Monday, July 13

Selecting a Microphone for Home Recording

Selecting a microphone for home recording can be a difficult decision to make. It all depends on the following:

a. Budget
b. Your Room
c. Your Recording Commitment and the depth of your project
d. Your existing recording gears


Basically, there are two types of microphones:

a. Dynamic Microphone
b. Condenser Microphone

The above microphone photo belongs to a condenser microphone type, and it looks obviously different from the dynamic microphones.

During the selection process, below are the recommended guides.

Guide 1: If you have the budget and your home recording studio is using high end gears with good room acoustics. For example you have vocal booth. Then use a condenser microphone, it will produce the best results.

Guide 2: If you have the budget but you do not have the vocal booth, then use high end dynamic microphones such as Shure. The reason is that, dynamic microphones are not as sensitive compared to condenser microphones.

If you do not have a vocal booth, there could be noise during vocal recordings. And it can be isolated easily if you have dynamic microphones since it is not super-sensitive.

For those that do not know a vocal booth, it is a sound proof enclosure where the vocalist will record the vocals. The purpose is to avoid catching noise from other sources in the studio. See picture below:

Picture of Shure SM 58 Dynamic Microphones. Source:

Guide 3: If you do not have the budget , dynamic microphones is cheap. Just make sure that you do not do recording during noisy hours, or else you will be disappointed.

Also, if you have a mixer, consider the connectivity of the microphone you are going to purchase. For example, you should not be buying XLR based microphones if you do not have XLR inputs in your existing recording gears.

Also if you are building a home recording studio to produce commercial projects, the recording commitment and the depth of your project is high and therefore, secure a more expensive microphone like the condenser ones.Once again, if your room does not have good acoustics, then settle for dynamic microphones since it is more flexible compared to condenser microphones.

Always buy from quality and reputable suppliers, do not buy from unknown stores, there are a lot of stores nowadays claiming they sell genuine microphones but is indeed a fake one.


Saturday, May 9

Tips in Mixing Electric Guitars using "Double Tracking" Technique

One of the key elements in rock mix is thick and heavy guitar sound. One of the effective ways to accomplish this sound in the mixing process is through a technique called as "Double Tracking". In this post I will illustrate how to double track guitars in the mix with the objective of making it heavy and thick.

Bear in mind there a lot of ways to thicken the guitar sound. Double tracking is one of the easier ways. Alternatively you can do:
a. Compression on guitars to make it sound thick.
b. Applying effects such as maximizer to increase loudness.
c. Parallel compression.

If the guitar sounds thin and weak, it will tend to affect the commercial appeal of the song especially if it is being marketed as a pure rock or alternative music. It is highly essential to mix things right but…

The following are the important requirement before you can double track the guitar in the mix:

Guitar image source:

a. The recording of the guitar should be free of noise and normalize to the maximum volume.
b. If the guitar is recorded twice, it should also be clean and normalized. But it is not required to record it twice.
c. Record with the best distortion tone you need. Do not record it yet if you are not yet convinced of the distortion tone. Much better to experiment with a live band before starting to record the guitar. The overall purpose is to have a clean and final recording ready for mixing. Remember it is not advisable to fix the distortion tone in the mix; it makes the mixing process to be complicated.
d. Double check the tuning of the guitars, even slightly out of tune guitars can be problematic since if you double tracked it will tend to worsen the out of tune guitars.

It is also highly important particularly in the recent pop rock music trend to achieve not only thick guitar sound but it is also a wide guitar sound. This will achieve the “airy” sound of the distorted guitars.

So how do we start the mix?

1. Start with placing the 1st track in the Track one of the mixing session.
2. Place the other guitar track in the Track two of the mixing session. If you are recording only once, just copy and paste the wav file in the Track one to Track two.
3. Pan the Track one to -75 units (left). Depending on your recording software, this could be in %, for example if the maximum left pan setting is 100% so it will be 75/100 or 75%.
4. Pan the Track two to 75 units (right).
5. Now to get that wide thick sound, you can apply 5ms delay to one of the guitar (either left or right) (mix 100%)
6. To even make it heavier, do not anymore apply reverb on any of the tracks ( it is highly important that the reverb is from the room and amp based reverb that will be realized during the recording process). It is because if you start applying reverb on the guitar, it will tend to sound weak and far. Since you are mixing for rock, it is important to get the “in your face” guitar sound.
7. EQ it properly, do not cut too much bass in the distorted guitar, it will help add the heaviness sound.
8. Cut 1000Hz and 800 Hz on any guitar to make sound so clean and avoid the cracking sound.
9. Adjust the track one and track two volume and stop when it is loud enough for the guitar tracks to be heard, not dominating the vocals.
10. Cut 3000Hz with around -6dB and Q of 1.0 for both guitar tracks.
11. If your effects are arrange serially below are the sequence of effects that will be placed in each guitar:
a. Parametric Equalizer
b. Compressor
c. Reverb (optional) necessary only if the guitar tracks is too dry.
d. Delay (only on one track)

It is highly important to rely on your ears to do the settings. Do not believe in holy grail settings of compressor, EQ, they are there to serve as a guide and it is important to stick with the basic principles in double tracked mixing such as above.

DEMO: Listen to mix below applying the principles above:

Song Title: "At the highway"
Author/Publisher: Emerson Roble Maningo
Artist: Jeanine Maningo
Producer: Emerson Roble Maningo
Publisher page:


Sunday, February 1

Tips in Mastering Audio at Home!

Mastering process is the last step in any music production process. It is highly recommended to master the tracks before it can be used for any commercial purposes. Why? What are the underlying reasons?:

1. Consumer audio player is different than yours, so it can sound different than what you will expect it to be. Any deviation in audio, will annoy normal or average listener.

2. In the play list of any consumer audio or mp3 players, 100% of those tracks are mastered, so if your song will be put on that list, it will sound very different and odd. Example is that, it will sound so "weak", compared to other tracks.

3. No one will like to buy a CD or download a song online that will sound so weak and with low volume compared to what is "loud" for them. This is very distracting to listen (as any listener will turn up the volume of the player every time your track will be played, so funny.)

See image below for an example mastered wave:

Example of wave "NOT MASTERED"

Looking above, it is obvious, the mastered track will sound louder. But mastering is not making it loud, instead the primary aim to make "loud" and "beautiful". Making it "beautiful" can be achieved by EQ and compression process.

Those are the above reasons you should master tracks. Before you can master tracks what are the requisites? Of course , you cannot master a track if it is not mixed "properly", I emphasize this because a poorly mix track cannot be anymore saved in the mastering process, so in this case it should be re-mixed again. Mixing process is completely different than mastering process.

Requisites for a good mastering:

1. Properly Mixed track (no peaks above 0dB digital) , you can call this a "clipped" track indicated by red indicator in your digital audio workstation.This is not allowed to be mastered as this will give horrible results!

2. Master at highest resolution possible! Do not master MP3 version. Mastering is all about adjusting audio in digital domain so you should master at the highest resolution possible. In my case, I use the 32 bit resolution at 44.1 kHz , (this is higher than CD quality).

3. Good monitors with subwoofer , flat as possible.

4. Good acoustics, know the response of your room acoustics very well.

Now for the actual show, how do you master the tracks???

1. Start with cleaning the tracks, you can remove noise, shortening gap in the beginning and ending. I recommend following CD audio red book standard for this.

2. EQ, add presence like +2dB in 2kHz, +1dB in 1KHz and +1dB in 4kHz. Q is 1.

3. EQ part 2, remove mud sound, by cutting -3 dB in 200Hz (use Q of 1), -3dB (high pass filter action) at 35Hz.

4. EQ part 3, add bass and lower punch for more pop and rock sound (not applicable for jazz and country genre). If at mixing , kick is boosted at 100Hz, add +2dB in 100Hz, +2dB at 65Hz. Use Q of 1 for this.

5. Final EQ, add gloss and shiny sound, boost at 15kHz, Q =1.0 , +2dB.

6. Apply low pass filter at 16500 Hz (this will pass everything below that , and severely attenuates above that mark). This is optional.

7. Compress, I use L2 Wave effects, compress so that the average RMS audio level is around -12dB for pop and rock volume average. The resulting wave should look like a mastered wave, such as shown above.

8. Save your work, and DO NOT DESTROY THE ORIGINAL MIX DOWN (unmastered track) from the mixing studio. Listen always. Use your EARS! This is the most precious studio equipment.

9. Finally criticize your work, open up your audio player, add commercial tracks similar to the genre you are mastering, then add your mastered track...Does it sound different? or sound competitively similar? Repeat the whole process if it fails the test. Use your ears to tweak those settings.

10.Save your work at 16bit 44.1kHz audio (CD audio quality) and use dithering.

Hope this helps a lot!