Recording Secrets For The Small Studio - Additional Resources
Chapter 2: The Human Element
Table of Contents
(This page is for the second edition of Recording Secrets For The Small Studio. To access an archive of the first-edition resource pages, click here.)
(To download all WAV examples at once: 3MB ZIP)
Latency Tester File: Here’s an audio test file with a series of sharp signal transitions Ex02.01: WAV/MP3play_arrow that make it easy to measure latency using the loop-back methods mentioned in Section 2.1.6 of the book.
Section 2.3.2 Performance Parameters Demonstration: To clarify what I mean by some of the performance parameters listed in Section 2.3.2 of the book, take a listen to this rather uninspiring four-bar keyboard recording Ex02.02: WAV/MP3play_arrow. One problem is simply a question of balance: the repeated off-beat ‘B’ notes are consistently too loud compared with the more interesting upper and lower lines. This also affects the sense of pace, making the rhythm seem a bit stuck in the mud. In this example Ex02.03: WAV/MP3play_arrow, I’ve just adjusted the note balance to remedy these issues, in order to draw the listener’s ear towards the more musically important aspects of the line. I’ve also attempted to make the second, third, and fourth quarter notes into a mini-phrase by emphasising the middle note of each group. However, there’s no sense of phrasing across any of the bar lines, so in the final example Ex02.04: WAV/MP3play_arrow I’ve experimented with articulating longer two-bar phrase ‘arches’ using note durations.
Backing-track Stems For Overdubbing Practice: If you don’t have a project in progress suitable for the overdubbing Assignments in this (and later) chapters, then check out the ‘Recording Secrets’ Free Backing Stems Download Library for a range of projects in different styles, complete with accompanying session documentation.
Free Loop Download Libraries: If you want something a little more inspiring to play along to than a click track while overdubbing, check out the royalty-free samples available from Freesound, Looperman, and MusicRadar’s SampleRadar page. If they’re not at the right tempo, then the time-stretching options within Cockos Reaper provide a very affordable (and high quality) remedy.
XLR-to-TRS Barrel Adaptors For Headphone Extension: As discussed in Section 2.1.1 of the book, you can make a robust headphone-extension cable by combining a TRS-to-XLR(male) cable with an XLR(female)-to-TRS barrel adaptor such as the Neumann NA3FJ. The cable can also be extended further by adding normal XLR mic cables in line.
Affordable Multi-output Headphone Amplifiers: You can get hold of extremely cheap models from companies such as ART, Behringer, and Samson, but personally I think it’s worth spending a bit more money on something a little more robust (such as the Aphex Headpod 4 which can deliver a bit more power to each output socket.
Oblique Strategies: Check out this detailed Oblique Strategies fan site for Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt’s classic Oblique Strategies card set, or just visit this online version of Oblique Strategies.
Direct Strategies: If you find Oblique Strategies a bit, er… oblique for your tastes, then do check out my own Direct Strategies post series, where I suggest more down-to-earth songwriting and production hacks! You can read the first of these posts for free (‘Direct Stategies: The Major-Minor Switch’) and all the rest are available to Cambridge-MT Patrons via the Cambridge-MT Patreon page.
ASIO4ALL Universal Software ASIO Driver: Michael Tippach’s freeware ASIO4ALL driver lets you reduce monitoring latency dramatically in situations where you’re forced to work with a PC’s built-in audio hardware, rather than using a dedicated recording interface.
Latency Test Utility: Here are a couple of freeware options for measuring your PC system’s audio latency: Oblique Audio RTL Utility & Resplendence LatencyMon. Note, however, that they won’t take into account delays induced by plug-ins within a DAW project.
Mono-switching In Software: My favourite freeware mono-switching plug-ins are Brainworx’s Bx Solo, Boz Digital’s Panipulator, and TB Pro Audio’s ISOL8, all of which let you solo the Left, Right, and Sides signals independently too.
Working With Latency In Computer Systems: Here’s an excellent Sound On Sound magazine round-up of different monitoring schemes for computer DAW users: ‘Living With Latency’.
Creating Click Tracks: The Sound On Sound magazine archive has a great article about this from drummer Gavin Harrison: ‘Creating Click Tracks For Drummers’.
Glossaries Of Musical Terms: There’s now an extensive Wikipedia Musical Glossary, but check out MusicTheory.org.uk’s Glossary Of Italian Musical Terms if you want to hear audio examples of the Italian pronunciation.
A Brief Introduction To MIDI: Here are a few articles about the basics of MIDI, in case you fancy dipping your toe in the water there: Guitar Junky’s MIDI & Music Synthesis Tutorial and Sound On Sound magazine’s MIDI Basics series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.