MMI AE-2 Class Index

Instructor: Eddie Ciletti


Class Facebook Page: Communication is THE secret to success!

FINAL PUNCH LIST: Due on the last day of class

  • Review this page for the Final Exam.  Emphasis will primarily be on the recording work we've done in Studio B.  I figure the comp test has more than enough SSL stuff.
  • Redbook CD with your CREEP and GENERAL mixes (hopefully pre-approved so I can help you do your best.)
    • be sure to look at you final mix files before you burn them to CD.
  • Final e-mail must include: 
    • Listening to and Evaluating the Acoustic Guitar and Piano Micing sessions.  If you have already done so, just cut and paste.  Please listen on decent monitors or headphones or both.  Remember the 'best' sounding track won't always fit in the track.
    • overview of your editing challenges and accomplishments
  • Final e-mail may include
    • highlights of what you learned
    • critique of the class

Quick link to each week...


Basic Rules, Requests, Requirements:

I believe in hands-on teaching by doing.  I hope you will agree that this is more fun, especially at 8AM, than me lecturing or you memorizing details without having the equipment and a project in front of you.

I have stated in class - and on line - that he have the POTENTIAL to record on even weeks.  Based on class consensus and ability, that's SEVEN possible opportunites to cover different genres that will require specific drum and instrument mic-ing techniques and plenty of experimentation..

Why the emphasis on POTENTIAL?  Because I also ask that everyone start their assignments well in advance of the weekend, even if only enough to explore the assignment and ask questions if something is not clear (or not working).  So far that concept has not become embedded into habit. 

Keep in mind that recording bands is 'my idea,' as-in, there is nothing in the syllabus that implies that we'd be recording more than just one instrument at a time.   We can do it that way if you want, but I feel very strongly that ensemble performance and recording is the better way.  PLUS, I like the sound of the space as it leaks into various microphones.

If you feel that my approach is not working, then let me know ASAP.

So, the deal is simply this...

  • Do you like the idea of recording a live band in class and  then mixing that session as a homework assignment?
  • Do you think this approach might be the better way to learn mic technique, Pro Tools operation, and all of the mixing tricks - Compression, Limiting, EQ and automation?
If yes, then our 'covenant' is...
  • To start your 'homework' as soon after class as possible...
  • know where on the web to go to stay on track, keep in touch and map out our time together. 
  • know that you can ask me any question, at any time, and I will reply within the day if not within hours
TRANSLATION: PLEASE DO NOT wait until Sunday to find out that stuff doesn't work.
  • email every week
  • stay in touch on our facebook page: HINT, there's lot's of planning involved
  • Always check out the index below for updates about what we did and where we are going.
About the Reading and Video Assignments:

Please know that I do not expect 100% absorption from reading and vdeo assignments.  I do expect you to absorb what you can and ask questions.


Description of what we did

6th Feb

  • Introduction, Listen to 45s, 
  • Basic Acoustics (Diffusion, Absorption, Reflection), 
  • Bass Management for all Formats (Equal Loudness Curve, Proximity, Low Frequency chellenges
  • Record a Drum Kit.



13th Feb




20th Feb

Quizes on the following topics: 
Lucas tk-1
Lucas tk-2



27th feb

the detail...



May Contain one or more of the following:
  • Don't You Worry Bout a Thing
  • I Want You Back
  • Lowdown
  • learn how to listen in mono (this will be a future class exercise)
  • should clean the head and tail of your mix before submitting
  • unless specifically requested, please do not submit session files (but please do keep a copy of them)
  • 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

<<< Whether chiseling a statue or mixing, don't chisel too deep, too fast!
In this order...
  • LISTEN to everything
  • Check drum polarity (and phase)
  • EQ / Filter the most egregious offenders (too bright, too muddy)
  • Avoid individual dynamis processing
  • 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.

Individual Tips...
  • Darius: Your mix starts out with more hiss than mix.  Automation first.  (Guessing you had alotta compression on certain tracks.) Lotta verb dude!
  • Michael:  Your mix level was too hot - TONS of overs.  Be sure to look and the mix bounce.
  • Haley: Intro Guitar is too loud and stays too loud.  (I know you had other problems that kept you from spenindg more time on this)
  • Jarrell:  Good starting balance!
  • Jesse: Panning decisions are an artistic choice, so I will mostly suggest that you choose to either go for the contrast or balance your choices.  Otherwise the balance is a good place to start automating. 
  • Lucas: Your mix is very well balanced.  The only issue initially is that I hear the low end from kick in the Room / Ambinece track.  The first out of place in your mix is the hours.  Automate them and work from there. 



5th March

Week-5's class will work like this - and hey, it really did!

Spend a few moments talking about Tom Tucker, who I have had the pleasure of knowing for seven-plus years. If you have a Tuck story, please share.  Tom set a great example as a human being - he was warm to all, embracing, supportive and loyal. Tom treated people like family and in this business, THAT is saying something. Tom was way more than a great recording and mix engineer, but he set a standard. His mixes are a pleasure and a joy to listen to.

Great CLASS!!!

  • Talk about mixing priorities
  • Separate into two groups, do the respective exploration and then swap groups
  • JOSH will do protools hardware tour and hit that punch list
  • EDDIE will do signal flow
  • Convene in Studio B and learn more about the SSL
  • AFTER we cover SSL basics, we'll try mixing in the analog domain (see links below)
  • Prep for next week's recording session.
Lowdown (raw)
Lowdown (proc)
  • Lead vocals and Solos 'generally' are placed in the center (no hard fast rules)
  • Whatever is in the 'Lead Position,' make room for it by lowring other tracks rather than pushing it up 'as much.'
  • Notice how the strings really needed to be in the verb only and how we could have ridden them a little bit?  It's easy to get used to them being in, but it's better to purposefully manipulate dynamics so they are 'behind the mix' adding dimension rather than having them too 'close.'  We want to try to hide the fact that they are fake strings...
  • 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 processing to be 'the fix.'

Patch Bay

Mic Preamps

Gain-Based FX

Time-Based FX



12th March

  • Creep
  • Jimmy, Justin, jack and Jarett
  • Recoring Engineer: Ashley, Lucas and Haley
  • Assistant Engineers:
  • in-Studio Engineers:
Below will be my step-by-step progress.  I started with drum and bass polarity, basic signal processing and editing / automating the tom tracks so they're only on when played.

In working with what I had, I chose FX that helped hide the vocal flaws.  I also felt the clean guitar was too naked so I turned it into a texture, relying more on the piano for notes..

This would be a good song to learn auto tune on. 

 Rough Drums

Channel Strip

Quiz Fest
  • SSL patch bay and operation 
  • Stomp box BYPASS
  • DI
  • Session Planning
  • reference a known good mix, one that is not highly processed but which has a 'good spectral balance'
  • talent
  • performance
  • test recording: listen to each individual trrack to make sure it will be use-able
  • apres record, check drum polarity
  • housekeeping: which is essentially throwing away the mistakes and noises via mutes
  • 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'
  • EQ only the most eggregiously wrong tracks (too bright, too dark, too bass heavy)
  • automate before using dynamics plug-ins
  • Before uploading - sharing - e-mailing your mix, be sure to look at the waveform. Some of you have unacceptable distortion.
Mid Term Notes:

As mentioned, from the CREEP mixes I have learned alot and plan on focusing our remaining classes on improving your skillset.  Be prepared to mix EVERY week from now to week-15.

EVERYONE should look at their mix before sending.

I currently have mixes from: 

Ashley Brastad-1 - who is obviously the pianist (and has recut the piano).  In version-1, there is an obvious level discrepency between Ashley's OD and the track - this is normal when you focus so much time on an overdub that it is hard to re-adjust your perspective - and the piano - into the new part's rightful place in the mix.  Ashley's mix otherwise pretty good.
Ashley Version-2 - here the piano is more balanced in the mix but what goves it away is the warmth that most like was the sound of the piano sample she chose.   For it to fit better in the mix, either a different sample or some combo of high pass filter and low frequency shelf roll-off would help tremendously.  Ashley's V-2 made her an honorary member of the 48khz club.
Darius Bush (who needs to undo all that compression).  I can't emphasize enough that you should mix / Automate first and then - like  sculptor - carefully and tastefully add processing to achieve a 'better' mix - one that can stand up to being trashed. 
Devin Hays  - who like Jarett Toomey was in the back-to-mono camp but who was paying attention when I pointed out the problem and rectified it!
Drew - likes bass and compression alot (monitoring issues?) and loves to bury the vocal.  I can't tell if the cool alien effect on the vox is intentional (I like it and can almost tell it's Jack's vocal) or an mp3 artifact. 
Haley Scoops Peterson: (48kHz club)  This is a good 'foundation mix,' it seems  to have minimal to no processing.  The vocal is a bit forward and dry, pulling it back would help the drums be punchier.
Jimmy Kruchten: (48kHz club) like many of you, needs to learn how to mute (bad piano parts) and automate.  In a way, this mix is the next logical progression from Haley's mix.  Jimmy copped my cool vocal effect, which I take as a compliment.
Jack Maddy - needs to LOOK at his mix file before 'shipping out,' some combo of not listening loud enough, pushing the mix too hard and the need to better understand both compression and limiting.  Without a limiter, then a faster attack time on his buss compressor would have helped.
Jack Maddy-2: This version is much improved from Jack's firs tsubmission. At about 8dB down from full scale, there's no distortion - yay! - and while it needs to be mixed, I think once the ODs are put in their place, the drum submix sounds pretty good.
Jarret'soriginal mix was single channel mono, which he fixed and reposted.  His vocal take is even more sarcastic than Jack's and occassionally has timing errors.  Jarret also needs to take advantage of being able to easily mute the piano mistakes.  Asside from the crunch guitar being a little too bright, the rest of the track seems balanced - my guess is that there is vocal automation.
 - who like many of you needs to learn how to mute (bad piano parts) and automate.
Justin Hays: Submitted his mix so early it got buried in the FB 'timeline!'  But now that it's here...  Justin's version is too hot, two limited and not really mixed.  If there was a foundation, the limiting trashed it and the vocal is too loud.
Lucas - who learned how to bounce out only take two!  This mix has two identical channels, not sure if it was intentional or got turned into mono.  The mix is somewhere between haley's and Jimmy's.
Michaeland Jack make a great team - Jack's vocal and piano work really well and so nice to hear without the distortion!  The drum-bass-guitar submix is over compressed (my guess), while the vocal and piano seem to float over it.  The lack of dynamics holds the song back emotionally, but in some ways the combo of ODs balances out the mix flaws.

Brody Maves makes 11, (and who finally - after grades were in - set Soundcloud's permission to download).  Brody's mixed on crappy speakers, should have also used headphones, relied entirely too much on compression and completely ignored our very first class lesson about The Equal loudness Curve, Proximity Effect, how speakers lie - and / or are severely challenged to reproduce low frequencies in an acoustic space.  That said, spending a little time on automation and not adding tons of low end to the bass woudl have helped.

need mixes from:

Jesse Kalkbrenner (12)
S Kim Vang (13)
Justin Hays (14)

MID-TERM GRADES generally fall into three categories...
  • 90: great participation (in and out of class), feedback, grasp of concepts, listening skills, good questions.
  • 80: not pushing hard enough but has potential
  • 70: not trying - or not organized - or did not submit the minimum required work or communications.  I need to find out how to motivate and students need to learn how to communicate so I can help.
The second half of the semester will go very fast.  We're recording in B to get more SSL experience and to learn more about mic choice and placment.

Recorded THE GENERAL in B to get more drum and SSL experience.  Headphone and File Saving issues...


CUE SYSTEM troubleshooting plus BEAT DETECTIVE

This could easily be a Beat Detective day, tho ODs are possible if everyone's done their homework...


  • Mike O'Conner: This sounds like a simple rough mix.
  • Eddie Ciletti: Manually edited drums prepped for BD.  Some basic mix tweaks to tighten up the snare, tweak drum polarity, EQ guitar and bass.



SSL Competency

Ross Harvey was kind enough to create three SSL PDFs for us...

SSL Buss Compressor
SSL Dynamics Module

OD's:  SSL Competency, Acoustic Guitar ODs plus BD / editing assistance

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
The General with Drum, Jack and Jimmy edits

Eddie's Dead Beat Tips for Brain Dead Beat Detective

1 - Print the click to a track
1a Place the instruments about the visual click 
1b Place the three key drum tracks below the visual click
1c Now, no matter how zoomed out, the click is always easy to see.
1d You will ALWAYS have to learn where instruments must be placed for proper feel.

2 - Be sure to group all drum tracks (and ref vox) so that you are always editing the entire kit
3 - Manually edit first (because BD is not an intelligent life form)
4 - Listen to and edit the other instruments to the grid and / or visual click.
5 - Beat Detective should only be applied AFTER you are satisfied with the edits and the feel
6 - If BD pleased you, then it's time to apply the edit cross-fades

CLICK on the image below for a high resolution image

Click on graphic to get higher resolution image

Jack's Guitar
High Frequency Limiter
Jack's Guitar
HF Limiter Preset
EQ preset

Ever wonder where ProTools keeps your preset settings? 
Of course you can save them wherever, but on my PC, this is where...

\Program Files\Common Files\Digidesign\DAE\Plug-In Settings

General Snare fix: Assuming the drums were edited as a group... 
    • Reverse top snare polarity (relative to the 451 drum OHs)
    • Buss top and bottom snare to stereo aux track
    • insert ML-4000
    • adjust top and bottom snare balance
    • burn the new snare track so you can 'enjoy' it even if you don't own an ML-4000 plug.
ML-4000 preset


SSL Competancy
(audio file)
(audio file)
SSL Buss Compressor
SSL Dynamics Module
Meanwhile, during SSL Competancy, Ashley was practicing the piano part for CREEP, but when we were ready to record, she had gone, so Jimmy filled in.  Below are three samples from three pairs of mics in three locations as shown below.  These are .wav files and maynot 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
Beat Detective Guide

Sample Final Exam

Answers to Final Exam

corrected answers to final exam

  • Q-1: The poorly worded question asks what the compressor does TO a track - it reduces dynamic range by increasing low level signals and reducing high level signals. the answer as given describes compressor parameters...
  • Q-18:more tone? point mic toward head
  • Q-19:  more stick? point mic toward center
  • Q-22: you do realize how ready I was to record a leslie, right? I had the leslie and my acoustic on the day we did GENERAL drums and bass. That said, TWO mics on the leslie because the horn is spinning, the mic are on two sides essentially at right angles.
  • VIDEO FOR Q-22
  • Q-27: the answer to this question is what should have made THE GENERAL easier to edit. You group ALL of the drums (and the ref vox, in our case) so that drum polarity and phase is maintained. it is also easier. Your job is to edit using the kick and snare hits because they are typically on 1/3 and 2/4.
  • Bonus Q: How many people printed the click and of those, how much easier did it make the editing job?
  • Bonus Q: What Acoustic Guitar mic technique did Eddie use in his General mix?
  • Q-34: Stereo returns, may be labeled, 2-track, CD, DAT, stereo-1, Stereo-2, etc. (any stereo thing but not multitrack)
  • Q-37: re-amping is generally applied to instrument recorded direct so they can be routed out of the box and into an amplifier to optimize the tone. Quite often, multiple amps might be used - individually or all at once.
Drew Appel
Darius Bush
Ashley Brastad
Devin Hays
Justin Hayes
Jesse Kalkbrener
Jimmy Krutchen
Mike O'connor
Heley Peterson
Lucas Schneider
Jarett Toomey
Kim Vang

EDDIE-LOG: What Eddie Learned This Semester

Teachers learn stuff, it's true!  And sometimes teachers feel overwhelmed just like you do. 

I learned that nearly EVERYONE in our class has struggled with on or more of the following:

  • Too much info to absorb (same for me when I came to MMI, lots of new things to learn about how their system works.
  • Waiting till sunday night to do the work or email me (I couldn't be of much help by then, though I was often up till 1am or 2am prepping for class myself).  I get up at 4:30 for Monday's class.
  • Not having PT at home
  • Not taking / having time to do class work outside of class
  • Not listening to a mix on enough different systems.  Notice I didn't say 'not having decent monitors.'  Remember our first class?  Remeber the articles I posted about loudness, loudspeakers and monitoring environment shortcomings.  Remember walking around the control room to hear HOLES?
  • Being tired and not particularly interactive on a Monday morning.  I did my best to get psyched for the class, despite any lack of sleep.  But I agree that an 8am class on a Monday is whacked.  That said, maybe it was chosen because that's when peeps could squeeze it in?

I've encouraged you to update your mixes every week to improve fluency of the ENTIRE process.  Even more important, doing the weekly exercise should have generated lots of 'how to' questions, in class or via email.  If I post a mix it's not to boast, it is to say 'this is an option.'  If you like it, you can ask me how to get there, if you wanna go in another direction, we can explore that.