Audio production tidbit – Tune the guitar here. The way I do it. Accessible and lazy

Monterey 6-string guitar
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Tune that guitar by ear

I do not like tuning guitars. I dislike guitar tuners even more. They are rarely if ever created for blind people. so I tune the damn thing by ear using this very file. Thought I’d share. Have fun playing. This is for basic tuning of E A D G B E.

File generously created by OffTheWall a.k.a James.
Download Right click and choose save as if your browser is being stupid.

Monterey 6-string guitar
Monterey 6-string guitar

Audio production tidbit – Archived – Sonar for the blind – BypassBoost11 plugin window – fine-tune the inspector values

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Boost 11 tip for the pedantic

Boost 11 is a really great sounding Master bus compressor / limiter that comes with Cakewalk sonar. I use it in most every mix. it is not too drastic, is easy to set, and is one of few plugins I couldn’t be without in my productions. Mostly on the final stereo out but also sometimes on a drum bus, pre stereo out, or as drum bus paralell compression. Try it some time. Be gentle with it, but the serial compression might just give you exactly the sound you want. But I digress.

It actually is not all that hard to use even out of the box. For a sighted user it’s most likely nothing at all to it. Just drag the sliders with the mouse and you are done. But that’s not really interesting if you can’t see the slider or whatever knob may be in the plugin dialog. What we will do here is use the inspector while using JSonar and Freedom Scientific Jaws to set the values. Those who changed over to NVDA and it’s Sonar application that is currently under development, can use the exact same method.

The problem with Boost11 and it’s parameters is the difficulty to set exact values. When using JSonar and HotSpotClicker the method is normally as follows:

Open the boost11 dialog. Hit Ctrl 1 to access the output slider and Ctrl 2 for the boost slider. These can then be adjusted in large increments using PgUp and PgDn, in small increments using the up and down arrows. Pushing left and right arrow keys when on one of those controls is supposed to speak the current value. This does not always happen. Depending on the version of HotSpotClicker and JSonar used, the behaviour can be even stranger. In my own setup for example, once a value is changed a virtual mouse-click using numpad slash reads the value. After this the Boost 11 window has lost focus and I must Alt tab back to it.

After setting the desired value; Shift plus Alt plus P is supposed to activate the preset edit box. Once focused there, type a preset name, tab to the save button and hit enter. This sometimes actually works. This is by the way the way presets are saved in most of Sonar’s plugin windows.

Tip: If focus does not go to the edit box and you get a message about hotspot failed, no panic. Do this: Use the Jaws cursor, navigate to the preset edit box and double click it. Now you can type a new preset name and save it.

I’ve started to really get annoyed with this and feel that the Boost11 dialog is simply way too unreliable. It seems to me that values i set sometimes do not stay where I set them. So i got tired of it. This is the system i use now.

Start the inspector for the track where the plugin has been inserted.

Hotkey: i.

In the inspector display list; uncheck everything except the FX. That’s the easiest way. Specifically for this exercise you need to Set the inspector to display FX, set the module option FX item to show assignable controls.

Now we are ready. And since all projects need to have some type of goal, our goal will be to set the output value to -0.01. It’s as close to 0dB as we can get without it being there. So that is our goal. Let’s hit the numbers now.

One small increment i.e plus or minus keys on the numpad, in the inspector equals a 0.19dB change. One large increment i.e left and right bracket, equals a 0.80dB change. So just by following the numbers, this is what we can do:
When focused on the output field: Start at 0.0 and hit minus on the keypad. It will give the numbers as follows:
-0.19

-0.38

-0.57

-0.76

-0.94

Hit right bracket and end up with -0.14

(This is most likely as hot as i would ever want to go, but this is not about me. 😀
So we move on with the minus key:

-0.33

-0.52

-0.71

-0.90
hit Right bracket and end up with -0.10
And so on.

Now, we are getting closer. Without giving you the actual numbers, here’s what to do to reach -0.01dB.
Four hits on minus and one right bracket gets -0.06
Another four hits on minus and one right bracket gives us -0.01

TaDa!

For those wondering: can’t you just type in the value?

The answer is that in many plugins it can be done. For some reason, Boost11 values cannot be edited in that way.
In any plugin that will allow this there is a rather annoying glitch though: When entering a text box, typing the value and hitting enter, the inspector disappears. Well, actually Jaws loses focus and the inspector needs to be turned off with the hotkey I, and then turned on again with hotkey I. When back in the inspector one needs to navigate back to desired field. Not a big big dieal, but it is annoying as hell.

You ask: But what about automation and midi controllers?
I say: Sure. but that’s not for this post. We want exact values. there can be various reasons why an exact value is needed. Not very often, but as far as a limiter goes, it can be very useful.

Hope this helps and have fun mixing.

JennyK –

Audio production tidbit – Archived – Sonar for the blind- JSonar- Inspector- template plus bonus rantt

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Tutorial – A quick look at Sonar, JSonar, and the inspector

Updated!
For some reason the audio for this episode is gone. I never even noticed. That’s just so ME. LOL. However, the audio boo is still around. And that was after all the point of this post. So enjoy this Boo from the past.

Listen to it here: Jenny K Brennan AudioBoo, where I show how to set up the inspector in Sonar and just showing the basics on how to use the track equalizer and how to find plugin parameters.

JennyK

Audio production tidbit – Touching on Subtractive EQ

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Subtractive EQ — my 2012 revelation

Cutting frequencies you don’t like instead of boosting those you do. Seems perfectly obvious to me now, but not too long ago I didn’t have a clue.

Subtractive EQ Will Make Your Mixes Better

Graham makes a great case for why that is, on The recording revolution
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Once I figured it out, I totally overdid it. Probably still do. Actually, I most certainly still do. But years of not understanding why there was little clarity in my music created some sort of void that I’m trying to fill now. One other thing I’ve realized while changing the way I EQ, is that this method makes it all but useless to mix on headphones. At least that is my experience. I’m working with monitors now for the equing, until I have a static mix. Then I go crazy on the three dimensions of the mix. At that point I use headphones as I feel I have control over panning and depth. And it’s what I’m comfortable with. I find it’s a good idea to not touch the equalizer as I do. So far it’s too risky for me as my ears are still not quite used to the new phones and gear.

So, my advice to you is: Read Grahams article! Excellent stuff!

JennyK

Audio production tidbit – The compressor – Beginners, have no fear.

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Compression

Compression has always been the big mystery for me personally, and many others. It’s one of those magical things that can both make a horrid sound amazing, and any sound utterly useless if used badly.

There’s almost limitless resources these days to learn about it, and at times an article can make your head hurt. So I say it’s better to start with the basics. The controls. This I found today because I felt like I had no good understanding of the specific definition of compressor release. Read more about it on Humbucker music — Compression explained

Most compressors have pretty much the same controls:

1. Threshold sets the level where compression starts to take effect. Sounds below the threshold pass through unaltered and only sounds above the threshold
are compressed.

2. Ratio sets the degree of compression above the threshold level. A ratio of 2:1 represents mild compression and means that when the incoming level (that
is, the level above the threshold) rises by 10dB, the outgoing level will only rise by 5dB. Ratios of up to 5:1 are regularly used for vocals and other
instruments, and can pass by unnoticed by the listener if the other controls are set properly. Higher ratios are used for more serious limiting, where
the level needs more severe control. Ratios of 10:1 and higher are nearly always noticeable to the listener.

3. Attack is measured in milliseconds and determines the time taken for the compressor to start working once the signal has passed the threshold level. 
Why have Attack?  Because sometimes if you leave just a hint of attack (say, for instance, a snare drum hit, or a powerful downstroke on an acoustic guitar)
then it sounds a bit more realistic.  Removing too much attack can sound a touch fake.

4. Release sets the length of time it takes for the compressor to return to its normal state once the signal has gone back below the threshold.

5. Gain is provided because compression always reduces the peak level: the more compression, the lower the level of the outgoing signal. This control is
sometimes referred to as ‘make-up’ gain because it makes up the level that is inevitably lost during the compression process.

The best way to learn the compressor is to first understand the controls, find those places online where you can listen to examples. The effect is, and often should be subtle and is very difficult to hear when first starting out. Then experiment. One thing to remember is that a compressor is a compressor. There are hundreds, if not thousands of compressor plugins out there; free and far from free alike. In most cases, and as a beginner in particular, It’s not going to matter which one you use. You will never hear the difference between them. The controls are what they are and a top radio hit and a bedroom recording can use the same compressor and no one will ever know. It’s how it’s used that’s paramount, not the brand.

So, relax, have another beer. Learn how to do it, then do it. Use the compressor. It won’t bite.