Music Fairies

Posted: November 23, 2011 in Music & Slice
Tags: , , , ,

Confirmed Fairies exist, for those who know me, know that I am a technician, I understand the laws of physics and how they are applied and relate to each other. Most of you may not know that I used to be an audio engineer and made a living of running PA systems for music groups in the mid-80s. I have to admit I am an old school analogue freak and feel somewhat outplaced in this new digital era. however I am a digital freak in other things as most of you also know. I skipped a decade or two in the audio world and nothing is quite the same. Please don’t interpret me wrong I see the advantage brought to sound and audio manipulation the digital era has brought with it. but to compare it to other industries, Wine can be made the traditional way helping yourself to some of the newer technologies, or it can be made a chemical process in a cold lab (please my comparison is only a rough one and is only for illustration. I don’t need the wine industry going crazy for the comment). coming back to the point I want to make, music for me is more about an artist or group of artist performing their craft than morphing an original audio track until it is unrecognizable. I know I am extreme in this, and that this is not normal practice and I thank god for that. I am of the conviction that the tone is created at the beginning of the audio chain, the singers voice, the guitarists touch the drums beat. it is necessary to add twitches to the raw audio depending on the source. here I am going to be a bit more precise and talk about guitar specifically electric guitar. the closer to the source that you nail your sound and tone the better, I generally try to get the sound of the amp right so as little as possible editing is needed, so for every song or song part I insist in getting the sound out of the cabinet as desired, this is not an exact science because normally you only have a 3 band EQ on an amp and there may be some bands out there rumbling and squeaking that are best treated in recording that in mixing. that is why I sometimes use a Parametric EQ and even a compressor at the console during recording. I usually mic the cabinets with 2 front mic’s, I will cover my micing technique in another post soon I also use 2 or more Amplifiers depending on availability, the artist and what sound we are looking for. this means a minimum of 4 channels in the console, each amp, cabinet & mic setups provide a signature sound and flavour that can be blended into the recording, if I had more money I would record all channels separately but with the current budget I can’t on this project.

Well that was my surprise on Sunday when Slice and I went down to the studio to get some tracks recorded and found that the settings we had left untouched form the last session where just noise, the amps, the mics, the console, everything was wrong. The equipment was all locked away and nobody has been down there. I no that different conditions of humidity and temperature may affect but this was al wrong nothing matched. I know that the ones used to studios know about the studio fairies, I normally have a setup chart for all my setups, and went over the last setup, nothing had changed. So I set everything back to 0 and started from scratch, from the source to the recorder, one piece at a time separating and blending as I went down every signal path, for over 1 hour until we got the sound we were after. when we finally nailed it I went on to writing every thin down to be sure to save it for further reference. When I crosschecked it with the original setting they were almost identical. with the only difference of volume at the amp and input gain in the console. It was just the playful fairies playing games on Slice and myself. After that we both decided to drop the session and go and get something to eat. another time things will be easier.

My only regret is that I didn’t record the initial setting and compare it with the final, and see what they were up to.

Thanks and enjoy

Ian A. Burt

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