SCHOOL OF ROCK

Nothing beats learning about production from a one-on-one tutorial. While you won't get to ask questions like you would learning from a live person, Universal
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Nothing beats learning about production from a one-on-one tutorial. While you won't get to ask questions like you would learning from a live person, Universal Audio's UA Studio Onscreen Vol. 1: Recording & Mixing from Demo to Finished Master is almost as good as the real thing.

As the title suggests, the video goes through the entire process of creating a track, from preproduction to mastering. In this case, it's a husband-and-wife duo recording its song, “No Limit.” If you're not into blues-rock with guitar solos and Hammond organs, you might not think the video is for you (and it might be tough to listen to again and again if it's not your cup of tea). But there is plenty to learn from, particularly if you record with live musicians, and even if you're a samplehead.

UA Studio goes through the recording process using Universal Audio's UAD-1, preamps and compressors (including a UA Solo/610 preamp for preproduction, 8110 for drums and a classic 1176LN for several applications), as well as Steinberg Cubase SL and Nuendo. But you can apply much of what you learn on whatever gear you use. One of the most informative parts is about recording and mixing a drum kit — everything from preparing your kit for recording to mic choices, mic placement and specifics on compression, limiting and EQ filtering for individual drum tracks.

Also helpful are intermittent interviews with producers and engineers. Case in point is the advice from Joe Chiccarelli (U2, Elton John) on using two compressors in a line: “Sometimes if you get the two compressors to work just right, they actually end up sounding more invisible than one compressor working a little harder.” And the discussion on mastering is thorough in showing what goes on to make your track sound consistent on any system, from your crappy car stereo to a club with an expensive P.A.

At one point in the video, Thomas Edison, “the father of recording devices,” is quoted as saying, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” A very true statement indeed, but with this tutorial, you might find yourself sweating just a little bit less.