It Is What Is In Front Of The Microphone That Counts...

It is very easy in this day of technology and avarice of equipment to forget about what is most important. The artist. Spending the time to get the right take and to make the artist feel at ease and confident will get far greater results than "fixing" it later.

There is no perfection. Only great moments. Catching that moment is far more critical than what microphone you have. "Does the take feel honest?" "Do I believe it?" These are the questions to ask first.

I love gear and technique as much as any other engineer/producer, but this has got to be second or third place to the performance.

Verifying DMI Pool Data Error...

Why am I writing about the Verifying DMI Pool Data Error? Because as a studio owner/engineer, we can't afford to have our computers go down. I had mine go down for almost two days until I fixed it. I thought I would share my fix, since it works for me. Anyone desperately looking for answers might stumble on this and a possible fix for them.

How to fix for Windows 7 64bit PC:

1. Turn off computer
2. Unplug computer
3. Hit power button on the front of the computer 5 times
4. Toggle off the psu
5. Repeat step 3
6. Plug in computer
7. Toggle on the psu
8. Turn on the computer


Unplug your computer, open it up, got to the motherboard and pull out the battery and put it back in. Plug the computer back in and restart. The BIOS will re-load and presto! You are up and running! *Make sure to update the Time/Date back to the current time because the BIOS refresh wipes out that info, or you might have a hard time getting back on the internet.

I pulled out all my hair trying different ways to fix this and after almost two days. If these steps haven't helped you, it could be something more serious. Hard drive or motherboard could be the cause. Alright, going back to sleep now...goodnight.

A Little Nod From San Diego....

Six of SD's Top Recording Studios


We highlight six of San Diego's best recording studios

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014  |  Updated 11:11 AM PST

A recording studio can make all the difference -- we highlight just six facilities changing the face of San Diego music.

Ever wonder what it would sound like if the Beatles hadn't recorded at Abbey Road? Well, most likely, they would have sounded brilliant anywhere. but history shows us that a recording studio definitely plays a huge part in the character of a recording. The shapes and sizes of the rooms are different, the equipment changes from place to place, some just feel stale and clinical while others inspire and ooze creativity. To underestimate the importance a recording studio plays in the creation of music is to overlook one of key ingredients of some of the best music you have ever heard.

Would Jim Morrison have given us his cathartic, earth-shattering performance in "The End" at a studio other than Sunset Sound? Would we have ever heard the thunderous booms of John Bonham's drumset from Led Zeppelin's III or IV if they hadn't borrowed the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio and headed over to Headley Grange? Thankfully, we'll never know.

This week, we're highlighing a few of the top recording studios in San Diego. While we can't list every one of them (and if we've left out a prime candidate, please let us know in the comments below or on Facebook), we feel that these six are leaving their indelible mark on San Diego music. In alphabetical order:


  • Big Fish Recording Studio: This long-running studio boasts a killer locale in the coastal hills near Rancho Santa Fe in North County and an even more killer lineup of bands who have recorded there: Blink-182, Switchfoot, As I Lay Daying, Jimmy Eat World, POD, Megadeth and more.
  • Chaos Recorders: Owned, operated and located within Christoper Hoffee's 102-year old house, Chaos Recorders has become a favorite of local artists, including  El Monte Slim, Dirty Sirens, Transfer, Hills Like Elephants, Okapi Sun and Steve Poltz. 
  • Earthling Studios: A paradise for vintage gearheads and analog acolytes, the place is run by Mike Kamoo (of the Loons and formerly Lights On, among others). Lady Dottie & the Diamonds, the Heartaches, Soft Lions, Flaggs and the New Kinetics have all laid down music here.
  • Phaser Control Recording Studios: Located in Mission Valley, this recording facility has definitely made a name for itself by hosting Metric, the Beautiful View, the Palace Ballroom (frontman Timothy Joseph runs the joint), the Donkeys and Silversun Pickups.
  • Signature Sound: One of the more well-known recording facilities in town, the Miramar-based studio has been in business for more than 20 years and has hosted such big-name artists as U2, Blink-182, Randy Jackson, Akon, T-Pain and more.
  • Thunderbird Analog Studios: This place is any tape-lover’s dream. Run by Thomas Yearsley of the Paladins, this all-analog studio is a throwback to legendary recording facilities like Sun Studios, Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A. and Muscle Shoals. Besides his own band, Yearsley’s clients include Candye Kane, the Red Fox Tails, the Honkys and more. 


Moments of Sound...

Recording music is not unlike photography. We are capturing moments. How we choose to capture those moments and the decisions there in, is our process, our art. Just like a photograph, moments can never be duplicated, but have varying degrees of differentness. Our judgment on a piece of recorded music, of if it is good or not, or amazing or dreadful, are made by a myriad of standards and prejudices. In the end, it often comes down to how it makes you feel. Performance, the capture, and the showing of that capture all have much to do with it. The performance is first and foremost. Hearing truth, or an honesty...this is it. Whether it be fictional or not is not important. We find truth in lies all the time. Was the type of capture appropriate for the song? Was the ultimate presentation of the capture in line with the intent of the piece of music? These questions tell us if it is a success or not.

Impermanence. These are moments. They will never come back. More importantly and exciting is that there always is another day. Recording music, like pictures, the have a life of their own. They and our perception determine their value and impact. An error sometimes we make, is that if we do not realize our intent 100%, we have failed and must try again. This is a fallacy. Often there are better ways that are beyond our "intent"... things we never imagined that came to pass. As in life, and in art, there are times when Nature/Chaos/Order/Fate have their say and we should go with it. By all means, it is important to use our Will and determination, but these are not all, nor the end.

If you don't like the picture, take another one. Why didn't you like it? Was it not "perfect"?  What is perfect, and does it really exist, or is it just a way of describing your intent fully realized? And to go further, is that fully realized intent actually best for the song? These are questions that should be asked in every choice and performance you make.

Do you want your song in "black and white", "color", "vivid color", "vintage color", "artfully staged", or "raw showing every imperfection"? What tools do you have? How much time to do have? How much budget? Know that limitations set you free. Sometimes limits on time, money, and equipment can be the exact thing that is needed to force a new idea, or way to come to life. Embrace it. It is just for this moment after all.

Mu-Tron Phasor

Mu-Tron Phasor

It Is All In the Rectangle...


It is all in the rectangle. By this I mean that with human hearing, we have limitations. A certain spectrum and a certain decibel range. If you map this out you will create a rectangular graph. Knowing these limitations, we must make choices. The box can only be so full. If you want to put something in a box that is already full, you must take something out. If you put something fragile in the box and then put something heavy on top of it you will break your fragile item. For fragile things you need space and protection. If you load the box with heavy items, nothing will break, but no one will want to pick it up likely. These stupid metaphors can be helpful when it comes down to important decisions in mixing and editing.

Carving out frequencies in a mix can be paramount when it is a dense production. Getting rid of frequencies of a track that are not needed for the particular sound, so something else that is needed will have the room for it. If you are an engineer or an artist who is layering on track after track because in this digital age, we can. Realizing that in the end, it must be heard in the limitations of human hearing and human discernment. We are limited. Thankfully so, I feel, because we have to make choices, and in these choices come clarity. Leaving what counts...what is integral for the piece remain, while pushing the superfluous aside with their faders down, on mute, or just delete.

I prefer delete. Make it final. Vacillation becomes impossible and to embrace what is left and making it the best it can be while still remaining vital, emotional, and real.