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Music Production and Mixing Tips & Tricks

Music Production and Mixing Tips & Tricks

Eydislightofsunshine_056
Source: Flickr

What makes a pro recording pro? What is the “sound” that the pros get and how can you make your recordings sound more professional?
The simple answer is – there’s no simple answer. But with careful listening and a little experience you can create excellent results with modest equipment.
Good mixing starts ear
The first and most important item of equipment is – who knows? Anyone? It’s your ears! Sorry to tell you this, but listening to ten hours of Rave at 110dB will do nothing for them and you might as well give your mix to a turtle as try to mix with misused ears.
Listen to commercial recordings of mixes you like, analyse them, listen for the effects and get to know what constitutes the sort of sound you’re after.
Mixing secrets
There’s no hidden secret to getting a good sound, but if we had to sum up the secret of mixing in two words it would be this – EQ and compression. Okay that’s three words.
These are probably the two most important tools used by professional producers. However, like any tools, if you don’t know how to use them you’ll be carving Habitat tables instead of Chippendale chairs.
That’s where your ears and experience come in. Here we have assembled some production ideas, suggestions, tips and tricks but they can only be guidelines and need to be adapted to suit your material. There are no presets you can switch in to make a bad recording sound good. And if your original material has been poorly recorded not even Abbey Road could salvage your mix. But follow these suggestions and see how much your mixes improve.
Get the level right
You can’t push the levels when recording digitally as you can when recording to tape but you still want to get as much signal into the system as possible.
This means watching the levels very carefully for clipping, and recording at an even and constant level.
Some recording software lets you monitor and set the input level from within. Some expect you to use the soundcard’s mixer while others have no facility for internally adjusting the input level and expect you to set this at source.
Monitors
Your ears are only as good as the monitors they listen to. DO NOT expect to produce a good, pro mix on tiny computer speakers. It may sound fine on a computer system, but try it on a hi fi, in a disco and through a car stereo.
Oddly enough, you don’t necessarily need the most expensive Mic. Many top artists use what some might call “average” Mics because they work well and get the job done. You can spend a wad on a large diaphragm capacitor Mic (yes, they’re good for vocals) if you have the lolly but check out dynamic Mics which are much more affordable and can be turned to several tasks.
Mixing MIDI and audio
One of the great things about computer-based recording is that the parts can so easily be changed, edited and processed. It’s also so easy to combine MIDI and audio tracks and many musicians use a combination of sample loops, MIDI parts and audio recording.
Audio recordings are generally guitar and acoustic instruments such as the sax and vocals. Incidentally, the best way to record guitars is by sticking a Mic in front of its speakers. You can DI them and process them later and this may be cleaner but for a natural guitar sound a Miced amp is hard to beat.
It’s not necessary to record drums live and, in fact, it’s difficult to do and retain a modern sound. You can buy off-the-shelf MIDI drum riffs and audio drum loops, or program your own. The quality of the gear which makes drum noises these days is such that anyone with a good riff can sound like a pro.
Mixing MIDI
As MIDI and audio parts appear on the same screen in modern sequencers, it’s very easy to arrange them into a song. However, when you come to mix everything down there’s another consideration. If you are recording to DAT you can simply route the audio and MIDI outputs through a mixer and into the DAT machine.
However, if you want to create a CD you must first convert the MIDI parts to audio data. The entire song can then be mixed to hard disk and burned to CD. Converting MIDI to audio can have another benefit and that’s the ability to process the MIDI tracks using digital effects.
Effects
There are three positions for effects known as Master, Send and Insert. Use the Master for effects you want to apply to the entire mix. These will often be EQ, compression and reverb.
Although giving each channel its own Insert effects is kinda neat, each one uses a corresponding amount of CPU power. So if your computer is struggling and if you’re using the same effect on more than one channel, make the effect a Send effect and route those channels to it.
Many pieces of software let you apply an effect Pre or Post fader. With Post fader, the amount of sound sent to the effect is controlled by the fader. With Pre fader, the total volume level of the signal is sent. Post fader is the usual default and the one you’ll use the most.
EQ
EQ is the most popular and the most over-used effect. Yes, it can be used to try to “fix a mix” but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear as me Gran used to say and what she didn’t know about mixing could be written in the margin of the book of honest politicians.
But before you start messing with EQ – or any other effect for that matter – make sure you have a decent set of speakers. Have we said that already? Oh, must be important, then.
There are plug-in effects such as MaxxBass which can psychoacoustically enhance the bass frequencies to make it sound better on smaller speakers. However, this is by no means the same as getting a good bass sound in the first place by observing good recording principles.
EQ can enhance a mix to add gloss, fairy dust, shimmer, sheen, a sweetener or whatever you want to call it to the final production. It can be done with enhancers and spectralisers, too, although these tend to mess with the harmonics which some producers don’t like. However, don’t dismiss them out of hand.
General EQ lore says that you should cut rather than boost. If a sound is top-heavy, the temptation is to boost the mid and bass ranges. But then what usually happens is you start boosting the upper range to compensate and you simply end up boosting everything and you’re back where you started – only louder!
The reason why cutting is preferred is that boosting also boosts the noise in the signal which is not what you want. Try it. Boost every frequency and listen to the result. If you think it sounds okay, fine. What do we know?
But when you’re fiddling, do keep an eye on the output meter. Boosting EQ inevitably means increasing the gain and it’s so-o-o-o easy to clip the output causing distortion which does not sound good.
Finally, check EQ changes to single tracks while playing back the entire piece. In other words, listen to the tracks in context with all the other tracks. It may sound fine in isolation but some frequencies may overlap onto other tracks making the piece frequency rich in some places and frequency poor in others.
Reverb
Reverb creates space. It gives the impression that a sound was recorded in a hall or canyon instead of the broom cupboard. Recording lore suggests that you record everything dry, with no reverb, so you can experiment with a choice later on. You can’t un-reverb a track once it’s been recorded.
The more reverb you apply, the further away sound will seem. To make a vocal up-front, use only enough reverb to take away the dryness. Vocals don’t want to be mushy (lyrics can be mushy) so use a bright reverb.
A common novice error is to swamp everything with different types of reverb. Don’t – it sounds horrible!
Mixing down
You’ve done all the recordings, done the edits, applied the effects and now it’s time to mix everything into a Big Number One Hit! Before you do, go home and have a good night’s sleep. Have two. In fact, sleep for a week.
Yes, we know you’re hot and raring to go but your ears are tired. They’re falling asleep. Listen carefully and you might hear then snore!
There is a phenomenon known as ear fatigue and consistent exposure to sound, especially the same frequencies, makes our ears less responsive to them. Goes back to the bit about spending your life in a Rave club – you’ll never be a master producer. If you try to mix after spending a day arranging, your ears will not be as responsive, so do them and your mix a favour by waiting at least a day.
Now, go forth and mix! And don’t forget – you get better with practice. For more information about mixing, pick up a FREE copy of Creating The Perfect Mix at www.making-music.com.
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Parenting Advice That Can Really Help You (2)

Parenting Advice That Can Really Help You

Take the Day Off, Leeds, UK
Source: Flickr


No parents are ever perfect!
Even if you think back on your childhood as being amazing, your parents made mistakes, too. The beauty is that a few mistakes will rarely lead to permanent damage in a child. That said, here is some advice from parents like you on how to do the very best you can rear a child.

Ask your child specific questions about what he or she is learning, so that you can spark enriching conversations and look for opportunities to expand upon the lessons that they learn in school. Keeping tabs on what they are learning, will also help you to pinpoint the areas in which they are having trouble, so you can follow up with their teacher, if needed.

A great parenting tip is to never physically abuse your child. This severely damages your child, and if you’re caught, your child can be taken away from you. There are better ways to instruct and discipline your child, never resort to physical abuse.

Don’t hold your children’s relationships with others against them. Children are going to love other people. Sometimes it might seem that love exceeds the love they have for you and it is easy to become resentful and even to let your child sense that resentment. A good parent should be happy their child has others they love in their life.

When raising a child it is important not to be so hard on yourself. Don’t critique every little move you make because you will end up going crazy. Children unfortunately do not come with instructional manuals, and they are more learn as you go. So if you make a bad judgment once use it to learn, not to beat yourself up.

The number one, most important tip about parenting has got to be that you must be there for your child. Children need and want your physical presence as well as your listening ear. If your child knows that you are right there to listen to their needs, it will go a long way in strengthening your relationship.

Learn how to properly bring your baby to your breast in order to avoid improper latching techniques. A bad latch will cause pain to for mom and a less than satisfactory feeding for baby so it is very important to latch your technique. Make sure to always bring the baby up to your breast and check that he has a large amount of the areola in his mouth for the best experience.

Instead of using a behavioral mishap as an opportunity to scold, yell, and spank, use it as an opportunity to teach. Children, like adults, live and learn. The next time your children act up, teach them what they did was wrong, by explaining to them in simple terms, why it was wrong. They will learn the lesson much better, when you are talking to them rationally.

In the end, no one’s advice is perfect, either. Your situation will call for different reactions than my situations with my children. In fact, each child will need different treatment to deal with their own personality type. Just remember that your kids will grow up to be healthy, happy adults as long as you love them, and that’s the easy part!

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Uva ursi

Uva ursi

Red Panda
Source: Flickr

KWD: 19/529 = 3.59%

Uva ursi

Uva ursi is also called ‘bearberry’ because the bears are so fond of its bright red or pink berries. Uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi) is an evergreen shrub used in the past to heal urinary tract infections. The leaf is used for medicinal purposes. It was used as a beverage tea in some parts in Russia. The berries were used as help in attaining weigh-loss. It is commonly used for infections of all parts of the body due to its astringent action. Uva ursi comes in various formulations such as teas, tinctures, capsules and extracts. This plant is founding the colder northern climates from North America to Asia. In Europe, this is popular in treating urinary tract inflammation.

Uva ursi contains an antiseptic compound called arbutin, which the body converts into hydroquinone, a substance that has astringent and bacteria-killing powers. Uva ursi is effective in fighting urinary tract infection if the urine is alkaline. In order to maintain an alkaline pH in your urine, you need to consume plenty of dairy products and non-citrus fruits. Avoid taking uva ursi with substances that acidify the urine such as citrus fruits, tomatoes and vitamin C supplements. Aside from its antiseptic and astringent components, uva ursi may also promote urination which could flush out bacteria.

There are no known drugs or nutrient interactions connected with uva ursi. If you feel a frequent urge to urinate and a burning sensation, consult a doctor if the symptoms continue for more than 24 to 36 hours because this can cause serious complications such as kidney problems. Some people with sensitive stomachs can experience nausea and vomiting if taking uva ursi. But this rarely occurs. The herb is relatively safe to use at recommended doses. High doses can cause greenish-brown urine discoloration. Taking excessive amounts of uva ursi such as ten times greater than the recommended amount can cause vomiting, ringing in the ears, shortness of breath, convulsions and collapse. Liver damage is a possibility for excessive dosage at extended periods of time. People with kidney disease, pregnant women and lactating mothers should not take large doses of uva ursi since information about its safety with some conditions could not be ascertained. Large doses may cause uterine contractions during pregnancy. It is also advisable not to take uva ursi beyond 7 to 10 days and limit the use of uva ursi to not more than 5 cycles per year.

For standard intake of uva ursi, the German commission E monograph recommends ½ to ¾ teaspoon (3 grams) of uva ursi added to about 5 ounces (150 ml) of boiling water. Then this concoction is drunk three to four times daily. Alcohol-based tinctures require 1 teaspoon (5 ml) three times per day. Standardized extracts in capsules or tablets with 20% arbutin needs 700 to 1000 mg three times per day. Uva ursi use should be not more than 14 days. To be sure that you maintain an alkaline urine, take about 1 ½ teaspoons (6-8 grams) of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) mixed with a glass of water, taken for no more than 14 days. Uva ursi should not be taken without consulting a doctor first.

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Have You Heard of Beltone Hearing Aids?


Source: Flickr

Your outside ear is really only there to collect and concentrate sound waves, which vibrate the air in your auditory canal. Air passes the vibration to the eardrum. The hammer bone, inside, is attached to the anvil and stirrup bones, which vibrate the oval window and the round window. This causes fluid to move in the cochlea, which encloses the Organ of Corti. This organ is covered with thousands of tiny hair cells which bring about chemical changes that change electrical potential to create nerve impulses. As you can tell, that little ear on the side of your head is just the beginning of the hearing process, which is a complex bodily instrument! There’s more to the hearing process that what was just explained, and the Beltone company has known this for many years.

Beltone hearing aids have been around for at least 67 years, starting in 1940. Their models of digital hearing aids are of a wide variety. The shell styles include Beltone One!, (which is a mini behind-the-ear hearing aid), Beltone Corus, Beltone Linq, Beltone Access, Beltone Edge, Beltone Mira, Beltone Arca, Invisa (in the canal), Petite (in the canal), and the Opera Plus (in the canal).

Beltone has helped countless generations and brought hope and encouragement to many families and individuals who have relied upon their services. They provide other needs besides hearing aids, such as amplified cordless phones, loud alarm clocks, Blue tooth ear sets ($145), neckloops ($150), phone modules ($50), and personal listening systems ($170-$200).

Beltone’s listening systems help you hear in public places such as theaters. It can be hard to hear in public places even when you aren’t hearing challenged. But those who are were limited for a long time to reading lips and interpreting actions when attending theaters, concerts, and other public events. This has caused them to miss out on much of the understanding they needed for proper processing of the information presented to the audience.

Hearing impaired people were also challenged in the way of waking up in the mornings, even with hearing aids. Many people don’t feel a need to sleep with their aids, but when they did have to; they found the older aids uncomfortable for night time relaxation. A timer would be put on an overhead light so that when the light came on, the person would be awakened by the brightness. This wouldn’t work for the person who can sleep through anything! Even so, the timers couldn’t be taken on trips. Wake up calls wouldn’t help since the person couldn’t hear the phone or a knock on the door. But there are devices now that vibrate, like Beltone’s wake and shake alarm clock, which sells for $70. It incorporates a vibration and a flashing strobe that comes on upon the time the alarm is set.

Beltone reaches as far as New England, Canada, and all across the United States; although, one drawback to finding a Beltone representative might be with the challenge of availability in small areas.

Batteries for hearing aids are sold by Beltone, but you can also find them many times in stores. Pharmacies usually carry hearing aid batteries. Typical name brand batteries can sell in a package of 4 for $6. Eco-Gold batteries sell in a package of 6 for $6. You can even order batteries from AARP magazines. They usually sell in bigger bundles than in a store, such as 42 for $25, and offer a refund on the unopened packages if you aren’t happy with the product.

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Reflexology Is Another Form of Massage Therapy

Reflexology Is Another Form of Massage Therapy

Merle the girl
Source: Flickr

Reflexology is another form of massage therapy. Similar to shiatsu, it is a physical act of applying pressure to the feet and hands using specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of lotion. It is based on a system of zones and reflex areas that reflect the human anatomy on both the feet and hands which in theory have significant effects on the entire body.

This form of massage therapy has been around for thousands of years. There is archaeological evidence that suggests this was used by the Egyptians in 2330 BC, China in 2704 BC and Japan in 690 BC. The West only knew about reflexology in the 19th century.

Although reflexology is usually applied to the feet and hands, there are those who also apply the same thing to the ear. This technique is considered to be a modified from auricular therapy which is an acupuncture technique.

In general, reflexology is used to reduce stress because both the feet and hands help set the tension level for the rest of the body. If you are able to fix that, then there is balance in the body. It can also help those who are suffering from arthritis, back pain, digestive disorders or problems, hormonal imbalance, insomnia, menstrual disorders, sports injuries and tension headaches.

You must never go for reflexology if you are pregnant, have foot ulcers or blood clots. If you are doing this for the first time, you better tell the professional your medical history.

Whether reflexology can help certain conditions and diseases is still being determined. But even if other tests need to be made, many experts agree that it is complement to standard medical care. With that said, patients should never use it as a replacement to medical help.

The best part about reflexology is that it is not painful. If this happens, you should tell the reflexologist to go down one notch. If there are certain areas in the body that are sore, tell them to focus on it as this will decrease with pressure.

Reflexology can be done at anytime and anywhere. If you have the time, you can even do this once a day. In fact, given its popularity most hospitals and HMO’s now consider this for insurance reimbursement as it is often used for post-operative or palliative care. In fact, one third of cancer patients undergo reflexology regularly.

Most sessions being conducted by practitioners may last from 30 minutes to an hour. It is also a clothed session so the only thing you have to remove is your shoes and socks. You don’t even have to lie down on a table because some will perform this while you are seated on a chair.

At the end of each session, you should feel relaxed. How long it lasts is a good indicator as to how effective it was. If you will be having another session in the future, you should give feedback to the reflexologist so they know what to do the next time you drop by.

Reflexology is another form of massage therapy you can try if you want to relieve tension from the body. If you are interested in trying it, all you have to do is check if there is one within your neighborhood.