MANY TRACK MINDS featured on ‘The Recording Revolution’ blog

Many people still doubt of the power of home recording and keep saying that it is not possible to make selling records in a bedroom. My friend Graham Cochrane decided to take the challenge of proving the opposite to everybody. So, a couple of years ago, he started a blog about home recording and posted some tutorials on his YouTube channel, that now counts more than 2 million views. Graham is a talented music producer with many years of experience in music production that now shares his knowledge on the internet in an impressively easy understanding way.

Graham named his project ‘The Recording Revolution‘ and I took part into it by following his tutorials and reading his articles. Almost everything I know about recording and mixing was learned from Graham and his Recording Revolution. I’ve watched every single video he posted on YouTube (I’m not kidding, I’ve watched them all) and read every single post on his blog (in order to be 100% honest, I have to say that I’d skip some lines to read it faster sometimes).

If you try to record your own things at home and you’re not liking what your getting; if you record things at home, but want to learn a bit more or want to improve your track’s quality; if you always wanted to start recording at home, but never had the guts to do it because you never thought it would be possible to start a home studio with less than US$ 500,00; than, you MUST visit the Recording Revolution. You’ll find everything you need there.

One year ago, I started to follow the Recording Revolution. Last month I posted my first original song on YouTube and sent the link to Graham to thank him for everything I’ve learned from him. His reaction was totally unexpected: “Leo, this is incredible bro. You should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished. Stuff like this is what gets me SO PUMPED up about the recording revolution. If you’re down, I’d love to feature your music (this video in particular) on the blog in the near future. I think it would encourage others to keep at it.”

After I said I was obviously ok with it, he published ‘Give ’em a Chance’ on his blog (CLICK HERE TO READ IT)

Could I be any happier? I’m super happy to receive such a recognition from the guy that thought me everything I know about recording and mixing.

Thanks for reading,

Leo Weber.

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A bit more about ‘Give ’em a Chance’

 

After a long time studying the recording and mixing world, I was able to finish my first original song. It was entirely recorded and mixed in my bedroom using a two channel Mbox 2 and a MacBook laptop.
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Give ’em a chance – Release of the debut single by MANY TRACK MINDS

A new song, a new video and a lot of stories to tell. ‘Give ’em a chance’ is the first single by MANY TRACK MINDS and was entirely recorded and mixed at home with an MBOX2 and a MacBook (with Pro Tools 8 LE and its stock plug-ins). We will officially release it on iTunes tomorrow (June 11) along with a video on YouTube. If you’d want to check it out, visit our YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/manytrackminds. Thanks for following us.

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Recording NEED YOUR LOVE

Click here to download our version of ‘Need Your Love’

Have you listened to Temper Trap’s new self-titled album? It sounds soooo different from their previous album ‘Conditions’. When they released the first single from the album, in the end of April, and I listened to it for the first time, I couldn’t understand anything. I was expecting guitars and organs something like ‘Sweet Disposition’, ‘Fader’ or ‘Love Lost’. But, instead, I found myself listening to a heavy, distorted and apparent synth. I had to listen to it again for a couple of times to understand what was going on, but after a few repeats, ‘Need Your Love’ got stuck in my head. The same thing happened when I first listened to their new album, so, if you had the same impression I had, give the album another try. See, I wasn’t very sure about ‘Need Your Love’ being a good song or not and I ended up recording a cover of it, that’s how much I changed my opinion about this song.

Technical aspects:

Our version of ‘Need Your Love’ has: a synth, two acoustic guitars, a piano, vocals, backing vocals, handclaps, kick drum and snare.

In the original version of the song, the synth plays a very important role. Instead of replacing it with another instrument, I decided to keep a synth playing throughout the entire song, mainly because, this way, it could also have something to play the bass. That’s what gives power, depth and body to the song.

The acoustic guitars play only in the chorus. I recorded each one of the guitars in mono, with a single microphone (Oktava MK-012) and panned one guitar hard left and another one hard right. In the mixing process just added some reverb, EQ and a compressor. In the EQ, I removed a lot of low-end to give more room to the low frequencies of the synth. With the compressor, I tried a technique I learned the other day: increasing the attack (making it slower) by a good amount (way more than I used to) makes the acoustic guitar punchier.

The piano was the only thing recorded in stereo. A short tip, even though stereo may sound nice for an individual instrument, you’ll find yourself with a big problem in the mixing process when trying to blend all the things together, if there are too many things recorded in stereo. Think about every instrument before recording them and only stereo what’s really necessary. I’ve decided to record the piano in stereo because I thought it’s width was important for the song. But you’ll also find out some adjunctive piano parts in mono in some parts of the song, because they were not as important as the lead piano line.

Kick drum and snare are VSTs. Unfortunately, I don’t have drums at home so I have to stick to these virtual instrument plug-ins. To make it sound more natural though, I recorded some handclaps and blended it with the snare hits adding a lot of reverb to both.

The vocals were a cool part to record. As usual, I recorded the main vocal in mono and doubled it in the chorus. The backing vocals were all recorded in mono two times each, so that I could pan one track hard left and another one hard right. In the mixing process, I used some EQs, compressors, reverbs, delays and de-essers. The final part of the song has tons of harmonies that are good to pay attention to, I really like the final result.

There’s still a lot of things to improve, but I’ll get there. I’m just trying to do the best I can with a laptop and a two-channel MBOX2.

One more thing, do you know why I always talk about panning hard left and hard right and not maybe 60% to the left or 50% to the right? I’ll try to post something this week about it, so that you can understand why I’ve decided for the hard panning.

That’s it for now.

Thanks for reading,

Leo Weber.

Click here to download our version of ‘Need Your Love’

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Tips on vocal recording and some other stuff

If you do a quick search on YouTube on vocals recording, you’ll find tons of videos with tutorials teaching you how to record vocals properly. When it comes to tutorials, of any kind, a good 97% of them should have a delete button, while only 3% are really instructive and answer your questions.

Usually, the ‘eHow’ series sticks with those 97%. But then, comes this old man with his series of ‘eHowMusic’ videos, and, they are just great. Don’t consider his videos as tutorials, in the real meaning of the word, he doesn’t actually record audio for you to listen to like a good tutorial should be. Consider his videos to be more like the “tips” kind. He has some good advice and gives us lots of nice tips, stories and curiosities in audio recording, probably based on his many years of experience.

And this is why The Beatles are that famous in music history:

MANY TRACK MINDS featuring in AWAKE’s new single

 

After posting my cover version of ‘Fade Into Darkness’ on YouTube, I received an email from the Swedish DJ duo AWAKE asking me if I would like to give them a hand with their new single. They sent me a raw mix of what the song should sound like, giving me the freedom to do whatever I’d like with the melody and lyrics. Even though I don’t understand much about electronic music I decided to take the challenge and accepted the task. In less then two days I had a new version of the song written. I recorded the vocals, backing vocals and doubles at home and sent all the material to them without having any idea of how the final result would sound.

After 2 weeks they sent me back the final version of ‘The Sunset’ and I have to say I was really happy with the result. These talented guys are great to work with and, stay tuned, ’cause they keep working and recording new stuff.

They’ve sent me another raw mix for a new song their working at. I’ll start composing the melody and writing the lyrics this week and hope we can end up with another smashing track.

For more information about AWAKE, check their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/awak3official 

That’s it for now.

Thanks for reading!

Leo Weber

A-punk: While we wait for our first single to be out…

I know I haven’t been posting that much lately, but trust me, it’s for a good reason. I’m working hard on our first original single (entitled ‘Give ’em a Chance’) and hope to be uploading it to YouTube at some point next week. It sounds completely different from what you’ve heard so far, for many reasons: First off, it’s not an acoustic style song, it has electric guitars, bass, drums, etc. Second, well, think it’s better if we let you find it out yourself.

In the meantime, I’ll post here a cover song that hasn’t been posted to our blog yet: our version of ‘A-Punk’ by ‘Vampire Weekend’.

Credits to Mr. Ezra Koenig and his crew, who announced ‘Vampire Weekend’ has a ton of new material for their upcoming album. Although they’re not sure of a soon release date, they’re working hard to get it finished by the end of this year. We cross our fingers and wait for an album as good as ‘Contra’.

Acoustic Guitar Microphone Techniques

Dustin Prinz brings us a very nice tutorial on microphone techniques for recording acoustic guitars. I remember watching this video on YouTube when I was beginning to learn about recording and mixing and was trying to record my own acoustic guitars.

I highly recommend it. The techniques Dustin shows in his video are nothing new, but he explains everything very well and better than most of the videos you find on YouTube.

Recording SIGH NO MORE

Last summer I was camping in the mountains when Checco came to me and said: “Have you ever listened to Mumford and Sons?” – I didn’t even know who they were. With a big amount of excitement, Checco got his mp3 player, passed me the headphones and turned it on, at the highest volume possible. “Are you crazy?” – I said. His answer was something like: “Trust me, it will pay off!”. The shivers down my spine, while the words “Love it will not betray, dismay or enslave you. It will set you free.” were playing, are the right explanation of why we decided to record it. We simply love this song.

The video was shot and edited by Toma from IamToma.com. You can talk to him about it if you have any questions, because I have no idea of what’s going on there. He’s the pro here, it would take me ages to shoot such a masterpiece.

Technical aspects:

Our version of “Sigh no more” is not very different from the original by “Mumford & Sons” (regarding the amount of instruments and the structure of the song). Ours has one main vocal, three different vocal harmonies, an acoustic guitar, a banjo, a kick drum, a tambourine, a digital organ and a synthesizer.

The main vocal is centered throughout the entire song and was recorded with a Shure SM7B. For the last part of the song, after all the instruments come in, I decided to double the vocals to give them more energy.

The harmonies  flow through 3 very different frequency ranges or tonalities, as you prefer to call it: highs, mids and lows. Each one of the three harmonies was doubled and each singular harmony had one track panned hard right and the other panned hard left. I tried to record the harmonies in stereo to avoid having to double them while trying to make them wider. Useless, when harmonies need to be wide, nothing better then doubles panned left and right. Just like guitars.

The acoustic guitar was actually recorded two times. When we started recording ‘Sigh no more’, I didn’t have my Oktava Mk-012 stereo pair. So, I had to take the challenge of recording the acoustic guitar with the SM7B. Really, a good mic for vocals but it sucks for acoustic guitars: not enough volume for recording picking patterns and a lot of proximity effect, the more you try to make it louder by getting it closer to the guitar, the more low frequencies you’ll end up with. It’s very hard to get it right and I’m not proud to say that I had to mask the low quality acoustic guitar I recorded by doubling it and using a lot of EQ and effects. It worked just fine, but it could have been a lot better if I had the right microphone.

The kick drum is from a VST plug-in called ‘Superior Drummer’ I can’t imagine how it would have been trying to record it with the Shure SM7B. I didn’t even wasted my time trying to record it, jumped directly to the plug-in. I’m not a huge plug-in fan, specially for virtual instruments, but sometimes that’s all we’ve got.

The tambourine was recorded using the Oktava MK-012 in stereo. These microphones are highly recommended for overheads and cymbals and worked perfectly for the tambourine. They were a last moment additional track. I only recorded them after almost finishing the mix. I thought something rhythmical was missing and the tambourines suit the job perfectly, specially because they’re able to fill your chorus when they come in.

The synths (the low hammond kind frequency that plays throughout the entire song) and the organ sounds were recorded with a Nord Electro. The low frequencies in mono and the high frequencies from the organ in stereo. In both cases the keyboard was connected directly to the Mbox2.

Of all the things we had to record for ‘Sigh no more’, definitely, the hardest was the banjo. I’m very sad and disappointed to say that I still have NO idea of how a banjo has to be recorded. I tried to read books, looked for tutorials on the internet, but the result was: Nothing! – just a sad memory of the hundreds of tracks and mic positions I tried to use.

Banjos have a totally different acoustic when compared to acoustic guitars, the ‘sound’ of a banjo doesn’t come from a hole just like in an acoustic guitar. And I still don’t know exactly from where that good banjo sound comes from: from the head? From the resonator? From the rim? Sometimes I think it’s the entire body that is vibrating and propagating the sound. I tried thousand of different mic placements and non of them would work, even those from books. At first I thought that it was the microphone, tried to change it, in vain. I still don’t know what went wrong, all I know is that I don’t like it’s sound in our recordings. Reasons may be: wrong mic placement, wrong microphone, bad banjo, bad banjo strings. Hope I can find out what was the problem and get back to you someday.

That’s it for now.

Thanks for reading,

Leo Weber.