Playing with Pitch: Melodyne

March 25th, 2010

Recording using MIDI input has always had the distinct advantage of the ability to change any parameter after the fact – If you screw up a pitch, just drag it to the correct one.  Play out of time, and you can nudge the notes so they match correctly.

Celemony, the software company who developed Melodyne, asked themselves a fascinating question:  What if you could work with audio just like they are MIDI tracks?  Melodyne gives that distictly visual ability, including the ability to adjust pitch, timing, and even improve the intonation of a performance.

The latest version of Melodyne has a distinctly new and revolutionary feature:  Using DNA (Direct Note Access), the user can access specific notes of a chord.  For example, play a chord on a guitar, and the software will allow you access to each individual note.

When using Melodyne, it is important to have a solo track with little to no background noise or it is difficult for the software to devermine pitch, but if you have a clean track, you’ll be amazed at the amount of control and flexibility that it offers.  You can check out Melodyne here.

My Favorite Mic: Studio Projects C1

March 24th, 2010

I’ve had a Studio Projects C1 mic for nearly 10 years and it has become my favorite go-to mic for many applications, but especially vocals. It is a cardioid pattern large-diaphram condenser mic that features a bass roll-off switch and -10dB pad. This is the most common type of studio vocal mic. The C1 in no way tries to hide that it has a very pronounced high-frequency boost that adds a nice pop-friendly gloss to voices. It is smooth without ever sounding harsh which makes it very commercial friendly.

I believe that every good mic has its own place for the various voices or other applications.  The fact that I have used the C1 on more vocal recordings than anything else really says something to me about its quality, and to how it fits my own personal taste in sonic reproduction.  If you are looking for a versatile and sweet sounding vocal mic at a very high price to sound quality ratio, set aside a couple hundred bucks and try out the Studio Projects C1.

Logic 9: Amp Designer and Pedalboard

March 23rd, 2010

Small Touch: Korg Nano Controllers

March 22nd, 2010

A USB controller uses a MIDI interface to allow the controller device to communicate with many kinds of software, such as Ableton Live, Reason, Kontakt, or DAW software such as Pro Tools or Logic.

The Korg Nano series allows for instant control in a variety of forms.  The NanoKEY is simply a miniature keyboard, the PadKONTROL is a drum controller, and the NanoKONTROL is a mixer-style controller with faders for control of DAW software.

All of the controllers are inexpensive and small enough to easily take anywhere.  The benefit of using a controller is that it doesn’t have to physically store any audio information.  When used with a computer, it allows for a virtually endless amount of sonic possibilities through software synthesizers and sampling.  There are many keyboards and USB devices that work great as controllers, and the Korg Nano series is a great way to keep the control possibilities while on the go.  Check them out here.

An Introduction to Mix Methods

March 22nd, 2010

Sweet & Warm: Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity

March 21st, 2010

Universal Audio has built a reputation for high quality outboard recording equipment and originally became known under the names of UREI and Teltronix.  The company was founded by the renown recording engineer Bill Putnam, and was re-established by his son in the late-90’s.  Along with their classic pre-amps and compressors, Universal Audio has also earned a reputation for hardware emulation through their DSP cards and audio plug-ins.

One of their latest pieces of gear, the 710 Twin-Finity, is a pre-amplifier that sports a classic design and a unique tube blend control.  This allows the user to select a variable amount of tube or solid-state amplification for a virtually unlimited blend of tonal possibilities.  A quality solid-state pre-amp is often described as ‘transparent’ or ‘natural, while a tube pre tends to more often create a distinct warmth and coloration of the sound due to harmonic distortion that results from saturating the signal through the tubes.

The 710 can also act as a direct box with its included Hi-impedance input.  It also has some extended control including a low cut filter and 15dB pad switch.  The most exciting feature, however, is the price that puts a professional-grade pre-amp within reach of a modest studio for about $800.  Be sure to check out the 710 Twin-Finity.