Preparing a Reaper project for mastering

As part of the latest Six String Bliss album project we have the luxury of having home recording maestro, Jan Buchholz, undertake the mastering process. This means that, despite many people submitting songs, all radically different and using different DAWs, the end result will have an element of consistency.

Jan stated his simple basic requirements: Stereo WAV file, 24 bit, 44.1kHz, with no heavy limiting/compression on the whole track. The last aspect of this is most important. Jan needs an amount of headroom to work with and if you’ve compressed the buggery out of your track he has nowhere else to go. To make the rest of the tracks consistent then he’d have to compress the bejaysus out of everything else and nobody wants that.

To prepare my track for Jan I went through every track and made sure nothing was going beyond 0dB. If I had been smart I would have done this before I started mixing and during the mixing process.

On every track I add the plugin called “JS: schwa/audio_statistics” at the end of the plugin list. Initially this is of no use because all the values are empty but, once you’ve allowed the project to play all the way through the values are populated. The key information we’re looking for is the “Peak dB”. Keep that under 0dB for every track and they’re all good to go. Note that every time you press “play” it resets the values and starts again.

audio_statistics

Finally I add the same plugin to the master track, run it through again and adjust the level so that the peak dB is somewhere between -6dB and -2dB. It goes without saying that this is without any other mastering type plugins on the master track. If you have the luxury of a mastering engineer then leave them to do their job. Your job is to focus on making sure each individual track sounds good and fits with everything else (volume, EQ and placement in the stereo space).

I’m looking forward to hearing how the final track sounds once Jan has sprinkled his magic fairy dust on it. When the album has been released I will post before and after examples of my track.

Silverface Twin Reverb Amp Wallpapers

I created these for my own desktop. Should anybody else be interested please feel free to download and use (subject to licence terms below).

twinreverb1

twinreverb2

Edit: Added a third.

twinreverb3

All pictures taken with a Nikon D50 and post-processed to adjust the colour curve in The GIMP. The third has had a slight vignette added.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Impedance and switching between series and parallel

I have two main combos that I use; my self-built SE-5a in a 2×10″ combo and my Fender Twin with the standard 2×12″.

I’ve got in mind modifications to both so that I can feed the SE-5a through the Twin’s 2×12″ and vice versa. The problem with this is that of matching impedance. The Fender Twin requires an impedance of 4 ohms whereas the SE-5A requires either 8 or 16 ohms.

All of the speakers in question are 8 ohm. For the SE-5a they’re wired in series for a combined impedance of 16 ohm and for the Twin they’re wired in parallel to give 4 ohms.

I needed to be able to switch impedance. After a few minutes of googling I couldn’t find what I was after so I sat down, worked out how to do it and thought it may be worth sharing for others in the same predicament.

With a DPDT (double pole double throw) switch I can make a pair of speakers switchable between series and parallel. With 8 ohm speakers this results in each pair being switchable between 4 and 16 ohms. Here’s the schematic.

Impedance Switching

Please note: I haven’t tested this yet. Once I’ve confirmed this is working I’ll report back but, for now, please treat this with scepticism.

Missing Links

Over the 30 years of playing guitar I’ve owned loads of gear, but there are some classics that I’ve never owned. It was triggered by an advertisement for a classic Big Muff Pi. I have borrowed one and it remains one of my favourite hooligan pedals but I’ve never had one on my own pedalboard.

muff

The set me thinking… what other classic items had I missed out on? First and foremost, given my love for their kit, I’ve never owned a Marshall. I’ve played plenty and can’t think of one I’ve ever come across that didn’t do its job well. Whether I like the job it is designed for is another matter entirely, of course.

marshall

The other big omission is Gibson. I’m not really a Les Paul sort of person, but I love their J-45 and J-200 acoustics, SGs, the LPJr and Melody Maker. And one of my all time favourite guitars of all time mate* is the ES-335. How have I made it through 34 years without ever having owned a Gibson? 10 years ago I could have said it was the price but these days they are turning out some mighty fine, reasonably priced guitars (viz. the 50s and 60s reissues). No excuses. I just never got round to it.

gibsonlogo

Will I ever put this right? Who knows but it feels like a musical life with missed opportunities if I don’t.

So what are the big holes in your gear history?

* copyright Smashy and Nicey.

3x3x3 Perfect Guitar Rig

I’ve seen a couple of recent blog posts and forum threads talking about top lists of classic guitars, amps and pedals, and at the same time, in the same places, people talking about uncluttering their rigs. That set me thinking about what my ideal rig would be – restricting myself to three amps, three guitars and three pedals. I’m also going to restrict myself to freely available gear; no customs, boutique or limited numbers stuff. So here are mine:

Guitars

Gretsch G6120DSV
dsv12

Fender Telecaster Standard
tele

Gibson Les Paul Goldtop 56 Reissue
goldtop

Amps

Fender Priceton Reverb Recording
princeton

Roland Jazz Chorus JC-120
jc120

Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker
bluesbreaker

Pedals

Dunlop Crybaby Wah
crybaby

Fulltone OCD Overdrive
ocd

Strymon El Capistan Delay
elcapistan

Now I want to hear about your perfect 3x3x3 rig. Go!