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Equipping Your Home Recording Studio - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An Introduction to Equalization - A free download from Audio Masterclass

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Q: "Why is the signal from my microphone low in level and noisy?"

The Making of a CD - FREE DOWNLOAD

A great-sounding live vocal mic that you might never have heard of [with video]

The Waves CLA-76 compressor plug-in on snare drum, with video

Setting the gain control on your audio interface for recording

The difference between minimum-phase and linear-phase EQ on transient signals such as snare drum

How not to run a recording session!

Can you hear the difference between a square wave and a sine wave?

Even the best sound engineers in the world can't be trusted - apparently

Visualizing stereo information using Lissajous figures

Drummer not wanted!

Up and coming young band, major record label interest, imminent gigs and a track on a compilation album are NOT looking for a drummer. We don't need someone to play a lousy old kit out of time, turn up late and drunk or offer to sing lead vocals - even if you do have your own transport. Please don't call John or Andy, nor should you e-mail wave@goodbyetodrummers.com

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Advertisement: Drummer not wanted!

"Up and coming young band, major record label interest, imminent gigs and a track on a compilation album are NOT looking for a drummer. We don't need someone to play a lousy old kit out of time, turn up late and drunk or offer to sing lead vocals - even if you do have your own transport. Please don't call John or Andy, nor should you e-mail wave@goodbyetodrummers.com"

OK it's a spoof, but it's taken from a real advertisement for Steinberg's Groove Agent software that claims that you can, "Instruct your Groove Agent to play in a certain style with a drum kit of your choosing at a given tempo and at any complexity you desire".

Steinberg's technology is impressive, but is this kind of software really going to help you succeed? Let's see...

Firstly, who it won't help (I'll get to who it will help later). It won't help a band! There is nothing less interesting than a band on stage without a drummer. Perhaps in the short term your recordings will be superficially more professional, but in the long term there is little opportunity for progress.

Secondly, it won't help anyone who is interested in music as art. Art is all about originality. As soon as you start to use equipment or software that anyone could use and get similar results, you are not creating art. Not unless you can find a way of pushing that equipment or software way beyond its intended capability, but few people do.

Who it will help is definitely TV music composers. Writing and recording TV music (which are mostly both parts of the same process) demands efficiency and throughput. Imagine you have a week to score and record a 60 minute drama. That's real-world work where results have to be achieved within a timescale and to a budget. This is craft, not art, so it doesn't matter if there is some element of 'sameyness'.

It may also help songwriters producing demo recordings. It is often useful to make a rough demo and play it to a few people before going to the next stage and getting a 'real' demo done. By the way, I say real demo because as a songwriter you will be competing with the likes of Diane Warren and she not only has a first-class studio, she has her own production team. Just for demos!

My conclusion is that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with software like Steinberg's Groove Agent, but you have to realize why you want it and what you can possibly achieve with it.

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By David Mellor Monday September 18, 2006
Learn music production