JTM Music

Sydney Recording Engineer / Music Lessons / Music Entertainment Provider

The art of descisions - A guide to mixing audio in a home studio

MixingJames Moore

This is a dynamically updated article on my mix mentality and info to date. I tend to revisit this every few weeks to scrawl on it. Enjoy :)

Where the fduck to start ey? Honestly I’ve been learning this stuff for the best part of a decade and I’m still discovering stuff every day. I think that’s it, it will come as no surprise that every mix engineer and muso will be like “oh man, if ure not learning you’re not living”. As soon as you think you “got this”, you probs don’t ey… nah you could but good on ya for backing yourself. Pat on the back. Keep learning though...

Learning mixing is overwhelming because there are so many cats trying to sell their bs to you. What’s the best plugin, what’s the best method, who is the best mix engineer etc. When it comes down to it though, It’s usually a dude like Andrew Scheps (who looks like Gandalf for starters So he gon be good…) giving a lecture in a university where you will really learn some shit.  Honestly he’s just a down to earth dude with some really insightful approaches and logical work-throughs to the art of making art. He just understands how to value add to a music creating situation.

Be personable, music has a big emphasis on interaction, communication and the ability to discuss things without being a dick. So do that and people will want to call you again..

Informative stuff about the nitty gritty

I think that the biggest and best breakthrough I had with mixing was really getting to know how to automate things. But before that is understanding how your mixing/listening environment affects your mixes. If you mix in a shitty boxy square walled room with no sound absorption, dampening or dispersion (not isolation) on the walls. Your speakers are going to tell you whack shit and your mixes will be weird and fucked. Read up on what room modes, reflections, sound dampening, sound absorption, acoustic treatment, sound isolation and sauerkraut are. After that, go figure out how to make your room “workable”. Until then, you are pissing in the wind. Secondly it doesn’t matter what monitors you use, you just have to know how they “translate”, which people would argue could negate all of the aforementioned room stuff. It’s just best to understand it all, and find something that works for you.


Buy ones that you like the look of, honestly don’t think too hard. Just as long as they give you enough bass info and are in your budget, go nuts. Research for 1 hour then save up $400-600 and buy some. BUT!!! This is the secret. Buy 2 monitors for stereo imaging and bass response etc etc.. then… buy yourself 1 not 2, only ONE avantone mix cube (or aura tone if you want to fuck around with an amp). This little “grot box” will give you more information (in audio land) about how your mix will translate (to other speakers) than any other..

This little speaker when run in mono (figure out how to put your mix in mono)  gives you a realistic perspective of how your music will sound in the real world. Bass, kick, snare and vocals. If they all sit good then you’re onto something. Get the panning and low eq in the right place on your stereo monitors, then flick over to this bad boy to balance mid-range levels. Trust me… shhhh

Is that it? Headphones are good for a check. I always find that headphones always show up when your stereo panned instruments need to be chilled out. Fuck off those hard panned guitars. They kill me… Also just print/bounce your mixes and test them on everything. Make notes, tweak and go again. I find the car is a great place to start because I listen to so much music in there. I know when the snare is killing the lead vocal or if the guitar solo needs to be louder.

Monitors, yep check… it’s a slippery slope ey… just keep in mind that your ears are always the thing that you have to train. You can mix on fucked monitors in a fucked room if you understand how to hear “through” it and one way to do this is have a reference playlist. If you know what a vocal, kick sub or snare should sound like on a hand selected playlist of your own and when you put it on it the room, it’s way hyped in a certain frequency then you’re like “hrmmm 200khz is heaps woofy in here, gunna probs keep that in mind”. Reference tracks enable you to predict the room. This shit is probably too technical for you ey. Just have a playlist of tracks that you know heaps well and listen to them on many systems and take note of how different elements of the music change from medium to medium.

Great sources:

Warren huart

Mike Stav


Mix breakdown:


Not knowing / trusting that what you are doing is right/good

I think that the biggest thing to overcome is knowing whether what you are doing is beneficial to the music that you are mixing. It’s a matter of trusting your own ability but more so, being realistic. You don’t have super expensive gear and a well treated room but you have 2 ears and a good attitude with a logical approach. Figure out some ways to help yourself:

Testing mixes in many monitoring environments

Do mixes where everything is cranked and compare it to a mix where you have been more subtle

Spend lots of time messing with compressor/s and setting.

EQ things in a way you wouldn’t normally and hear what happens.

Beyond that, everyone has a unique approach and listening style that is theirs. They use their own gear that has naturally evolved and their style is a little different to anyone else. It’s not just about trusting yourself or believing in yourself, it’s about making descisions….


One of the biggest breakthroughs I had was when I started really digging down into automation and setting up my routing in such a way that allows flexibility.

Automation, if you didn’t know, is the process of manipulating the volume of a track or bus using drawn-in volume levels. These can be done by simply clicking around on the volume level line or by activating write mode and having a fader activated on a console or USB controller. Either way, the desired effect is simple volume manipulation. A good mix moves and flows in a logical and “musical” way. If all of the faders stay stagnant, good chance your mix will be a bit stale… like a shitty slice of banana bread, good hype, bad execution. Think of a static fader position as a good starting point. If you leave it there it’s like a frozen river. We want things to flow, so get those faders moving.

So once you get the other shit outta the way, automation is basically the meat and potatoes of mixing. I’m not gunna throw out some percentage figure cause stats are bullshit. Just do it and do it well.

By this point you should be well aware of mix Bus routing and if you aren’t, then that’s a good place to start. Mix bus routing is setting up your signal flow and grouping instruments into busses that sum down into one stereo track. Along the way you will have automation “fader moves” programmed into the track to produce a dynamic mix. If ever fader stays flat there is no mood in the track, the more subtle and appropriate the fader moves are, the more life you breathe into the track.

Honestly I think that getting to automation earlier is more effective than labouring over the tone of a snare. If you have your routing set up right, tonal changes can happen at any point.

There is something to be said about setting up your session in such a way that allows you to progress through a mix and have the confidence to be able to go back and tweak something later if it becomes annoying. There’s a period of time where your attitude and ears are red hot and then there’s a time where you start to fatigue and your descision making process becomes more laboured and less sharp.

Bob horn: Having a 6db pad on all sub busses to be able to still hear the mix while focusing on one part. Getting away from soloing individual parts.

Hierarchy of importance:

On the take:

Timing, Tempo, Key, Arrangement + Pitch!

Tone & Dynamics


Comping takes

Timing nudges

Fine automation on vocals

Tonal descisions / sub mixes on multi mic tracks

Rough mix with basic eq, fx, compression and panning descisions

Tonal / eq / compressor / fx descisions

Implement descisions


Make more descisions


Check again

Rinse and repeat last 3 steps

Some food for thought:

Technically if you setup your gain structure and fader positions in a good position and hit record, most of the mix is in the performance (of live musos). Not so much in a multitrack session with overdubs, but the theory still applies.

The performance of each part is where the magic is, and to an extent, even if you are programming parts on a midi roll, you are still constructing the performance of the part.

If it’s not in time, out of pitch and/or a tone that isn’t specifically chosen, then what are you doing?

I honestly think that experimenting with the tempo, key and style of a song allows for a type of creative freedom and exploration of a songs potential. Just look at all of the covers of famous songs that have ended up “cooler” than the original. Why not do it with your own tunes? The worst that can happen is that you end up in a similar tempo with a similar arrangement, which solidified the songs purpose even more so. If you find a version that you like more, then go with it. Don’t, whatever you do, sit there for 3 hours deliberating. Just make a descision and move on.

Does this tempo allow room for the vocalist?

Does this tempo feel too heavy? Is a heavy feel what we are going for?

How does this tempo affect the guitarists part? Is it too quick for his delay? Etc..

Is the bass player not getting all his notes out because the tempo is too fast?

Is there a tempo that is a happy medium between the vocalist phrasing and the drum parts?

Is the key of this song a sympathetic tone for the vocalist? Do other keys sound brighter, darker, less pitchy for the vocalist?

Creating space using fx. When things become washed out, try eq’ing your fx tracks to control the undesirable frequencies. Wet up the track and then back it off until it’s sympathetic to the track. Once the desired position is achieved, mute and unmute it and listen for the difference. Does it add something? Does it add what you want? Did you achieve the sound you intended?

While you are mixing, you will hear things that you want to change. The good mixers know the tools they have at their disposal and how they are manipulated to achieve the desired outcome. Lots of mix engineers find things that work for them and stick to them. When you are starting out it’s like anything, consistency, persistence, research, practice and obtaining as much information from industry people helps you progress your skills. Everyone wants to be a famous musician or mix engineer and have everyone praise them which is all and good, but you have to understand where you are at, what skills you possess and what skills you would like to have and or what you think is best for you to learn to progress yourself. People talk about having small achievable goals which is all well and good. The best gains I have made are when total freedom is upon me with an interest that I’ve locked on to or simply just telling myself on the day I do a mix that it will be what it needs to be if I stay true to myself.

Exploration of concepts is a process of growing and learning. Try not to get caught up on what the best/newest plugin is. Yes there are some great ones around and they really do value add but if it’s not a justifiable outlay then put it on your wish list.

Mixing music is not about better or worse. Sometimes a perceivably “bad” sound can be the exact right vibe for an instrument in a mix. So if you play it safe and don’t test the extremities of what your gear can do, do you really know what is “right” or “wrong” for a mix? There is definitely more and less desirable outcomes and that’s important to keep in mind. Experimentation is so achievable these days because everything can be saved, recalled and automated. So there’s no excuse for not being able to try a sound and see if it works. Maybe that’s the problem these days, people have too much choice and can’t even decide whether they want salami and cheese or just salami.


This is an interesting topic for me. It seems like there are people out there that really do understand the functionality of compressors and others miss the point. For me, compression is just another “sound”. Yes the basic principle behind it is that it is a form of dynamic control through attack, release, threshold and of course ratio. Compression multiplies, it doesn’t add. So if you have a 10:1 compressed track and then it gets compressed at 2:1 in mastering it ends up being 20:1 not 12:1. Simply put, over compression can potentially change the entire sound of a mix. Not make it “worse”, just change the sound.

I like to think of compression as dunking a sound under water. The harder the compressor works, the more you submerge the sound. The attack is how fast you dunk it, the release is how fast you return to the surface, the threshold is at which point you dunk whether it’s right next to the surface or from a bit of a height and the ratio is how deep you go. Now with all of that said, the weight of a sound reacts to the compressor, if you have a heavy sound how does that affect the compressor? Or vice versa if you have a light sound. What does the compressor do to it?

With that all in mind, the next biggest breakthrough was when I stared hearing compression in recorded music. Whether it was a drum kit being compressed so hard that the high hat pulses or a guitar sounding so dunked that the notes swell. It’s about achieving a vibe, it’s not about thinking that if you whack a compressor on something with the stock setting that it is value adding. If you can’t hear what it is doing, why use it? Sometimes drums sound great with little to no compression. It depends on the genre.

Which brings me to transient designers. Unlike compressors, they change the transient (waveform). It’s kinda like getting the timeshift tool and stretching the waveform in or out. They mostly relate to attack and sustain. The attack squashes up the front of the waveform while the sustain elongates the tail of the transient. In context, lots of mix engineers use the attack setting to give a snare more crack and bring it in to your face by dialing up the attack and sometimes to soften the attack on a piano chord that is played too aggressively by reducing the attack. The sustain setting can be used to discard excess noise on a floor tom by bringing the tail up shorter or elongating a guitar delay by stretching out the tail. Either way it has become a very common tool to use which when used effectively, can makes subtle differences across many tracks. Many subtle descisions = big result. 1 huge heavy-handed descision has big risk and not as big reward.


How to get better at your instrument - A practice guide

Music EducationJTM Music Administrator

One thing I have noticed is that people who don't reference their playing fall into the trap of not knowing what they actually sound like. When you are in the moment practicing or playing music your brain is most likely focusing the majority of your brain function to what your limbs are doing. Once you are comfortably performing your piece of music you are able to dedicate more or your brain power to listening. I call it being in an instrument bubble. High school students are very much culprits of this. There are the odd few who listen to their peers and start developing this technique, which is good but.. back to referencing.  There are two ways to reference. A) Record yourself and B) Have a friend listen to you. This is important for two reasons. The person listening has 100% of their brain power on listening which means they can pick up on minor things that you may not notice in the moment. Once these things are identified you can tweak them and repeat them until you are happy with it. I'm talking here mostly about rhythm. You need to understand and be able to "feel" the space between each beat and place your notes within this space. Beginner and intermediate musicians have an inconsistent sense of time-space and play notes late enough or heaven forbid early enough to sound "amateurish". On the flip side there are musicians who have such a solid sense of time-space that they push and pull within this. This is beyond being in time...

Moral of the story, get a friend to listen to you and give quick and concise feedback about your rhythm. You will be all the better off for it.

Bonus info: Making the cd skip

I call this technique making the CD skip. Lots of people say to practice small sections of your music to become familiar with it and feel comfortable playing it. The trick is to loop your section paying attention to keeping the time-space the same. Loop it and make the chunk seem like there is a cd skipping. Even go one step further and loop a section that is irregular ie in a bar of 4/4 play the last crotchet from the last bar and turn it into a 5/4 loop. What this does is train you to place your notes consistently and gives you the anticipation to not be flustered by the upcoming section. Also looping a section of music in this way also lets you experiment with minor tonal and rhythmic subtleties or nuances.

Rhythm is the skeleton of music. Without rhythm you can't lock in and your music will always sound undercooked..

Written by James

Owner Founder of JTM Music

How do I get better at guitar? Answer: Record at home

Music EducationJTM Music Administrator

I notice that a lot of teenagers that play guitar or bass don't know much about recording at home. Specifically about interfaces, microphones, hardware, amps and software that can help them achieve this. When I was growing up I bought a Zoom H4 when they first came out. It is a hand-held 4 track recorder with 2 inputs and 2 condenser mics in XY for recording stereo. I put this in front of my guitar amp and connected a pair of headphones to it for monitoring. These days you can do multitrack recordings on an iPhone using garage band (see my other recording interface blog). There are other apps like MTSR that turns your phone into essentially what was my Zoom H4 for free. Firstly: To get a decent sound that is able to be edited you are going to want to invest in an interface. Most likely a USB interface that comes packaged with some guitar modelling (amps and effects). The first thing that springs to mind is the Line 6 POD range. There are a few different models in this line ranging from a 1 input Studio GX guitar interface or a POD 2.0 to a 2 input UX1 or UX2 (mic and guitar) interface. Buy them brand new for $150-$300 or hunt around on Ebay for a deal.

Past the POD's are Native Instruments line of Guitar Rig which retails for $299. But then you will need an interface. (See my interface blog for more info).

There are lost of entry level setups for guitarists that are on a budget. Big companies don't realise the potential market for upcoming teenage guitarists that have a few hundred dollars to expand their guitar possibilities.

You can't go wrong with a line 6 pod. The only other thing I would suggest is invest in a decent USB mic and something like a Fender Mustang. This amp has a decent array of effects in it but you can come into trouble if you don't know what you are doing. These types of fender amps tend to be quite trebly and need to be EQ'd properly. Fender Mustang amps also have USB compatibility which is handy to plug it into your computer.

You can achieve quite a lot with 1 decent mic and an amp that has some digital effects and I think that the earlier you get into playing around with FX on a guitar. The earlier you will start painting your own tones and figuring out what you like as an artist.

Feel free to email: admin@jtmmusic.net If you have any further questions.

Essential Microphones for the Home Studio

Music EducationJTM Music Administrator

This is a quick guide on what you will need, in order to produce a variety of different music recordings as well as having flexibility within your mic choices for sessions. This is aimed at muso's who are getting into recording or audio engineers just starting out and looking to build up a collection of mics or just to be familiar with the types of mics used in different scenarios. Types of Mics with short descriptions:

Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone (LDC)

These mics are great for recording vocals, drums (overhead or even placed sideways inbetween the floor tom and kick drum pointing at the snare), guitar amps, acoustic guitars and piano. Large diaphragm condenser mic give a clear and rounded frequency response while capturing some of the "room" sound.

Google Search for LDC's

Small Diaphragm Condenser Mic (SDC)

These are commonly referred to as "pencil" mics and can quite often come as a "matched" pair, meaning that they are the same in specs. Again, they have a wide range of frequency response and are a little more directional than the LDC. You can use these for recording drums (overheads), great for acoustic guitars and drum hi-hats. A little more of a specialist mic, but useful across certain instruments especially if you have a pair. Not really used for vocals much..

Dynamic Microphones

These are the everyday work horse mics that come in a few different styles. The desirable characteristic of these mics is that they pickup sound at a close proximity. In other words it has to be pretty close to the thing you want to record. The first is the standard dynamic vocal mic like a Shure SM58 or Sennheiser E835. These mics are primarily used for live vocals, studio vocals tend to be recorded with LDC's. The reason for dynamic mics being used more in live performances is due to the above mentioned comment about proximity. LDC's pickup waaay too much around them to be used live. LDC's are more susceptible to feedback.

The next dynamic mic is the Shure SM57. Honestly, this one mic alone you can get sooo much bang for buck. I would highly suggest purchasing one or even two of these mics. Their most iconic use is on snare drums. An SM57 on a snare is always a good starting point. Million dollar studios still use a 57 on a snare just because "it works". 57's are also good on guitar amps (sometimes paired with an LDC to capture the frequencies the 57 misses out on). I've also seen a 57 taped to a SDC to mic a hi-hat. You can also get away with using a 57 for a live vocal if you run out of 58's but they don't have as good sibilance (hi frequency glimmer).

The next is a large diaphragm dynamic mic. These are generally always kick drum mics or maybe used on a bass cabinet. These mics are the blend of brute strength combined with low frequency response. If you put an LDC near the port hole of a kick drum you run the risk of the air pressure ruining the condenser diaphragm. LDD mics can take more of a "hit" so to speak. Try these:

AKG D112

Audix D6

Sennheiser e602


This is pretty much all you need to know about mics in a start-up scenario. There are most definitely other types of microphones but this blog is about practicality and building up a starting kit to get a home studio going.

Applications for mics and evolution of mic purchasing:

My suggestion would be to buy a decent LDC to start off with. You can do soooo much with 1 of these and I would dare say that you can record an entire album with just this mic. You can get crystal clear vocals, drums, guitar amps, acoustic guitars and then you can DI your bass and keys. There is no reason why you couldn't use this mic to capture brass, woodwind or other strings as well.

The next expansion is an SM57 (preferably 2!). With a decent LDC and 2 57's you can record decent drums, vocals and a guitar amp at once.

Where the 2 57's will really come into play is when you purchase a matched pair of SDC's and a kick mic. Once you have this you can record good drums, guitar amps, bass amps, vocals, acoustic guitars and any other acoustic instrument.

Bare minimum bag of mics needed for demo's:

1 LDC for vocal overdubs and mono drum overhead.

1-2 SM58's for vocals

2x SM57's (one for guitar amp, one for snare)

1x LDD for the kick drum

2x SDC's for drum overheads (glyn johns method is great way to record drums especially for demo's). You can also use these mics for acoustic guitars or the drum hi-hats (you choose).

That is pretty much it. After that all you will be doing is upgrading the mics you have or purchasing more of the same thing. But many of these you will keep for most of your recording life....

Questions? Use the contact form.



What is the best interface for recording in a home studio?

Music EducationJTM Music Administrator

After many years of experimenting with different types of gear and mics and software I think it’s pretty safe to say that there is no right or wrong way to go about recording music. In the digital world we get extremely overwhelmed by choice. Just yesterday I spent what was supposed to be a 30min guitar lesson teaching my student how to use their new Boss GT-1 multi fx pedal. 60mins later we wrapped up and only touched the guitar a couple of times, but how enriching was this experience? This brings to mind a couple of things: a) Music is much more enjoyable when you experience it with other people, whether you are teaching, learning or playing.

b) Give yourself limitations! Limitations give you a ground or base floor from which to build your musical house. Without limitations you are tying to build a house on quicksand! Example: When you open up Xpand in pro tools and are confronted with what seems like an endless sea of synths and software instruments. Just pick 2 and try to construct your sound, work with one that you hate the sound of for longer than 3 seconds and really listen to it. You can construct anything you want once boundaries are set. If it is always changing, you never create, you just spend all of your time searching...

The limitations in the multi fx pedal scenario were: Choose 1 amp and put reverb on it for channel 1. Channel 2 is the same setup but with an overdrive pedal for a crunch sound. Channel 3 is the same thing but with some delay added for solo’s. You get the gist right?

The first thing to mention before this is that the signal coming from a mic is analogue. To get this into your computer to edit, it needs to be converted into a digital wave. This is called Digital-Analogue conversion (DA). There are also AD (analogue – digital) convertors but they come in later.

Another word on digital and analogue, digital is like taking individual pictures and splicing them together (sample rate) analogue is a smooth flowing silky wave of audio bliss.. I digress...

Low Budget (Under $100)

Honestly there is no reason why you can’t record music with the digital device that sits in your pocket. Yes, your smart-phone. There is a usable mic in every smart phone. If you look for a multi-track recording program or simply use garage band (comes with Iphones) you can record any sound. There are even pre loaded stock drum, piano and other sounds. Remember to create, not search...

Second to that would be a cheap USB mic on Ebay for ~$50 or a decent USB mic on Ebay Under $100.

After the USB mics you basically have to go the interface route.

*Side note* If you don't know what an interface is. It is a piece of hardware that sits on your desk and is plugged into your computer via (most commonly) a USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt connection. An interface contains a few key steps in the recording process.

Mic Preamps - The XLR or sometimes combo XLR/TRS (guitar lead) inputs. A mic preamp is the physical circuitry that takes the audio signal from your mic or guitar and converts it into a useable wave form.

After this wave or voltage has been created it gets sent to the A-D Convertor. Once this happens, your interface is ready to send the signal to your computer via the above mentioned cable.

You will need a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to get this wave file and save it. The first port of call is Garage Band for Apple users. This is a great program that is mostly easy to navigate and work out. Just make sure you select the right input when you first open up the program. Audacity is a free program that can do this and does a decent job for people starting out on a low budget. After Audacity is getting maybe an old version of Sony Acid Pro or a program like Reason, Ableton, Cubase (Nuendo), Apple Logic or Pro tools. Have a read on these.

Low to Mid Budget Interface ($100-$250)

Bare minimum interface would be a 2 channel M-Audio, Presonus, Focusrite, Apogee etc..

One website I use quite often to look up gear is Turramurra Music, they have competitive prices and friendly staff. If you don't live in Australia, Sweetwater (USA) have a comprehensive website. As well as trusty Ebay.

A little about Mic's

First mic would be a Rode NT-1A (~$250). This mic allows you to record decent drums, vocals, guitar amps and even bass amps. You could record a whole album with this one mic alone…. Read my Mic Blog for more info.

Second mic is the trusty old Shure SM57. Great on snare drum and guitar amps. (read my "miking guitar amps" tutorial for mic placement). I bought 2 many years ago and they have had a solid workout! I can't ever see myself selling these.

After that all you really need is a decent kick mic (D112 or D6) and some cheap overheads like the Behringer C2 or Rode M5 or equivalent.

That's all I need to mention about mic's in this post. People that know more about mics won't be reading this post because they already have chosen themselves a decent interface.

Mid Budget ($200-$500)

This is where you get into the 4 channel interfaces. 4 channels is quite handy due to the fact that you can record 4 sound sources at one time. You could realistically put 3 mics on a drumkit and DI the bass and track your rhythm section in one go. Other setups might be a stereo keyboard and 1-2 vocal mics.

Again, Focusrite, Presonus, M-audio, Apogee.

I might also mention that in this budget is where you can really score some bang for buck on used gear. Used audio gear is a GREAT way to start out. Everything is cheaper and you don't pay for the polished sheen on the casing, but it's about what is inside that counts!

Mid-High Budget ($500-$1499)

Before I even start, if you are in this bracket there is no point looking at anything other than the Soundcraft UI24r. Read My blog post on it..

Entry level 8 channel interfaces, High-end 2-4 channel interfaces (better preamps) and pretty good 8 channel interfaces.

This bracket is where things blow out a little.

The "in-the-box" producers fork out around $500-$1000 for a 2 channel interface that has 2 great preamps for recording vocals and keyboards like the Apogee Duet or Universal Audio Apollo Twin. Other recording enthusiasts use their $500-$1000 to get  a pretty good 8 channel interface. Not to say you couldn't pickup a decent 8 channel interface for around $250-$500 if you shop around. I used a Presonus Firestudio for along time and it served me well.

This is where you can really start doing more in-depth multitrack recording like multiple mics on a drumkit or a rock band or a small ensemble. For instance you could put 2 OH (overhead) mics on a drumkit, a kick mic (D112 or D6) and an SM57 on the Snare, an SM57 on the guitar amp, DI the bass and then have 2 channels left for vocals or keys. This is a great setup for tracking demo’s. You want to just punch out the recordings and get it done. No one wants to sit around overdubbing (re-recording) tracks because your interface doesn’t have enough inputs. You just want to capture it once and move on.

#Just a quick in-depth note about preamps if you still don’t know what they are. A preamp is the electrical circuitry that amplifies the microphone signal coming into the interface. Every preamp has it’s own characteristic or “sound”. Some may sound clean, some warm, some crystal clear etc.. Basically, the more money the preamp costs, the cleaner, warmer, brighter and noisier you can get your mic. Cheap preamps sound gritty and tinny/lifeless. You can still get a pretty decent sound from most of the preamps in the aforementioned interfaces. It’s only when you start forking out thousands of dollars for preamps that you really hear a difference… or do you??

High Budget, Getting into Semi-Pro and Pro Gear (Above $1500)

These interfaces are the cream. The one’s that you only really own if you can justify it or have money to burn. These interfaces have superb preamps and great digital-analogue convertors. But if you are reading this, you either don't know about these or can't afford them yet. Lynx, Prism, RME, Universal Audio Apollo 8.

Pro Rigs

I’ve been watching a lot of studio interviews and pro rigs consist of mostly stand-alone preamps like BAE, Neve, SSL, Universal Audio etc... They would then run these into some rack gear (rack mounted hardware) such as a channel strip (EQ, Compressor and preamp in one) or a compressor like an LA-2A or Avalon. Then they send this signal to an AD convertor (this is a piece of hardware that converts the analogue signal into a digital signal) and finally into Pro Tools through a high-end interface as mentioned above. People seem to be raving about Burl Audio. One of the most popular engineers in the world uses Focusrite Rednet. A lot of these engineers use desks or consoles such as an SSL (Solid State Logic) or an API to mix their sessions. The only person I have seen not use a console is Greg Wurth in his personal studio. He uses an analogue console in Steve Vai's studio.


SO there it is.. A semi-quick breakdown of interfaces for the "home" studio.


Contact me through the contact form.




Drum Stick Rebound – Why Beginner / Intermediate Drummers Never Reach The Next Level

Drum LessonsJTM Music Administrator

One thing I see quite often is the lack of understanding about drum stick rebound. This brings up a secondary point about musical learning. I have found that depth of knowledge comes from multiple sources. There are musical educators out there that preach that their way is the best way. What they might be describing is a highly effective method but everyone learns differently. For instance: Through interacting with other musos, reading books, watching videos, teaching students etc I have honed my musical skills. FYI, teaching is the best way to learn. You don't have to be the best musician in the world to teach. Teach as soon as you can. I see it happen every day with my students. I can only tell them so much. They then take this to a friend and figure out what the hell I was saying! Back to rebound…. In regards to simple physics, your drums will sound much better if you let the stick bounce off the skin. Your mission is to guide this process with your hands. Too many times I see students hit a drum skin and the rebound energy is absorbed by their wrist. I have slow-moed this process and watched the students wrist stay rigid and kill the rebound. This does two things: 1) It takes more effort for each hit 2) It destroys the tone of the drum (and the skin). Solution: Let the stick pivot through your fingers and bounce back. That is it.. It is that simple. There are many more subtle eccentricities and step by step methods that I teach in my process. If you would like to know more. Book a lesson with me. Music is about human interaction as it is about everything else. Actually I’m going to just explain it here.

Step 1) Hold your stick in the thumb and middle finger fulcrum.

Step 2) Hold your stick just above horizontal to the snare skin. Use your other hand to manipulate the motion of the drum stick and watch the way the stick pivots in your grip. Your wrist should be still.

Step 3) Pivot the stick up and just let it go. It should swing down and hit the drum skin and bounce back. Again, with a still wrist.

Step 4) After feeing this try to achieve this motion by flicking your wrist up so that the stick swings back in your grip and drop the stick into the drum head. Let it bounce back and catch the stick with your fingers in a wrapping motion (don't point your pinky finger!).

Step 5) Achieve this with both hands, together.

Step 6) Once you have managed this, try to do groups of 3. What I mean by this is flick the stick back, guide it down into the drum head, let it bounce once with a parallel wrist. Then the next tap is while your wrist stays parallel (you get another hit for free). Then as your wrist raises up for the next throw you get another bounce on the way up.

That's it. Hopefully by this point you have had a lightbulb moment and been like “ok, so I've been wasting all of this stick energy”. This seems like a straight forward process but the thing is that you have been playing wrist absorption mode for so long that you feel like you are learning to play the drums all over again. It's ok, stick at it (excuse the pun). Hopefully you see the value of stick rebound!

This article was written by James, the founder of JTM Music.

Soundcraft UI24R - Game Changing Digital Mixer/USB Interface

Gear ReviewsJTM Music Administrator
Soundcraft UI24R Digital Mixer and USB Interface
Soundcraft UI24R Digital Mixer and USB Interface

I'm going to try and keep this post short and sweet... Last Tue I went to the Australian Tech Expo "ENTECH". I wandered up to the JANDS booth and realised there was a Soundcraft rack-mount digital mixer sitting in their case. Upon talking to the representative about the Soundcraft UI24R Mixer I quickly saw the crazy potential of this digital mixer.

Straight up "wow" factor features:

  • 20 inputs (10 TRS/XLR combo jacks, 10 XLR)
  • USB recording interface!
  • WIFI - Web-based ui for mixing.
    • What this is, is instead of downloading an APP (which can be very buggy with versions etc), a web based mixing ui is literally a webpage run locally through the units WIFI connection. Meaning any device that is WIFI and HTML5 compatible (basically any smart phone) can connect to it... Regardless of OS version etc... Because it is run in a browser window.
    • I need to elaborate on this more.. So here is a scenario: All of your headphones and AUX mixes are going out of the 8 AUX outs. Every person can control their own mix with their smartphone (or even nintendo DS is they want). While one sound engineer sets up the foldback mix and the other sound engineer configures the FOH mix. The representative informed me that up to 10 simultaneous connections are possible. This is ridiculous....
    • Studer preamps, Digitech Amp Modelling (ch 1 and 2), lexicon digital FX and DBX compressors..... Again.. Stupidly good...
    • Smart-chip technology "Harman Connected PA" integrated with specific AKG mics allowing total recall of settings regardless of channel. Label that mic, pull up the eq and compression, save it and never have to set it up again, regardless of which input you choose to plug it into.. Turn the system off, back on again, plug that mic in to any channel and the settings for that mic stay.
    • 8 AUX outs + MANY MORE Features...

That's it.. I need to stop.. Go buy one and throw out all of your recording gear and mixing desks...

I hate to say it but WIFI digital mixers with touchpad friendly ui's are fierce competition for digital and analogue consoles in live AND studio applications... Yes ok, workflow is much faster on a console, I know.. You have two hands zipping around the desk doing things. But wait... This mixer can recall mixes AND with the smart technology they have incorporated with AKG and JBL it seriously speeds up your workflow. You could individually label drum mics and not have to worry about tweaking the settings each time. A viable investment if you ask me?

The only place this mixer falls down is the DAW workflow for pro's. They can have their $80,000 fully automated SSL desks and we can kick back with our UI24R's that cost <$2000 AUD and just keep clicking around in our DAW's (some of us have found decent control surfaces to improve workflow). PLUS! don't forget the Soundcraft UI24R can be easily lugged to gigs.

Special mention - I also advocate the idea that it is possible to get the entire mix in the unit using the above mentioned onboard FX and Compression. Reducing the amount of "in-the-box" mixing that we have to do in our DAW's. Another plus for reducing CPU load! Here's the last scenario I'm going to leave you with... When I record drums, I always find myself reaching over to my interface to tweak levels. If I had this unit I could do all of that from an Ipad mounted on a mic stand. Need more be said?

I need to get my hands on one of these.... So I can do a proper video review...

Disclaimer: I'm an independent musician with no journal ties to any company. I am purely sharing my discovery for people to think about.

Regards, James Founder JTM Music

Uptown Funk Drum Chart/Score Transcription

Drum LessonsJTM Music Administrator
Uptown Funk Drum Score Chart Trancsription Page 1
Uptown Funk Drum Score Chart Trancsription Page 1

Here is a transcription of Mark Ronson's composition "Uptown Funk". I've noticed this song is great for beginners or intermediate drummers. It has some nice fills that you can get your hands around and simple beats. It all relies on the kick drum being on all four beats in the bar. If you play it correctly it gives the snare hit a good oomph! Uptown Funk Drum Score Transcription PDF

Uptown Funk Drum Score Chart Trancsription Page 2
Uptown Funk Drum Score Chart Trancsription Page 2

Taylor Swift - Shake It Off Guitar Chord Chart

Guitar LessonsJTM Music Administrator

Here is a PROPER chord chart of the pop favourite "Shake it Off". I find that most if not all of the chord chart posters on the internet don't know how to line up the words with the correct chord. If you have a request please PM me. DOWNLOAD Taylor Swift - Shake It Off Guitar Chord Chart

Shake It Off [Intro] [Verse 1] G ________________I stay out too Am late ___________Got nothing in my C Brain _________ That's what people G say, mmm That's what people say, mmm I go on too many

Am Dates __________ But I can't make 'em C Stay ____________At least that's what people G say, mmm That's what people say mmm But I keep

[Pre-Chorus 1] Am cruisin' Can't stop won't stop C moving It's like I got this G music in my mind Saying G X X X it's gonna be alright. Cause the

[Chorus] Am players gonna play, play, play, play, play, And the C haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate baby G I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake Shake it off, I shake it off Heart Am breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break. And the C fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake baby G I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake Shake it off, I shake it off

[Verse 2] G _____________I never miss a Am beat ____________I'm lightening on my C feet And that's what they dont' G see, mmm That's what they dont' see, mmm I'm dancing on my Am own (dancing on my own) I'll make the moves up as I C go (moves up as I go) And that's what they don't G know, mmm That's what they don't know, mmm

[Pre-Chorus 2] [Chorus] [Post-Chorus] Am Shake it off, I shake it off, I I C I shake it off, I shake it off, I I G I shake it off, I shake it off, I I I shake it off, I shake it off

[Interlude] Hey, hey, hey, just think While you've been gettin' down and out About the liars and dirty, dirty cheats of the world You could've been gettin' down to this sick beat

[Bridge] Am C My ex man brought his new girlfriend G She's like "Oh my God" åG I 'm just gonna shake it Am C To the fella over there with the hella good hair G G*/mute Won't you come on over baby we could shake shake shake

[Chorus] [Post chorus] x3


How to achieve a Band 6 in HSC Music 1 Aural Exams

Music EducationJTM Music Administrator

One problem I found is that music students come into the Preliminary Music course with a lack of knowledge of musical terminology. I reflect on my University days where I used to sit around and just talk about music and be critically analysing music without ever really consciously recognising it. But this is after I finished High School? To be able to talk about music and critically analyse music it takes a certain thought pattern to be able to do this. Luckily, having studied this, I devised a powerpoint on how to properly structure your sentences, in order to logically answer each of the 6 concepts of music. I have also provided a video lesson on how to deliver this content to a class.

Powerpoint Download

Young Sydney Bands Making Waves

Music ReviewsJTM Music Administrator

The other night I was fortunate enough to witness some raw talent in two bands Breizers and Thunder Fox. Breizers are a hard hitting funk rock band offering gutsy male vocals, sizzling guitar solo's, rollicking drum parts and a bass player that knows how to keep it tight! Their sound is sculpted from long arduous jams in their younger days that has developed into this type of hard-hitting music that we all enjoy seeing live. Check out their facebook page for updates and gig announcements.

The second band Thunder Fox are also a young, up and coming funk band focused on tight melodic horn lines, interlocking guitar parts and textured male falsetto vocals. That combined with their rhythm section, and you have yourself a stage full of textured decadence. Also check out their facebook page for updates.

Marcus Marr & Chet Faker - The Trouble With Us Guitar Tutorial

Guitar LessonsJTM Music Administrator
Microsoft Word - Marcus Marr and Chet Faker – The Trouble With
Microsoft Word - Marcus Marr and Chet Faker – The Trouble With

As soon as I heard this song I had to learn it on guitar. It's a great riff to enhance finger or hybrid picking. The diads used are typical of that scar tissue or love yourself sound where you pluck just the root note and the 3rd in the next octave (12th). The shape slides down through diatonic chords. Marcus Marr and Chet Faker – The Trouble With Us DOWNLOAD The Trouble With Us TAB .doc

Using an IPad VS Sheet Music in Folders for Music Gigs

Gear ReviewsJTM Music Administrator

Recently I acquired myself an IPad thanks to a good mate that buys great presents (everyone needs one of those). I am a tech follower and am always keen to check out ideas and concepts that streamline things. Needless to say that the IPad does just that. Long gone are the days of endless song folders and countless hours of arranging and re-arranging song sheets. I found that this process was quite laborious and time consuming. Yet the nostalgia still remains. Being a Gen Y I grew up in a tactile era of VHS Tapes and sheet music. Alas, I digress....

+ve's about IPad - Digital song import and editing. - Ease of setlist creation and organisation. - Light carry weight

-ve's about IPad - Cost ($200-$400 minimum) - Tedious setup (but once done great results)

Things I found very useful!

- Finding chord charts on ultimate guitar. - Using "OnSong" app to organise my files. You can also use onsong to import chord charts from ultimate guitar. I foubd that the ultimate guitar app is a little less intuitive when it comes to organisong songs. - Using dropbox to keep my chord charts and import them to OnSong.

It is a little fiddly at first but once you have everything setup it is quite easy to manage.

So in summary the IPad (in my opinion) is a more streamlined and effective way to store your charts. The drawbacks are minimal for the productivity gain that you obtain. If you are looking at going down this path there is a contact form on this website. Drop a line and let us help you get setup!

James, Owner JTM Music