Posted tagged ‘Sound recording and reproduction’


April 6, 2012

TCM Mastering: How To Choose A Hit Song…..The Best Advice The Great Quincy Jones Ever Gave Me.

In the late eighties, I lived in Los Angeles. I was signed as a songwriter to a production company called RUFMIX Productions owned by a good friend of mine, the great Taavi Mote, one of the best mixing engineers I have every worked with.

Michael Jackson & Quincy Jones.

One day, I was invited to Westlake Audio studios (where Michael Jackson recorded the Thriller album). That day I met one of my all time idols, the great Quincy Jones.

I was young and totally in awe of this great pioneer of popular music and completely by chance I got the opportunity to sit down with him for a few minutes and have a short chat.

I was so nervous thinking ‘What do I ask him?’ – I knew this was an opportunity of a lifetime and didn’t want to blow it. So the first thing I thought to ask was ‘How do you choose a hit song?’ – after all Quincy Jones has produced more than most.

Ted Carfrae At The Mixing Console.

As it turned out, Quincy gave this young sound engineer the best advice ever – very simple advice that I have used all my professional life since.

Quincy simply said, “I choose songs that I like on a personal level, I never approach a record thinking that this song or that song is a hit song. I pick songs that move me in some way, that touch my soul deep inside”.

He went on to say that “logically, with billions of people on the planet, there are going to be millions of other people who will also love the song, and millions who will not and that is good enough”. With that he was called back into the studio, he shook my hand and wished me luck and that was it.

Ted Carfrae Owner & Founder Of TCM Music Group & TCM Mastering With A Few Clients & Friends.

I remember telling my friends that I had met Quincy Jones that day, I just couldn’t believe my luck. Those few minutes with Quincy were so profound for me because I remember how kind he was to me, he didn’t have to bother at all but he shook my hand and looked me in the eye when he spoke to me.

At that moment he was interested in me and answering my question, simple as it may seem, that short time with him has stayed with me ever since and barely a day goes by when he doesn’t cross my mind in some way.

Click Here To See More Recent TCM Clients.

Several years later when I started producing albums myself, selecting songs to record, I approached each project the same way as Quincy told me to – picking songs that I like, that speak to me on a personal level.

Quincy won’t remember meeting me that day back in 1988, but I will never forget that for that very short time, I was in the presence of somebody very special indeed.

Ben – A Tribute To Michael Jackson…..A Totally Live Tribute To The Great Michael Jackson.

Incidentally, if you’re a Michael Jackson fan, check out West 1 Entertainment’s: Ben – A Tribute To Michael Jackson. This is not just another tribute act, but a sincere tribute to the music of Michael Jackson. Whereas most tribute acts use backing tracks, Ben – A Tribute To Michael Jackson, is 100% live.

Check out the TCM Mastering and TCM Music Group websites for details and information on how you can take advantage of some great Recording and Mastering deals for your own songs.

Our UK and USA contact details are listed below.



June 23, 2011

TCM Music Group and TCM Mastering Produce, Mix and Master the upcoming new album by Doris Day for Sony UK

TCM’s Ted Carfrae has Produced, Mixed and Mastered the new album by Doris Day entitled ‘My Heart’, for Sony UK.

Comprising 12 tracks some originally recorded in 1985, Ted Carfrae and music partner CJ Boggs re-recorded most of the tracks at their studio’s in Nashville Tennessee, working with top session musicians. The album was mixed and mastered at TCM’s UK music studios.

Doris Day’s Latest Album – My Heart – Released on Sony UK.

My Heart is the latest and long-awaited studio album from legendary Hollywood singer and actress Doris Day. This is Doris Day’s first  studio album of new material in 17 years – a dozen songs of a timeless  quality, with nine brand-new recordings originally produced by Day’s late son, Terry Melcher.

All the selections have been updated, produced and remixed by top UK record producer Ted Carfrae, plus there is a trio of Day classics. Doris Day has been fully involved with the musical selections for this special release.

Her son Terry Melcher, who was known as a songwriter and producer for folk-rock  pioneers The Byrds (“Mr. Tambourine Man”) and other artists, co-wrote four of the new songs with Beach Boys member Bruce Johnston…..the  emotional title track “My Heart,”  the romantic “The Way I Dreamed It,”  the haunting “Happy Endings” (sung by Melcher with a newly recorded  spoken-word introduction by Day for her fans) and the single release  “Heaven Tonight.”

Also on the set list are three classic rock-era  favorites: Joe Cocker’s beautiful ballad “You Are So Beautiful”, the  Lovin’ Spoonful’s joyful 1966 hit “Daydream” and The Beach Boys’ nostalgic “Disney Girls,” the latter written by Bruce Johnston.

The album will be released on September 5th 2011 and can be pre-ordered now from by following this link.

If you’re a legend in the making and you have some tracks that need polishing…..whether it’s producing, recording, mixing or mastering… us. We’re always happy to offer any help we can.


June 19, 2011

TCM Mastering: Home Music Studio Tips and Information

Part 16 Recording Woodwind

This week and next we will discuss recording Woodwind. Like the String family and the Brass or Horn group of instruments, the Woodwind family is extensive and varied. So, if we miss out one that you’re particularly interested in, we’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch with us by going to the TCM Music Group, Contact Page – leave us a message or call us.

The Woodwind Group Includes – Bassoon, Clarinet, Saxophone, English Horn, Oboe and Flute.

Not all Woodwind instruments are made of wood. Some are made from metal or plastic. This diverse group includes the single-reed instruments – namely Clarinet and Saxophone; the double-reed Oboe, the Cor Anglais (or English Horn) and Bassoon; the Bagpipe which can be single or double reed; and the reedless Flutes which include the Classical Flute and Recorder. You can also include the free reed aerophone instruments like Harmonica and Accordion.

Hohner Harmonica, Accordion and Bagpipes.

When it comes to the recording of some Woodwind instruments – for example the Saxophone and Clarinet – they produce sound over a much wider pattern than most Brass, because sound emanates from the bell end and the holes along the length of the instrument’s body. So you will need to think carefully where to place a mic or mics to capture a full sound. Flutes on the other hand produce most of their sound from the area around the mouth piece hole.

The Saxophone was discussed in an earlier blog, along with the Horns because it is popularly used in many modern Horn sections.

Detail Of A Clarinet…Showing Some Of The Keys.

At some point you will have the opportunity or the need to record Woodwind in your Home Music Studio. This group of instruments produce rich harmonic content and possess a large dynamic range but are not quite as loud as the Brass family. They generally sound best in a room that is lively rather than dead. If your room needs livening up a bit, use some reflective panels around the instrument.

Also the keys on these instruments, can be quite noisy sometimes. You may or may not like this added quality to the recorded sound, so play around with mic positions to take advantage or minimise this effect.

If you position a mic to capture just the bell end of Woodwind instruments you will capture a bright sound, but will miss out on a lot of the overall spectrum of sound produced. However, try it and compare the results with other miking positions. You may prefer it for the particular track you’re working on.

Sennheiser MD441 – Dynamic Super-Cardioid Mic.

Both the Clarinet and the Oboe benefit from using a mic with a good warm bottom end. If you’re recording them solo, place the mic 2-3 feet away, level with the head of the player aimed towards the middle of the instrument between the left and right hands. For the Clarinet try a nice bass sensitive cardioid condenser or a ribbon if you have one (eg. Beyer M130/160). The dynamic Sennheiser MD441 (see picture above) seems to work well on the Oboe.

An alternative would be to add another mic to pick up the bell end sound or place it underneath the instrument to pick up any reflected sounds from the reflective floor. At the risk of repeating myself, always check for phase problems when using multiple mics.

 Miking Is Similar For The Oboe And The Cor Anglais.

The English Horn or Cor Anglais having a similar shape to the Clarinet and Oboe can be recorded using similar techniques and mics. Try miking 3-6 feet away if the room will take it. But be prepared to experiment.

The size of the Bassoon and the angle that it’s played at, make it a little more difficult to record. Plus the bell end is at the top of the instrument. Good results should be possible by using a quality large diaphragm condenser about 5 feet distant and about 5 feet off the ground. Or try the Audix i5 dynamic directed towards the middle of the instrument.

The Bassoon – Large Woodwind With The Bell End At The Top.

If that doesn’t work for you, try using two mics. One to catch the upper part of the instrument and the other lower down. Listen to each mic separately and together, so that you can judge the best positions to place them. Record each to a separate track and check for phase issues.

There are some reasonably priced mics eg. AKG C3000, Rode NT-1, AT 4033 which should produce good results. But always use the best mic you have for the situation.

Of course if you’re recording these instruments along with other instruments in the same take, then you’ll have to employ closer mic techniques and maybe some separation panels.

EQ Plug In For Pro tools.

With any mic, you are likely to want to use some EQ. Don’t overdo it though. Remember, you can always use EQ in the mix. Your aim when recording should be to get as true a sound as possible of the instrument. Always actively listen with your ears to the instrument first, before you place any mic and apply any signal processing.

If you have the time and the mic selection available, it’s always worth experimenting with unusual choices. Just be sure to make notes on the results and how you rate a mic and instrument combination, so that you can use the information in the future.

Mic Positioned Level With Player’s Head Pointing Towards The MouthPiece.

Most of the sound out of a Flute comes from the mouthpiece end of the instrument. That sound is produced by the player blowing across the top of the mouthpiece hole. You therefore have to be careful positioning your mic so that you get the right amount of breath sound in your recording.

Place your mic about a foot or so in front and above the player or at a level with the player’s head, pointing down to the mouthpiece area.

A Couple Of Mics On Flute.

If you place the mic directly in front of the mouthpiece, you will most likely experience problems with the players breath hitting the mic’s capsule causing an unpleasant noise or even popping.

Depending on what type of music you’re Flute is playing will determine which type of microphone to use. Of course there are no hard and fast rules but the characteristics of some mics can favour certain genres.

A condenser is well suited to Jazz. It will capture a lot of the harmonics and overtones resulting in a bright recording. Dynamic mics work well in a rock or R & B setting – they’re not as bright and if you use a cardioid, can give good separation from other instruments. And for a classical recording, ribbons are ideal, giving a fuller bottom end and slightly less top end…..a warmer sound.

Next week I’ll cover recording the Harmonica, Accordion and Bagpipes…..could you get three more diverse instruments…..and in the same family too!

Don’t forget, TCM Music are offering some fantastic ‘recording packages’ at the moment. But if you just have a question regarding the recording process, feel free to get in touch with us – click here. We’re here to help.

Editor’s Note: News that Clarence Clemons, Sax player extraordinaire, died in Florida Saturday night. From the early 1970’s, he was a huge influence on the E Street Band sound. And has played with many greats over the years from Jackson Browne to Aretha Franklin. Just recently he played on Lady Gaga’s album ‘Born This Way’. He will be sorely missed, our thoughts go out to his family.