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RIAA Curve: The 1954 Turntable Equalization Standard That Still Matters

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
riaa equalization

Today we're going back, way back, all the way to 1954. While the exact year is fuzzy, we accept that as the year that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) established the RIAA curve standardization for records and record players. This article starts as a history lesson that merges into an explanation of why this RIAA equalization still matters today. It's interesting to think […]

Parallel Compression: Get Better Mix Clarity & Dynamics

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
new york compression

As far as we know, this method of compression was invented (or discovered) by Dolby Laboratories in 1965 and used in their Dolby A noise reduction circuitry. Eventually in 1977, Mike Beville casually described its use in Studio Sound magazine. The Beville article, called Compressors and Limiters was reprinted in 1988 and that blew the lid off of a masterful technique hidden right out in […]

How to Compress Vocals in 7 Easy Steps for Pro Results

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
vocal compression

In addition, I'm going to provide you with some professional tricks of the mixing trade that you can explore once you understand the lay of the land and feel comfortable with your results. These tricks aren't a must but can take your mixing to the next level in terms of clarity, intelligibility, and presence in your vocal recordings. And that's the goal of compressing vocals […]

The Types of Microphones & Their Uses (When & Why)

Updated: Studio Recording
mic types

In most cases most people will only ever deal with three types of microphones. These are the main choices used in most recording and broadcasting scenarios. The main difference is in their diaphragms, which is the mechanism that reacts to sound and converts it to an electrical signal that can then be sent out of a speaker or recorded onto magnetic tape or a computer's […]

How to EQ Vocals Professionally: The Easy 6 Step Method

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
how to eq vocals professionally

Even if you're familiar with recording and using DAW software, stepping into mixing can be daunting if not downright confusing. There's a lot to take in. It's honestly easiest to start with EQing vocals because it's easiest to hear and understand the changes being made. There's a learning curve with each plugin, and that's not even talking about how they affect each other and beginning […]

How to Master a Song: The Methods to Mastering Your Own Music

Updated: Mixing & Mastering

Mastering a track is the very last step to polishing a song before you release it to the public. But despite the misconceptions, you don't just master a single track. You polish off the entire album in the context of itself as a whole. Yes, you want each individual song to sound great alone, which is the main task involved in mastering, but it also […]

How to Mix Vocals: Tips & Techniques for Perfect Quality Tracks

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
vocal mixing

Nothing matters more than vocals. It doesn't matter if you're talking about music, podcasting, voice acting, podcasting, television and movies... What everyone focuses on is the human voice. Of course, you know that. The question is how to mix vocals to the point that they compete with the quality of professional releases and productions. It's not hard once you understand the order of operations. People […]

13 Stage Presence Rules That Capture & Enrapture Your Audience

Updated: Gigs & Live Performance
stage performance tips

Stage presence is the core variable that determines if someone will spread the good word about your performance after the show, or tell their buddies not to bother next time you're in town. "The band was really sucking that night and I don't even like that genre of music, but man, the vocalist was the most enthusiastic and funny person ever. It's worth seeing them […]

DIY Vocal Booth: Studio Quality Recordings on a Budget

Updated: Studio Recording
vocal booth

Nothing matters more than vocals. You can get away with shoddy drums, guitar, and any other backing instrument. But vocals get all the attention, so you can't really compromise. This is especially the case if you're recording vocals for music, a podcast, audiobook narration, or voice acting. Anywhere where your voice will be the center of focus, you have to produce a flawless recording. Let […]

Noise Gate: How to Auto Clean Your Live & Recorded Audio

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
audio gating

The amount of people that either don't know about noise gates is astounding. The number that know but won't take the time to learn how to use them is sadly astonishing. That's largely because there's no easier or better way to get huge gains in audio quality while performing live, recording, and during mixing. And gating is easily the biggest time saver during post-processing. Regardless […]

How to Start a Band - 9 Steps to Stardom (Hard Work Required!)

Updated: Careers & Marketing
how to form a band

It's time and you're committed. After kicking the idea around for too long, you're finally ready to start your own band. Now what? You know you want to treat this like a real business and not a bunch of buddies hanging out casually. You don't want to join a band. You don't want to form a cover band and build someone else's brand for them. […]

Gain vs Volume: The Practical Differences That Matter

Updated: Studio Recording
gain and volume

At some point, no matter if you're learning to record music, be a mixing engineer, toying with your first guitar pedals, you'll be asking the question "What's the difference between gain and volume?" To the untrained mind, they seem like they're the same. They both make audio louder when you increase them. The sound of changing either might seem identical to you now, and maybe […]

What is MIDI? The Music Tool You Can't Live Without

Updated: Beat Production
MIDI introduction

It all started in 1983. If you're a music afficionado and know the sound of each decade, you'll know that there was a sudden jump from the 70's to the 80's where suddenly we stopped hearing live instruments as much. Out of the blue the pop music scene was filled with the cheesiest sounding "computer music," which progressively got better. That trend never ended, to […]

What is Sidechaining? This Pro Mixing Trick Will Evolve Your Music

Updated: Mixing & Mastering

If you're a music producer of any kind then you've tried your hand at mixing. You may even be great at it. You know the ins and outs of equalization, compression, using effects on auxiliary sends, using group buses, etc. But still, once you sit back to check your mix on a couple of sets of speaker monitors and even your nice headphones, things just […]

Sidechain Compression: A Critical Method for Mix Clarity

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
sidechain compression critical method for mix clarity

If you're a long-time follower of LedgerNote, you know I've written a ton about mixing tricks of the trade to help you get better clarity, especially in the bottom-end of your mix. Sometimes there's only so much you can do with equalization. And that's where the concept of sidechaining comes in. It's not hard to understand or set up, though we all need that first […]

Songs for Sale: How the Music Industry Creates Pop Stars From Thin Air

Updated: Careers & Marketing
songs for sale

This isn't news to the old-timers. We remember the days when artists all covered each other's songs and wrote for one another. The thing is, they were all capable and proved it time and again. That's not the case today. And it seems the big wigs would like to sweep that little secret under the rug. People are becoming wise to the game though. There's […]

What is Dithering in Audio & What Does it Do? (An Easy Explanation!)

Updated: Mixing & Mastering

My goal here is to cut through the fog and give it to you plain. We're going to define dither, talk about what it actually is in the context of digital audio (as opposed to printing images or processing video, though we'll mention this), and tell you when and how to use it. What's funny is we've all seen and heard this technique applied in […]

How to Create a Music Marketing Plan Like a Pro

Updated: Careers & Marketing
how to create a music marketing plan like a pro

I won't sugarcoat it, not even a little bit: the music business is hard. Exceptionally hard. But since the rewards for those who make it to the top are stupendous, it's only fitting that climb itself be difficult. This, of course, isn't news to you. Even the most starry-eyed musicians understand that making it as a professional artist requires talent, dedication, and more than a […]

Guitar Pedal Order Matters! - The Signal Chain & Effects Loop Guide

Updated: Guitar Guru
effects pedal order matters

This nightmare question gets asked once per musician, they spend a couple days tormenting themselves over it, then it finally all clicks into place. That question? "What's the best order for my guitar pedals?" The problem arises from realizing you may be using as many as six or even 12 pedals, and even more on a pedalboard. The number of various ways you can mix […]

Microphone Basics: The Beginner's Guide Stuff You Need to Know

Updated: Studio Recording
mic basics

Let me give you the low down. You can read some really in-depth information about microphones on the internet that's simply not reality based. You don't need to know how every piece of an engine works to be able to drive a car. Even seasoned recording studio engineers couldn't reel off a list of all the types of microphones, because we don't use or even […]