For years my original songs recorded in my home studio sounded cheap and homemade. So I took some recording lessons and learned to use a multi-band compressor. That helped. But it still sounded bad. So I bought treatments for my room and made a recording booth and picked up an expensive U87 microphone and an expensive Neve preamp, and a not so expensive used Toft ATC-2 for my hardware compressor (for that 70’s disco vocal sound I love), and it did sound better, but something big was missing. So I compared my sound against other professional mixes and tried a modeling EQ that overlays the EQ of a different mix onto mine. That sounded better, a bit, but still … cheap. So next, I stripped everything down, took off all effects, and tested every hardware and software setting one by one, recording each test. This helped me realize that I was really screwing up my sound with some cheap plugins and some wrong settings. Then it was much better (hear the “BEFORE” example below), but STILL… not really there yet. At that point I sort of gave up and decided that perhaps making a professional sounding CD in my home studio just isn’t in the cards.
But tonight I was taking a break from my Spock-a-thon, trying to avoid doing my taxes and stumbled upon an app for 99 cents that I took a chance and tried. Just a few minutes with hearEQ gave me a new way to approach my mixes. After playing with it, I got excited to go mix again, adjusting each instrument’s EQ and then finally lowering the volume to where I could barely hear it to be sure everything was balanced correctly.
With already having lessons, including reading and absorbing the book “The Art of Mixing, 2nd edition” by Gibson, this app just reminded me of things I had learned but was not applying.
I’m not saying the second one is awesome enough yet that anyone would want to buy it for 99 cents on iTunes, but I think it is an improvement over the BEFORE version.
The song, by the way, was written for a comedy troupe I toured with years ago for one of their skits. The character “Warlord Zang” was played by the actress Amber Kloss, whose false mustache kept falling off during performances when the glue melted under the lights. This still cracks me up.