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Pittsburgh Recording Connection Reviews

Receive credits as a co-engineer for your mentors’ clients.

“At the beginning of the week I came into the studio to do three mixes we tracked a few weeks ago. I was very happy to hear that only 4 months into the Recording Connection program I was able to get a mixing credit. My mentor did offer a few tips and suggestions, but I was in charge of the flow of the mixes. I started off by balancing out everything from the faders, then eq’ing the tracks. Once I was happy with the levels/balance, I started compressing everything. After a few hours I was ready for reverbs to add space. I was very pleased all around. I ran the mix off and followed the above steps with the next two songs my mentor and I had. I will be credited as a co-engineer, as well as the mixer, on the record. The next day I went into the studio and observed my mentor mastering the 3 songs I mixed the previous day. He explained the practical approach, as well as each individual element. Starting with eq, then compression, and finally limiting. Basically the EQ adjusts the overall balance of frequencies, compression is to line level and smooth out the signal, and limiting it to prevent any distortion/clipping, peaks or spikes in the volume of the signal. The project turned out very well. It is also one more recording credit and my first mixing credit to add to my resume. A few days later was a final listen to the songs we recorded for that percussion album. Basically we were listening for mixing approaches, instrument placement ideas, ways to utilize effects, and anything we may want to edit, subtract or add last minute. I also tracked a simple little cello harmony and put two mics up on the piano for some last minute overdubs. It is ready to be mixed and I think we will start that next week. As this week came to a close I came in to see my mentor to go over the actual Lesson assignment assigned to me by the Recording Connection. We also, at length discussed studio design and monitor placement. We spoke about some of the construction techniques in my mentors’ studio, as well as others he has worked. After that my mentors’ client came in to listen to the mix I worked on for him. He and I sat in the control room and I put them on. It was a bit nerve racking waiting for the initial response from the client, waiting to find out whether he was pleased or not. As the first song played, I realized quickly he was very pleased. Especially on what I did on the vocal. He said he never liked the sound of his voice until now and he thanked me for the work I did. That was a great feeling to be part of the reason someone else’s art sounds great.”

Chris Bell, Murrysville, Pennsylvania

Develop a successful career in the music industry.

“I have been so busy for so many reasons in the Recording Connection. Not only have I been very busy working with Pro Tools at home, but I am also spending time with my mentor at his Studio! Lesson 12 in the Recording Connection program dealt with Compression. I’ve always heard my “music savvy” friends talk about music being over compressed. This lesson showed me what that actually means and the importance of how, as well as when, to use compression. Compression, in a basic sense, is a dynamics reducer. It takes the loudest volume and the quietest volume and squishes them together. This reduction in dynamics “pushes” the track forward in the mix. It is one of the key elements in making any vocal part stick out above the other instruments in the mix. If a track is over compressed, the dynamics are crunched together so closely that the feeling and ‘life” of the track are lost. My mentor made the point that Compression is the hardest effect to really hear and understand so now I’ve been spending a lot of time master compression in order not to over compress all of my mixes!.”

Robin Brett, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Use your mentors’ connections to get a job!

“I’ve had a very positive few weeks with my mentor, as it has been extremely productive and quite busy over at the studio. I received my Pro Tools last week from the Recording Connection, so I am very excited! From there, I have now invested in a new laptop computer, as well as some recording equipment, which I was able to install and register fairly smoothly. I have been using and learning my new Pro Tools every day since they were shipped to me, and with great pleasure. My lessons 10 and 11 that the Recording Connection really coincided perfectly since I had just received my Pro Tools. At the beginning of this week with my mentor we first went over the basics of Pro Tools, and I brought all my equipment into the studio, where my mentor helped me set up everything to a tee; It was very helpful. This session made it easier to get right into the Pro Tools software and start working my way around. A few days later my mentor and I started going over equalizers. After a very in-depth look at what equalizers are, what they do, and why they can be great additions to a signal flow, my mentor showed me all the EQ plug-ins that I have available to me through my Pro Tools software. Tonight I have a session with my mentor, recording and tracking live drums for a band, which is awesome. Also, great news. About three weeks ago my mentor helped me land a job at the live venue part of my mentors’ studio. Now I’m busy working every show at my mentors’ theatre, seeing live music on a nightly basis, and meeting lots of great people so I keep networking. I am really staying on the right on track at the studio with my mentor.”

— Harrison Smith, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Learn from the experts.

“For my second session with my mentor at his studio we talked about the basics of digital recording. We covered the basics of the lesson, which included sampling, bit rates, Nyquist Theorem – and my mentor answered all my questions perfectly. My favorite experience was when we got to talking about life in the recording industry before digital came along. I naively thought that analog tape-machine recording was an incidental way of doing things. Little did I know that most of my favorite records dating up to the early 2000’s were recorded in tape! I then had the privilege of going through all the back storage rooms of my mentors’ studio and getting a firsthand look at reels of analog tape and the multiple devices that were used with them. It really showed me how technology and digital recording changed and opened up the recording world to everyone. A good quality analog tape machine costs up to $200,000! This experience with my mentor was definitely an eye opener. For my “live session” lesson this week I observed my mentor re-doing drum tracks for an artist. I learned some new insights on recording digital drums and made my first professional connection through the Recording Connection program. My relationship with my mentor has really grown and I look forward to learning more from him!”

— Robin Brett, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Learn how a professional recording studio is run.

“When I arrived at my mentors’ studio my mentor was actually fixing wires inside of the equipment so I was able to see what goes into making the machines in his studio work first hand. After that we sat down and discussed the first lesson in the book the Recording Connection assigned me. He explained to me how sound energy travels, what phase does to the sound of things recorded, and how sound is measured. After explaining everything to me we then went to use the computers and actually hear and see the sound, as well as the different ways it can be changed. I also got to go into a booth and test the microphones to see if they were wired properly, which was a very fun experience for me. I am going to be stopping in for two sessions in the next week to see how drums are set up and watch a hip hop group record.”

— Zach Wojcik, Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Gain tremendous confidence with your very own mentor.

“I went into my mentors’ studio to do a drum mic experiment. It’s something I discussed with my mentor a few weeks back. I wanted to mic the kit my way, have him play 20-30 seconds of drums, while I in turn recorded it. Then we listened back to it and solo the entire individual drums. I was looking for headphone bleed and to better control isolation between drums. I also was looking to be able to tell the differences between the mic adjustments and different mics I swapped out. After take one I adjusted a few mics, namely the hi hat and overheads and blanketed of the kit. Record another20-30 seconds then playback. The results were pretty dramatic. I almost totally isolated the bottom snare, hats and kick mics and I was very pleased. I even took an additional step an added a room mic and recorded another take, also with good results. Basically each take was just a variation on the previous with slight adjustments. I ended up with five or six 30-second drum tracks, all of which sound very good. Each sounded better with every adjustment. All around I was pleased with my experiment and gained a lot of confidence with this lab. This was a tremendously useful experiment.”

Chris Bell, Murrysville, Pennsylvania

Learn from a Professional Music Producer

“My first session with my mentor was great! My mentor is extremely knowledgeable, and he is also good at explaining things in a way that makes sense to me. It was nice because my mentor answered most of my questions before I ever had a chance to ask them. After our lesson concluded, which talked about phasing, my mentor invited me to stick around for a client he had coming in to record. This was an awesome experience for me! I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know how he was doing what he was doing half the time, but the whole experience was exiting and beneficial for me. The whole experience was very impressive to me and I ended up staying most of the day.”

— Brandon Grable, Washington, Pennsylvania

Learn different recording techniques from your mentor

“This session with my mentor well very well. We went into depth about all the different microphones, and what they are capable of doing, as well as what instruments they can be best used for. My mentor then showed me all the mics he had in the studio, explaining the different mic placements for the stereo effects. During my time with my mentor, a band came in and had to finish recording their vocals for a few of their songs. I got to help with the set up and watched closely as he recorded with the band. I really liked the genre of music that the band played and it really helps having different types of bands come in so that my mentor can show me different techniques and tips on editing. For my next session with my mentor, the same band is coming back in and I will help them master their album and get a demo ready for their upcoming show.

My second session with my mentor went very well again. I am feeling very comfortable being in the studio with my mentor, as well as being around all the equipment in the studio. My mentor and I were in the studio for about four hours, and he was teaching me everything I read about sample rates, the Nyquist theorem, and the background history of recording devices and technology. My mentor then gave me a chance to see a tape recorder that was used back in the day, and explained how it all worked. Throughout the session he had a few guys come in that were interested in recording with him, so he gave them a tour of the studio. This gave me the chance to sit in on the questioning part and see how the process of getting work happens. I’m looking forward going into my mentors’ studio again, as my mentor said there will be a recording next time I’m there that I will be able to sit in on.”

— Pittsburgh, PA

Receive hands-on training with professional engineers.

“I came to the studio this week to work more on a song my mentor and I did the previous week. My mentor had me recall the session, setup the guitar amp and mic it with the mic of my choice. We let it play as he came up with a part. Once he knew what he wanted to do, we started recording and it turned out very well. I enjoy working on music my mentor wrote because he has me doing all the tracking and editing, which is great hands-on practice for me. I feel myself gaining more confidence with every project I work on. Later that week my mentor and I tracked a scratch vocal idea just for reference on the song we were working on. We ran off a rough mix and took a listen. My mentor said the rough mix I did sounded good, which only boosts my confidence as an aspiring engineer as well as makes me want to take my mixes from “good” to “great”. After that we tracked a bassist on 3 songs for a percussion record. I setup my mentors’ DJ and a music stand. My mentor got a level, cued up a rough mix and we got him rolling. He did a great job. He also worked very quickly and was prepared. After he finished we spoke with the percussionist about mixing ideas and he wants me to play cello on a song, which is cool. Today I came into the studio and we continued to work more on the song my mentor wrote and are currently recording. I pulled up the session, tracked my mentors’ vocals, then did a rough mix. My mentor says he is extremely pleased with my performance so far in the Recording Connection. We also discussed some ideas I had for studio practice that would help me, such as experimenting more with mic placement and continuing to get as much board time as I can. I’m looking forward to my next lesson with my mentor.”

— Chris Bell, Murrysville, Pennsylvania

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