All posts by Brandi

Retro microphone on stage

Martin’s Audio Blah-Blah #3

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Get It Right At The Source 10960218_895148917203122_3268992685492369409_o

The modern tech driven world that we live in gives us so many wonderful tools/toys and so much flexibility in how we process sound.  Recording on your computer or iPad is incredibly convenient and we all love editing in a DAW rather than having to cut and splice tape (which I always thought was very scary – no undo button to save the day).  But for all of these high tech wonders the most powerful tool you have is your microphone and where you place it.  Nothing affects your sound more than the mic you choose to record with and the placement of that mic in relation to the source.  Get that right and the rest of the process gets a lot easier.  Moving your mic one inch can be the difference between heaven and hell.  You will get more tonal variance with mic placement than with any EQ you try to slap on the track to “fix it in the mix.” And if you start with bad tone you’ll be engaged in a very frustrating uphill battle to bring balance and clarity to your tracks.  This is true even if you’re only recording a guitar and vocal.

Unless you are just sketching out the song idea, don’t just throw a mic up and start recording.  Take a little time (or a lot of time if needed) to get the right sound at the recording/input stage.  “But when I wanna record something I just wanna feel it so I can do a good performance, I don’t wanna kill the vibe with all this tech stuff.”  I get it.  And Yes, the performance is still the MOST important thing. So take some time to practice your mic technique just as you would your performance. Don’t wait until you’ve got to lay down that perfect guitar track to experiment with mic placement.

Here are a few pointers to get you started.

First, listen to the source acoustically in the room.  You can’t hope to capture good sound if you don’t know what you’re listening for.

Find the sweet spot with your ears first.  Then use some very flat closed back headphones, move the mic gradually and find the sweet spot again. Record a bit then check it on your studio monitors.  Keep at it until you hear what you are looking for.

Maintain reasonable expectations, don’t try to make that Martin concert size cutaway sound like a jumbo Taylor. Translating the idea in your head to the sound in your speakers is not an easy task.  After 20 years of recording, I still do this.

At TPH we have a large multipurpose room and I am constantly experimenting with Mics on different sources and tweaking the room to get good sounds.  We’ve built gobos and baffles, we’ve collected Mics for very specific purposes, and I’m always looking for ways to get the most out of this space and the equipment so that I can get it right at the source. It’s an evolving environment.  But one that I would encourage you to work in.  Come be an artist and leave the techie stuff to us.  There, that’s my sales pitch.  Discounted rates for acoustic artists apply.

Contact me at: [email protected]

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Tahoe Production House shoots Tahoe Toys and Treasures Google Business View 360 Tour

By | Blog, Google Business View Tours, Photography | No Comments

Tahoe Toys and Treasures is the latest business in South Lake Tahoe to take advantage of the Google Business View 360 Tours available from Tahoe Production House.

Tahoe Toys and Treasures is the south shore’s newest toy store. They feature educational and scientific toys, along with art and craft supplies. They have a big selection of organic children’s’ clothing, and Robeez shoes. They are located at 3053 Harrison Ave South Lake Tahoe CA 96150 and find them on Facebook here (www.facebook.com/TahoeToysandTreasures).

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Tahoe Production House shoots Powder House at the Chateau Google Business View 360 Tour

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Powder House is the latest business in South Lake Tahoe to take advantage of the Google Business View 360 Tours available from Tahoe Production House.

Powder House (9) is located at 4125 #K Lake Tahoe Blvd in South Lake Tahoe and Since 1994, Powder House has grown to become the largest and most complete ski rental & snowboard rental shop in South Lake Tahoe, California with 9 locations. For convenience and value of ski & snowboard rental packages, you cannot beat the Powder House Ski and Snowboard of South Lake Tahoe.

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Martin’s Audio Blah-Blah #2

By | Audio Recording, Blog | No Comments

DIY. The Pros and Cons.

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Ok I’m not talking about putting in a new dishwasher or refinishing your deck. I’m talking about recording and producing yourself in your home studio. And let’s remember, these days recording oneself at home means that you have to wear all the hats: singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, recording & mix engineer, producer, arranger, roadie, groupie and tea maker. Back in “the day” there were a team of people that handled these individual aspects of recording. Makes sense right? I mean you wouldn’t expect Robert Downey Jr. to portray Iron Man but then also be Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, the cinematographer, screenwriter, director, and the key grippe (whatever that guy does). Needless to say, the range of talents one must master to record and produce great sounding music at home is mind boggling. And it is one reason why most home recordings sound like demos, not records.

That sounds like a “con” doesn’t it? So let’s run down a few more while we’re being a negative Nancy. Inadequate equipment or just not the right gear for the job. For example, cheap mics are not very forgiving. Despite the hype of versatility afforded them by their manufacturers, they tend to be a jack of all trades master of none. Space restrictions. Your garage or bedroom may be fine for a jam but chances are it’s less than adequate for a recording/mixing space. Throwing up some auralex or duvets helps a bit but once those problem frequencies creep into your tracks they are as hard to get rid of as your out of work cousin crashing on your couch and drinking all your beer. But my favorite con of all? NOBODY TO PLAY WITH :-(

Music is supposed to be a shared experience. Collaboration always renders new ideas that you wouldn’t have come up with on your own. Plus having an extra set of ears is always helpful so long as those ears know what to listen for. Having someone to keep you on task and say that take was a keeper or not is invaluable to the process of making a record rather than a demo. Yes art is not supposed to be perfect, but you don’t want those imperfections to get in the way of conveying the feeling of the song.

Ok thus far it may seem like I’m biased. I run a professional recording studio so of course I want you DIY artists to bring your project to TPH. However, there is immense value in self-recording so long as you keep your expectations in check. Use your home based DAW to work on performance and arrangement. Explore guitar, keyboard, sample sounds and effect ideas. Make your songs the best they can be from a writing perspective. Get the general vibe happening; then go to an audio pro who can understand and share your vision and help you take it the rest of the way. The benefits are obvious. The greatest solo records of all time were NOT a one person show. That is not to say you can’t make great recordings in your home studio. But isn’t it more fun to work with others?

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written by Martin Shears, Tahoe Production House Audio Engineer