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Hello, I hope you’re doing marvelously well. As ever, please subscribe, hit the notification bell, which is below the video down there, and you’ll be notified when we have a new video.

As ever, please, you can go to producelikeapro.com, sign up for the email list, you’ll get free drum samples, free multi-tracks, free videos, and you’ll be notified of all of the wonderful things that we do. We have an amazing academy in there. There is so many people in there that help each other, it’s ridiculous, and every single month, we get new multitracks to mix, we do mix critiques, everybody helps each other, everybody posts their settings.

If we something and we’re raving on about somebody’s vocal sound, they will post their settings and their plugins. It’s an incredible place. It’s a wonderful forum, and a great place to share information, and everybody in there is incredibly helpful.

Alright, FAQ Friday. Frequently Asked Questions. People like it when I say “FAQ Friday,” I don’t know why that is. Anyway, shall we start?

How would you recommend cleaning monitors? Just a wipe or compressed air?

Both. I mean really, it depends on the surface, and when you say monitor, you probably mean the — well, there’s lots of things. Let’s just talk about gear in general. Okay, when it comes to things like consoles here, the reason why you might use compressed air, or a miniature vacuum cleaner, or what we push for here is a paintbrush and a vacuum cleaner, because you’re pushing the dust away, and then you’re vacuuming it up.

That’s how every studio I’ve ever been in has — they literally go along with a paintbrush, and I’m not talking like a huge brush like this, I’m talking like a small paint brush, and then go, [mimics vacuum cleaner] and they get a vacuum cleaner and they do that. You like that? [mimics vacuum cleaner]. Special effects. I expect to see an EDM song now with the [mimics vacuum cleaner] in it.

Alright, and then the other thing is compressed air will just blow dust out of equipment, but you can use that, definitely, but be aware, that’s good for like, pots, that’s good for when you get actual access and you can get inside something, you can use the compressed air. If you’re just blowing it over the top, all you’re doing is blowing dust up in the air. Your vacuum cleaner is your best idea. Vacuum cleaner on a console with a brush.

And this is relatively clean at the moment. Eh, Eric, you could definitely clean that screen there.

As far as like, the monitor’s concerned, I mean, most people will use either a glass cleaner on it — of course, you know, rubbing alcohol is quite popular on most things, because it evaporates so quickly. Probably rubbing alcohol first, you know, because like I said, it evaporates super quick, and you can get rid of stains very, very quickly, and it doesn’t leave a moisture or a residue that some glass cleaners might.

So rubbing alcohol is very popular as well, but I say vacuum, paint brush. You can wipe down, but use rubbing alcohol. Some window cleaners might be okay, but only on glass. I wouldn’t put them on your console or any of your other outboard equipment personally. I would avoid that at all costs. I would keep it to vacuum and dusting.

Do you usually print the overheads/room with a sample, or maybe print to a different track, or not print at all?

That’s a fantastic question. If you download my drum samples, go to producelikeapro.com, sign up, get all the drum samples. Few of them have the overheads and the room mics and the main sample. Not everything, but some of them, there’s the wood snare in there, which is from Joe Perry’s studio, The Boneyard, and I like that, and I made a thwack snare sample before I was using a transient designer, which is like a [mimics snare transient], which of course you can get with a hardware transient designer or plugin transient designer, and I made that by using a Waves R-Compressor, and I just — the attack and release times were set, so it grabbed it really fast, but it allowed just the initial transient to go through.

The reason why I mention it is because I had the overheads in there, and the rooms as well, because I liked what it was doing to those as well, having that, [mimics snare room]. So initial attack, and then there’s, [mimics room], of a room, because it was squashing — because of the way that ADSR works, like attack, decay, sustain, and release, the way it worked is the initial attack got through, and then it grabbed it, and the decay and the sustain and the release were set really, really slow, so it just kind of held on to it.

So as soon as it got to it, it kind of went, [imitates room]. As opposed to, [imitates short room]. You know, it made the room feel bigger and longer, and it was pretty special.

So often, if I’m creating samples, I will use the overheads and the rooms, as well as the individual sample, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about blending it how you want it to be. I mean, how do you want to hear it? Are you using the snare sample to have something close, or are you using it for the rooms? I in many situations have done a bit of both.

What do I mean by that? Well, I’ve taken a close snare sound that I love, and used a room from a different snare sound. Remember, both Andy Wallace and CLA don’t use the close snare sound to create reverb. They don’t use — well, particularly, they don’t use the kick to create the reverb. If they’re going to use reverb, they use it from something else. They want their close snare to be up front, and they want their decay time of their reverb to be generated from the snare sample.

Andy Wallace in particular uses that.

So no hard and fast rules. If you’ve got the options, you can play with them using the overhead snare sample, and the room snare sample. Play with them and see what you get.

Do you sometimes use an analyzer to get the root note/fundamentals of the bass drum exactly?

I have been using the PAZ frequency analyzer for whatever, 15 years or however long it’s been out?

Now there are many plugins that have that feature built into it. Eric Valentine turned us onto a great one that we’re going to talk about in a video very soon. There are a lot of really, really great plugins out there that have those built in. So yes, for the kick drum in particular, not necessarily, because if I’m building a track, I might be pushing towards 40-60Hz on the kick drum, even if it wasn’t initially recorded with that much 40 or 60. If I’m — somebody gives me a track to mix and it’s supposed to be like a big rock track, like, [imitates drums], and they’ve recorded it with a 120 bump, I’m not going to favor the 120 bump.

If they’re trying to do metal, [imitates drums], it’s going to be 40 and 60Hz down there, and a clicky kick. So it doesn’t matter that their kick is boosted at 120, I’m not going to be keeping it. That’s right where I want the low end of my guitars to be, it’s right where I want the low end of my bass to be, it’s a horrible frequency to have boosted on a kick in metal.

However, in some forms of music, it’s perfect.

So there’s no hard and fast rules. If you’re recording a very open sounding band, again, there’s maybe one guitar, one bass, drums, maybe piano and a vocal, or an acoustic guitar and a vocal, you might be able to shelf it a little higher. You might be able to boost at 80, 100, 120 on a kick drum. Really depends on what you want the relationship to be with the other instruments, but in a very, very dense rock mix, I mean, EDM, you’re going lower.

So it’s not about finding a frequency and boosting it. If it’s inappropriate, even though it might be the fundamental of the kick drum at 120, in an EDM track, unless it’s like a [mimics EDM music], unless it’s like an 808, that’s a horrible frequency to boost.

So no rules, again. There is no rules. You know, finding a fundamental is good in many situations, like in guitar tones, like finding something that you want to emphasize, but it’s also a good way to find something that is wrong and then boost something that is right.

That’s why having frequency analyzers, even like the PAZ one, or having plugins that have them built in, is a wonderful tool.

What’s your favorite song off “Night at the Opera?” Mine has to be, “Death on Two Legs – So Raw.”

Wow, thanks for bringing it up. I remember this question coming up. The whole of A Night at the Opera to me is a complete masterpiece, and you don’t have to agree, it’s okay. I will still love you anyway. But you know, it is the big game changing album for me. It’s the one that my father bought me when I was eight. I grew up in a very classical household, where when the Night at the Proms was playing, for any of you that know what that is, he would take the Sony — big old Sony stereo system that we had, and put the speakers either side of the TV, before they did 5.1, before they did whatever, and it was a simultaneously broadcast on Radio 3, for those of you from the UK will know what I mean, BBC radio 3, simultaneously broadcast on either side of our crappy old black and white TV.

So we take this little TV here, put the speakers either side, turn the volume down on the TV, and crank it. I mean, blastingly loud, and we’d hear, [imitates music]. You know, Land of Hope and Glory, and Nimrod, oh. I can cry thinking about it.

Anyway, so my point is, I grew up in this massively musical household with no musician. My dad was not a musician. He just loved music.

So I like this sideline. I like this tangent. Because this tangent is important.

You just have to grow up loving music. I have no family that plays music. I’m the first person in my family that I’m aware of that was a musician. The first person. So it’s not like this gene, and this genetic born with it. Heck no! I was not born with any musical talent whatsoever, but I loved it, and I had passion. That’s the number one reason why I have this channel is because I believe it’s all about work ethic and just applying yourself, because I had friends that picked up the guitar and listened to Queen, A Night at the Opera, and started playing things, because they had a developed ear.

I love Rigby Otto. He’s fantastic, and it’s great that he has an incredible ear, and he teaches his kids that, and all of this kind of stuff, but I didn’t have that. I learned the hard way, and it was hard, and it wasn’t quick, and it wasn’t easy, which is why I still do ear training to this day. Why I still learn every song that I’m working on, that I know it, that I know the vocal melody. It’s all about application. Hard work and perseverance will beat anything, any day. I am the proof in it. That’s why I have this channel, because I know it’ll work.

So a Night at the Opera, as I was saying earlier, I love every song on it, and some days, it’s Bohemian Rhapsody. A lot of times, Bohemian Rhapsody, because that’s the song that blew my mind, but Keep Good Company. [sings Keep Good Company]. All of those harmony guitar parts that are mimicking clarinets and saxes, and all of that kind of stuff, a masterpiece. Go back and listen to it. [Sings 39].

Listen to that. It’s a masterpiece. Prophet Song. I’m in Love with My Car. You’re my Best Friend. Hairs are standing on end by the way, look at that. Thinking about it.

You’re my Best Friend. One of the most played radio songs of all time. An absolute masterpiece. And then there’s the end of the record, after you’ve got Prophet Song on first track on side two, you’ve got Bohemian Rhapsody, and then at the end of the record, it plays, “God Save the Queen,” all on guitar. It’s a masterpiece. It’s a production masterpiece.

And there I am, an eight year old kid, dad’s oversized Sony headphone that were probably this big on my eight year old head, listening to it obsessively. Staring at all of the photos. Looking at all of the guys with the long hair, going, “I want to be that.” You know.

So anyway, my answer is I think every song, depending on which day of the week it is. I’m in Love with my Car, I mean, listen to the guitar parts. And the way it fades out with those guitars swelling around at the end of it, whew! I mean, it hits on all levels for me. Great songs, amazing production, and amazing performances. The musicality on that record is incredible, because we all know, a great song can be — pass me an acoustic.

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This is a great song.

[acoustic guitar and vocals]

Okay, Working Class Hero. It’s in A minor.

[acoustic]

And G. Like, 99% of it. I think he hits an E Major at the end or something. I can’t remember off the top of my head. The point is, it’s a great song with two chords. It’s one of the first — I think it’s the second song I learned. The first song I learned was Gallows Pole, because A Major, A Minor, A Major, A Minor, G, E, D.

I love these simplistic songs. You do not need to be a virtuoso musician to play Working Class Hero, and yet it’s one of the greatest songs ever written. Great melody, simplistic, with wonderful lyrics. Amazing lyrics. The same thing could be said of Gallows Pole. It’s a traditional song that was arranged by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and it’s beautiful, and it’s wonderful. It’s one of my favorite songs.

The point is, the Queen album does it all. It has the incredible songs, but it has the musicality that I love. So it challenges me on every level. And you know, while I have these conversations with my peers, they all nod their heads like, “Yeah,” it hits on so many levels.

It’s a big reason why Queen is the number one legacy artist on Spotify. It’s the number one reason why they get more Spotify plays than any other artist that’s over 25 years old, because they have these big, big songs. And it’s wonderful.

Anyway, thank you for asking that question, and thank you for listening to me go on my diatribe about Queen one more time. [laughs] It’s wonderful. It’s great to be passionate about music. You can feel that. And it doesn’t matter if your band is The Stone Roses, it doesn’t matter if your band is Muse, it doesn’t matter if your artist is Lady Gaga. If you love that music and it’s why you do music, if it’s Jay Z and it’s why you do music, that is valid, and that is important. Just love what you do and love music.

Is some outboard EQ a reasonable bandaid solution to treat a room while I save up for, or build, bass traps and baffles?

That’s a big question. We’re going to do something with SonarWorks, of course very, very well known for providing software that solves a lot of these problems.

Now, I think we’ll sort of table that motion to see how it goes. I do know that Barry Rudolph, who I respect greatly, who writes for us, as you know, and writes also for Mix Magazine, and Music Connection, he’s a really good friend, and very, very smart guy. He also teaches room acoustics and room treatment at MI.

So — and he has a whole video on it floating around here. Sorry, up here. Dum, dum dum, will be a link to that video, so check it out. I think that there are solutions like SonarWorks, but do I think that obviously, you know, I have bass traps in the ceiling up here, John Brandt is somebody we’re talking to about putting — flying something above here for the mix situation, but we had this room rung out. We had Genelec come down, they ran the software, it’s pretty darn even. There’s only a bump at about 110, because we have a huge console here. Remember? Mark Endert was talking about the bump of the console?

But you get used to it and you understand how your room sounds. So the long and short of it is ultimately, yes, guys like SonarWorks have figured this out, and we will be reviewing it and talking more about it, so hold fast for that. In the meantime, check out the John Brandt video up here, check out the Barry Rudolph video up here, check out the different videos we’ve done on room treatment between those two guys.

And there’s more coming up about it, but obviously, yes, you can use EQ, but remember that it’s only going to work in the listening position. So don’t expect to go and sit on your couch in the back, because you’re going to have different problems there. Wherever you put the mic to ring out the room is where it’s going to sound the best. So you’ll put the mic here, sitting between the speakers, around about this area.

So everywhere else, it’s not going to work for. Once you get over to the corner of the room where there’s a big bass trap, it’s still going to be a bass trap. You’re still going to have a lot of bottom end going on in there.

So you understand what I mean. The EQ will work, but it will sculpt it for the ultimate listening position. So as long as you’re aware of that, then I think it will work, but definitely where you can, treat your room. Check out the videos up here on the discussion, and also Barry talking about some of the stuff that he’s built himself.

Do you often automate sends or effects directly?

Absotutely. All the time. I mean, the reason why I might automate a send as opposed to the actual effect itself is where I have multiple things sending to the same effect, because even in this world of powerful computers, you can start running out of CPU power, and also, if I’ve got a huge, long, decayed reverb, or a short reverb that I’m using for an effect, why do I need to create it every single time? Why do I need to create it every single time? I mean, if I have — quite often, I’ll have a huge reverb, like a [imitates reverb].

Massive reverb. And we might want that for a snare, just on a break going into a chorus, so it’s like, [mimics song].

Down beat, chorus, out. Or the tail end of a vocal going into a bridge.

[imitates vocals]

You know, and then off goes to the bridge. So I might — there’s two instances already on one mix that come from two different sources. So what I’m saying is I’ll automate the send. So I’ll just — on the vocal, I’ll turn it up. The send. Just for that word, and then I’ll bring it down again. Then just for the snare drum on that send, and both of those are feeding the same long decay reverb, so that’s when I automate sends and not the reverb itself.

But there’s other times I might automate the reverb, and that might be more about not automating the volume of the reverb, but automating within the plugin. Like at the end of a song, a few times, I’ve done like, [imitates reverb], and I’ve made a reverb get bigger and bigger and bigger than it’s initially set to, because I’m extending the decay time of the reverb. You know, and that’s an automation effect of the reverb. Or I might change the EQ of it so it gets darker, so it’s like, [imitates EQ automation].

Another nice trick. Take the low pass and sweep it down over the reverb so that it gets darker. So not only does it decay, it also goes, [imitates EQ automation]. Nice effect. That’s when I might automate the reverb directly.

Another great one that we can talk about is having the band fade down, but having the reverb grow. So what I’ll do is I’ll send from the mix — I’ll send from the mix to the reverb, however, the band will be, you know, fading down, and the reverb send is growing, and I’m in pre-fade, so even though the band is coming down in volume, the reverb send is coming up, because it’s in pre-fade.

So there’s many different instances. There’s no one size fits all, but predominately, the main reason for sending from tracks independently is when I’m using multiple tracks for one particular effects.

Are there any recording production books you would recommend?

Absolutely. Number one, I really love Modern Recording Techniques. It comes up all the time. There will be a link underneath here, probably something up here dancing around, but we’ll have a link here to all of the things that I’m talking about.

I love that book. It’s been around for a long time, it’s really, really good.

Next up, the Jeff Emerick book. Love this book. There’ll be a link to it as well. Here, there, and everywhere. It’s a really, really good read, and it’s a good understanding, not only of some technical stuff, because it’s not entirely technical, but just interacting with artists and how to make music.

Next up, I love the Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, that’s why I have it up there, so if you’re a songwriter and you want to know a little bit more about that side of it, get Shelly’s book, again, another link. My personal, personal favorite books, outside of obviously my friend Dennis Dunaway’s book, Ace Freely’s book, and of course, Dick Wagner’s book, I love all of those books because they’re sort of a horror story of musicians, telling you where it was, especially in the 70’s. Just great reads.

My personal favorite book is Phil Ramone’s book, and it’s called — I believe it’s called Making Records. Another link to that. Why do I love that? Because it’s one of the best insights of what it’s like to be a producer.

And not just a producer like guy in the back of the room going, “Hey man, sounds cool, dig the vibe.” No, a real producer, a guy that understands the little things, from getting a cup of tea for Barbra Streisand, to sitting in there and rewriting the chart on the day with the arranger, while the orchestra is sitting there waiting. Everything.

Everything from the subtlety of preparing the studio for the artist, getting the headphone mixes, all the technical stuff, right through to ranging and everything in between. The psychology of making music. Of recording music.

Phil Ramone’s book. And I was blessed to meet Phil just before — very shortly before he died. I was working with Jack Douglas, we were mixing an Aerosmith song with the great Al Schmitt at Capitol Records, and Jack and Phil are old friends from New York, and he said to me, “Phil Ramone is in the next room doing a string date. Would you like to meet him?”

And I was like a nervous school kid. I was like, “Uh, yeah?” And I went in and I met Phil Ramone. And we walked in, and Phil was with the arranger, holding a huge chart up, and he had a pencil behind his ear, and he pulled out the pencil, and he was like, holding the arrangement here, and he was making notes on the arrangement like this, and telling the arranger, “You’ve got to do this,” because the arranger was I think the conductor as well, and he was rewriting in the things that he wants changed, and I turned to Jack and I said, “That’s a real producer.”

And Jack Douglas laughed and went, “Oh yes.”

Alright, on that note, I hope you have a marvelous time recording and mixing. Please subscribe, hit the notification bell. There’s a link up here to all of the things we’re talking about, below as well, you know, the different books, and of course you can go to The Academy and you can sign up for a 14 day free trial. You get free multitracks, you get free drum samples, you get some free videos, and you get to see inside The Academy and meet all of the other wonderful people in there, and the incredible forum. You get multitracks every month to download, sometimes two sets of songs, and you get an amazing place where people interact with each other.

Have a marvelous time recording and mixing, I’ll see you all again very soon!

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at producelikeapro.com.

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