AUS230 What a blast!!

From tape to vinyl this semester has been an absolute blast. On a personal note this has been one of my favorite trimesters of the course so far. I started the semester with mastering, this… well, was something had absolutely no clue about and for sure was very interested in learning. Mastering  known as the dark art is something I knew very little about … nothing more than a pre-set on izotope. But what I found was the easiest way to learn the “proper” way of mastering was to strip it back right to the basics. For me the mastering unit not only thought me how to master but rather gave me a better understanding of how compressors and limiters work and has definitely given me the confidence in jumping on and mastering tracks should it need be done.

The next intensive was the studio unit. This was undoubtedly the most fun unit of the course. The requirements was short and sweet, pick a producer and does a cover song in the styles of that producer! For this my choice of producer was Paul Epworth. Producer of many multi-platinum songs and albums from artists such as Adele, Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars. For this project I picked the song from the movie Grease titled “You’re the one that I want” and turned it into a big sounding ballad something in the likes of the vibe of Adele’s new album “25”. This actually turned out so much better than I expected it to be and I was defiantly happy with its outcome. For me I learnt a heap of new mixing techniques with the help of my lecturer specially of how to get a really nice sounding analogue and digital “hybrid” mix.

The next sector of study was post production. As much as I love watching movies, post production I have come to learn is not my thing…. Having come from a background of music both studio and live I have grown up to like the fast moving and the creative processes. Although I have immense respect for Foley and post production for the amount of work they put into making. Although this wasn’t my forte I did learn that having a template for post production and developing a work flow that works well is very important

Another important section of this trimester and this units requirements was freelance work. For this trimester I have done 4 projects apart from the work done in class. One of the biggest one I did was a song titled “Awasara Illami” for a Sri Lankan artist Shehan De Silva who was in Melbourne on vacation and wanted to produce a song and contacted me. The song was initially planed to be release independently although later on went on to be signed by one of Sri Lanka’s biggest labels.

The next project I did was something I thought I’d challenge myself to do although I have found that my strong point is not post production Audio I thought I’d put myself in the deep end and mix a film for a final project of a trimester 5 film student at SAE Titled “Hardened”. Although I was not not too happy with the outcome It was most certainly a massive learning curve and I did push me to the limits.

Another project I did this trimester was a mix for a jingle / advert for a promotional video by the Old joes Choir. The raw files of the project were sent to me and I was asked if could mix the track.  It was rather interesting as I was also asked to give the track an effect as it were recorded on vinyl. I also mixed two tracks this semester for a Melbourne based electronic duo “Uncle Bobby” the tracks were recorded live at the SAE open day which I then went on to mix and master as well.

For me the highlight of this trimester was the off campus projects. I have always been a fan of old school gear and this trimester was full of it from the chemical lab like vinyl pressing plant to working on tape it was an “absolute blast”. Having heard about audio tape on interviews of famous engineers a million times getting to work hands on with it was very thrilling. Not only the fact that we recorded on tape but the whole vibe of Sound park studios was amazing. From getting hands on with some of the best gear in the industry to seeing hearing how you do not really need fancy calibrated rooms to get good sounding audio was for sure eye opening.

The next outing to Zenith Records was truly amazing too. It truly makes you respect the art of pressing vinyl after seeing what enormous effort goes into pressing a single vinyl from granules to full pressed portable music. But for me the most interesting part was the cutting room. There is something about old equipment with one of a kind serial numbers that gets the blood pumping. As well as to see the detailed process of actually transferring the audio on to the disk.

This trimester has been an absolute blast and was sure loads of fun . It was for sure a good break from the serious stuff to come in the trimester next and for sure thought me loads!!!!


Soundpark The Tape Project…

This project was for sure a major throw back in time for most of us who have grown into the industry in an all digital age. From massive spinning reels of tape to vintage outboard gear Sound park studios was and and absolute treat to the ears and eyes for any gear geek including myself. Prior to the session at sound park which lasted a full day there was a couple of sessions of intense planning from channel input lists to microphones to be used. Two weeks prior to the session the group of us had worked around and planned for a band who our colleague Ben had contacted to jump in on the session. It did not take long for trouble to strike when we found out that band could not make it to the session. Having looked around for a band it was much to our relief when our lecturer Dave informed us that he had found a band who agreed to come in. With some last minute planning we managed to be ready and geared up for the session.

Having planned for a 10 o clock start we found ourselves all on the number 11 tram heading in. Once we had arrived at the studio it was a quick tour around the studio to get our bearings and it was straight on to work setting up microphones and amps. The band we were recording was a Melbourne based band “DAG” which consisted of three players on drums bass and electric guitar respectively. I was made in charge of setting up amps and microphones for electric guitar. This place was for sure a treat for guitar amp lovers like myself from voxAC30’s to Fender twin verbs this place was an amp galore. Having spoken to the guitarist of the band Dusty who was pretty adamant on using his fender deluxe amp merely on the fact that he was use to it we finalized a combination of the tone of the fender deluxe and a fender vibro champ to give us the tone required. While myself and fellow student “Z” setup guitars the rest of the group were on the job setting up and mic’ing the absolutely amazing sounding 1960’s oyster shell Ludwig as well as a Ampeg SVT for bass. Once we had put microphones on everything then came the complicating part of routing things all over the place to outboard gear and finally to the tape machine which was the highlight of the day.

Audio Tape and tape machines are something that I had read about for ages and seen online but never had the opportunity of experiencing it first hand. It was for sure an experience I will not forget and for sure something I wont mind doing everyday of the week. The rumors I had heard about tape sounding amazing was true as I experienced it first hand it also made me realize the affect modern DAW’s have had on the process of making music.

Having decided with the band we were going to track 12 songs in a 10 hour sessions seemed very far fetched but for our fortune the band was well practiced and knew exactly what they were doing…… and were running through and finish up songs like no one’s business. Apart from the music the whole process of recording to tape was a complete change to us all. Having to rewind to get back to the start of the song instead of hitting Enter or to listen to the whole song just so we could bounce it into pro tools instead of offline bounce was all in all a very new experience. One thing we were really lucky to have is a band who had practiced and knew what they were doing…… which made life a bit easier and didn’t have us sitting around cutting bits of tape to edit it.

The overall experience was absolutely amazing …. another fact about sound park which is very interesting is the studio complex itself. There was no fancy calibrated acoustic panels no floating floors this place was turned out of pretty much DIY acoustics and it sounds absolutely amazing. Which made me realize you don’t necessarily have to spend heaps of cash on acoustics but rather know what substitutes work best. The control was an absolute blast from neves to telefunkens from Junos to Gibsons sound park was a engineer/ musicians playground. The vibe was the kind thing you’d look for to inspire you and the desk looked all torn up which shows its seen a fair few songs pass through.

Personally I don’t know if it was the 1960 Ludwig the tone of the bass guitar of simply just the tape hiss but there was certainly something beatle-esque about it which I absolutely loved . I’ve always believed there is only so much you can learn in a class room and this session thought me heaps. From how to set up a tape machine and all prep you have to do In order for it to run properly and how a lot of unique vintage outboard gear work Sound park was an absolute blast.


Song Exploder… You’r the one that I want

This blog documents the process I took in order to complete the song explored project. This project gave me the task of taking a song and producing it in the style of a producer of my choice. For this project I picked one of my all-time favorite producers Paul Epworth. Paul Epworth is a multi-Grammy winning producer with the likes of Rihana, Beck, Maroon 5, Lana Del Ray, Coldplay and Adele under his belt. There were countless reasons I picked him to follow in this project, one of them being his unique approach to production of the song. Paul has produced music across many genres and has left a very unique touch on each of them respectively. From massive sound pianos on ballads by Adele to very modern sounding electronic synths with maroon 5 Epworth has produced amazing sounding records. Personally being a big fan live recorded pure analogue sounding music is another reason Paul Epworth stood out for me when have to pick a producer. From the time I was first told about this project I knew my producer was going to be Paul Epworth but I had no clue as to what song I was going to do. They say inspiration strikes when you least expect it, it was one day while watching something on YouTube the trailer for Grease showed up on the suggestion bar. It was then it stuck me “hmmm why not do a song from the movie for my project”, and so I picked the song “You’re the one that I want”.

Having researched a fair bit about mu producer I decided instead of copying the production style of one song I’d copy different style of production across a range of songs he has produced over the years. Since Paul was most known for his production of the Hit “Skyfall” the soundtrack to the James Bond film with same name performed by Adele I decided to do the song in the style of a ballad. After having played around with the song on the piano I randomly thought I’d add a very grand sounding intro complete with a string section as similar as something that my producer of choice has added in the start of the song Skyfall. I was extremely eager to record a live string section but unfortunately I couldn’t manage to find access to a string section so I had to commit to MIDI. Having recorded a demo of the song first on MIDI to be present to my tutor. After having presented the demo I proceeded to recording live instruments. I first recorded bass, Paul Epworth tracks are very popularly known for a nice rounded bottom end for which I used a synth sub-bass to give me the real deep bass I was looking but also I used another technique Paul uses got add a bit of spice to the bass line which is distorting the bass and crunching it up with pre amps on the desk for which I used the BAE audio 1073 in the Large Audient studio.

After having a basic structure of the song I proceeded to record piano, this was one of the most important elements of the song. Paul Epworth is most popular for his big piano ballads and big ballads call for a big sounding piano. Having done some research I found out that Paul uses a Steinway grand piano in one of the best recording facilities in the world “Church Studios” London which he also happens to own. The sound I was after was the piano sound on Adele’s 25 album. The studio they recorded the album boasts a massive live room which was turned out of an old church. The way he gets the very grand sounding piano is by putting good mic’s on a very good sounding piano (a Steinway grand in this case) in a very big sounding live room. To achieve this sound I had no acess to a grand piano so I had just two options which were either go MIDI or use the live room in the Neve studio to get the best sound possible. Having also learnt through research that paul usually like to use live instruments in his productions to keep the authenticity of the song I decided to use the piano in the neve studio and instead of close mic it I used a pair of Royer Ribbon microphones to mic the room to give a grand sounding piano. Once I had placed the microphones in a position I like, I proceeded to record a couple of layers just to give the piano a bit more body.

The next thing I recorded was Vocals, this was the hard part….. Scrolling down Paul’s discography on his official website I knew vocals were for sure going to take center place on the track. From the likes of Adele to Rihana vocals were for sure key!!!! The song I chose was a song with lyrics which was a conversation between a boy and a girl but I was not able to find a girl who I was comfortable with who would match the style of the song. So I proceeded to change up the lyrics slightly as it were guy only talking to a girl. As for vocals I got pretty lucky as my good friend Minesh happened to be visiting Melbourne on holiday. Minesh is a Sri Lankan musician who I’ve played with for around 6 years now. He was a fantastic match for the song and was just what I was looking for, so you could I say I got really lucky there.

Once I was happy with the vocal take I went on to record electric guitar which was a technique Paul uses which was pretty straight forward and simple. I used a fender strat through and Ibanez ts-9 pedal into a vox amp which I put a Royer ribbon mic on and recorded. I recorded a coupkle of layers with the electric guitar changing pickup positions in between to give the tone a slight of variation between each layer. I added in a small riff just to spice things up at the end for this I went full crunch on the pedal as well as used the gain staging of the Neve desk to get some distortion off the pre amp.

The final process of the recording was drums I knew this was one of the important bits and would defiantly affect the sound of the song . As for a drummer I needed someone who could play well playing slow and half time. For this I entrusted the drumming to a drummer I had worked with in a project before, SAE tech Gene. To match the song I was looking for a very roomy sounding drum sound. Although I spot mic’d the drums in the mixing stage i mainly used the room mics and over heads. As for drum mic technique it was pretty straight forward the only difference was I used a techniauq paul uses which was a pencil condenser on the snare top for which I used a Neumann KM184.

Mixing this song was absolute fun, most of Paul songs were mixed by my favorite engineer Tom Elmhirst so in the process I did learn many techniques used by him as well. Overall I had absolute blast of a time doing this project and for sure did learn a lot .


Link to Song :-

Link to Drum Set up video :-



From vinyl to CD and everything in between

Mastering is a sort of “secret art” not many people fully understand. What’s its function and why should records be mastered? Was a question I use to ponder upon for a long time. But in the last 4 weeks my doubts where cleared out that mastering is such an important part of making a record sound “like a record. Some of the sonic issues that mastering engineering deal with in mastering are issues that musicians don’t normally deal with in the course of writing and performing a song, or even recording it. On some level it requires a different way of thinking about and listening to music. It is a form of more critical listening process as per say Although it may not be too difficult to do, I think that unless they have been through the process, musicians may not really understand what Mastering Engineers are doing

A Mastering Engineer is going to be working with the overall sound of the final mix of a song. In mastering the mastering engineer can work with the EQ structure of the mix in order to fix the tone of a mix. Engineers also work with the dynamic range of the mix and can work with the “spatial” quality of the mix. It may sound like a short list, but those three things can drastically affect the way the song comes across as a final product. By manipulating those variables engineers can make a mix punchier, give it more air, give it more presence, make it more open sounding, make it warmer, or whatever other sonic attributes a song needs to give it the best chance to be a great song.

The term audio mastering as we know it today derived from an older term known as ‘premastering’ which is the process of preparing the finished mix to be pressed to vinyl disk. The preparation will typically involve EQ and compression aimed at balancing tone and controlling levels, equipping the track with ideal sonic characteristics for pressing to vinyl. The term ‘premaster’ referred to the recording immediately prior to having the ‘master disk’ cut from the cutting lathe. Therefore, the term premaster would assume all mastering processes like EQ, compression and limiting had been applied. Nowadays the term premaster is more commonly used for a finished mix before mastering processes have been applied. A mix engineer may print down a finished mix to a stereo file and then refer to it as the ‘premaster’ as it is about to be sent off to a mastering engineer for further processing.

Playing a record has its physical complications. The kind of processing required is determined partly by the limitations of the consumer’s player, but also by the limitations of the vinyl disk itself. For example, if there is too much happening in the extreme low frequencies, the needle can literally rattle itself out of the groove of the disk. Too much stereo information can also cause the same thing to happen. Not only vinyl, audio Mastering is aimed at preparing an enhancing a mix for digital reproduction like CD duplication, or internet downloads where there are fewer limitations.

Mastering is a purely technical process spanning back many years. An enormous amount of skill is required to obtain the most out of the dynamic and tonal qualities of a song. Preparing the mix is only part of the battle, there’s also the operation of the cutting lathe used to create the master disk. Nowadays, down to the current way we consume music, and thanks to advances in plugin technology, the premastering – or ‘mastering’ process – has become accessible to every individual

During the course of the last 4 weeks I learnt that the process of mastering is as much an art and skill as the mix process. Something very important I learnt was the tone and feel has to match the genre of the song. I always thought mastering was where you balanced out the levels of the track. Mastering is also a way the industry maintains standards specially for broadcasting.

Having mastered a few tracks over the last few weeks I noticed is that the levels of the tracks I mastered are close to most professional track I listen to but for some reason the tonality is something I have to work. Something makes me think I may be the high end gear most pro mastering engineers use. But what I think it can also be is the way I EQ’d the tracks. Professional albums sound very clean. I’ve been judging this my some tracks I know very well and comparing the tracks I mastered. By clean I mean there is not muddy mid range, where if I try to take it out the tracks looses body. This is probably something I have to work on, which is knowing which frequencies to pull out.

Something I’m not particularly a big fan of is loud over compressed music. I like the track to be very dynamic and be at a nice level of loudness. Getting a track to be that way Is no easy task. It is very time consuming as well as takes a lot of effort.

Something I’m taking away from this intensive is that mastering is simply not making a track louder but rather making it sound better, Having learnt many techniques to make a track sound better I most certainly intend on mastering my tracks as best possible from now on.


AUS 220 final blog

This document is a personal review of my studio unit for 2017 T1, as for what I did well this trimester I think my strongest point was live sound. Its subject matter I was use to, but improved to a great extent after the 4 weeks of detailed in depth learning. As for what I learnt this trimester was with doing many freelance projects as well as the intensives is that being ahead of the game is always useful and leaves plenty of backup time should something go wrong. I particularly enjoyed post production very much this trimester it was not something I was too interested in going in but once we started recording sounds and soundscapes it was something in enjoyed doing very much. Undertaking this unit has defiantly help me realize that I have most fun and I’m most interested in doing live sound. It that fact of you only have one shot to get it right and that you are in charge of the band sounding good that makes me want to get into it. Should live sound not work I’d then look at the option of studio production. I am pretty satisfied with my performance this trimester I did put in some effort particularly with the freelance projects I did and they are defiantly showing results with some of them having 20 thousand view on face book with which I am more than pleased .I hope to keep up the same performance next trimester as well and I am really looking forward to it.


It’s catchy, its groovy its synthy……… The iconic synth part to Jump by Eddie van Halen is probably one of the most iconic synth lines and intros of all time. The synth line was written by Eddie himself but it was apparently refused by the other members of the band. The story goes as Ted Templeman(Producer) asked Roth (eddie’s friend and band mate) to take a listen to the unused song idea. Riding around in the back of his car, with band roadie Larry Hostler driving, Roth listened repeatedly to the song. To come up with a lyric for it, he remembered seeing a television news report the night before about a man who was threatening to commit suicide and killing himself by jumping off of a high building. Roth thought that one of the onlookers of such a scene would probably shout “go ahead and jump”. Roth bounced this suggestion off Hostler who agreed it was good. Instead of being about a threatened suicide, the words were written as an invitation to love. Roth also mentions in an interview with Musician magazine that Hostler the roadie was probably the most responsible for the song came out.

This iconic line was written by Eddie on a complete analogue synth know as the OB-Xa, The OB-Xa is a massive analog synthesizer with a very familiar and classic Oberheim sound. This synth has up to 8 voices which can be split and layered. The OB-Xa was a synth that comes in four, six or eight voice polyphonic models. They all featured patch memories with a minimum of 32 patches which were available on early models (4 banks of 8). The maximum amount of patch memory storage found on many OB-Xa’s is 120 patch memories. All models of OB-Xa, however, featured the new Curtis chips which offered great stability for an analog synth and they are attributed to its great filters and sounds. The synth originally comes with two Saw Tooth Oscillators, two Pulse Oscillators one Low frequency oscillator and for filters there are two polo and 4 pole low pass filters with ADSR.

This legendary synth plays a legendary part in the hit record. It’s pretty much the drive and backbone of the song and is played pretty much start to end making this track a classic example for a 80’s song that uses synthesis.

Stains (Freelance)

Another  project I had the fortune of doing was mixing the single “stains” for the Sri Lankan band “Salvage”. Salvage is a alternate metal, progressive rock band which has been around in the music scene for awhile. Salvage have previously released many singles and are currently working on their first studio album.

The single stains is something they have been waiting to release for awhile and finally got down to doing under the care and capable hands of well know Sri Lankan producer Nishan Daniel. Having received a call from Nishan (who happens to be one of my `mentors) asking me if I’d mix the song I jumped at the chance and said yes. The song was recorded at the Sooriya Village in Colombo and the pro tools session was sent across to me via google drive. After having listened to the song many time I proceeded to edit a couple of things adding in fades where needed and used beat detective to correct the timing of one drum fill.

After having edited everything I booked a session at SAE’s big Audient Studio where I mixed the song on the desk patching out board effect units as well as using a few in the box one’s. The toughest part of this project for me personally was re-recording the process stems back into pro tools as requested by the producer. Having figured out how to do it through re-routing the Aux sends the final mix and stems were sent back to Nishan the producer who went onto master the track. The song along with a music video was released on the 15th of April 2017.

Here’s a link to the music video :- 

Link to the bands bandcamp page:-

Thrilling Reissue

Thriller is the biggest-selling album of all time; it says so on the cover of its latest reissue package. What it doesn’t say is that, on a worldwide scale, it outpaces the Eagles, Pink Floyd, the Foo Fighter and Celine Dion by more than just a marginal million or so: At 100 million+ copies sold, it’s estimated to have sold more than twice its nearest rival.

And so people try to concoct explanations. The album was focus-grouped for broader appeal– but then why haven’t focus groups worked so well since? Jackson made the racial crossover breakthrough on Americas music channel MTV– but once that door was opened, why didn’t the sales crossover work for others? Jackson’s stunning dancing and videos exploded pop’s visual formatting– but the Thriller album, until DVD-era reissues like this one, wasn’t a visual experience but only a auditory one.

When Thriller opens, those 100 million sales feel just. “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” is pure confused, shocked teenage rush. So there’s another theory: Thriller is the best-selling record ever because it’s the best record ever made. That one holds up for six minutes and two seconds, during which Jackson and Quincy Jones mix the tension of rock’n’roll with the rapture of disco and hit perfection. But then you get “Baby Be Mine”– one of the original tracks that wasn’t a single– and the momentum fades: On the heels of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”, it should maintain the temperature; instead, it goes nowhere, starts nothing.

Thriller is inconsistent in style, which gives it something to appeal to everyone, but it’s oddly tough to listen to even the great bits sequentially– its peaks are from different mountain ranges. “Thriller”‘s joke-shop horror segues well into Eddie Van Halen’s headbanging guitar on “Beat It”. But to follow that into the paranoid celebrity funk of “Billie Jean”, the meltingly tender “Human Nature”, and the smooth R&B of “P.Y.T.”? These are all brilliant singles, though; Thriller’s greatness lies in its great songs not in it “working like an album.”


The Old Barbershop Style (Freelance)

Having been approached by the old joes choir on my break and being asked if I could record a track for them I took me no time to reply them with an answer. The choir comprises of around 35 individuals who are past students of St. Joseph’s College Colombo Sri Lanka. The Old Joes’ Choir and was formed in 1997 and has since evolved into an outfit specializing in choral classical and contemporary music. The choir are also the current world barbershop champions.

This track was a Christmas song sung in the choral style of barbershop and was going to be used as a Christmas wish which was to shared online to spread the festive cheer. Having never recorded a choral act let alone a barbershop style choir this proved to be a bit of a challenge.

To make matters a little harder there was also a video crew inside what was quite a small recording space. But nevertheless the choir lined up mics were set up and the recording began. To get the full on barbershop effect we used 4 AKG c314’s as mics for individual sections and an over all stereo pair of  Cascade fat head ribbon mics as room mics. Once is recording was dome there was a very quick turnaround required as they needed the mix out the next day. Had I have more time there are a few things I would still fix. But the video was released on Christmas day and now has around 20 thousand views on Facebook.

Something I learned from this was in the real world there is no time to sit around and take your own cool time and enjoy the process of mixing a track because most times there is no time!!!


Here is the link to the video:-





Hope you enjoy!!!!

Keeping it Flamenco (Freelance work)

Having been contacted by Josh Poretti asking if I was able to record and mix a flamenco guitar track he was keen on recording. I jumped at the opportunity and said “I am booking you in…… we record next week…” Flamenco is not something id often listens to nor had any idea how to record and engineer.

Having read up and researched on what approach I should take in recording this track I decided my lectures advice   “keep it simple stupid” was the best decision I could take, and letter found out if I didn’t it would have been trouble.

Having decided to use the Neve recording space, which is a great sounding live room. I decided to use Royer 121 ribbon microphones as my main microphones to get a good stereo image. I also used a Neumann U87 as a room microphone. Having spend a good hour and half tracking and getting the perfect take I proceeded to mix it on a further day.

During  mixing I realised that it was a good idea that I kept the microphone techniques simple as possible because it just sounded great. I added a slight touch of compression and a bit of corrective EQ and it sounded decently pretty  good.

This was most certainly  a learning experience and something important I learnt from this is that you don’t have to put everything you know on  each element to make it sound good but rather doing less is always more…..

Feel free to have a listen to it here :-