Gear Features

LIVE LESSONS

LIVE LESSONS
LIVE LESSONS Our experts reveal their strategies for achieving pristine live sound Sounding great live is every act’s goal—and it’s a challenge nearly all musicians face, from coffeehouse singer-songwriters to touring arena bands. Achieving perfect live sound can be complex, taking into account everything from room acoustics to microphone selection and placement, as well as the limitations of the house PA system. But with so many variables... 

COMMANDING THE MIX

COMMANDING THE MIX
COMMANDING THE MIX Nailing the right mix for your music takes skills, gear and discriminating ears  You’ve penned the perfect songs, recorded flawless tracks, and you’re well on your way to creating a masterpiece. But what about the mix? Snagging that ideal sonic blend can be tricky business, and the stakes are high. The right mix can mean the difference between fulfilling your dreams of revealing your musical brilliance to the world—or not. For... 

KEYS TO SUCCESS

KEYS TO SUCCESS
KEYS TO SUCCESS The world of keyboards is vast and complex, so how do you choose the right one for you?   From the classic analog synths of the ’70s to the cutting-edge digital workstations of today, keyboards have been an integral part of music for nearly half a century. Nearly every genre, including pop, rock and jazz, relies on keyboards in the studio and onstage as a mainstay instrument. And scoring and production for TV and film wouldn’t... 

CUTTING THE CORD

CUTTING THE CORD
CUTTING THE CORD Wireless sound offers freedom to roam the stage,but is it the right option for you? Anyone who’s caught a major live act in the last decade has seen and heard wireless technology in action. From stage-diving rock stars to tightly choreographed pop groups, wireless mics and instrument systems have redefined the live music experience. Long gone are the days of performers tethered to the stage with restricting cords. But is wireless... 

BACK TO THE FUTURE

BACK TO THE FUTURE
BACK TO THE FUTURE As musicians flock to the warm sound of analog, what are the best recording choices for you?  Years ago even the most intrepid musicians couldn’t make an album without renting a pro recording studio and all the pricey yet required accoutrement that went with it. Today the process is fast, easy and cheap—anyone with a laptop and a few accessories can create an album in a bedroom. Digital technology has changed everything. Or... 

THE BIG PICTURE

THE BIG PICTURE
THE BIG PICTURE A memorable video can be the key to taking your act to the next level Back in the day, blowing up big often began with a lucky live gig in which an A&R rep happened to be in the audience. Or having your demo land on the right record exec’s desk. Today, artists from Justin Bieber and OK Go to Carly Rae Jepsen and PSY have catapulted to stardom thanks to clips on YouTube, Vimeo and other video websites. In fact, it’s hard to... 

DRUM ROLE

DRUM ROLE
DRUM ROLE Recording drums takes expertise, experience and experimentation Whether it’s a tight funk beat, driving R&B groove or blistering metal assault, nothing defines the character of a song like artfully played—and beautifully recorded—drums. But melding the magic of snares and cymbals with the right tincture of mics, preamps and recording know-how can be an elusive alchemy. Elements ranging from room acoustics to microphone selection... 

PITCH PERFECT

PITCH PERFECT
PITCH PERFECT Crafting superior vocal tracks takes both technical and personal skills “Vocal production can be one of two things,” says producer, mixer and engineer Fab Dupont. “One is the art of constructing a finished vocal track by getting the best performance and best sound possible. Two is the art of making a singer sound an awful lot better than he or she really is. They’re two different spirits and practices, and you know right away... 

LIVE MICS

LIVE MICS
LIVE MICS Selecting the right microphone for your stage show is crucial to a sound performance “The microphone is the core of everything,” says veteran front-of-house engineer Andy Meyer. “If you don’t have your source properly miked, what good is a $2 million PA or a state-of-the-art mixing console? If the mics are terrible, a great performance doesn’t mean a thing.” It’s a challenge nearly all musicians face, from coffeehouse singer-songwriters... 

HEAR NO EVIL

HEAR NO EVIL
HEAR NO EVIL Safeguard your greatest musical asset by selecting the right hearing protection Who can forget fictional rocker Nigel Tufnel’s hysterical scene in This Is Spinal Tap, boasting his amp’s volume knob goes to 11? In reality, such ear-splitting decibels are no laughing matter. Performing night after night without hearing protection can be perilous, often causing relentless ringing ears—known as tinnitus, the inability to discern frequencies,... 

WOOD WORKS

WOOD WORKS
WOOD WORKS What to look for in an acoustic guitar—from strings to wood, body and beyond Even though someone had the earth-shaking notion to run electricity into a guitar a few decades ago, the acoustic guitar remains just as potent as it ever was. The instrument spans genre and culture, from the Gipsy Kings’ flamenco grace to Bob Dylan’s folk strumming and Jimmy Page’s driving leads. In the right hands, the simple combination of wood and... 

APP HAPPY

APP HAPPY
APP HAPPY What can the right music-making mobile applications do for you? Just five years ago, cellphones were just that: phones. Enter the brave new world of smartphones, where the mobile gadgets have evolved into an entirely new category of creative tool—one that can help you create music. With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad tablet in 2010, music software developers have been quick to harness the power of these powerful... 

REC ROOM

REC ROOM
REC ROOM An insider’s guide to creating a home studio that’s right for you    Not so long ago, recording in a studio was a pricey ordeal. A musician or band had to select a studio, ensure it had a quality engineer—and because the meter was running, hope to capture the necessary tracks without breaking the bank. Enter the digital age: Now nearly anyone can set up a quality studio right in his or her home. Sure, there’s gear to acquire,... 

SYNTH SENSE

SYNTH SENSE
SYNTH SENSE Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess lets you in on the secrets to making your synthesizer sounds soar  If you’ve listened to pop music created since the 1960s, there’s little doubt you’ve heard synthesizers at work. Innovators have been trying since the 1800s to create devices to replicate sounds otherwise unavailable to the layman, but it was only in the last four decades that the synthesizer became thought of as an instrument in... 

PLAYING IT BY EAR

PLAYING IT BY EAR
PLAYING IT BY EAR How the right live monitor can take your stage show to the next level  Whether you’re playing a grungy blues set at a local club or headlining a stadium rock festival, delivering a show to remember is impossible if you can’t hear what you’re doing. What sounds perfectly harmonious to you could sound like a broken chainsaw out in the crowd—and vice versa. So how can you ensure you’re getting the onstage mix that you need... 

DAW DEAL

DAW DEAL
DAW DEAL Digital Audio Workstations can help you make a masterpiece—if you use them correctly  For decades making a record meant big studios, big budgets and countless feet of analog tape—but all that has changed. Today nearly any musician can get access to a computer and the necessary software required to craft an entire album in the comfort of his or her own home. So what exactly is this powerful software that makes the magic happen? The... 

LIFT EVERY VOICE

LIFT EVERY VOICE
LIFT EVERY VOICE How anyone—and we mean anyone—can learn to sing more sweetly Artists as stylistically and generationally diverse as Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Roger Daltrey and Lady Gaga have proven again and again that the right vocal performance can touch the listener’s deepest emotions—while the wrong one can abuse the eardrums of innocent bystanders. Learning to channel your own inner songbird can be a challenge, but there are steps... 

GEAR – AMP IT UP!

GEAR – AMP IT UP!
From monster stacks to boutique boxes, here’s everything you need to get loud In a memorable scene from the classic comedy film This Is Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest (playing the titular fictional band’s guitarist Nigel Tufnel) proudly unveils his new amplifier—one whose maximum volume isn’t 10, but 11. “Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it?” he reasons. “It’s not 10.” Poor Nigel may not have understood physics, but on a deeper level... 

GEAR – PICKUPS

GEAR – PICKUPS
Everything you need to know about selecting the right pickup for your guitar When you’re headbanging to a blistering riff by Slayer’s Kerry King or holding your breath as you listen to B.B. King’s soaring lead, you’re hearing more than just great musicians, guitars and amps. Key to any six-stringer’s unique tone is the pickup—the unassuming metal device that sits underneath guitar strings and translates their vibrations into sweet melodies... 

GEAR – SWEET BEATS

GEAR – SWEET BEATS
How to drive your tracks to the next level with customized virtual percussion So many of our favorite recordings would collapse without their own flavor of boom boom pow—the powerful percussion elements that propel a song at the drop of a beat. Whether you’re creating hip-hop, rock, jazz or R&B, your music will almost always benefit by integrating some form of percussion. But what if you don’t have access to Neil Peart, Lars Ulrich, Carter... 

GEAR – PEDAL POWER

GEAR – PEDAL POWER
Selecting the right effects stompbox will keep your sound on sure footing Many legendary rock moments—Jimi Hendrix wailing through an Octavia on “Purple Haze,” or the Edge’s lush delay on U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name,” for example—were crafted using carefully chosen effects pedals. Guitarists of all genres use these small, specialized signal processors to tweak their instruments’ sounds in wildly creative ways. And they’re... 

GEAR – SIX-STRING SKINNY

GEAR – SIX-STRING SKINNY
Everything you need to know about selecting the perfect guitar From Eric Clapton’s soaring blues to Tony Iommi’s pulverizing metal riffs and Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic jams, no single instrument has defined the sound and spirit of rock ’n’ roll music more than the guitar. If you want to grab an axe and add a few notes to that legacy, you have to start with the right instrument. With endless variations and models to choose from, how do... 

GEAR – LIGHT YOUR FIRE

GEAR – LIGHT YOUR FIRE
Rock’s top lighting designer helps you turn an ordinary show into a dazzling spectacle Certainly, the first and foremost reason we attend concerts is to hear great music—but skillful stage lighting can transform a relatively simple treat for the ears into an unforgettable multimedia experience. To ensure that what audiences see is as vibrant and explosive as what they hear, many of the world’s biggest touring acts turn to lighting designer Marc... 

GEAR – MASTERING THE MIC

GEAR – MASTERING THE MIC
Selecting the right microphone for you is crucial to a sound performance When you’re belting out a power ballad in front of thousands of excited fans or laying down a delicate guitar overdub in the studio, having the right microphone can make your music sound its best—and the wrong mic can turn it flat and lifeless. But with so many variations available, how do you choose? And with top-end mics selling for tens of thousands and cheapies going... 

GEAR – BASS ODYSSEY

GEAR – BASS ODYSSEY
The sounds you get from the bottom end can take you to the top WHETHER IT’S HIP-HOP OR HEAVY metal, jazz or country, the right bass sounds can make your music boom with hip-shaking power—while the wrong choices can make it flop with a thud. How do musicians, engineers and producers steer their sounds into that elusive deep-end comfort zone? Even the simplest of standout bass parts have more going on than meets the ear. To help pull back the curtain,... 

GEAR – MIX EMOTIONS

GEAR – MIX EMOTIONS
Getting the right mix involves technology, practice and careful listening Everything’s in place—the songs have been written, the studio has been booked, the musicians are playing perfectly. You’re well on your way to making a masterpiece. But even if you lay down the greatest tracks ever recorded, it’s entirely possible to screw it up at the last minute. The right mix can make or break even the most brilliantly recorded projects. Many... 

GEAR – MASTERING THE ART

GEAR – MASTERING THE ART
Inside one of the most crucial and mysterious steps of the recording process MASTERING ENGINEERS HAVE ONE  of the most specialized and hard-to-define roles in the music business. They sit in finely tuned rooms surrounded by boutique and vintage equipment, often finishing a record a day. But what does it mean to master a completed mix? Especially in this age of affordable digital home recording, asking five experts might elicit five different... 

GEAR – VOICE OF EXPERIENCE

GEAR – VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
Getting a great vocal take involves both technical and personal skills “THAT’S A LITTLE OFF-PITCH.” “STAND up straight.” “Don’t cut the phrase here, try it there.” “Remember to breathe!” It actually takes a lot of coaching, encouragement and collaboration to make the most of one’s “natural” instrument. To better understand working with singers in the studio, we consulted Raz Kennedy, who has recorded backing vocals for... 

GEAR – MIXING AT THE SPEED OF LIVE

GEAR – MIXING AT THE SPEED OF LIVE
Two leading experts on live mixing share secrets to improve audio performance in any venue The live performer’s best friend is his or her mixer. That’s the person whose skills and savvy can make artists sound their best—or even better. It’s the live mixer who makes certain that the soaring vocals or searing solos coming off the stage sound as perfect as possible. We tapped two top experts—Jeremiah Hamilton and Eddie Mapp—to help us... 
Copyright © 2010 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·