Apogee Duet (Portable Audio Interface)
One of the smallest audio interfaces available, the Apogee Duet 2 was designed to travel. The new Duet 2 is housed in a slick black and aluminum chassis and is small enough to fit in the side pocket of your gig bag. The Duet 2 is equipped with the high-end D/A and A/D converters that Apogee is known for. It also features two analog inputs with world-class mic preamps with 48V phantom power, 2 analog line outputs and a 1/4” stereo headphone output. It can easily be connected to your iPad or Mac using a USB cable.
The Duet 2 has great sound quality, basic inputs and outputs and a minimalist modern design. In many circumstances, that’s all you’ll need to get the job done.
Making sounds pop out in stereo can add much needed dimension to flat sounding mixes. It can also define sections in an arrangement; like a wider sound on the choruses. This is great on vocals, synths, and more. In this article I’ll be showing several techniques and effects that are perfect for accomplishing this. As with all stereo effects, these are best heard with headphones, but even on your monitors you should easily hear the difference. I’m using a simple chord pattern for demonstrating and each method has a before and after sample.
Most of the processes we’ll be looking at in this article are accomplished directly on a stereo channel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t process a mono recording like a vocal. In fact, mono sounds will benefit the most from these methods. If the track you want to process is mono, click Logic’s “Input Format Button” (directly to the left of the input select drop down) until it displays two circles instead of just one.
Phase Inversion with Logic’s Gain
First let’s talk about inverting the Phase of one side of a two-channel track. When you do this, you get an instant widened “pop.” You can use Logic’s Gain plug-in to easily accomplish this cool trick. Add the stereo Gain plug-in and from its “Phase Invert” section choose either the left or right button… Boing! Sometimes this process can make the sound seem off balance. Use the Gain plug-in’s balance knob to alleviate this.
Next up, let’s take a look at Logic’s Stereo Spread effect. This is one of my favorite effects in the whole Logic bunch. You can use it to easily push sounds out and to the sides. It treats the left and right stereo channels independently creating opposing EQ bumps. This is quite a dramatic effect… even the default preset will give you that instant stereo pop. Try adjusting the order knob for a quick repositioning. I’ll often take down the spread effect on the lower frequencies since this can create mud. You can do this by either pulling down the Lower Int slide, or by sliding the Lower Freq over to the right.
Have you ever believed that there’s just something badass engineers do that the rest of the world isn’t privy to? Are you disappointed when everyone on forums seems to agree that engineers are just using really good judgement and generally using basic processing?
Well, don’t get your hopes up too much. 95% of a great mix stems from great decision making and the use of basic processing that everyone has access to. But, that last 5% does contain a bit of secret sauce. Secret awesome sauce. Every seasoned engineer will have their own recipe. I certainly have mine.
I want to share some personal techniques. These are little things I do that really add up over the course of a mix. Each one of these techniques are based around one idea: you don’t really hear it when it’s there, but you miss it when it’s gone.
By building these subtle effects into my mix I create something that elevates the overall sound without dramatically changing it — which is often a desirable goal when mixing. They also amount to some of the things which just seem to separate a finished mix from a rough mix in that way that’s hard to put a finger on.
1. Fast decaying reverbs
One of my principal approaches to mixing is to create depth and polish. Often times I may want something to have a 3D image and “glossed” tone, but I don’t necessarily want to hear an audible reverb or delay.
2. Subtle distortion or saturation
A touch of distortion can really make a sound pop in a mix. If it doesn’t sound “distorted” but brings a bit of harmonic energy into the fold I’m usually into the idea.
Not to sound like a FabFilter commercial here, but I like to experiment with Saturn because it gives me very fine control over the specifics and degree of the distortion.
3. Micro panning
Finding movement is paramount to a successful mix. A tiny degree of panning, almost too little to hear unless you solo the source, can go a long way in this regard.
This is a go-to move for sequenced hi-hats (I’ll tend to pan quickly). And very useful for background pads/noises as well (a slightly slower pan is usually good for the sustainy sounds).
4. Subtle volume rides at section changes
Volume automation is not just good for evening things out — it can also be great for creating contrast. Next time you’re going from the verse of a song to the chorus try a few of these little techniques.
5. EQ/Compression/Distortion on reverb and delay returns
I have a cool video tutorial on this but felt that it was worth mentioning here. Reverb/delay returns are elements in the mix just like anything else. Coloring the ambience in a slightly unique way can help create tonal complexity and augment the sense of depth.
6. Removal of unwanted sounds
A great deal of what you’re hearing in a great mix is what you’re not hearing. The removal of bleed and mouth noises, the reduction of breathes, the taming of plosives and sibilance. All of these excess sounds add up to one things: distraction.
Not to say breath noises don’t have their place — but you’re the master of the playback so be decisive about what you don’t want, what you do want and how much.
At the 135th Audio Engineering Society Convention (Thursday, October 17, through Sunday, October 20, 2013, at the Javits Center in New York City), the annual Historical Events lecture series will help illuminate the past, present and future of the craft of audio engineering.
AES Convention Historical Events Chair, Harry Hirsch, a veteran of 50-plus years as musician, engineer, producer, studio owner and studio designer, has assembled a winning collection of presentations. These range from “The Art of Recording The Big Band, Revisited” to a look deep into the restoration and remastering of the classic Peggy Lee and Nelson Riddle LP Jump for Joy and more.
Hirsch, who has guided the AES Convention’s Historical Events series numerous times in the past, worked closely with AES Historical Committee co-chair Bill Wray and technical advisor John Chester on these new presentations, just as he has collaborated with them for years on the highly successful “AES Oral History Project.”
Each presentation will reveal intricacies and nuances of key events and technologies from pro audio’s past, and in one case will offer a chance to see a decades-old riddle finally solved: as part of “Restoring Peggy Lee’s Capitol Records Album Jump for Joy,” presenter Alan Silverman of Arf! Mastering and the NYU Steinhardt Dept. of Music Technology will examine the answer to a mystery uncovered during the restoration and remaster of the 1959 release, which was one of the first records released by Capitol as a stereo LP.
Additionally, one particular presentation will honor the recently departed. On Friday, Oct. 18 at 1 p.m., Ioan Allen, an Academy Award-winning cinema sound pioneer and 44-year veteran at Dolby Laboratories, will present “A Tribute to Ray Dolby.” Allen will review the singular achievements of Dolby, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 80, as well as his recollections of working closely with Dolby during his lengthy career at the company green screen studio in Dubai.
135th AES Convention Historical Events
Friday, October 18, 5:00 pm — 6:30 pm
The Art of Recording the Big Band, Revisited
Saturday, October 19, 12:15 pm — 1:15 pm
Restoring Peggy Lee’s Capitol Records Album “Jump for Joy”
Saturday, October 19, 5:00 pm — 7:00 pm
The 35mm Album Master Fad
Sunday, October 20, 1:00 pm — 2:00 pm
A Contribution to the History of Field Tape Recording, 1939-1940
Friday, October 18, 1:00 pm — 1:45 pm
A Tribute to Ray Dolby
Audio Engineering Society
Originally hailing from South Africa, Lawrence has over 20 years experience in the professional audio industry. From early days, working out of analogue reel-to-reel tape based recording studios, to today’s computer based studio systems. Lawrence also has many years experience in ‘live’ concert sound and theatrical sound design.
After arriving from London in 2003 he served as the Head-of-Sound for the Cork Opera House until stepping down in 2010 to return to college to complete his Masters degree in Music technology through the CIT, Cork School of Music.
Lawrence now works as a freelance audio professional engaged in live sound engineering, IVR voice recording studio in Dubai theatrical sound design and running his recording studio on the Sheep’s Head peninsula where he lives with his wife, Kirsty and their three children.
eaching is one of Lawrence’s greatest passions and, having trained many sound engineers from the ground up, is pleased to announce that he will be running a 2-day ‘Introduction to Sound Engineering’ course at the legendary West Cork music venue Connolly’s in Leap on the 3rd & 4th of November. For anyone interested in the course please feel free to contact Lawrence directly.