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Tweak's Guide
to Recording



For Noobs

MIDI Basics

Audio Basics

Studio Rigs

Studio Pics

Past Studios

Signal Flow

System Guide

Mac vs. PC

Audio Interfaces


Install Issues

Buy Gear 

Writing Music





CC Events

MIDI Routing


Understanding your Mixer

Digital Mixers

Analog Mixers

Mixer Hookup

Control Surface


Mic Preamps



MIDI Modules




Soft Samplers

Soft Synths

Audio Plugins

Synth Prg Tips

MIDI to Audio




Studio Setup

Room Acoustics

War on Hum

Quiet Room

Dual Monitors

DJ studio


16 vs 24 bit

Word Clock


Build a DAW


Record Vocal

Session Tips

Vocal Editing

AutoTune etc

Using EQ


Guitar Tracks

Guitar Tone

Drum Tips

Drum Patterns

Hip Hop Beats





Pan, Vol, FX

Mixing 101

Mix Methods


Field Recorders

Archiving Songs

Make Money

Sound Dev Tips


Audio for Film




Final Exam





Guitar Gallery

Store Links


Multitrack Recorders
Signal Processors
Studio Racks

Computer Music

Audio Interfaces
Soft Synths/
Plugins and FX
MIDI Interfaces
Control Surfaces
DSP Cards


Keyboard Synths
Keyboard Accessories
MIDI Modules
Groove Boxes
Keyboard Controllers
Keyboard Amps
Expansion Boards

Guitars, Amps,
and Effects

Electric Guitars
Guitar Effects
Guitar Amps
Acoustic Guitars
Classical Guitars


Drum Machines
Drum Hardware
Other Drums


Bass Guitars,
Live Sound/PA


Answers to the
Final Exam

Time to see how you did! 
Keep in mind this was a hard test for a newbie.  Take the test again


Multiple Choice Section

1.  MIDI data is different than audio data because

a. it is the audio that comes from a MIDI keyboard
b. it is highly compressed audio data and is smaller
c. because it contains instructions for sequencers when to play notes, change programs, and turn knobs
d. you guys are dumb, MIDI is Audio! 
e. B and C are true

remember that MIDI is only made up of instructions for devices to play sounds--not sounds themselves


2. A Hardware compressor has the following uses

a. It compresses audio back to MIDI data
b. it can make your mix smooth like on the radio
c. is used as an effect when producing rock drum tracks
d. destroys dynamic range
e. B, C, and D are true
f. Only D is false.

Compressors can mess up a signal as easily as they can improve it.  By nature, they destroy dynamic range, but hopefully in a good way


3. When you are recording a vocalist who
is a "screamer" you could

a. use a -10 pad on the mic
b. tell them to scream more quietly
c. set the compressor to infinity:1
d. Tell them to take a step back before the scream
e. Use a dynamic mic instead of a condenser
f. all are true except B
g. a, d and e are true

If the compressor was set to 2:1 or 4:1, C would be true too


4. The best way to connect a 4 bus mixer to a 4x4 audio interface is

a. to connect the mixer's main outs to input 1 and 2
b. to connect the control room outs to input 1 and 2
c. use a midi interface to connect them
d. Use the subgroup or bus outs
e. use the tape in/outs

You could also use direct outs to connect to a soundcard


5. You can convert an unbalanced audio connection to a balanced connection if

a. You use an adapter
b. You use a cable with a TRS plug on both ends
c. You connect the unbalanced cable to a direct box
d. You use a patchbay
e. A mixer with balanced inputs automatically does this electronically.

Remember it is the Gear that has to be balanced, not just the cable


6. The following is true of Latency when using software synths

a. Is due to using a USB midi interface
b. Refers to the time elapsed in microseconds that it takes a synth to sound after you press a key
c. 30 ms is acceptable latency, in fact is rather good
d. Latency is doubled when you go from a sample rate of 44.1 to 96khz because there is more data for the cpu to crunch.
e. all are true
f. B and D are true.

Latency is halved when you double the sample rate


7. Which Windows soundcard driver (API) has better latency overall?

a. Windows MME drivers
b. Direct Sound Drivers
c. ASIO and WDM drivers
d. ADAT and T-DIF drivers

ADAT and T-DIF are not drivers, but methods of distributing multichannel audio in digital format


8. When clicks an pops occur in your audio you might

a. Reboot
b. Reformat your hard drive
c. Reinstall windows
d. Send a nasty letter to Microsoft
e. Check for updated drivers
f. Stop using so many plugins and softsynths
g. A, E and F sound good.

Hehe, some guys reformat and reinstall windows thinking it will cure clicks and pops. Don't laugh too loud, these guys are just short of being driven mad. Rarely works.  Its usually a driver issue.


9. Insert jacks on a mixing board

a. are always balanced connections
b. are always unbalanced connections
c. can be accessed with a TRS to dual mono cable
d. are sometimes connected to a patchbay then to a compressor
e. Are only for connecting compressors
f. A, D and E are true
g. B,C and D are true

Remember that inserts are never balanced.  TRS plugs do not automatically mean the connection is balanced


10. Phantom Power refers to

a. A slogan made up by Roland to sell Fantoms
b. Is a standard for powering condenser mics from the Mixer's power supply
c. All mics with XLR cables need phantom power
d. all mixer's with mic preamps have phantom power
e. B and D are true

Newbly One: Be careful on this point. Some gear has mic preamps but does not have phantom power, and many quality mics--most, in fact, require it.  


11. MIDI Time Code

a. Contains tempo information
b. Can control the starting and stopping of once sequencer from another
c. Is transmitted by all professional software sequencers
d. requires only one midi cable
e. all are true


12.  The predecessor to modern digital delays are

a. anechoic chambers
b. 3 head reel to reel recorders
c. Chamber reverbs
d. Plate reverbs
 e. all are true


13. Mastering is:

a. the art of leveling,  equalizing and effecting all the various sources from many tracks down to a stereo Mix
b. the process of taking the stereo mix and putting it in the final album-ready form. 
c. Part of the process loosely known as "pre production"
d. requires a large mixing board with a channel for every track.
e. B, C and A are correct
f. Only B and C are correct


14  Which of the following is not a digital audio input/output standard

a. s/pdif
b. Optical
c. Toslink
e. T-DIF
f.  R-Bus
h. ADAT Sync


15. Sends and returns on mixers

a  are typically for patching effects boxes
b. If nothing is plugged into the send, it will automatically route back to the return
c. allows your mixer to receive email and driver updates (and Spam).
d. Are a pathway out and in to a specific mixer channel.
e. You can connect synths and other line level devices to returns
f. all are false
g. a and e are true


16. Local Off 

a. refers to Tweaks that get into fist fights at local pubs
b. Is typically a setting on the MIDI keyboard that makes the keyboard only respond to external midi data.
c. Sends an "all notes off" command to the sequencer
d. Is set when you want to play away from the computer.
e. B and C are true.


17. A subwoofer

a. may lead you to put less bass in your mix
b. is only used when mixing for surround sound
c. is a less-than complimentary name for previous significant others
d. automatically will make your mastered CD have more bass
e. if it does not have power, must be connected directly to a mixer. 

Never call the current significant other a subwoofer.  Your studio could be put a a gear restricted diet. 


18.  To get rid of hum in your studio , which is not important?

a. put all devices on the same house circuit within specified limits
b. Use all balanced connections
c. Make sure audio cables and a/c adapter cables are separated
d. Use direct boxes
e. Make sure MIDI cables are the best quality


19. Which is false about impedance?

a. -10 signals are always balanced
b. +4 signals are always balanced
c. +4 signals are always unbalanced
d. If you fail to match the signals, you mixer may be damaged and might even explode!
e. all are false except B
f. All are false

Impedance is totally separate from the matter of balanced and unbalanced, though unbalanced signals often tend to be -10 and balanced tends to be +4 because there is a loose agreement that this works best.  You can often switch between +4 and -10 on many pieces of gear and this switch does nothing to the balanced or unbalanced nature of the signal.


20. When a synth has 4 voice polyphony that means

a. it will work on 4 midi channels simultaneously
b. it can separate an a capella 4 part harmony vocal from a commercial mix
c. you can only hear 4 sounds simultaneously no matter how many notes are triggered
d. C is only true if 1 oscillator=1 voice.
e. refers to the number of LFOs


21. The formula for latency is

a. the number of samples in the buffer divided by the sample rate
b. the sample rate divided by the Nyquist coefficient
c. dependent on the MIDI interface
d. dependent on the audio interface driver
e. all are false


22. The "Audio Red Book standard" refers to

a. a rule that says all CDS should be recorded at 16 bit resolution
b. A Microsoft 16/44.1 .Wav file is compliant with this standard
c. Can only be realized at a mastering lab
d. the manual that comes with the Focusrite "red" preamp
e. A and B are true


23.  Igor Stravinsky said the process of musical inspiration was

a. a message from the gods
b. purely a function of mathematical counterpoint
c. an accident
d. came in a the form of a single melody


24. Which is true of Software mixer automation

a. Can be done with a Control Surface
b. Is not as clean as an analog mix
c. Requires a multi channel audio-interface
d. Requires a digital mixer or a control surface


25. Which piece of gear does all of the following: 1. Record the sound as audio 2. Map the sound, 3. Alter the sound with typical synthesizer controls, 4. Layer the sounds freely, and 5. Playback the sound either live or in a midi sequencer environment.

a. A sequencer
b. Fruity Loops
c. A hardware or software sampler
d. A mic preamp
e. a compressor


26.  An Arpeggiator

a. strings notes you are momentarily holding down into a cadence
b. exists on all keyboards
c. refers to vocal pitch-intonation correction
d. Is not a MIDI thing, it's an audio thing (get it straight!)
e. Are useless throwbacks to the '70s that no one uses today


27. Which mixer is most appropriate for those recording bands of the ones listed here:

a. Any stereo line mixer and soundcard
b. An 8 bus analog Mixer like a Mackie 32-8 and a multi-channel audio interface
c. a 4-bus mixer
d. You can do this with a 2x2 soundcard and 8 mic preamps
e. A control surface
f. The Pro Tools LE software mixer


28. Which of the following is not a type of synthesis found in synthesizers

a. FM synthesis
b. Sample playback
c. Virtual analog (modeling)
d. Vocoding
e. Roland SRX synthesis


29.  The Shure SM57 is a

a. Compressor
b. Condenser Microphone
c. Ribbon Microphone
d. Dynamic Microphone


30. An Omni-directional Mic

a. Picks up sound only from the front
b. Picks up sounds in all directions
c. has a cardioid polar pattern
d. B and C are true


31. Typical uses of Mixer Busses are

a. when you can't afford a car to transport your gear
b. Connect Synths, Mics, Guitars
c. to send channels of audio to compressors, multi-track recorders, sound cards and audio interfaces
d. are only for connecting compressors and vocoders


32. When recording in stereo with mics, the ORTF technique is:

a  to apply 3:1 compression
b. where the mics cross each other ay a 110 degree angle 
c. also known as the X-Y technique
d. a sure-fire way to create phase cancellation in your mix


33. In terms of writing a song, the "hook" is:

a. The first few seconds of the song
b. The third verse
c. The basis of the chorus (in Hip Hop Music)
d. The climax
e. Both a and c can be considered correct


34. A synth Rom Expansion board allows

a. User samples to be loaded into keyboards
b. Turns a 76 key synth into an 88 key synth
c. Gives the keyboard more sounds
d. loads sounds for those too lazy to learn SysEx.
e.  C and A are true


True or False Section

1. CDs made from an analog mix sound warmer because they don't pass through a digital audio converter.

FALSE--CDs are digital audio and at some point have to go through a digital audio converter

2. All TRS connections are stereo

FALSE--TRS connections on most audio interfaces are balanced MONO

3. ReWire lets you use VSTi soft synths in sequencers

FALSE--Rewire lets you use 2 sequencers and have them share the same mixer and transport

4. You connect a compressor before the preamp.

FALSE  You can't plug a mic into a compressor

5. Dynamic mics tend to resist breakup at high Sound Pressure levels (SPLs)


6. To use a computer to record MIDI, the computer has to be as fast as possible.

FALSE  Even an ancient commodore 64 could do multi-track MIDI compositions with external synths

7. When sampling Drums, compression is a good idea.

TRUE  Drums are weak when sampled due to the spiky nature of the drum waveform



Take the test again

Your Grade

41 questions

(F)0-10  You can go back to watching TV. 

(D-)10-14  Might be best suited for government work

(D+)15-19 Read it again if you are serious

(C)21-30  You are on your way.  Keep up the good work.

(B)30-35  You did very well, better than many who claim experience!

(A)36-40  You have a solid understanding of studio concepts

(A+)41  You are a master of the home studio If you got around all my trick questions and got them all right, I am amazed. 

Report your Test scores at studio-central


Thank you for reading Tweak's Guide.
Enjoy the rest of the site!



Cool Quote:

Our observation of nature must be diligent, our reflection profound, and our experiments exact. We rarely see these three means combined; and for this reason, creative geniuses are not common.

Diderot (1713 - 1784)




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