can relate to it well.

Matt defines an issue with a part of the vocal, and then opens up a multiband compressor. Matt sets the multiband compressor up to catch the glaring issue of the vocal track. More importantly, he explains the settings and how he used the settings to fix the issue at hand. I completely understand what he has just done.

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Matt continues pointing out, or defining issues that he hears in the vocal. Then he helps the viewer understand how to remove the issues with multiband compression. Issue by issue, setting by setting, we perfect a vocal with multiband compression. Matt talks about the knobs, what they are doing as he turns them, and then we listen back to the before and the after. It is really starting to sink in, and I now feel as if I can figure multiband compression out.

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Matt continues on adding bands of multiband compression until the vocals sound great. The vocals are totally transformed and they sound amazing. Multiband compression is a powerful tool that makes cleaning up a vocal easy and fast. Did I just say that?

That was one heck of a great tutorial on multiband compression, but Matt is not done teaching. That is not even close to the end of the lesson. Next, Matt shows us some “creative uses” for multiband compression. Yee Haw!

Matt shows us how to apply multiband compression to make a vocal sound more like the artist! He says it like this example, “Make Snoop Dogg sound more like Snoop Dogg”. I am intrigued to say the least! His example comes with a very good tip, and let me tell you it is awesome! This really works!

Mat details some more amazing things that we can easily do ourselves, using only multiband compression. These tricks do things like help improve vocals, easily bring more excitement to a vocal, and even trick our ears.

I just finished a mix of my vocals and now I need to re-mix that track. I have so many cool new ideas now! I feel a lot more confident about applying multiband compression now.

Let me help you once more. If you struggle with applying multiband compression, then Matt can help. Maybe you are like I was, and you lack confidence when it comes to applying multiband compression. You know all of the other plugins like the back of your hand, but multiband compression is just not your forte.  If this sounds like you, then purchasing “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” might be the single best decision you will make in your mixing career. I am blown away by how much solid knowledge, and priceless confidence I have gained. I will need to practice what I have learned, of course, but I am completely blown away.

Video 6, “Juicy J”

 Here is a video that I can relate to. Matt opens with a quick explanation about how we sometimes all get a vocal track to work on that was poorly recorded. I work in a small room, and record vocals that sound poor, quite often. They demand more work, and more attention than a well recorded vocal. Sometimes vocals are recorded on mp3 recorders like iPods and iPhones. Matt has an example of a vocal recorded on an iPhone, and he is about to “make it work”! AWESOME!

Mixing Rap Vocals 2” is paying back huge! I need to learn all of this stuff. I don’t record with an iPhone or any sort of smart phone, but I do get all sorts of tracks from clients, that have similar issues. I have made a lot of “problematic” recordings sound better, but I can’t wait to learn how Matt works on this sort of common issue.

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Matt attacks the recording with the common most tools, but in clever and creative ways. Matt continues to “think out loud”, so that we can follow along with him. Step by step, frequency by frequency, issue by issue, the track comes together. Again, Matt uses EQ like a real pro. He is a mixing ninja to say the very least about his mixing knowledge. His ideas and the ways that he gets to the finish line simple amaze me. This was recoded with an iPhone guys, and Matt is making it sound like a pro recording!  Wow, what more do you want?

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Matt Weiss continues working, applying the usual suspects, but in very clever ways. Matt understands the fundamentals that make up audio like no one else and his techniques prove this. He just explains things about mixing and about music like no one else has ever explained them to me before. I came across this very thing before,  when I watched “Mixing with compression“, from Matt Weiss. He teaches compression in such a cool and indescribable way, that it stuck.

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Multiband compression comes in to the chain, next, as Matt continues to help fix the vocal. It is because of  “Mixing Rap Vocals 2”  Matt has a nice, easy to understand flow going. He works the EQ’s and the multiband compression until the poor vocal sound quite good. Very good in fact.  Next, Matt does some very cool stuff.

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Matt insists that the vocal is lacking dynamics. Apparently, IPhones will limit (or “clip protect”) audio that is going into them to be recorded, so it does make sense. Matt opens up an expander and gets to work. Talking to the viewer the whole time, Matt details exactly what he is doing. He shows the viewer how to bring a clipped vocal much more dynamic. Matt is adding “upward compression” as it is called in “the business”.

This is some amazing information. I have heard the term “upward compression” before, but could never find any information on the subject.  “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” is packed full of great, professional information that I will use for the rest of my career in audio. Best of all is the fact that Matt explains it all in an easy to understand sort of way. Matt changes the settings for us just so that we can get yet a better grasp on what it is that he is accomplishing.

Think about this… This is some high tech subject matter here. Applying an expander in to obtain upward compression to then add dynamics to a clipped vocal track is crazy cool. I would be lost completely if any person other than Matt Weiss were explaining it to me. This is a “must have series” no matter the genre of music you work with. These techniques work on rock, metal, rap, country, and on and on.

Matt then does a trick that just blew me away. As a mixing engineer, we often times are forced to wear many hats. We make some rather serious decisions that can change a song completely. Matt does this very thing, just to make the poorly recorded vocal take feel more right. I will not give this one away here in this review. I will let this be as much of a total surprise for you as it was for me. I did not expect him to do this, yet it makes things so much better. Want to learn what Matt does? Do yourself the favor, follow the link provided and buy “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” right now.

Video 7a, “Unison doubles”

Rap, as a genre has some cool attributes. One of these attributes is something Matt calls “Unison doubles”. Unison doubles are the versus that have two passes of recorded raps. It is like a total duplicate, or a carbon copy of the first pass of vocals that we blend in with the first.

Matt discusses how he works with unison doubles in rap music. He goes into some details about the “pros and the cons” associated with introducing and then using unison doubles. Matt then shows us some of his his tricks that he uses with unison double. Matt explains how unison doubles can “take away from” the main vocal, and we need to work at getting them to “add to” the main vocal.

Matt uses words like punch, clarity, depth, and tone as he works on unison doubles. He has some very important things to show the viewer. His tricks are so good that they probably will help you either make your unison doubles work instead of not work. He really does some very cool stuff here.  Once more Matt applies tools of the trade, like EQ and compression, but it is so much more than that. Matt clearly defines his goals, and shows the viewer how he uses, or sets up EQ’s and compressors to achieve these goals. That is “where the money is”, so to speak, and that is where the real value is.

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Video 7b, “Adlibs and punch doubles”

So how do we mix, i.e., process all of the stuff that falls between a vocal and not a vocal? You know what I mean? Well, in rap it is all of the laughs, “uh-huh’s”, the “that’s right”, and so on. All of that stuff is recorded, and a big part of a rap song. How do we think about that material when put into context of the entire song? Do we process it like the rest of the vocals? Matt knows. I am really starting to figure out that “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” is the whole package. Everything you will need to know about mixing rap is in “Mixing Rap Vocals“, and “Mixing Rap Vocals 2“.

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Matt shows the viewer how it is that he sets up his plugins and mixes all of the things that he calls “Adlibs and punch doubles”. This video is just as mind blowing as all of the others. I learned a lot about things that I just never ever thought about before. That is another thing that I love about being in Matts’ mind. He shines light on so many things that I have never given too much of my attention before. Stuff like a vocals panning, a vocals energy, a vocals body, or a vocals speed get great amounts of discussion. I love how much I am learning, and how many cool tricks I can place in my “mixing toolbox”. These are all important things to think about as we mix vocals. Now, because Matt taught me about all of these things, I am able to better approach a rap vocal mixing job.

Video 7c, “Chorus vocals”

The chorus is the song. The chorus needs to represent the way we think about a song. Words like “aggressive” are used to describe a song, and our choruses need to fit within that description, whatever it is. But how do we make a chorus fit into our descriptive words? Matt knows how, and inside “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” he gives us a ton of ways to accomplish this important task. He gives us some audio examples, some actual mixes that he has done, that shed some light on his very techniques. Wow, this is so cool. I never thought too much about this, but boy is it important.

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If you, the reader, think these videos are “just more of the same”, boy are you wrong. Matt is simply giving the viewer a lot of detailed, sharply focused information. These last three videos in the series (7a, 7b, and 7c) are what Matt calls a workshop, but they are full of points that need to be made. Each one is unique in and all by itself, but each video also leads into the next, in a way. Consider these three videos a great big bonus, but the bonus makes so much sense. The bonus also ties in with the whole mixing rap vocals theme.

Matt shows us, in quite a few examples, how he likes to use processing like EQ, compression, and reverb (just to name a few) to make a vocal sound more “forward” in a mix, or sound more “back” in a mix. This is stuff that we will all need to do at some point in out careers. No matter the genre of music, these decisions need to happen. What will you do when someone asks you to “push the chorus vocals of back in the mix”? Will you know how to accomplish these important tasks? I will, thanks to “Mixing Rap Vocals 2“.

 Video 8, “Arrested Development”

Matt wraps up “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” with a walkthrough of a mix that he did for the rap act known as “Arrested Development”. Matt begins with a song description, which is “celebration like” and then he shows the viewer how he made it sound “celebration like”. Using effects and techniques to accomplish a feeling is something that Matt does very well. It will take me a lot of practice to pull off what Matt shows the viewer, but it will happen in time.

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Look, for me, learning new things is a must. As an aspiring mixing engineer, learning how things are done is also very important. Keeping current with the musical trends of today is paramount. Watching training videos accomplishes so much. You get a look at what others are doing. You pick up new and exciting ideas. You learn as you see things done right in front of you, as the mixing engineer  explains everything they are doing. Matt goes above and beyond, as usual, and lets the viewer know the sonic goal first, and then gets the viewer to that sonic goal.

Matts’ training videos are not about the brand name of the plugins that he uses, but instead they are about the techniques that he uses. You will be impressed with the amount of training, at the overwhelming amount of information, and the amazing tips, tricks, and techniques found inside “Mixing Rap Vocals 2“. Matt said it right at the start, in video 1, when he said “We are going to be creating something great. This is what I do. This is all of my secrets. You bought it, you got it, lets get started.”

If you feel that “Mixing Rap Vocals 2” sounds like something you would enjoy and learn from, you might also like these titles from Matt Weiss and The Pro Audio Files…..

Mixing with compression

Mixing Rap Vocals

Episode 44, winner number one, and “selling air Quarts”.

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Congratulations to winner number one, Leon Wright.

 “Leo”, as he likes to call himself, entered with a great song, titled “Water over the bridge”. Great track, and there is a great vibe going on in the song.

For a complete breakdown of the amazing prizes that Leo has won, please follow this link.

There are still two winners to be chosen, so please enter today!

IK Multimedia CSR for the T-Racks collection

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IK Multimedia has a ton of amazing tools for the musician. I adore the T-Racks collection, and the plugins that all fit within T-Racks. CSR, or “Classik Studio Reverb” is a set of four reverbs that will amaze your ears and improve your tracks.  CSR, or “Classik Studio Reverb”, offers a suite of four high-quality reverb plug-ins, Plate, Hall, Room and Inverse, which are available as a single product, or separately in the T-RackS Custom Shop.

Each reverb module has two modes, “easy and advanced”, with up to 100 adjustable parameters per unit.

IK Multimedia goes on to explain “CSR operates within two modes: Easy and Advanced.

The Easy mode provides access to basic reverb controls like mix, decay time and level, diffusion, buildup, slope, etc., depending upon which of the four units is being used. Advanced Mode delves more deeply into the fine-tuning and response of the unit. Plus, there’s a handy Macro feature that allows you to deeply assign controls to one of four macro sliders for simultaneous adjustment of multiple parameters. What that really means is you have an unprecedented amount of control over how your reverb responds. And it’s all easy.”

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Here is a better explanation of the advanced mode: “If you need more control than is available in Easy Mode, CSR provides Advanced Mode. Here you will find an array of highly developed modeling and shaping controls that are hard to find in any reverb – over 100 parameters per unit to be precise. All parameters, the Modulation Matrix, and Macro Controls, can be adjusted and changed to create the reverb effect that you need, tailored to the very finest detail. The Modulation Matrix is an 8×8 structure; meaning that 8 modulation sources can manipulate 8 destinations. For example, to apply an envelope to your reverb time, you can fine-tune the tail for a specific reverb sound. Or, use an LFO to modulate the reverb image, creating movement in the acoustic space.”

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“Macro controls can be created allowing complex sweeping changes in Classik Studio Reverb’s effects, changing virtual environments at your command. You can associate up to 8 different CSR controls to a simple Macro slider, therefore making morphing between different reverb settings easier than ever. In both Easy and Advanced Modes, it is always simple to find that perfect sound. A convenient A/B comparison allows you to quickly apply modifications and compare between two reverb settings in a snap.”

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You can purchase CSR as a set of four, “Plate, Room, Hall, Inverse”, or one by one with the “Custom Shop” app. Please take note that you do not need an ILOK dongle to hold your license information, as these plugins will work once you have downloaded them from IK Multimedia.

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I love how easy the reverbs sound, right from the moment I open them up. They just make music sound way better, just by placing them on tracks. Plus, you can work them in “easy mode” or “advanced mode” for a world of possibilities.

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This is from the IK Multimedias’ website, “CSR’s four reverb modules are now part of the T-Racks Custom Shop, which means they can be used in the T-Racks CS processing chain like all the other modules. They can also be run as single plug-ins in VST, RTAS, AAX and Audio Units compatible hosts, that support 64 bit operation.”

If you already are a IK Multimedia T-Racks CS user, just log into the Custom Shop and click the TRY/BUY button on the CSR Classik Studio Reverbs modules, to try them out for free or purchase them.

If you aren’t a T-Racks Custom Shop user yet, access to your user area to get your FREE T-RackS Custom Shop serial number and download the product installer. Once you have installed T-RackS Custom Shop, log into the Custom Shop and click the TRY/BUY button on the CSR Classik Studio Reverbs modules to try them out for free, or purchase them.

 

 

 

 

Episode 43, Excuses we make

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Links to things mentioned in todays podcast episode:

The 2014 Home Recording Weekly Songwriting Contest info page

David Glenn, “Mixing Vocals

Shark Tank

Pensados Place with Teddy Riley

Thanks so much for listening!

“Mixing Vocals”, from David Glenn Recording, review

I am honored to be reviewing Mixing Vocals, the new video training series that deals with all things mixing vocals, from mixing engineer David Glenn.  David may be one of the new members over at The Pro Audio Files, but he is in no way new to mixing. As a matter of fact, David Glenn has been mixing for a long time, and he has earned his stripes, so to speak. His knowledge of all things mixing is apparent in the Mixing Vocals.

As a disclaimer, I opted to download and review Mixing Vocals and  The Mix Series as a bundle. I got what I feel is twice the content for a great savings by doing things in this way. However, I will only be reviewing Mixing Vocals today. Sorry about any confusion that might cause any of you.

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The Mixing Vocals has 10 videos (over five full mixing hours) in all, as well as the exact same session files that David mixes in the series. You also get the exact same song files that the tutorial uses, just so that you can mix along with David. How freaking awesome is that? The whole idea is to learn something new from Mixing Vocals, and from David Glenn, by watching him do it and then doing it yourself in your own DAW. This has proven to be the winning formula for learning success.

If you are wanting to learn more about mixing vocals using things like limiters, compressors, distortion, reverbs, parallel processing tracks, EQ’s, multi-band compressors, (and so much more) then Mixing Vocals is the series for you! David Glenn shows the viewer how he applies all of these commonly applied, cool sounding effects, and then he leaves it up to the viewer to decide what it is that they like. He shows us a few scenarios of each type of effect, and then moves on to the next. The viewer gets a great understanding of many effects that are almost always used in todays music.

Please follow the links provided, at any point in this review, to go over to the “purchase/download” web page for the Mixing Vocals.

Let me side track a little bit by saying that the song in this tutorial is amazing. That is not really important, but it sure makes the videos more enjoyable to watch. We end up hearing the lyrics over and over, in these training videos, and it is nice when the song is very good. This song is very good.

David is using Pro Tools in this training video series, but if you do not own Pro Tools then please do not worry about that. The D.A.W. that David is using is not all that important. What is important is the techniques that he is using/teaching. These techniques can be performed in any D.A.W. I use PreSonus Studio One as a D.A.W. and I can certainly do everything that David does in Mixing Vocals.

Mixing Vocals is available, by itself, for 37.00 U.S. Dollars.

Multi-track sessions is available for 37.00 U.S. Dollars. Included in Multi-track sessions are the ProTools templates and wav files that David Glenn uses in the series, and he details how he mixes the vocals through each song. You get to watch David work through the song, and then you can follow along with him. Surely this is a great way to learn how to mix vocals in todays music!

The Mix Series includes session files and ProTools templates for mixing in several genres, and several styles of popular music. David Glenn shows the viewer how he likes to set up a mix, save the sessions, and make the all important “mix templates”. He supplies all of the tracks and some templates too.

The Mix Series and Mixing Vocals Bundle is a steal, and cheaper, once bundled, at only 57.00 U.S. Dollars. This is the very option I opted for, and I am glad that I did. I saved 20 bucks!

 Let me break down the individual videos, found within Mixing Vocals, for you…..

Video one

Video one, of Mixing Vocals starts right in with teaching some very important content. This important content is the stuff that can make or break a session. David starts with what some might consider “basic stuff”. However, setting up levels correctly, right from the start, is not “basic” at all, but it is super important. You must set things up correctly, right from the start, so that we can work them well into the rest of the mixing session.  David explains, and demonstrates, things like trim, levels, head room, gain, clip gain, and why it is that we address these things.

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David explains what is on his mind, as a professional mixing engineer, the whole time. In fact, that is the very thing that makes these sorts of training videos so worth the time and money. You simply learn so much! It really is like you are sitting down with a professional mixing engineer the whole time, and he tells you everything!

One obvious thing jumps out at me right from word one. David Glenn is a great teacher. He is easy to listen to for great lengths of time. He explains things extremely well. I am following along with no problems at all, and I am enjoying the content as it flows, and it is flowing nicely.

David starts working on the lead vocal right away. He sets the gain levels for mixing, leaves headroom, and explains why we need to have headroom, when mixing, in the first place. Next, the all powerful high pass filter makes its debut. David details why he uses the tools he is using to accomplish the things that he is performing, with “before and after” listening’s. David teaches what he is doing and then he does it.

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David goes on to share (what will become just one of the many) a very cool technique with us. David starts teaching us how he likes to use clip gain to get a more natural sounding performance instead of using things like compression to smash peaks and raise the quiet parts. He gets a very dynamic vocal with tons and tons of emotion. This is a very clever technique to learn. This idea, all by itself, is worth the price of the whole video series. It really makes the vocals way more interesting and way more intimate. Great stuff indeed, and this is only the first video in the series!

Davis continues well into the vocal track demonstrating how he employs this technique. He explains how to use it, like a pro, and the vocal continues to sound better and better. I can’t wait to try this out on the included files. That is another cool thing about Mixing Vocals, the included song files. I can learn what David is doing, and then I can try my hand at it right on the exact same files.

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Next, David opens a limiter and begins limiting the loud parts of the vocals. This is known as peak limiting. Keep in mind that he explains everything he is doing, in great detail, as he does it. The viewer is right there with David, understanding each thing he is doing. He not only gives you the settings on the plugins he uses, but he explains the process that he is using the plugins to perform. The two (process and settings) come together nicely once he explains them.

Next, David pulls out his trusted LA-2A compressor. He brings in some compression to gently compress the vocals. He is careful not to do too much, but instead he likes to employ gentle touches. Slow and steady wins the race, and this is how David Glenn works. This is the good stuff guys! Keep in mind that David explains how to do much of this stuff with stock plugins too. You do not need to have lots of the fancy plugins that a lot of the pros have.

Next, in Mixing Vocals, David Glenn explains how he uses parallel compression with vocal tracks. He shows us how he routes the tracks in his D.A.W. and then he gets into the parallel compression track itself. David explains what it is that he listens for, what it is that he aims for, and how he gets there, using not only parallel compression, but also more than one compressor in the parallel compression track. He gives real numbers to aim for, and how he gets those real numbers. I am learning a lot here, and I can’t wait to use this multiple compressor approach in my parallel compression tracks.

Then David adds some “grit” on to the main vocal track. Sometimes he likes to add some saturation or distortion to “dirty up” a clean vocal take. He opens a few different plugins to try them out against each other. This is a cool way to learn about what others use, and how they use them. I like to learn about the many sorts of plugins, and how folks like to use them. He solos the vocal in yet another “before and after” example, and then explains why he uses it. It does make the vocal more intimate and more real feeling to me.

Next, in video two, David Glenn covers how he applies EQ to the vocal tracks that he mixes. If you are already convinced that you will learn more that you ever imagined about mixing vocals just by watching Mixing Vocals then I say you are right. Why keep reading my review? Stop reading and purchase your copy right now. Here is your link over to purchase Mixing Vocals.

Video two

David digs right back in and starts EQ’ing the vocals. His weapon of choice to begin is a De-esser. David shows us how he likes to operate on sibilance with his favorite De-essing plugin, but then he shows us how to apply De-essing with other, perhaps more accessible, types of De-essing plugins too. This is great because so many of us are not yet professional mixers and we can’t yet afford the top of the line tools and plugins.

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David Glenn is careful to explain exactly what it is that he is trying to accomplish, and then he takes the viewer with him as he does said task. I like how he also demonstrates different ways that we can do the same task. He actually details several ways to use uncommon techniques to tame harsh sibilance. This is how we cement the techniques that we are learning. Then, once we have a grasp of the concept, have learned how to get what we want, we can do it ourselves with the included song files. This is gold! Mixing Vocals is a steal for the content that is in here! I am learning a ton, and I am also gaining confidence in the techniques that I am learning.

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Video three

The topics for video three in Mixing Vocals are EQ and Multi-band Compression. That is awesome. I struggle with multi-band compression, especially when applied to a vocal track.

Davis gives us a great EQ technique right at the start of video three. He demonstrates this very cool subtractive EQ tip that had (until today) eluded me. Again, this tip, alone, is worth the price of the whole series. Mixing Vocals continues to pay me back, amazing idea after amazing idea. Thanks so much David! He really opens up the vocal, and gets it to punch through the mix with this one very easy to replicate idea. This will be something I do forever on.

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Look, if you are serious about taking your mixing skills to the next level, than Mixing Vocals is for you. If you struggle with getting tracks like vocals to sit on the rest of the song perfectly, then please let David Glen show you what you can try. Sometimes we need someone to explain a couple of techniques to us, here and there, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You can become a much better mixing engineer, with some help from others, and David can help get you there faster. He has some amazing ideas to share. If you are like me you like to collect tools and keep them in your mixing tool box. David Glenn is offering you a whole set of vocal tools. Won’t you take his offer?

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Next, David shows us some multi-band magic using a free multi-band compressor plugin. We all have access to a free multi-band compressor plugin, so we can all try these things he is showing us. Next, David opens a multi-band compressor and gets to work. Explaining in depth as he goes, he brings the vocals right up to an amazing quality. David does “A/B comparisons” and teaches what to “listen for”. This is so very important. We must know what to aim for, and then how to get there. Amazing stuff here.

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David also supplies us with names of other professional mixers that we should check out. For example, when using a Pultec EQ he details a mixing engineer and particular video that we should go and watch. This is rare for a mixing engineer that makes training videos to do, but it is oh so helpful. This just goes to show how humble and how comfortable David Glenn is with his mixing skills.

 Video four

Things begin to get wet in video four of Mixing Vocals. I am talking about FX here. David continues to amaze and he explains things as he goes.

David begins with a slap delay. David first chooses a stock stereo delay, detailing how he sets them up the entire time. He sets it up as a slap delay, and then he adjusts it to the vocal. David will end up repeating the slap delays with a few plugins. Next, its’ saturation time. He employs an EQ, next, and does a cool trick that makes things sound more vintage, and less digital. This is a great idea, and it makes such a difference with one simple EQ change! Next David ads a gentle tape saturation. David uses many different plugins to accomplish basically the same effect. I love this about David. You get a great understanding of not only what we are after, but also how to get there using a few different plugins.

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David also shows us one of his “doubler” set ups using Izotope Nectar. He sure has a knack for making things sound great quickly. Then its on to yet another plugin for yet another way to get a great double sound. David loves to share content, and I have the feeling that he wants you to get your monies worth and so then much more.

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David opens up a plate reverb and gets it to sound great. Then he gives us a cool explanation of pre-delay times, and what they really are. With a fresh new understanding of what pre-delay is doing, he adjusts the pre-delay of the reverb to taste, and tempo. This is yet one more reason to tell you how much value is found in Mixing Vocals. This series is amazing. I am gaining a whole lot of new ideas, with a new confidence. David works in slap delays, mono and stereo reverbs like plate reverbs, room reverbs, and hall reverbs. Toss in some great explanations of pre-delay times, decay times, and how to use them to their best potential in your tracks, and you have yet another great video in Mixing Vocals.

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 David Glenn also talks a bunch about frequencies. He takes in the songs parts as a whole, and then he works in the vocals. The track has a piano, and he makes sure both fit and both work. This is a must, and the more effects that we use, the more artifacts we will hear. David brings in EQ’s and demonstrates how he would apply EQ to help things work together. He also brings in saturation plugins and even a bit crusher. He does these things all throughout Mixing Vocals, in hopes of helping the viewer learn what to listen for, and how to better mix with “space creating types” of effects.

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Video five

Genre specific music is the theme for the next five videos. If you purchase Mixing Vocals you will have a lot of content. Your download will include 10 videos, ProTools templates, and lots of session files and wav files.

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If you work in ProTools you can use the templates provided for you in the download, and simply drag and drop the files into your new session. If you do not work in ProTools, that is ok too, you can import the wav files provided in the download, into your new session. This is all in hopes that you follow along with David Glenn, as he works his magic. How cool.

Video five of Mixing Vocals is simply a tutorial within a tutorial series, to show you how to set up your templates, import your files, and then find the tempo for each session.

Video 6 to video 10

From here on out, David shows us how he mixes vocals in different genres of music. Each of the next four videos demonstrates how he uses (both) effects like EQ, compression, saturation, and techniques like de-essing, parallel compression, to get his vocal sound. His vocals sit well in a mix and sound awesome, by the way.

Video six

David Glenn opens up a slamming rap track, and gets to work. This is 46 minutes of hard core mixing! This is awesome, we are getting a ton of interesting content here, and we get to watch David mix another style of music vocal. First, he walks through the template, and how the session is laid out. One by one, David adds effects like saturation, EQ, and compression to the rap vocal track. David also demonstrates how he likes to employ mix techniques, too, like parallel compression, just to name one. David also shows us how he removes certain noise, like a ringing microphone stand. This is something that we can all learn from, and use in our home recording studios! Awesome.

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This is like getting another bunch of mixing videos in one package! David mixes the vocals, from start to finish. This is awesome for home recording nuts because he recorded these vocals in his home! His closet was turned into a vocal booth for this track. Can’t you relate to that?

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Video 7

This is simply part two of the rap vocal mixing series that David started in video 7. Davis continue mixing the vocal until it is absolutley perfect. That is a lot since it was recorded in a bedroom closet! Amazing indeed!

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Video 8

 Once more, David mixes a song, start to finish, and he brings us along for the whole ride. This track is a male singer songwriter sort of song, and it sounds like what is currently on the radio. Great song, and a great video. Again, David applies techniques and effects, one after another, talking the whole time, until the vocals are amazing! Mixing Vocals is a steal for the overwhelming amount of content you will receive. David details tips and tricks as he moves along, like why he likes to put things like de-essing before (or after) things like the compression. Awesome information from beginning to end.

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Video 9

This is part two of the singer songwriter track that we started in video 7. David Glenn moves along to adding effects like reverb and some final EQ to the vocals. You get another glorious 43 minutes of mixing. But, you actually get so much more. You get to know what David is thinking, as a professional mixer. That is the gold.

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Video 10

Video number 10 is another interesting session. This one is titled, “Mixing live vocals”, and this one is a gospel track. David explains how this track took multiple days to record, and he explains how it unfolded. This is important for us to know since we will want to learn what David has on his mind when mixing.

What else can I say about getting a ton for a little bit of money? David has made sure that we feel as if we got a great deal, and we do. Mixing Vocals is amazing, from start to finish, and there is over five hours of incredible instruction here. You get an inside look at the processes at work. You learn how to apply the very effects that the pros use to get great vocal mixes. You learn all of the techniques that professional mixing engineers use to get amazing sounding vocals. It is all in here.

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I can’t recommend this series enough. The content is all of the highest caliber. Plus, the sheer amount of content is almost overwhelming. If your vocals have been plagued by any of the common issues like not sitting in the mix right, not sounding like the pros vocals do, or nor having enough punch, then you will love Mixing Vocals. If that sounds like you, then Mixing Vocals is just perfect for you. Heck, even if you are a seasoned mixer, you will learn more than your monies worth, I just know it.

Once more, David has made his content available for download in a few different ways:

Mixing Vocals is available, by itself, for 37.00 U.S. Dollars.

Multi-track sessions is available for 37.00 U.S. Dollars. Included in Multi-track sessions are the ProTools templates and wav files that David Glenn uses in the series, and he details how he mixes the vocals through each song. You get to watch David work through the song, and then you can follow along with him. Surely this is a great way to learn how to mix vocals in todays music!

The Mix Series includes session files and ProTools templates for mixing in several genres, and several styles of popular music. David Glenn shows the viewer how he likes to set up a mix, save the sessions, and make the all important “mix templates”. He supplies all of the tracks and some templates too.

The Mix Series and Mixing Vocals Bundle is a steal, and cheaper, once bundled, at only 57.00 U.S. Dollars.

The mighty Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Mixer

I actually gave one of these handy little professional audio mixers away in the 2013 Home Recording Weekly Songwriting contest. Ever since then, I have felt the need to to tell you why it is that I have these great mixers in my home studio. The best way for me to tell you the good stuff is to turn it into a review style post. So, here is the review style post that I have put together for the Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer.

Here is the important data that we all look for first, in a review…….

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The Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer can have 10 Channels of inputs…….

The input possibilities break down like this: 4 XLR inputs (which breaks down into two mono XLR and two stereo XLR), 2 stereo RCA inputs (one pair for turn tables and/or tape in and one pair as another input), and two 1/4 inch mono (line level) inputs, and four 1/4 inch stereo inputs. This makes for a very handy amount of inputs and allows for some creative signal routing. But we are just getting started here, there are so many great things going on here. The Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer is very flex-able indeed!

There are stereo “inserts” on channels one and two. These are “in line”, or “in series” with the inserts. This is perfect for adding stereo compression, effects like reverb and delay, or perhaps even a limiter for added clip protection. You can add as many effects as you like, since they are in series, and one plugs into the next. This sells the whole affair. This is amazing for such a tiny footprint, and small price tag of a mixer. Having the ability to add EQ and compression on two tracks is very handy!

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Check this out: How about not only a three band EQ and a switchable (on and off) 75hz high pass filters on the first four channels, like so many other small mixers in this category, but add to that a three band EQ on stereo channels 7/8 and 9/10 too. That is six channels of EQ here! That is impressive for such a small mixer.

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The Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer has “Main outputs” and “Control room outputs/headphones”, with separate volume controls.

If you are not impressed with the mighty little Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer just yet, then add to this nice list of features: a strong metal chassis, nice feeling knobs and buttons, 10 level (three color) L.E.D. level lighting, switchable (on/off) 48 volt phantom power, small foot print, and you have one handy, great sounding, professional grade audio mixer.

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The Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer is perfect for so many of the most popular applications that you all are into……..

I see the Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer right at home in your home studio, handling tasks like

* Managing the signal routing needed for the creation of loops and samples

* DJ’ing multiple audio sources (with FX)

* Allowing many microphones to be mixed down to a stereo pair for those that only have two inputs on their recording interfaces

*  Doing common tasks like summing multiple microphones down for the bigger, more complicated recording sessions

* Performing Skype interviews, and even real world, multi-microphone interviews

* Handling the needed signal routing for professional sounding YouTube videos

* Easily handling all of the audio routing needed for making professional sounding podcasts

* Running a “monitor-send” chain, or running personal “monitor-send” from a larger board or perhaps a “house board”.

* Recording several unique sources to one stereo recording

* Routing many microphones and music devices to a stereo pair for video/podcasts/interviews

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Before I detail exactly why I believe each “audio making” person on Earth should have a professional audio mixer in their home or professional studio, which is what I call my “home studio gear philosophy”, let me also tell you about one or two features that I can live without.

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I once had a small mixer that worked via USB. I should say that is was supposed to work via USB. The unit got very hot and then “crackled” loudly from the all of the heat it generated. The noise would enter into whatever was recorded. Then, the unit required its’ own software in order to operate, and the software was crap.

This is just a couple of reasons that I do not like USB or FireWire mixers. They are not as professional in nature, if you ask me. I want to route common audio plug ends and not worry about USB/FireWire inputs, or more software than I need. I love, love, love that the Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer has regular and professional plug inputs and outputs.

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OK, here is my home studio gear philosophy: When it comes to helping folks put together recording rigs, live music rigs, professional video rigs, or even podcast rigs, I often tell people to make sure that you not place all of your eggs into the same basket. What I mean is that I try to stay away from buying “all-in-one” units. I am talking about the mixers that have built in effects, built in recording systems, built in microphones, and the list of “built in features” often times goes on and on.

The reason I ask people to stay away from buying “all-in-one” units is just in case it breaks down. If it quits, you have nothing. You are stuck in place, unable to make anything at all.

What do you do then?

If you purchase separate units for your audio tasks (like a mixer, a audio recorder, microphones, CD/MP3 music player, effects units) and any one piece of the chain breaks down, you can still work. After doing some simple signal routing you can bypass the broken piece of the chain and continue working. That is what I recommend to folks, and it is how I put together home studios. I love having separate audio devices, each handling the one thing they do so well, rather than a “all-in-one” unit.

Here is where small, but well thought out mixers come in and become so darn handy. You can route almost anything into almost anything with the help of a little but powerful mixer like the Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer. You can EQ and compress your voice and run that into a video cameras. You can run multiple microphones (like from a drum set) into the Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer and then into a small recording interface for tracking real drums. You can perform massive, multi person interviews with ease. You can run music into it, along with a couple of microphones, and make a killer podcast that sounds just like the pros!

Let me tell you that having multiple outputs, for studio work, is uber cool. The Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer has headphone outputs, outputs for a control room or maybe studio monitors, and a main output pair. The main output can go to the audio recorder (in my case) or maybe a video camera, your computer, or whatever you can think of.

Having these separate outputs makes the important job of monitoring what you are recording very simple. There are also two knobs for the separate outputs, so you can tailor the levels to your taste. This helps prevent signal overloading of the audio recorders’ levels, just so that you can better hear what is being recorded. This is another example of a well thought out, well made, professional grade audio mixer. Well done Cerwin Vega!

Just to push you over the decision making edge, the Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer does not have a “wall wart” style plug. How cool is that? It has a normal plug with an “in line” transformer, running into the mixer with a screw in plug. These little touches just add to the over all professionalism of the Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer.

 The Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer is one handy, well made, small foot print-sized mixer. I love how handy it is and how well thought out it is. It handles any task I ask it to, and it simply sounds amazing the whole time. I have yet to hear a crackle, hiss, hum, or defect of any sort come from my Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer. That says a lot because I use it all the time, and in many unique ways. If you are still on the fence about purchasing one for your home studio, live rig, video rig, or any rig, than stop by your nearest Cerwin Vega dealer and try one out for yourself. You will agree with everything I have posted here.

To wrap this review up, I’d have to say this……

For about 100 bucks, U.S. dollars, you can have a well laid out, well thought out, professional grade mixer. The long list of cool features, like the multitude of inputs, “extra” two channels of EQ on stereo channels 7/8 and 9/10, the “in-line”, or “in-series” stereo sends on channels one and two, and separate out puts with separate volume knobs are very impressive, make this little but powerful mixer stand out. It is able to perform at a professional level and supply clean audio routing for many years and many projects to come.

Whatever it is that you are up to in this tech savvy world we live in, the Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer will help you sound your best. Whatever your dream might be, from making that world dominating viral YouTube video to podcasting your way to the top of ITunes, Cerwin Vega can help you! Go try the Cerwin Vega CVM 1022 Professional Audio Mixer out today!

Episode 42, The 2014 Home Recording Weekly Song writing contest.

The 2014 Home Recording Weekly Song writing contest. is the biggest year yet!

I am so proud of how the contest has grown, year after year. I am so happy to have such a cool collection of unique, home grown songs, from all of you that have entered. Let me say a great big (and heart felt) “Thank you all so much” to all of you that have entered. Here are the details for the 2014 contest.

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Here are the four (4) rules for entering…..

BTW…… The 2014 Home Recording Weekly Songwriting Contest is only open for U.S. residents. It kills me to deny access to the rest of the  world, but I am learning as I go. I simply can’t ship physical products around the world. So, in order to have physical products as prizes I had to keep the contest for U.S. residents only.

1) You must have “liked” Home Recording Weekly on our Facebook page.

2) You must subscribe to Home Recording Weekly by placing your email into the box on the right hand side of the Home Recording Weekly website. You will also receive the free EBook titled, “Acoustic treatment made easy”, as a cool bonus for entering.

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3) You must place your song into a “compressed zip folder” and email it to “Kern@homerecordingweekly.com” with “song contest entry” in the subject line of your email. Here is a video that will help you do this step, if you need a hand.

4) Sit back and listen to the Home Recording Weekly podcast.

That is it!

Just like all of the other years before this one, I have bent over backwards, making sure to ask every one that I know, and all of the companies that you have asked for, for prize donations. You will be wise to enter this contest since the list of prizes is quite amazing, even if I do say so myself.

Here is the list of prizes that I will be giving away to three lucky winners, via the 2014 Home Recording Weekly Song writing contest….

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From Rock Solid Guitar Stands, a “Classic 4“, four space instrument stand, in honey finish. Rock Solid Guitar Stands are furniture grade guitar/bass stands for your home studio, the stage, or where ever you need to have four instruments at hands reach. I always try to keep instruments, at an arms reach, just incase the bug strikes.

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I am honored to be reviewing Mixing Vocals, the new video training series that deals with all things mixing vocals, from mixing engineer David Glenn.  David may be one of the new members over at The Pro Audio Files, but he is in no way new to mixing. As a matter of fact, David Glenn has been mixing for a long time, and he has earned his stripes, so to speak. His knowledge of all things mixing is apparent in the Mixing Vocals.

David Glenn has graciously donated three copies of his brand new training video series, Mixing Vocals, and I am thankful for that. I am currently reviewing this awesome series, and you are going to love this series. I am learning a ton, and so will you. If you want amazing sounding vocal tracks that sit perfectly in a mix, this is your series.

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When inspiration hits, I don’t want to go upstairs, under the bed, and pull out my guitar case, open up the case, tune up the guitar, and then play it. That is way too many steps. Keep your instruments close, in tune, and ready to play. Rock Solid Guitar Stands do the job of keeping your inspiration well fed and well pleased.

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From PreSonus Audio, an AudioBox USB recording interface and a copy of Studio One pro software. PreSonus makes one of the easiest to use, yet most powerful DAWs I have ever come across. I use their DAW, “Studio one pro” every day. I love hoe it is laid out, and the powerful tools that it ships with. I also use a PreSonus interface, and love how it simply works with every other tool in my studio flawlessly.

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PreSonus wants me to award the winners with an AudioBox  USB recording interface and a copy of “Studio one pro“. How about that? This is amazing of them, and amazing for everyone that enters!

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From Kevin Ward, A.K.A. The Mix Coach, “Guide to Rock Mixing” training video. Kevin is a professional recording/mixing engineer in Nashville, and he knows how to mix rock music. I reviewed this very training video and I still use what I learned each and every time I mix. This is a great prize and an excellent training resource.

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From Groove3 Training, a 365 day “All Access Pass” to their training videos. If you wish to learn something in audio, Groove3 has a selection of training videos for you to choose from. Some of the industries most important folks are making those videos, too, so this is one solid prize. If you can come up with a technique, virtual instrument, plug in, or a procedure, Groove3 has a training video about it.

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From Chemistry Design Werks, a “Standard” HoleyBoard guitar/bass/keyboard effect pedal board, in natural coloring. I love the system that Chemistry Design Werks has come up with for keeping your pedals on the HoleyBoard. Zip ties are easy, fast, and so strong. Adding and/or removing pedals to your board is just so easy and so quick. Add to this the great idea of having two levels, a place for larger pedals like a volume or a wah pedal, and you have what I feel is the best pedalboard on the market. I love my HoleyBoard and I asked them for these, as prizes, so you too can learn how amazing they really are.

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Zip ties are easy, fast, and oh so strong. Adding and/or removing pedals to your board is just so easy and so quick. Add to this the great idea of having two levels, a place for larger pedals like a volume or a wah pedal, and you have what I feel is the best pedal board on the market. I love my HoleyBoard and I asked them for these, as prizes, so you too can learn how amazing they really are.

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Steven Slate Digital wants you to win a copy of their Steven Slate Drums Platinum Edition. I have used all of the popular virtual/midi drum packs, and Steven Slate Drums Platinum Edition is at the very top. It is not a drain on your machine, it is very intuitive, and super easy to use. Most importantly, it sounds very, very, very good. Plus, your copy ships with tons of drum loops and a complete mixer section built right in. For great sounding recordings, the pros turn to Steven Slate Drums Platinum Edition so why shouldn’t you? You will need to purchase an ILOK USB to store your license for this product.

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IK Multimedia is onboard, and they want me to award three lucky winners with their own copy of T-Racks Grande mixing and mastering software.

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This is massive guys. T-Racks Grande is perhaps the best of the best in sound, flexibility, and in realism. T-Racks Grande has the potential to take your mixes and your masters from good to AMAZING. You will get the best in vintage and modern models as plugins, including compressors, EQ’s, Limiters, Multi-Band Compressors, and so much more. T-Racks Grande units all handle L/R and M/S processing, and have the best metering suite that I have ever come across. Dynamic range, true loudness, RMS metering, true frequency readings, and stereo field/phase metering is all included.

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From Matt Weiss, and all of my friends over at The Pro Audio Files, how about a copy of “Mixing Hip Hop Vocals“, and a copy of “Mixing with Compression“. I learned a lot about todays mixing, and a lot about about Matt Weiss when I interviewed him on the Home Recording Weekly podcast. If you want to learn more about this cool cat, please use this link over to episode 34 of the podcast I made with Matt Weiss.

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From Audiofile Engineering, a copy of Quiztones. Quiztones is the fun way to get your ears into shape. As you play along with the Quiztones app, you are asked to “name that frequency range”.

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You can also use audio that you upload into Quiztones, and continue to play along. I can’t believe how quickly I got my ears into shape, all thanks to Quiztones. Plus, since it is an app I can always get a quick tune up before each mixing or mastering session. Please check out the other apps that Audiofile Engineering has for you to take advantage of, by following the link provided.

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From Nashville recording artist, mixer magician, and all around nice guy, Matt Butler, a copy of “The Art of Balancing a Mix“. This training video series was an eye opening shocker. Matt takes a mix from rough to ready for the radio with just a few choice stock plugins. He explains what is really critical and what is important when mixing a song. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it isn’t fancy plugins!

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From Pedal Labels, a complete package of their “oh so clever” Pedal Labels. These are so smart and so handy, I think every musician that owns their own gear (amps, rack mounted gear, pedals, etc.) should have multiple sets of Pedal Labels. As a stay at home Dad, I need a set for the clothes dryer, the oven, and the dishwasher too. These things opened up my eyes, and really stood out as a cool idea that really helps us out!

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You know that Joe Gilder is a friend of ours, and he wants to encourage us all to become better recording/mixing/mastering nuts.

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I know this because he wants to double the prizes that he gave away last year.  Yep, he wants you to have a copy of “Understanding EQ“, and a copy of “Understanding Compression“. What more can I tell you about Joe Gilder that I haven’t yet told you? He is crazy good at all things recording, mixing, and mastering. He is crazy generous. You can check out his interviews on the Home Recording Weekly podcast here and here.

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Graham Cochrane, of The Recording Revolution, wants to give you a copy of his mind blowing, game changing “Re-Think Mixing” training video series. Re-Think Mixing could very well be the “holy grail of training videos”, because it is “that good”. I have watched this gem over and over, many time over. You will learn a ton from watching Graham mix a song, from start to finish, in Re-Think Mixing.

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 From my new friends over at (the amazing) Softube, a copy of their TSAR-1 Reverb plugin. You will need to purchase an ILOK USB to store your license for this product. You owe it to yourself to check out the great assortment of plugins over at  Softube. They make some of the best emulations of some of the most used and most sought after tools in the industry. Plus they make some cool plugins that help folks reach “mixing Nirvana”, like the  “Amp Room” series.

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The Pick Punch

Few things come to Home Recording Weekly that make me feel as warm, as deep down inside, as the Pick Punch has done. I feel as if I am helping save the planet, one pic at a time. Plus, I might have found a way to save “tens of dollars” in the meantime.

The  Pick Punch is a very well made punch system that spits out guitar and bass picks. There are a few styles available, and each style makes a different type of pic. The  Pick Punch turns those old plastic cards that we all throw away into guitar/bass picks. It is that simple. Think about how many hotel key cards, expired credit cards, and even old licenses that you have cut up and tossed out. Then you go to the music store and spend your hard earned cash on guitar/bass picks. Stop the foolishness, put a  Pick Punch in your guitar case.

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It is my belief that every guitar/bass player should have one  Pick Punch in their instrument case, just for emergencies. How many times have you tried to play with a penny, a milk jug cap, or (insert small object)? Yes, me too. Those days are now over. I will be able to make a guitar pick right on the spot.

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There are a lot of “make your own pick supplies” over at their website too, and a lot of cool pick holding solutions. If you are spend thrifty, need your own custom guitar/bass picks, or if you need to display those picks that you fought a crowd for, head over to The  Pick Punch Website and check out what they can do for you!

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