1000 recorded Masters or Mixes for ToKwerX. Today we clocked up the one thousand file number on the KORG DSD Recorder, which is responsible for capturing all the analogue mixes and masters. Quite a milestone really. WooHoo-ness!
In my fourteen (!) years teaching and lecturing at RMIT University’s Sound Production program in Audio Engineering I have had the pleasure to meet many wonderful people. But the time comes when creative choices begin to outweigh the financial decisions made prior to meet the needs of parenting and raising two children. In 2020 there will be a Changing of the Guard so to speak as I reduce my teaching tenure to a few days per week allowing more time for making records and playing jazz. Academic life has regrettably supported a focus on narrower and narrower aspects that underly our creativity, so I now yearn to address this imbalance. Over the next year my graduate from many years ago and now colleague, Mark Kelson will be gradually prepared to take over the duties I shall step away from. This gives me great pleasure to know the program I have developed with a wonderful team of others will remain in hands that are inspired and engaged in the art of engineering… whilst I again focus upon actual creativity. I need to acknowledge and pay utmost respect to my fellow team members at RMIT who have been absolute stalwarts in the success of this program: Michael “Smasha” Pollard, Timothy Johnston, John Phillips and Paul Thomas. Previous program managers Jen Anderson and Bruce Jacques were also instrumental in both developing this program but importantly assembling this particular team of awarded engineers and creators; all of whom are still fully engaged outside of their teaching roles. Thank you x
This evening I experienced the most inspiring sound mixing format ever in Dobly Atmos. Think of Surround Sound (with Left, Centre, Right, Left Rear, Right Rear and a Sub') but now add another Four Ceiling speaker channels. This introduces HEIGHT into the sound stage and has been adopted by the film industry for cinemas and home theatres as the new standard.
But what about MUSIC in Atmos? It is beginning; slowly. Several artists have embraced the format. In 14 months when ToKwerX upgrades the studio for what is likely my final business lease, the speaker system will be an ATMOS 5.1.4 system. With so many artistic possibilities I have launched the plan to build my new system around this format. PROTOOLS Ultimate (formerly HD) with a Dolby ATMOS monitor array is the future at ToKwerX. Music for the new era in the most incredible advance in sound mixing since stereo! So excited!
When tracking vocals for both a lead and accompanying backing parts it is great to utilise different mic's so the resulting lead and BV's have a contrasting timbre. This assists in providing a separation between the two final sounds within the mix. Additionally different vocal approaches between songs benefit from this to exploit different characteristics in a lead vocal - especially when working with a very accomplished singer - such as Erin Downie.
Thus far we've opted for my OPR Ultra-Mod Ribbon and P12 valve condenser by Peluso. Sitting in waiting is the CM7 FET condenser by Wunder but as yet has not got a guernsey. I've set up three input channels with HPF, EQ and soft-knee compression: OPR Ribbon required several dB cut around 350Hz and a subtle boost at 12kHz; the P12 is actually coming in flat - this mic' has been modified 4 times from stock and is quite sublime. The Ribbon is providing a wonderful thickness in the mids for a female lead vocal whilst the P12 has a very similar body but as one would expect from a condenser has more subtle high end making it wonderful for the more breathy takes. These then matrix out into a single master record buss, which allows Erin to simply move between mic's and audition each characteristic.
,,, and a reminder of the January 19th show to open the Skylark Room for 2018. Link for Bookings here: http://www.theskylarkroom.com/upcoming-gigs/rebelliousbird
Tomorrow during student practical exercises in our NEVE studio @ RMIT Sound Production we are setting up a comparative recording of Drums with various Ribbon microphones. Results from this will be analysed back at ToKwerX and I'll post the findings and outcomes very soon. Thanx to Mark from OPR for providing "the Grill U-Mod" for this session. The session will include the following "Velocity Transducers:"
ROYER R121 | AudioTechnica AT4080 | SE Voodoo | OPR Rocket U-Mod | OPR the Grill U-Mod
Available now in the ToKshop is the first iBook of an intended series on audio engineering. iBook 1 Recording Techniques is a culmination of approaches and an underlying philosophy to recording in the modern era gleaned from over 40 years of recording. I sincerely hope all aspiring engineers find this a valuable resource.
The current mixing and mastering facility at ToKwerX is a beautiful balance of analogue and digital devices. Allowing the immense control and immediate recall of digital but gifting the ability to enhance with saturation, warmth and real vacuum-tube harmonic distortion to the mix or master. Add to this an expanded perception of stereo image and depth of field derived from 16 stems into analogue summing. The modern mixing & mastering facility need not be huge but can be incredibly powerful, whilst retaining the sonics that only analogue produces.
Within minutes of ToKwerX this is where you can be. So special and unbelievably close to the new studio. So whilst you're undertaking editing, mixing or mastering at ToKwerX take a break and breathe some of the amazingly fresh air and listen to the birds chatter over the symphonic chorus of the forest.
Most clients just send through their projects these days but I invite and encourage you to come, stay a while; complete your project amidst the peace that is literally moments from our door.
Um, ok. Let's try that again?
Take 2 for ToKwerX relocation in the beautiful forested area of the Dandenong Ranges. The studio is now located in Upper Ferntree Gully (UFTG) alongside the State forest and close to the famous 1000 Steps National Park. Beautiful. Let's see how the birdlife enjoy the soundscape?
Not long after my 15th birthday I ventured into a professional recording studio for the first time. It was the old ABC Studios in Waverley Road, Malvern, which was then also the home of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO). This year now becomes my 40th year of making records... and I still love it. Not sure if I'm likely to register 40 more but I'm not seeing any signs of stopping yet!
Thank you to everyone I've ever been blessed to record, or record with, or be recorded by.
Well, it’s been nearly six months of “no studio” status - profoundly affecting my general outlook on life and definitely impacting my creative output. Relocating the teenagers and myself to my partner’s home was never going to be an easy or simple task, so the December 30th flooding of the house that rendered the allocated studio space, master bedroom, ensuite and laundry uninhabitable certainly added a few more layers of complexity that none of us could possibly have prepared for.
But we are somehow nearly there and beginning with the studio, finally commence putting all our plans into action - only then will we really have any idea of how this “tree-change” has worked. It is when faced with unimaginable hurdles that dealing with the other elements in our lives becomes exaggerated and amplified. I am the first to put up my hand and state I’ve not dealt with it very elegantly at times and sitting in the studio space for the first “listen” last night was profoundly confronting.
So here’s a very sincere message to those I dearly love. Those closest to me who have literally put up with me during this studio-hiatus and soul-searching period. The same people who actually feed my heart and soul with the very reasons I have to create - you are each my muse and my sustenance. To each of you, for all you’ve done for me over the last six months… THANK YOU.
Next post: Re-Opening special rates on Mastering.
Due to changes in my parenting responsibilities I am relocating my studio system back into our home. This means the space I built at Coloursound Studios in Altona Beach will be available for rent.
Comprising of a customised acoustic space complete with floating floor and rear-wall bass trap that "eats everything" below 300Hz this room sounds incredibly flat. Therefore lending itself perfectly to mixing and mastering duties.
The space will accommodate up to larger midfield monitoring easily and also has an area that would quickly become a vocal isolation booth without too much expense.
For details contact Mat Robins on:
+61 405 312 061