My laptop has a 14″ screen but Pro Tools works best on one big screen or using two screens. In my studio I used to have one main 23″ monitor and a second 15″ monitor. Last week I started using my iPad as a second screen, propping it up next to my laptop. It connects via a short USB-C cable, which also powers the iPad. I am really pleased with how well it works. Extremely portable, too. I would hesitate to carry a second screen with me, but I almost always travel with the iPad.


But what really struck me is the neurophysiology, which is, you know — sound waves coming off of streams, and moving bodies of water, activate the vagus nerve. They calm us down. There are chemical compounds in nature. You might smell a flower or tree bark, or the resin on a tree, that activate parts of the brain and the immune system, right? So our bodies are wired to respond in an open, empowering, strengthening way to nature.

from this podcast with Dacher Keltner

I have always moved forward intuitively and discover only later why I turned this way or that. I look at the map during or after the journey, rarely beforehand.

I wasn’t sure why I wanted to make an album using river and rain sounds, but it turned out to be an inspired idea. There is the practical side, which is that the water sounds mask any traffic noise that might get onto the recording through the guitar microphone – because I live in cities and I am not recording in a soundproof studio. Another reason was surely that I had been concerned about water for more than thirty years, because Santa Fe is part of the high desert. Today I learned that Sound waves coming off of streams, and moving bodies of water, activate the vagus nerve. They calm us down.

The pieces are starting to make sense.

Feels Like Flying

Worked on this piece and created a rain rhythm background. Added a muted guitar and a reggae rhythm that accent the 6/8 against 4/4 feeling. It’s a rhythm I keep coming back to because I just love the forward motion of it. I have been playing with a few different melodies but haven’t commited to anything yet. Recorded with the HeartDrive Mobile Studio. :-)

Binaural Video

This morning I noticed a new comment from Éric B. on a post from 2008:

Ok. After almost 14 years…. Is there a place to still access this video? It’s simply gone now. I found someone reposting your video but it’s been transcoded so the sound is not…. Really crisp anymore.
Help Ottmar! Help! ;)
Have a good time on your side of the planet and to all the crew. Much love.

Ah, the Internet Entropy. Well, I hadn’t watched that video in a long time, myself, and went looking for it. The video is 14 years old and looks like, well, the way video used to look. But it’s still great fun to see/hear when Davo walks around with the shakers or when I get up (at around 3’52”) and walk around the head. Watch the video here or go to this link, where you will also find download options.

Reminder: you will NOT properly hear the music is you listen with AirPods or similar “open” earphones. If that’s all you got, try to cover them with your hands. It’s important that your left ear does not hear anything emanating from the right speaker and vice versa. That is also why regular loudspeakers will not work at all. Old fashioned “closed” headphones, that cover all of the ear, work well. IEMs work, of course.

This links to the original post from September of 2007, which explains the video a little.

This links to a post by Stephen Duros about the binaural recording experience.

Question : Answer – guitar EQ

Eric Nolan asked:
When you mix, do you pretty much leave the EQ and other guitar effects the same once you find your sound or do you find yourself starting with a clean slate every song and exploring from there?

My guitar EQs are guitar-specific, meaning they are created for each guitar and because of that particular guitar’s acoustic properties. EVERY guitar’s sound has an ugly component somewhere, some part of the sound that is boomy or muddy or otherwise not right. An easy way to find this component is to insert an EQ on the guitar track and to sweep the frequencies one suspects of unpleasantries, while boosting the EQ. Now the bad stuff will jump out and be very obvious. Narrow the EQ to taste, then roll off those frequencies. Save this as a preset for that guitar. That guitar EQ should work every time, but you will have to adjust it when using a different microphone.

I always have at least two EQ presets for every guitar, one for RGtr (rhythm guitar) and one for MGtr (melody guitar), with the rhythm guitar EQ rolling off a little of the general low end in addition to the above described surgical removal. I often play several RGtr tracks (the chorus of Barcelona Nights was made up of three RGtr tracks and two MGtr tracks) and if I leave the RGtr tracks too “thick” they will take up too much room. I also EQ reverb returns, but I’ll save that for another time.

This gives me an idea: it might be interesting for some of you if this could be a component of the subscription site: I could record a video or do a screencast of a mixing session and explain why I record, mix, master the way I do. Or perhaps the occasional Zoom session to answer questions.