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Back Page Blog: November 2018

To Click, or Not to Click? And Why the Toll Booth?

Mike Levine, Mix Technology Editor, Studio

Tick Tock and Gridlock: Click tracks are a given in electronic and other loop-based music styles, but when recording with live musicians, they can sometimes be more trouble than they’re worth. I’ve found that musicians unaccustomed to recording to a click can find it incredibly distracting, while others are simply against the idea on principle.

Having worked as a session player and as a composer of commercial music, I’m completely at home with playing to a click. What’s more, as an engineer I love the advantages a click provides for editing, particularly copying and pasting segments to correct performance mistakes, sync effects, add MIDI tracks and even rearrange songs.

That all being said, I also buy the argument that some music, especially when it’s organic, needs to breathe from a tempo standpoint and constraining it to the uniformity of the grid can take away from the feel.

The decision depends a lot on the musicians, the music and what the recording is being used for. If you’re wavering about whether to record on the grid or off. One workaround, if at least the drummer is comfortable playing with a click, is to have it audible only in his or her headphones and have the rest of the band just follow the count-off and beat. However, that’s still not going to work well in a situation where the feel is dependent on the music naturally pushing and pulling the tempo.

If you do end up recording without a click, there are methods for creating a tempo map that lines up with a freely played recording. However, that’s only a partial solution: While it will make it a lot easier for adding MIDI parts, it won’t help if you want to cut and paste audio from one song section to another.

Related: Mix Blog Studio: Tick Tock and Gridlock, by Mike Levine, Oct. 2, 2018

Product of the Week: Celemony Melodyne 4.2 with Logic Pro X Support: If you’re a user of Celemony Melodyne 4 who works in Logic Pro X, the newly released Melodyne 4.2 provides a significantly improved workflow via ARA (Audio Random Access) technology. ARA was developed by Celemony in conjunction with PreSonus and has subsequently been adopted by several other DAWs, including Samplitude Pro, Sonar, and Waveform (formerly Tracktion), Reaper (in an upcoming release), and now, in Logic Pro X 10.4.2, which was released in late September.

Before the 4.2 update, using Melodyne in Logic (or any non-ARA supported DAW) presented a few inconveniences, the main one being that you needed to capture (aka “Transfer”) the audio into the plug-in in real time in order for it to appear in Melodyne. With the ARA plug-in, audio files show up instantly in Melodyne, with no need to transfer.

Related: Product of the Week: Celemony Melodyne 4.2 with Logic Pro X Support, by Mike Levine, Oct. 11, 2018

Steve La Cerra, Mix Technology Editor, Live

Put a Toll Booth in It: I’ve lived in New York City for my entire life, and I’m noticing an alarming trend. My friend Richie puts it this way: “Take something that works, put a toll booth in it and screw it up so that it no longer works efficiently.”

My case in point is the manner in which skycaps operate at JFK Airport. For years I have been using the age-old, proven system where a skycap helps me with bags and gear, and I give them a tip. Earlier this year at JFK Terminal 4 a system was implemented using a new “VIP” service from Allways, whereby a concierge summons a skycap, hands me a bill for it and then allows the ’cap to help me with the bags and gear. Here’s how I see it: Third person is now involved: Strike one.

That third person thinks they know how to load a baggage cart but couldn’t fit a backpack in the back of an empty Ford Econoline: Strike two.

The Allways rep charges me for the number of bags placed on the cart. I have to pay Allways, and—because this is heavy gear and not hat boxes—the skycap still has to be tipped appropriately. The ‘cap is pissed because he’s not getting the same amount as I would give him prior to Allways getting involved. I’m pissed because I’m spending more money to get the same items to the curb. The Allways agent is pissed because I’m giving lip over what amounts to a shakedown, which is exactly what it is. I’m calling Eyewitness News so their scam busters can look into it. Strike three.

It now takes me longer to find a skycap, costs more money and is less efficient because some knucklehead decided to put a toll booth in the middle of a clear path. Progress? I don’t think so. It’s a disgrace.

Related: Mix Blog Live: Put a Toll Booth in It, by Steve La Cerra, Sep. 20, 2018

Product of the Week: Neutrik TOP Connectors: Neutrik’s series of True Outdoor Protection (TOP) connectors was designed specifically for use in situations where audio interconnects are subject to harsh environmental conditions such as outdoor P.A., commercial signage, LED screens and lighting. TOP products include XLR, powerCON TRUE1, and etherCON connectors, all of which meet standards for outdoor use and UV resistance as specified by UL50E (standards for Electrical Equipment Enclosures) and IP65 (protection from dust and low-pressure water ingress). Features include high-impact construction, heavy-duty sealing gaskets, locking connectors, and optional dust caps.

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