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Wolf’s Den Music loves to help fellow engineers and musicians get new gear and software whenever possible. Especially when it’s FREE.

Eventide is giving away their UltraChannel plug-in for FREE – a $249 value! Head over to Eventide.com and use the access code 0C4BA949 to claim your free plug-in. Share this post with your engineer friends – Like our Wolf’s Den page here on WordPress and our FaceBook page to show some love.  Who wouldn’t want an awesome channel strip plug-in for free?

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Wolf’s Den Music

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Should I bother with acoustic treatment?

Hey Wolf-pack,

We here at Wolf’s Den Studios are back from a brief hiatus out to Las Vegas.
I want to start getting into the tips and tricks portion of our blog and I thought a good place to start was with a question I hear often: “Is acoustic treatment really necessary?”

My short answer?  Yes, otherwise I would not have just spent two weekends taking care of exactly that!

To answer this question properly – that is, my long answer – let me first discuss what acoustic treatment is, what it is not, and what conditions it works best under.

Let’s start with what acoustic treatment is not.

  • Acoustic treatment is NOT soundproofing.
  • Acoustic treatment will not stop sound from leaking into your studio.
  • Acoustic treatment will not stop sound from escaping your studio.

The only way to “soundproof” your studio is the same way big pro studios do it: Floating floors, floating ceilings, and multi-layer walls.  Unless money is no object – and less face it, money is definitely a object for most of us – these sorts of structural changes are just not feasible for a home recording setup.  But just because you are not in a big pro studio does not mean you can’t achieve a big pro sound – and that is where acoustic treatment comes in.

So what is acoustic treatment, anyway?

Acoustic treatment is something that will reduce audio reflections.

  • Acoustic treatment will reduce reflections in your instrument recording environment.
  • Acoustic treatment will reduce reflections in a vocal booth.
  • Acoustic treatment will reduce reflections that affect your mixing room sound (and therefore your mixing decisions).

These audio reflections create uncontrolled reverb: undesirable echoes that can make a recording sound tinny, dull, or muddy.  Getting rid of uncontrolled reverb is a key component of recording a clean, rich tone.

The point of acoustic treatment is absorption and diffusion of sound waves.  Hard, flat surfaces, like walls, ceilings, and floors, will reflect almost all sound waves back into the air space of the room, where they will be recorded by an active microphone.  By breaking up and softening these surfaces, sound waves can be “soaked up” to prevent their continued reverberation around the studio.

What can be used as acoustic treatment?

Here at Wolf’s Den Studios, our preference is for Auralex acoustic foam.  This is sold in tiles or sheets, and can be found for reasonable prices online.  It is a high-density, fire-resistant foam, with the fronts sculpted in triangle or wave shapes to eliminate flat surfaces.  It comes in thicknesses ranging from half an inch to over 3 inches thick.  The thicker the layer of foam, the better its properties for sound absorption, particularly of low frequency, bass-y tones.

Auralex can, however, get pricey: even a small room, when treating 4 walls, a ceiling, and a door, can add up to a surprising amount of square footage that needs to be purchased.

Some may opt for using egg-crate foam, of the kind that is commonly used on beds.  While this is better than nothing – marginally – bedding foam often is not dense enough or thick enough to provide adequate absorption and diffusion of sound, so it wouldn’t be our first recommendation.

Very heavy drapes such as those used in theatres or the light and sound blocking drapes used in high end hotels can be an option, if you are fortunate enough to be able to acquire these cheaply at an estate sale or auction. If appearance is not important to you old mattresses will also be effective.

What should I treat, and where?

This depends on the function of your studio space.  For recording vocals, a room that has 100% acoustic treatment coverage is best – which is one reason why vocal booths are often so small!  For recording instruments depending on your room you can start with about 50% coverage.

For mixing and mastering, a good place to start is treating the surfaces immediately to the left and right as well as behind your studio monitors. I would also recommend treating the ceiling above your listening position. One method to determine acoustic treatment placement in your mix room is to use a hand held mirror held at the level of your studio monitors and place foam anywhere you can see a direct reflection of your monitors. More may be necessary but this is a good place to start.

But does it really make a difference?

I’ll let you decide for yourself.  Here is a recording in our vocal booth prior to giving it acoustic treatment.

And here’s a sample of a vocal recorded after treating the vocal booth with 100% coverage of Auralex.

No effects have been added to these samples.  The difference you hear is solely the result of acoustic treatment.

Is acoustic treatment the magic bullet that will instantly solve any problem in the studio?  No – but proper acoustic treatment is a critical step in achieving a pro studio sound.  With proper acoustic treatment, you are one step closer to getting a clean, professional sound in a home studio environment.

VB11

Letter to a young songwriter

I came across this letter to a young songwriter written by singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier and thought it worth sharing. She really hits the nail on the head.

“Nearly everything that matters is a challenge, and everything matters.” — Rilke
You’ve watched your musical heroes take the stage to thunderous applause, adulation and love, and you burn for that, for yourself, and you want to be a professional writer of songs. The songwriting call has whispered in your ears for years now, and you’ve decided to answer it. You are ready to embrace it, to begin your journey as a songwriter. I congratulate you, and would offer you a few considerations (if you are open to hearing from someone who has trudged this path for decades now).

Warning: a songwriter’s life is not what you think it is.
Music is more than a bouquet of sweet vibrations; it is something from a higher world, which we humans have been given the power to invoke. Artists are alchemists, with our hands in the holy. The Sacred. Yes, there is great power in creating music, but also great danger. The journey of the artist is filled with pitfalls. Where there is great beauty and the power to move millions on this path, there is always great risk.

Songwriting is a noble calling that requires more than talent and perseverance. It requires courage. If you are willing to face yourself and honestly reveal in your songs what you’ve seen in that unveiling of yourself, then you have a chance of writing songs that will outlive you. What can we gain by walking on the moon and planets if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages, and it is the job of the artist. The object of art is not to make salable products. It is to save one’s self, and to be a part of saving us all. Either we tell our story, or our story tells us.

And know this: A half-truth is a whole lie. Character, like integrity, is much easier kept than recovered. So write from your true self, not the self you think you should be. Do not try to impress us, and do not hide behind thin walls and smoke screens. It will only bore us. Brutal self -honesty is your challenge, and will reward you with much more than you can yet imagine.

You must learn how to reject acceptance and accept rejection. People’s opinions of you and your work are irrelevant. The search for love and applause has no place in the creative process. Here is what I know: thriving artists suffer from a feeling of inferiority, a feeling of reaching for something that keeps being just outside our grasp. We make contact with it, and then it turns to smoke. It cannot be held. So our work involves a constant striving. Those that don’t know this feeling are pretending to be close to art and live in secret fear of the aloneness of the deep creative process. Art requires audacity, and if you are not afraid, you are not taking risks. You will simply skim the surface and offer the world nothing new. Ultimately, your songs will not matter.

An artist’s job is to reach communion with truth, and bring that holy light into the world in order to soothe souls trapped in dark places. It is exceedingly difficult work and most who attempt it fail. That said, there is no safety in success either. In fact, triumph brings a greater danger, because the intense light of success is a wick that draws in darkness. Stars burn up. Flame out. Stars overdose, suicide. Some become oldies acts that create no new magic but simply repeat what has already been done over and over again, not for beauty’s sake, but for cash. And they suffer this as a humiliation and become bitter. A deep grounding in solitude is necessary to remain vital and creative. Solitude courts the muse. So know this: you have chosen a lonely path.

As you work, you will have to learn to embrace each failure as an unavoidable part of the process. There will be many false starts and errors, and even though it is terrifying, you must continue to err, and to do so on the bold side. Have the audacity to lose face, don’t worry about saving it, and embrace each glorious failure as a necessary part of the journey. The chief danger in songwriting (and life) is taking too many precautions. There is a very real relationship between what you contribute and what you get out of this life, but satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. The point of the work is the work. Being vulnerable in your work will bring you strength.

And here is a final warning. If you do succeed and people come to know your name and your songs, the creative process gets harder, not easier. Fame and success attracts parasites, clingers on, and wannabe’s. These non-creators will do everything in their power to attach to the light around you thinking it will bring them out of their own darkness. It will not, but they do not know this. If you let them in, their hungry mouths will suck the light from you and when you are emptied they will simply move on and attach to someone else’s glow. You must rid your life of these people, or suffer their debilitating and soul crushing manipulations.

Fame and success also bring laziness, and ego swelling. With success comes the confusion of believing you are doing great work, backed up the reassurance of people on your payroll, when you are not. It is easy to become delusional and get lost. Fame is a full time job. So is songwriting. A choice is often required. Choose wisely.

So then, again the point of all this work is simply the work. Struggle is the path, and there is no destination, only the path. We do not get “there.” There is no there. There is only here, now, on the path, in the struggle. We all must face the daunting blank page in front of each of us each morning. In this, we are all alike. I wish courage and perseverance for you as you embark on this life’s work of writing songs. You will need it.

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The uphill battle for song writers and artists

This is why we as song writers and artists can’t have nice things.
Groups like Pandora, Spotify and Big Record Labels constantly picking our pockets and leaving us for broke. This just makes me sad.

Original article here:  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/03/pandora-emerges-mostly-unscathed-in-legal-showdown-with-songwriters/

Pandora emerges mostly unscathed in legal showdown with songwriters

Royalties for streaming radio service will stay at 1.85 percent through 2015.

by Joe Silver – Mar 17 2014, 7:05pm EDT

COPYRIGHT LAWSUITS
On Friday, a federal judge ruled that the streaming radio service Pandora will continue paying the same royalty rate it was previously required to pay to songwriters through 2015.

In her opinion, US District Judge Denise Cote wrote that Pandora must continue paying the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) 1.85 percent of its revenue from the years 2011 through 2015 to use ASCAP songs on its streaming music service.

The 1.85 percent figure Pandora will pay is higher than the 1.7 percent rate that Pandora hoped for—1.7 percent is what terrestrial radio stations are required to pay for digital webcasts. Still, Cote’s ruling is much closer to Pandora’s suggestion than ASCAP’s; the songwriters’ group wanted to see a rate that started at 1.85 percent, then rose to 2.5 percent in 2014 and three percent in 2015.

Despite failing to convince the court of their desired rate, ASCAP nevertheless declared victory. “We are pleased the court recognized the need for Pandora to pay a higher rate than traditional radio stations,” said ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento.

Sony/ATV Music CEO Martin Bandier was less eager to declare this outcome as favorable for artists. “This rate is woefully inadequate and further emphasizes the need for reform in the rate court proceedings,” he told Billboard. “Songwriters can’t live in a world where streaming services only pay 1.8 percent of their revenue. This is a loss and not something we can live with.”

This small victory for Pandora won’t fundamentally change its long-term business concerns, which center around copyright payments. Pandora pays out about half of its revenue in copyright license fees, with the great majority of that going to record labels, not ASCAP.

Big Changes for a Little Room

We’ve had a busy time of it of late here over at Wolf’s Den Studios: renovations!

One of the biggest “to-dos” on our projects list has been to create a vocal recording booth: a space dedicated to and engineered for recording as crisp and clear a sound as possible for singers.  Without controlling a recording space for unwanted reverberation and echo, a singer’s tracks can sound muddy and dull, no matter how fine their voice or how skilled they are.

One of the easiest ways to create a vocal booth is to work within the structure of your own building: convert a closet!  This is a common tactic; there are many video tutorials on YouTube describing different approaches.  We opted to line the entirety of the closet – 90 square feet of wall and ceiling space – with Auralex acoustic foam tiles to absorb uncontrolled reverb.

First, however, we had to empty the closet.  It was amazing how much was crammed into 60 cubic feet.

VB1 VB2

Next, the shelf had to come down – for obvious reasons!

VB3 VB4

After removing the shelf and shelf supports, we had to patch the wall (horsehair plaster – great 120 years ago, terrible today), then sand and wash the walls.

VB5 VB6

We installed new shelves, higher up, to retain a little bit of overhead storage space, and put up new lighting.

VB7

This is a little less than half the foam to go up in the vocal booth.

VB8

We wanted to avoid cutting tiles if we could, plus we had foam of several different thicknesses, so a lot of careful planning was necessary first before any tiles went up.  Rather than using spray glue, we opted for velcro tabs that will enable us to rearrange, move, or replace tiles easily at a later date, if necessary.

VB9 VB10

It took two weekends, but the end result is pretty killer.  We’re ready!

VB11 VB12

A recent Interview with Michael MacLeod

501NEG Blog: Member Snapshot, with Michael MacLeod

March 9, 2014 at 8:11am

**story written by Jodi Marmonti-Anderson**

Michael MacLeod is not only a member of the 501st Legion but is also a highly experienced and accomplished local musician.  Michael has sung lead vocals and played guitar in numerous bands, and has taught music lessons to hundreds of students.  He is the owner of Wolf’s Den Music.

As soon as Michael could stand he was dancing to any music playing in his vicinity (even TV jingles).  He states that “the bug really bit me at about age 7, when I saw a teenager down the street with an electric guitar and knew I just had to have one.”  Though his parents were struggling financially they bought him a guitar and amp and the lessons began.  Through his lessons he met his mentor New Bedford, MA musician Jim Tavares.  “Upon first sight of seeing Jim with his long hair, ripped jeans and chucks (sneakers) I knew I wanted to be a rock guitarist!”  At the time Jim was only accepting adult and advanced students, but after a lot of begging to the music store owner (Gary “Boz” Bosworth of Boz’s Music) Jim decided to take Michael on as his first child student.  Michael would continue to study music and hone his craft, later studying under the famous song writer Adam Mitchell.

As a huge Kiss fan, Michael auditioned for a tribute band when he was 15 and was thrilled to learn that he had been selected for the group.  He started touring and missed many days of high school to keep up with his gig schedule.  Performing as Ace Frehley, Michael toured the east coast for almost a decade in two different Kiss tribute acts: Rock & Roll Over and Destroyer. He was a featured performer with Destroyer on the internationally distributed “KAOL 2 Creatures of the Net” album (Kiss Army online).  All proceeds from the album were donated to cancer research in Eric Carr’s (former Kiss Drummer’s) name.  He has performed at many official Kiss conventions with past members of Kiss, including Ace Frehley.  Michael’s biggest show played was at the Bangor, ME Civic Center, where he performed to a sold-out crowd of around 3000 fans.

Michael has enjoyed his career as a musician.  “I get to share music with people, which is a chance to connect to people on a whole different level.  I love playing in front of a large crowd and the energy exchanged between myself (the performer) and the audience. It’s a feeling that is amazing because you go out there and give it your all and get ramped up then the audience gets excited and gives all that energy back to you so it’s this great synergy.”  He loves writing and creating original music, which is currently his focus as he works on his first solo album. “It’s an amazing journey from getting the germ of an idea in your mind to creating a fully realized song, [and] then sending that song out into the world and hoping people get something out of it.”

There are down sides to working as an artist, of course. Financial challenges (particularly in the age of internet piracy) can make it difficult to make a living as a musician.  There are some people who believe that musicians should give their music away for free.  Michael also notes that sometimes people don’t respect the kind of work he is doing.  “Many people don’t realize the amount of hard work it is to be a full time musician: the years of studying and practicing, the sacrifices made to excel at your craft, the thousands of dollars invested in gear and instruments and the list just goes on.”  Despite these setbacks, he enjoys being his own boss: “At the end of the day I’m completely in charge of my life and that is what Rock and Roll is all about to begin with. Freedom!”

Outside of music Michael is a big science fiction and comics fan, which lead him to join the 501st Legion, as well as becoming one of the area’s more well-known Green Arrow costumers.  One little known fact from Michael’s past is that he won a DC Comics contest as a kid and they used his design as the new version of a Parademon. “You can see the Kiss influence in the eye make-up design and bits of his costume.” The only Parademon ever to have a name in comic books was named Michael (possibly due to his redesign of said character).  Michael received a 10 speed bicycle from the contest, which he still has to this day.

After completing his solo album along with a few other musical projects on the table, Michael would like to compose a film score.  Be sure to check out his sites at https://wolfsdenmusic.wordpress.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolfs-Den-Music/251584701558005?ref=hl .

Let’s Talk About Music

Hey,
Musicians, Engineers and Music Fans.
Here is where You can enter the Wolf’s Den and become one of the pack by following our music blog.

We will be giving regular tips & advice on playing, recording, mixing, mastering, getting your music heard & finding music from other talented artists. We will post reviews on equipment and software and our experiences with them. We will also talk about instruments (vintage and new) Whats going on with artists we love and anything else in the world of Music.

We hope you’ll find this blog educational and fun!