Music Sound Engineering and Production (Intermediate 2)

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1 Music Sound Engineering and Production (Intermediate 2) 7876

2 .

3 September 2000 HIGHER STILL Music Sound Engineering and Production Intermediate 2 Support Materials

4 Sound Engineering and Production Intermediate 2 INTRODUCTION This package consists of the following: CHECKLISTS LOG SHEETS GUIDELINES INFORMATION SHEETS CIRCUIT DIAGRAMS CONCEPTS GLOSSARY NOTE these allow the student to keep track of progress within a given task.. for recording equipment control settings. to assist the student to complete the task. are mainly explanations of equipment, terms and procedures. to assist students when cabling up. explanations of the Intermediate 2 concepts. There are no audio samples, example log sheets or example session logs included in this package specific to Intermediate 2, however, relevant examples are available in the Intermediate 1 ( re. parts recorded simultaneously) and Higher level packages (re. parts recorded individually and processed during the mixing process) available on the ELT CD-ROM. Students must keep a session log of all preparation and recording sessions and a new log sheet should be numbered and completed each time a change is made in the equipment settings of a recording. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 1

5 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 CHECKLIST FOR OUTCOME 1 AND 2 The following list can be used as a guideline or checklist. 1. Set up the recording room. 2. Sound check all microphones and monitor headphones to ensure they are operational. Sound check the performer(s) to ensure correct signal levels. 3. Record the performance on a maximum of three tracks, leaving a minimum of one track available to record at least one part of the performance using overdub. Review the recording and comment. Re-record when necessary. Do not erase recordings. 4. Set up the recording room for recording using overdub. Record at least one part using overdub. 5. Review the recording and comment. Re-record when necessary. Note that in the case of overdubbed tracks, you will be unable to keep unsatisfactory recordings therefore it is important to note your comments on each take before erasing it. 6. Set up the control room equipment to facilitate a mix down procedure to produce a good quality stereo recording from the four tracks using reverberation where appropriate. Review the mixdown recording and comment. Re-record when necessary. Do not erase recordings. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 2

6 MINIMUM EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS The minimum equipment requirements for this unit are as follows (if two tracks are overdubbed) A multitrack tape recorder with a minimum of two microphone inputs. A mixing desk capable of allowing the engineer to adjust signal levels, pan, equalisation and the facility to buss a signal to an external processing unit. Many multitrack recorders have an in-built mixing facility capable of these functions. A minimum of two microphones of a reasonable quality. A minimum of two microphone stands (preferably the boom type) A pair of stereo headphones (closed type) A stereo cassette deck (or a digital equivalent) A stereo playback system of hi-fi quality Assorted cables as required. Good quality cassette tape (or digital equivalent if a digital system is being used) Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 3

7 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 STAGES OF ASSESSMENT FIVE MAIN TASKS OUTCOME 1 1. Setting up and connecting. 2. Preparing to record 3. Recording performers using two or three tracks. Assessing the recording, commenting and re-recording where necessary. 4. Recording a track (or tracks) using overdub. Assessing the recording(s), commenting and re-recording where necessary. OUTCOME 2 5. Mix down to stereo using effects where appropriate (on a minimum of one track). Session logs Example entries could include difficulties experienced, action taken reasons for microphone choice set out a recording plan comments on success/failure of recorded tracks remedial action taken and the result Session log sheets will ensure continuity Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 4

8 INTERMEDIATE 2 Concepts Glossary Acoustics Recording rooms can differ from a well soundproofed studio to an ordinary classroom or hall. Every room has its own acoustical properties i.e. some rooms will absorb sound waves producing a dead sound whilst others will reflect sound waves, producing natural reverberation (Int 2). Generally speaking, a sound engineer prefers as dead sound as possible. This allows him/her to add echo if required whereas if a recording contains echo at source it cannot be removed. Arrangement Auxiliary send Auxiliary return Boom stand Buss Chorus Coda Count-in Direct injection A piece of music can be performed in many different ways. These are called arrangements, e.g. A song could be performed by a rock band, an orchestra or sang a capella. A method of sending a signal to an external destination, e.g. to a processor (H), or to a performers monitor headphones. (see effects send). Auxiliary sends can be pre-fade or post-fade (see Higher level concepts glossary) The route for a signal entering the mixing desk after processing. (see effects return) A microphone stand (Int 1) which has an adjustable horizontal arm. This allows the microphones (Int 1) to be placed more accurately in a group of performers. Sometimes written as Bus. A signal (Int 1) path to which one or more inputs (Int 1)may be connected to feed any number of outputs, e.g. three microphones may be used to record a drum kit, but the engineer cannot afford to use three separate tracks. In this case, the input signals from the three microphones are bussed from inputs 1, 2 & 3 to track four where they are recorded. The repeated part of a song usually using the same words whereas the verse (Int 2) has different words each time it is sung. The end part of a piece of music. The count-in lets the performer know when to begin. It is usually one or two bars long. A click track (Int ) is often used to provide the count-in. This is where an instrument, usually a guitar, keyboard or drum machine is connected to an input (Int 1) on the multi-track recorder or mixing desk (Int 1). Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 5

9 Direct sound Dry sound Effects send Effects return Electronic Feedback This is when an instrument is connected to an amplifier and a microphone (Int 1) is used to obtain a signal (Int 1) via the loudspeaker (Int 1). The term used to describe a track which has not been processed. Sometimes referred to as FX send. This control determines how much of a channels (Int 1) signal (Int 1) is sent to the mixing buss (Int 2) usually done during the mix (Int 1) or mixdown procedure, e.g. tracks 1,2 & 3 contain piano, drums and bass, track 4 contains vocals. When mixing down to stereo (Int 1) reverberation (Int 2) is required on the vocal track only. This would be achieved by setting the FX send control on tracks 1,2 & 3 to zero and raising the send control on track 4 to a degree which gave the required mix of dry sound (Int 2) and reverb. Sometimes referred to as FX return. The signals (Int 1) which have been sent to an external processor (H) are returned to the mixing desk (Int 1) via the auxiliary or FX (effects) return. The return control determines how much of the externally processed signal is mixed back into the main stereo (Int 1) signal. The term used to describe a sound or tone which has been produced using a synthesiser, electronic keyboard, drum machine or sampler. This occurs when an output signal (Int 1) is returned to the systems input, e.g. if a microphone is being used to obtain a signal and the amplified signal reaches the microphone, then effectively the amplified signal will re-enter the system via the microphone and be amplified again, as will this re-amplified signal. In other words a signal loop is set up and the result is usually a high frequency sound often referred to as squeal. It is for this reason that recording performers use monitor headphones (Int 1) and not loudspeakers (Int 1). Foldback Impedance A system whereby the performer can hear a signal sent from the mixing desk (Int). This signal can be mixed using auxiliary send (Int 2) from the various channels allowing the performer to hear live playing or prerecorded tracks (Int 1). The amount of resistance a signal will encounter in a circuit measured in ohms. Equipment such as microphones, guitars keyboards, etc. are designated as being high impedance or low impedance (high Z or low Z). It is important when connecting equipment to amplifiers (Int 1) or mixing desks (Int 2) that the correct input is used. e.g. don t connect low Z microphones to high Z inputs. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 6

10 Indirect sound Introduction Microphone Middle Eight Noise reduction Overdubbing Overload Popping and blasting Production Reflection Reverbation Reverbation time Sound which is being picked up from somewhere other than its original source. e.g. sound which is being reflected from walls. Sometimes referred to as ambient sound. The first section of a piece of music. e.g. played before the first verse begins. It is important that the sound engineer experiments with the positioning positions of the recording microphones. This will help to achieve the maximum quality recording with regard to balance (Int 1) and sound spillage and separation (Int 2). The part of a song or tune which is different from the verse or chorus. Internal electronic systems which reduce tape hiss (Int 1) and are integral in most cassette recorders. The main producer of such systems is Dolby. This is where a track is recorded separately from previously recorded material. e.g. the drums, bass, keyboards and guitar are recorded then the vocal track is added with the vocalist hearing the previously recorded band tracks through monitor headphones (Int 1). This is only possible using a multi-track tape recorder. This occurs when a signal (Int 1) is too strong for the system receiving it resulting in distortion (Int 1). Some microphones, (especially dynamic ones) are sensitive to plosives, i.e. the sounds of p and b, hence the term popping and blasting. The use of pop shields can help alleviate the problem as can proper microphone technique. The term used to describe a completed recording. This term describes the sound coming back to the microphone from walls and ceilings. (see Acoustics and Indirect sound ) Often called reverb. Reverb exists naturally in halls and rooms and is created by the sound waves reflecting from the walls and ceiling. Because in a studio we record mainly dry sound (Int 2) the engineer then adds reverb electronically using a reverbation unit (Int 2). There are two types, pre-delay time and overall delay time. Pre-delay is the time between the original sound and the first reflection. This creates an illusion of room size i.e. the greater pre-delay time the greater impression of space. Overall delay time determines how long it takes for the reverb effect to die away. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 7

11 Reverbation unit Session tape Sibilance Sound separation Sound spillage Talk-back Wet sound Windshield An electronic effects unit which artificially produces reverbation. Wherever possible a fresh tape should be used for each recording session. This is known as the session tape. This unwanted effect on sound is when the consonant s is sung or spoken it sounds like sshh. Often caused by badly set equalisation (Int 1). The object when recording a group or ensemble of players is to have as much control over each individual player or group of players as possible in order to achieve the best possible final mix (Int 1). It is therefore, very important to take great care with microphone positioning (Int 2) when recording. This is when sound from one designated area (e.g. the drum kit) spills over to another area (e.g. bass) (see sound separation (Int 2) and microphone positioning (Int 2). A communications system which allows the engineer in the control room (H) to converse with a performer in the recording studio. A signal which has been treated in a sound processor (H) such as a reverberation unit (Int 2). Sometimes called a pop shield. It is a foam cover which is placed over a microphone (Int 1) to help avoid popping and blasting (Int 2). Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 8

12 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 1 GUIDELINES Requirements In Sound engineering Intermediate level 1 the multi-track recording was made with all of the performers being recorded together. In Intermediate 2 there is a requirement that at least one track is overdubbed i.e. recorded separately from the other tracks. In this unit there is a choice of how many of the tracks are overdubbed. For a fuller explanation of overdubbing see the Intermediate 2 concepts glossary. Other techniques which can be employed in this unit include bussing, direct injection and the final mix must use an external reverbation unit. Setting up the recording room is the same procedure as in Intermediate 1 level but with the addition of a monitor foldback system with headphones if the overdub track is to be sung, or played acoustically. In the case of the overdubbed track being directly injected, then monitor speakers will suffice. The recording room When setting up the recording room cables and leads, the student should work from the four track outwards, connecting one piece of equipment at a time. Cables should always be kept tidy, taped down and as clear from pathways as possible. Don t position your microphones until the performers are in position. This will avoid microphone stands being knocked over. Remember to read the safety guidelines before you begin. If something doesn t work, DON T PANIC. Calmly work through the system until you find the fault. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 9

13 INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 1 INFORMATION In Sound engineering Intermediate level 1 the multi-track recording was made with all of the performers being recorded together. In Intermediate 2 there is a requirement that at least one track is overdubbed i.e. recorded separately from the other tracks. In this unit there is a choice of how many of the tracks are overdubbed. For a fuller explanation of overdubbing see the Intermediate 2 concepts glossary. Other techniques which can be employed in this unit include bussing, direct injection and the final mix must use an external reverbation unit. Setting up the recording room is the same procedure as in Intermediate 1 level but with the addition of a monitor foldback system with headphones if the overdub track is to be sung or played acoustically. In the case of the overdubbed track being directly injected, then the monitor speakers will suffice. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 10

14 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 1: TO SET UP THE RECORDING ROOM 1. track tape recorder connected to mains supply. 2. Stereo monitor amplifier connected to mains supply. 3. Stereo monitor amplifier connected to monitor speakers. 4. Stereo monitor headphones connected to the multi track recorder. 5. Track tape recorder stereo output connected to tape input of monitor amp. 6. All microphones connected to the 4 track tape recorder. 7. All safety procedures observed. 8. Equipment switched on in the correct order. 9. All microphones tested and operational. 10. Playback mode tested and clear through the control room speakers. Note For learning outcome 2 (mixing down to stereo), the master stereo cassette inputs will have to be connected to the four-track stereo outputs and a reverbation unit connected to the send and return sockets. This task has been successfully completed by the student. Students name Teacher s signature Date Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 11

15 INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 2 GUIDELINES 1. When arranging performers make sure you allow room for music stands and microphone stands. Also remember to ensure that space is allowed for cables to be laid safely. 2. You should draw a plan of where the microphones are in relation to the performers so that you have a record of any changes you may make in subsequent recordings. 3. Remember to fill in the details of all recordings in the recording log using a new log for each recording. 4. Sound checks are more reliable if completed during a full rehearsal of the piece. Remember a performance will probably have both loud and quieter parts and you must take account of both of these when setting your levels. 5. Always complete the session log with all your observations. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 12

16 INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 2 INFORMATION Recording using direct injection When direct injection is used to record a track it is important to set the trim pot or impedance selector to the correct setting. Remember that keyboards and guitars have a higher impedance than microphones. Popping and blasting This can be avoided by choosing the correct type of microphone, good microphone technique by the singer and by using pop shields. Microphone positioning It is important to achieve the highest level of sound separation as possible. Good use of the correct types of microphone and boom stands can help attain this. Acoustics Take care when choosing a room for recording in. A large room or hall with high ceilings and bare walls will always cause problems with reflected sound whereas a small room with softened walls, carpets and curtains will produce a sound closer to the dead sound an engineer prefers to work with. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 13

17 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 2 CHECKLIST Preparing to record 1. Performer(s) arranged appropriately. 2. Microphones and stands in position. 3. A plan of the microphone positions in relation to the performers noted. 4. Sound check completed and meter levels satisfactory. 5. Monitor headphone (or loudspeaker) level satisfactory. 6. Levels noted on recording log This task has been successfully completed by the student. Students name Teacher s signature Date Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 14

18 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 3 GUIDELINES 1. Remember to fill in the details of all recordings in the recording log using a new log for each recording. 2. During recordings always monitor using headphones otherwise the microphones will pick up the sound of the monitor speakers which should be off during recordings. Whereas when playing back recordings to assess them, always use the loudspeakers to allow the performers to comment on the quality of the take. 3. Always complete the session log with all your observations and the comments of the performers 4. Always use a new recording log for each take. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 15

19 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 3 CHECKLIST 1. Recording completed 2. Recording reviewed 3. Re-recordings made where necessary 4. Final recording made 5. Session log completed This task has been successfully completed by the student. Student s name Teacher s signature Date Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 16

20 INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 4 INFORMATION OVERDUBBING Overdubbing is the term used to describe the layering of tracks, sometimes referred to as multi-tracking. To understand overdubbing, it is necessary to understand the operational differences between a standard tape recorder and a multi-track tape recorder. A tape recorder consists of two types of head, a recording/playback head and an erase head (in more expensive recorders the record head and playback head may be separate). In a standard tape recorder when the record button is switched on the playback function is redundant as the head can only perform one function at a time. On a multi-track however, the tape heads are divided into sections and these sections can operate in either record or playback mode independently of each other. Hence, one section of the tape can be on playback mode whilst another section is recording. This means a performer can listen to previously recorded tracks and record another track alongside them, e.g. the drums, keyboards and bass guitar can be recorded then when the vocalist is recording separately he can listen to the band through foldback monitor headphones, connected to tracks 1, 2 and 3, and sing into a microphone which is connected to track 4. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 17

21 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 4 GUIDELINES Overdubbing Example 1 1. Record the drum part on track 1 2. Record the bass part on track 2 (direct injection) 3. Record the piano part on track 3 Now set tracks 1, 2 and 3 to playback mode and play all three tracks and using the monitor controls carefully adjust the balance of the instruments till you arrive at a satisfactory mix. Fine adjustment can be left to the preference of the vocalist. The vocalist who will be recording on track 4 will need to hear both the pre-recorded- tracks and themselves through the foldback headphones therefore they will have to experiment with the balance of the instruments and their own vocal signal to allow them to hear both at levels which are comfortable. To do this the engineer will adjust the monitor controls ( individual track controls for balance and monitor master control for volume) until the vocalist is happy with the monitor mix. With tracks 1,2 & 3 set to playback and track 4 set to record, set the recording levels of the vocal microphone. After recording, review and note any comments, both from yourself and the performer. This track cannot be saved as it will have to be recorded over until a satisfactory recording is made, however if you wish to keep a copy you can record a mixdown in stereo before rerecording. Example 2 Recording an ensemble (oboe, clarinet, bassoon and flute) 1. Record the bassoon, oboe and clarinet as an ensemble using tracks 1, 2 and Arrange the monitor mix as above. 3. The solo flute can now overdub the recording on track 4 using foldback as described above. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 18

22 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 4 CHECKLIST 1. Monitor mix set 2. Performer is happy with the monitor mix 3. Sound check complete 4. All settings logged 5. Recording complete 6. Recording reviewed 7. Re-recordings made where necessary 8. Final recording made 9. Session log completed This task has been successfully completed by the student. Students name Teacher s signature Date Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 19

23 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 5 CHECKLIST PREPARING TO MIX DOWN 1. track tape recorder connected to mains supply. 2. Control room stereo monitor amplifier connected to mains supply. 3. Control room monitor amplifier connected to monitor speakers Track tape recorder stereo output connected to tape input of monitor amp. 5. Mastering stereo cassette deck connected to mains supply 6. Mastering stereo cassette deck audio input is connected to either a) the stereo output of the 4 track tape recorder or b) the tape output of the control room monitor amplifier Choose b) if there is only one stereo output available on the 4 track 7. The effects unit is connected to the mains supply. 8. The effects unit input and output sockets are connected to the SEND and RETURN outputs of the 4 track recorder. 9. All safety procedures observed. 10. Equipment switched on in the correct order. 11. a) the control room monitor system is working b) the sound processor is receiving a signal c) the mixer is receiving a processed signal Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 20

24 INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 5 INFORMATION SOUND PROCESSORS Task 5 deals with setting up the control room, incorporating a reverb unit to enable the completed tracks to be mixed down to two track stereo. Reverb Units Reverb units come in various forms from the older the spring type reverb units to the modern digital models. For the purposes of this unit, the simpler and more inexpensive type of echo or reverb unit will suffice. The system is fairly easy to operate. On each channel of the four track recorder you will find a control titled EFFECTS. This controls the strength of the signal from that channel to be bussed to the reverb unit. The signal exits from the output socket marked SEND. Depending on the type of processor, various types of effects can be added to the signal (some may also have EQ controls). On the processor there will be controls which may be marked direct, mix, input, output. The mix control determines the percentage of the signal which is processed (wet) and which percentage is passed through the unit unprocessed or dry. The direct control determines the amount of effect which is applied to the signal. The input and output controls determine the signal levels (usually 0db) The signal is bussed back by connecting a lead from the OUTPUT socket on the processor to the RETURN input on the four track recorder. Mainly, the processor is used on vocal tracks but it can be successful on instruments as well. One word of warning be careful not to overdo the effects or you may find the music becoming blurred. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 21

25 SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION INTERMEDIATE 2 TASK 5 GUIDELINES MIXING DOWN The object is to produce a good quality stereo recording mixed down from four tracks using effects on at least one track. STAGE 1. STAGE 2. STAGE 3. STAGE 4. STAGE 5. STAGE 6. STAGE 7. Play all four tracks (without using the processor) and decide on the FADER LEVELS which produces the balance of the instruments/vocals you want. Check if the noise reduction system is on or off at both the four track recorder and the master cassette deck. Experiment with the EQUALISATION of each track. Experiment with the PAN of each track. Experiment with the EFFECTS (send and return) on the channel or channels you wish to process. Place the blank master cassette in the master stereo deck and press RECORD/PAUSE. When you are satisfied with all of the above, CHECK ALL THE LEVELS FROM SOURCE (4 TRACK) TO MASTER (CASSETTE). a) The levels of the individual tracks are already set. b) The level of the processor should be 0dB. c) The level of the master output should be 0dB. d) The levels of the master stereo deck should be no greater than +3dB at peak STAGE 8. STAGE 9. STAGE 10. Make certain you have a written record of all settings before mixing down. Start the master cassette deck, start the 4 track and monitor the levels during the recording. Once the recording is complete, playback the master cassette and assess the recording to ensure you have the final product you want. Music: Sound engineering and production (Int2) 22

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