Okay… so after Joelle and I listened to Natalie P.’s mix on Monday night, we felt that the bass guitar had to be pulled back. Of course, when I was trying to look at how far to pull back the bass, I may have gotten a little overambitious with it because I didn’t quite get how much was too much. I got my answer in the car this morning. I heard no real bottom. That’s not good because now it just her voice and guitars against a very weak drum set and no bass guitar. So now I’m going to have to bring it up the bass and kick a db or so… just enough to shine through.
At least I can say that I have now had both extremes on the song. So, the trick will now be to find a delicate balance. I will have to put aside my feelings and try to mix this thing objectively. I have to carefully listen to the song and see where the bass has to fit. If I have to carve a few more frequencies out, so be it. The trick will be finding where. I may have to thin the guitars out a bit to give the illusion that there is more bass. Funny how our ears work that way.
All I can say is, let’s hope it works.
As I listen to the results of our summer recording sessions with Natalie P. on my iPod, I am truly feeling that I am in the presence of a real star. She is an amazing songwriter and singer and I can truly say that I was blessed with being able to arrange her music and record her voice (and her guitar) along with enormous honour of producing and mixing her song. It’s not my work… it’s hers. I just worked with her to help her be at her best and portray her at her best. But in the end, it was all her. No fancy tricks. No pitch correction. Just Natalie’s talent!
She gave me a card last night stating that Joelle and I were a blessing on her life. It feels more like the other way around… I am the one who is blessed by Natalie by getting the chance to work with her. I got the chance to be her producer, engineer and even a back-up band where needed. If anything, I feel like God is giving me another chance at music. Even if I don’t make it big in the industry, I still get to be a part of something far bigger than me. There’s a huge blessing in that. Besides, someone like Natalie deserves to be a star. She’s proven it and if it ever does happen, I hope that Joelle and I have the opportunity to be a part of it.
Like I said, she’s a real talent! She’s something this starved music community needs. And I feel blessed to have been a part of it at this time.
Okay, I’m probably rushing the mix that I am working on for Natalie P., but time is not of the essence as she is going back to school in the states very shortly and I wanted to get at least one more track with her. The thing is, and I let Joelle listen to it, was that in one part, I’m getting way too much mud in the song. I’m almost thinking that I am going to have to scoop a lot of the bass out in order to make it work with the drums. I may have to remove a bunch of the compression that I already attached to the bass. I think it may be contributing to the mud. Heck, I have to remember that this is not a heavy metal song. The bass probably needs more room to breathe.
I already noticed that I had a lot of drum room and ambient channels that were totally muddying up the song, so I made a decision to pull them back. Also, I’m almost thinking that I have way too much tom-tom bleed in the other channels. One of the toms just totally booms out and I know where it is happening. Therefore, I need to get rid of it. I was hoping to be able to let Natalie hear the song, but I am almost embarrassed about it. I know that I shouldn’t be, but I am. At least I know that I can fix it. But, it’s just disappointing that I am getting way to over-enthusiastic about the mix because I am bringing in a lot of muddiness where it shouldn’t be. I definitely need to cut some stuff out of it. Heck, I already cut a lot of bleed out of the kick channels to the point where it won’t trigger the gate that I put in. I may have to do this with the snare track as well.
The good part is that Natalie sounds like a star in the song. Her voice rises above everything else. Funny enough that I have been so picky about her voice that I spent a ton of time EQ’ing it so it sits right in the song. Not to mention that I took her background vocals and made them to blend so nicely with her vocals. The distressor emulation really gave her harmonies a shine that sounded amazing. Now, why I can’t do the same with the drums? Let’s see how tonight fares, after I get some tracks with her.
Anyone who has read my life’s testimony online on Facebook knows that my encounter with God in a tiny gas station in Brookville, Ontario (which many probably have never even heard of) is nothing short of freaky to us human beings. If you haven’t read it for some reason (most people don’t care for other people’s testimonies… secular world these days), at least give it a read for the freak factor alone. Don’t worry; reading it doesn’t make you a Christian. Heck, reading the Bible doesn’t make you a Christian any more than reading Moby Dick makes you a whale. But, even for me as a believer (a Jewish one at that), I find it way beyond freaky! It still freaks me out today. After all, we’re talking about someone coming up to me at a time I desperately prayed for a sign, and giving me a Bible and telling me the “God told me to give this to you!” We’re talking about a gas station out in the middle of nowhere.
And it gets freakier from here…
We had some company over at our house on Monday night and one of the persons over was a good friend of Margot’s. Margot’s friend is not only a great pianist, but is also the daughter of a pastor. Well, we were talking about our freak encounter with God and she goes, “that was my dad”. I’m practically reliving the moment all over again. Joelle had to be sure, so she has Margot’s friend make a phone call to her dad to ask her about the encounter at a gas station. He asked, “was it in Brookville?”. Right away, I knew it was him. She tells her dad, “it was Margot’s dad that day”. I got on the phone with him, and was trying to hold myself back from freaking out.
He’s been there all along and within arms reach and I never knew it. Margot knows them rather well. Now, Margot knows him as the man who saved my life that day. He came to my rescue when I needed it most, just by obeying God’s will that day. If I couldn’t be like Jesus, I would definitely want to be like him: attuned to God’s will and is obedient to His will. Perhaps, I could then have some more freaky encounters with God… I’d go for that!
This past weekend, I had been dealing with the most annoying time with BFD2 and Logic while trying to mix down my latest song. I was trying to export the drum kit pieces and processed channels out of BFD2 and when I tried doing a spot check on the tracks, all of them were distorted as hell. I’m not talking too loud clipping distortion. I’m talking about shoving something into the bit-crusher, early Atari game type of distortion. I tried everything from adjusting the volume levels, removing all effects, and changing the sample rate. Nothing.
I was up in arms, so I reported it as a bug with FXPansion, the developers of BFD2. I told them that I tried everything. They couldn’t reproduce the problem. It was still happening on my machine. I didn’t have much time to spend on the bug because I had a recording session and wanted to finish getting some vocal tracks done. Sure enough, after the session, I switched back to my song and as soon as I changed the sample buffer size and start tweaking my mix, Logic crashes with BFD2 in it. It crashed hard!
I restarted everything, and booted up Logic once more, checking to see if there was any damage to my song. I played it once, and twiddled with a few faders. I then quit Logic and called it a night. Last night, FXPansion asked me for an audio sample. As always, I agreed. I then proceeded to create a new batch of audio files over all of my old ones that were distorted (so I could make it small enough to enclose). What do I find? No distortion! All my tracks are pristine audio quality! I figured maybe I don’t have it running long enough, so I would let it run the entire song and I can cut out a piece. My entire drums tracks for the song exported in one shot with no distortion. All of my distorted files were gone and thus left my bug groundless for the time being. I had to tell FXPansion what happened, and now we’re all scratching our heads.
I likened this to going to the doctor when you are sick, and once you get there, you are feeling better. Go figure!
There is one good thing that did come out of this, 24 or so tracks of drum audio which are distortion free! I can mix the way I love to mix, rather than wiring it though Logic. I get more punch from the audio tracks. All I can say is that I just didn’t get it when I wanted it.
… instead, I wasted my stupid time trying to prove to some inexperienced producer that snare drums vary in pitch and tonality when struck using various velocities at the centre of the head with a drumstick. This is something that I already knew. How did I know this? I have a snare drum. I don’t play it, but I do listen to other drummers that do play it and I listen carefully to how it sounds. Let’s face it… unless you’re striking a rock, the vibrations are going to change because striking the surface various the tension and thus the vibration. Only rocks and other non-elastic stuff will not vary their tension that easily when struck with the human force behind a drumstick.
So, why the waste of time? Because this person was claiming that FXPansion’s BFD2, the drum software that I use heavily, is varying its snare too much for his genre. Heck, BFD2 varies its snares like a regular snare does. This dude has no concept of dynamic control and processing. Once everything starts getting compressed and EQ’d, things will even out. This dude obviously has no idea of that, and he believes that we’re all wrong. Heck, I already have the proof and it was something that I already knew.
The dude was obviously a waste of time and I have music in me that I want to write. I should have known better because this was as close to mud wrestling with pigs as I want to get. If he wants to show his inexperience, then he can waste someone else’s time. I certainly don’t have to prove things to him, because he just doesn’t have a grasp of what music production is all about, and I certainly don’t have any patience for someone who believes he’s right and the we are all wrong, especially when they don’t know what they’re talking about.
A couple of days ago, when Apple released Mac OS X 10.5.4, a lot of us had noticed a considerable performance boost with both Logic and BFD2. So, as a result, I decided that I was going to try and take this a bit further. Currently, I have been able to work with the latest revision of BFD2 with effects on with an I/O Buffer Rate of 128 samples. After the update, I decided to see if I could pull the buffer rate all the way down to 32 samples.
Well, I managed to get it down to 32 samples with the I/O safety buffer on for about 90 minutes, which allowed me to track an acoustic guitar along with a bunch of vocals. It was amazing because I never got such a good response out of Logic and BFD2 as I did. However, like I said, it lasted for 90 minutes. After that, Logic had a big crash. After restarting Logic, I found that I could no longer access 32 samples with BFD2. I got popping and sputtering and overall core overloads, which is really a big feat to do because I am running with 2 Quad-core Xeon processors at 3.2GHz.
Funny enough, I was able to get back my 32 sample buffer rate after clearing out all system and user caches. I managed to work with Logic and BFD2 for one song. As soon as I switched songs, I got the same problem again, without the crashing. I did do my duty and file things off as a bug with the developers. At least I have steps to show for it.
If anything, a 32 sample buffer rate would be so ideal because latency would be next to nothing. I probably could freeze the BFD2 track while I am recording my vocals and then track with the 32 sample buffer rate because the rest of my setup will totally allow it. Then, when I am done, push the sample rate up to the 1024 max that I use when mixing down.
Hey! There’s a thought! No wonder I have grown to love blogging… it gives me a chance to just ramble and find a diamond in all of the dirt.