Learn by doing.
"This week at my mentors’ studio was intense because we met twice and covered a lot of material. My mentor owns a Company that is not only a Recording Studio, but also a Live Music Venue. What my mentor planned to do is to take me to his venue for lesson 6, which is what I am on right now, to discuss signal flow. The studio is mostly Digital, the only analog equipment he has being his preamps for the most part. The venue, however, has a couple of excellent analog boards to go over and learn from. So, we did lesson 6 and 7 backwards to work around the busy schedule of the music venue!
We met on Thursday and first spoke had a lesson one-on-one, which was all about mic placement and getting into Pro Tools. It was great, and some of it was even a little bit of a review too. We continued to talk more in-depth about mic placement and stereo micing. We also reviewed some basic signal flow processes. We then continued discussing which mics typically sound better for what kind of instrument or sound source!
The next day, we met again at his venue. This may have been my favorite day working with my mentor so far! It was extremely hands-on. He explained to me, in detail, how the entire venue was set up as far as sound is concerned. They have a main front of house Console as well as a separate Console specifically for monitoring. We discussed: signal routing/splitting, monitor mixing, the function of each console, amps, crossovers, speakers, impedance, wiring, as well as basic practicum of working with sound. I had many questions in which he happily answered. I really learned a lot!"
Receive all your questions answered by the music industry professionals.
"Week 19 was very interesting because we went over how CD's and Vinyl records are pulled together, as well as how manufactures imprint and hold the music, depending on what type of files they are. I’ve always been very interested in this because it’s always been such a mystery to me. It was great. Then we really did something useful which was to go back over some topics from lessons from the past several weeks with my mentor that I did not feel 100% comfortable with. I got to re-review and touch basis on as many topics as I could think of during that time! I then practiced these reviews, depending on the review topic to ensure I really fully understood everything. So here we are, week 19, with only one more lesson to go and I will be officially certified. I’m feeling great about everything, as well as what I have learned in the Recording Connection, I have enjoyed every minute of it. I cannot wait to see what my music future continues to hold as I love my decision to join this program. I feel the Recording Connection is a great stepping-stone for me and I love every minute of it, I couldn't be any happier. Just being around the studio period is an awesome feeling for me, where most the time I'm never really ready to leave."
Build your confidence and skills within the music industry.
“This was officially week 6 with my mentor, which was pretty straight forward for me. This was my Introduction to the Console, which was pretty much a trial by fire ordeal. I came into the studio expecting to just go over my Lesson and Quiz that was assigned to me by the Recording Connection. I thought this was going to be the end of the lesson today. However, not only was I not done for the day, but I actually got to track drums for my mentor for the previous session with a jazz guitarist. I was able to set the levels, mic trem, and pretty much recorded the tracks entirely. After 2 runs through of the song we were ready to record. My mentor told me that it sounded really good and that was a super confidence booster. So awesome actually getting to control everything in the control room by myself, and I just can’t wait to do more!!”
Work with multiple engineers in one single recording studio.
"Things are starting to pick up this week during my externship at my mentors’ studio. The reading was light, more of a refresher of some of the basic concepts I’ve read about in previous sections, but all of it goes hand-in-hand when dealing with one of the most notable “tools of the trade”, the Console. We talked about signal flow constantly, and I can tell it’s going to be very important that I get familiar with the signal flow in the various studios at my mentors’ studio. We are still working out the finer points of the Patch Bay, however, I am getting the hang of it and I can really tell my mentor and his team recognizes my effort. My task this week at the studio, as given to me by one of the house engineers, was to be ready to record by the same time next week. We started from how to power up the Control 24 mixing console and other outboard gear, setting up the proper signal flows using the Patch Bay, and then starting to get into how to set up sessions in Pro Tools. I’ll admit, it was great to get to sit in front of the boards like I’m in charge, but I still have a long way to go in order to be on the same level as the rest of the crew. The very next day I got a chance to sit in with another artist as she laid down some vocals for her upcoming project, and was sure to watch how the staff engineer worked on the board and in Pro Tools, making sure to take notes based on what I went through earlier before the session. I know I will be recording ready in no time! A few days later I got a chance to sit with an experienced engineer visiting from another well-known professional recording studio, where he walked through some of the mixes from the staff, giving some feedback and some scientific theory behind mixing vocals and live instruments. It was really informative. I do also enjoy focusing on the basics of recording tracks into Pro Tools before I can really appreciate the finer points of equalization, frequency response, shaping, and tuning drums. I’m not afraid to admit that a lot of the material we went over in “class” was over my head, but it was motivation to get to the level where I can fully understand and apply that knowledge to my own mixes. I could definitely hear a difference between the before-and-after mixes when certain techniques were applied."
Get a feel for how to work in a professional recording studio.
"My mentor and I started our session off by going over the first lesson in the book assigned to me by the Recording Connection, covering the information of the basics of sound and the audio production field. My mentor explained the material in-depth which helped me get a better understanding of it. After speaking about the material, with my mentor ensuing I understood the importance of it, we discussed what was on the agenda for the day as far as the clients he was currently working with. A short while later one of the band members, as well as the producer, arrived and he and my mentor quickly set up the session for the day. My position there was mainly to observe, so that it was I did. I even had the opportunity to offer some opinion of the sound of some of the material they were working on, but mainly just absorbed as much of the session flow as I possibly could to get a feel for how my mentor works in studio. After a brief discussion about the clients and music in general, as well as a discussion about the future lesson scheduled, I ended my first day at my mentors’ recording studio. It was very interesting to see how professionally, yet still comfortable, things went during the recording sessions my mentor had that day. My mentor and his clients were mainly working on some vocal work throughout the day, but it was still an intense session. From what I understand the band is heading back out of country so the producer is really pushing to get the material recorded in a timely manner. It was a great first session to get my feet wet with."
Learn hands-on about studio design.
Everything is going great since I enrolled in the Recording Connection, I am really getting a lot out of the course. This week’s lesson focused on room design and my mentor was great in teaching me the many ways to set up a studio. There is a lot more that goes into building a studio that I was unaware of and it takes great architecture and planning to properly set up a studio to where you are getting the most accurate sound. There are some obvious things that are in a studio, alike a booth and a couple more isolated rooms, along with the control room. I learned that the difficult thing is to properly take every consideration into factor when setting up a studio.
There are special people that travel around the country and set up studios for a living. I now also know that the walls can never be parallel, as the walls also must be made up of several layers of material with wood being the most used. The floors must have a thick layer of cement so the studio does not get any outside rumbling coming in as well. Also, there absolutely must be padding on all walls, which can either be any type of diffuser, carpet, foam, or any other soft material. The vocal booth should be padded very well so not a noise gets in or out, but it should be a fairly open space so sound waves have room to travel at the same time. The doors should be double sided as well. At my mentors’ studio there are two doors glued or nailed together. Also, the glass should be double sided and thick. I can now see that the whole point of everything is to make sure no sound gets in or out of every room so that everything remains secure to where it will not rattle.
I also learned about an important thing called a bass trap. Since lower frequency sound waves are broader throughout the frequency spectrum and more present at times, it will make lower frequencies seem louder. Corners will trap those lower frequencies. Bass traps are designed to break up the lower sounds from the corner. In the studio, my mentor showed me various pictures of different studios and how they are designed. It was very interesting to hear some of the stories behind some of the studios as well. Some features that I realized is that no studio is exactly the same. One of the hugest ones I looked at was Big Boy Studios in Tennessee. It had over 4,000 feet over recording space. I was also told a story about a studio in the Seattle area that is a house, but there is a purpose of every single room. The only thing is there was a sight problem because the control room is in the basement and there are no windows. Overall I learned a lot about the basics of studio design enough to put together my own.
Learn all there is to know about the Console.
“I have now entered into my 5th week in the Recording Connection, Introduction to The Console. Fortunately I have a lot of time behind a Console but when I come to a huge desk like the 64 channel SSL that my mentor has, well that changes everything! Even though I feel confident working with the SSL, the toughest part is still signal flow. There are probably a million different routing options that you can do in the studio with this Console and it can be a bit overwhelming. My mentor really took the time and walked me through the SSL and how everything gets routed to it. I am just amazed with the complexity, and the connectivity his Console has. I have had the great opportunity to work on all deferent types of consoles digital, analogue, and control surfaces, however the opportunity to work with a Console like the SSL is just an awesome experience!!!”
Work hands-on while enrolled in the Recording Connection.
“Today my mentor had a local artist bring in his friends as a band to record some tracks in the studio. He had us interns run the entire session! We had to set up all of the musician’s equipment and use the proper microphones, placing them in the best places in order to get the best sound. We hooked everything up and patched everything through to the sound board into the Pro Tools. My mentor helped us a little with the signal flow and patching through to the proper inputs in the computer. We got everything up and running and were ready to track and start recording. We ran the whole session and fixed any problems along the way. This was such a great hand-on opportunity from start to finish recording a live band. The more I do it the more confident I get in my abilities to run a session the way true professionals do it. Every time I record live at my mentors’ studio I get the experience in for when I am completely on my own. Today, following yesterday’s session, my mentor had me and another extern take a little quiz he had drawn out on a piece of paper in which he drew out a map of the “A” room. The quiz was about getting to know and be familiar with what and where everything is in the live room. We all did well! Next my mentor had us run through how we set up everything during yesterday’s session. We ran through the signal flow patching all the way through to Pro Tools. He then had us set up two different Microphones and turned on a small radio so we could mic them in the “A” room. We learned how to get the signal flow in through two different ways. Then we went into the digital main board on the Mackie control board in the “B” room. We are getting more familiar with the “B” room first and the digital board in that room so that we can first get everything down. Then we will move up to the bigger “A” control room. Very fun and exciting sessions going on and coming up as well! I am really gaining a lot of experiences with live music recording!”
Make important contacts while enrolled in the Recording Connection.
“In this studio lesson I learned all about digital sampling and bit rates. My mentor showed me everything I needed to know about these topics. He went on to explain how he chooses his sampling and bit rates when he goes into a session. He told me to look at two things in order to determine the rates of recording. First being what you are recording, whether it is a rock band or just a voice over for a book reading, and the second being the computer and system you will be using. The second is important because some computers cannot handle higher processing rates. After the lesson, I stuck around for a recording session that he had scheduled that night. The artist was Michael Jackson’s cousin! He knew how to groove. I guess that’s why they call him Michael Smooth. Mr. Smooth also brought in his son who rapped in the song. Once I let them know that their engineer was my mentor, Smooth JR. and I exchanged contact information for the future. Only my second day and I am already gaining contacts? Who would’ve thought?!!”
Network with the professionals.
“My mentor has continued to tutor me about midi, automation and synchronization. I took a large amount of time needed to recognize all the useful hot keys and functions in Pro Tools more efficiently. Moreover, my mentors partner in the studio was there recording my mentor and I learned about several of the midi programs and 3rd party midi/usb devices. I looked closely at his steps in engineering, such as checking the headphone mixes, making sure the guitars are in tune, and reducing headphone leakage by turning down the click output for the performers. My mentor also was nice to come over to my actual house and listen to my setup and help me out recording and mixing, and giving me tips!! One of my monitors has been distorting and he helped me figure out what was the cause of it. We switched interfaces, cables, and speakers to see that it was defiantly my monitor making the noise. It’s quite disappointing, but my mentor helped me out by giving me a good reference who can maybe find and fix the problem with the speakers cone and get it repaired. I am really thankful for that. I basically meet somebody new every time I go over there and get really great advice.”
Work one-on-one with the professionals.
“Today at the recording studio my mentor and I learned how to set up a new audio file and make a folder for a track my mentor and I had made together. I got the opportunity to recording one-on-one with my mentor playing the bass guitar to one of the clients’ original songs. In the Recording Connection I am learning so much about the recording process, as well as the details alike how to set up the folder to have all of the audio files saved, always ensuring I write detailed notes with instruction on the different steps to do this, as well so I can look over them when I’m not in the studio and working on my studies at home. Having a great time in the Recording Connection!”
Learn by doing.
“My mentor and I have been focusing on time-based effects such as reverb and delay. I already had a pretty good understanding of these effects from my years using them while playing guitar. These lessons with my mentor showed me how to use them to make my mixes fit together better. By using the same reverb plug in on a few different instruments, vocal, acoustic, and guitar, you could make multiple tracks sound like they are “in the same room”. I used reverb on my acoustic guitar tracks that I recorded at home to give them a fuller sound and make up for the small room that they were recorded in. Reverb can also be used effectively by moving a certain track into the background by making it seem farther away. This is another trick I used to help my amateur mixes sound a so much better! Next my mentor moved on to an overview of the previous lessons in order to see if there was anything we needed to go over again. We focused on signal flow, using the Patch Bay, setting up a session in Pro Tools, and using plug ins effectively. Everything went smoothly as far as both parties were concerned! I also got the chance to have a great conversation with my mentor about his personal journey and the music industry as a whole. This has been one of my favorite parts of this whole experience in the Recording Connection. The skills and knowledge that I have gained from my conversations with my mentor will definitely serve me well down the road!”
Jeff McMillen, Austin, Texas
"I was very excited to show up for my second week in the Recording Connection program, I couldn’t believe how much I learned in just over a week. This week’s lesson focused on “Digital Audio Basics.” I was fascinated at how different sampling rates can have such an adverse effect on the sound quality of a track, and how alias frequencies show up and distort sound if it is recorded too loud. The intricate details of recording audio keep blowing my mind. I also had no idea how much sound was lost in the MP3 compression format of audio files. This lesson gave me a much larger appreciation for the sound quality heard on a vinyl record and for the art of recording itself. Another one of my mentors’ clients also ended up still in the recording stage of his album this week and on my extern day I spent the day assisting setting up microphones for recording background vocals and high strings guitar. The “hands on” part of setting up all of the equipment was an honor to be a part of; However, to be honest, my favorite part of the day was watching the session in progress. Having so much creativity in one room and watch the producer and the artist bounce ideas off of each other until the whole project came together, and me playing a small role in it all, was by far my favorite experience so far. Leaving the studio this week very anxious to get back in there and watch my mentor continue go through the mixing process of the Album."
Learn how the professionals run a recording studio.
"This week my mentor allowed me to audit other classes prior to my own, which I am more than grateful for. I arrived in the morning as my mentor was finishing up another lesson, and shortly thereafter, another lesson began. The class I was auditing was one that I had the opportunity of doing so before, so it was exciting to see as other students moved forward in their own lessons and working with Pro Tools. As I’ve stated before, watching other students work with their songs as they mix, edit, and make them sound all-around great, is very exciting and makes me look forward to when I have the opportunity to do the same. A few hours later my own lesson began, in which I was allowed to bring in an amplifier and use different microphones to see how they differ from one another in placement and sound when micing a guitar amplifier. It was exciting to be able to actually use several of the microphones and see how they all have their individual sounds and characteristics. The next day I had the chance to audit two more of my mentors’ classes, which is always interesting. Both classes I sat in on were doing the same thing as the class I audited the day before, so it was interesting to once again see and hear how everyone mixes and edits differently according to their personalized tastes. Having been in the Recording Connection program for what is now almost two months, and having had the opportunity to audit so many classes, has been great. I feel more confident about my knowledge and my ability to grasp the coming concepts and work in the weeks to come."
Learn how to work in your mentors’ recording studio.
“Upon meeting my mentor this week I began by sitting in on a staff meeting, getting a chance to see how the employees work day to day. They went over problems with the day’s previous recordings, as well as how to anticipate fixing these things before the session starts. My mentor and I next went through the first lesson, talking in-depth about the way the studio runs and how to act professionally in the studio. Looking forward we have set up my schedule to start by myself going in two days per week. Mondays will be my “extern” days, shadowing an engineer and their day’s practices. Thursday will be my student days going over the lessons assigned to me by the Recording Connection program. I’m very excited to have started this process… commuting to and from the city is something way out of my comfort zone and it feels good to tackle such a challenge on my own”
Work with well-known Reggae artists.
“I arrived at my mentors’ studio for my first true day of being in the “business”. My mentor was running slightly behind due to having to do some audio transfers for a Jamaican reggae legend. Being a big reggae fan, and after my mentor had pointed out to me who exactly I had just shook hands with, I was already feeling excited to see what the next 6 months or so will have to offer me here in the Recording Connection. After my mentor had finished with his client, we sat down and discussed the first lesson. He offered me very useful information that the Recording Connection book didn’t quite cover in-depth, giving me a few pointers to note when it comes time for me to learn how to properly mix. After we had finished discussing the lesson, the member from a well-known punk rock band, who I had previously met over a month ago on my interview day, had arrived and immediately remembered who I was and the conversation we had. It was an interesting feeling to have an established artist come up to me and talk to me as if we’ve been friends for years. I also had a chance to meet some of the other engineers and externs in the studio, making some valuable connections both inside and outside of music. In short my first day was more of a “getting the feel of things” kind of day, and I’m very excited to see where it takes me from here”
Learn by doing
"This week, the official third week in the Recording connection program, which was a very interesting lesson for me, where I got to learn about all the different types and applications of microphones, which was a lot of very new information to me. And learning the signal flow off of my mentors’ professional recording studio was also such a cool lesson to learn. Going off of the assigned reading alone, the concept of the differences in makeup between dynamic and condenser microphones was difficult to grasp; However, once my mentor actually took me into the mic locker and explained everything further, it all came together. My externship day this week was spent hovering over the Console in awe watching the art that my mentor is mixing for a clients’ album. I was unbelievable to see how much work goes into an album when the artist is not present. I am without a doubt most interested in the mixing part of the recording process. Seeing my mentor run every different instrument and vocal track through different compressors and EQ’s to make each track on the album totally unique was out of this world."
Learn something new every day in the Recording Connection.
“On today’s lesson my mentor and I covered a couple of chapters from the past few classes. I am very excited to now have earned my credits and have moved onto working with the MBox and Pro Tools. My mentor shows me a lot of different steps to approach when we are working on a project and I have also even started to use some Midi tracks in the studio, and I must say, the Midi Interface is amazing! It allows a person to use so many options at one time. While still learning to use the analog, it is just a ton of fun to learn something new every day in the Recording Connection.”
Learn about different types of musical genres.
“Today I went in to the studio to help organize everything! And guess what, I got to work on organizing all the studios vinyl records. We organized them by genre and then alphabetized them. I love it! When I was organizing the vinyls I took down names of new Artists I wanted to hear. Then I looked them up on YouTube and bought some of the music! I’ve found new genres of music I like now too! I love the diversity of the music I hear while working in the studio. I also helped with answering phones, keeping the front of the house secured, as well as my book work assigned to me by the Recording Connection program. Next I sat in on an editing and mixing session, learning much more about Compressors and the final mix. I learned more about the compressor and mixing programs, not only the rules to remember to edit the most efficiently and still get the best sound you can.”
Achieve your goals with the help of professional engineers.
“The studio I extern for is truly an inspiring and amazing facility to work with through the Recording Connection program. Each studio in the facility has its own vibe and certain feel to it to grasp ideas, new methods, and techniques of recording. Meeting my mentor and seeing what he has done career-wise, I must say, I was really truly impressed. My mentor and I have a really good vibe towards grasping the fundamentals of what we’re going over for the lesson for that day in question. This week we started with physics, and electronics, going over the first reading section of the both books assigned to me by the Recording Connection. After our in-depth review my mentor showed me current projects that he, as well as his staff engineers’ in the studio have been currently working on and I was very impressed with those as well. I look very much forward to next week and to continue the on-going process of achieving my dreams.”