What people are saying about our New CD

Some very touching words of praise from Jen L. who got her copy of our Album on it’s release day.

” The Wedding Album is amazing, I was driving home from work rockin’ out, doing the disco, and crying my eyes out all from the same CD. In addition to being blown away by all the hard work that went into this labor-intensive wedding favor, I have to say I’m so impressed by the technical musical talent! Truly awesome”

Some wonderful words From Bill H. about our most recent CD.

“Hi Michael! I gotta tell ya. I must have listened to yours and Mer’s cover CD at least 25 times… no exaggeration. All my kids are singing the songs on it and LOVE it. After listening to it several times, someone may just call it a cover album. However, I see your hand in it, and your personality shines through in every song. You two did a phenomenal job on this album. You really did justice to all of the songs on the album and succeeded in bringing your own originality to it, while preserving the integrity of all the songs. Kudos to both of you for your hard work!”

Being able to touch people in such a powerful way is why we make music. Compliments like these made all the effort of this album worthwhile. When someone appreciates what we do to this level we love to hear about it. So I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again. THIS is the reason we make music.

Many thanx to Jen & Bill for their kind words.  It really excites me that yourselves and your families are loving the CD. Thank you!


You can get your copy of our latest CD here
https://wolfsdenmusic.wordpress.com/purchase-music-here/


Keep on Rockin!
Michael MacLeod

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Win a copy of our new CD

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So our new CD has a cover that should look familiar. We cover one song from the BAND that this cover is based off of. The first person to guess what song we covered from that band will win a copy of the CD.  

HINT: The song we covered was not on the album whose cover we are paying tribute to.

This contest is open only to people who have NOT been told or seen our track list. Which includes those who have a copy or reserved a copy of the album ( I know who you are) So let some new fans win this one.

Like our Facebook page and answer in the comments section to win.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolfs-Den-Music/251584701558005

Good Luck!
Michael & Meredith
Wolf’s Den Records

GENE SIMMONS: ‘ROCK IS FINALLY DEAD’

Most of us who are song writers and professional musicians know how much the the music industry has changed in the last decade or so. Gene hit’s the nail on the head on several of his points here. It’s a sad state of affairs but for those of us with music running through our veins. We have no choice but to continue on and do what we do best. Keep on Rockin!  

Check out this interview with Simmons.
Wolf’s Den Music.


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GENE SIMMONS: ‘ROCK IS FINALLY DEAD’
The Kiss rocker expands on his thoughts about the past, present, and future of recorded music

By Nick Simmons on September 4, 2014

I spoke with my father about his legacy, the legacy of his contemporaries, and the state of the music industry today. Invariably, it seemed, we began to talk about file-sharing.

But this is not that old story of an out-of-touch one-percenter crying victim. As so many pointed out during the now-infamous Napster public relations war, the rich/famous/established musicians are not the victims of the digital revolution. My father instead laments the loss of opportunity for my generation, those who have begun to sense that it may no longer simply be a matter of dusting our hands, learning a skill, and putting in the time. There is a system that is broken for those of us who love songwriting, instruments, and all the soul of the analog, and it is now working against us — unless we conform. Unless we decide to stick, safely, to pop, and let gray men in a boardroom write our songs for us, dress us, and sell us from somewhere in the shadows.

The death of rock music came, as we all feared, not as a bright, burning explosion, but as a candle that slowly faded away—and in my father’s view, we are all at fault, for slowly leeching its fire without giving back any of our own.

NICK SIMMONS: You once said the music business isn’t dying — it’s dead. What would you say to young musicians and songwriters today trying to navigate this new terrain?

GENE SIMMONS: Don’t quit your day job is a good piece of advice. When I was coming up, it was not an insurmountable mountain. Once you had a record company on your side, they would fund you, and that also meant when you toured they would give you tour support. There was an entire industry to help the next Beatles, Stones, Prince, Hendrix, to prop them up and support them every step of the way. There are still record companies, and it does apply to pop, rap, and country to an extent. But for performers who are also songwriters — the creators — for rock music, for soul, for the blues — it’s finally dead.

Rock is finally dead.

“ROCK DID NOT DIE OF OLD AGE. IT WAS MURDERED.”
I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to ten, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did. He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably. There is no industry for that anymore. And who is the culprit? There’s always the changing tide of interests — music taste changes with each generation. To blame that is silly. That was always the exciting part, after all: “What’s next?” But there’s something else. The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid’s 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he’s jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won’t, because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.

The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there’s a copy left behind for you — it’s not that copy that’s the problem, it’s the other one that someone received but didn’t pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.

It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible. You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor. And I’m not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them.

Here’s a frightening thought: from 1958 to 1983, name 100 musical anythings that are iconic, that seem to last beyond their time.

NS: The Beatles, The Stones…

“FROM ’84 UNTIL TODAY, NAME SOME. JUST GIVE ME A FEW — ARTISTS THAT, EVEN AFTER THEIR PASSING, ARE OR WILL BE INESCAPABLE.”
GS: Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, the numerous classic Motown artists, Madonna, U2, Prince, Pink Floyd… The list goes on. Individuals, all unanimously considered classic, timeless, revolutionary. Now from ’84 until today, name some. Just give me a few — artists that, even after their passing, are or will be inescapable. Artists on the same level as the ones I just mentioned. Even if you don’t like them, they will be impossible to avoid, or deny, even after they’ve stopped making music and maybe passed on. In fact, they become bigger when they stop. Name artists that even compare with the ones I just named.

NS: Nirvana?

GS: Nirvana. That’s about it. They are the notable exception. Keep thinking. It’s harder, isn’t it, to name artists with as much confidence? The pickings are so slim, and it’s not an arbitrary difference. There was a 10- to 15-year period in the ’60s and ’70s that gave birth to almost every artist we now call “iconic,” or “classic.” If you know anything about what makes longevity, about what makes something an everlasting icon, it’s hard to find after that. The craft is gone, and that is what technology, in part, has brought us. What is the next Dark Side of the Moon? Now that the record industry barely exists, they wouldn’t have a chance to make something like that. There is a reason that, along with the usual top-40 juggernauts, some of the biggest touring bands are half old people, like me.

NS: What does this bode for the industry of the future?

GS: There is no record industry, unfortunately. Not like there was. There are some terrific bands out there — Tame Impala, which you turned me on to, and so on. And during the ’60s and ’70s they would’ve become big, I’m convinced.

But, strangely, today, everything pales before Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Look up the numbers on that song. He blows everyone else out of the water.

NS: The biggest song of all time is an Internet meme. Sounds almost like popular music is jumping the shark.

GS: Yes. My guess is that despite those numbers, it will still pass from the public eye in a short time. I don’t know what that means, but it’s clear that longevity is practically dead, and new artists that stand the test of time — meaning, artists whose art can survive them, who become icons — are so rare as to almost be nonexistent.

NS: Considering that it doesn’t seem to affect you directly, how did you become so outspoken about this? Along with a few public figures I could name, you’ve been one of the most vocal critics of file-sharing.

GS: My perspective is decidedly different than perhaps the perspective of somebody who was born here. If you’re a native-born American, my contention is that you take a lot of things for granted. All the freedoms and opportunities you have here are expected, and you feel entitled. I think this has taken over the American psyche. I find that many of the more patriotic people are immigrants, and they’re the ones who stand still when the flag goes up, out of gratitude. My sense is that file-sharing started in predominantly white, middle- and upper-middle-class young people who were native-born, who felt they were entitled to have something for free, because that’s what they were used to. If you believe in capitalism — and I’m a firm believer in free-market capitalism — then that other model is chaos. It destroys the structure. You’ll never understand unless you’re the one that wrote the song, and you were the one that had the band, whose music people took without paying you for. Once you’re the one who’s been robbed, there’s a moment of clarity.

And let’s be clear: I’m not the guy to be pouting and complaining about stuff. I make a decent living. I’m very, very lucky. But that’s because we started before the chaos, in the days when people had to buy records. If you didn’t like a band, you didn’t buy their albums, and the people decided.

NS: They voted with their dollar.

“PATRIOTISM IS CORNY, AND THAT’S A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS.”
GS: That’s right. And going back to that national psyche thing… I firmly believe that there’s something missing in America, and it used to exist, and it’s now corny. Patriotism is corny, and that’s a sad state of affairs. It really is. I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on — I find faults in both, some social and some political issues — but everywhere, people are taking a lot of things for granted. And you would know the majesty that is America if you came from hundreds of other countries I could name. If you come from a place where every day above ground is a life-threatening event, and you had the same ambition and values as the most successful people here, you would never reach the same heights. And of course this applies to Western society at large, but America especially. I think every day, we forget about the — and here’s the corny part — glory of America. And that’s too fucking bad.

NS: Any last thoughts?

GS: Always, but I think I’ve talked enough for a lifetime.

Studio Techniques: Gain Staging

pt meter

First off, what is gain staging and why is it important?

Gain staging is the process of managing the levels of incoming audio signals to eliminate noise and prevent distortions or signal clipping as much as possible.

How do I address gain staging in my recordings?

Historically, in the days of analog recording, engineers would try to find a “sweet spot” at which the incoming audio signal was significantly above the ordinary analog noise floor but yet would fall just shy of clipping the audio signal during the loudest parts of the performance.  This spot was often around the 0 db zone.  This would result in tracks that were as hot as possible without clipping.

However, with the advent of digital recording, the recording noise floor has dropped to next to nothing – and the gain stage needed to change with it, too.  Digital recording not only allows for, but basically requires, a far more conservative approach to recording levels.

This technique creates good-quality recordings with, by default, low background noise, and plenty of headroom on the meter.  Often, plugins used during the mixing and mastering phases of recording will use some of that headroom, so if your initial performance was done at too high a level, the addition of plugins can easily push your performance into the dreaded “too hot” zone.  The quality of your sound will suffer.  Far better to record at a conservative level and make a track louder, if necessary, during the mastering stage than to have to over-compress and squash the life out of a good performance that was recorded at too high a level.

For digital recording, the “sweet spot” tends to be around -18 dB.

Proper gain staging also helps in the mixing phase of recording – in general, mixes turn out better when tracks are at low levels on the faders.  If a mix is too quiet for you to adequately hear it, don’t turn up the faders on the board – turn up your monitors!

After recording, mixing, and ensuring that no signal-clipping has occurred in any track, bus all channels through a stereo master fader.  This fader represents an aggregate of all signals being bussed to it from other channels, so it may very well be the case that it will have a very high signal, or may even clip.  If this is the case, group all audio channels and turn them down as a collective unit until the master fader is at about -10 db.  It should not be approaching the -3 db mark – don’t just turn down the master fader!  This only masks the symptom of the issue without resolving the issue itself.

I hope this helps with your next mix. Good luck!

Free Eventide Plugin

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Hey, Wolf pack!  Get your Free plug-in! Now through July 8,

 

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?

Enjoy,

Wolf’s Den Music

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

Free Plug-in

Hey engineers and home studio enthusiasts,

For a limited time get your free Delay Plug-in

You’ll need this reference code, 218-6016-237, as well as a Soundtoys account and an iLok account. Here’s the link: https://www.soundtoys.com/sxsw2014/
Just go to the link, follow the directions and enter the code above, and you’ve got a free delay plug-in modeled after the classic Prime Time digital delay!
This is a free limited time offer from Soundtoys that we just wanted to make you aware of.

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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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!