Abbey Road has been cutting discs on-site since legendary engineer Alan Blumlein invented the custom cutting head in 1931.
Alan Blumlein pioneered explorations in the creation of stereo sound, sound recording and many telecommunications devices and his first invention was the moving coil cutting lathe, designed to replace Western Electric Corporation’s older model. Before Blumlein’s invention, a large royalty fee was paid to Western Electric for each record released. Naturally EMI management wanted to put a stop to it.
In the image above you can see Alan Blumlein’s moving coil wax cutting machine. The wax cutting process was carried out in rooms next to each studio and stayed this way for more than three decades.
The basic process of cutting vinyl is to get the master tape onto the disc with as fair a representation as you can, so the record can sound as close as it can to the master tape. Disc cutting is still just as prevalent today at Abbey Road Studios, where their four trusty Neumann VMS 80s carry out the responsibilities. One of the four lathes has also been modified for half-speed mastering, which is used by mastering engineer Miles Showell.
On the topic, Miles explains how these lathes have stayed relatively unchanged since the ‘80s:
“No one’s made a new lathe for 35 years since the mid-80s. The latest one they made was Neumann VMS-80. It was revolutionary when it came out in the way that the groove spacing computer can work out the shape and size of the grooves and shoe horns everything close together. Although that had been done previously it was a lot more steam-powered, this was very high-tech for its time.”
Watch mastering engineers Miles Showell and Geoff Pesche demonstrate the process of cutting vinyl at Abbey Road.
Due to the strong popularity of these lathes, Abbey Road Studios teamed up with Waves Audio in 2016 to create the Abbey Road Vinyl plugin, to as faithfully as possible, reproduce every stage of the vinyl production and playback process. You can choose between the sound of a pure acetate (lacquer) cut or the print master vinyl pressing from the factory, play the records on two distinct turntable types with a choice of three classic cartridges, and even add the EMI TG12410 mastering console on the path into the vinyl lathe.
You can also add vinyl noise and crackle, apply a gradual slow-down/stop turntable effect, and add wow and flutter effects for extra analog warmth. Take a look here.
Want to discover more of Abbey Road Studios’ legendary gear? Recap the series so far on our blog, or head back next week as we reveal another piece from their rich treasure chest.
You may have seen we were at the AES Convention in New York, hosting our panel – Is Remote Collaboration the future of Music Production? Moderated by Head of Audio Products for Abbey Road Studios, Mirek Stiles, he was joined by four fantastic panelists: our Head of Product Igor Maxymenko, legendary mix engineer Ariel Borujow, celebrated songwriter and recording artist Elli Moore & former Berklee professor and recording engineer for Prince among many others, Susan Rogers.
For those who may have missed the panel, fear not. We’ve compiled our highlights from the discussion, including quotes from our panelists, along with the concluding points from each panelist.
The concept of remote collaboration is not new to the music industry. From the Abbey Road Remote Recording Unit traveling to then-communist controlled Warsaw to record an orchestra, to Dee Dee from the Ramones recording his bridge for Born to Die from Berlin (¡Adios amigos!, 1995) via a telephone call, the concept of remote recording predates even the very first recording studios.
Adoption of new technology tends to leap forward in times of crisis, and the pandemic has brought about a lasting move to remote working across the world and across all industries. In response to the enforced separation brought about by the pandemic, we have seen writers, producers and engineers around the world adapt their workflow and embrace new tools, finding new ways to work despite the physical distance between collaborators.
Now, with the pandemic thankfully appearing to be on a downward trend, we can begin to see the potential lasting benefits of remote connection have made a permanent imprint on our creative habits and working style. But what does this new remote way of working mean for our human relationships? How can you create a ‘vibe in a room’ if the participants are never in the same physical space? Can you build an intimate connection between an artist and a songwriter if they never meet? Ultimately, is creativity affected or enabled through remote technology?
Talking to our panelist we will imagine how the future of music production would look like, and could it be and should it ever be fully remote.
Q: What was your first experience of doing a remote session?
Ariel: “My first experience wasusing a third-party programme that only allowed me to stream it 320 kbps. At the time, Zoom really wasn’t popping, and I had Skype. I’d start sharing my screen. Then you have this third-party plug-in with Skype with Pro Tools. We can all imagine how great that worked out. So it was glitchy.
Then at some point, Fab Dupont turned me on to Audiomovers. And that just changed everything.“
Elli:I think the first time was probably around 2016. I was doing a session with a Korean producer. So you know, we were trying to collaborate on very different time schedules.
It was really interesting to write with the lag, because he would play the track over the speakers in the room, but I was hearing it through our computer, which was really complicated. So there was a lag and I’m trying to write the top line on top of it.
So I’m starting in my space on the one with my melody, and the producers are like ‘Oh, I love that it’s on the two, it’s great!”‘and I’m just like, ‘Oh, yeah, I meant to do that.’”
Susan: “The first remote session I did was with Prince in 1986 at Sunset Sound. I was with Prince at the time as his engineer and Sheila E was on the other side of Mississippi.
We wanted to record her doing the rap in a song called ‘It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night’. So how do we do that when she’s 1000s of miles away? Two landlines.
One landline was the earpiece and the other phone line was a mouthpiece and she did the rap hearing music here through the one landline and speaking through the other line.
The lag time coast to coast with an analogue phone line – 500 milliseconds.”
Igor:“So for me, I had to work with a lot of producers in the UK and Canada. We were always sharing files and found that it’s not very efficient.
There was nothing there that made it like super simple. I was like surprised like ‘why no one actually making it happen?’ This is when we started to explore Audiomovers, like can we make it happen? what are the challenges that we need to solve to make it a usable product?’
Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard.”
Q: What do you feel works when working remotely and what you feel doesn’t?
Ariel: The biggest challenge for me was, how do I get the client involved? Like they’re in the room with me. Once the technology with screen sharing and Audiomovers started working together, my workflow actually sped.
What speeds the workflow for me, is the fact that they’re already in their room listening. So when we go over the mix, it’s already in their comfort zone.
Elli: I would say I have a lot more pros than cons. I find that I do love the exchange of energy in the room. I do think that there is something that is really special about that and really hard to recreate online.
But I do think the accessibility of being able to collaborate with someone all the way across the world is something I’m very fortunate to have at my disposal.”
Susan: “So, if you’re performing and you’re looking at a screen watching another performer, you’ve got control. You’re hearing audio and you make your performance gestures. But beyond that someone else’s technology is in control.There inevitably will be delays and lag time.
Audiomovers have done their job as well as they could possibly do to prevent these things. But you are still dependent on technology from others, including Zoom, or Skype, or whichever platform you gotta use to cooperate with you and we can’t control that.“
Q: Is there any advice you could give to people who want to start working remotely?
Ariel:Get your clients involved in in the session. I remember travelling to LA and people saying “Can you work now?” or “Are you able to mix while you’re in New York?” I would say “yes” and they were sceptical. There were also clients that were like “no, if I can’t come to the studio, I can’t do it.”
So what I do now is I educate my clients from the beginning on my workflow. I let them know exactly how I work, what to expect and what to do.
Nine out of 10 times, they are extremely receptive to it.
Elli: “So my advice would be patience with all of your technology.There’s so many ways to work remotely.
For me and my producer, every time that we’ve tried to do a remote recording session, where he can’t see me, he’s like “this is weird, please just call me”. So, he’ll be on FaceTime with an Audiomovers link ready to listen, whilst also watching as I record my vocal takes.
So I think it’s just always having patience with your technology. And if you’re working with artists, specifically just, you know, patience for performance.”
“We turned to remote technology to enable us to carry on performing our roles. It looks like in some way, shape or form that is here to stay.”
“I think for me, working remote is 100% there. I’m not going back, I’ve found my flow and for me, there are no negatives.”
“I do think there’s so much merit to in-person work and being able to, especially if you’re writing for different cultures, being able to immerse yourself and be a part of it. Seeing how the music translates and seeing how the things that you’re creating affect everyday life where they’re applied.
However, I do think the accessibility of being able to collaborate with someone all the way across the world is something I’m very fortunate to have at my disposal.”
“Musicians are trained to synchronise their performance gestures with one another. We lose a little bit of that information when working remotely. . That’s something that artists are going to have to compensate for.”
“I think advancements of remote collaboration will be in the form of channel count, video synchronisation, remote control and MIDI compatibility.”
We’re uncovering the recording and mix tips that rarely leave the studio in our newest series, #101.
Kickstarting the series, we speak to three-time Grammy nominee Teezio about the high-speed tracking techniques he uses when tracking vocals for Chris Brown.
Arming multiple channels to never miss a moment of inspiration, Teezio explains the process he uses to guarantee Chris’ creative flow is never hindered.
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“Hey, I’m Teezio and you’re in my studio in Los Angeles, California. Today we’re going to be going over some recording techniques that I use with Chris Brown. Let’s dive in.
We’re in the room, we’re vibing and he’s coming up with lines. He comes up with the first line and it’s like ‘go in there now and lay it’.He runs in the booth. And obviously, I have the track always in record ready to go, boom!
I usually have three record tracks, right? So like one of them is the one that records and the other two are where I dump the vocals before I actually drag them to where they need to go.We set off recording, he’s going to lay the first line and when he finishes, I’m gonna hit stop record, drag it up.
He’s gonna listen to it and he’s going to now sing the next line. So same thing he sings it, he’s done singing, he listens to it, does the next line, maybe says ‘do it over’ so I do it over. Everything is playlist. I never delete anything that he records.
So that’s kind of the whole layout. Everything is happening really fast. There’s no silence for Chris. Everything he’s hearing in the headphones is a constant push of music.
He doesn’t know any of this is happening. It’s just a smooth, almost as if he’s driving on a road with no bumps. And that’s what I want to make the experience like for the artists.
All of the hectic stuff, I’m dealing with it. All the stuff that I’m doing, how I’m moving like this, it’s all second nature to me. I don’t even think. That’s what happens over 13 years of doing this. It’s all I know is how to do this.
Exceeding 100 million views on YouTube, 150 million streams on Spotify (making it the most popular song by an African artist in the streaming era) and reaching No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart — Afro-fusion giant Burna Boy has everyone in a chokehold with the lead single from his sixth studio album ‘Love, Damini’. And don’t worry, this won’t be the last you’ve heard of it.
Introducing you to our brand-new series: #TheMakingOf.
We’re teaming up with some of the most esteemed producers, engineers and mixers in the game who are lifting the hood behind their biggest hits. In Episode One, Grammy Award-winning mix engineer Jesse Ray Ernster gives us an access-all-areas look into the process for mixing Last Last.
From adding angst and presence to the initial beat to finalising the mixes through his iPhone and Airpod speakers using the LISTENTO mobile player, Jesse reveals just what went into mixing one of the biggest tracks of 2022.
“I’m Jesse Ray Ernster and I’m going to be showing you the song Last Last by Burna Boy.
I originally mixed this song all in the box, but today we’re exploring kind of a new workflow I’m having fun with lately, and spilling the session out on the console. I thought that it would be really cool to explore this record once again in the analog format. Alright, let’s jump in.
I’m just gonna solo the beat. I’m monitoring pretty quietly, I want to get some balance. I want to get it feeling good. It’s pretty clean, it’s pretty punchy and transient right now, I think we can get the kick a little bit more angry by driving the channel, and I can do that up here by just driving the line in. You know if I really push it, I can hear it [laughs], you know if you don’t push it at all. But we’ll get some drive.
You know, like the way Dre used to push tape. We’ve also got some EQ pushing some of the knocky frequencies around 1K on the kick. You know without…it’s clean….pretty 2000s. Not angry enough. Kick that in, get some of the grind. And same with the snare, the snare’s pretty clean. This sort of rim sound. But if we crunch it, then it becomes this like kind of cool dark thing. And these percussion tracks, these weren’t really hot in the mix, like I don’t know that they were really audible at all. But they really should be. If anything, I regret not really pushing those up in the release, I think those are great.
Also, we’ve got to take a look at the 808s. What’s happening here. Little bit clean, we could drive that channel again as well. And then we can engage a little bit of channel compression to just tighten the transient. We’re not compressing for level regulation, we’re compressing to shape the envelope of the start of the transient point to really help it, you know. So instead of “boom, boom”, we give it the “fuuh, fuuh”. It shapes that.
Alright, we have the beat working now we have the instrumental sounding great. Let’s bring Burna in. And as an engineer, we get to the part where the vocals come in, we’d be really tempted to try out some EQ and some stuff and see what we need. But I have a feeling he doesn’t need much, Burna usually sounds like a legend on his own without a lot of filtering and without a lot of effects.
Let’s try it, let’s try a little bit of EQ and see if we can just improve and subtly refine his vocal sound. It doesn’t need it. That’s just the sound of his voice. He’s a giant. So we’ve unpacked a bit of the tracks individually, and kind of taking a look at all of the instruments and the vocals on the song. I think as a whole now, we could take a look at the mix bus and add a little bit of EQ there. My favorite for this is Mixland Tilt EQ, there’s a 40K high boost that just adds so much sparkle. Let’s hear what that does. Really boosting it. It adds quite a bit of sheen. It just adds a little bit of that air. This is modeled after just amazing pieces of vacuum tube gear you know, and it’s just shiny. It just sounds good. At this stage in the game, if it’s feeling good on speakers and everywhere else I’ll usually get the AirPods out and check on the phone.
And here she is, dearly beloved. We’ve got the LISTENTO plugin, I put it very last in the chain just right at the end to stream the audio to my phone. Pull up the Audiomovers LISTENTO link that I sent to myself and then I’ll just work in AirPods for a bit, and kind of work off of the stream. It sounds great enough to where I can trust it reliably. I can’t tell the difference at all from the session audio to the stream, it’s incredible.
In the most recent episode of #AllStarMixTricks, legendary producer, songwriter and teacher !llmind expresses the importance of trusting your gut when it comes to decision-making.
If your intuition is pulling you towards a certain sound, style or technique – chances are it’s right.
Imploring creatives to avoid overthinking wherever possible, !llmind advises creatives to trust their initial feelings and let those vibes carry the session.
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“What’s up guys my name is !llmind and my mix trick is follow your instinct.
When you hear something that gives you goosebumps, whether it’s a snare drum that sounds great or like a weird distortion that you just put on your vocal. Go with it and move on. Don’t sit there and fiddle with the knobs too much because you’ll lose the feeling.
So follow your instinct be in the moment. Keep it, print it, commit and move on.”
We’re delighted to announce that LISTENTO Standard Plus is a finalist for the 38th Annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity (TEC) Awards in the category of Audio Education Technology.
Presented at The NAMM Show next April in Anaheim, California, the NAMM TEC Awards recognise the most outstanding products of the pro audio and sound recording industry, and the teams behind them. Audiomovers couldn’t be more pleased to have received this nomination.
The Audio Education Technology category includes any books, programs, software, hardware systems and devices that are intended to promote knowledge of audio and musical topics. Whether it’s being used for remote guitar lessons or teaching an entire class of music students, we’re thrilled that a large contingent of LISTENTO Standard Plus users utilise the software for audio educational purposes.
Educator and lead guitarist of heavy metal quintet Ice Nine KillsDan Sugarman explains how he uses the software to run virtual guitar lessons:
“Not being forced to only teach in your area was a luxury that Skype and Zoom somewhat afforded. However, the kicker with them was that there were always audio quality issues. For instance, you’d be trying to explain a really intense arpeggio idea let’s say, but your mic is picking up sounds from around your room – and that’s just not helpful to hear during such a detailed type of lesson. Having that direct line of high-quality audio is super helpful. Even if it’s just a practising session with a student, I’ll still run my guitar through Logic and send a LISTENTO link.
It’s completely upped the fluidity and flow of how an online session can be. I’m not gonna lie, low-quality, online sessions with audio cutting out and glitches don’t excite you to come back. So this workflow gives you a better likelihood of retaining students and generating that mentality to do something great together.”
LISTENTO is the industry standard software for remote audio collaboration. LISTENTO Standard Plus allows for up to 150 simultaneous listeners, custom branding, and numerous security features, allowing users to stream up to 32-bit PCM/96kHz multi-channel audio in real time directly from your DAW or the standalone application.Collaborators can listen to your stream through their browser, mobile player, LISTENTO Receiver DAW plug-in, or standalone app.
For invited members, voting in each category will begin on 21 December and end on 1 March, 2023. We wish all nominees the best of luck and look forward to seeing you in Anaheim next year.
Senior Recording Engineer Andrew Dudman has spent the past 23 years in the engineering team at Abbey Road and has become one of the most reputable film scoring engineers.
Andrew’s work on films such as Disney’s Brave and The Fellowship Of The Ring have earnt him CAS and MPSE awards, as well as picking up the Pro Sound News Award for 2014’s Engineer of the Year.
In our final recap of Abbey Road Studios’ and Music Tech’s ‘Ask Abbey Road’ series, Andrew shares his tips for improving your mixing skills, how he would record a live band and his rules of thumb for compression.
How would you typically record a live band composed of a drummer, singer/keyboardist and singer/electric guitarist?
Firstly, you find out the style and that would inform whether you went for musicians in the room together. If you think you’ll need to do any tuning or hardcore editing, you’d definitely need to use isolation. If you were going to be giving it to someone else to take on, then you record the band together with spill everywhere, you tie the mix engineer’s hands. Then, line of sight. It’s good to feel like you’re still playing in a band, even if you’re isolated. It pays to keep the musicians as close together as possible with good lines of sight or rely on cameras and screens doing that job for you. Once you’ve got that out of the way, then you get into mic choices. You probably go for more dynamics if everyone’s together in the room, just to give you a bit more control. If you’re isolated, you can choose what you like. You’ve got a blank page to put out your favourite mics, knowing they’re not going to be affected by spill from other instruments.
Do you have any rules of thumb for compression?
Not really, because every time I do a recording, I treat it as a unique thing. So you’re applying dynamics based on what you hear at the start. I know what level, roughly, I’m going to print on to the computer, so that informs your threshold level because you know what level stuff is going to start hitting your compressor, so you can pre-prepare things like that. Then it’s just a case of asking: “What do I want to do to it?”. If I want to catch the odd loud hit on the snare, then I’ll only be tickling it a couple of dBs with a 2:1 or 3:1 compression ratio. In that instance, we’re not trying to change the sound too much, but just to cover the odd hit that’s sticking out. Once you get to mixing, it’s a whole different creative process. Do you leave it light feeling, or do you really want to get things sounding tight? That means gating and compression. That’s more a production decision than a part of the recording.
What’s the best way to learn and improve your mixing skills?
Listening and practicing. The best way to learn is to be immersed in it. The best way is by watching the pros at work and being able to quiz them about it, even if it’s at the pub afterwards. When I was assisting, I used to make sure I took something away from every session I assisted on. Sometimes, it was what not to do. The other thing is to get hands-on. So, if you’ve got some material you can work with and a reference that you love the sound of, try and work out how that was created. Try different ways to get the same results, because some methods might be quicker and some might allow more creativity. Start messing around and find your own methods, based on good, solid practice.
The nominations for the 65th Annual Grammy Awards are in.
Our congratulations to all of the inspiring nominees and a warm shoutout to all of the Grammy nominees using Audiomovers. Recognised as one of the most prestigious music award shows, the Grammys are presented by the Recording Academy every year and aim to recognise musical excellence across every genre.
Here’s our breakdown of the Audiomovers users who have been nominated for Grammys.
Jesse Ray Ernster
Record of the Year : Doja Cat – Woman
Best Global Music Album : Burna Boy – Love, Damini
Best Rock Album : Machine Gun Kelly – Mainstream Sellout
Best Rap Performance : Gunna & Future ft. Young Thug – Pushin’ P
Best R&B Album : Chris Brown- Breezy (Deluxe Edition)
Best Rap Album : Jack Harlow – Come Home The Kids Miss You
Best Rock Album : Elvis Costello – The Boy Named If
Best Tropical Latin Album : La Santa Cecilia – Quiero Verte Feliz
Record of the Year : Doja Cat – Woman
Know anyone that we’ve missed? Let us know on our Instagram.
It means so much to not only us at the Audiomovers team, but to the entire Abbey Road family. The whole team loves gaming and we’re delighted to see our sound production tools being used in this way.
We look forward to witnessing the part LISTENTO continues to play in the creation of many incredible projects from the gaming community.
We also want to congratulate all the fantastic nominees in this category.
The CEDEC awards are hosted every year in Tokyo, Japan since 2008 to celebrate remarkable achievements in game development and computer entertainment technology.
Toronto-born, songwriter and producer Matt Genovese shares how his desire to build the skills necessary to better express himself as an artist eventually led him into the worlds of music production and mixing, and building his analog-only studio.
The path to a successful music career isn’t always a straight ‘A to B’ journey. In Matt’s case, he saw building up his skills as a necessity to making progress.
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“You can’t learn 10 or 20 years of recording experience overnight, but you can learn a lot about gear and engineering in six months or a year.
I originally started as an artist and I really started learning this side of it because I wanted to better express my ideas to producers. So I thought I should learn how to use logic or Pro Tools or Ableton.
I would over produce almost because the song just didn’t sound like I wanted to, the kick drum did wouldn’t hit hard enough, so I would add another kick drum and what was really happening was the mix wasn’t good. And I didn’t know how to mix.
So then I realised that and I was like ”I need to get better at mixing just so that I can make my own stuff sound better’. By the time I figured that out, I had gone down such a rabbit hole with my analog stuff, that for me to send somebody stems to mix my song that I did, it just never comes back the same way and I have such a fixed way of doing things that I just started mixing everything that I do.
Eventually, it just got to a point where I just didn’t need the producer or the mixing engineer, I could just do it myself. In my early 20s I moved away from being an artist and just became full time producer, mixer and songwriter.“