The EM Poll
Archive for June, 2007
Last week I attended an event put on by the Recording Academy that spotlighted ESession, which is an Web-based company that facilitates the hiring of studio talent (musicians, mix engineers, producers) for remote sessions. The idea is to give clients a choice of “A-List” talent to hire for their home-recorded projects. Not only does ESession’s Web-based interface help you find and hire talent, it also facilitates the exchange and storage of your session files (through FTP), which is key in a remote-recording situation.
The event took place at the XM Radio studios in Manhattan,which are located in the beautiful new Jazz at Lincoln Center facility overlooking Central Park. ESession is a result of a partnership between recording engineer and singer/songwriter Gina Fant-Saez and renowned producer/engineer Kevin Killen. Killen has worked with such artists as U2, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel, Paula Cole, Amos Lee, Duncan Sheik, Shakira, and many more.
Other notables on hand at the event included producer/engineers Jimmy Douglass and Dave O’Donnell. The idea was to give the Academy members a look at ESession, which, among other things, hopes to help jump start the moribund session scene.
Fant-Saez and Killen both addressed the gathering, and demos of ESession were given every 15 minutes in one of the studios. I had a chance to talk to them at length about how ESession works. LISTEN to the interview. WATCH a video of Fant-Saez and Killen speaking at the event.
Of late, when I’m recording an acoustic guitar for a song in which it will be either the only instrument or the dominant one, I’ve had a lot of success using a spaced-pair stereo-miking scheme, with one mic pointing at the guitar body between the sound hole and the bridge, and the other pointing at the neck around the 7th fret. I align both mics on the vertical plane and angle them outward by about 20-degrees. Those are rough placements, and I move the mics around a little to find their sweet spots before settling on final positioning. I’ve used this setup mainly for fingerpicked parts rather than strummed ones. For mics, I’m using a pair of Røde NT-4 cardioid pencil condensers through an FMR Audio Really Nice Preamp (which is a great 2-channel preamp for the money). I record them to two separate mono tracks (which I pan L&R) so that I can play around with the individual levels in the mix. I really like the nice wide sound that you get with the spaced-pair placement. I tried using an X-Y configuration, but I found the image was too narrow, especially for a solo fingerpicked part. For those out there who are stereo-miking acoustics, I’m curious to know what configurations are working out best for you?
All of you Mac users out there are surely familiar with the ubiquitous Software Update screen that pops up regularly on your desktop. Using it to update individual apps is one thing, but think very carefully before initiating one of the incremental OS X system updates that are sporadically released by Apple. Basically, within a given version of OS X (Tiger, Panther, etc.) your updating philosophy should be “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I speak from experience, because I recently ignored that concept and paid the price. I’ve been using 10.4.8 for a while now, and all my music software was functioning nicely. Software Update had been pestering me about 10.4.9 for a while, but I held off (I have a Power Mac G5). One of the sequencers I use the most is Pro Tools LE, and I know that Digidesign doesn’t immediately put new Apple System updates on it’s list of approved system versions. So I waited and waited, and then one day last week, I deemed that enough time had passed and hit the update button for 10.3.9. Big mistake. The ironic part was that the program I had the most trouble with wasn’t Pro Tools LE, which ran fine, but rather Apple’s own Logic Pro. Go figure?
I couldn’t even get Logic to open. It kept crashing while it was launching. The problem appeared to have to do with plug-ins, as it was trying to re-validate (using the AuVal utility) all of my AU plugs, but couldn’t get through the list without crashing.
I searched the problem on Google, and found relevant hits on some of the user groups–such as KVR–which told of similar problems. Some people were also having trouble with their PACE copy protection software when running 10.3.9. Several users suggested using Apple’s Combo Update (separate versions are offered for PPC and Intel users) rather than the one offered on Software Update. I downloaded and installed that, but still had the same problem. Then I noticed that Logic was getting hung up while trying to evaluate a particular third-party plug-in. So I went to the Web site of that plug-in developer and downloaded the latest version of the plug. After that, Logic made it past that plug-in but got hung up on another one. I repeated the same process, with the next plug-in and after updating a couple more (most of my plug-ins didn’t need updating), Logic was good to go.
By that point, I had spent hours troubleshooting a problem that could have been avoided by simply staying with 10.4.8. So as a general rule, I advise thinking long and hard before updating your system, unless there’s a compelling reason that you need to do so.
The Bus, EM's editorial blog, features posts from all the EM editors on topics related to gear, recording techniques and much more. It's also home to posts from a selected group of guest bloggers.