What is the Difference Between a Vocal and Instrument Mic? And Can You Use One in Place of the Other?

What is the Difference Between a Vocal and Instrument Mic? And Can You Use One in Place of the Other?

February 15, 2018

Although they may look similar, not all microphones are created equal. Similar to choosing a particular guitar or amplifier, your choice in microphone is often a crucial factor in the overall sound. However, microphones are generally much simpler pieces of gear. Across all their different forms, their construction and function remain the same: to pick up sound in the air and convert it to an electrical signal.

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The Sound Tech's Emergency Kit

Essentials - The Sound Tech's Emergency Kit: Part 2 of 2

February 13, 2018

A well-appointed emergency kit can save you major headaches on gig night. In Part 1 of this series we looked at some really important tools to have on hand. Let's look at the rest of the well-appointed Sound Tech's Emergency Kit:

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The Sound Tech's Emergency Kit

Essentials - The Sound Tech's Emergency Kit: Part 1 of 2

February 09, 2018 6 Comments

There are few businesses that are less forgiving towards failure than the music industry. Every musician is drilled with a 'show must go on' mentality from the beginning, and that is because promoters and venues are notoriously unforgiving when the band can't deliver. While you can't prevent problems from cropping up, you can increase your readiness to solve them quickly and to avert disaster on the gig. But in order to do that you are going to need some basic tools and you want them very close at hand. So, what should you include in your kit of essential tools? Let's take a look at some stuff that can really make life easier in those tight spots when you're really under the gun and failure is not an option.

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Sound Essentials: Understanding Indoor Environments

Sound Essentials: Understanding Indoor Environments

February 07, 2018 4 Comments

A significant majority of music gigs are held in indoor environments. In order to achieve the best possible results indoors, it is helpful to keep some important fundamental principles in mind. Here, in no particular order (because they're all very, very important) are some things you should always keep in mind when mixing sound indoors.

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Wireless Mic Systems - Pro Tips for Best Performance

Wireless Systems - Pro Tips for Best Performance: Part Two

February 02, 2018 1 Comment

In Part One of this series we learned how to optimize your physical setup to get solid wireless performance. Now let's learn how to get your levels and frequencies dialed-in to perfection for optimum results!

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Sound Essentials: How to Succeed in a Small Venue

Sound Essentials: How to Succeed in a Small Venue

January 30, 2018 5 Comments

Mixing sound in a small venue requires forethought, awareness and planning as well as execution. There are some basic elements of live sound in a small room that you should always consider beforehand: How large should your system be, and what instruments should you mix through it? Where are the best places to set up your speakers? How will you handle monitoring? How much volume can the room handle and what are the management's requirements? Here is a basic primer to get you started on the way to getting compliments instead of complaints in those smaller venues.

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Subtractive Mixing for a Cleaner Mix

Subtractive Mixing for a Cleaner Mix: Part 3

August 22, 2017 3 Comments

How to Save Sonic Space by Putting Less in the Mix


In Part 1 and Part 2 we discussed Subtractive Mixing and Subtractive EQ. As you learn more about using these techniques, you'll notice certain commonly occurring conflicts between instruments. Sometimes you'll encounter instruments that span more than one range. Your snare drum has both a thick low mid aspect and a bright upper-mid crack that end up competing in different families. Similarly the kick drum has a deep thud in the bass register and a crucial tap in the mids that defines your impact. In these cases the critical upper midrange band is usually narrow so you can use a deep cut with a parametric EQ set for a high Q-factor to surgically unmask the tap. Your low band will also benefit from subtractive EQ on the competing part.

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Subtractive Mixing for a Cleaner Mix

Subtractive Mixing for a Cleaner Mix: Part 2

August 18, 2017 3 Comments

Using Subtractive EQ to Carve Out Space in Your Mix

There is a special tuning, usually reserved for the studio, where a six-string acoustic is tuned to the octave notes of a 12-string. It is quite odd to play and sounds ridiculous on its own, but it is always used together with a regular six-string in standard tuning. The two instruments play in octave unison to create a lush 12-string effect. Dubbed the Nashville tuning, it is especially flexible in the recording studio. The Nashville-tuned guitar occupies a frequency range with relatively little competition, so it cuts through the final mix at very low levels. The six-string guitar is mixed in a typical fashion. Because the Nashville guitar doesn't have any bottom octave strings it doesn't mask or muddy the six-string like a traditional 12-string would. The two instruments are not competing because they occupy different frequency ranges and the result is a sparkling clean mix with great definition. Subtractive EQ functions on the same principle. 

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Subtractive Mixing for a Cleaner Mix

Subtractive Mixing for a Cleaner Mix: Part 1

August 10, 2017 8 Comments

The engineer and I had just spent several hours balancing rhythm tracks but the bass guitar was still not out front enough. I asked for more bass, but he turned to me and said, "That's as loud as we can get it." He reached up and hit the solo button on the mixer for the bass channel and pointed to the meters. Sure enough, all on its own the bass guitar was right on the verge of overdriving the board. But when those other instruments were turned back on you couldn't hear it. It was the first time I'd ever seen a visual demonstration of the limits of ever-increasing volume in the mix. The bass was as loud as we could get it without distortion, but the other instruments were masking the sound. And I had just learned a lesson that was useful far beyond the recording studio.

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Wireless Systems - Pro Setup Tips for Best Performance

Wireless Systems - Pro Setup Tips for Best Performance: Part 1

July 11, 2017

A wireless system for your guitar, mic, or in-ear monitor can really open up your onstage experience. No longer tied to your amp by cables that can tangle and snag, you find yourself free to move anywhere on the stage and you can focus on putting on your very best performance. But as Spinal Tap's infamous Nigel Tufnel discovered, few things are more frustrating than a wireless system that isn't working as intended. When you set up your wireless just the same as the last time and it isn't working, you might start to feel like invisible little gremlins are out there messing with you. Fortunately, there is no such thing as gremlins and just like everything else on Earth, your wireless operates in accordance with the laws of physics. There is a reason the system isn't working, and the better you understand it the better your chances of avoiding performance issues with your wireless systems. In this series we will be learning the basics of setting up a wireless system and discuss ways to stop problems before they happen. 

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Side-Chaining: Harnessing Your Compressor for Better Mixes

Side-Chaining: Harnessing Your Compressor for Better Mixes, Part 2

July 03, 2017 4 Comments

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the basic concept of side-chaining along with a couple of the most common applications. In this segment we'll learn about more specialized uses of side-chaining and how to set up your system for side-chaining.

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Side-Chaining: Harnessing Your Compressor for Better Mixes

Side-Chaining: Harnessing Your Compressor for Better Mixes, Part 1

June 27, 2017 3 Comments

The concept of side-chaining is nothing new; studio engineers and mastering specialists discovered long ago how to use one track to control others in the mix with this method. But what is side-chaining and how can it be utilized to get a better mix? Sometimes it is desirable to create a powerful mix without forcing the vocals or more subtle instruments to compete for sonic space. By using the solo tracks to control a compressor on other or the rest of the tracks, the engineer seeks to maintain a relatively uncompressed mix that automatically "steps out of the way of the solos." Subtle side-chain applications are intended to enhance the separation of instruments in the mix without drawing the listener's attention. More dramatic applications can significantly alter the feel of the song and these often become part of the sounds themselves. 

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