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The Ultimate EQ Cheat Sheet for Every Common Instrument
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9 Mics Under $500 That Sound Incredibly High-End

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Every musician with a home studio always has the same question: "How do I get a big studio sound on a small budget?" While there's no way to put the sound of an $12,000 signal path into a $500 package, with some recording know-how, good practices, and careful selection of your tools, you can still get some great sounds in your home studio without selling your car. While many mics are application, specific odds are your home studio and budget will most likely revolve around one workhorse mic that can more or less try to do it all. With that in mind, below are some of my picks for the best "bang for your buck" mic choices in the under-$500 (street price) category.

How to Successfully Achieve Analog Warmth With Digital Tape Plugins

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This article originally appeared on Performer Magazine.


Recording has been a part of my life for more than 35 years. I started in the analog tape world, and I'm still in the analog tape world at the studio where I work. I was introduced to digital recording in 1982 with a Sony PCM-F1, so I have a long history with analog and digital recording.

Digital audio workstations (DAWs) were introduced to the recording industry in the 1980s with the Fairlight CMI and Synclavier Digital systems. In 1989, a small company called Digidesign harnessed the power of the Macintosh computer and introduced a two-track DAW called Sound Tools. This product morphed into Pro Tools and has evolved over the last 25 years to become the standard for multitrack recording in professional studios around the world. I was one of the early adopters of Sound Tools and eventually Pro Tools, and my first hard drive for the system cost $2,200 for one gigabyte! Yes, those numbers are correct.

The Ultimate EQ Cheat Sheet for Every Common Instrument

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You asked, and you shall receive, Sonicbids blog readers. Per multiple requests, here's my guide to, "When the hell do I start turning these knobs, and where do they go?" But before we begin, I offer you the fine print: These references are general ideas for where to begin to look for sonic issues with particular sounds, instruments, and voices. I'm not going to tell you "always notch this 9 dB here and add 3 dB here with a wide boost and, voila, perfect sound!" because it's unfortunately just not that simple. So before you message me, "Aaron, I notched out so much 250 Hz out of my snare, I snapped the knob off the console, and it still sounds muddy!" just know that not all sound sources are created equal.

The Critical Difference Between Gain and Volume

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Let's say you're at a show or rehearsal and you turn to your amp, or perhaps your mixer, and you need to make something louder. You'll more than likely be confronted by a set of knobs or maybe even a fader that might have any of the following labels: gain, trim, level, volume, master, or a similar moniker. So which one are you supposed to reach for and when?

The difference between gain and volume, in particular, confuses many people. As is my usual goal, I'll hopefully help to clear things up a little for those of you who may not fully understand what each knob accomplishes.

Audio 101: The Secrets of How to Effectively Use EQ in the Studio

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As a follow-up to my previous article about using EQ in a live setting, today we're going to focus on how we can use EQ in the studio. While our EQ principles remain the same in both settings, there are a number of idiosyncrasies that lead us to take certain approaches in one situation over the other. Right off the bat, we usually tend to focus more on using EQ for artistic and coloration purposes in the studio, whereas in the live world, we often use EQ as a problem-solving tool before we begin to consider implementing the artistic side of it. Then, with feedback issues no longer playing a role in the sonic landscape of the studio, we can really reach into a sound and begin to craft it.