- IT'S ABOUT TIME - Loud/RCA Records - 3x PLATINUM
FRIDAYS (Sound Track)/ALKAHOLIKS - Priority - 2x PLATINUM
METHOD MAN - TICAL 2000: JUDGMENT DAY - DEF JAM - 2x PLATINUM
BULWORTH (Sound Track)/RZA, CAPPADONNA - Interscope - PLATINUM
WU TANG CLAN - ENTER THE 36 CHAMBERS - Loud/RCA - PLATINUM
GHOSTFACE KILLAH - SUPREME CLIENTELE' - Razor Sharp/Epic - GOLD
OL' DIRTY BASTARD - NIGGA PLEAZE - Elektra - GOLD
RZA as BOBBY DIGITAL - V2/Gee Street Records - GOLD
THE SWARM (Wu-Tang Compilation) - Razor Sharp/Epic Records - GOLD
CAPPADONNA - THE PILLAGE - Razor Sharp/Epic Records - GOLD
SWV - THE REMIXES - Loud/RCA Records - GOLD
NEW JERSEY DRIVE (Sound Track)/E BROTHERS - Tommy Boy - GOLD
MOBB DEEP - THE INFAMOUS - Loud/RCA Records - GOLD
BOBBY DIGITAL - Koch Records - Recorded and mixed various songs on 'Digital
WU-CHRONICLES Vol.2 - Priority Records - Recorded and mixed various songs
PIONEERS OF HIP HOP - av8/K-TEL Records - Recorded various songs
HIP HOP FOR RESPECT/ Mos Def - Rawkus - Recorded 'One Four Love' a tribute
to the Diallo family
GHOST DOG - The Way Of The Samurai Soundtrack - Sony Music/JVC Japan
- Recorded and mixed various songs
P.J.'s SOUNDTRACK - Hollywood Records - Recorded and mixed 'Giant Size'
WU-TANG CLAN - 36 Chambers- Loud/RCA - additional engineer on 'Bring the
WU-TANG Shaolin Style - Play Station Game - Activision - Recorded and
mixed 'Wu World Order', mixed 'Rumble'
BIG DADDY KANE - Cold Chillin Records - Mixed the Classic 'Big Daddy Kane
Live at the Apollo'
Notorious BIG, THE LOX, DJ Primer, RZA, INSPECTAH DECK, CAPPADONNA, RAGE
AGAINST the MACHINE, RUN-DMC, Doug E Fresh, Ruff Ryders, Jim Jones, D'Angelo,
KRS-ONE, Kool Gee Rap and DJ Polo, Guru, Najee, TAKAMAGAHARA, GZA, RAE
KWON, Joe Buddens, Organized Noize, LEFT EYE, RNS, Easy Mo Bee, Kurupt,
Daz, Ras Kass, Bad Azz, 40 Glock, HALF A MILL, Camp-Lo, American Cream
Team, Pharoahe Monch, EL MESWY, Mark 'Boogie' Brown, Adina Howard, Deadly
Venoms, Ruff Nation, Rah Digga, Blahzay Blahzay, Cee Knowledge, AFu Ra,
Shyheim, Sunz of Man, Killarmy, Black Knights, WU-Syndicate, King Tech,
Sway, All-Star, Mad Lion, SuperNatural, Black Child, Jinx, Shells, Littles,
Bars and Hooks, Darrin Whitington, Chub Rock, Lord Finesse, Mister Cee,
Lady Kier, GP Wu, The Veterans, Jazzy Jeff, Shabazz, Leschea, Masta Ace,
Ru Paul, Ted Mills, Jazz Lee Alston, Gina Thompson, Warner Brothers Records,
Threat/Red Ant Records, Arista Records, Loud Records, Big Beat/Atlantic
Records, Polygram Records, MCA Records, DreamWorks Records, Select Records
SSL; Neve VR; Neve 8108 Classic; Amek/Neve 9098; Amek Galileo, Rembrandt,
Angela; Sony/MCI; Yamaha O2R; Focusrite Control 24; ProTools, Digital
Performer, Logic, Peak; The Hit Factory; Sony Studios; Quad Recording
Studios; Right Track Recording; Unique Recording; 36 Chambers; 36 Chambers
West; Bassline; Ruff Ryders Studios; Larrabee West; Sound Castle; D&D;
Firehouse Recording; Mantra; Funky Slice; Ameraycan; Track Record and
me start with this disclaimer: There are usually lots of different ways
do things in the production process. I have Engineered for many years, and
with many different producers and artists. I have my own way of doing things.
I will keep it very un-technical and give you tips that can really help.
If you need any additional advice holla.
First and foremost - My sincere condolences to the Bell family.
This is the time that everyone with a voice needs to use it. It seems that once again it's shown that a life is worthless. A Black mother, wife, or child deserves no justice. How in the world can anyone sit and say and do nothing. If there's anything at all they can do. Any Black officers out there must look deep inside yourself and ask - What can I do to change this. You know it could be your family, or friend, or you yourself. I personally have been in a car with an officer when we were stopped and harassed. All we were doing was sitting in a car on the block. That was enough for them approach us and ask about ID and want to search the car. I remember when the officer I was with tried to use that “I'm on the job” line and he was told by the white cops who stopped us that they didn't want to hear that shit. All my friend could do was say he was going to report it to the PBA. How sad…. As I said, it's time for you Black officers to reflect and make some changes. You know damn well that 'they' don't respect you. Any (Black) person with a husband, brother, son, or any person with a Black friend needs to be HOT!!! The judges decision was a straight slap in the face to each and every one of us. Go to my MySpace and download and/or add the 'This is Why I'm Hot' freestyle. Listen and get some inspiration.
Q. Soft synths vs. hardware sound modules which do you recommend? And why?
A. Besides some of the classic pieces like the MPC 3000, Juno 106, SE-1, Novation, etc… These because of their unique sounds. The MPC 3000 sounds different than any other MPC. The SP-1200 is the same - it sounds grimey. The Juno and Novation are real analog units so they don't exist as software. I go with the soft synths because of versatility - there are products that do things hardware doesn't, convenience - in the box, price - nuff said, variety - so many products available and I can have so many I'd fill a warehouse if they were hardware.
Q. I've heard a lot of suggestions over the years for vocals - roll of the lows-high pass filter... parallel compression (New York comp)... boosting 18-20kHz to give it some air.
Do you use any of the above techniques...?
And what are the things that you try and do to every vocal that you mix. Whether it be rap or singing.
A. Yes I use all the above techniques but not on every vocal. Unlike a drum, piano, or most other instruments which engineers develop pretty standard ways to cope with. Every voice is pretty much unique so what works for one won't necessarily work for another. Even the same voice on a different song might need different or additional treatment to seat it in a mix and make it sound like its part of the song and not on top of the music. Just as when recording vocals you may use many different mics but you will usually only use one or two mics to record a snare or kick. (remember live drums… oh, you never worked with those….)(J)
So the things that I'll do to every vocal in general - I'll usually use at least one compressor for each vocal track to tame some of the individual dynamics. I bus all the vocals (eventually) to one stereo bus (stem) and place a good compressor or limiter across it just to keep everything level within the context of the vocal level in the song. When that loud ad lib happens or times when there's a lead, background voc or two, and an ad lib all at the same time I want to control it. I also wet them with something like a small room to widen it and help it sit in the song.
I didn't know that parallel compression was called New York compression. I wonder who thought of calling it that. Was the first person to do it in New York or is it a sonic signature type of thing. I wonder…. The bass roll off thing is something you have to be careful with because the vocals can become too thin. I usually keep the leads a little fuller then the doubles and backgrounds. Every vocal doesn't need an air boost either. The trick is that after you do all these things the vocals still sound good. Whatever good might mean for a given song because there's not one vocal sound that's always right. Just remember to not be afraid to experiment and find what works for you. With all my years of experience I still experiment all the time. Maybe you can develop a sound and it can be called 'your name here compression or vocal treatment. It's digital baby….
Q. Hey thanks for the reply. Yeah I don't know why they call it New York Compression either.
So just to clarify....you do use a little compression when recording to disk and then the heavier compression later on.
Q. I am an MC, and I am having a dispute with a new engineer. This guy is a friend of mine, but he doesn't know as much about recording hiphop as he thinks he does. When we record, he will just record the vocals, without the beat (though I do get the beat in my headphones), and then he will try to "fly" the vocals to match them up with the track. I told him not only is this an unnecessary hassle, but its tough to paste the vocals perfectly on the beat, and if they are even slightly askew it wreaks terrible, terrible havoc on the sound.
Is there any reason to try to "fly" the vocals like that, and generally speaking what is your perspective on trying to shift vocals around on the beat?
Do you think it is necessary to fly the hook on every recording? Do you have any tips on how to get vocals to sync up right when you fly them?
Thanks for your time.
A. The quick answer is a question - Why would anyone record without a beat? I don't see how anyone could think that that is a good way to record your vocals. So tell him I said not to do it that way.
Q. Hey Dr. No,
I need some advice on mixing my tracks. The problem I usually have is that the sound (vocals) get a little muffled or bassy. What sound level should I set the instrumental? Some times I two track, which from my understanding is panning one instrumental track full left and one full right. Otherwise i track out at 24 bit 96k. I also use an A.R.T pro vla compressor. For some reason i dont think it is keeping me and my artists leveled. i always end up using the software compressor after.
Thanks Dr. No.
A. As far as muffled and bassy, make sure you're recording at a good level and use your eq's when mixing it down. A key factor when mixing is removing bass from stuff that doesn't need it. Record everything at a good high (hot) level. Two tracking just means stereo, so yeah pan them far left and right. 24/96 is good. It's fine if you have to use a software compressor on your vocals when you are mixing. You shouldn't record with too much compression anyway.
Q. Hey what's happenin Dr., I'm writing you because I think I need more space in my mix I think. My sound is perfectly clear, my eq knowledge has been about a couple years in the making, all levels are good and everything but I'm not sure how to get my mixes to sound like they have room, you know? Everything just seems to sit on top of each other pretty much. I've kinda been racking my brain listening to commercial stuff (even rock) tryin to figure out what I need to do, what's happenin with it Doc?
A. Experiment with wide panning, and using short delays (10-20ms more or less) panned opposite or just differently then the original sound. Don't be afraid to put your entire mix through a small reverb. (shhh….. keep that to yourself. that's a mastering technique)
Q. Dr. No, what's up? I am caught in a catch 22. I've been makin beats for almost 8 years now and recently decided that this is something I could make some serious money doin and possibly a living. I have been using Fruity Loops lately and recently got Reason along with some other updated gear. The problem is that I am somewhat of a perfectionist, and this is now interfering with me puttin my beats out there and really gettin at sellin them. The more I learn about EQing and compression and mastering, etc. the more I think that my beats still have a way to go before I can feel satisfied. Sometimes I'll feel pretty satisfied with the mix and then hear it on a different system and feel like the levels aren't as consistent as I would have liked (even after checkin the levels on several different studio monitors). I just need to know at what point I can feel like my home studio has produced something that I can be comfortable selling to somebody and not have to think that there might have been some other fine tuning that was necessary. I appreciate your advice.
A. If you want to mix your own beats you just have to learn to do it to the level you want your stuff to sound. Keep practicing you mixing skills and comparing your sound to the sound of some good commercial mixes. You probably won't get to where you feel the sound is perfect. I hardly ever feel that way. You just have to know when it's good enough and leave it there.
DJ Static… When asked if he thought all producers should have an engineer on hand to mix their beats his response was “Most of them should. It's a learning experience for producers and engineers.” I totally agree. Anytime a producer comes in with his machines or computer and we track a beat the magic starts and the beat is taken to another level. As I've said in this column many times before a producer's main focus needs to be the music and not necessarily the sound. Of course a producer needs to pick the right elements for the track, the right samples, kicks, snares, but the engineer's expertise is to make it sound fat, or chunky, or clean, or commercial, or better.
Q. Dr. NO, What's up? As you already know, you're doin everyone who's tryin to get started in this industry a huge favor by addressing individual issues. Thanks again. I feel like I'm always gettin conflicting answers when it comes to the legal use of samples. I personally prefer to create my beats from scratch, but every once in awhile I'll hear something that I wouldn't mind sampling. I know that you can sample without paying for clearances as long as it's unrecognizable but even line gets blurry. I've heard of people gettin sued for a couple guitar hits. However, I've also heard the other extreme use of sampling where producers are using full song samples. I can't imagine everyone's always in a scramble tryin to get clearances just to put out a mixtape. At the same time, it seems like everyone's using sample-based gear like the MPC and is not too concerned bout all the logistics regarding the legalities of using samples. Is it safe to say that if you get called out for an illegal use of a sample, your track must have been hot enough to have gotten called out in the first place, and therefore you should have the money to pay the fees? It's been botherin me for a minute.
A. It is safe to say that if you get called out for an illegal use of a sample, your track must have been hot enough to have gotten called out in the first place but that doesn't mean you'll have the money to pay for it. It's not your responsibility as a producer to pay for the samples you use in a track. The artist label has to decide if they are willing to pay for the clearances. You only have to be sure to tell em what it is and where you got it from. That 'making it unrecognizable' stuff is a very dangerous game because if you try and sneak one in and it gets discovered later, you may be liable.
Check some of the back columns for info. I'm up to Part 39 so I've covered a lot of things.
CLINIC RECORDING SERVICE - Professional Mixing and Mastering
Have your song mixed and mastered by 'Dr No' - Affordability. You can send your session files and audio files on a data disk or over the internet. Hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the details.