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The Sonic Excellence Guide for Rappers Part I: Recording

February 16, 2012

Listen, it’s completely okay for MCs to not know (or care) too much about the technical aspects of creating a record (if you’re one of those DIY rappers who loves to be involved with all stages of recording, mixing and mastering, this is not for you – you might find yourself more at home arguing about tube gear and how many limiters you use on your mixes on a message board).

This help guide was written for the MC who may be starting a project soon, who is about to spend some good money on Recording, Mixing and then Mastering a project, who expects the final product to be something professional, and someone who could use some tips to hopefully avoid spending more time and money going back to re-do something that could have been done right in the first place. Read more…

The “I Really Like How These Vinyl Transfers Came Out” Mixtape Volume 1

October 21, 2011

Remastering Vinyl for personal enjoyment is a hobby that I unfortunately don’t have enough time for. Many people (especially those who are die-hard vinyl enthusiasts but don’t have a technical background in audio) believe that vinyl is “superior” to the digital format and that it has “more range” than digital. In fact, the opposite is true; vinyl has a lower dynamic range than digital, so it’s just not physically possible to push audio on vinyl to the same levels that you can push digital, but then pushing digital past its optimal point usually results in a somewhat lifeless listening experience. Once you understand this limitation, you can then find an optimal range in the digital format where vinyl transfers can sound great. Read more…

The Importance of Headroom: A Before and After Example of Mastering Audio

August 20, 2011

I often get emails from new clients who ask what levels I prefer mixes to be at prior to mastering and my answer is somewhat the same all the time. It’s all about making the mix sound good to you first; getting the feel of all the elements of the mix sounding right to your ears while keeping enough headroom so that when it comes to mastering the mix (for the sake of translation to all systems) you’ll have plenty of room to explore different options when you decide to maximize the output later on, whether you are doing it yourself or will have someone else master it for you. This article will give you an example of what I consider an optimal mix ready for mastering, and then what I was able to do with it, which I consider an optimal master Read more…

Flatline Studios in Portland, OR

May 13, 2011

I have mastered a lot of the albums that Terminill, owner and operator of Flatline Studios in Portland has recorded and mixed, most recently Luck-One’s “True Theory”, Amsterdam’s “It’s Not You, It’s Me”, Shao Sosa’s “Gateway Drug”, Kenny Mack’s “The Streets Ain’t Safe” and a few others over the years. He’s currently working with many of Portland’s Hip Hop and R&B artists, and it’s apparent that local artists are going to him for their recording and mixing needs for good reason. Read more…

Dipping your feet in the (mobile) Audiophile world for less than $200

April 7, 2011

You can’t deny that most people these days listen to music on mobile devices such as iPods, iPhones and other mobile phones and media players. When I was a kid (which wasn’t that long ago), when a new album came out, you had to go to a store and buy it either on vinyl or cassette (yes, CDs too) then go home to play it on your “Stereo”.  Maybe you had a portable cassette player too, but it wasn’t the only thing you played your music on. Today, people download albums the minute they are released right on their phones and in a few minutes, you are able to listen to media files without having to divert from whatever it is you’re doing. I know a few people that only use mobile phones, iPods or laptops as their main audio systems; having a dedicated playback system for Stereo Audio isn’t typical anymore (leisure systems these days are typically HDTVs and improperly-configured 5.1 surround receivers and “enhanced” speaker systems). Read more…

In Retrospect: Crown Royale

December 24, 2010

Crown Royale Album CoverMastering this album was a wonderful experience for me. It started approximately a year ago, when Karim Panni (who was then at Myx) called to say that the label had taken on the Crown Royale project, a collaboration between legendary DJ Rhettmatic and Athletic Mic League representative Buff1. They had a single featuring Kam Moye that needed to be mastered ASAP called “After All” and Karim asked me if I was down to do it; he needed it right away because it was going to be pressed on Wax for a single (which in my line of work usually means “we don’t have time to go back to the mix in case something sticks out to you.”) I didn’t tell Karim that I had a whopping eight projects on my plate that I was working on at the time, all with different deadlines, so my answer of course was “no sweat, boss!” Read more…

Making a Passive Headphone (or source) Switcher

December 9, 2010

If you’re new to building DIY audio projects, this is probably one of the most simple and inexpensive projects you can build.

A good quality passive switcher similar to this one typically costs about $100, but you can build this for less than $20 (plus the cost of a case which can be anywhere from $5 to $50 or more, depending on how much you want to spend on it). The necessary tools for this build are a Drill,  5/8″ & 1/8″ bits, a soldering iron & a screwdriver.

Read more…