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A Docker Experiment

Containers are a topic that have been rising in occurrence for me, for the last year or so. From using them as part of the architecture at work or for various pet projects friends have been working on. I figured it was time to experiment myself and get to grips with what people have been talking about. It seemed like a good idea to find some introductory material that would give me an overview of its uses without delving too far into the details so I could see what it actually was, so I found a PluralSight course about Docker, specifically “Docker and Containers:The Big Picture”. This gave a nice overview of what Docker is, and more importantly what it was trying to achieve and how to use it. With a bit more of an understanding, I wanted to use it for something, preferably something familiar. I decided to try setting up ElasticSearch and Kibana containers, where Kibana would visualize the ElasticSearch data. I used bits of this article along the way as a guide, if you'd prefer a more…
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Self-Producing an EP Pt.6: Mastering

While everything was being mixed into the same chain of plug-ins individually, we did at least know that mastering should be a clearly defined separate step. Again, we considered getting it done professionally, but sort of figured if we've made a mess we may as well roll with it, and if we haven't then maybe this won't go so horribly either.
It didn't take long to get this part done comparatively, maybe a few evenings. Having tried out a large amount of presets from various plugins I had a good idea how I wanted it to sound. All the mixed tracks were rendered, aiming for their peak to be around -6db, and dropped into one project. The preset from the tracks was applied, and then a run-through to listen for consistency in volume, sound, etc.
Oh dear. Two of the tracks appeared to have almost no bass in them, while the other three were quite consistent with each other. That had to be fixed and took an evening to identify and correct some high-pass filtering that was too a…

Self-Producing an EP Pt.5: Mixing

After some discussion we opted to mix it ourselves for a few reasons.

It's our first EP, it's not going to be heard by a huge amount of people and while it's important that it sounds good, it's expensive to get done properly and we might be able to manage 'good enough' on our own with a lot of work.Mixing as an online service seems to be the main way to go for small/starting out bands and that seems too creatively detached. There are many stories floating around of people who've sent things off for mixing and the mixer has a much different idea of how it sounds.
Maybe it's not the best choice, but it seemed an acceptable risk that we would at least attempt to have it 'look' how we want and it be a bit wonky than potentially end up with something we're not happy with in a different way. The benefit would have been being able to just ship the stems off and make it someone else's problem instead of weeks of being unsure while swimming in the…

Self-Producing an EP Pt.4: Recording

We got to this point and as we'd done things the way we have, it wasn't really as cut-and-dry anymore where the demos ended and new recording sessions would begin. In the process of refining the demos, we'd recorded new tighter guitar and bass parts, and as the drums are programmed we just modified the midi to improve the demos. We considered re-recording the guitars but that seemed like a lot of work for no real gain. Some of the bass got recorded again but that was voluntary. Making the drums sound good was a bit different, that required moving to a different set of patches. EZDrummer is great and definitely serves it's purpose but sounded way too polished to be dropped in here. The input all stayed the same but we changed the patches around to find the sound we were looking for across all the instruments, and there was nothing more exciting to it than that.

Recording vocals however was going to require a bit more effort. The demo vocals weren't going to do, and …

Self-Producing an EP Pt.3: Adding Vocals to Demos

After putting this off for a while, I finally got around to writing the vocal parts for the currently instrumental tracks. The delay was mostly around trying to work out how they were going to sound, stylistically. We knew they wouldn't be cookie monster vocals, but that was about it. It was just a case of working out what the melody was going to be for each section, putting some place holder words in that fit the rhythm and re-drafting them with some sort of theme in mind so they made at least some vague sense. Then they needed to go on the demos. An attempt was made to try and write a concept to have a theme, but as I re-drafted the lyrics, I was having to 'force' the theme into it, at which point I discarded it. The general idea remains in some of them but the detail has gone.

Vocals
This bit was a pain. All the other instruments are either programmed or DI, so it's easy to make them sound good because we aren't mic'ing up amps or drums or anything like that.…

Self-Producing an EP Pt.2: Rehearsals and Refining

Rehearsing
Getting material to the point where it can be played and has some structure was followed by the obvious next step. Playing it. So we took 1 or 2 of the songs to a rehearsal room and started running through them to see if they worked or what they would sound like. We'd find out of the the demo track had too much of one particular instrument, or if it worked at all in the real world. The goal was to have something to perform live, which made this part important. We would come across issues that certainly needed fixing.
As there was no notation anywhere I would render mixes for each person that was particularly heavy on their instrument, and one with it completely missing, so that it was easier to hear the instrument as the focal point, and in context, and then have one to practise along to. This was also the point where other band members would take away my demo'd bass/drum parts and replace them with their own better ones. This could get messy quickly, so I kept mine…

Self-Producing an EP Pt.1: Demos

To jump right in, I started working with a few friends on an EP for our band. Now that it's coming to a close, I thought it might be a useful for me to document the process involved from the beginning, and useful information I've gathered along the way to help me get through things quicker and better on my next attempt at something like this.

At the point where I started piecing a few demo tracks together, I'd been using Reaper for a while and I was using EZMix and EZDrummer as my primary plugin set while making a few acoustic tracks. I subscribed to www.reddit.com/r/audioengineering and www.reddit.com/r/wearethemusicmakers and for a few minutes a day would have a dig through for whatever information was new.

Demos
This was pretty straight forward, I sat and tried out a few riff ideas (being primarily a guitarist), when something sounded good I'd record it into Reaper and apply a guitar preset to it, of which there are some great ones that just sound good straight away.…