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By David Franz | Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Strategies for using a de-esser to eliminate sibilance

We’ve all heard that annoying hard “s” sound that happens when a vocal track is recorded with a less-than-optimal microphone choice. That high-pitched irritation is called sibilance and it can be found on all kinds of vocal tracks, whether your recorded voice is singing, or speaking words for a podcast or a book on tape. This challenge is very prominent in the recording world, and for anyone recording an individual with a natural accentuation or particular penchant for emphasizing words that contain the letter “s,” a de-esser can be a welcomed friend of the ears.

Also known as a frequency-dependent compressor, a de-esser is made specifically to only compresses certain frequencies that we want it to reduce in volume, and does not compress the rest of the track’s frequencies. For vocal tracks, this usually occurs in the frequency range between 6-8 kHz. When the de-esser compresses the particularly offending frequency, it leaves the rest of the frequencies in the signal alone, which maintains the natural sound of the original performance.

By David Franz | Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Foundations of Audio: Tips for creating groove-based, rhythmic echoes

Well-timed long delays (echoes) are an excellent way to fill in part of a song’s rhythm track. Examples of echo effects can be heard in current electronic music, classic rock, reggae, and many other genres. Where would U2 be without the sound of The Edge’s delay pedals? Where would Steel Pulse be without their delayed snare hits?

The reason echo effects work so well is their ability to stay in-time (locked to the tempo of the song) and their ability to create interesting rhythms that add dimension to the overall sound of a song.

When creating delay effects with long echoes, you can define specifically when echoes are heard in rhythm with the entire song. For instance, you can set echoes to repeat every quarter note or every eighth note. Or, you can get more complicated and create a unique rhythmic pattern by placing the echoes on multiple subdivisions within the groove of the song.

By David Franz | Monday, April 09, 2012

Tips for getting rid of hums, rumbles, and buzzes on audio tracks

Noisy audio tracks are one of the most common problems encountered when producing video. Voiceover tracks, dialog tracks, background noise for a scene, and any other type of audio source may include unwanted hum, rumbles, or buzzes. Having high-quality audio is a major factor in producing excellent video content. So, what do you do if the audio for your video project is subpar and includes a lot of noise? Here are some tips on how to reduce the noise on your audio tracks.

First, it’s important to know that these unwanted noises are actually made up of harmonic tones, and to start reducing these noises, knowing what to listen for can help.

By David Franz | Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Keeping your Pro Tools tracks time-aligned using Automatic Delay Compensation

When you add plug-in effects to your tracks in Pro Tools (EQ, compression, reverb, etc.), your computer needs a little bit of time to process the tracks through the plug-ins. This processing is also not instantaneous. In relation to the other tracks in the Pro Tools session, the track literally plays back a little later than when it was originally recorded. That means, the tracks are no longer time-aligned.

To solve this issue, you can utilize Pro Tools’ Automatic Delay Compensation (ADC). ADC figures out what track has the most delay caused by plug-in processing (including the small amount of delay caused by using busses in your signal routing), then automatically delays every other track to match up with the longest delayed track.

For instance, if your largest amount of plug-in delay equals 1000 milliseconds of delay, then a different track having only 10 milliseconds of delay will actually be delayed an extra 990 milliseconds to align with the other track, so they both are delayed by 1000 milliseconds.

There are several settings for ADC in Pro Tools. Watch this video from the Pro Tools 10 Essential Training course to hear more about the differences between the offered ADC settings.

During a mixing session is usually the time when you’ll need the largest amount of ADC. You’ll likely have plenty of plug-ins that will be causing various amounts of delay on different tracks. Watch the following video to see how to implement Automatic Delay Compensation best in a mixing session.

For more training on Pro Tools, check out Pro Tools 10 Essential Training. If you’re interested in learning more about audio in general, I recommend checking out our Foundations of Audio courses that include our innovative Get In The Mix Pro Tools session files (no Premium membership required!).

Interested in more? • All audio courses on lynda.com • All Pro Tools courses on lynda.com • All Foundations of Audio courses from Brian Lee White and Alex Case

Suggested courses to watch next:Pro Tools 10 Essential Training • Audio Mixing BootcampFoundations of Audio: Delay and Modulation

By David Franz | Monday, March 26, 2012

Adding and formatting staff lyrics in Sibelius 7

Adding notes to a musical score is the basis of scoring your music, but what if you want to add lyrics to your score as well? Whether you’re creating a full score that includes every instrument in your musical masterpiece, or a simplified lead sheet that only shows the lead melody, lyrics, and chord changes, Sibelius 7 makes it easy to add the lyrics.

Usually, when added to sheet music, lyrics are aligned centrally under their respective melody notes. If you prefer, sometimes you can also adjust the font, font size, word placement, and many other elements of the lyrics to create what you consider to be the best presentation of your work.

Watch here as author Jenny Amaya adds and formats lyrics on a score. Navigating the Sibelius 7 ribbon and menu items, she shows you how to lay out multi-syllabic words and words that extend across several notes, and she demonstrates options that will help you make your score look pretty:

For more training in Sibelius, check out Jenny’s courses Sibelius 7 Essential Trainingand Sibelius 6 Essential Training.

Interested in more? • All audio courses on lynda.com • All Sibelius courses on lynda.com • All courses from Jenny Amaya on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Film Scoring with Pro ToolsMark Mothersbaugh, Music ComposerAudio for Film and Video with Pro Tools 9Finale 2012 Essential Training • Pro Tools 10 Essential Training

By David Franz | Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Get In the Mix interactive audio exercise files

Get in the Mix downloadable exercise files in Foundations of Audio: EQ & Filers courseAs part of our focus on audio training expansion, the lynda.com audio segment is pleased to announce the release of a new type of interactive exercise file that brings the author directly inside your Digital Audio Workstation.

In all of our new Foundations of Audio courses, we are now including Get In The Mix interactive exercise files (affectionately called GITMs) that are available to all lynda.com members. GITMs are native, high-fidelity project files purpose-built for your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). The author uses instructional video and audio tracks to walk you through the session or project, referencing listening examples in the DAW timeline. The author shows you how to effectively use digital signal processing plugins such as compressors, EQs, and delays, by leveraging the DAW’s built-in mix automation capabilities. The result is that you can watch as the authors turn the knobs and tweak the settings of plugins in your DAW in real time. Simply download the relevant GITM .ZIP file from the lynda.com website (located in the exercise files tab on the course’s page), open up the 24-bit session file in your DAW, and press play to follow along with the instructor as they demonstrate how to master a variety of audio production techniques.

GITM files are currently available for Pro Tools and Logic Pro users, and we are looking into rolling out GITM files for additional DAWs in the near future. The GITM sessions are free to any lynda.com member and include, in addition to the author-led training, musical material at the end of each session/project file in the form of practice tracks that you can experiment with on your own.

In addition to the Get in the Mix sessions that all members have access to (about 6-10 GITMs per course), Premium members of the lynda.com Online Training Library® also have access to all of the raw audio example files (WAVs) that are used throughout the GITM-equipped course. These raw audio files include listening examples and real-world audio demonstrations that illustrate production concepts, and can be imported and played within any DAW.

For those who don’t want to use the Get In The Mix files within a DAW, just watch the Foundations of Audio course movies within the lynda.com course player like normal. The course movies designated “Get in the Mix” will automatically play the author’s tutorial demonstration, and you can still stop, start, and rewind as necessary (What’s the difference in a nut shell? GITM exercise files are interactive and play in your DAW; watching the course movies designated “Get in the Mix” in the standard lynda.com player just gives you the instruction—no DAW needed.)

Here’s an example of a Get in the Mix movie from chapter four of the Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing GITM-equipped course:

Now—dig in, try them out, and let us know what you think of the new GITM files!

Interested in more? • All audio courses on lynda.com • All courses from Brian Lee White on lynda.com • All Logic Pro courses on lynda.com • All Pro Tools courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Foundations of Audio: EQ and FiltersFoundations of Audio: Delay and ModulationFoundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing

By Elinor Actipis | Sunday, February 05, 2012

Brian Lee White talks about NAMM 2012 and music industry trends

Brian Lee White chats with lynda.com

Brian Lee White chats with lynda.com

We recently held a live Q&A on Twitter with Oakland-based mixer, producer, and educator Brian Lee White (@brianleewhite). White is the author of several audio courses for lynda.com, most recently two Foundations of Audio courses: Compression and Dynamic Processing, and EQ and Filters. In this edited transcript, he shares his thoughts on NAMM 2012 and music industry trends.

lynda.com (@lyndadotcom): How many times have you been to NAMM? Why do you go? Brian Lee White (@brianleewhite): I’ve been going since ’95. In the ’90s, I used to go for my dad’s music store. Now I just go to network and see friends.

David Franz (@undergroundsun):What was the coolest piece of gear you saw at NAMM? Brian: I am really stoked about the UA Apollo. I’m a long-time UAD user and really excited about the Thunderbolt technology. David: Yeah, that definitely seemed to have the most buzz at the show. Super cool stuff.

Simon Allardice (@allardice):Anything (software, hardware, or company) you were hoping to see appear at NAMM that didn’t show? Brian: Good question. The lack of noise about the next generation of Logic worries me a little. It’s been a while since a major release.

David: Do you use an iPad in your workflow? If so, which apps do you recommend? Brian: I do. I use the Neyrinck apps to remotely control my Pro Tools rig, and I have a mic stand mount so I can reach it easily. I also use the GarageBand app on my iPad for song writing. It’s really fun.

David: Seems most iOS i/o devices use the power from the iPad/iPhone connector—possible power problems? Thoughts? Brian: I’ve yet to see any kind of pass-through connector on the peripherals, but the battery on my iPad is really decent. David: Yeah, the only ones I’ve seen that have separate power are from IK Multimedia—great gear and apps!

Simon: Any area (compressor? Guitar sim?) where software still has a long way to go before it reaches hardware quality? Brian: I now mix entirely in the box; for me, we’ve arrived. The speed/efficiency of the workflow makes up for any subtle differences. But don’t get me wrong, hardware still has its uses. I would be hard pressed to work without speakers/mics/pres/etc.

David: What is your deserted-island piece of music gear? Brian: I have everything in my laptop, a whole studio with instruments and effects…I can produce a song from start to finish.

lynda Audio (@lyndaaudio):There’s a lot of gloom & doom about the music industry. What do you see as a bright spot? Brian: There are tons of small companies doing cool things with software and iOS. Web distribution lets them reach the right users. lynda Audio: Who specifically comes to mind? Brian: Well, little outfits like Cytomic and Valhalla DSP make plug-ins that, for me, are best in class and a great value.

lynda.com: You just released a course on EQ/Filters. Why did you decide to tackle this topic? Brian: In my course, I try to get away from the formulaic approach and teach people why and when to use EQ, not just how. EQ is one of the basic tools people think they mostly understand, yet often miss the big-picture thought process.

David: Get In the Mix is a new feature of your Foundations of Audio courses. Can you tell me how they work? Brian: Get In the Mix interactive exercise files (or GITMs) are an entirely new way to learn how to use and “hear” how the tools are working, right inside your DAW. Here’s a more detailed explanation of how they work.

lynda.com: Any advice for those looking to break into the music industry? Brian: Learn how to—and get used to—wearing many different hats. The old paradigm of getting hired at a studio is gone now. lynda.com: Yes, we can all take our learning and careers into our own hands these days.

David: What are you working on now, music and mix-wise—if you can talk about it? Brian: I’m not really at liberty to say right now, but be on the lookout for a major release in the next month or so. lynda.com: That’s the way—preserve a little of the mystery!

Interested in more? • All audio courses on lynda.com • All courses from Brian Lee White on lynda.com • All Logic Pro courses on lynda.com • All Pro Tools courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools 9Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing [with Get in the Mix exercise files] • Audio Mixing BootcampDigital Audio PrinciplesPro Tools 10 Essential Training

By Elinor Actipis | Friday, February 03, 2012

Survival tips for artists and bands: A Q&A session with Bobby Owsinski

We recently held a live Q&A on Twitter with producer and music technology advisor Bobby Owsinski (@bobbyowsinski). Owsinski is the author of the lynda.com course Audio Mixing Bootcamp and many audio-related books. In this edited transcript, he shares his thoughts on NAMM 2012 and music industry trends.

MUSIC CAREERS AND THE BUSINESSlynda.com (@lyndadotcom): There’s a lot of doom and gloom about the music industry. What’s a bright spot?Bobby (@bobbyowsinski): The fact that artists and bands can do so much for themselves without a middleman. lyndadotcom: Can you give me an example or two? Bobby: Promotion via social media, direct marketing to the fan base, and engagement with the fan base.

David Franz (@undergroundsun):You wrote Music 3.0 about this very topic. What are a few key survival tips for artists? Bobby: Make your website the center of your online universe and maintain a single mailing list.

lynda Audio (@lyndaaudio): Any tips for people looking to break into the music business? Bobby: Do anything to work for the most important person in the part of the industry you want to be in. lynda Audio: Even if it means making coffee and copies? Bobby: Absolutely. You’re still learning while doing.

LEARNING AND TRAINING David: You have several new books out and an audio bootcamp course on lynda.com. Do you sleep? Bobby: Working on books is never work, it’s fun. Can’t wait to start if I’m not in the studio. David: What’s the main gist of your lynda.com course, Audio Mixing Bootcamp? Who’s the audience? Bobby: It’s mainly for musicians or young engineers who can’t seem to get their mixes to sound right.

lynda.com: How was it doing your first video course? You can demo concepts in way books don’t allow. For example, the Listening Position demo visually demonstrates how to find the correct position in the room for your monitors. Bobby: Loved the experience.

Simon Allardice (@allardice): With amateur home studios, what’s the usual weak link in the chain—the room? Monitors? Interface? Talent?  ; ) Bobby: Definitely the listening environment, but not having a reference point on what sounds good hurts too.

NAMM AND AUDIO GEAR lynda.com: How many times have you been to NAMM? Why do you go? Bobby: I’m afraid to say how many, but it’s lots and lots. I go for meetings and to see friends more than anything these days. lynda.com: Good point. People can scope gear and learn online, but conferences are still important for personal connections.

Rob Sommerfeldt (@robsommerfeldt): What was the most surprising thing you saw at NAMM this year? Bobby: The most surprising thing at NAMM was the large and enthusiastic crowd. I’d say the recession is over.

 Simon: Touchscreen control surfaces (Lemur, Neyrinck, Smithson-Martin) seem to be on the rise. Are you a fan? Bobby: Depends. Touchscreens can be hard on the elbow and cause a new sort of fatigue. Great graphically, though.

 lynda.com: You have some great NAMM-related posts. What was one guitar or amp you thought was cool? Bobby: The coolest amp was the Milbert GAGA with what they call “unique” circuitry.

David: What was the coolest piece of gear you saw at NAMM? Bobby: Definitely the UA Apollo interface in terms of audio. David: I agree! Finally a Thunderbolt interface, and using UA plugs too.

lynda Audio: You also made time to scope out the “odd and unusual” at NAMM. What were some highlights? Bobby: As for the unusual, I loved the Molecule drums, the stealth piano, and the stained-glass drum heads. lyndadotcom: Ah, the stealth piano that looks like a predator drone. Yes, of course!

Predator-drone styled stealth piano from NAMM 2012

Predator-drone styled stealth piano from NAMM 2012

Simon: Can everything be done ITB [in the box] now, or does hardware still have the edge in some areas? Bobby: For mixing, yes, ITB, although it’s still a matter of preference. More and more old timers are converting to ITB.

David: What is your deserted island piece of musical gear? Bobby: A stainless steel-guitar pick and a Corcedin* bottle for slide.

*A bit of history: In the late 1960s, guitarist Duane Allman of The Allman Brothers Band began using an empty glass Coricidin bottle as a guitar slide. Following Allman, other prominent slide guitarists began to adopt the Coricidin bottle technique. While the Coricidin bottle went out of production in the early 1980s, replicas have been produced since 1985.

Interested in more? • All audio courses on lynda.com • All courses from Bobby Owsinski on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools 9Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing [with Get in the Mix exercise files] • Audio Mixing BootcampDigital Audio PrinciplesPro Tools 10 Essential Training

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