Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mixing Consoles

Mixing Consoles (aka Mixer Boards, or just Mixers) are the iconic symbol of the modern recording studio.
But what the devil are these things even for?!?
The overall purpose of these bad boys is to take all your different input signals and... are you ready for this??
Mix Them Together!!
It sounds obvious but that is really what it all boils down to. Let's dig a bit deeper to understand these warlocks.
The first thing to notice is that although they appear very complicated with the seemingly endless rows of switches, knobs, buttons, and dials, a closer look shows that it's really only one line of controls repeated over and over.
And the number of these repeated inputs (known as channels) that you require will be a key consideration on what type of Mixer you choose.
The picture to the left shows one complete set of these controls.
<-- b="b" input="input" jacks="jacks">
This is where you will connect the working end of your XLR Cables (Top) or 1/4" Instrument Cables (Middle) to the input of each channel. This is where the input signal is introduced to your Mixer.
This board also has a mixer insert input, which is similar in function to the Auxiliary Send discussed more below.

<-- b="b" control="control" gain="gain">
Used to boost a mic-level signal to a line-level signal. Only channels with preamps on them will have gain control dials. Gain defines the input into a channel.

<-- auxiliary="auxiliary" b="b" sends="sends">
The Auxiliary Send dials (or sometimes just "aux send" or "effects") take the incoming signal and provide a way to send it off to another destination than the rest of the mix.
This can be useful when using hardware effects, so that the original sound can be altered and then re-introduced later down stream.

<-- b="b" control="control" equalizer="equalizer">
The equalizer controls allow you to change the characteristics of the output by cutting or boosting the frequencies of each input.
The Hi, Mid, and Low (blue dials) frequencies can be adjusted as well as the Center Frequency (white dial).

<-- b="b" control="control" panning="panning">
This defines where the sound exists in the stereo field. In other words, does the sound seem to be coming out of the left speaker, right speaker, or some combination of the two.

<-- b="b" control="control" level="level">
This controls the intensity of the signal as it exits that channel.
Since each channel has this same adjustment you can balance the sounds of each input, which is the essence of what Mixing is all about.
Level defines the output of each channel.
Now for the big question that I know you've been wanting to ask...

Do I Need A Mixing Console For My Recording Studio?!?

Instead of trying to answer that question straight-up...
Let me tell you the types of artist who would be interested in this hardware.
Case 1 - You need more preamp inputs than your audio interface or sound card are providing you.
Or in other words, you want to record several tracks simultaneously (i.e. 2 guitars, 3 vocals, and a drum set... easily > 8 preamps needed).
Case 2 - You have an audio interface with several outputs and want to use a physical mixing console to bring each channel back to the board as you perform your magic during the final mix.
Case 3 - You need preamps for a live application.
This last one is out of place with the rest of what we're trying to do here so I'm gonna skip it, but just know that this is another possible use.
Now for the straight answer...
You Do Not Need a Mixer to Record Yourself at Home.
I wish someone would have just told me this years ago.
They can be useful in certain instances, but you absolutely can record with just an audio interface.
If you are a hands on person and want to touch physical knobs and faders, then you may want to check out Control Surfaces. 

They offer a good alternative to using your mouse and keyboard to operate a software based mixer.

Anyway, for those still interested in hearing more about mixers lets move on.
There are 2 main types of mixing console you need to be concerned with: Analog and Digital.

Analog Mixers

Analog mixers use variable resistors (potentiometers, or pots for short) to physically change the voltages coursing through their electric veins.
By changing the voltages the signal (and therefore the sound it represents) is altered.
One benefit of this is that there is an instant effect when you move a fader knob.
The downside is that they cannot provide effects processing since the signal exists only as a voltage.
Rather you would have to use the "Auxiliary Sends" or "Inserts" to provide any signal processing.
With the arrival of audio interfaces on the music scene, these are slowing being faded out as a recording tool.
As a result you may be able to get one at a good discount as someone else makes the transition to the all-audio-interface setup for their studio.
Just remember that, at least for the analog version of the mixing console, you will need another piece of equipment with A/D Converters in order to record to your computer.
A common mistake is to assume that a mixing console will provide A/D converters, but unless it has a USB or FireWire output it will not.

Digital Mixers

Digital mixer offer the same functionality, but manipulate audio data digitally to change the characteristics of the sound.
Instead of physically controlling the electrons through variable resistors (like the analog version) these convert the signal to digital data right off the bat.
Then using different mathematical equations and algorithms, it alters the signal within the digital realm.
These are a kind of hybrid mixer / audio interface units because they do have A/D Converterson-board and can output the data directly to your DAW via USB or FireWire interface.
As a result, you can add effects such as reverb, echo, phaser, delay, etc. in real-time through the mixing console itself.
This is all transparent to the user, you still turn the knobs just like you would in the analog version.
The one drawback is that through all the conversions between analog to digital, some delays can be introduced to the system, but this is less and less or a problem as the technology continues to mature.
Another pitfall is the recording of multiple tracks at once. Be very careful if you intend to record to more than one track at a time with one of these.
You'll have to pay top dollar (~$1500) for a digital mixer with the ability to record each input channel to it's own dedicated track, something even moderately priced audio interfaces can provide.
The more affordable digital mixers (~$300) will only output the Left/Right main outputs through the USB or FireWire interface.
In other words... all your inputs will be combined to 1 track on your recording software and therefore relative levels, pan position, etc. can't be edited later on during the mix down.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of the type of audio interface you choose, you'll need some way to mix the signals together during and after recording.
This can be done with either a hardware or software based mixer.
Everything up to this point applies equally to both. It is possible to use a mixing console in conjunction with your Audio Interface. 

It's also possible to use only your audio interface's included software mixing package and cut the hardware mixer out completely.

This was easily one of the most confusing things I came across when trying to build my home recording studio.
The good news is that you really can do without this piece of the puzzle and rely solely on your audio interface for your mic preamps.
I found that although I personally like to physically turn the dials and faders on the mixing console itself, I did not enjoy the additional clutter of the many more cables required to make all the connections.
Once I removed the mixing console from my setup I was able to clear up some additional space and eliminate a large cable mess in my recording area.
For now I have my Mackie mixer dedicated to my "live rehearsal setup", which is off to the side and not hooked up to my recording chain.
It routes the signals of my dynamic mic, over drive SD-1, Loop Station, Line 6 digital delay, and vocalist live pedals.
I use the on-board monitor output to send everything to the control room sub-mix in my headphones which works great for practicing and playing around.
So in the end the answer to the tricky question of "Mixer vs. No Mixer" is really a personal one.
Don't feel like you are missing out on some essential part of the studio if you decide to go without. It's just one more tool in your collection that you may choose to add.
If you feel like you need some more help getting what you need check out our friends

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Look up the cost of renting a studio to record.  Post the basic pricing of at least 5 different studios in San Diego.  

VIII. Projecting Financial Needs of a Recording

VIII. Projecting Financial Needs of a Recording

General chapter readings

A. Financial needs

B. Sources of funding

1. Private/Grant
2. Independent Record Companies
3. Major Record Labels

C. Reports and accounting

favicon smallbusiness.chron.comORIGINAL PAGE

How to Start a Studio Business

Step 1

Obtain training and experience by taking formal education courses at specialty schools, or you may intern or work at a recording studio.

Step 2

Perform market research in your area to justify the existence of a recording studio. Evaluate your competition and speak to as many local musicians as possible to get an idea of the market and existing rental rates. You may choose to hire a market research company for this task.

Step 3

Prepare a business plan outlining all details of your recording studio business. You will need a business plan if you applying for outside financing through a lending institution or investors. You may wish to contact a business consultant or your local SCORE for business plan assistance (See Resources). The U.S. Small Business Administration website also offers free general business plan and startup advice on their website (See Resources).

Step 4

Secure a facility for your studio. The studio may be in your home if local business zoning ordinances allow it, or you may rent storefront or warehouse space.

Step 5

Obtain local business permits and state tax licenses. There are no special permits or licenses to operate a recording studio, but the facility may be subject to a local safety inspection to obtain a business occupancy permit. If your studio business will operate as a corporation or LLC, file the necessary documents with your secretary of state.

Step 6

Design and build your interior studio space. You may hire a studio designer and building contractor, or do it yourself with the necessary knowledge and training. Studio designs vary, but will generally include a soundproof control room, isolation booths, performance and listening rooms.

Step 7

Furnish the studio with the necessary equipment. Your equipment will vary with your budget and studio capabilities, but will generally include a mixing console, recording device, microphones, play-back equipment, headphones, and all necessary cables, stands and accessories.

Step 8

Purchase general business asset and liability insurance from your insurance company. Since clients will be using the studio, liability insurance is necessary as you will be personally liable if accidents occur.

Step 9

Market your recording studio through ads in local and regional publications, and websites, and by passing out fliers, brochures and business cards at music stores and live music venues.

Friday, December 7, 2012

VII. Managing Human Resources

Reading and writing assignment.   Read D. and E. below and write your thoughts on why and if unions are needed and the benefits and possible drawbacks of contracts.  Write on this post, in complete sentences and correct spelling.  Due today!

VII. Managing Human Resources

A. Job Descriptions

B. Staffing

C. Hiring practices

D. Union labor

E. Contracts

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

IV. Studio as a workplace

IV. Studio as a workplace

A. Management positions at a studio
Students at Point Loma HS produce their own music in Doug Booth's class. — at Point Loma High School.

B. Talent positions during a recording

C. Studio ethics

D. Costs of studios

E. Equipment of a home studio

F. Equipment of a professional studio

G. Safety in the studio

Record producer

Engineer at audio console at Danish Broadcasting Corporation.png
Danish recording session
record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording (i.e. "production") of an artist's music. A producer has many roles that may include, but are not limited to, gathering ideas for the project, selecting songs and/or musicians, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, and supervising the entire process through mixing and mastering. Producers also often take on a wider entrepreneurial role, with responsibility for the budget, schedules, and negotiations.
Today, the recording industry has two kinds of producers: executive producer and music producer; they have different roles. While an executive producer oversees a project's finances, a music producer oversees the creation of the music.
A music producer can, in some cases, be compared to a film director, with noted practitioner Phil Ek himself describing his role as "the person who creatively guides or directs the process of making a record, like a director would a movie. The engineer would be more the cameraman of the movie."[1]The music producer's job is to create, shape, and mold a piece of music. The scope of responsibility may be one or two songs or an artist's entire album – in which case the producer will typically develop an overall vision for the album and how the various songs may interrelate.
In the US, before the rise of the record producer, someone from A&R would oversee the recording session(s), assuming responsibility for creative decisions relating to the recording.
With today's relatively easy access to technology, an alternative to the record producer just mentioned, is the so called 'bedroom producer'. With today's technological advances, it is very easy for a producer to achieve high quality tracks without the use of a single instrument; that happens in urban music (like hip hop, rap, etc.). Many established artists take this approach.
This technology advancement is referred to as Electronic Music Production or EMP. Electronic Music Production simply put is producing Music electronically or producing music on a computer.
In most cases the music producer is also a competent arranger, composer, musician or songwriter who can bring fresh ideas to a project. As well as making any songwriting and arrangement adjustments, the producer is also in charge of the creative mix. He or she will liaise with the sound engineer who concentrates on the technical aspects of recording, whereas the music producer keeps an eye on the overall project's marketability.


Early record producers

During the 1890s, Fred Gaisberg ran the first recording studio and provided the closest approximation of production by guiding an opera singer closer or further away from a gramophone's horn to match the dynamics in the score. (Citation: Gronow and Saunio 1998, p. 8; Moorefield 2005, p. 1).
However in the first part of the 20th century the record producer's role was similar to the role of a film producer in that the record producer organized and supervised recording sessions, paid technicians, musicians and arrangers, and sometimes chose material for the artist. In the mid-1950s a new category emerged, that of the independent record producer. Among the most famous early independent producers are the famed songwriting-production duoLeiber & Stoller, "Wall of Sound" creator Phil Spector and British studio pioneer Joe Meek.
Magnetic tape enabled the establishment of independent recording studios in major recording centres such as LondonLos Angeles and New York. Unlike the old record company studios, which were effectively a "closed shop", these new studios could be hired by the hour by anyone who could afford to do so.
The biggest and best commercial studios were typically established and operated by leading recording engineers. They were carefully constructed to create optimum recording conditions, and were equipped with the latest and best recording equipment and top-quality microphones, as well as electronic amplification gear and musical instruments.
Top-line studios such as Olympic Studios in London, Fine Recording in New York City, United Western Recorders, and Musart in Los Angeles quickly became among the most sought-after recording facilities in the world, and both these studios became veritable "hit factories" that produced many of the most successful pop recordings of the latter 20th century.

Evolution of the role of the producer

Prior to the 1950s, the various stages of the recording and marketing process had been carried out by different professionals within the industry – A&R managers found potential new artists and signed them to their labels; professional songwriters created new material; publishing agents sold these songs to the A&R people; staff engineers carried out the task of making the recordings in company-owned studios.
Freed from this traditional system by the advent of independent commercial studios, the new generation of entrepreneurial producers – many of whom were former record company employees themselves – were able to create and occupy a new stratum in the industry, taking on a more direct and complex role in the musical process. This development in music was mirrored in the TV industry by the concurrent development of videotape recording and the consequent emergence of independent TV production companies like Desilu.
The new generation of independent producers began forming their own record production companies, and in many cases they also established their own recording labels, signing deals that enabled the recordings they produced to be manufactured and distributed by a major record company. This usually took the form of a lease deal, in which the production company leased the usage rights to the original recording to a major label, who would press, distribute and promote the recording as their own, in return for a percentage of any profit; the ownership of the master recordings typically reverted to the producer after the deal expired.
Producers would now typically carry out most or all of the various production tasks themselves, including selecting and arranging songs, overseeing sessions (and sometimes also engineering the recordings) and even writingthe material,[2] although it became a common practice for producers to claim a writing credit even if they did not actually contribute to the song.
Independent music production companies rapidly gained a significant foothold in popular music and soon became the main intermediary between artist and record label, discovering and signing new artists to production contracts, producing the recordings and then licensing the finished product to record labels for pressing, promotion and sale. (This was a novel innovation in the popular music field, although a broadly similar system had long been in place in many countries for the production of content for broadcast radio.) The classic example of this transition is renowned British producer George Martin, who worked as a staff producer and A&R manager at EMI for many years, before branching out on his own and becoming a highly successful independent producer with his AIR (Associated Independent Recordings) production company and studios.
As a result of these changes, record producers began to exert a strong influence, not only on individual careers, but on the course of popular music. A key example of this is Phil Spector, who defined the gap between early rock and roll and the Beatles (1959–1964). Although many of Spector's s productions were credited to acts such as The RonettesThe Crystalsthe Righteous Brothersthe Paris Sisters and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, in reality they were created using a crack team of top-rank Los Angeles session players (now known as "The Wrecking Crew") and often featured an interchangeable lineup of lead singers, including Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love. The prime example of Spector's modus operandi is the record widely regarded as his masterpiece, "River Deep, Mountain High". It is credited to "Ike & Tina Turner", but it is now well known that Ike Turner was paid $20,000 to stay away from the sessions; the backing track was in fact performed by the Wrecking Crew, and the backing vocals were provided by a chorus of 21 singers — Ikettes Janice Singleton and Diane Rutherford and most of the female singers on Spector's roster, including Ronnie Spector, Darlene Love and Cher. Spector's Wall of Sound production technique also persisted after that time with his select recordings of the Beatlesthe RamonesLeonard CohenGeorge HarrisonDion and Ike and Tina Turner.
Some producers also became de facto recording artists, creating records themselves or with anonymous studio musicians and releasing them under a pseudonym. In the USA, some of the earliest examples in popular music were the novelty records released under the name Alvin & The Chipmunks, which became hits in many countries in the mid-1950s. These records, written, performed and produced by entertainer David Seville, relied on the simple gimmick of recording an instrumental track, then overdubbing the vocals while the tape ran at half-speed. When played back at regular speed, the music would sound normal, and the voices would remain synchronised with the music, but the pitch and timbre of the voices would be dramatically shifted up, creating the instantly recognisable, chirpy "helium" effect. In the UK in the early 60s, Joe Meek was the first British pop producer to make records with studio-created groups, and he had major hits with singles like "Telstar" and Heinz's "Just Like Eddy".
Other examples of this phenomenon include the records by fictional groupsthe Archies and Josie & the Pussycats, produced by Don Kirshner and Danny Jansen respectively, who were contracted by TV production companies to produce these records to promote the animated children's TV series of the same name. Similarly, Jeff Barry and Andy Kim recorded as the Archies. The same producer-as-artist phenomenon can be found with many modern-day pop-oriented street- and electronic-music artists. In later years this became a prominent and often successful sideline for major producers, as evidenced by the string of albums by the studio group The Alan Parsons Project (created by former EMI/Abbey Road staff engineer Alan Parsons) and the successful musical adaptation of H.G. WellsWar of the Worlds, devised and produced by former David Essex producer Jeff Wayne.
Another change that occurred for the role of producers occurred progressively over the 50’s and 60’s. The development of multitrack recording and new technology such as electric guitars, amplifiers, and better microphones led to a fundamental change in the way recordings were made. The goal of recording no longer was simply accurately capturing and documenting live performance. Instead producers could manipulate sounds to an unprecedented degree and producers like Spector and Martin were soon creating recordings that were, in practical terms, almost impossible to realise in live performance. Producers became creative figures in the studio and were no longer reserved to the role of functional engineer. Examples of such engineers includes George Martin,Joe MeekTeo Macero, Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, and Biddu. These producers became known as creative producers who turned the studio into a creative space.
Another notable related phenomenon in the 1960s was the emergence of the performer-producer. As pop acts like The Beatles, The Rolling StonesThe Beach Boys and The Kinks rapidly gained expertise in studio recording techniques, the leaders of many of these groups eventually took over as producers of their own work. In some cases this was not credited at the time - many recordings by acts such as The Rolling StonesThe Small Faces,DonovanThe Kinks and The Who are credited to their various producers of the time, Andrew Loog OldhamMickie Most or Shel Talmy, but many of these performers have since asserted that many of their recordings in this period were (in practical terms) either self-produced - e.g. The Rolling Stones' Decca recordings - or were collaborations between the group and their recording engineer - e.g. The Small Faces' Immediate recordings, which were made withOlympic Studios engineer Glyn Johns.
Similarly, although The Beatles' productions were credited to George Martin throughout their recording career, many sources now attest that Lennon and McCartney in particular had an increasing influence on the production process as the group's career progressed,and especially after the band retired from touring in 1966. The Beach Boys are probably the best example of this trend - within two years of the band's commercial breakthrough, group leader Brian Wilson had taken over from his father Murry, and he was sole producer of all their recordings between 1963 and 1967. Alongside The Beatles and Martin, Wilson also pioneereed many production innovations - by 1964 he had developed Spector's techniques to a new level of sophistication, using multiple studios and multiple "takes" of instrumental and vocal components to capture the best possible combinations of sound and performance, and then using tape editing extensively to assemble a perfect composite performance from these elements.

Equipment and technology

Mixing Console

There are numerous different technologies utilized by the producer. In modern day recordings, recording and mixing tasks are centralized within computers. However, there is also the main mixer, outboard effects gear, MIDI controllers, and the recording device itself.

Education in Music Production

Various schools and colleges have emerged with courses in Music Production and more so in electronic music production. EveryContinent has at-least one such notable institute with The North American and European continents leading the way forward. Among the most popular among the youth are, in no specific order: Berklee -USA Full Sail University - USA Point Blank Music College - UK Dubspot - USA London School of Sound - UK Garnish School of Sound -UK DBS Music - Germany ILM Academy - India Alchemea- UK SAE -Australia
Notable brands include: Native-instruments: Germany M-audio MackieTascam

See also

Todays Assignment