Clayton’s New Album

My old mate Clayton Black was here for a month to finish off his latest album that he/we have been working on for a while. He’s called it “Being”, which is very human of him. Clayton is a real talent & we’ve worked together since we were teenagers. I’ve watched him go from solid rock drummer to lead singer frontman to singer/songwriter/guitarist. He plays guitar like he plays the drums, lots of knocking and tapping wood and pulling strings right off the neck.

Go visit his website and listen to the sample songs he’s got on there. “Being” and all the tracks, as well as the “Invisible Band” album are available as digital downloads.

23 August 2015 – Today we finished mixing all 11 tracks and loaded them into the mastering project.

Mastering an album that you’ve started from scratch, that is, recording, tweaking, editing and mixing can be difficult if you don’t leave enough time between mixing and mastering. The ideal time is at least a couple of months, maybe even a year or so! Naturally, the ideal thing is to send it to a specialist mastering facility if you have the budget.

But in this case it was the second time we’d visited the project and we’d gained a lot by having the time to appraise the original recordings and being able to see a vision of the final goal.

Although a couple of new songs were added this time and one was almost completely re-recorded in my studio, the transition from mixing to the mastering stage was pretty easy. Since first visiting the project 18 months ago I’ve picked up a couple of very effective new mastering plugins that allowed me to make a chain that suited all the songs. All I had to do was turn on or off some of the plugins in the chain to get the desired sound for each track. We’re almost there, but I’m not going to rush it – we’ve got a couple of weeks to go until Clayton goes back to Perth.

One thing that is essential in digital recording is careful gain staging. Digital zero (0dBfs) is as far as you can go – there’s no room for error here. It’s unforgiving. So you must have control of  the level of every single channel in you D.A.W. Good levels make mixing easier. Inserting a gain trim plugin at the top of your channel strip to shave a few dB off the signal going in is the way to go (depending on the original signal level).

Your D.A.W. should come bundled with one. If not, there is a great freebie from Blue Cat Audio which also includes a bunch of other very good plugins. Their Gain Suite is pretty handy at trimming audio and doing some other clever things as well. If you’re not familiar with it, I recommend downloading it and investigating the bundle. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I also discovered the extremely useful combination VU and PPM meter and gain trim plugin called VUMT from Klanghelm for the paltry price of 8 Euros, which is around AUD$12. A bargain that will make your recordings sound way better when used properly (and it’s great to look at).

2/8/17:  The VUMT meter has been updated and there is now an advanced model option also available.