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Furman M-8X2

We’ve all seen them. Those black units at the top of just about every single rack of gear. Sometimes they even have cool lights that pop out and an outlet on the front so your buddy can easily charge his JUUL. But what do power conditioners really do and when is it worth it or beneficial for you to buy one for your studio?

The goal of a power conditioner is to filter, clean and stabilize incoming AC power. This, in theory, should preserve your equipment as well as improve performance. There’s an overwhelming amount of varying opinions on what exactly a good power conditioner is. A common sentiment on internet forums and messages boards is that most cheaper and more commonly used power conditioners are nothing more than an expensive box with a surge protector in it. A surge protector is used to prevent a power surge from causing damage to your electronic devices where a power conditioner is used to prevent noise and voltage fluctuations from causing issues.

Even an opinion piece on a supposedly reputable website like Computerworld.com, in which the author attest to the benefits of using a power conditioner, still come with no definitive proof. Just reading the author’s choice of words exude uncertainty, like he’s not even sure what the truth is.

“I can’t say with certainty that it [power conditioner] has improved the service life of my electronics, but I haven’t suffered a power related failure in the past 15 years”

Not exactly the best commercial for Team Power Conditioner. In fact, if I was making a commercial for a power conditioner and that was one of the customer testimonials, I’d probably leave that one out.

The author then goes on to cite a specific instance when he heard a hum through his guitar amplifier and his power conditioner was able to instantly remove it, claiming this as proof of the magic powers of his power conditioner. The only problem with that is that hum is usually caused by a ground loop and a power conditioner doesn’t have anything to do with that.

So what’s the truth? Are the thousands upon thousands of audio professionals using the base model Furman power conditioners stupid for wasting their money? That seems unlikely but it was still hard to find a clear definitive answer because the internet is littered with contradicting information and opinions. There seems to be three different schools of thought on how to properly power professional audio gear. I’ll explain each way and then I recommend you make your own educated decision depending on your situation.

The first school consists of people that believe in using a power conditioner. These people believe a conditioner is an effective and necessary tool that allows you to get the most out of your gear as well as preserve its components by providing the unit with consistent, stable, and clean power. They believe it reduces stress on their gear from things like brownouts and voltage sag.

The second school is made up of people that don’t believe anyone in the first school. They believe that any power conditioner within a few hundred dollars is not really conditioning anything and is nothing more than a rack mountable surge protector. Because of this, they choose to buy a $10 surge protector power strip, or a $30 rack mountable power strip and call it a day.

The last school believes in using a pure sine wave UPS (they almost always include a built in a surge protector). It is important that you look for a UPS that puts out a pure sine wave as many of the lower priced units use a simulated sine wave, which can cause some power supplies to buzz and are not recommended for professional use.

There are obviously some other ways of going about powering your audio gear and you can certainly combine all three schools of thought for the ultimate peace of mind, but these three are definitely the most common.

As for proof on what inexpensive power conditioners are really doing and if they work? Sorry, I can’t help you with that. That will continue to be debated by audio nerds for decades to come, right alongside “Do cables make an audible difference?”

I’ve personally never used a power conditioner for my gear at home. Now granted I don’t have a ton of gear or do much work at home, I’ve still never found myself saying  “I wish I had a power conditioner right now.” Maybe I’ve needed one or would have benefited from using one and didn’t know but nonetheless, I made it out with the majority of my gear still intact.

Related articles:
What the f*ck is 32 bit floating?
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon


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Robotic Drum Kit from RobotRickshaw

We all hate drummers. Well, now we don’t need them anymore! You can buy this silly robot for the low low price of $3,865. That’s all it takes to rid yourself of drummers forever! Small price to pay, if you ask me. #drummerjokes #drummersarestupid

Drumming Robot Demo - YouTube
12-Bit DIY Arcade Sampler from DigDugDIY

If you asked me last week what a 12-Bit DIY Arcade Sampler was, I would have given you a blank stare. Well, not this week! This week I can tell you exactly what a 12-Bit DIY Arcade sampler is. But you know what? I’ll just show you this video instead, why waste time writing out an explanation. This thing is fucking cool and you’ll want one. Check out the DIY artist collective DigDugDIY based out of Rochester in upstate New York. They make some super unique synth instruments and effects.

DigDugDIY Lo-Fi Dreams - YouTube
Hand-wired stereo rack mountable spring reverb unit from RecoveryEffects

I’ve always wanted a real outboard spring reverb unit. In plugin land, we have access to thousands of reverb algorithms and impulse responses. What we don’t have is real genuine physical reverb, waves bouncing against a spring, plate or room and fed back into your mix buss. Real is exactly what you get with a spring reverb unit. The Endless Summer Deluxe Reverb, not only sounds great but is also very reasonably priced. I wanted to build my own at one point but for this price, there’s no way I’d be able to build anything of this quality for the same price.

Recovery Effects "Endless Summer Deluxe" 2 Channel Spring Reverb Demo - YouTube
Altura Theremin MIDI Controller

This one isn’t as much a professional tool as it is something that’s fun to play with and would be an interesting talking point. This little device converts Theremin data into MIDI. Have hours of fun waving your arms and controlling whatever you want in your DAW! I haven’t bought my own yet but when I do I’ll report back on whether it’s possible to pretend you’re conducting an orchestra while also adjusting the levels of faders.

Wood diffuser wall art

Who doesn’t want a sunflower sound diffuser in their control room!? Alright, so maybe sunflowers aren’t your thing, well you can find a ton of different options on Etsy for cool looking wall art diffusers that will spice up your studio. There are funky ones like the sunflower, but also others that are more suitable for non-sunflower lovers.

Sunflower sound diffuser from Pixelood Handmade from reclaimed wood diffuser from LiamReidlinger.

Other shops that sell handmade wood diffusers,
LiviaWoodArt
BlueprintArtStudio
michagomera
RebelSkyAcoustics

Guitar pedals built into funny housings from IndianolaLabs

You can put a guitar pedal in anything these days and that’s exactly what Indianola Labs is doing. Find fun guitar pedals in all types of things like a band-aid container, E.T. lunchbox, or a doll head.

Indianola Labs Toy Camera Fuzz Pedal Demo - YouTube
The pedal demoed here is housed in a toy camera. Circuit bent anything and everything from Psychiceyeclix

I just want one of these so I can have a Furby and Buzz Lightyear phone in my studio.

Furbinator - Circuit bent Furby by Psychiceyeclix - YouTube
Who wouldn’t want this creepy circuit bent Furby?
Circuit Bent Buzz lightyear phone by Psychiceyeclix - YouTube
Or this Buzz Lightyear phone? Wooden Eurorack suitcase from ModularSynthLab

If you’re like me then you’ve dreamed of bringing a suitcase to work every day. Now we can! If you show up to the studio with a beautiful wooden suitcase full of eurorack modules you’re going to be an absolute legend. Don’t you want to be a legend?

Imagine walking into work with one of these? Weird synthesizers

This fuzzy pedal looks like that fiberglass insulation in walls that you’re not supposed to touch but hey, it sounds cool and will definitely draw some attention.

M1 Synth Toy - Overview - YouTube
The interesting looking fuzzy exterior of the M1 from TinyDiodes.

Rucci Handmade Optical Synthesizer (Drone Jar) - YouTube
The Drone Jar optical synth responds to light from MichaelRucci. Passive Filter by MichaelRucci This simple but potentially life saving device will help filter out any instrument of your choice, passively, for only $25. Weird microphones Hand-wired Telephone Microphone and Preamp Wasaphone MKII Live Lo-Fi Microphone STin Can Microphone

Turn a can of Hunt’s Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce into a unique lo-fi microphone. The mic comes attached to a top that fits just about every tin can you have in your pantry. You can listen to a vocalist using it at a live show here.

Make your own instrument kits from Bestzimo

Build your own instrument kits. I don’t have anything funny to say about these.

Make your own violin kit Weird guitar hangers from GuitarGrips

Hang up your guitars in style! Why put your guitar on some stupid old guitar stand or wall mount when you can gently place it into a copper hand or tree stump? Come on now, this isn’t rocket science!

Antique copper hand guitar hanger Lumpy tree stump guitar hanger Homemade cigar box and oil can guitars

Etsy was made for Cigar Box Guitars or CBGs as the kids call them. There’s a whole community of people that love these things. They sound horrible but I guess there’s something interesting about them, if you like that type of thing or if you’re on a farm and there’s no way you can get to a Guitar Center and Sweetwater or Amazon won’t deliver to you.

Oil can guitar - YouTube
Korg MS20 pillow

It’s a pillow that looks like a synth. Pretty cool, right?

Just think about how good you’d sleep if your head was resting on one of these bad boys.


Tape machine that was turned into a lamp

It’s not cheap but this lamp made out of a Telefunken Magnetophone 201TS tape machine is a great way to light up any control room!

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You can read the second 20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions here! Quick tip 41

On a vocal try using one compressor with a fast attack to control the peaks and a second with a slower attack for tone and character.

Quick tip 42

Try closing your eyes and listening to your mix every once and awhile. We mix with our ears not our eyes!

View this post on Instagram

Quick tip 42.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:19pm PDT

Quick tip 43

Try using a predelay with your reverbs to help with clarity. This lets the dry signal through ebfore the reverb tail is heard.

Quick tip 44

Learn how to troubleshoot! Don’t expect other people to solve your problems for you.

Quick tip 45

The higher the mic preamp gain, the more sensitive the microphone will be.

Quick tip 46

Use delays, vocal effects, and other ear candy to fill in the empty spaces of a song. This keeps the production intersting and the listener engaged even when the elad vocals aren’t in.

Quick tip 47

If frequencies are clashing and panning isn’t enough, try using a stereo width plugin to spread out a track even further.

Quick tip 48

Try using a high pass filter on the sidechain input of your compressor to let the bass frequencies pass through withouit affecting the amount of compression.

Quick tip 49

Start to maintain a favorite samples folder. After you finish a song, take your favorite sounds and export them to a seperate folder.

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Quick tip 49.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Sep 28, 2018 at 7:41am PDT

Quick tip 50

You have to try a lot of things that won’t work before you can know what things will work.

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Quick tip 50.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Oct 2, 2018 at 12:48pm PDT

Quick tip 51

Finishing the project should always be your number one goal. It doesn’t matter how good it sounds if you never finished it.

Quick tip 52

Mastering is always better left to a professional mastering engineer that has a fresh set of trained ears in a finely tuned room.

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Quick tip 52.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Oct 14, 2018 at 1:40pm PDT


Quick tip 53

Try lightly tucking a quarter note delay into a lead vocal to thicken it up.

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Quick tip 53.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Oct 16, 2018 at 6:09am PDT

Quick tip 54

Track vocalists with compression, reverb, and delay to help yeild a better performance.

View this post on Instagram

Quick tip 54.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Nov 2, 2018 at 2:59pm PDT

Quick tip 55

Try not to spend too long working on a single instrument, remember to constnatly listen to the gbig picture and not the indivudal parts.

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Quick tip 55. You ever listen to a picture, man?

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Nov 4, 2018 at 5:30am PST

Quick tip 56

Don’t be afraid to stack multiple plugins and don’t be afraid to leave a sound untouched.

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Quick tip 56.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Nov 8, 2018 at 5:53am PST

Quick tip 57

You really don’t need that piece of gear! Spend more time learning about the gear you have and actually using it.

Quick tip 58

Louder always sounds better. Make sure when A/Bing two signals that both are being played back at teh same level so you can accurately judge what sounds better.

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Quick tip 58.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Nov 19, 2018 at 11:20am PST

Quick tip 59

Every DAW offers teh ability to write notes directly into a session and on specific tracks. When you hear something that needs to be fixed, make a ntoe of it so you’ll remmeber what you wanted to do later.

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Quick tip 59.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Dec 1, 2018 at 9:29am PST

Quick tip 60

Set aside time for experimentation where you try new processors, effects, adn techniques that you wouldn’t normally use.

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Quick tip 60. Have you tried anything new lately?

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Feb 17, 2019 at 6:33am PST

Related articles:
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions (part 2)
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
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Classic recording consoles are extremely sought after for the hands-on workflow and unbelievable sound quality. There’s nothing like riding the volume of a vocal, having your fingers on a real fader while being able to easily reach to an immaculate sounding equalizer and compressor on every channel. With all good comes some bad and using a console has its fair share of cons. For starters, they are huge. It requires a lot of space, energy, and patience to run and maintain such an enormous piece of gear properly.  Still, the ability to touch a console with your fingers and express your sonic desires physically, moving faders, twisting knobs, and pushing buttons, cannot be emulated with a computer or touch screen.

Everything started with analog gear and recording consoles, and today’s DAWs take direct influence from the past. Large format consoles have thousands of switches, transistors, capacitors, relays and other components that make the elaborate device work. These large intricate and complicated tools are true marvels of electrical engineering. Today it’s easy to take for granted just how remarkable consoles are, techniques that were previously only accomplished with a console, tape machine, and meticulous editing, are now easily done within a computer.

I’m not here to debate if analog or digital is better, I’ll leave that to Gearslutz and Facebook groups (spoiler alert: it doesn’t matter, and you should use whatever works for you) but I am here to honor the great recording consoles that paved the way for modern recording techniques. I put a list together of some classic consoles that have been heard on countless of hit records (and even more that weren’t hits) and decided to write about their history and what makes them unique. Some people like to experience the nostalgia of classic cars, clothing, toys, or art, well I like consoles and audio gear.

SSL 4000-E/G

Solid State Logic, better known as SSL was founded in 1969 by Colin Sanders. The company’s first products were switching systems for pipe organs that used FET switches to communicate between the keyboard and the electromechanics of the pipes. These switches replaced older unreliable relays, solenoids, and thick interconnecting cables 

Colin began designing and making consoles for his studio in his home village of Stonesfield, Oxfordshire, England. The first console he made was called the “A” series, and it was continually improved upon until he decided to build six to sell to other studios and institutions. These became the 4000 B series, and he eventually sold them to studios around the world including Townhouse Studios in London where it was used to record the famous drum fill (and the rest of the song) for Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight. The B Series was the first desk to integrate a studio computer system with a console.

They continued to revise the 4000 series and in 1979 changed the game with the breakthrough 4000 E series which was unlike anything the industry had seen before. It was the first console to have a dedicated dynamics section which added a compressor/gate/expander on every channel. It also included the company’s famous fully parametric equalizer which allowed engineers to boost and cut frequencies with incredible detail and accuracy. These two things coupled with the consoles flexible routing was the catalyst for what I consider a renaissance in the art of mixing during the ’80s. These feature-packed consoles allowed engineers to explore new creative techniques that let them hone in on more modern, polished sounding productions. Gated toms, reverbs, scooped mids, a ton of compression, and layering were all new techniques that were only possible because of SSL consoles new features. All of this flexibility gave access to a whole new palette of colors for engineers to paint with and changed the way music would be heard forever.

In 1987, the company introduced the 4000 G Series console, which had a slightly different EQ section. The G Series equalizer used steeper filter slopes and incorporated a variable proportional-Q design, which automatically adjusts the Q value as you boost or cut.

In this video, Tony Masteri compares the Waves version of the two types and describes the G to be more midrange forward and better for rock and roll and the E to be rounder sounding and better for Pop, R&B and Hip Hop.

SSL G-Channel or E-Channel? Comparison with Tony Maserati - YouTube

Over the years the company has gone through multiple owners and now resides as part of the Audiotonix Group along with Digico, Calrec, Allen & Heath and Digigrid brands. They continue to make consoles although they have put more effort into live and smaller hybrid analog/digital consoles.

Neve 80’s series

There are very few people that have had as great of an impact on music technology than Rupert Neve. Every single recording studio has some form of Neve clone, plugin or original preamp or compressor. The name alone has become synonymous with high quality, extremely musical sounding pieces of recording gear. Their consoles have something unique about them. Whatever the magic is, there’s no arguing that Rupert Neve had an incredible ear and genius for designing audio gear. Preamps, equalizers, and compressors designed by him have lasted the test of time and are still extremely sought after.

Rupert Neve learned how to build and sell radios from a very early age. During WWII while serving with the Royal Signals, he was able to hone his skills building radios and pa systems further. He went on to build a mobile recording studio in a US Army Dodge ambulance where he was able to record hours of opera concerts, music festivals and public events directly to 78 RPM lacquer discs.

The first Neve console

After working for a few small radio and transformer manufacturers, he started making bookshelf loudspeakers and selling them. In the mid-1950s he was commissioned to build a console for Desmond Leslie, a professional composer of Musique Concrete. This new experimental style of music required the use of multiple tape recorders that were playing loops with different pre-recorded sound effects. Leslie needed a way to mix his tape machines, thus giving a reason to commission the first-ever Neve console.

Pictured is German Musique Concrete composer Karlheinz Stockhausen

In the 1970’s Sir Rupert Neve entered his golden years where he was designing and producing some of his finest consoles. The 80’s series are what most consider when referencing a vintage Neve console. There were many iterations of 80 series consoles through the 1970s and 1980s; each console was custom made to order, specifically for their buyer.

The majority of the 80 series consoles included entirely class A mic preamps; the 8028 included the famous 1073b while the 8058 and 8068 included 31102 mic/pre EQ modules which are very similar to the 1073 with a few design differences and some additional hi frequency EQ points.  Many of these consoles included the very sought after 32264a compressor/limiter. Like all Neve compressors, these use a diode bridge circuit based design which outputs a very desirable thick, warm, smacking tone.

The 8058 and 8068 are almost the same except for an additional four channels on the later. Another key feature that sets these desks apart from earlier consoles the comapny made is the fact they have eight aux sends allowing for more routing flexibility. These consoles were staples of some of the best studios in the 70s and 80s.

Neve 8058

1978 saw the release of the first 8078 which their first large format console and featured up to 72 channels. The 8078 is the last hand-wired analog console to be produced in the 80’s Series. These consoles usually come loaded with varying numbers of 31105 microphone/line preamp and EQ modules.

If you want that Neve sound and don’t have $5,000 to shell out for a single channel of the original, you can buy one of the bazillion clones that vary drastically in price and quality. If the price is not an issue, the BAE 1073’s are some of the best around. If you’re on a little bit of a smaller budget, check out the Vintech X73i. And if you’re on an even smaller budget, and you have a Universal Audio interface, check out the UAD unison plugin version.

REDD.17, REDD.37, and REDD.51
REDD.17

The Record Engineering Development Department (REDD) was established in 1955 by Abbey Road Studios’ technical engineer Lenn Page. Within a year they had produced the REDD.1 console which was their first dedicated stereo mixing system. At the time, EMI/Abbey Road made just about everything in house. Mass-produced consoles didn’t exist yet so everything was designed and built for their specific needs.

The REDD.17 console was developed in 1958 and was one of the first modern-style consoles. Interestingly, this was also around the same time that Tom Dowd was in America at Atlantic Records wiring up his first modern style recording desk. It’s up for debate as to which one came first but the general consensus is they both created these desks around the same time independently, therefore, both should be credited.

The REDD.17 was designed by Peter Burkotwitz, who was based in EMI Electrola in Germany. This console was created in sections and pioneered modular designed systems that just about all large format consoles use today. The entire console could be broken down and shipped in five individual pieces.

The REDD 37 was the second version of the console, and only two were ever made. This new model added outputs needed to accommodate the studio’s new four track tape machines. There were 8 inputs, 4 outputs and treble and bass EQ adjustments on each channel.

All REDD consoles are vacuum tube based and the 17 and 37 models used Siemens V72S preamps. The V72S is a tube preamp that has a fixed gain level of 40 dB. If you need less gain than you’ll have to move the microphone or use an attenuator. The REDD 37 is commonly known as the Beatles board however, it was only used up until 1964 and then again on their Let It Be album (when Magic Alex conned the band into commissioning him to build a console that was never completed).

EMI originally wanted eight of these desks built, but only three were actually completed. One console wound up as a prototype and found a home at Kingsway Hall, another EMI recording facility. The other two were slightly upgraded models of the prototype and became actual production models. Those both landed at Abbey Road in Studio One and Two.

REDD.51

In January of 1964, EMI replaced the REDD.37 console in Studio Two with the brand new REDD.51. The main difference between the 51 and previous models is the amps that were used, instead of using the V72s like the 17 and 37, this console used REDD 47 amps. These new amps were built in house and offered lower distortion and more headroom than the v72s. There were only four REDD.51 desks made and they were eventually phased out in the late ’60s for the transistor based TG series. Today there is only one known REDD.51 in existence and it is located at British Grove Studios in London.

Both the 37 and 51 featured 14 painton quadrant faders (and yes, those are the ones that look like space ship levers). The levers controlled the eight mic channels, two aux channels and the four central faders controlled the master outputs to the 4-track tape machine.

Also found on the console are dedicated echo sends and returns, different styles of pan pots, and a unique spreader control which allows for adjustment of the stereo image.

If you’re looking for that vintage REDD sound, you’re in luck, Chandler Limited has cloned the preamps very well. A Designs also makes the super fat sounding REDDI tube DI box, and Kush has a great plugin version of it.

Related articles:
5 of the rarest and most unique synths ever made
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them[Even more]
Things I wish I learned sooner about audio engineering
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon

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Audio Hertz Blog by David Silverstein - 2M ago

To dither or not to dither that is the question…

The real question is how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? I’m sure there are plenty of incredibly talented engineers that produce exceptional sounding music that doesn’t know the first thing about dither. Dither isn’t going to make or break you, and even the most technical engineers will tell you that when working in 24-bit fixed point, the majority of people aren’t going to hear a difference. But the difference is there, and in our world, we are trying to accumulate small wins that will increase the quality of our work. Individually these changes don’t make a huge difference, but as they accumulate with other small victories it can start to make a dramatic difference and ultimately becomes what sets a good engineer from a great one.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there on dither. It’s much more difficult than it should be to figure out what the hell dither is if you should use it, and why. I like articles that get straight to the point and can sum up the topic in a practical way, quickly, efficiently, and without getting too complicated.  is how I prefer to look at the technical details of audio.

The truth is there is nothing I’d rather talk about less than the technicalities of digital audio, file formats, truncating bits, zeros, ones and the rest of that nonsense. Unfortunately, as an audio engineer and music producer, we have a responsibility to learn new technology if there is a chance it can improve the quality of our productions.

What is dither?

Dither is a specific type of low-level noise that is added when converting the bit depth of an audio file in order to reduce quantization distortion.

Why do you use dither?

Dither is required when reducing the number of bits in an audio file to help mask any quantization errors. Dither works by randomizing the quantization errors; the added noise has the effect of spreading the errors across the audio spectrum which in turn makes them less noticeable.

If you’re converting a file from 24-bit to 16-bit you need to get rid of or truncate the 8 extra bits of information. The truncation of bits causes quantization distortion which can cause the audio to sound brittle, and gritty, as well as shrink the stereo image. A music file that was correctly dithered compared to one that wasn’t is night and day, as the correctly dithered version will always sound better, even to untrained ears.

To hear what truncation distortion sounds like you can watch Ian Shepards video “Dither or distort? Listen and decide for yourself”

Dither or distort ? Listen and decide for yourself - YouTube

Should you be using dither?

A lot of people say only dither once, dither is noise, and we shouldn’t constantly be adding noise to our audio right? Well, accomplished mastering engineer Ian Shepard of http://productionadvice.co.uk and The Mastering Show Podcast says  “After all, it’s just noise – and very quiet noise, at that.” Quiet noise never hurt anybody but hearing the effects of quantization errors can be quite jarring and painful. In order to minimize quantization errors that are introduced when converting fixed bit depth audio files, you should use dither every time you process a file in your DAW (more on this later).

All modern DAWs process and calculate in 32-bit floating regardless of the source bit depth. This means that bit depth conversions are happening every time you process the audio in any way like freezing tracks, bouncing in place and consolidating regions. To my knowledge, most if not all DAWs are not adding dither automatically, which means that bits are being truncated every time these processes are happening. You can prevent any conversion or need to dither entirely by always working in 32-bit floating. I would even recommend sending a 32-bit floating wav file to your mastering engineer and leave the dithering to them. You won’t need to dither until you finalize your master into a fixed point bit depth.

Conclusion

Even though when working at 24 bits the audible artifacts of quantization errors are negligible, by working in 32 bit floating we can eliminate the need to add dither during mixing and leave the one-time decision to be done in mastering.

Related articles:
20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions
5 mixing mistakes that I used to make… and how to avoid them
Things I wish I learned sooner about audio engineering
The “your mixes sound bad in the car” phenomenon
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You can read the first 20 quick and easy tips that will improve your productions here! Quick tip 21

Try automating the master fader 1 or 2 decibels in the chorus to add excitement.

Quick tip 21.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 31, 2018 at 11:38am PDT

Quick tip 22

Decide what takes you like and makes comps right away. Don’t leave important decisions for later!

Quick tip 22.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jun 4, 2018 at 12:17pm PDT

Quick tip 23

Treat music like a job, even if it’s not your job!

Quick tip 23.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jun 12, 2018 at 12:27pm PDT

Quick tip 24

Make a template and constantly keep refining it.

Quick tip 24.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jun 13, 2018 at 11:42am PDT

Quick tip 25

If you want your chorus to sound big, don’t make it bigger make what comes before it smaller.

Quick tip 26

Separate the times you focus on sound design and sample organization from your actual production sessions.

Quick tip 26.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jun 20, 2018 at 11:02am PDT

Quick tip 27

Practice shortcuts and hotkeys! Your DAW is an instrument, treat it like one. Learning all of the hotkeys will drastically speed up your workflow.

Quick tip 28

Put each vocal section on its own track (lead verse, lead chorus, lead bridge) and send to a vocal bus. This makes it easy to change processing for the vocal between sections.

Quick tip 28.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jun 26, 2018 at 11:00am PDT

Quick tip 29

Don’t bounce and repeatedly listen to songs you are still working on. If you repeatably listen to a work in progress your brain will start to get used to it and it will become more difficult to make changes or add new tracks later.

Quick tip 29.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jun 28, 2018 at 9:13am PDT

Quick tip 30

Try adding chorus before a reverb to help widen and give movement to your return.

Quick tip 30.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jul 2, 2018 at 10:40am PDT

Quick tip 31

Avoid loopitis by following the structure of a reference track.

Quick tip 31.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jul 13, 2018 at 12:29pm PDT

Quick tip 32

CONTRAST! CONTRAST! CONTRAST! Stereo sounds the best when there’s contrast. For the widest sound, make sure what is playing in the left speaker is different than what’s playing in the right.

Quick tip 33

ADD SOME AIR! For bright and shiny pop vocals make sure to add some “air” or frequencies over 14kHz.

Quick tip 33.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jul 21, 2018 at 8:51am PDT

Quick tip 34

Submix similar sounds and parts prior to mixing so things stay organized and you can easily process multiple tracks at once.

Quick tip 34.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jul 23, 2018 at 1:43pm PDT

Quick tip 35

De-essing vocals allows you to get rid of harsh sibilance while maintaining clarity. I like to use one in the beginning of my vocal chain to make sure I get rid of anything before it’s compressed or equalized.

Quick tip 35.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Jul 30, 2018 at 11:13am PDT

Quick tip 36

Small amounts of compression on multiple channels can really add up and help glue things together.

Quick tip 36. A little goes a long way!

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Aug 4, 2018 at 10:57am PDT

Quick tip 37

Don’t set it and forget it! Those faders need to move! Performing volume automation will give your mixes life and make you a lot cooler.

Quick tip 37.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Aug 6, 2018 at 11:25am PDT

Quick tip 38

If a reverb isn’t working on a vocal, try a short delay. It can give you the sense of space you need without cluttering things up.

Quick tip 38.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Aug 8, 2018 at 2:35pm PDT

Quick tip 39

Modern digital recordings pick up transients very cleanly. Add saturation before compression to help tame some of those sharp transient peaks so your compressor will not have to work as hard.

Quick tip 39.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Aug 9, 2018 at 2:04pm PDT

Quick tip 40

Clean up that low end! Use plenty of hi pass filters on instruments that don’t have fundamental bass frequencies to get a tight and punchy low end.

Quick tip 40.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Aug 10, 2018 at 8:55pm PDT

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The following five rare and unique synthesizers weren’t very popular, but their scarcity and uniqueness make them even more valuable today. Being a newly, self-declared synth geek, I’m enjoying the process of learning a new instrument. It’s nice to know there is even more money to spend on audio gear than I had previously thought.

We’ve all heard of Junos, Prophets, Arps and DX7s but what about the synthesizers that weren’t as popular? I think it’s fascinating to think about the smaller run projects and how they were all at one point the culmination of someone’s imagination.

Unfortunately, not all synths had as much widespread appeal as some of the industry staples I mentioned earlier. There are many reasons a synthesizer might not do well commercially, whether it be faulty components, a bad user interface, or just failed marketing efforts from the company, most of the time it has nothing to do with the actual sound of the instrument.

Wersi EX20

Wersei is a German digital organ maker who is still in business today. They were one of the first Organ manufactures to embrace digital technology. After ten years of producing Organs, they decided to try their hand at synthesizers and entered the market with the EX20 module, a digital 20 note polyphonic synth. The sounds from this synth are based on an arrangement of modules such as wave, pitch-envelope, amplitude envelopes and analog effects to produce fourier, waveform sample, and modular synthesis.

There’s also an EX-10 model that looks similar and uses cartridges; however, the cartridges are not cross compatible and are extremely difficult to find. Owners and users of this unit say they are incredibly challenging to program and nearly impossible without the manual which is entirely in German.

Wersei made some other unique synths that are just as rare including the Bass Synthesizer and the Stage Performer Mk1.

Wersei Bass Synth

In this interview with talented synth programmer Wolfram Franke of Waldorf Synthesizers, he talks about the ES20 and some of the unique features.

When asked about what synth started his journey into programming his own, he directly mentions the ES-20 from Wersei,

“It’s from the German organ company Wersi and it is called MK1 (Series III). It was a 20 voice, 8 part multitimbral additive synth with up to 32 harmonics, an integrated chorus/ensemble effect, and only one VCF, but that one was a copy of the Moog 24dB VCF plus a good-sounding overdrive.

It had a lot of very interesting features that you won’t find in any other synth like modular envelopes with 8 stages where each stage could hold a module that did something like generating random steps, vibrato, linear or exponential ramps or simply holding the level for a certain time.

If you ask why we didn’t put something like this into our Waldorf synths, I can easily answer that I was probably the only person outside of Wersi who could program this thing!”

Beilfuss Step Synth

This synth is part folklore, part reality. There are videos of it so it must exist, but mentions of this on the internet go back to 1996 and others have claimed to have seen advertisements in Keyboard Magazine even years before that. The company has self-declared this unit as “the first ever Step Synthesizer,”

The first unique thing that sticks out about this synth is its 93 keys which are just two 4-octave synths connected.

The Beilfuss Step Synth was developed by Keith Williams who also goes over the instrument in depth in this video posted to YouTube in 2011,

Beilfuss Step Synthesizer Comes Blinking Out Of The Basement - YouTube

Using the way back machine, I was able to find the now-defunct single page Beilfuss website which gives some more info on the synth,

“Unlike any analog or digital synthesizer’s controls, the patented tone control consists of sixteen steps simply outlining the waveform as set by the Signal Controls you see at the left of the control panel. Similarly, the envelope and filter contour transients and their time intervals are also set by the Signal Controls for rhythms or extended notes. You may easily add prompted, parallel voicings, combining settings of both sides for complex notes.

There are 32 controls and 142 switches for direct programming. Dedicated LED switches always read out their side of the full eight octaves, split keyboard. Five octaves of transposition is possible.”

ASI Synthia

Early promotional material for an ASI Synthia

Synthia was a very rare “all in one” high-end synthesizer released in 1982 by Adaptive Systems, Inc. These units started at 20,000 which may be why there aren’t many people that have ever seen, let alone played a working one. There aren’t even any sound clips or video demos posted online anywhere.  I wish there were videos or recordings of this one so I could verify this claim, but I guess I’ll just need to use my imagination.

These premiered in the form of two prototypes at the 1982 NAMM show. The prototypes did not sell and soon after manufacturing ceased. The synthesizers are currently not functioning and sitting in the basement of the inventor, Mark E. Faulhaber.

One unique feature that would warrant the incredibly high price tag was the touch responsive plasma screen which at the time was very new technology but is now seen in just about every modern all in one keyboard.

The plasma screen followed the user’s finger which could be used to adjust bar graphs that controlled the different adjustable parameters on the synth like harmonic content, envelope parameters, controller assignments and more.

Most of the information on this synthesizer is from the book Vintage Synthesizers by Mark Vail.

Hammond Novachord
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I recently started a new series called “Quick tips” on the Audio Hertz Instagram account and decided it would be a good idea to compile them all together and put them up as a single post.

Here are my first 20 quick and easy tips that are guaranteed to improve your productions.

Quick tip 1

Studio monitors should be the last thing turned on and the first thing turned off.

Quick tip.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Apr 16, 2018 at 10:59am PDT

Quick tip 2

Read the damn manual!

Quick tip 3

The zero point is where the positive and negative side of a wave meet. By cutting there you can avoid clicks and pops in your audio, although it never hurts to add a short crossfade.

Quick tip 3.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Apr 25, 2018 at 12:36pm PDT

Quick tip 4

To get a larger sounding floor tom, place foam pads under the feet so you don’t lose any of the low resonances through the floor.

Quick tip 4.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Apr 29, 2018 at 9:55am PDT

Quick tip 5

Trying to get the vocals to pop? Duplicate the lead vocal track, add distortion, a sh*t ton of compression, boost EQ in the 1-5kHz range and automate the new track back in during the parts you need the vocal to cut through more.

Quick tip 5.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Apr 30, 2018 at 7:28am PDT

Quick tip 6

Don’t be afraid to add processing to your effects returns.

Quick tip 7

Your goal when mixing shouldn’t be to make it sound the best, your goal should be to make it feel the best.

Quick tip 8

Automate the tempo of your track to go up a few BPM in the chorus. It adds excitement and life, just like when real musicians play together.

Quick tip 8.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 3, 2018 at 10:54am PDT

Quick tip 9

Don’t be afraid of using an extremely wide Q setting on an equalizer. Wider boosts at smaller increments tend to sound less intrusive and more musical.

Quick tip 9.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 5, 2018 at 5:05pm PDT

Quick tip 10

The best engineers know when to tweak a sound and when to leave it alone. Listen before you decide to add EQ or compression.

Quick tip 10.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 6, 2018 at 1:59pm PDT

Quick tip 11

Remember to mix at lower volumes! Everything sounds better when it’s louder so make sure your track still retains the balance and punch at lower volumes. I also love adjusting compressors at low volumes, it makes it easier to hear what it’s really doing to the transient.

Quick tip 12

After mixing for a long time try flipping the left and right to listen from a new perspective.

Quick tip 13

Having trouble balancing the low end? Try cutting 60-80 Hz in the bass and boosting 60-80 Hz in the kick.

Quick tip 13.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 15, 2018 at 11:18am PDT

Quick tip 14

Try using a transient designer on your drum reverb return. Turning up the attack should yield a tighter and punchier sound.

Quick tip 14.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 16, 2018 at 12:01pm PDT

Quick tip 15

Your groove is driven by the interplay between your kick, snare, hi-hat, and bass. If your rhythm section doesn’t groove, ain’t nobody gonna move.

Quick tip 15.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 17, 2018 at 10:55am PDT

Quick tip 16

Commit to a sound, save CPU power and bounce your virtual instruments to audio. Don’t get stuck in the habit of leaving yourself a ton of decisions to make while mixing.

Quick tip 16.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 18, 2018 at 11:46am PDT

Quick tip 17

Try turning off tempo-sync on your time based effects. Subtle timing discrepancies are a cool way to loosen up the groove and give a more human feel to your programmed tracks.

Quick tip 17.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 22, 2018 at 12:14pm PDT

Quick tip 18

You don’t always have to mix sounds loud enough to hear them. Sometimes an instrument or effects return only needs to be felt and not heard.

Quick tip 18.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 24, 2018 at 10:31am PDT

Quick tip 19

Use a room mic on an electric guitar and blend it in with the amp’s microphone to add space, depth, and attack to your guitar tracks.

*I need to make a correction on this one. If you’re looking for more attack you can try adding a close mic on the guitarist picking hand, this also works well for bass guitar.

Quick tip 19.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 26, 2018 at 4:59pm PDT

Quick tip 20

Organize your plugins! Just about every DAW these days will allow you to rearrange the way your plugins are laid out.

Quick tip 20.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on May 28, 2018 at 12:40pm PDT

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Audio Hertz Blog by David Silverstein - 2M ago

I’ve been interested in learning more about audio clipping for quite some time, but it wasn’t until recently that I was able to get my hands on a dedicated clipper plugin. I remember years ago hearing about mastering engineers clipping their converters for an extra 1-2 dB of gain. That made complete sense, but I’d never found a reason that this would be applicable in any of my productions. It wasn’t until recently when clippers became a common term thrown around message boards and Facebook groups that I took more interest and decided to do some research and experimenting for myself.

We’ve all heard of clipping. From the very beginning of learning to record, we are taught to avoid clipping at all costs. Many would think it’s synonymous with digital distortion and is in every way, shape, and form, a negative artifact of digital audio. But they would be wrong. Not all clipping is a bad thing. Clipping that sounds bad is bad; clipping that sounds good and helps us achieve louder volume levels is good.

The highest possible point before the audio starts to distort inside your DAW is 0 dBFS. If you push a source past this threshold, it will start to shave off the top of your waveform, so it looks more like a square wave than a standard round sine wave. Your waveform is effectively clipped.

There are two different types, hard clipping, and soft clipping.

Hard clipping

If you look at a sine wave on an oscilloscope and raise the level into a clipper, the round sine wave gets squared off at the top effectively shaving off the rounded edge of the waveform.

Sine Wave

Clipped Sine Wave

Hard clipping distorts the sound while adding additional harmonics to the original source.This can sound cool on its own as just an effect. But it can also be particularly useful when used on sub frequency instruments, such as the ever popular 808 kick drum. These additional harmonics will make the sub frequencies more audible on smaller speakers.

Another common use of hard clipping is to make things louder. Many engineers will put one at the end of their mastering chain after the limiter. Here you can use a clipper to get a few extra dB of gain, similar to the mastering engineers I’d heard about that purposely clip their converters.

Soft clipping

Unlike hard clipping where waves are completely squared off, with soft clipping the waves are more rounded to create a smooth transition between the clipped and unclipped sections of the waveform. This makes for a more pleasing sounding distortion that isn’t as harsh as hard clipping. Analog gear and magnetic tape does this naturally when transformers and circuits are overdriven. Many compressors and limiters also have soft clipping built in as a standard feature.

Soft Clipped Sine Wave


Clipper Plugins

Usually when levels are pushed they become squared off, a clipper plugin uses an algorithm that knows when there is an overage and rather than completely chop off the waveform, it helps shape it. A good clipper plugin keeps the transient impact while still adding harmonic content and volume.

You can also use them to “clip” or shave off the top peaks of your waveform so you can tame transients, add harmonic content, and effectively achieve a higher perceived loudness. Seems simple enough however, there’s an art to using one as too much will leave you with dull transient-less material.

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I love talking about audio and music. I love having discussions with other people that enjoy the same things that I do. This is the reason I found myself frequenting not only forums, message boards, Facebook groups, but also live events and other places where people that enjoy recording audio and making music gather. Since I was a kid I was always looking for a way to join a community while not actually having to join a community. When I started playing the bass in the 6th grade, I joined a bass guitar message board where I could talk to other bassists about ways to improve. Later on, when I got into playing competitive paintball and poker I did the same thing. By joining these communities I was cued into a network of people that were all interested in the same thing. It became a vital way for me to find people that have similar interest that are also looking to grow. Message boards and similar types of communities are also a great place to educate yourself as they are great resources for information as well as staying current on industry trends.

Now, with all good can come bad and there can be a lot of bad when you get a lot of nerds together online. This is actually a reason I enjoy facebook groups a bit more than message boards. Facebook is less anonymous than the some of the other communities which hold users accountable (to an extent). Anonymity can bring out the worst in people.

Some of you that follow me on social media may know that I like to create and post a lot of memes that are designed to be funny and poke fun at certain aspects of audio, music or production. It seems some people get them confused with statements about audio engineering or music production beliefs and philosophies.

I recently posted a meme where I depicted a Fairchild 670, the Waves plugin version of the same compressor– the Puigchild 670 and a stock photo of people in a crowd with the words “Who would win?” at the top. Almost immediately comments began flooding in arguing one side or the other.

The point of this meme is making fun of the high cost of analog gear and the fact that the majority of people that will eventually listen to the end product on their cell phones not only don’t give a crap about what type of processors you used but also will never be able to hear the difference.  I love analog gear, I use a lot of it, I wouldn’t be able to do certain things without it. I love plugins, I use a lot of them, I wouldn’t be able to do certain things without them. One is not better than the other, they both serve their purpose. If you like one better than the other, great, that doesn’t mean it’s better for everyone.

Analog vs digital vs the average listener.

A post shared by Audio Hertz (@audio_hertz) on Apr 23, 2018 at 3:53pm PDT

That meme is meant to be a joke, it’s meant to be funny but what I’ve found is that people online seem to take things too seriously and love to take any opportunity to argue something they believe is 100% right. If you’re one of those people let me save you some time and aggravation. It’s not worth it and you’re not always right, even if you always think you are. Why are you trying to change complete strangers opinions on the internet?

It doesn’t make any sense to me. I understand having a proper debate about something that may be controversial but there’s really no right or wrong in these scenarios. If you like analog gear, great, use it. If you like plugins, great, use it. Why is anyone trying to prove to anyone else that one is better than the other?

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