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Readers' Letters: How can you get a home–made CD to look like the genuine article?, and more...

A post by David Mellor
Thursday November 30, 2006
"If your work looks professional, then people will listen to it as though it is professional. So how can you give your CD's the 'store bought' look?"
Readers' Letters: How can you get a home–made CD to look like the genuine article?, and more...

In response to How can you get a home-made CD to look like the genuine article?, Luke writes...

Here is an easy way to make one-color cds that look cool. They come out a bit shabby, but if it is for a rock band- it adds nostalgia...


Print out what you want on the cd from a regular printer.

Staple the paper to a piece of carboard

Get out a razor blade (or better and X-acto knife and cut out the simple text, shape).

Stencil the cd and spray it down with any spray paint, although I have found that bedliner paint is the best. It makes the text a little raised and professional looking.

Rock on!

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Mark Sugden writes...

Played in jazz/rock outfit in the 70's - sax player had special pick-up drilled into his clarinet, close to the mouthpiece - then DI'd into pa. Worked a treat. Regards.

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Kevin Swain writes...

How about using some kind of contact transducer on the clarinet as well as a hypercardioid mic in front of the bell?

You should get level from the contact pick-up and a nicer tone from the hypercardioid.

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Digger writes...

If a lot of the feedback is occuring through the monitor system then perhaps it is worth trying out an in ear monitoring system? These are a lot cheaper than they used to be and offer a significantly more practical solution compared to wedges (particulaly for the monitor/FOH engineer!!!)

To avoid feedback through FOH then make sure that you are standing well behind the speakers dispersion field and try a mic with a VERY tight polar response. This along with a high pass roll off at around 150-200 Hz should allow you to get a lot more level before feedback. You could also try insertng a 31 band graphic on the channel itself (not just on main mix)to iron eliminate any room resonances that might be causing you trouble as these will vary from one venue to the next.

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Brent Millar writes...

I have a few choice words.

In-Ear Monitoring. If you're looking for studio quality monitoring with a clarinet live, your only solution that will be 100% effective is IEM's. Or you can buy yourself a plexiglass "shield" like the ones ClearSonic sells. The only problem with these is you become a "bubbleplayer". You're literally in your own bubble, isolated from the rest of your band as well as air and ventilation.

My two cents

In response to Why copyright is important to the 'small guy' musician, and why the music industry may get paid for your work while you get paid nothing., Tony writes...

I am SO tired of liberals trying to be everything to everyone every time. That is essentially the attitude people take when they make the suggestion of allowing free downloads of music. For those people of faith, I would ask this question - do you believe it is OK to attend church REGULARLY yet not contribute financially to the support and care of your pastor(s)/priests?

I have never understood the mentality (or should I say expectation) that music should be free. As a person of faith (and writer of worship music), I do believe that the talent and skill we as musicians have been blessed with SHOULD be available to the general masses. But I ALSO believe said musicians should be paid if someone else wants to have a copy of the music a musician writes. After all, the non-musician did not create the piece. Just like a non-blacksmith didn't create the wrought iron bed frame they love so much but are not able to obtain from the blacksmith - WITHOUT PAYING. That would NEVER happen; the blacksmith would SURELY be paid or the piece would stay in his/her possession until someone comes along and is willing to pay the blacksmith's price to release the piece to the consumer.

There is a reason why we are called CONSUMERS - we consumer things. The food we consume we have to pay for - otherwise we go hungry. Why would a musician create music and expect to NOT get paid? Why should I, as a musician, expect to be REQUIRED to offer my music for free to the general public? I thought we lived in a CAPITALISTIC society, therefore opportunities for the "little guy" to make money through hard work and sacrifice? And anyone who says writing and recording is NOT work, then just try getting all the different instruments recorded so that it is favorable to listen to; assembling all of the packaging to prep the various copies for distribution; etc. There is a TON of work that goes into each and every CD produced - whether they are done by "big guys" or "little guys." It's actually a lot more work and expense for the "little guys."

If art is deemed worthless, then the antique industry is doomed as well. Talk with any antique dealer or appraiser; what would they base appraisals on? How would they be able to make any money?

RP response: We could not agree more.

In response to How to have a hit record by sampling someone else's track. Twice., Patty writes...

Yes this is a very good article regarding sampling and how many layers of various songs lie underneath sometimes. But even more interesting is how groups like Daft Punk get a lot of recognition for that particular type sound or "vocoder" sound but Roger and Zapp had a handle on that as far back as the seventies--never hear any mention of him though--so people who like vocoders should also have 'More Bounce to the Ounce' in their song repertoire too.

In response to Studying Music Technology? Are your tutors assessing you fairly?, Mick Hedley writes...

Hi there,

I consider myself a music technologist. Although my music technology training had been based upon music i.e. reading score sheets for editing which I do when working in my studio. I do think that as an engineer when working, there are more important things to consider. Factors like, time and money, which in my own education I wasn't taught. This is something I think should be taught. Many graduate students that I know leave education knowing nothing about how to use their skills to get work. In the business of music (I like to refer to the music business in this way) people aren't necessarily interested in whether you are a grade 8 piano player or not. They are only interested in how much things are going to cost and how quickly the work can be completed. In my experience a good set of ears counts for much more. This sort of training comes from your own love of music.

It is possible in this day and age when many people have access to these technologies, to work in music with out any understanding of music theory. Did the original jazz musicians know music theory? Many of genres of music: from Hip Hop, Reggae, Dub to Techno and all the ones in between, do they know music theory? A generation of Punk enthusiasts will know all about the sex pistols and their first releases. As far as creativity is concerned more often than not in education you get taught to play a certain way. Does this count for creativity? For those people, they spend many years afterwards trying not to sound like the people they were taught by, in order to be creative. The most interesting music projects that I have heard are by people who don't know much about music technology or music theory and from that point of view I would say they are more creative.

Going back to the question. I would have to agree that the emphasis should be put on music technology, production techniques and their application, especially in the real world, where in the end you would hope to be employed.


Mick Hedley

In response to Why did you change your DAW?, Curtis; writes...

I first purchased Ableton Live over two years ago because a friend of mine was using it. I like the ease of working with Live.

Then I got a demo-copy of Motu Digital Performer from an employer. Although it was not as easy to use as Ableton Live, I noticed the sound quality was better than Ableton (at least to my ears). But using Digital Performer was much more complicated for me than using Ableton.

My producer friends were mostly using Apple Logic Pro, and Cubase/Nuendo to make their creations.

Once the price dropped on Logic I bought it because I really wasn't that happy with either Live or Digital Performer.

I find that Logic Pro sounds way better than either Live or Digital Performer. Ease of use is slightly slower than using Ableton, but easier than using Digital Performer. The effects that come with Logic are much better than anything that either Ableton or DP has to offer.

Looking back I wish I would have started with Logic to begin with so I wouldn't have had to learn 3 DAWs in just over two years, plus learn to use a computer which was my first one.

I am not a very good musician. I am still taking tutorials to learn Logic. Basically I am still at square one in the learning process, and may never leave square one, but that is another subject entirely.

I hope this helps someone in their quest for a DAW.


Curtis Bradley

In response to Mastering at home - still an oxymoron?, Bill Vincent writes...

The "Master at home" concept is a difficult one to just push aside, especially since there are so many audio software companies pushing their "mastering plugins" for the project/home user. The bottom line is, people want to be able to make their stuff sound comparable to stuff on commercial CDs, and obviously the industry has responded to that desire. Whether they would get as good a result as if they had taken their work to a pro mastering facility is really irrevalant here. There is a market for this, and the market WILL be accomodated for.

Because of this, Mastering Engineers and facilities are now fighting to compete with this new development, which simply put is a threat to them. The effect on the mastering industry could be compared to the effect that project studio recording has had on the mid-level studio market, which has been completely decimated by home project studios.

What the mastering industry fails to realize is that just as in the recording studio market, unless you are producing for major labels with major label studio budgets that can afford to track, mix, and master at the best studios, people will always look for less expensive and more convenient opportunities to get comparable results. And no matter how much mastering purists argue about how home mastering doesn't equal professional mastering, if people can get their stuff to sound comparable to commercial CDs TO THE AVERAGE LISTENER, then there will be a growing and ever-improving home-mastering software/hardware market, with more and more independent projects being mastered in this way.

Unfortunately for ME's and mastering houses, they are on the wrong side of history when it comes to this debate. The same debate played out over sampled orchestration, drum machines, and home project studio recording, and we all know how those arguments ended up. People (with the exception of the big-budget recordings) opted for the convenience of canned strings and drums in the vast majority of smaller budget recordings, or for purely stylistic reasons as well.

Making the argument that "there is no way" that a home recordist/mixer/master-er can achieve the results of a pro mastering house is missing the point! If they can get close enough, and their friends/mother/fans can't really tell much difference, then they will have done what they set out to do, and that is to make a recording at home that (in the average listener's mind) is comparable to professional jobs. Sure, a qualified ME could probably identify several things about a home-mastered project that are "wrong" or could have been greatly improved, just as a pro drummer or conductor could identify canned drums or sampled strings. But, in the end, if the home recording gets the sound across in a way that makes it hard for the average listener to tell (or care!), then the point is moot. The rest is just elitist whining, as far as I'm concerned.

Rather than trying to wage war on home recordists who attempt to master their own recordings, the mastering community would be much better served by raising the level of awareness and education as to what the benefits are of a pro mastering house vs. home mastering, and by showing their added value in a way that isn't condescending, impatient, or elitist to home recording folks who see less and less value in spending the extra money to go to a mastering house.

Most of all, the mastering industry needs to get real - home mastering is here to stay... get used to it.

In response to How to have a hit record by sampling someone else's track. Twice., writes...

Seriously... This is out of control... When are people going to quit stealing other peoples music and calling it their own?? I mean, shit man... youre a millionaire - theres no reason why you can't buy some sick ass gear and write some original tracks. I used to LOVE hip-hop, and now it makes me sick.

I think I'm nauseous...

RP response: Well, that's one way of putting it.

In response to Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!, Elias Weber writes...

Make sure you use a dynamic microphone with a cardioid patern. Chose a place on stage that has the lowest noise level and point your microphone in the oposite direction from where the speakers are. Have your microphone as close to your instrument as possible. If this still does not work use a parametric bandpass filter and and find the resonance of the feedback and dip it enough to get rid of it. This will slightly reduce the sound quality but it is a hell of a lot better than the sound quality of feedback. I know this is not what you would do in a studio. In the studio you can make the best possible recording, But in a live situation you have to deal with things like feedback and therefore you must deal with the situation diverantly.

RP response: "A hell of a lot better than the sound quality of feeback." Very true indeed.

In response to Mac versus Windows - part 1339203, Barry Duff writes...

The great I am a Mac I am a PC debate.

I work with both platforms and both can do a very good job with the right software.

I use Tracktion 3 and guess what it works on both (pc/mac) with my RME Fireface 800 with no head aches and i record up to 20 tracks and mix on issues. Big key is pick your computer wisely.

My PC is custom built by me and has 8 cores 8gig of ram 1 TB in a 1-0 raid array running XPpro 64bit in a rack case to go with my RME gear. For mobile recording.

Mac Pro is a great machine don't get me wrong. But not rack mountable and costs 3 times as much.

My 2 Watts.

In response to Q: "How can I record drums with just a two-channel audio interface?", Youre A Liar writes...

Perfection is not 'boring' white devil. God is PERFECT. He is Greater than all. He is Almighty. Unperfect is boring. Stupid white devil, its not about 'interesting' it's about good. God is good. He perfects us by His grace. fuck 'interesting' it's about good. Jesus Christ is perfect and good. God gives us perfect gifts by His grace. like look at Jimi Hendrix, he had a perfect gift of God for music, thats why people liked it. It's better than 'interesting' fuck interesting, we should listen, appreciate, feel, and love the music. But We should love God most of all by His grace, because He is the One that saves. Jesus Christ IS Almighty God. God gives me as BIG of rig as anyone by His grace, BIG 12 root and vine by His grace I have. not 'small interface but wants a big sound'. God gives me a BIG 12 root and vine by His grace.

RP response: We're not of a religious disposition here at RP, but we do believe in freedom of worship. There was a producer, whose name we unfortunately forget, who believed in encouraging chance happenings and randomness in his recording, because it "left space for god to walk through the room". That's an interesting thought because it implies that often the interesting stuff is to be found in the imperfections. If a recording is too perfect, then it can lack interest. It's worth thinking about. Peace.

In response to Q: "How can I record drums with just a two-channel audio interface?", Ben Maddox writes...

You could an your bass drum mike hard left and choose that input from your soundcard. Mike everything else and pan them hard hard right to another track with the R side of your soundcard chosen as input. It'll give you at least some control when you mix. They don't have to be panned on playback.

In response to Why do small PA loudspeakers sound so bad?, Viktor writes...

What about NEXO Ps10? It's small enough I think, even with a LS500 subwoofer. Do you consider these to be bad sounding?

RP response: We haven't heard those yet so we can't comment. In general however if you put a PA loudspeaker next to a good hifi loudspeaker, the hifi loudspeaker will sound much better. And if you put a good hifi loudspeaker next to a real musical instrument then you will soon realize how much distance loudspeakers still have to travel. We look forward to the day when perfect loudspeakers are available, perhaps with a switch for the 'hifi' and 'PA' sound just to remind us how things used to be.

In response to Well, could *you* hear the difference? Could you??, Tandra Jhagroo writes...

Any chance I can get the specs on this ... I'd love to build it.

... plus, I live in Jamaica and building amps, compressors and eq's are a thing of norm.. so this would be interesting to try.

Thanx in advance.


Tandra "Lytes" Jhagroo

recording engineer - Bigyard Studio, JA

RP response: Yes, just Google for INA217 and you'll easily find a data sheet. Just build the circuit exactly as it says and you'll have a good basic preamp up and running.

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 :-)