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Mixing “Anna Marie” for New EP

Studio laptop for mixing

Mixing New Song for Upcoming Release by The Jerrys

I’ve begun mixing “Anna Marie,” the last track appearing on The Wind Cries Jerrys, a six-song EP to be released later this year. This one may be my fave song ever by The Jerrys. Once mixed and mastered, it will be the third song ready for the new EP.

A single, “Chicago USA,” has been released ahead of the EP. Listen to “Chicago USA.”

Mastering Mastering

I recently finished mastering my upcoming single, “I’m a Reader.” I’d never mastered anything on a laptop, so there was a bit of trial and error involved. My first try was too loud. It’s called hypercompression, and here’s what that looks like.

Hypercompression

I loved it loud. The problem, though–at least as I understand it–is that this loudness will make the music sound worse when streaming services use loudness normalization to make everything play at the same volume. I removed the maximizer from the equation, but the song became too quiet (below).

Too Quiet

I had clearly overcompensated (despite this, the waveform clipped twice, as the two red lines indicate). While the song sounded nice at a high volume, it now had too much headroom. I decided to give one of my preset combinators a try, and here’s what happened:

Preset Combinator

Clearly, things were improving, but I still missed some of the oomph that the original hypercompressed master had. Using the same preset combinator I’d just used, I ditched the preset controls and tweaked away. I liked the sound, and the waveform looked more like what I’d had in mind.

Preset Removed

It was a keeper. I have a lot to learn before I can ever master mastering, but I’m light years ahead of where I was a few weeks ago. The thing is, you do your best and keep learning. I’ve got a lot more music to put out. Look for “I’m a Reader” to be available shortly.

My Fender Acoustic Guitar

Fender Acoustic Guitar

When I recently discovered that I had more than a few stickers lying around, I decided that my Fender CD60CE dreadnought guitar was fair game for a few of them and proceeded to give it a new look. I’m guessing this is only the start, but for now, this is what my guitar looks like. The stickers I used were The Who (3), Propellerhead Reason (3), WZRD’s 40th Anniversary, and Batman. Long live rock.

My Home Recording Setup

Home Recording Setup

Nearly a decade ago, I began using a digital audio workstation of the studio-in-a-box variety to produce the music of The Jerrys. Switching from magnetic tape recording to digital recording transformed the way I made music. In terms of editing alone, digital changed everything.

Fast forward to now. Over the past several months I replaced my workstation with a computer-based home studio. I’ve recorded a few tracks already, and there’s a bit of a learning curve as might be expected. It’s all good, though, as I love learning new things (I’m making progress on a near-daily basis). Without further wait, here are the components that make up my new laptop studio:

HP ENVY dv6-7215nr Notebook PC
For audio recording using a lot of tracks, I needed not only a laptop dedicated to audio recording, but one with some muscle. With a quad-core processor, 8 GB memory, and a 750 GB 7200RPM hard drive, this notebook delivers.

Propellerhead Reason 7
Released in late April, Reason 7 is the latest and the greatest software from Propellerhead. I based my decision to go with Reason solely on the fact that Todd Rundgren used previous versions of Reason to create his last few albums. I needed something that would record guitars well, and if it’s good enough for Todd, it’s good enough for me.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
This basic audio interface does an awesome job of getting sounds into and out of my laptop, and as actual sound recording (guitars, vocals, tambourine, etc) is a big part of my music, that’s essential. I especially like the ring LEDs around the knobs that change from green to amber to red to indicate signal and clipping.

microKORG Synthesizer/Vocoder
While I used to think of my microKORG as only an audio device and not a studio component (ie, as only an instrument), it will now also function as a MIDI controller. I’ve never used MIDI in my music, but there’s a lot I can do with it in Reason, and I’m more than open to the possibilities.

Alesis M1Active 320 USB Monitor Speakers
It doesn’t take a George Martin-type to know how good these little speakers sound. You can spend a lot of money on monitor speakers, but I didn’t, and I’m glad, as these work great.

As mentioned, I’ve been recording using the new setup, and so far I love the way everything sounds. I look forward to releasing music that was made with the new studio.