Hey phoo!!

!!! LOL!

Hey phoo, i just gave you a listen & i gotta say i’m pretty impressed!! sounds really good to me. i wish i could get my stuff to sound like that! can you tell me about your set up?

Pics of the studio are here. There’s nothing special about any of it really.

I’ve added some M-Audio BX8 monitors. Those helped out as much as doing the sound treatments to the room. I like the JBLs and have used them for mixing since the 70’s, but there have always been some problems with the mixes done on them, not matter what room I was mixing in. The M-Audio’s seem to have solved that problem for the most part.

One of the tricks that really hard to do, even for me, is to keep the lows down in the mix. They build up on all tracks and are hard to control. Part of the problems is that it’s hard to hear them. Another is that when they are at a level that sounds right on the tracks they probably aren’t right in the mix.

My own personal pitfalls are over compression/limiting and over EQing. still haven’t figured out how the heavier bands of the day get that totally limited sound without sounding totally squashed. The best example of this kind of sound that I’m familiar with is the Matrix soundtrack. This is good sort of totally squished, and not a manifestation of the “LOUD IS BETTER” CDs that have been released recently. I suspect many of the recent CDs are trying to go for that sound and end up just screwing up the mix. Peter Gabriel does a GREAT job of hitting that limit, but his last CD had some clipping on it in places that I know wasn’t intentional.

I can’t take a lot of credit for the fartones mixes, though I did the mixing. I bounce the mixes off of Teryeah and Sean for weeks and sometimes months before we decide they are good enough. Teryeah especially has a good ear for picking out things I don’t hear. Never is he wrong and I rarely disagree with what needs to be fixed. We have a system where I put up the daily mixes. We may go through 40 or more mixes before getting one that’s close enough around the world - one that all of us think is almost there. All of us listen in slightly different ways. We’ve learned to trust each other judgment and have figured out how to verbalize what we hear and what we think would correct the problems we hear.

Terje and Sean track their guitars in their basements and post the raw tracks to fartones.com in a password protected section. I pick them up and put it all together. We will have songs that someone else has taken the production lead on in the future…it might kill my ego to let go, but that’s life. :)

It’s a lot of work but well worth it.

Feel free to ask anything specific.

Well I just have to say that those are some darn fine recordings.

My favorite is “Just for You”. I only wish that the awesome guitar thing towards the end went on for like, another five minutes. :)

How did you achieve that cool sound on the female vocal part?

Keep up the great work!

psychobilly, thanks for starting the thread. After listening to Phoo’s stuff I’ve been ready to ask some questions and this seems the perfect place to start.

So Phoo, if you don’t mind, I’d like to know about the process you use to record your drums. Not the mics etc (well not yet anyway), but at what point in the collab do the real drums go in?

Do you build the song around a click or programmed drum track first and then add the real drums later? Or do you start with the real drums (to a click presuambly) and build from there?



yer welcome Mark

thanx for the reply phoo, i’ve got the same trouble w/ lows too & mids & highs :laugh: my room isn’t tuned right & i don’t know that it ever will be. i also argue w/ myself, are my monitors too close? not far enough away? ####, i don’t know :p i also don’t know how to tune my room, but maybe i’ll figure it out. i’ve been at this for 4 yrs & still ain’t got it right yet. i really don’t know how to read the spectrum on the eq, maybe i should use my ears & not my eyes :laugh: i do need some help w/ things, i just hope i don’t drive everybody here crazy…except Deeeewwwweeeyyyy!!! thanx again phoo

Got to go to work. I’ll add some detailed answers when I get a break.


…at what point in the collab do the real drums go in?

As near the beginning as possible. It’s much easier to make things fit around the drums than the other way around. It even hard to put real drums to tracks played to a perfect click. Most other instruments can be off from the click a little and it doesn’t matter much. Drums but the nature of the sound makes the need for them to be nearly click accurate much greater. The more percussive the sound the more precise it needs to be. Of course, when playing live - the whole band at once - there little need to be perfect because everyone is grooving to the music together. Collaboration ruins that totally.
Do you build the song around a click or programmed drum track first and then add the real drums later? Or do you start with the real drums (to a click presuambly) and build from there?

I start with a good basic guide track and lay the drums down first. That guide track is usually starts out as a MIDI tracks of chords and a simple bass line. I do that by manually entering in the MIDI notes in the piano roll.

But, depending on the song, and because the fartones have done mostly copy tunes, I’ve occasionally locked the original recording to the grid (as seen in another thread) as the very first step. At that point I add the MIDI stuff, or sometimes just a cowbell or tambourine click.

I convert all the MIDI stuff to waves, then lay down the drums. These will be the final drums, even if ther are edits or major changes later, so I need to have the timing down.

I fix up the timing by editing little bits of the drums in the same way as lining up a ripped song to the grid. Fortunately, that usually means sliding a measure here and there just a little, but occasionally I’ll screw up something that needs major fixing. I could rerecord the drums again, but sometimes it’s just a matter of finding a similar part from another part of the song and comping it in.

I’m comfortable enough with my own musicianship (old fart - I don’t give a crap attitude - nothing to prove) that I don’t have the desire to sit and play something over and over and over to get it just right if I can fix it easily this way. Of course, if what I played sucks or isn’t what I want musically it’s way easier and better to replay it. If I have to replay something over and over I’m probaby not trying to play the best thing and I need to rethink what I’m doing. Honestly, I usually learn the songs arrangments but listening over and over, work out the major stuff, and wing the rest, keeping the first few takes.

Some fartones drums really are first takes. I don’t think any are more than 5, but I did take a few weeks break on one of them, then redid the drums second take second session. Sometimes you just have to walk away.

So, when the drums are set I’ll do a group submix of just drums. I upload that, the guide track, and the click track to the private website. The others pick 'em up and add their parts.

We use wma files for the temp tracks, but sometimes for the final tracks as well - usually 192bps. We can’t use wma if the tracks are 24 bits. We use ape or zip for those. db-poweramp doesn’t decompress 24 bit Ape files in a format n-Tracks can import, no matter what format the original waves were in, so we’ve used zip recently. I consider that to be a bug in db-poweramp.

Also recording is 44.1k. Drums are done in 24 bit. Terje does 24 bits. Sean and Martin do 16 bits. Drums need it – I can really hear a difference. I don’t know if it matters that much for guitars in the long run - it probably does for vocals though. You use what you got – it’s all good.

After a few more parts are added we can get a feel for the way things are going.

Thanks Phoo. Great stuff as usual.


That sounds very good Phoo. I wish I could make my recorings sound half as good.

Phoo says, "One of the tricks that really hard to do, even for me, is to keep the lows down in the mix. They build up on all tracks and are hard to control. Part of the problems is that it’s hard to hear them"

You hit a nerve on this one Phoo. Has the room treatment raised the mids and lows so you can hear them? I’m goin to try placement to see if it helps. I was listening to a playback while standing up and noticed a bump in the low end that I didn’t hear in front of them. I getting tired of running out to the garage to check the latest mix I have done. I figure, if it sounds good in my stock stereo in my car, it’ll sound good anywhere. I’ll still do this but I sure would love to minimize it!!! :(


You hit a nerve on this one Phoo. Has the room treatment raised the mids and lows so you can hear them?

It’s sort of the other way around, ironically. I record and mix in the same room as most of us with home studios. That causes a huge disadvantage since the same dips and peaks are evident on the tracks and when monitoring. I other words, if there is a dip around 64 hz in the room, then there was be a dip at 64 hz in the tracks recorded in that room, and there will be another dip at 64 hz when played back in the same room. When mixing there is the tendency to boost at 64 hz to compensate, but because the dip originates with the room acoustics it almost impossible to not over compensate. That will make for muddy mixes when played almost anywhere else.

This is one thing that an app like Har-Bal can really expose. After a while you’ll notice every mix ends up with the same peaks and dips. EQing with Har-Bal on these recordings may make the mix worse in spite of what the curve looks like, so it’s not good to blindly flatten with it.

If there seems to be a mid-range peak in the room, which is what my room is like, then it might be a peak or it might be dips above and below the peak. It’s all in the point of view. In any case it’s a matter of flattening the room and that meas absorbing the peaks and breaking up resonances. You want to absorb just the frequencies near the peaks and cause everything else to scatter. There’s many books written on how to do that stuff.

I get up an walk around the room. There is a sweet spot in the back where I can hear the deep lows. I can’t hear them when sitting at the computer. The frequency of that sweet spot changes from the front to the back of the room, so I walk back and forth and try to get the mix so it works everywhere, including opening the door and listening from the other room…and inside the closet. I can hear different stuff at every place.

The acoustic treatments in my room are all aimed at breaking up the parallel wall stuff and absorbing around 220 hz. The only large scale absorption (not counting carpet on the floor) is on the wall behind the speakers. Behind the black cloth and wood slats is about a foot thick of pink fiberglass covering the top half of the wall, all around the JBLs, and wrapped two feet around the corners of the room. That makes the speaker end of the room almost totally dead, so there is no sound wrapping around the speakers and bouncing back. That wrap around bounce back can cause a comb filter effect. That was a HUGE help over the untreated room, but it does make it quite dead.

That said, it’s not a muffled room. There are a lot of highs in there. I’ve tried to not absorb high end, even with all the treatments that are in there.

It’s pretty interesting to walk in the room with your eyes closed and to listen to the natural ambiance. It sounds like you are walking into a much larger room than you left, almost like walking outside on a dead silent day. The low and mid ambiance drops in there. It’s not gone, but the peaks have been smoothed, so it sounds like it’s less when compared to other typical home rooms.

All that said, it still wasn’t working to mix in there. I’ve mentioned this before, but I had been mixing on the same speakers since the early 70’s. I was never totally satisfied. A while back I replaced the old amp with an Alesis RA-100 and it was like taking the cotton out of my ears - literally. It was that different. No EQ - no nothing - soundcard output to amp to speakers. A few moths ago I got some M-Audio BX8 powered monitors. That pulled another wad of cotton out. Those made as much difference again as going to the RA-100 and no EQ. I finally feel like I can mix with my ears and be ok. The fact that I don’t use Har-Bal hardly anymore except to look at the response is proof. The lower mid boost is still in the tracks, but I can usually hear it.

I’m a happy camper now, but it was a pain getting there. I can actually get a good drum sound now without using hardly any EQ, and no gating. I still over-compress like heck. I’ll eventually learn. :)

"…taking the cotton out of my ears."

I thought I could avoid the treatment stuff, but, when you get the bug to evolve the quality of your recordings, it turns you into a beast that is never at peace.

Time to examine my setup and tune my room. Thank you for your reply…there is a lot of great info in your reply.