Quick Start Guide
Make sure computer is on. Log into the workstation using your eRaider credentials.
Ensure that the audio interface (red box with Focusrite on top) is on; the green USB logo should be illuminated.
If the green USB logo is not illuminated, ensure that the USB cable is plugged into both the back of the interface and the back of the computer. If it still does not turn on, please ask for assistance.
The front of the interface contains two combination inputs (XLR/TS) inputs. Each of the mics attached to the desk should be plugged into this input via an XLR cable; make sure the 48V button is illuminated red when using the attached microphones. Each input has a trim knob to the right of it. Each input also has an instrument level gain button (INST) and a high-end boost button (AIR) that increases the 24KHz response range by 4dB.
Make sure the Mackie HM-4 headphone amplifier is powered on. The power indicator should be illuminated.
Turn the dials on top of the amplifier to control the sound output level going to the headphone jacks.
If the power switch does not illuminate, please ensure that the power cable is plugged into the back of the headphone amplifier as well as the power strip attached to the desk. If it still does not turn on, please ask for assistance.
Start the desired software and begin recording. Make sure in the software options menu that the audio source is set to Scarlett Focusrite 2i2. Please ask for assistance if you are unable to change the audio input settings or achieve recording.
While you are recording or exporting audio, please remember to save your work often to external or cloud storage options. Data saved directly to the workstation will be automatically deleted.
Equalization (EQ) lets you boost or cut particular frequencies in a variety of different ways. Any sound you record spans a large range of frequencies and EQ can help you focus on just the sounds you want your listener to hear and not extra sounds that might distract them. While you may only notice the voice you have recorded, other frequencies can quietly exist as well, like room noise or the ambient hum of electronics or a/c vents. Using EQ on your recorded audio will let you sculpt the sound of your mix.
Common applications on voice recordings are to use a low-cut (hi-pass) filter to remove unwanted low-end frequencies from a recording, or to use a high-cut (lo-pass) filter to remove unwanted high-end frequencies from a recording. Another is boosting desired frequencies or cutting unwanted frequencies based on the person's voice you have recorded. You can choose to carefully EQ your recorded audio or use presets on the EQ device in your digital audio workstation (DAW).
De-essing is the removal of sibilance, or hissing, in a recording. ‘S' sounds can become distracting in a recording and stick out. As a mixing tool, de-essers function as a dynamic compressor that focuses on a specific bandwidth (5kHz to 8kHz) to reduce these sounds.
As you make recordings you may notice that the volume level of your recordings fluctuates wildly from one take to the next. Compression lets you reduce the overall dynamic level of your recording and then boost the total level afterward to achieve a more even volume across the recording. Compressors have a variety of controls:
Threshold: This value determines the level of incoming audio that will trigger the compressor. Any signal over this level will be attenuated by the compressor and reduced to the threshold volume. To start, lower this value until the compressor begins to slightly activate.
Ratio: This value determines the scale in which the compressor will reduce peak signals over the threshold value. For most uses, a lower value such as 2:1 will be significant enough to achieve a gentle compression. More extreme values such as 4:1, 10:1, or Infinity:1 will yield extreme results, sometimes over-compressing or squashing the signal.
Attack/Release: The attack value determines how long it takes for the compressor to react to an incoming signal. If the attack is set at 10ms, the compressor will take 10 milliseconds to begin attenuating incoming audio that is over the threshold. The release value similarly controls the release of the compressor after the signal drops below the level of the threshold. Faster attack times can be useful to attenuate quick spikes in volume, whereas slower attack times let more of these spikes pass through the compressor.
Makeup/Gain: After you have compressed the incoming signal, the overall volume will be reduced along with the dynamic level of the recording. You can take note of the amount of signal lost and use makeup gain to boost the overall level back to its original point.
Ducking, sidechaining, or sidechain compression reduces the level of an audio signal by using a second signal. This technique is most heard in pop, dance, and other electronic music, but can be used effectively when recording multiple voices at once, or when mixing multiple vocal tracks together. To achieve this, load a compressor on the track you would like to reduce in volume. Then choose the sidechain control on the compressor and select the source track you want to use to duck the first track. Adjusting the threshold of the compressor will determine how much the audio is reduced. Adjusting the attack and release will determine how long it takes for the compressor to kick in; be careful with low attack and release times as this can cause popping in your audio.
You may have noticed that some of your favorite recordings sound like they alternate between speakers, a result of recording in stereo. You can control this on your own tracks by using panning. While you'll likely want most of your audio to stay in the center of the stereo field, any sounds you record and use can be panned across the stereo spectrum to increase the width and interest in your final mix. Use the panning controls to slightly offset different elements to the left or right of center or go extreme and hard-pan fully left or right to give elements their own space in the recording. You can also use automation to sweep sounds left and right over time.
Dry vs. Wet
Many effects plugins have a dry/wet control where 0% represents a fully dry, unaffected signal and 100% means the effect is fully affecting the incoming audio. You can use this control to blend the amount of dry and wet signal to achieve your desired result.
Insert vs. Return
Most DAWs can add effects per track. If you add an effect directly on a track, the audio is processed in serial. Be mindful when using effects like reverb on your vocals as an insert as they will color the sound of the incoming audio and sometimes even reduce the overall volume of the track. Effects that sculpt or transform audio such as compressors and EQs are generally best used as inserts directly on a track.
In some cases, you may want to put the effect on a return track so that it can be processed in parallel to the original track. In this case, you will still hear the original audio, but the effect will be added to the signal instead of directly coloring it. Using effects on return tracks is generally the best practice when adding reverb or delay to vocal recordings.