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Choosing the right Audio Interface for your Studio

by calbert anderson on 03/09/15

So what’s the best Audio Interface you ask? Well I depends on what you are trying to accomplish as well as what you can afford.  In reality, there really is no universally acclaimed “best” audio interface.  There is so much information out there that you can get overwhelmed.

If you are trying to control your costs without breaking your bank account, these two audio interfaces listed below will provide you with the most bang for your buck. Next to choosing a computer, choosing an audio interface is the second most critical decision you will make when trying to get your studio up and going…so don’t skimp too much here.

Presonus – Audiobox iTwo – The Presonus Audiobox iTwo is great for mobile use as well as for the home studio. I own one of these and use it in my second studio as well as when I need to go portable. It is USB 1.1 powered and to your computer easily so it works well with virtually any PC or Mac, not just newer models. It also has just the right features for your basic recording needs—neither more nor less.

The AudioBox iTwo USB offers excellent audio performance, thanks to two dual-purpose front-panel mic/instrument inputs with sweet-sounding Class A mic preamplifiers and professional-quality, 24-bit converters that sample at up to 48 kHz.

Price: $159.95

Presonus - FireStudio Project – If you need more inputs, the FireStudio Project is definitely the way to go! This audio interface is the heart of my studio and it’s extremely reliable! What I like most about this audio interface is that you can daisy-chain it with a second FireStudio Project, or with any interface in the FireStudio family, which will provide you with up to 52 inputs and outputs! The FireStudio Project features six mic/line inputs and two mic/instrument inputs, each with high-headroom and some real nice sounding Class A solid-state preamps. The two mic/instrument channels even have insert loops so you can add outboard effects.

The FireStudio Project's rear panel has eight General Purpose outputs and a pair of left/right Main outputs. All on balanced, ¼-inch TRS jacks. The audio source for the Main outputs is the same as that of General Purpose outputs 1 and 2 (DAW Playback 1 and 2, by default). The difference is that the output level of the Main outputs is controlled by the FireStudio Project's front-panel Main volume knob.

The FireStudio Project also includes stereo S/PDIF and MIDI In and Out. Basically, with this audio interface, you will get all of the connectivity you are likely to need.

Price: $399.99

5 tips for Song Collaboration

by calbert anderson on 02/27/15

Bouncing ideas of a work colleague or friends can often help fine tune a great idea, or simply reveal an idea to be a dud. For songwriters, sharing a musical idea, lyrics or melody is never as easy as asking someone for their opinion about an idea. Creating a song is like exposing your soul and your emotions are amplified with the positive or negative feedback. It’s kinda is like people commenting or criticizing your child or parenting skills. These fears can often hold people back from the collaborative process in songwriting.

1) Listen

Listening is probably the most important one and the hardest to practice. When you get hyped about an idea, a title, a guitar lick, drum loop… something, you get so excited about it and want to get it going.  You may feel that if you push hard enough on any of these ideas you’re going to get your song done but it would not be “my” song right? Big difference. Being open to another writer (or writers) input can make a huge difference. It’s the only way you’re going to get something bigger and better than yourself! Talk with a co-writer and listen.

2) Be prepared

This was mentioned in the first point but there’s a difference between coming in guns blazing with your idea and holding back for the right time to present it. Sometimes you hit a wall with a co-write and no one really has anything to offer. That is a good time to pull out your idea.

3) Leave Room

Be sure and leave room for the other writer. By this I mean if you present a full blown idea or track, the other writer has no room to contribute. In fact they may resent it. Another way to approach this tip is to look for a writer who does what you don’t. You looking for a ‘sum greater than the parts’ and the opportunity to learn from someone.

4) Discuss the Split

Whenever it’s comfortable, discuss how the song will be split. Lots of songs have been written where artists and other songwriters and what you think is a “given” may not be that at all. In Nashville however, it’s pretty much an even split with whoever is in the room. In other situations it can be different. It is good practice to introduce the topic as early as possible without sounding like a pain in the ass! If your song gets some interest later and you haven’t sorted out the split, it gets extremely difficult to sort it out on the back end. See our Standard Song Collaborators Agreement.

5) Your Attitude is important

Don’t be the ‘Pain in the ’ass’. The songwriting world is smaller than you imagine. People know each other and share the information freely. If you’re good, show up prepared and on time and you’ll have people seeking you out. If you’re precious and high maintenance you better be a genius.

 

6 tips for choosing a Graphic Designer

by calbert anderson on 02/27/15

  1. Ask to see work samples.
  2. When reviewing the designer's portfolio of work, note of the degree of harmony in his or her work.
  3. Request a list of professional affiliations.
  4. Take a bit of a risk. 
  5. Look for versatility. 
  6. Read the graphic designer's contract.

"How do I choose the right recording studio for my project?"

by calbert anderson on 02/27/15

Choosing the best studio for your production can be very confusing, with all the hype and misinformation floating around out there. Your choices range from small home studios to large pro studios, all claiming to be the perfect studio for you. So what do you actually get for your dollar, and what is the best route for you to go?

Here are some tips to help you make a good choice. In my 40+ years of recording experience, these four items have always been a part of making the right choice. They are listed in order of priority..........

1. Experience level of the engineer.

This is number one for good reason. A more experienced engineer will do a better job faster than a less experienced engineer. Your engineer will have a greater impact on the sound and cost of your recording than any other variable. Look for an engineer with the most experience working on the kind of product you will be recording (i.e. song demo, radio ad, release music album, etc.) The best equipment in the finest studio will only sound as good as the engineer will allow it to.

2.Suitability of the physical facility

Here is the second most important criteria. Is the facility large enough to accommodate your needs? Your music group must be able to fit and work comfortably in the studio. Check out the acoustic design for your style of music. A huge live room may be required for orchestral sessions, while a smaller dry room is generally used for typical pop music recordings.

Be sure there is a relaxed, pleasant, creative environment in which to work. Remember, you may be there for days on end, so the vibe of the surroundings can have a big impact on your mood.

The acoustical sound quality of the control room and monitoring system is critical. If this item is not up to par, your recording may sound great in the studio, but not translate well into the real world of car stereos and boom boxes, which is critical to the success of your project. A facility that has been designed from the ground up as a recording studio will be more accurate and sound better than retro-fits in existing buildings, homes, or garages.  However, if the building, home or garage is properly acoustically treated it can still be effective. 

3.Quality and Quantity of the Recording Equipment

Surprised that this is not number one? The fact is that a very experienced engineer can make a great sounding recording with not-so-great equipment.

Don't be misled by the huge list of equipment offered by many recording studios, as you probably wouldn't need to use 90% of it anyway. It's kind of like taking your car to the mechanic. He has a huge tool chest with hundreds of specialized tools, but will probably need only a select few to get the job done.

The staples? The best sounding recordings include the use of high-end mike preamps, a selection of major name microphones, and some classic and high-end outboard gear. Nowadays, the lion's-share of release-quality recordings include the use of hard-disk recording and editing systems like MOTU Digital Performer, Studio One, Reason, Abelton Live or Protools.