The (iOS music making) truth is out there…. a recommendation for The Recording Revolution

therecordingrevolution logoAs regular readers at the blog will know, my own music-making efforts are focused in the studio rather than in live performance. While I’ve been involved in recording technology for more years than I care (am able?) to remember, I’m constantly reminded that, however much I learn, there is always more stuff to discover and skills that can be improved; unfortunately for me, I’m a long way from knowing it all when it comes to the recording, mixing and mastering process.

So how do you teach yourself about recording? Where do you go to find the pearls of wisdom that are going to turn your first fumbling mixes into radio-ready chart contenders (or whatever your personal target is when it comes to reaching your own musical goals)?

OK, so we know that, in today’s internet-everywhere world, ‘Google’ is going to be part of the answer…. and don’t get me wrong; the internet is a fabulous resource if you want to learn about music technology but, with a few exceptions, it doesn’t always make for a structured learning environment in the same way that a college course or a well-written text book does. Many specialist-interest websites might cover all the relevant material but not always in a consistent or logical sequence. The ‘truth is out there….’, it’s just not always easy to find….

Just how much gear do you actually need to start recording?

Just how much gear do you actually need to start recording? And how do you learn how to use it?

Which is why I thought I’d highlight a site that is, I think, a bit of an exception to that and, while it is not specifically about iOS-based recording, it is written with those towards the start of their personal recording technology journey in mind; Graham Cochrane’s The Recording Revolution. This is both a website and a YouTube channel and it was through the later that I recently discovered – and started digging into – the site.

While Graham has training materials that he will happily sell to you though through the site (and very good they look too), there is a huge amount of really useful free stuff. Whether the material ‘clicks’ with you will, of course, be a personal matter, but it is very cleanly presented, offers practical solutions and suggestions to common recording questions and, to me at least, seems to contain a huge dollop of common sense.

I’ve embedded two examples here that I found particularly interesting…. The first is a short video presentation on the five key things required to start a home recording studio. While this is a very general introduction (and you might have to swap out the desktop/laptop item for an iPad), it is sort of a condensed version of what I tried to cover some time ago in my ‘Build an iPad recording studio’ series. It does, however, cut to the chase about what’s essential in terms of equipment to get started; you don’t need ‘everything’, you just need the bare bones and a desire to get on with making music rather than procrastinating while you wait to collect more kit.

There is also a follow-up series to this video called the $300 studio challenge where Graham takes his (fairly modest) laptop (again, substitute in your iPad if you wish), buys $300 of additional equipment, and proceeds to record and mix a full song. And, while it helps that the musicians involved can most certainly play, and that Graham himself is a pretty good singer, the video series does a brilliant job of demonstrating that getting a very solid recording is not about lots of gear; it’s about getting the absolute best out of whatever gear you happen to have.

The second video embedded here is perhaps aimed at the more experienced home/project studio user. It deals with a topic that has become a popular technique over the last few years; parallel compression. I’ll save a discussion of the background to this topic for another time – although you might get some of that from the video – but this is a technique that uses compression in a very particular way to increase the average level of your mix but by raising the volume of the quieter sections without having to resort to over-severe limiting of the louder sections.

Graham’s video actually presents an approach to this technique that I’d not come across before – and that he learned from Andrew Scheps (who’s credits include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele, Lana Del Rey, Jake Bugg and a whole host of others) – and that struck me as both very interesting and, in theory, making a lot of sense.

Graham demonstrates the method using Pro Tools but it’s a technique I’ve now experimented with on my desktop system using Cubase Pro in a few mixes with promising results and is something you could recreate on any decent desktop DAW. I’ve yet to try it on my iOS system and, while I suspect it would be possible using Auria Pro, it may be less easy with other iOS DAWs, including my DAW-of-choice Cubasis, without the ‘buss’ routing options required. I will, however, give it a go and, if I can make it work (perhaps via AUM?), I’ll do a little tutorial post on it.

Anyway, it might not work for you… but, if you are looking for some clearly presented material on how to squeeze the most you can out of a modest recording setup – desktop, laptop or iOS – without needing a whole host of additional gear, then The Recording Revolution might be just the thing. Yes, when it comes to the internet, the truth can be out there….  and, personally, I think there is a whole chunk of truth to be found via the Recording Revolution. Well worth a look….

Of course, the downside of spending time on Graham’s site is that I now wish the Music App Blog was quite so well structured…. :-)

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    1. I look forward to reading about your results adapting Graham’s lessons to the iOS environment. Did the parallel compression require further workarounds? I’ve followed @recordingrev for years and learned a lot but have gone the iOS instead of the “DAW” route.

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