MMI AE-2 Summer 2012 Class Index

Instructor: Eddie Ciletti

Basic Rules, Requests, Requirements:

  • email every week
  • stay in touch on our facebook page: HINT, this is where we can plan and organize
  • Always check this page for updates
  • Quick link to each week...
    Reference Material
    Acoustic Guitar
    Reference Material
    Acoustic Piano
    Reference Material
    Snare Drum Repair

    Communication is key - and it's part of your weekly homework assignment - so email Eddie every week as soon after class as possible.  Teachers learn stuff, it's true, and I need to know how you're doing so I can do what you need to succeed!  If you don't tell me that you're struggling, how can I help?

    Also know that sometimes teachers feel overwhelmed just like you do. 

    TIP: Please do not wait until the night before to do assignments - start early and there is more of a chance that I or fellow students can help.

    Description of what we did


    • Introduction, Listen to 45s, 
    • Equal Loudness Curve, Proximity, Low Frequency challenges
    • HOMEWORK: Mix CD:
    • Listening Exercise:  Acoustic Guitar and Piano

    Bass Management
    for all Formats
    SSL PB &Signal Flow
    SSL Buss Compressor
    SSL Simple Block Diagram
    SSL Dynamics Module
    SSL & Brief Recording Console History
    SSL EQ
    SSL Master Module


    Session 2A

    Did you read Bass Management for All Formats?

    Week-1 Listening Homework Due via email

    Redbook MIX CD due

    • Share MIX CDs via SSL Master Section
    Listening Lab-1: DIY Fletcher Munson Loudness Curve

    This exercise needs an instruction sheet...

    • For DIY Loudness Curve, download and open  session.  Adjust headphone level so you can just hear the lowest frequency then automate all frequencies so they are at the threshold of your hearing using headphones. Save session COPY with your name (for example 'copy of DIY-FM_Mary.ptf' ), then email just the session.ptf file (pre version-10) to
    Click on image to download full-res version

    Listening Lab-2: Cello, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass, Piano
    • Import tracks into PT, loop, listen and report via email
    Session 2B

    Acoustic Guitar and Vocal Session

        request mics
        place mics
        patch mics to preamps
        patch preamps to PT
        Create PT session
        Setup headphones
        Record then analyze mic placement in class.





    Drum Tuning and Mic-ing Basics
    Drum tuning
    Drum mic-ing
    Tom Tuning (ignore ads)
    Snare Tuning
    Kick Tuning
    Drum Damping
    Prep for Quiz-1


    Beat Detective Guide



    the detail...



    Drum recording session
    • Jack's version of Dan Wilson's
    • Ryan's track
    • Drum editing 101
    • Report on session
    • Listen to drum tracks and include your mic & positioning evaluations along with your editing experience.
    • Burn a rough mix, email or post the mix and bring your session to class.

    <<< Whether chiseling a statue or mixing, don't chisel too deep, too fast! 
    This includes your rough mix.

    In this order...

    • LISTEN to each track
      • Did the mic capture what you wanted?
      • Do the individual tracks work togther?
      • Do you need to use every mic?
      • Or, do certain mics capture what is needed for the song? Style? Genre?
    • Check drum polarity (and phase) before applying EQ
    • If you must EQ / Filter, apply to the most egregious offenders (too bright, too muddy)
    • Avoid individual dynamics processing - create an AUX track and try processing the submix.
    • Get a static balance of the key parts, mute the non-critical parts
    • submix key elements - Drums, Bass, Ambience - Vocals, Instruments.
    • Houskeeping Automation first!   It's a dreary job, but the rest of the mix process goes easier when you get all the 'junk' out of the way.
    • balance the key elements with Automation 
    • When possible, always start the mix as simply as possible - add extra tracks as the song progresses - introducing new parts in each new verse or chorus. The first verse should have the least amount of parts necessary to keep the track together.
    • introduce the non-critical parts
    • OVERS on individual tracks implies plug-in abuse on that channel.




    Drum Mic Quiz
    Drum Mic Pix
    Did you listen to week-4's session?  Any comments?  Be sure to include session 'reflections,' individual track eval and editing session comments.  Bring your rough mix and editing session to class.

    Davide was kind enough to post this on Facebook...

    Editing Drums!
    Hope everyone is having fun! Here again are some points for an excellent editing session:

    1. Sometimes you will receive already recorded files that you have to work with! Before editing give it a listen! Check Phase issues especially on bottom Snare...check Panning on Overheads and Room they match?
    2. Keep yourself organized. Save Session as blablablaEDIT session. GROUP drum tracks with Command G. Keep it grouped!
    3. before touching any files make sure you start from scratch! Meaning if there is no comp yet, make one! Make a NEW playlist and rename each track at the end with COMP.
    4. After comping the tracks, DUPLICATE the playlist and rename it with EDIT at the end.
    5. While editing transients to Grid, work in sections.....INTRO, Verse, Chorus...listen back after each section is done......listen for uneven crossfades, anything different, hi hat sounds not even? Check your edits...Do Cymbals blend with the track?
    6. Don't be afraid to keep it constant! Once you have a section edited and sounds great, don't be afraid to use the same section for the 2nd Verse, or 2nd Chorus.....consistency is great when producing! Keep in mind you work with a check with him if that is ok to use the same section twice. Also if there is a Snare Hit that doesn't match the other hits....just copy and paste a great Snare hit over the bad one...make sure it's from the same section and at the same beat of the BAR. If you want to change snare hit on beat 2, make sure you pick another hit on beat 2 from another bar!
    7. After editing and carefully listen to the whole song again, and no issues are there....DUPLICATE the playlist! Rename to CONS. Highlight all the tracks and consolidate with Shift Option 3 (not on numeric pad). Again Consolidating was very important up until PT 9 to get rid of crossfade, which were consuming CPU power to play Real Time Fades. PT 10 crossfades are rendered. I advice you to consolidate looks more organized and keeps you in check!
    Beat Detective 

    Patch Bay

    Mic Preamps

    Gain-Based FX

    Time-Based FX




    How to Rough Mix: 
    • reference a known good mix, one that is not highly processed but which has a 'good spectral balance'
    • listen to each individual trrack to make sure it will be use-able
    • check drum polarity
    • housekeeping: throw away the mistakes and noises via mutes, deletes, automation
    • reference a known good mix, one that is not highly processed but which has a 'good spectral balance'
    • static mix balance - finding a place where the mix 'works'
    • automate before using any plug-ins
    • EQ only the most eggregiously wrong tracks (too bright, too dark, too bass heavy)
    • Before uploading - sharing - e-mailing your mix,  be sure to look at the waveform.  Make sure it's not too soft or distorted
    Down In Flames Rough Mixes

    Mid-Term Prep
    Mid-Term Exam
      Practical: Drum comp, Editing, Beat Detective, X-Fade, Consolidate

      MID-TERM GRADES generally fall into three categories...

      • A = 90+: great participation (in and out of class), feedback, grasp of concepts, listening skills, good questions.
      • B = 80+: not pushing hard enough but has potential
        C = 70+: has the potential to do better and / or did not submit the minimum required work or communications. 

        D = 60+: Didn't try


    Overdub Day #2: Guitar

    For your 'homework,' PLEASE spend a few hours sorting through the guitars mic for tone and performance.  Here's how I aproached the rough mix below - I'd love to hear your efforts, so please burn a mix and share - or bring to class.

    Down In Flames Notes
    Before you can choose guitar OD tones, you've got to whip the rest of the track in shape. I started with drum mic polarity and phase. I use the CROTCH mic for reference. You can do it anyway you'd like, but know that my drum tones are based only on that. I only EQ'd and gently limited the Tom. Keep in mind that the drums are balanced in anticipation of a bass guitar. There is a multiband processor on the guitar sub and the whole mix that I can explain in class.

    Eddie's approach to sorting through the guitars ODS...

    1. Apres drum edits...
    2. Align snare top / bottom, snare leakage in hat, tom, OH and kick Phase / Polarity to the Crotch mic.
    3. EQ tom for richer tone, lightly compress. Add mono verb? Mute when not played.
    4. Balance the kit.
    5. Listen to the ref vox and ref gtrs. I high passed and sent both into daisy-chained chorus and verb. The vox is gently compressed and de-essed.
    6. Create groups for each GTR OD as well as a stereo AUX track, the latter is used to automate the submix to leave room for playing with - and choosing - the appropriate mic(s) for each OD. ALL gtr subgroups go to a master gtr subgroup.
    7. Create a STEREO AUX TRACK for the whole mix - I prefer these to the MASTER fader.
    8. Pan the two rhythm gtr ODs left and right - about 9o'clock and 3o'clock and find a static balance for them.
    9. Once achieiving a static balance forall of the guitars, automate all of the guitar subs. Your focus will start with the intro ref gtr, it will drop down in level alot when the crunchy rhythm gtrs come in. The crunchy gtrs will need to make room for the chorus gtr. Then place the solo and take advantage of the 'obbligato' solo licks that Steve plays in the final chorus - after 2:45.
    10. As mentioned, I take advantage of the ML4000 multiband processor. In this case I used it on the whole mix and on the master gtr submix. I choose the frequency bands very carefully and never use more thn 3dB of signal processing. I will be happy to show anyone my techniques.
    11. Have fun!

    Eddie's Down In Flames Rough GR OD mix

    Eddie's Flaming Bass-O-Matic mix


    Channel Strip

    Overdub Day #3: Bass & Vocals
    week- 10

    DOWNLOAD: Punch List


    • learn how to listen in mono (this will be a future class exercise)
    • clean the head and tail of your mix before submitting
    • unless specifically requested, please do not the entire session, but please do submit the 'ptx' file.
    • check mix level after 'bouncing to disk.'
    • normalize the mix IF intended as a 'single'
    • make sure your stereo mix (wav or aiff) is INTERLEAVED, not dual mono
    • Lead vocals, Solos and bass are 'generally' placed in the center (no hard fast rules)
    • Whatever is in the 'Lead Position,' make room for it by lowering other tracks rather than pushing it up 'as much.'
    • Dynamics are more than just turning parts on and off  or moving a fader up and down, and the latter is not the same as playing hard or soft.  Those choices are made during production and with near / far micing options during the session.  That said, Automation can help alot to create space.  It is THE MOST POWERFUL and under-appreciated plug / tool in your arsenal.
    • Also, it is important to consider whether a part should be in-your-face 'dry' or futher away in the room or further yet into the reverb, a.k.a. 'wet.'  Some instruments, like a string section, can be almost entirely in the verb to create a 'wash,' no matter whether they are real or not.
    • Taking the time to process as if mastering often brings up mix disparities that are better resolved by tweaking the mix rather than rely on mix processing as a fix, or wasting the mastering engineer's time.
    • On this day we recorded standard acoustic guitar and a Nashville-tuned acoustic guitar.  Each guitar was miced with an RE-50 dynamic omni - pointed at the srings from under the sound hole - and a cascade fathead pointed at the bridge aimed across the body (rather than facing it).  Please not that the RE-50 is the same as the Electrovoice 635A EXCEPT that it's larger body reduces handling noise (for news gathering).
    • IMPORTING NEW AUDIO FILES: Today we learned a more efficient way to import the newly recorded overdubs RATHER THAN a new copy of the entire session.  Under the FILE tab, click IMPORT.  Unfortuantely, we missed on important step that is detailed in THIS IMAGE.   The default option is the LINK to the file(s).  Click and choose COPY THE FILE(s).
    • To download the files you mised, click on MISSING FILES.  Alt click or CTRL click on each individual file and save it in your audio files folder for the session.
     Flames with Acoustic GTRS and new Vox
    How to Import
    Missing Files
    Crotch mic on drums
    bass DI
    bridge PU
    eddie's preamp
    solo GTR
    Behind the Drummer's Head
    AKG-C61 vacuum tube condenser
    spaced about 1-foot
    SWR LA-8
    Shure SM-58
    L - R





    ANALOG SESSION:  Live Band!

    What to Scrutinize:

    • Even tho there is only one Bass track, the leakage of the bass into some of the drum mics forces you to experiment with polarity.
    • Definitely scrutinize drum mic polarities.  You may not use much of the crotch mic, but use it as the reference polarity.
    Eddie's Approach
    • Worked ONLY on the analog transfers of which there were five takes.
    • Spent too much time trying to make the first of those five takes sound 'good.' 
    • Take-1 Mix-2 is called FINIDNG one's way.
    • I called the remaining takes A, B, C, D, bounced them out as one stereo track.
    • I then cut each take and put on it's own track
    • I listened, learned the problems to avoid and edited the best stereo takes together in the order shown.
    • I posted all of those pieces as well as my comp and Shaynes comp.
    • I now have to edit the multitrack.
    Analog Transfers
     Complicated Take-1
    Complicated Take-1_Mix-2
    Eddie's Multitrack Edits 9jan12
    Eddie's Instruments UP 9jan12
    Shayne's Comp
     Eddie's B-D-C Comp
    Eddie's Vox Transplant
    week of
    26th december
    off OFF off OFF off OFF off OFF off OFF off OFF off OFF off OFF off OFF off OFF off OFF off 
    week of
    2nd January
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    Acoustic Guitar Reference Material

    Audio samples from winter / spring 2012

    Please note that I had Jimmy sing to help reveal rejection (when ya need it).

    6-string nashville tuned acoustic guitar
    Mid Side: ElectroVoice RE-20 as the mid (cardioid) mic & Cascade Fathead 'side'
    Fig-of-8 at the bridge: AKG 414 Left and Cascade Fathead Right
    X-Y stereo: A pair of slightly doctored AKG 451 cardioids (removed hum)
    Mono Omni:  The Electrovoice 635a dynamic omni

    Snare Drum Ring fixes
      • Confirm / Reverse top / bottom snare polarity 
      • Buss top and bottom snare to stereo aux track
      • insert ML-4000
      • adjust top and bottom snare balance
      • adjust ML-400 expander to kill snare ring
      • burn the new snare track so you can 'enjoy' it even if you don't own an ML-4000 plug.
    ML-4000 preset


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    Acoustic Piano Reference Material
    This Piano sample is from winter spring 2012
    Below are three samples from three pairs of mics in three locations as shown below.  These are .wav files and may not play directly in your browser.  Right click and save them.  You can open in most media players or import into PT, Logic, etc.
    AKG 451
    Small Diaphragm 
    Cardioid Condenser
    Cascade Fathead
    Electrovoice Dynamics 
    Bass Bridge EV-RE50B
    Hammers EV-635A
    X-Y Configuration
    Blumlein Configuration
    451 Datasheet
    Fathead Datasheet
    RE-50 - datasheet - 635A
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    My "Complicated Path"
    by Eddie Ciletti 

    Just before the holidays, we recorded a live band simulataneously to multitrack tape and to Protools.  Five takes when direct-to-Protools, using one playlist each, 1 thru 5. After the session, the analog multitrack was transferred to ProTools - this was to be the 6th playlist (although the session wasn't saved that way), the resulting files being approximately 400,000KB = 400MB!!! 

    The Five analog takes of 'Complicated.'

    The final project - which is also the final exam - is to edit the best performance - FROM ANALOG TAPE - together into one complete take and then 'do whatever else needs to be done,' which translates into cuting out any bad notes (on the bass or guitar) and finding good notes to replace them with. 

    Once done,  you should work toward getting a 'good rough mix.'  ALL of this must be done in time for the two remaining classes so that you can take maximum advantage of the lab / exam time to complete the one remaining task AND take the written test.


    EXAMPLE: See image above
    I chose to start with Take-1, listening to the sounds, looking at and listening to polarity / phase options - drums in particular, but also the bass, because it leaked into the overheads.  I knew Take-1 was not in the running, but I bounced out the mix and listened on multiple systems, made some tweaks and bounced out again.  I then listened to each of the other takes - labelled A, B, C, D - bounced them out, chose the best of each and edited the stereo mix to see if the edits would work - they did!  See image below...

    The image above shows the three stereo mixes of 'complicated'  - take-B at top, D in the middle and C at the bottom - the arrows point to the the words and cymbal crashes at the test edit points.  The multitrack edits will be done both in ProTools and to the multitrack tape, after which we can overdub on tape.

    Session Audio Samples

    RIBBON MICS are great for rejection - these were 5-feet from the drums!!

    FINAL EXAM: Practical
    We are starting this a week early so that I can provide assistance where needed and to ensure this project is not only completed, but done to the best of your abilities.

    On this penultimate day of class, you should already have decided on - and edited - the multitrack analog session and bring it to class.  Once the edits are completed, focus on balancing the instruments with the

    Below you will find two mono lead vocal tracks and one stereo background track. 

    Session-1: Week 14
    Please note that you are allowed to start this work in advance of class and proceed as far as you can.  This will help you be more prepared for class and more likely to be able to take advantage of any assistance that I can provide.

    • Download into the audio files folder of your session, then...
    • Open the session and import the three files... 
    • Create a 'group' for these files labeled IPR VOX
    • Before chosing which lead vocal to use, you need to line up the imported vocals with the live vocal.
    • Edit the imported vocals as a group.  Most of this can be done visually, but to confirm, you should pan the live vocal left and the IPR vocals right, so that it s easier to here timing discrepancies.
    • Once you are satisfied with the 'coarse' edits, turn off the live vocal, pan the lead vocals up the middle and pan the stereo background track hard left and right.  Once you figure out which lead vocal has pitch issues, you can pretty much turn it off - OR, if you have time to be more artful, listen to each take and choose the lead vocal you want. (bonus points, but do not let that be a distraction) because you must first do the...
    • Fine Edits:  Listen to the imported vocals with the track and adjust the timing for feel.
    • Compare the demo version and our live version.
    • Once you feel the vocals are edited well enough - as if they had been overdubbed to this version - you can then proceed to the 'final mix.'
    • Be sure to listen to your rough-mix-in-progress so you can make good choices during the 'final mix.'
    Audio files from the demo version
    Lead Vox
    Lead Vox
    BKG Vox


    • Create (and Label) a Stereo Aux Fader and route all channels to it.  You are encouraged to create additional AUXes for subgroups: Drums and Bass, Geetarz and vocals (be sure to label).  You will want to CTRL-click on each subgroup's SOLO button so that any Solo'd channel will solo the group (when enabled, drums & bass, for example).
    • It is highly recommended that you take advantage of the Stereo Aux's pan pots - you will find that mixes come out better blanced when you balance and automate  in mono.  Switch back and forth often.
    • Coarse automation should be done with Clip Gain.

    Session-2: Week 15

    This should be the clean up week.  You should have listened to your rough mix on as many systems as possible - car, home stereo, headphones, friends cars and stereos, studio monitors big and small.

    This space reserved for the written Final exam

    The Summer'12  Final Exam will consist of the Mic Exercsie below PLUS a listening exercise that we will do as a lab in class.

    Here is the Mic Study Guide,  please note the change in the D-2 description.

    The Listening Exercise will be similar to the one we did as a homework assignment.

     Make-up Week 16 = 19th September