Thursday, 23 May 2013

5 ways to make a better record - before you record it.

1. Write enough material!

As an artist, it is very tempting to attempt to write one perfect masterpiece from the outset, but in reality creativity is just a game of numbers. Ask anyone to come up with twenty ideas, then by the law of averages more that half of them will be terrible, one or two will be ok and most likely one will be a brilliant.

The secret that successful musicians and artists all share is that they have the ability to discard most of their output and keep the good bits. 

Nobody paints a masterpiece straight away. You sketch, throw away, sketch again, try a new idea, sketch, try again. 

Young and unsigned artists are never taught this, and it's a thing that successful artists learn over time. This is why you will often see a young band play a gig with one truly great stand-out song and nine average or bad songs. 

At first it can be very hard to throw your precious material away but if you write with a more healthy view of "just trying ideas out" instead of "writing my masterpiece" you will be freed up considerably. Throw away bad songs. Throw away pretty good songs. Work on the excellent ones.

"If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward".  Thomas A. Edison

2. Don't fear being you. You're unique and your music should be too.

There is nothing wrong with having influences, but trying to recreate your favourite band down to the exact guitar tones, accent and dance-moves is doing yourself a disservice. As well as being unoriginal (at best), you can guarantee that you aren't the only people copying that band. When a hip act comes along, hundreds of teenage carbon copies are sure to follow. Sure, borrow an element from another act but don't impersonate. The most successful acts have always taken an element and twisted it. Nirvana strived to do Beatles-esque pop songs in the style of ACDC but brought their own personality to the table. The Beatles were hugely influenced by African American artists but brought a whole lot of amped-up scouser into the equation.

Don't fear bringing your own personality into your music. Some of the things that you are currently trying to hide about yourself are the exact things that others will try and emulate in five years time.

3. Don't pigeonhole yourself

I don't know if you've noticed but the record shops have almost all closed down and music magazines are going bust, so there's no great benefit to being easily pigeonholed. In this information-saturated blog-driven age, the main way to be classified is "interesting" or "not interesting". If the people at the one remaining record shop in town don't know whether to file you under "death metal" or "japanese lesbian electro", it really doesn't matter as long as you are pinging up on people's radar as something to share via social media. If you are breaking the mould then GREAT! 

4. Don't plan on fixing it in the studio

There are many quantising and tuning tricks you can do in the studio but the old saying "you can't polish a turd" is a truism. You can add a little pixie dust on a great song to make it shine - but all the pixie dust in the world won't help a crap song. If your instrument playing and your songs aren't good enough to make that record just yet, work on it and do it when you are. Don't think that just because - in theory - your bad drumming and out of tune vocals could be fixed, that they should be. 

On the other hand, sometimes a song benefits from less than perfect delivery and unpolished production. The Velvet Underground weren't as technical and "well" produced as, say, Dragonforce - but they undeniably made better records.

5. If you're recording your songs yourself, get a pro to mix it. 

Hint hint. Did I mention I have an online mixing and mastering service

Bobby x

Monday, 13 May 2013

Win a remix!

Win a remix... 


Are you an artist or band? Now is your chance to win a free remix by Bobby Bloomfield - official remixer of 50 Cent, Linkin Park, dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip, The Naked and the Famous, P. Diddy, The Faint, Natalia Kills, Vienna Ditto and Escape The Fate. 

Bobby Bloomfield is a producer and drummer best known for his work with Does It Offend You, Yeah? and for producing/managing the hotly tipped new band The Adelines. He is offering an official remix - open to any band or artist from anywhere on the planet. No strings attached.

To enter, visit and enter: 

1. The name of your act.
2. A link to your song.
3. Why you want a remix.
4. Your email address.

Good Luck!

Competition closes 1st August. Limited to one entry per act. 

Meet the lovely artists I have worked with.

Meet the lovely artists I have worked with.

recording studio reading berkshire recording studio in reading berkshire
"Just wanted to say a big thanks for the Punching In A Dream remix. It's so great. Can't stop listening to it. What you've have done is incredible. We really appreciate all the time and work."

Thom (The Naked and the Famous)

50 Cent - Do You Think About Me? (official remix)


Linkin Park - The Catalyst (official remix)


The Adelines - Alleyways (production)


"Have been working with Bobby Bloomfield since 2012 as a producer for a number of our artists. He brings experience and ideas to the process and a great ear to the mix. He always manages to get a kicking drum sound great clarity to all the instrumentation, add to that a enthusiasm for coming up with creative ways to add new sounds and textures and you have everything you need in a producer.

I have no hesitation in recommending Bobby to labels and bands."

Mark Wrangham (Collision Music)

Does It Offend You, Yeah? - various (drums/production/bass/guitar/backing vox)

Kamikaze Test Pilots - Kamikaze Test Pilots (production)

Bobby produced one of our singles and remixed AND did a video for our latest single Liar Liar. All three were honestly beyond excellent, showing Bobby's profusion of talent and imagination. He is brilliant to bounce ideas off, really engages with a project without ever being pushy and his production and composition skills are second-to-none.

I could not recommend him more highly."

Nigel Firth (Vienna Ditto)

Vienna Ditto - I Know His Blood (production)


"Rob took my music to a whole new level. My jaw literally dropped when I heard what he did with my tracks. Amazing."

Ezequiel Jaroslavsky  (independent artist, Argentina) 

The Naked And Famous - Punching in a Dream (remix)


"We worked with Rob on our debut EP and got it all down live in Silver Street studios. Rob did a really great job - And the EP sounds bloody great.

He's got a great ear/eye for detail, friendly and no nonsense. I'd happily recommend him to anybody and would consider throwing more music his way... and maybe I will. Hmmm."

David Johnson (The Jettes)

"Definitely the most "pain-free" experience I've had in a recording studio. Great to work with someone who listened, understood and acted on our ideas to get exactly the sound we wanted. Inspiring!"

Cliff Bailey (The Love Family)

Barclaycard commercials (music composition & production)


The Oscars Ceremony music

"Bobby produced one of our singles and remixed AND did a video for our latest single Liar Liar. all three were -honestly- beyond excellent, showing Bobby's profusion of talent and imagination. He is brilliant to bounce ideas off, really engages with a project without ever being pushy and his production and composition skills are second-to-none.

I could not recommend him more highly."

Nigel Firth (Vienna Ditto)

"I have worked with Bob a few times now and every time I record with him I get exactly what I asked for! The more info he gets about the tracks and sounds etc the better the results are. Bob has a great ear for different sounds and songs and will take time in making sure the track will sound clear and professional. He also has a great way of working with musicans and I always come away from the studio feeling that I have done my best performance possible for the song."

Camilla Jurrasek (The Love Family)

Dynamic Processing - How Dynamic Are You?

read about dynamics
Dynamics are hardware units or software plugins that control the volume (or dynamic range) of a sound signal. For example a compressor will compress the dynamic range of a signal so that the peaks (loudest parts) of the signal are controlled (made quieter) and a gate will allow a signal through only when it reaches a certain volume.  
Not only do dynamic processors control the way in which the dynamic range is controlled, different dynamic processors can pleasingly “colour” the sound in unique ways. Some of the older studio hardware units are so loved by engineers for their ability to colour the sound and adding some esoteric magical sparkle, that they have been emulated by software plugin companies. For example the LA2A compressor is a classic from the 1960s that has such a favourable character that almost all plugin companies have sought to emulate what it does. Equally some processors are highly prized for their ability to do their job without colouring the sound noticeably and these are referred to as “transparent”.
I could ramble on about the various coloration traits of various plugins and hardware but instead for now I will explain what these dynamic processors fundamentally do to a signal. Later I will give some examples of how these processors are used creatively in music production.


The compressor – as the name suggests – compresses or narrows a signal’s dynamic range. For example if you have a singer that sings one word very quietly and another loudly it would be hard to hear certain words in the mix of the song. A compressor will quieten the louder words and can effectively make all the words roughly the same volume.  
read about compression
The compressor is used to smooth out the difference between loud and quiet sounds, to make drums pump and can be used creatively to create all sorts of musical results. Heavy rock and dance music producers use compression to make some sounds appear loud and make a mix “pump”. 
Most compressors will give you multiple options to control the way in which it works. A standard compressor will usually have these basic options:
1. Threshold
With the threshold setting you can control the volume level at which the compressor will work. Sounds that remain under the threshold volume limit will pass through the compressor unaffected and those over the threshold will kick the compressor into action squashing the signal by reducing the gain (volume).
2. Ratio
You can control the ratio of the compressor’s gain reduction. A ratio of 4:1 will mean that if the input level goes 4db over the threshold, the compressor will limit it to just 1db over the threshold. At ∞:1 (infinity to one) even if the input signal is way above the threshold limit, the output signal will not be allowed to go above the threshold limit. 
3. Attack / Release
This is the speed at which the compressor will begin and end working. A fast attack will compress the very instance that the sound rises above the threshold. A slow attack will allow some time to pass through before going into action. The speed of the release is how long it will take for the compressor to stop working once the sound has gone below the threshold. 
4. Make up gain
As the compressor will make the output signal lower by design, this allows you to turn the output gain up. 
recording studio compression


A limiter is effectively a compressor with a fixed fast attack and its ratio fixed to infinite. Usually a limiter will give you only a threshold and release option. 


A gate is a processor that will only let the signal through once it reaches the threshold. You can think of it as a door that opens and lets sound through only when the sound is loud enough to blow the door open. You can set the strength of the door and how quickly it opens and closes. These are very useful for removing bleed or unwanted low level noise on recorded tracks. A basic gate will give you these options:
1. Threshold
The threshold in this case is the point at which the gate will open. Sound above the volume of the threshold will be let through and sound below the threshold will not.  
3. Attack / Release
As with the compressor you can set the speed at which this processor will work. The attack is the speed at which the gate will open and the release is the speed at which the gate will close. 


Sidechaining is when a dynamic processor is used on a signal but a separate signal triggers its action. You may have noticed that when a radio DJ talks over a song, the song will drop in volume when he speaks. This isn’t the DJ pushing the fader up and down on every word, this is an automatic effect made with side chaining. A compressor will be placed on the music track and the DJ’s microphone will be inputted into the side chain of that compressor. The result is that when the DJ’s voice hits the threshold of that compressor, the volume of the music will drop. 
One very noticeable (and often horribly overused) sidechaining effect is used in dance music. The compressor will duck the volume of the whole track when the bass drum signal hits the compressor to give that cliche’d sucking feel. If used well it can make a track seem loud and pumping. If used too much it can be extremely tiring to listen to.
Sidechaining is also used more subtly in other genres of music. Sometimes a similar effect to the DJ ducking to make a vocal more prominent or to make a bass guitar and bass drum pump.

I hope that this basic intro into dynamic processing is helpful. I will go into more detail how these are used later on.
Bobby x

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

What's your EQ IQ?

What's your EQ IQ?

What is Equalisation? 

Equalisation (or EQ) is the boosting or cutting of specific frequencies to enhance or improve an audio signal. Home hi fi systems have basic EQ options to add or take away bass, middle and treble. Generally people just turn them up in the belief that more is better. 

On a mixing desk or in a DAW (digital audio workstation), the EQ essentially does the same thing as a hi fi EQ, but is higher quality and does so in greater detail. 

When some amateurs begin to record and mix their own music, they misuse their EQ and just like with their hi fi at home, they will automatically start adding EQ. If they hear a sound that has lots of bottom end, they might add a load of top end to compensate - thereby making the whole signal noisy. 

It is a huge step forward when you realise that taking frequencies away (subtractive EQ) before adding others (additive EQ) can improve your mix greatly. 

To begin with it's hard to pinpoint where in the frequency spectrum you should be EQ-ing a sound, so I've made some graphics that should help.

These are negative attributes so would require subtractive EQ in these frequency ranges.

This graphic shows where you might want to add EQ:

Below is an example of what sort of EQ decisions I would make on a vocal track.  This is a standard parametric EQ that you will find with any DAW. 

The first thing I notice is that there is a bit of rumble (see graphs above) from the singer's feet moving around on the floor. So I need to subtract the rumbling frequencies with a "low shelf" like this:

The next thing I notice is that the voice is generally a little too warm and boxy (see graphs above) so I will take away some of the boxy frequencies with a fairly wide "parametric" EQ. The width of the EQ curve is called the "Q". 

My EQ curve now looks like this:

I'm liking what I hear much more now but I'm still not quite happy. It is a little dull and needs a bit of detail and sparkle (see graphs above). So I boost the treble with a "high shelf". This gives more detail to the voice. 

The EQ now looks like this:

The vocal is starting to sound great. Although now I notice that there is a particular nasal, harsh quality to the recording (see graphs) that I need to eliminate. This sound is a little trickier to find, so I make narrow "Q" BOOST in the high mid range and then move it up and down the frequencies until I find the frequency that makes it sound really nasal and unpleasant. I now make that boost a CUT - thus taking away (subtracting) the nasal quality. 

The final vocal EQ curve now looks like this:

Learning to trust your ears and how to operate and EQ doesn't come overnight but hopefully these tips have helped. 

To reiterate: 

  • As adding EQ also adds noise, it is best to first take away any unpleasant frequencies before boosting the pleasant ones. 
  • If you are struggling to find exactly what to boost or cut in your signal but know it needs EQ-ing, try the sweep method I mentioned above. Make a parametric boost and sweep around until it sounds worse, and then cut that frequency out. 
  • Use the charts above to pinpoint the frequencies you need to cut or boost. 

Hope this helps!

Love, Bobby x