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ASK the Doctor

ASK THE DOCTOR 6

Q & A INDEX
61.Chad: Undocumented SoundBlaster/AWE64 Gold Mixer Problems? 4/24/00 
62.Pat: Recording with the Korg D8 and PhillipsCDR770? 5/8/00 
63.Rick: Cakewalk/Darla soundcard re-recording tracks? 5/16/00 
64.Nathan: Using Cubase EQ on my MIDI tracks? 5/20/00 
65.Gary: Best way to record vocals? 5/25/00 
66.Riversong: Clicktrack without using an ADAT track? 6/2/00 
67.Michael: How do I set up all this equipment? 6/6/00 
68.Brendon: How do I isolate samples off other recordings? 7/6/00 
69.Kelly: What is a cd-r? 7/7/00 
70.Brian: Macs are better than PC's, aren't they? 7/7/00



61. Chad: Undocumented SoundBlaster/AWE64 Gold Mixer Problems?

I was reading http://www.jeepjazz.com/askdr1.html and it had the above statement reguarding Bens' problem with a soundblaster Live. I am having the exact same problem, i can record fine (all be it with too much gain) with the Microphone Input, but when i try to record in the Line-In input i get output to the computer speakers but no recording device/program will pick up sound being input. I have been trying to find the 'Mixer' control that specifies the default recording device, but i'm having trouble finding it. Could you ask ben or if you know your self: Where is this coveted 'Mixer' Control located. There is no default device in the standard windows Mixer volume controls that i can find...

the doctor's Rx:

Dear Chad,

What operating system are you using? I think he ("Ben") is talking about the soundbaster live's "mixer" feature. Get back to me.

Chad's Subsequent Email:
Well i have a awe64gold, and it was just a simple recording problem that i fixed! It was i needed to look at the Recording Volume Control window, i forgot there were two mixer programs one for output one for input. Another wierd thing i had to "negotiate" out was that the Check Boxes which usually are meant for "MUTE" were ment for "SELECTED" on the recording window. SO once i figured that out i selected my line in and the awe64 is recording beautifully, i don't even get any wierd background noise like i thought i would, with it being just an off the shelf sound blaster... really cool.
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62. Pat: Recording with the Korg D8 and PhillipsCDR770?

Doc, I am purchasing a Korg D8 Digital Recorder; I have a Phillips CDR770BK CD Recorder and I want to record a CD from the tracks on the D8; I am not into computer based recordings, so is that all I need to accomplish recording CD's or do I need any other equipment? Everyone I ask, keeps asking what kind of software am I using; do I need any software to burn a CD on my Phillips CD recorder? Can I use the Phillips CDR770BK with Korg D8 for recording CD's because some people say the sampling rate conversion on an input signal must be the same for both? I have a Yamaha MD4 TRack Recorder, but I am new to hard drive and hard disk recording. PLEASE HELP!!! Thanks, Pat

the doctor's Rx:

Dear Pat,

I think you'll be fine with this setup. The d-8 is an all in one recorder/mixer device. It has stereo analog outputs and a SPDIF digital output. The CDR770 has analog inputs and a SPDIF digital input. Connect the d-8 outs (analog out to analog in OR digital spdif out to spdif in, naturally) to the cdr770 ins and make a CD. There is on other software needed.

The cdr770 also has a built-in digital input sample rate converter so it can make cd's from digital sources with 12khz-56khz sample rates. The d-8 uses a 44.1 sample rate so you can plug the spdif out into the cdr770 spdif in and keep it all digital if you want. This won't require any sample rate conversion. You can also make cd's from your MD4 recorder. Plug its analog outs into the cdr770 analog ins and burn a cd. As a matter of fact, the d8 can send MTC (midi time code) out, and the MD4 can be a MTC slave. This means you can set up the MD4 to chase the d8. The d8 is the master machine and the MD4 can be a slave and will chase the d-8.
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63. Rick: Cakewalk/Darla soundcard re-recording tracks?

Hello Doc, I just recently converted to recording my music to the PC. I am having a problem with the signal path routing audio playback back into the sound card after previously recording data. For example, I recorded drums on tracks 5, 6, and 7 (Midi) and then I attempted to record a Guitar piece (Audio) on Track 1. That is when the previously recorded drums record on track 1.

I slide the fader to "0" controlling the drum volume on my 8 channel recorder and it did not record of course, but I need to hear the drums and other previously recorded instuments to play along with when I record with other instruments. How can I setup my equipment so previously recorded data will not be routed back to the sound card? Thank you, Rick

P.S. My setup is: ESQ1/Proteus Sound Module, 8 Channel Mixer, Computer/Cakewalk Home Studio 8/Darla Card (2 in/8 out).

the doctor's Rx:

Dear Pat,

It sounds like what you're doing now is using the stereo output of your mixer to go into the Darla, and of course, any faders controlling outputs from the Darla that are up will send that sonic info right back out the stereo output... hence, your drums showing up back on ch.1.

There are a couple of things to try. If the individual channels have "direct outs", you could run a wire from that straight into the Darla input. Then the mixer stereo out would feed your monitor system and you could hear everything, but the signal you want to be recording would be going "direct out" of the particular channel into the recorder, which is what we want.

Another method would be, if there is a Effects send control on the individual channels, you could connect the "master effects send" to the Darla input, and just send from the channel you want to be recorded. Make sure the other channels you're listening to have the send turned off! Eventually if you can get a 12-channel or more mixer, then you could keep the 1st 8 channels dedicated to monitoring the Darla outputs, and use the other 4 or however many to go into the Darla inputs. Or, get a little stereo preamp and use it to go into the stereo input of the Darla AND plug the 8 outputs into the mixer and use the mixer only for listening.
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64. Nathan: Using Cubase EQ on my MIDI tracks?

Hey doc. Here's my question - I'm an amature composer who uses my yamaha ex5 synth to create all my music. I do my sequencing in cubase vst, and in some of my songs i'll throw in some digital audio, like sound effects or vocals. There are some nice EQ features in cubase that I can only use on digital audio, but I want to use EQ on my midi tracks as well. Is this possible?

Here's how I burn to cd - I play the file from my computer, then from my computer's MIDI output it goes to my synth (for the sounds), then to my mixer, then from the mixer to my tascam cd-rw5000. For the digital audio parts, I route them from my speaker outs to the mixer, then from the mixer to my tascam cd-rw5000. That way, I'm burning the whole song (midi and digital audio) at the same time. But there's no way I can equalize or compress my individual MIDI tracks! Is there any way to do this? The only way it seems possible to me is to burn each and every MIDI track onto a cd, then burn all those tracks onto my hard drive as wav files and put them all together. That seems way too hard. Can you help? Thanks! Nathan

the doctor's Rx:

Dear Pat,

There is another way... Once you have the MIDI track playing the way you want, solo it and record it into cubase as a digital audio track, 2 if its stereo. Then turn off that midi info. Now you'll be able to eq that midi track inside cubase individually like you already do with your other digital audio. You will have to control the mix level and panning from inside cubase as well because it'll be going out of the computer with all the other digital audio. But this will give you the eq control you want.
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65. Gary: Best way to record vocals?

In a vocal signal path I'm just curious where the best place to put certain "stuff". Right now I'm using a mic preamp pushed into a compressor/limiter then through an effects processor to the mixer to digital. My real problem is I have two vocalists that are killing me with clipping and the next second too low db. Thoughts, ideas, device suggestions (under $250) to fix this problem. Thanks, Gary B

the doctor's Rx:

Dear Pat,

Your signal path is wrong. The best place in this case would be:

  • 1. mic into the preamp
  • 2. preamp output into a mixer channel line input
  • 3. (1) compressor into that mixer channel insert point
  • 4. effects unit on the mixer effects send/return
Set your mic preamp level. Start with the pad on the mixer channel all the way back (softest). Set the compressor in the 3:1 to 6:1 range with 3-6 db of compression when the singer is singing the loudest parts of the song. This is for "auto-pilot" recording.

If you know the song and where the singer gets loud and gets soft, you can ride the mixer channel level up in the soft parts and down in the loud parts. When I know a singer is doing the verse soft and screaming on the chorus', sometimes I'll record the verse on one track and the chorus' on another so I can deal with it easier in the mix. Often in mixes with this situation, engineers will split the vocal performance among several faders and using mute and level automation, set one for the verses, one for the chorus' etc. and just have the correct vocal fader un-mute at the right time while the others are muted. Then they can independently set levels, eq's, effects, etc for each section of the song. It doesn't have to get this anal, but it can!

Normally, the vocal effects would be on an effects send/return in the mixer and I would set them for monitoring, but not record them. If you want to record the effects with your vocal, then plug the effects returns into 2 open channels on the mixer, and send them to tape with the vocal. If you have enough channels, you can record the effects on seperate tracks as well so if you change your mind about that effect you thought you loved, then you can.
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66. Riversong: Clicktrack without using an ADAT track?

Hello Doctor. Thank you for being accessible. I am new in home recording. I have recently purchased an Alesis studio package (studio 24 mixer and ADAT). I also have a drum machine I'll be using. My question is - Is it possible to set up a click track via Midi sequencer or something without using up a track on the ADAT? Thanks again. Riversong

the doctor's Rx:

Dear Riversong,

Yes. You'll need a box that JLCooper makes called the DataSync2(about $250).It hooks up to the ADAT sync jack and outputs SMPTE, MTC or MIDI clock. The ADAT is the master and all the other boxes chase it. With the drum machine, for instance, you'll program your 2 bar pattern or song or whatever and set it to external MIDI clock. You program the JLCooper box to start at a certain ADAT time and output Midi clock at a tempo you specify. Say, start at ADAT 1:00 and output Midi clock of 100 beats per minute. Park the Adat at :50 and press play. When the ADAT gets to 1:00, the JLCooper will send a start command and begin counting at 100 bpm and that will start your drum machine. It will keep playing until its song is done or if its a looping pattern, until you stop the ADAT.
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67. Michael: How do I set up all this equipment?

I am a amateur musician, bass and guitar (not very well), and I also enjoy recording music. I would like to start recording my own home music and have recently converted half of my double car garage into a studio "sound proof room". Room dimensions are 16 feet long by 8 feet wide by 7 feet high. Equipped with air, carpet, Aurlex Studio foam cores, and lots' of power.

Recording PC hardware & software (Windows 95) are as follows:

  • 200 MHz Pentium IWILL motherboard with Adaptec 2940 SCSI controller
  • 21 inch monitor
  • Rack mounted external 9 GB SCSI hard drives (audio files, etc.)
  • CD burner
  • Color printer
  • Adaptec AWE64 "gold" ISA card with 4MB onboard Ram with MIDI interface cables, Gold RCA cable and S/PDIF connector (E-MU Creation Studio)
  • Cakewalk Home Studio 9 (Windows 95)
  • Jammer Hit Session (Windows 95)
  • Sound Forge XP (Windows 95)
  • Cakewalk Express (Windows 95)
Recently purchased a TASCAM Porta02 recorder (new), a NADY SP9 professional instrument microphone (new), Yamaha Professional Series 12 input mixer (Model M512 - used), DOD graphic equalizer (Model R830B - used), TASCAM Reel to Reel (Model 34B - used), TASCAM Cassette Deck (Model 133 - used). The used equipment still needs to be checked out, but looks clean.

I have an Ampeg BASS head and cabinet, and use ZOOM effects pedals for the guitars (when needed). Instruments are Yamaha BASS and Washburn GUITAR, and a Yamaha Portatone PSR-248 with MIDI IN/OUT. All in very good condition. So, I want to get started, and I have an idea of how to set this gear up. But before I commit myself to making "hard" changes to the room, I need your suggestion on how to arrange the equipment so that I can record my own music (not to sell). Also, what else can I read to perfect my recording? Am I missing other gear, etc.? Please respond when you have some time.

the doctor's Rx:

Dear Michael,

For starters, download my recording handbook and read it. Right now, I guess your plan is to record on the PC? If so, then your soundcard only has stereo analog inputs. You'll have to get into the PC with those and listen through the stereo outputs for overdubs.

If your mixer does not have buss outputs (and I don't think it does) then here's how to do your recording and overdubs. You want to use the mixer as your "input manager" to the PC soundcard analog inputs AND for monitoring whats been recorded as you overdub. So, you need to hook up the stereo analog outputs of the soundcard to (2)input channels of the mixer for listening to whats been recorded.

If you use the stereo outputs of your Yamaha mixer to get into the analog inputs of your soundcard, when you try to record you'll get a "feedback loop" because what's going into the PC is also coming back into those (2) input channels. SO, lets use the effects send to get to the soundcard inputs. All the channels should have at least 1 effects send. On the (2) channels you're using for monitoring, keep these effect send knobs OFF!! These channels are for listening, we don't want this to go back into the PC!

Set the Master Effects Send control at its "center" position and use the individual channel effects send knobs to control the amount of signal going to the PC soundcard. Now when you record and overdub, you'll be able to hear whats been recorded as well as what you are overdubbing by monitoring the stereo output of the mixer. That soundcard only has the stereo input so you can only record those 2 tracks at a time.

A good rule of thumb on room dimensions is about 1.6:1 which would translate to 16ft by 10 ft, so yours is a little off. I'd recommend setting up your mixer and speakers as far from the AC as you physically can to get away from the noise it makes. Put the gear 2 feet from one end (leave the 2 feet to get behind the gear for when you have to re-plug things, etc. plus for better sound you shouldn't be right next to walls anyway)with the speakers facing the long way down the room (speakers should be at ear level about 4 ft apart making a "triangle" between them and your ears) and deaden the short wall behind the console and both corners. Something like this(not to scale!)

As for equipment, you'll probably want a compressor or two. The Alesis or ART stereo compressors are fine to get started. A couple of outboard mic preamps, like the ART tube pacs would help as well. When you record with mics, turn the amps down so the speakers are off and record in headphones.

I think the Cakewalk programs will give you at least 8 tracks of digital audio. When you're ready to mix, you'll be doing it inside the PC program and simply plug the soundcard stereo analog output into the TASCAM 34B inputs and mix. At some point you can get a DAT or CD-r to mix onto in which case you then could plug the SP/DIF out of the soundcard into the SP/DIF of the DAT or CD-r recorder. I'd say its time to get in there and start learning.
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68. Brendon: How do I isolate samples off other recordings?

Hi there. I am a multi-instrumentalist who has recently gotten in to looping myself live and on tape. My problem is that I would like to sample other artists and I don't know quite how. What I want to do is isolate part of a track, say, just the bass or just the vocals. What I am wondering is how I might be able to accomplish this. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Peace out.

the doctor's Rx:

Dear Brendon,

You have to do the sonic isolating by either finding places on the recording where the instrument you want is playing alone or with little else going on around it and/or using equalizers to cut out parts of the sound you don't want. As you start experimenting with loops and samples you'll discover what you can get away with and what becomes a problem. Often samples that have quite a bit of residual background sound on them (and sound like crap when solo-ed) will work fine once they are sitting on another bed of drums, bass and whatever. If you have a mixer, bring up the tracks you want to sample on a faders or 2 if its stereo and start using the eq's to filter out the low's, or high's or whatever makes the sound more usable. If your mixer eq is limited, eq the sound with one channel, then take a direct out or channel out and put it in another channel and eq it some more. Have fun.
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69. Kelly: What is a cd-r?

i downloaded musicmatch and was going to burn a cd and it said that i needed a cd:r drive to burn what is it talking about?

the doctor's Rx:

Dear Kelly,

To "burn" a cd, you need a cd-r drive (cd recorder) which is a device which looks just like a cd-rom drive(cd read only memory) that can use a blank cd and burn the music information onto it so you can put the cd into any cd player and hear the music. The files you are burning onto the cd are .wav files( from PC's) and .aiff files (from Mac's). The cd burning software, in your case Musicmatch, looks for the cd-r to send the files to but with your setup, it couldn't find one.

Musicmatch software can actually burn .wav files and MP3 files and convert between the 2 types. MP3 files can be burned onto the cd but will only play back on your computer because commercial cd players are not configured to playback .mp3 files. When you see Red Book compatible, red book refers to the industry standard for a cd to be playable on commercial cd players.
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70. Brian: Macs are better than PC's, aren't they?

I hear that recording with Macintosh computers is far easier and less messy as far as having to try to configure all those peices of hardware made by so many different companies. I've read in several music magazines that many famous musicians are now using, or are switching, to Mac for ease of operation. How come you don't seem to mention anything in your advice for people who would prefer an easier platform to use and configure?

the doctor's Rx:

Dear Brian,

Because I've never used a MacIntosh computer for making my music. I have nothing against Mac's per se, but when I first got into making music with computers I couldn't afford Macs. The primary reason has always been money. Mac hardware is twice as expensive or more, and the software is also more expensive than PC software. Contrary to what you may have heard, in general, Macs are no less prone to crashes and configuration problems than PC's, BUT they are different configuration and crash problems. Don't kid yourself. Recording with a computer is complicated stuff and there are plenty of horror stories to go around.

When I first came to NY in 1986 the studio had Mac SE's with the little 9" b&w screen running Performer and Opcode sequencers. It was cool, I used it, sometimes it worked fine, sometimes it crashed. I didn't like it because at that time I couldn't edit the sequences while I was rolling tape chasing timecode. Then I saw the Atari 1040st with Notator, the computer cost a third of what a Mac cost, the software was 1/2 as much as Performer, hell, and it did what I wanted. That's why I never bought a Mac. In fact I'm still using the Atari 1040st and Notator. When it came to digital editing, same thing. I edit on a PC.

You're not the first to bring this up. I'm really not biased against Macs, I just don't have hands on experience with them. If you choose to work on a Mac, then go for it. Just accept the fact that it will cost you more for hardware and software. Configuration issues will come up. Anytime you interconnect hardware from different manufacturers for digital audio recording, there are going to be problems. I hope that yours are minimal.
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