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Recording Matthew Ryan’s Certainly Never

Tales from the vault

may-dayIn the mid 90s, I had the pleasure of recording Matthew Ryan’s Debut album “Mayday” on A+M records. We recorded the record in NY, LA and Nashville using some of the finest recording gear available. We used 2 inch tape for the whole record, as most people did then. I used lots of equipment to get a very rugged natural sound but the biggest example of this was the song “Certainly Never”.

Matthew and I talked about the production on “Certainly Never” and he wanted a very room like, no frills sound for the song. At the time we were recording at Bearsville Recording Studio and I had access to the finest microphones and gear around.

The track consisted of Matthew playing piano and singing and Dave Ricketts playing Stratocaster (I believe) across the room about 20 feet away. Keeping with the spirit of the song, I took one AKG 414 and put it into the figure 8 pattern. I had Matthew and Dave play half the song, then I moved the mic a bit for vocal piano blend (still using the figure 8 pattern) and adjusted Dave’s amp volume a bit. I then had them play the song again. Was it perfect? No… Was it the right vibe?….. I believe it’s one of Matthews favorite on the Record. The lesson here is? Don’t over-think.

What are the best Speakers for my Home Recording Studio?

Auratones

Hey Jim…..What type of speakers should I get for my home studio?

Well now we’re into a debatable topic.
 

In my opinion when you are purchasing speakers/monitors for your home recording studio, you’re looking to find speakers that fit your minds ear. In other words, when you play a mix you’ve heard a thousand times and everything sounds as your mind remembers it sounding, then you’re close. If you put on something you know, and start hearing things you never heard before, that’s probably not the best speakers to mix on.

You see, your goal is to find speakers that are neutral enough, that when you take your mix elsewhere e.g. (your car, Headphones, other stereos, P.a.’s etc.) The mix should sound similar on all speakers.

Example… If you buy really bass heavy speakers cause you love bass, then you go home and mix on them, your mix’s probably won’t have the same amount of bass in the rest of the world. Make sense?

Genelec Speakers

So my advice is to listen to speakers either at a store or a studio, and put on music that you’re extrememly familiar with. If The mix sound like you remember it , your looking at a pair of speakers that may fit you. Everyone hears things differently, so a $400 pair of speakers may be better for you than a $4000 pair and vice-versa.

Jim, do you ever use headphones to mix? Typically,I don’t use headphone’s for levels or frequency evaluation, but I do use them for checking Reverb and delay panning and making sure the left and right volume returns are balanced on certain things.

 
Hope this helps….ROCK FULLY…..
 
 

What are the best Speakers for my Home Recording Studio?

Recording with or without effects

“Jim, Should I record with effects like reverb or delay on the track?”

recording-with-effectsAs a Music Producer and audio Engineer, this is another question I get frequently. Typically, the answer is no, but it comes down to personal taste.

Personally I record a lot of my guitar effects thru the guitar amp as if the player is performing live. Why? Because I LIKE THE SOUND of guitar effects thru the amp while the guitarist is cutting the track. “But Jim, then you cant change it”. Correct, but I LIKE IT…..so I have made a production decision.

That being said, my preference is to record vocals dry with no effects and adjust them later according to the mix. I do however record vocals with some level of compression. The amount of compression I use is dictated largely by the genre of music the track is for. Pop music is very compressed so I’ll use some compression while tracking and maybe a bit more when I mix. When recording and producing a Jazz record, I will use much less compression while tracking as this genre dictates that.

A lot of keyboards have built in fx. Again, If I like the sound, I’ll use it. If I don’t, I’ll have the player remove them.

When recording Bass guitar, I’ll usually take a direct line straight from the bass and maybe a line from the amp so I can add dirt or distortion if need be. Both of these will get a bit of limiting (high ratio Compression) and I will blend the two later.

When recording Drums, I rarely ever use delay or reverb while tracking. BUT I use a fair amount of compression on the overheads and rooms. Why? Because I love the sound of compressed drums. I will also put a bit of compression on the Snare and kick when tracking. You need to be very careful with this as snare compression can pull unwanted hi hat into the snare mic. We will pay very close attention to mic placement so we usually don’t run into the bleeding hat problem.

A lot of how I record is based on my opinions, preferences and experiences. Some engineer/producers prefer to do all effects/ compression at mix. I do a combination of both. The point is, if you love the effect or sound ….record it. You may not get a chance to get it back later.

Hope this helps, Jim

Recording with or without effects

Music Producer – What is a Music Producer and What I Can Do For You

As Your Music Producer, my job is to

1. Guide you through the process of turning an idea into reality .
2. Help you reach your maximum sonic potential as an artist.
3. Reach this Potential in a calm constructive efficient manner by utilizing my many years of experience as a Music Producer, Audio Engineer, Mixing Engineer and Song writer.

 
The following is an example of my process when working with a Singer/Songwriter. The process is tailored for each project in that all projects are unique and have different demands. We will discuss the following points in our first preproduction meeting and a course of action will be set from there.

Key of Song
Song Arrangement
Lyric Review
Target Audience
Budget
Use of Appropriate Musicians
Appropriate Recording Environment

We will begin by discussing what you are and what you want to be as an artist. Every artist and project is different requiring different techniques and thought processes. Deciding upon the appropriate process for you as an artist in preproduction helps create a more creative and productive environment throughout the recording process.

Review your Songs, Lyrics, Arrangements and Key


Song Key – The right key for your voice is essential. Just because you wrote your song in A major doesn’t mean its the best key for your voice or the instrumentation. You just might sound better in a different key. Again, this seems obvious but is often overlooked or unexplored.

Arrangement – Sometimes you have performed a song so many times you can’t hear it any other way. I’m a fresh set of musical ears on the project. I’ve had several successful projects that thought their pre chorus was the chorus or vice versa . It’s a great asset to have an extra set of experienced musical ears to make sure that all options are not overlooked. Having said that, a good producer won’t change your song for the sake of change. We change only for the betterment of the song.

Target Audience

Over the years many artists have brought me projects that were started with other producers and soon went a direction the artist never intended. This is usually a producer making his record and not your record. Nothing wrong with that, just not right for you!

This usually occurs when great care was not taken in the preproduction stage. Vast amounts of time and money get wasted by not addressing as simple a detail as target audience. For example, you discuss with me that your audience would be similar to Allison Krause’s audience, but your song is put together in a more dance/pop fashion. This will be addressed in preproduction as well a as how your song should be treated in order to reach your target audience.

Over the years I have produced records in a vast array of styles, from Punk to Pop, Rock to Reggae, Country to Classical. I understand the musical properties intrinsic to these styles and how to achieve them for you. If I don’t know, I won’t do your project. It’s that simple! Your producer needs to be your partner in this journey.

Budget

Part of the producers job is to make sure your project stays on budget. We will discuss exactly what it will take to finnish your project before we start and set the budget accordingly. The budget can change during the course of the project but not without it being discussed first.

There are several different ways a producer charges.

By The Hour
By The Day
By The Song

It is important that this is set up front. I have a very good idea of how much time should be allocated to each phase of your project. As long as we are clear up front, there will be no surprises for anyone.

A producer is also entitled to a royalty percentage if your music is to be released nationally or worldwide. This rate differs from producer to producer and comes from the net sales. This will be negotiate up front if applicable.

Appropriate Musicians

I have a vast network of players and programmers that are genre specific. It takes time to develop such relationships and to have access to the right people for the right job is crucial. I’m not going to bring in an authentic punk guitarist to play a country song. This may seem obvious but more often than not this is overlooked. Having a strong network of musicians is a must for a good producer. I have such a network and so will you.
Music Producer Pack

Recording Environment and Recording Equipment

A lot of Music Producers such as myself have a background in audio engineering as well as song writing and performance. This means I want the right creative environment for your music and the necessary equipment to make it sound right.

A professional recording studio typically has a large selection of studio microphones, preamps, studio software and other professional recording equipment. Recording equipment is expensive and usually not feasible to buy for a home recording studio. Use of a professional recording studio is usually the best option.

That being said, with the right recording gear at a home studio, you can typically record vocals, guitars and do your programming if needed for budgeting reasons. What ever environment we choose, I will be there as your producer.

Making Music and the Creative Process

Each project is different and so is the creative process for each. As an Artist myself, I am very comfortable talking to you creatively. Let us not forget, this is an artistic endeavor. Lets say you wanted to convey yearning in the verse and relief in the chorus or you wanted really aggressive tracks against sensitive lyrics. This should be discuss before we start the recording process.

As your producer, I will know how best to create the sonic environment in which to achieve the mood you are looking for as well as how to best treat your vocal accordingly. Again every project is different. We will find what is right for you.
 

Music Producer – What is a Music Producer and What I Can Do For You

 

Record Producer Jim Ebert:

One of the many Producer deals Jim has to offer-The Red Room Producer Pack at Cue Recording.

Hire Jim for Your Next Project

Contact Jim

Music Producer Jim Ebert

Keep it real

Washington D.C. Music Producer Jim Ebert’s tip- Keep it real.

The records you have grown up listening to, took a good amount of time to record, possibly weeks per song. Unless you have a huge budget, that scenario doesn’t work I alway’s suggest a song a day, if possible. I’ve Produced Major label stuff in this time frame. Groups or Artist’s will often come in expecting to get way more done than possible. i.e. we’re really tight , “we should be able to do three song’s….oh yeah…and we want it to sound like the Foo Fighter’s last Record”. This is not a reasonable goal. Getting the right performance, sound’s, arrangement, setup, etc….takes time. When anyone listen’s to your music, they don’t care if it took you you a day or year or how much it cost’s. They only know whether they like it or not. So, when your putting together your project, allocate enough time to do it well….there’s no point in doing it bad.

I’m accepting one-on-one Music Production Student’s for next year

I’m accepting one-on-one Music Production Student’s for next year.

This is a Virginia State Certified Course

http://www.centerforaudioengineering.com/2011/01/17/music-production-become-a-music-producer/

Virginia State Certified Music Production Course