Sound production tech for brass players

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by simoncroft, Nov 28, 2013.

  1. simoncroft

    simoncroft New Friend

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    I've recently been helping a trumpet player get to grips with a computer-based recording/editing system, and it occurred to me that the whole digital music-making environment is the polar opposite to playing brass.

    From an operational point of view, a trumpet has three 'controls' - plus that vitally important 'interface' the mouthpiece - but the quality of music created depends on not only an artistic sensibility but co-ordination of probably hundreds of muscles simultaneously.

    A computer-based recording system typically has hundreds of features and adjustable parameters, none of which necessarily require a great deal of co-ordination to manipulate. But it can be a very intimidating environment, especially when new users are confronted with manuals that are factually correct but don't take account of what they really want to achieve.

    As someone who has worked professionally in brass musical instrument making and hi-tech sound production for decades, I feel more than a bit slow in asking this question: Do forum members feel comfortable or uncomfortable with computer-based recording? And have there been things that were glossed over in user manuals, where you needed more input?

    I'm curious about this because it's easy for people who write manuals (that includes me) to make assumptions about the user.
     
  2. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    I am not sure I am going to give as much detail as you might be looking for but here are some thoughts
    There are a million manuals about recording available .. to me the key is finding the ones that are user friendly in getting to what you might not be able to remember ... meaning since I don't live in a studio there are all kinds of settings I just can't remember. I have a few go to manuals
    A sound recording book with eq settings for different instruments ... huge
    Protools for Dummies ... the actual Protools manual is really complex and I only use it in a pinch.
    As far a digital recording goes .. I love it. The plug in feature is fabulous and I have access to many add-on modules that elinate the need for a million cords and a patchbay. The ability to save a recording setup (eq, delay, compression is much simpler that writing down all the knob positions). I also have a microphone emulator that can take any listed microphone and modify it so it has the characteristics of a much more expensive microphone. It won't make my $100 SM-57 sound like a $3,000 ribbon mic but it certainly can make it sound and respond better then it normally would.
     
  3. Rapier

    Rapier Forte User

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    I'd bet that most men don't read the manuals. Any computer music progs I own have to be simple and intuitive. If I need to read a manual then it won't get used much, if at all.

    Trouble with most technical manuals seems to be the "assumed knowledge" approach that prevails.
     
  4. simoncroft

    simoncroft New Friend

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    Thank you both for your replies, which I've read and reread with considerable interest. It seems to me that there is often a considerable difference between a user manual offered by the developer/manufacturer, and 'how to' books from independent publishers.

    Too many developers seem to think it's OK to give you an accurate description of all the features of their product, without stopping to explain why you might want to use them. The better 'how to' books are orientated to teaching things the user will probably want to achieve. There is room for both approaches but I've read too many manuals that tell me everything about the product, but leave me knowing nothing more about how to use it.

    Ideally of course, all programs would be so intuitive that no manuals were required. (Did you ever pick up a trumpet in store, then ask the sales assistant for the manual...? Of course not!) But I'm struggling the think of any stand-alone applications that fit that description. Rapier, could you give me an example of a music program you have used with little or no need for the manual? Perhaps I should stop trying to write better manuals and start throwing the products back at the developers until they make them easier to understand!

    I agree with coolerdave that plug-ins are great. I just wish I wasn't such a sucker for those 'special deals' I get emailed. (And as I typed that, the Waves Black Friday Promo hit my inbox.) Best of all, if you buy an emulation of a piece of classic analogue gear you already know your way round, then you truly don't need the manual.
     
  5. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

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    Interesting thread to me, I hope you get a lot more input.... good thread and subject.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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  7. simoncroft

    simoncroft New Friend

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    Excellent suggestion! There are some very good tutorials on YouTube. As with the Wink Sound one above, many of them are aimed at Pro Tools users but still well worth watching even if you use Logic, Reason, Cubase... because the same production techniques apply to all DAWs. (Maybe the specific function you need is somewhere slightly different on your program, but once you've seen and heard the concept, it's normally easy enough to figure that out.)

    The Pro Tools Expert series on YouTube is also very good. I watched the Pro Tools Expert 'show and tell' video on the BFD3 drum system and learned more in 20 minutes that I had reading the manual over maybe two weeks.

    For those of you who watch the Wink Sound video above on side-chaining processors but aren't sure how you might use it for other music styles, here's a little trick for tightening up brass sections during rapid passages. Assuming you've recorded each instrument in the section to a separate track, select the one with the phrasing you'd like the others to match. Create an aux mix for that track, which you'll use to side-chain a noise gate (as the video does using a compressor). Set up a sub mix and assign all the brass to it. Put the noise gate across that sub mix and select the aux mix from your 'controlling' instrument as the noise gate side chain. Now you'll find you can define the attack and, perhaps more importantly, decay of the whole section using the noise gate. While it won't turn a train crash into a masterpiece, this technique can add a little extra precision just where it's needed.
     
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  8. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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  9. Igotsoul4u

    Igotsoul4u New Friend

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    I have worked as a professional recording engineer for thirteen years and I am self taught. I practically read the entire protools manual and it was an extremely useful experience. When everything is on the line, it is really bad when you need to do something and can't do it. My depth of knowledge gave me a fasttrack advantage and I eventually worked with Digidesign to give them feedback on new products, specifically the ICON. The good thing is that most programs have the same features, just different organization and interface. When I jumped into Logic and Cubase I didn't really need the manual except for a few weird quirks here and there. If you are working for yourself then you need to know enough to get your music down. I definitely don't like the "cheating" aspect of digital audio, but when I am up against a deadline and I can copy and past notes or line up rhythms all the tricks come in handy. The only other shortcut is to hire a person like me to give you lessons which I do all the time. Its easiest this way, especially if you take good notes that you can refer to on your own.
     
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    I have a friend who does this - he does it both from the perspective of best practices for recording in general (microphone selection and miking techniques) and how to set up things in the DAW. He's adept with ProTools, but he's been a longtime user of Digital Performer, and I believe he still does all of his main recording with that. He's also my bandleader, and he's the kind of guy who will buy a new digital sound board, and within about a week pretty much knows everything there is to know about how to run it and get the most out of it. I tend to be the kind of guy who does things mostly on the surface - I learn what I need to know to get the task at hand accomplished. He's more like you - he'll know the manuals backwards and forwards, and I've always been amazed at his ability to amass that amount of informationa nd knowledge, retain it, and be able to use it in a meaningful way.

    Getting back to the subject of the thread, I prefer reading things that are set up from a best practices point of view for the recording tasks I'm trying to achieve. For example, I wanted to record some drums, but recording drums can be problematic for a number of reasons. There are good and bad ways to set up microphones, and there are good and bad ways to set up things like gating, compression, reverb and EQ, there's the matter of microphone selection, and then there's the subject of mixing to consider. I've found a few articles online that have been a gold mine of great, useful information that was set up as a general knowledge and baseline kind of thing, and set up specifically for someone trying to record drums. One article set up just about everything with general guidlines for how to position mics, general compression settings for snare, kick, toms, overheads and room mics, general EQ settings for the same, and general reverb settings for the same. There were also some basic guidelines for mixing, as well as adjusting for certain types of desired sound. At the end of the day I think that there has to be some flexibility for each situation - I don't think I've ever done any of my home recording projects the same - something has always been tweaked to get a desired effect or sound.

    I think that the reason that one article was so valuable to me was because it gave me some basic guidelines, or "rules" if you will, for recording drums that I might not otherwise have been able to come to on my own, and it enabled me to get recordings that sounded pretty solid - something I would be happy to share with friends and family and not be embarrassed about how it sounds because it sounds pretty good.

    I've used both my friend mentioned above, and the internet, to obtain some fairly specific information for just about every recording I've done. Most manuals seem to give generalities about things like compression and reverb, but when I go looking online for information, I want something more specific - if I'm recording vocals, I want to know general guidelines and settings for that. Same goes with horns and drums. I don't want to have to fumble to find something acceptable - I want things like the article on recording drums. That article gave some pretty specific settings on things like compression and EQ, and while I did wind up making small adjustments, the information provided in the article got me 95% of the way there.
     

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