Did you know that 80% of New Year's resolutions are given up on by February, and that only 8% of them survive the entire year?

I have resolved to connect more often and more deeply with my family, friends, peers, and clients this year. One way I'd like to do that is by sending a few of these little update emails. I plan on sending seven or eight of them over the course of the year. Click here to get those via email.

I have never really done New Year's resolutions before, so wish me luck.


Recent Releases

It is always extremely rewarding when music is finally released after weeks and months of work. "The Forestry" was, in fact, made over two years. I played a different role in all of these, but all three have come out in the last month or so and I'm proud of all of them! Check them out and support these artists!

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

"The Neighborliest Christmas"

Josh Lovelace

"Young Folk"

Austin Davidson

"The Forestry"


Studio Update

As you may know, my friend Brandon Owens and I are moving in to a new studio together soon. The studio is being built behind my house and it's coming along so well. Brandon is a talented producer/engineer who has worked with Mutemath, Elenowen, Bantug, and an impossibly long list of other great artists.

Here are a few photos showing the progress so far. We are hoping to be done by the end of February.

By the way, when I say "we" I really mean designers and contractors Sean Neff and Nic Teasley. They are superstars; Google them. If you need a studio, hire them.

The studio build is teaching me to have optimism and patience. I am also learning that Alyssa has both of those qualities in massive amounts and I admire her for it.

We are going to throw a big party when it's done so stay tuned for details.


Coming Soon

There are at least three projects releasing in the next few weeks that I produced. I really, really wish that I could post some audio of those projects because they are some of the best work I have done so far.

I have been taking on a lot of producing/mixing work lately that is pushing me creatively into new genres, and I have been loving it. There is something tremendously fun about stepping out into previously unknown territory. At times it has felt terrifying, but the risks continue to pay off in reward.


I hope that you are keeping the promises you made to yourself nineteen days ago, and I hope our paths cross soon.

TD

Austin and I looking on as Nathan (Meaning Machine) creates magic on the upcoming Holy Frontier EP.

Austin and I looking on as Nathan (Meaning Machine) creates magic on the upcoming Holy Frontier EP.

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AuthorThomas Dulin

I don't like when people apologize for not blogging. It is as if they assume I was constantly refreshing the page, waiting with bated breath for an update from that person. This is my second and final blog of 2016 and I am not sorry. In fact, you're welcome. 

I had the honor and pleasure of working on A LOT of music this year. It has been so busy and equally rewarding. Below is a list of some talented people who allowed me to work with their art:

Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors (Live At The Ryman)
Brittany Prescott (If That Wasn't Love)
Kris Allen (Acoustic Tapes)
Melinda Edlin (To Have, To Hold, To Break)
Thomas Toole (Place On The Sea)
SCOUTS (LBK)
Thi'sl ft. Ellie Holcomb ("Tears")
Redeemer Music (Celebrate The Cross)
Josh Wilson (The Acoustic EP)
Mat Kearney (Tour De Compadres)
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors (Again [Medicine Tour])
American Authors (Lots of one-offs)
The New Respects (The Heartland Tour)
Colony House (A few shows in April)
Jason Gray (Christmas Stories Tour)

2016 was a hard year for a lot of people. I hope and believe that someday we will look back at it as the beginning of a time of growth. Perhaps it is not coincidence that this year was more filled with music than any other year since I have been working in music. The world needs a lot of things right now, and music may not be the most important, but it is surely one of them.

2017 is already filling up. I'm so excited to dig in and get to work. I do not promise to blog more.

 

I did not know Mat was pointing at me.

I did not know Mat was pointing at me.

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AuthorThomas Dulin

I was really frustrated when I started using summing mixers because I couldn't use any parallel processing without getting phase issues caused by hardware latency. I wanted to share how I was able to work around this problem in Pro Tools 11.

Warning: If you do not already know what parallel processing and analog summing is, you will not enjoy reading this blog post. Also, please note that I'm using Pro Tools 11 and that I do not know if this is necessary in other versions of Pro Tools.

Let me explain. Here is a photo of what I was trying to accomplish: several tracks of drums which are being summed externally, but that I want to also process in one stereo bus. 

How I expected this to work (it doesn't)

I must admit that I do not know why this doesn't work. It totally should. Technically it's because the signal paths (analog outs and parallel bus) arrive to the speakers at different times. You might assume, like me, that Delay Compensation would be able to handle this task. For some reason beyond my knowledge, at least in Pro Tools 10 & 11, you and I are both wrong.

The solution that I use is to add one "layer" of busses before the analog outputs. Look at this photo to see what I mean.

Now, each audio track is sending to two busses at unity, post-fader: one exclusive bus that goes to directly to its corresponding output (I hide these while mixing), and one stereo parallel bus. The audio track itself is routed to a "dummy" output bus that goes nowhere (if you choose "No Output" you lose metering capability).

And that's it! Now you can get the benefit of hardware summing and you can squash those sources in parallel without phase problems.

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AuthorThomas Dulin
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If you are at all interested in audio production, and you have visited the internet in the last five to ten years, you are aware of "the loudness war" which is the tendency of modern music to use peak limiters to achieve maximum perceived loudness in order to "beat" other pieces of modern music.  The idea is that louder music will sell more (a hypothesis that has since been scientifically tested and found false), so record companies have been pushing producers and mastering engineers to sacrifice dynamics for more and more loudness, even to the point of distortion and other negative audible artifacts.

What you may not have heard is that we are about to see the end of this war! All the current major music providers -- Apple Music, Spotify, and now even Youtube -- are using automatic Loudness Normalization, because their most common complaints from users are about the differences in volume between different songs. In other words, you can smash a song with as many limiters as you want to try to get it louder than everyone else, and Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube will just turn the playback volume down for your song to match everyone else.

This is great news for music fans and audio engineers alike because if we don't have to sacrifice dynamics to try and compete for loudness, we can maintain dynamics in the music we create. We can master more quietly, and the transient response of our music will translate beautifully, the way we intended. Said another way, it is now officially a terrible idea to squash the dynamics out of your music; not only does it carry absolutely no benefit (as was already the case before), but when placed on a level playing field with other music, louder music will now be perceived as equally loud and lacking in energy and dynamics.

If this was a war, the general for the side of dynamics was mastering engineer Ian Shepard. See his video below, showing real examples of how this works.


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AuthorThomas Dulin

I drafted these a while back because the mix notes I was getting from clients were confusing and conflicting. I thought I'd post them here for mixers to give clients or artists/bands to use when writing mix notes.  Enjoy!

If you are reading this, congratulations! Your record or single is almost complete. In fact, it very well may be complete already. That is entirely up to you. It's time for you to make mix notes. Here are a few ideas that will help to make sure your project is completed as quickly as possible and to your complete satisfaction:

1. Stay Organized.

The mix notes you present should be either written legibly or typed and should include the following: Your name, the version number of the mixes you're critiquing, (noted in the filename) and the date you made the notes. This will prevent me from pulling out all of my hair.

2. If you are a band, you should provide me with ONE set of notes.

If I get separate mix notes from different members of the band, the notes will inevitably contradict one another. Talk amongst yourselves, come to an agreed-upon Word document, and present that document as your notes. If you are a solo artist, it may be wise to involve one or two other musicians who you trust.

3. Don't let your mom make mix notes.

While I am certain of your mother's musical shrewdness and confident in her ability to point out problems in relative levels and frequency imbalances, this is your project. The more people you involve in the mix notes process, the more varied responses you will get, the more negative reactions you will get when all the people you tried to involve hear the final mixes. Keep these mixes to a few key contributors and your record will impress everyone.

4. Remember SPUD: Section, Part, Up or Down.

With regard to simplicity and effective communication, this is the best way to communicate the changes you wish to be made in a mix. For example: "Chorus 1, Left Electric Guitar, Down" is far more effective than, "I really like the tone of the electric guitar and I know that you probably have it placed right in the mix where you want it, but if it isn't too much trouble, perhaps you could raise the left electric guitar ever so slightly because I think that it would provide a very nice lift to the chorus." Section, part, up, or down. Be bold!

5. Don't listen too hard.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, listening passively will actually serve to benefit your project. By this I mean that you should refrain from listening to these mixes on your dad's $10,000 audiophile surround sound speakers with your decibel meter in one hand and a pen in the other. Just pop it in the car and go for a ride, dude. That's what your fans will do. Listen on repeat for a while and write down what changes you'd like to hear. (On the other hand: don't just listen on your iPhone speaker at work and ask me to turn up the bass - true story.)

I hope you're excited about the thought of having your project done. As the mix engineer, I most certainly am!

 

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AuthorThomas Dulin