Mix records on crap speakers

I just rediscovered this post I wrote a in 2008 ago about mixing records on small, crappy speakers. I was lucky at the time that Basecamp wrote about it, thus saving it from oblivion when I deleted my website and started over.
I didn’t know anything at the time about backing up websites.

“It’s the very naive producer who works only on optimum systems.” -Brian Eno

It’s unlikely whoever is buying your records has anything better than an average hi-fi, boombox, car stereo, or ipod. I’d bet they don’t have studio monitors.

Recording & mixing solely on studio monitors is foolish. All that low end in the guitar? It’s useless in the small speakers. It’s just taking up frequencies the bass or drums or organs or tenor instruments can occupy. You have to be ruthless in cutting away useless frequencies so the record is loud & jumps out of all speakers. Make the record sound outstanding on little crap speakers since that’s where most people will hear it. I’ve found when I do this it still sounds great on the fancy speakers.

“Some years back I had a lot of success with a pair of Auratones strapped in parallel to a pair of Radioshack speakers. That’s the rig I used for the making of Peter Gabriel’s So album.” -Daniel Lanois

If you consistently have these mixing problems try using small speakers…
-the bass drum disappears in your car
-the vocal level is not where you expected
-the guitars are lumpy in the low-mid
-any reverb or echo is surprisingly quiet
-anything you thought was subtly in the mix is actually inaudible

I haven’t ever bought expensive crappy speakers like Auratones. I just use crappy speakers. You know…. radio shack, bose… whatever.

be good to yourself,

Moving from Waking Studio to stay Uncomfortable in 2014


Cheerful New Year, Everybody!

I’m happy to say I shut the doors and turned in my keys to Waking Studio at the end of 2013.

I’ve always intended to move studios every few years to keep me fresh & uncomfortable. I don’t want to get stuck making the same sounds again and again.

For this coming year I’ll be working out of 4 setups: Kawari Sound, Dr. Dog’s studio called B-Room, my home studio for a lot of mixing, and I’ve built a portable setup of mics and tube preamps to take out to cabins and beach houses for fun remote recording.

How to Use Evernote to Produce Records

The software I use everyday for nearly everything in my life is Evernote. To try and explain what it is… it’s like you’re carrying around a bag and anything you want to remember later or any piece of information you think will be useful you toss in the bag. The moment that got me hooked was when I wondered: …Hey, do I have anything on how they mixed that Amy Winehouse album?“ So I type Winehouse into Evernote and it brings up a photo I took of a magazine article about mixing Amy Winehouse. I had taken the photo on a cell phone and saved it into the Evernote App and since Evernote can scan photographs for words it’s showing me this photo I took with the word Winehouse in the magazine article. Continue reading “How to Use Evernote to Produce Records”

Welcome Joe Bisirri to Waking Studio

Joe Bisirri joined me here at Waking Studio as full time engineer, producer, and studio manager. Joe impressed me with his recording skills, high standards, and sugary personality. A bonus is he’s a great guitarist & bassist with a deep understanding of guitars, amps, pedals and guitar recording techniques.

Joe graduated from Drexel’s recording program in 2008 and has been working as a freelance engineer in Philadelphia at Miner Street and The Studio. When I needed to bring someone on recently he came highly recommended by the other producers in town and we hit it off right away. He’s been at Waking Studio for a couple months and his guitar expertise has already helped enormously on our productions for Toy Soldiers, Ali Wadsworth, The Day Life, Up The Chain, and Song Dogs & The Nightjar.

I’m happy to have snatched him up.


We won 2 Juno Awards!

I found another nice surprise last night: The Sheepdogs Learn & Burn that I mixed won the 2012 Juno award for Rock Album of the year and the song “I Don’t Know” won the Juno for Single of the Year. Congratulations, Sheepdogs.

We had our 3rd record maker meetup at Kraftwork

We had our 3rd record maker meetup March 6th at Kraftwork! We had about 20 engineers and producers show up for this informal bar meetup.
It was a chance to say hi in person and talk shop since most of us spend our days alone grinding away in our studios. I met some good new people and reconnected with some folks I have’t seen in years. We had Jon Low, Ryan Schwabe, Jeff Chestek, Chris Powell, Ben Riesman, Ahmed (last name?), Chris Radwanski, Jeff Zeigler, Matt Ricchini, Julie Slick, the fellah from Studio Crash, Alex and Eric from Doylestown, Kyle Slick Johnson, Josh Jones, and a few more people whose names I forget after several beers… good times.

I make songs & my Dad makes walls

When we moved into Waking Studio it had been occupied for a few years by 2 rap producers. They stopped paying rent and the landlord kicked them out. That’s why the studio became available for me to slide in. All their stuff was still in the studio when I toured it. They had these two lounges filled with couches, TVs, and video games. I set up my drums in their recording booths and they sounded awful. Awful. Once the black leather couches and old big TVs were removed I setup the drums in their “lounge” and it sounded fantastic! I couldn’t believe how lively these rooms were. My father and his friend Tom came down and we built a new wall to block the lounge (now my drum room) off from the kitchen. The lesser rap producer’s TV room became my piano and acoustic guitar room. We use their recording booths sometimes, but these two former lounges sound fantastic. Live and exciting.
Oh, and since they finished the wall by 11am they very kindly ripped out the bathroom’s old toilet and sink and put in a new modern one and built a kitchen sink and cabinet. Very skilled gentlemen.

Handmade Sound: my sound design exhibit at Art In The Age

 My first exhibit is running until November 27th. We opened it on November 4th and had about 500 people come and play the exhibit that first evening.

I had been thinking about designing some gallery exhibit ideas when I met Daniel Abraham on the flight home for SXSW. He was in a good mood despite having had a trash can full of beer bottles dumped on his head by the band Trash Talk, who he was filming. I was in a good mood because I’d just had a great time at SXSW.

He asked me to design an exhibit about sound and recording. Easy enough idea, back then… Continue reading “Handmade Sound: my sound design exhibit at Art In The Age”