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Readers' Letters: What is a record producer? Do you really want to become one?, and more...

A post by David Mellor
Thursday November 30, 2006
"It is probably the most common ambition in music. But many people want to become a record producer without really understanding what it means. Here's the primer..."
Readers' Letters: What is a record producer? Do you really want to become one?, and more...

In response to What is a record producer? Do you really want to become one?, Jordan. writes...

I have always aspired to want to do something musically in life. I currently play the cello, am in 8th grade, and am 13. I would really like to know what I need to do to get a headstart in becoming successful. I can't imagine doing anything other in my life that to help artists with their melodies, lyrics, even album art. I know that this will require a lot of work, and I'm know that I'm probably not ready for it, to be honest, but I will give it my all and I will not quit on this. I am determined. Please, if you have any information on how I could get a headstart, an internship even, please contact me at uhmjordanyeah@aol.com. Thank you.


In response to How can I get my drums to sound bigger? With audio!, Robotto writes...

Yeah you are really dead on and forgot only to speak of compressors. A good stereo/ matched pair of compressors on the room and sometimes on the close mics can milk more size onto your tracks. LA-2s, 1176s, and distressors. Don't go to far though cause you can do a bit more in the mix. Also, speaking of the mix, using a stereo bus compressor and eq really pop the drums out (and everything else). This has a lot to do with how the drums sound in the mix. You can apply a similar technique by sending the drums or certain drums to a stereo return. Put a limiter on it, nuke it, and bring it up behind the real drums. Oh and last but not least, triggers... I hate them but they are a wide sweeping reality. Most of what you here these days isn't really that real... Good luck.

In response to Super-sized EQ - your fattest EQ technique ever!, Richard James writes...

Article - Super-sized EQ.

Quote: "This is an amazingly powerful technique. It's almost a surprise that this method of control doesn't have its own dedicated hardware or plug-in."

BSS Audio have had a dynamic EQ (the BSS 901) on the market for years:


The 4 bands of EQ can compress/expand according to the compressor settings.

Tony Visconti name-checks this unit in the 'Behind The Glass' book in relation to smoothing out bass guitars.

I agree, though, that a dedicated plugin would be very useful.

Richard James


In response to How can one become a premium quality rap artist in this hectic modern age?, Cumon? writes...

David, might I advise you to only give your two cents worth when you actually know something, which is very seldom. Your article on becoming a premium rap artist is insulting. First off, your comment "make sure that you cultivate a 'downtown' accent". what utter rubbish. Anyone can tell their story, and there are plenty of rappers who have normal uptown accents. Just ask Bubba Sparx about redneck accents.

Then you say "Alongside the performance goes hand in hand the 'bling'" Come ON!!! There are many awesome rap acts that don't subscribe to the West Coast rap ideal. You know nothing David. I could go on, but I'll not waste anymore of my precious time on a fool like you. I have instantly lost any respect I might have had for you, and now, if you're brave enough not to delete this, I'd like to tell you what you REALLY are: an old codger who doles out rubbish, dated advice.Not even a one hit wonder, you are the type of person who ALWAYS has to make a comment about everything. You know how I have become great at what I do? I speak 50% less than I listen. You should try it you old fool.

RP response: Thank you for your input. Audio Masterclass carries on undaunted!

In response to Why do people record in home studios? Wouldn't a pro studio do a better job?, Marc Owens writes...

Gear matters to some degree, but in my experience, (35 years), the best tool one has is their ears.

I've heard world class recordings come from very ill-equipped home studios. And I've heard world class studio recordings that sucked. The person or persons running the gear makes the difference.

In response to Why do people record in home studios? Wouldn't a pro studio do a better job?, Job Van Zuijlen writes...

This seems to be a recurring theme, so I would like to react. I can see that if you want to produce a CD a pro-studio may be useful. That said, I went to a ProTools presentation recently, which was very interesting as it used "the industry standard" type of equipment. The presenter actually did a mix, all according to the latest fashionable "sound". Frankly, I wouldn't want the in-your-face everything that is so in today. It's funny, we are capable of more dynamic range than ever and nobody is using it.

The main reason I work from home is that it is more practical and economical as a media composer. I'm building my composition up piece-by-piece and can easily move a sound back or forth to fit a movie scene, for example. As for the interaction and the buzz, I frankly don't need that to get inspired. Writers and visual artists often work from home. Art is lonesome and requires discipline. If you need a pro-studio to keep you focused, well good luck and a healthy bank balance to you!

I do agree that time constraints can be useful, up to a point. In film, deadlines are often unhealthily short, which doesn't really allow for much innovation of creativity. I have in the past worked with visual artists and dancers, so a different perspective can be inspiring and keep you on task.

In response to Why do people record in home studios? Wouldn't a pro studio do a better job?, Studio Relief Dom Torche writes...


I liked your article about pro studio. when you say

There is however one very important advantage of working at home...

Being innovative and creative in a pro recording studio is an expensive way to spend time. Creativity isn't something the runs according to the clock.

We run a pro recording studio for more than 20 years and we saw real creativity in the studio even if the clock is running. We've done albums where the musicians felt so well they wrote songs at the recording sessions and it was better than a lot of the work they had prepared before. Creativity does not mean you need all the time possible to make it right. A dead line is very good for creativity. Anyyway there were many times where the clock stopped because of the music. At the end this is what counts, the music, how to make it sound better and better.

At home, you can stay up all night if you need and all it costs extra is electricity for the light.

But you end up smoking and drinking all night

Probably the best approach is to have the best of both worlds. Work at home on the things that are easily accomplished at home, and use a pro studio to add acoustic and electric instruments, perhaps also to mix.

Not perhaps, I have a studio A with an SSL 4064 G+protools HD3 and only Protools HD3 with command 8 in the studio B and everybody can here the difference the SSL make. The sound is just more pleasing and has a lot more deph. It is also much easier to control all thoses tracks when you have a big console. I love protools but let's face it, big console have a sound quality second to none and also a kind of easy going and simple operation that makes you concentrate on the music.

Dom Torche


In response to Why do people record in home studios? Wouldn't a pro studio do a better job?, Nathan Woods writes...

I am an independent artist and producer, and concerning the "Home Studio vs. Professional Studio" debate; I like to think of both environments as instruments themselves. They each color the sound source differently. I almost always track live drums at a professional studio, however, I often record my synth overdubs at home. Why not do it all myself? I swear it's because I love working with other people, not because professional studios have the coolest preamps!

In response to Should your loudspeakers have digital inputs?, Jon writes...

I'm not a fan of digital inputs on speakers, unless you have poor D/A converters. If you have higher end D/A converters, you can either get rid of them, or hope that the improvement in speakers counters the lesser D/As in the speakers.

In response to Keep Music Evil!, Dave Lemon writes...

To me all that Keep Music live is saying is get out and play 0 surely a good thing. If nobody plays anymore what will there be to record. just don't get me going on sampling or scratching - neither has anything to do with music. A toddler bashing a saucepan lid is being creative and is using their own ability no matter how limited that may be. Sampling is just taking someone else's had work and distoting it imho!

In response to Why do people record in home studios? Wouldn't a pro studio do a better job?, Jimmy writes...

i have been in lots of studios with great gear, but have found over the years that it's more times than less that it points to the person that's behind the desk.

In response to Why do Macs suck?, Tom Red writes...

I know someone that has a mac and he is an idiot. He belives that macs don't crash he belives that widows vista crashs all the time he was playing Garrys mod and it crashed and he blamed the game i belive macs suck because they cant even run a flash game witch is sad. Whoever has a mac they can think what ever they want about windows but they are wrong i have had windows for a long time i never had a problem and macs come with spyware you bought spyware i will never get a mac!!!!

In response to Electronic drum sets? Why???, Drumstud4u writes...

As a drummer of over 35 years, and hundreds of recordings; the best thing I ever did for my career as both a musician and an engineer/producer was to invest in Roland V-drums. I still own several acoustic sets and I'll always love them, but the fact that I can practice at 4AM with my girlfriend 3 feet away (and never wake her) alone is reason enough, but getting a completely different set at the turn of a dial without a. bringing in the new set b. bringing out a small fortune of Sennheiser, AKG, and Neumann mics c. dialing everything in, etc. is priceless!

In response to Why do people record in home studios? Wouldn't a pro studio do a better job?, Tom Ghent writes...

The line between "home"and"pro"studios becomes more blurred every day.Not only has the availability of good equipment at reasonable prices become a reality,but, the number of seasoned professionals choosing to put well designed,acousticly wonderful studios in or near their homes is growing every day.

Here in Nashville,Tn.there are many"home"studios which you would have to see and hear to beleive!

I consider myself very lucky to have been involved in both the design and building of many of these over the last 20yrs.The best by-product of this long learning curve has been my own recently completed(if there is such a thing)"home"studio. Not only is it great to be able to work at 3am or whenever the spirit moves me and still be at home with my family,but,I can honestly say that it is the best sounding room in which I have ever worked! This is quite a bold statement since over the last 45 years I have had the privilege of recording in some of the best studios from L.A.to N.Y.and many points in between.

The studio took a little more than 3 years to put in and has been well worth all the blood,sweat,and tears that have gone into it's construction

I hope you can have your sonic prayers answered as well.

Tom Ghent/Sutherland Records and Casa Pacifico studio.

In response to How much should you 'improve' a live recording in the studio?, Dave Foster writes...

In contrast Visconti replaced nearly everything on Thin Lizzy's Live & Dangerous album!

In response to How much does a TV music composer get paid?, Jim Wolff writes...

"Hockey Night in Canada" theme played on CBC TV every Saturday night during the hockey season and during playoffs mopre frequently. This went on for decades. How much did the composer receive in royaltiesduring that time? The rights were just sold to a rival network, CTV (and TSN) for a bunch -- lioke $2.5-$3 million, but we don't know for sure. Is this the record for a composer?

In response to Behringer's Ultragain ADA8000 mic pre misses a trick, Roger B. writes...

Using 3 ADA8000s, with a MOTU 828mk3 for a live in-ear rig. Two of the ADA8k's are connected via lightpipe. The XLR out configuration is perfect for this application, as the MOTU allows for 8 stereo mixes to be routed to the lightpipe outs, with no latency. Cheap and incredibly flexible solution for ears. The third ADA8k is running ADAT out back into its own ADAT in, and though it's no Apogee, the results have been great, on stage and in the studio.

In response to GForce launch Virtual String Machine, quite simply the last word in classic (and new) strings, Roberto writes...

I tried it at a job, the chorus FX seem to be sampled.

Play 6 notes and you hear 6 chorus's - got a bit too thinned out and mushie for my taste (compared to my real machines). A decent "synth" but not so authentic IMO.

A post by David Mellor
Thursday November 30, 2006 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)