Inexpressible joy?

1st Peter 1:8-9

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.  The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Do I exhibit “inexpressible joy” was a question I posed to myself this morning. Do I?

Saturday night Traci and I attended another Switchfoot concert. Everytime I listen intently to their lyrics or attend one of their concerts, I can’t help but come away with a sense of urgency to truly live life. I know that might seem extreme but it really does. Every album since the beginning of their history is all about motivating people to live a life worth living. It is after all, very short. I left the concert Saturday night wanting to fight the world, save all the orphans and live life without the day to day funk.

I really want to have the joy that Peter mentions in this passage. I really, really do. I want my life to be more “half full”; heck… overflowing right? “My cup runs over” is how I really want it. Obviously life is a grind. Even the book of Ecclesiastes is all about life, the struggle of it and inevitable death.

In reflecting on this verse it spoke to me.

To me the answer to living a life full of inexpressible joy is in the preceding lines.

Peter, whom if you remember did life with Jesus for 3 years and even fellowshipped with Jesus after he rose from the dead says,

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him;

Obviously he is speaking to those who have chosen to embrace the reality of Jesus. People who “see Him through faith”. He says that even though we are not an eye witness of Jesus, His miracles, His love and His realness as Peter did personally, our faith is what produces this “inexpressible joy”; this joy that cannot be robbed by circumstances.

I find it no coincidence that this passage comes from a man who took those steps out of the boat that one night. Peter saw Jesus with his own eyes and stepped out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Him. Then, he lost his focus and began to sink.

I guess my take away and something that I am planning to really focus on this week especially is, “Does my faith in my future life trump the funk in my present”? I want it too. I want my faith, love and trust in Him to pick me up off the floor and live the life worth living. I need to keep my eyes focused on him and my perspective, heavenly.

Don’t you?

Here is the bridge and chorus to “Afterlife” by Switchfoot.

Dixon Dance Parties.

What goes on when the sun goes down in the Dixon household? You guessed it. At least 2-3 times a week, we’ll all go upstairs to “Daddy’s studio” for epic dance parties. From the robot to what we like to call the sprinkler, our girlz got mad dancin skillz! And as an added bonus, all the jumping around and booty shaking helps release a lot of energy resulting in instant falling asleep and more quiet time for Mommy & Daddy later. Such fun!

In the studio with Cody Whittington.


I have had the privilege of working with Cody Whittington for a few years now. Back in our Quitman days, he and I worked countless hours on his recording projects while sipping on countless lattes at our StudioJava.

Recently he has moved off to the wonderland of Austin to pursue a more adventurous life with his beautiful bride. Since that time he has been songwriting and recording new material from his home. About once a month he drives up to spend time with me here in Tyler to work on his soon to release record.

We are about 90% finished with recording, edits and mixing. After that is complete we will work on artwork and duplication.

I am so blessed to get to work with this guy and truly admire his dedication to pursuing his passion for music. Here is a snippet of a song we recorded this summer. Enjoy.

Need You To Notice [Sample] – Cody Whittington 2011

Love Has Spoken. Grace Worship LIVE.

This February our church’s worship band, Jon Jenz and Friends, were set to record a live album. We really enjoy our church and these guys are just one of the reasons why. Every week a team of professional quality volunteers come together to practice and lead Grace Community Church in worship. A Thursday night was set on the calendar and all the people and pieces were in place for this live event. The house was packed and the night was fabulous. What a great evening and event.

When we moved to Tyler a couple years ago, I contacted the technical crew to see if they needed any help running sound on Sundays. They were, of course, excited about another possible addition to their volunteer tech crew. Since then, I have been on a steady 2-3 Sundays a month rotation. This has been a bitter sweet gig for me in that I really enjoy helping out with audio but the 7:30am-12:30pm Sunday chunk of time required for this role is prime time for family activities, namely sleeping in and long, drawn out breakfasts. Non-the-less, I am happy to be an extension of this great team of musicians and singers. God has been teaching me to serve Him in this capacity with a selfless, servant’s heart each Sunday I’m at the helm.

When hearing about this upcoming live recording project, I expressed interest in mixing the tracks once they were recorded. I have been blessed to be able to work on a few multitrack projects here in East Texas and plenty of opportunities in the live audio/video field back in Lubbock. Recording is fun but mixing the recording is my favorite. After the night of worship, I received the 30-some-odd tracks and began to pick it apart, one element at a time.

Mixing the the process- where you take each recorded element (ie. bass drum, snare drum, tom 1, tom 2, tom 3, cymbal mics, etcetera, etcetera,) and “mix” them or combine them to a final stereo audio file that gets pressed on a CD or uploaded to for ears to consume. After some edits, general mixing and meeting with Jon, we continued to chip away at the project. Moving houses and therefore studio space was thrown into the set deadline but we “set our face like flint” and pressed on. It’s literally a chipping away with large projects like this. By large I mean: full drum kit, percussion, baby grand piano, keyboard, 2 electric guitars, bass, acoustic guitar,  7 vocalists and  2 audience mics. That many elements with full frequency ranges and dynamics out the wazoo, it  is quite a task to chizzle out a little piece of the frequency spectrum for everyone to be heard.

I begin attacking a project like this by labeling, listening, getting a general volume balance, separating the elements in the stereo field based on stage location that night, doing some corrective EQ, some mild compression to help tame the dynamic vocals in particular and then repeat. I spent about 1-2 weeks on this phase. For this project we added in some minor vocal tuning as well which is no easy task phrase by phrase, one vocalist at a time for 12 songs. This took another week or 2. From that point I continued to work on the mix and make some edits to clear up mic bleed and random, useless ambient noise in the tracks and during transitions.

Jon joined me when we were ready to get picky with the mixes. We listened to each song, he took notes, we made changes, adjusted, then proceeded with the next. We had a great time of fellowship doing this and the tracks really started to take shape. It is so valuable to have someone on the project with ears like Jenz and his dedication to the project was greatly appreciated. This fellowship and technical babble is always my favorite part of the process.  It also makes me feel more sane knowing that other people are as particular about this as I am!

After we worked on this colaborative mix sessions, I continued to work alone for about a week making it all fit together as best I could. I would make a disc, get it to Jon, he would critique, I would tweak, get him another disc, tweak, and so on for about another week. After that, it was time to work on the master disc.

The mastering process is used to adjust the overall EQ and loudness for the project as a whole. This song order and song transitions are a mastering engineers main responsibilities. Typically on bigger budget projects this is sent off-site to a mastering engineer who specializes in this phase of the project. In effort to save some money and time, I insistently yet sheepishly took on the task. We ended up creating 4 masters, each slightly different than the other. Mostly the differences between them was midrange balance up and down. This is the frequency range where vocals, electric guitars, the snare drum, acoustic guitars, keyboards and piano reside. This is also the range where human ears are most sensitive. Overdriving this range causes ear fatigue. Under driving this causes intelligability and loss of vocal detail. Tricky, very, very tricky.

Anyways, we decided on “master D” and it was off to be duplicated. After 1.5 weeks they arrived. This Thursday night we attended the listening party with the band and those involved with the production of the project. Graphic designers, the audio team and the band were gathered in anticipation for the unveiling of the long awaited release and the cue to press play on the CD player. I was nervous. Every stink’n sound system and room in the world sounds different and therefore every time I hear a project that I am intimate with on a different sound system, I can’t help but critique and question EVERYTHING I DID IN THE MIX!

After I stopped pacing like a rabid dog, I took a chance to take it all in. It was so neat to see the reactions of those gathered there Thursday night. You could see how people were nervous when they knew “their” song was up next, when “their” solo was about to take flight and how “their” album would be received by friends and family. Very neat indeed. Smiles are contagious.

It has been a great blessing for me to work on this project. It has allowed me to accomplish another piece of my new years resolution. Spoken as any mix engineer, sure there are a few things that I would like to change but now it’s over, too late, pressed into 1000 shiny CDs, wrapped in plastic awaiting a new home. All in all, I am confident that it is a great success and a good representaion of how our worship band sounds each Sunday. Great musicianship, quality singers and genuine love for our Creator and Savior. A lot of confident humility is allowed for those involved in this one. It is available on iTunes and is worth a listen. There are some magical moments on this album. Check it out!

Home Studio Acoustics 101. Section 4. Diffusion.

If you walk into a room, clap you hands and hear “ta-da-da-da” after the initial clap, what you are hearing is the delayed reflections arriving from the surrounding surfaces. These sometimes tiny short reflections are called “flutter echos”. These reflections are problematic in that they often cause frequency specific phase shifting and colorations that are not sought after in recording or good listening spaces. These reflections can be tamed with absorption materials or diffusors.

DIFFUSION

Diffusion is the process if scattering. Sound diffusors are hard devices that diffuse or scatter reflections in a different direction or in a different time than if unaltered. Scattering into a different direction makes sense because it interrupts the ping-pong like reflections between parallel surfaces. Delaying the reflections is helpful because it smooths out the delays into more of a unperceived short reverb and analogous sound. These time variances are generally very minute, typically only a difference of nano or milli-seconds. Once again these come in various forms and sizes and can also be designed with a little bit of ingenuity. Here is a pro studio with some major diffusion in the control room.

COMMON EXAMPLES

A simple example of a diffusor is a book shelf stocked with books of varying depths. These varying depths allow an uneven surface that allows the sound hitting them to return not only in different directions but subtle time differences as well. Log cabin style walls are also diffusive due to their rounded shapes.

PLACEMENT

In my space I use absorption toward the back of my room to control reflections and diffusors at the front of my space, Specifically in the mix’s sweet spot. (The sweet spot is where you ears and the monitor speakers form to make a perfect, ear-height equilateral triangle.) Diffusors between the monitors and my ears help scatter any reflections away and out of time from the direct sound from the speakers themselves. You really cannot go wrong on placement of diffusers. A diffusive ceiling is great to help breakup the floor to ceiling reflections. The rear wall in a control room is another great place.

DO IT YOURSELF

The gray diffusors shown below were built with a 2 foot by 2 foot frame out of 1″ thick styrofoam. I used a yard stick to mark the various “depths” then cut them with a blade. Once cut, I used liquid nails to glue the pieces together and then fit them into the 1″ by 6″ wooden frame. I then used gobs of wall pain and a brush to make them look decent. Here they are hanging and alternating with absorption panels at a former location.

Behind my secondary monitor, you can see that there are two wooden diffusors. These were built with the help of my awesome father-in-law one day while “playing” in his shop. The idea behind the designs was to “confuse the heck out of any sound that hit them.” We had a great time joking about and designing them. Each 2 foot by 2 foot frame houses 10 narrow compartments. The bottom one is more of the varying depths idea and the top one is lots of wooden slats placed on angles with air gaps between them. I have them placed in front of my mix position to break up any reflections from the front wall and simply because they are just plain awesome. I love and miss you Kip Clark!

FINAL WORDS

Once again I want to say that it’s a matter of balance. A good blend of isolation, absorption and diffusion is what it takes to make a great recording space. Enjoy. Worship your Creator.

Grandpa Elliot by Kip Clark

My Dad posted this under “Notes” on his Facebook page on February 15, 2010. I’ve read and reread this over and over and still can’t get past the last line he wrote. So true, Dad. You just never know what tomorrow might bring.

I am a fan of Grandpa Eliott……….

Grandpa Elliott (aka Elliott Small) was born in New Orleans in 1945 and began playing a harmonica he got from his uncle at the age of six. Elliott’s mother liked classical music and listened to it on the radio, so he learned to play along with Mozart, later moving on to pop, jazz, and blues tunes. Elliott also claims to have taught himself to dance by watching Fred Astaire movies on television, and appeared in a stage production of Showboat when his family moved to New York City. However, Elliott’s father had a violent streak, and the boy soon struck out on his own in his teens, eventually ending up back in New Orleans. Unhappy with the business side of music, Elliott became a street singer, and was a fixture in the French Quarter for decades. After producer Mark Johnson saw Elliott perform in New Orleans, he invited him to take part in a performance of “Stand by Me” that was created as part of Playing for Change, an organization dedicated to international understanding through music. The clip of Elliott and others performing the Ben E. King favorite became a YouTube hit, and after touring with the Playing for Change band, Grandpa Elliott has made his recording debut at the age of 64 with the album Sugar Sweet. (copied from Pandora radio)

“made his recording debut at the age of 64” – inspiring words to those of us who still wonder what tomorrow might bring to us.

Home Studio Acoustics 101. Section 3. Absorption.

Whether you are recording an acoustic guitar with a quality microphone or you are listening to music in your favorite seat, reflections are at play. These reflections can be pleasing (reverb) but can also be problematic (short delays). As sound waves interact physically, they are also changing physically. Fundamentals and harmonics are doing all kinds of higher-ED math as they collide. These physical anomalies cause “cloudy” phasing issues, namely comb-filtering and the spots within the room that have frequency excess and deficiencies I spoke of in pervious posts. Most of these interactions whether direct (straight from the sound source) or indirect (reflected), alter our perceived clarity, smearing their clean, original tones. In order to clear up the studio or listening space, these reflections should be either reduced (absorbed) or scattered into different directions (diffused).

ABSORPTION

Absorption can be likened to “friction for sound” in that absorptive materials impede the sound from being reflected. All materials have some absorptive quality. The calculations for Absorption coefficients and Noise Reduction Coefficients are very sciencey. These technical specs are determined by the makeup, mass and thickness of a surface and are frequency dependent. The simplest way of understanding this is knowing that the thickness of the material is generally related to the wavelength of the frequency. Meaning, the thicker the material, the lower the frequency that can be absorbed. Higher frequencies, since their wavelength’s are shorter, are absorbed easier than the lower. More on this later. Typically thick, porous, soft materials are great for absorption. Closets full of clothes, carpets, plush-cloth-couches and thick curtains are examples of common absorptive surfaces. Here is a picture of a portion of our old coffee shop/studio. Notice the decorations.. ahem, the absorption materials?

When it comes to sound absorbing materials, there are many commercial products available to help reduce reflections. Google it! Many of these work very well but they also can be very expensive. As you may know, I am kind of a DIY’er and for a DIYer, some of the best options for absorption can be items designed for use in construction. Rigid compressed fiberglass and other insulation materials can work wonders. I’ve had success using 2″ thick, 4 foot by 10 foot sheets of compressed fiber to line walls and doors. I have a good buddy who works in the HVAC industry and has been able to supply me with some of these materials at cost. One of my favorite products is a “green” solution to insulation made of recycled denim and cotton. This stuff is amazing and itch free. I’ve used it in 2 foot by 4 foot wooden frames as absorption panels. When designing Amusement Park Studios in Lubbock, we wanted to eliminate as much floor to ceiling reflection as possible in this rented, low-drop-ceiling building. The whole ceiling received this treatment as shown in this photo. The panels shown also house this material.

For the most part, 2″ to 4″ thick sound absorbing materials are very effective at controlling mid and high frequencies. Frequencies below 500Hz are the hardest to control due to their wavelengths. Remember: wavelength is determined by the speed of sound/frequency. (ex. 1130/100Hz= 11.3 foot wavelength). Bass frequencies tend to build up at walls, ceilings and floors. “Cornering” absorption materials or spacing them a few inches off from the wall to create an “air gap” helps effectively increase their thickness. [An example of this is displayed in the pic above located in the right corner.] Thicker materials or those purposfully engineered to battle these low frequencies can me employed to get the job done as well. These tools are commonly referred to as “bass traps”.

BASS TRAPS

Bass traps are absorbers with thicker design to help battle low frequency reflections. Used to help control inherent and active low frequency issues within a space, these can come in various forms. Following the same concepts of absorption these are usually placed in corners where the build up is greatest. Sometimes this can tamed with a large amount of foam or insulation materials in the corner. One of the cooler options (IMO) are resonant absorbers called “tube traps”. The ones I built for my space are a version of some that we built for the studios during my time teaching audio courses at South Plains College in Levelland Texas.

These “tube traps” are designed to resonate in response to lower frequencies (bass) creating a “vacuum” for these large waveforms. They are about 15 inches in diameter and 6 foot tall. The front side being absorptive is positioned in and the back semi-reflective (diffusive) side is turned outside. These are effective down below 100Hz and I have 11 of them. Here’s how I built these if you’re interested. Here is pic of what they look like. The gray ones.

PLACEMENT
Placement of absorbing materials can be just as important as having them in place. In my current space I have lots of absorption (tube traps) in the rear of my studio to reduce any reflections off the back wall. This way my brain is not any more confused than usual by rear reflections when mixing. This section of my room is where most recording take place as well. I can use my traps to encompass the musician and control these pesky reflections. Other great places for absorption materials are left and right of mix position (on the walls between you and your monitor speakers) as well as the ceiling above you to take on early reflections.
While controlling these reflections is important it is also good to remember that you want a space that sounds real. Back in the 80’s the idea with many commercial studios was to tame ALL reflective surfaces. This created the foam overkill revolution. In hindsight this was not the best idea. The key to good acoustics in a studio or listening space is to have a “controlled” room. Moderation. A controlled room is one that handles problematic reflections with a healthy balance of absorption and diffusion.

Home Studio Acoustics 101. Section 3.2 Absorption. Ryan’s TUBE TRAPS.

The inside diameter of these tube traps is 12″. The outside diameter is close to 15″. The width of the fiberglass is 1″. They come in 3 foot sections and must be purchased from an insulation distributer; a company that sells to contract HVAC companies. It’s pipe insulation and it’s compressed fiberglass covered in a paper wrap. You can use any diameter. As you know, the lower the Hz the longer the waveform. The bigger the ID the lower the frequency absorption capabilities of your tube traps. There is a good deal of science involved!

I got a 4 foot by 8 foot, 2″ thick styrofoam sheet from Lowes to make the inset “sandwiches” and internal support pieces. You will need 4 per tube trap. 1 for top, 1 for bottom and 2 glued for the middle connection point “sandwich”. These are roughly the circular size of the ID. Get a box of general construction liquid nails for all gluing.

You will open the paper that covers the pipe insulation and glue the seam closed. The resealable paper is helpful to close this up as the glue dries.
Once all 3 foot pieces are glued and dry, glue the middle support styro pieces together. These support “sandwiches” are used to join the 3 foot sections of pipe. Add glue to the inside of the bottom pipe where this support will go. Poke long nails into the sides of this so that it won’t slip down into the bottom section when the glue is still wet. 5 spaced, removable nails work great.
Once all has dried, remove the support nails and add glue to the top edge of bottom pipe section and the styro sandwich where the top pipe section will join. Add the top section of pipe. Allow to dry. Now you have a 6 foot section of pipe. DO NOT glue the top and bottom “caps” on yet. I then used a razor blade to cut the insulation’s paper “jacket” length-ways top to botton creating essentially a half jacket for the trap. This creates a side (back) that is more diffusive and one side (front) that is more absorptive. Use masking tape to keep this jacket in place as it will be flappy or even fall off without the tape. Tape it lengthwise to hold the jacket seam tot he compressed fiber.

Covering the tube trap is another beast in of itself. The fabric that I used is Guilford of Maine fabric which is acoustically transparent. There are many colors available. You will need about 8 foot lengths of material per trap. You will need to use a fabric measuring tape to measure the finished outside diameter for the tube trap. Measure and tack your material adding about .75 inch for slack as you will be sliding this over the tube like a sock and will need some wiggle room. Have somone who knows how to sew, sew your “sock”.

Cut off the access material with about 6 inches of excess beyond the seam. Turn it inside out and inch your sock down the tube trap. Once you have reached the end keep going until you have about 1 foot of excess material top and bottom. Fold this excess material into the top and bottom of the tube and add glue to the inside of the pipe, on the material. Then add the end caps. Allow to dry.
Curious as to what frequencies your tube traps will be effect to? There are calculation  you can do to find this info. Easier than that though is to gently drum on the sealed and finished sections of the trap. The resonant frequency your hear if the fundamental Hz of your trap. This is the lowest frequency your trap is most effective absorbing. Enjoy!

Home Studio Acoustics 101. Section 2. Isolation.

ISOLATION

Isolation is a big need and frankly one of the hardest things to achieve in a home studio. Basically you want to keep all unwanted noise out. Recording an intimate vocal or acoustic guitar while the trash truck outside of your house beating the trashcans into submission isn’t so desirable in your recording. Dogs barking and old hill-billy East Texas trucks aren’t welcome either.

Mass is a key to isolation. The more dense your construction materials the better because sound is more impervious to dense materials. This has to do with the molecular structure of the materials themselves. Not going there.

If you have the opportunity to have separate mix and recording rooms do it. This “isolates” the element being recorded from other noise producing elements such as computers, monitor speakers, engineers, etc. Typically these separate spaces are divided by a wall or two and sometimes include a double, non-parallel paned window for visual communication. Here is a pic of a studio I was blessed to help build the acoustics for in Lubbock. This is an example of the one of the isolated recording spaces.

In my case, I have not had the luxury of having 2 permanent separate rooms setup for recording purposes. Right now I rock a single room that I use for both recording and mixing. When in the same space as the musician, I monitor the recordings with headphones and try my best not to move and create chair and floor noises. I do use some home-made tube traps (more on this later) to create a “wall” around the instrument or vocal to help with isolation. Moveable walls called “Gobos” are easy to construct and can incorporate sound absorbing materials and diffusion as well.

If possible the desired construction of a space suitable for recording consists with the concept of double-wall construction. Essentially, a room within a room. This is actually 2 walls, doors, or window panes is with a small space between them. The purpose of this is that when one is hit with the sound and then travels through, the vibrations from the first wall are not passed on to the next because they are not touching. Also, this air space helps dissipate the passed sound by reflecting back and forth within the gap. In some cases the walls are purposefully not parallel to reduce resonance. Expensive noise isolating double-wall construction, doors and windows are not really an option in most home studio budgets. Commercial studios actually spend millions on construction dollars into creative ways to reduce potential problems from unwanted noise.

Most of the places I’ve used for recording have in been temporary and rented facilities. For me, it’s all about what I can to do to minimize the small things that are within my control. The outside door to my studio and windows both rattle at lower frequencies if not tamed with some inexpensive weather stripping from Lowes or Home Depot to fill these gaps. The doors in my space have weather stripping to help seal the room as much as possible too.

Another equally annoying noise is the heating and air conditioning units and the air they push through vents. Many suggest over adequate air handlers that super cool or heat the studio air with quick bursts. These units are placed at a distance for the recording space to help eliminate the mechanical noises associated with them. My favorite and obviously less expensive alternative is the handy “OFF” option on our HVAC system. When we are recording, I set it to OFF and when we are breaking or listening I move it back to the on position. Ask any small/home studio engineer and they’ll agree this is very common.

Distance from the source of the noise is great too and make off the road, out of the city studios desirable. The best way for me to avoid outside nuisances is to plan recording sessions during quite times. In the strip mall space we had for Studio Java/Dixon Productions a few years ago, this was in the evenings typically after 7. Then and on weekends. Fortunately, this is also some of the best hours for musicians. In my space now (our house) this is great time as well except for the noises that permeate from the adjacent rooms, my girls. I do my best to plan sessions when they can leave for a few hours or over night. Seems to never fail though that when I do plan sessions time at off-peak hours, turn off the HVAC system, etc… dogs that I’ve never heard before in my life seem to have barking competitions and birds outside our windows chirp with excessive joy.

Isolation is a beast to conquer correctly in a home studio environment. For me it’s all about the small things I can do such as weather stripping and planning sessions at quieter times of the day. Many times ABSORPTION is a great solution to help minimize “leakage”. Thick curtains is a great example of reducing and therefor helping isolate the outside world.

ABSORPTION will be covered in section 3.

Home Studio Acoustics 101. Section 1. The Basics.

I realize that this post series might not interest many of our usual readers but I’ve been thinking about writing this for quite some time and I will keep it light. Acoustics is a science and there are actual degrees awarded in the subject. A lot of what is spoken of here is heightened to higher levels in commercial studios. This series of posts however is intended to give general advice for the ever growing home studio environment and I am no means an expert on the topic. Enjoy!

Most do not understand what makes a “recording studio” suitable for recording. Obviously to most there is the equipment such as microphones, cables and recorders (computers and software programs these days), but one of the most important elements (besides a great band) to a great sounding recording is a great sounding room.

What does that mean? Well, that means that the “room acoustics” or the way a room responds to the sound within the room is pleasing and or controlled. When you open your closet door and talk, it sounds different. When you are in a large room with hard floors, walls and ceilings, you can hear more of the “room” and it’s largeness. Your brain was created to be able to recognize the basic size of a room without you having to see it. Pretty cool huh!

BASIC CONCEPTS OF SOUND

“Sound is a result of the pushing and pulling of air molecules.” The audio spectrum is broken up into measurable frequencies from 20Hz (very, very low) to 20,000Hz (very, very high) and everything we humans hear resides in this range.

The fundamental or root frequency producing the “boom” of a kick drum sound is around 75Hz. The “shick” of a shaker is about 4,000Hz. That annoying tone you hear in the Emergency Broadcasting Tests is pure tone of 1000Hz (or 1KHz). These frequencies and their associated waveforms push and pull air molecules while interacting with their harmonic frequencies (multiples of the fundamental) and the room on a path to your ears. Your ears contain frequency specific tiny hair-like receptors (cilia) that then take that acoustical energy and transduce (or change) that energy into electrical impulses that your brain perceives as “sound”. Amazing huh?

Ever wonder why it’s really only the bass you hear from the car behind you at the red light? Bass (low) frequencies are physically longer that those higher in our audible spectrum. The length of the frequency (wavelength) is derived by taking the speed of sound (1130 feet per second at 68 degrees) and dividing it by the cycles (positive “push” and negative “pull”) per second. This means that the physical wavelength a low frequency such as 100Hz is nearly 11.5 feet long! A very high frequency like 10,000Hz (or 10KHz) is less that 1.5 inches. You hear the bass frequencies further than their counterparts because they are physically longer  and therefore travel further. In the same sense, the intimacy of a whisper is identified by the detailed high frequency “spit” noises that accompany the proximity of another’s mouth. Moving further from the whisper loses that detail. Cool huh?

In a studio it’s imperative to control the sound to help “clean up” whatever you are trying to record or hear. Due to the physicality of sound and its behavior in a room or “the acoustics”, this can be tricky to accomplish. Ever notice that in some spaces like a standup shower, that some notes you sing resonate with more intensity than others? This is due to the physical length of the frequency and the physical dimensions of that space “fitting” together. Drums along with the tuning of their heads are intentionally designed with specific dimensions to make these resonant frequencies accomplish the desired tone. Sometimes this interaction is negative (null), sometimes its positive (node). While entertaining in concept, these interactions can really mess up recording or listening space.

Some of these issues can be avoided in construction. Non-parallel surfaces (wall to wall and ceiling to floor) help eliminate the inherent “standing waves” or resonant frequencies of the room because the waveform is reflected off at a different angle and path than which it traveled. Most commercial studios are engineered and designed in this manner. For the home studio/listening room or theater, the best way this is achieve a good sounding room is to control the way the sound interacts within the space you have. This can be achieved by using physics to our advantage by making surfaces non-reflective or at least non-reflective on the same plane. This introduces the concepts of absorption and diffusion. But before we go there though, lets talk about ISOLATION, a key element to a quite space.

Today Is The Day. VIDEO.

It’s been a while since we’ve posted a video, so here you go. This song has been inspired by Mr. Jon Jenz, our worship pastor at Grace. Have we ever mentioned that our girls love to sing?! Enjoy!

Come Home.


Sunday at church Addi and Kam were taught the story of the prodigal son. For those who are not familiar with this parable of Christ in Luke 15, Jesus, by way of His story, teaches us of the never-ending mercy and welcome from our Heavenly Father.

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

This story relates to my life in so many way as I’m sure it may yours too. Often we choose to “do it our own way” and quickly find out that way leads to being lost and in shambles. My reality has lead me to my asking for help, receiving that help and me then feeling shame, guilt and defeat in my actions. Even in receiving His mercy and love I tend to drown myself in pity.

When we picked Addi up from her class Sunday morning she exclaimed “We had a party!!! The prodigal son came home!!!” She continued to tell the people we ran into that day this thing. “We had a party!!! The prodigal son came home!!!”

Growing up listening to the story and even participating in my own version of it, it’s easy to gravitate to the details of the trouble. He took all his money and wasted it. He lost sight of his way and didn’t have focus. He struggled through this period of his life in shame which grew into disaster. He realized he was wrong and was ashamed. He hoped his dad would still welcome him and accept him, even as a servant doing grunt work. Surprisingly to the son, he came home to a steak dinner party and plate full of caring, nurturing, forgiving, and merciful goodness. A party! A celebration!

It’s sad how I often tend to look at the negative side of situations. For me it’s easy to recall the bad in the story of the prodigal son. The squandering for “wild” living, the pigs, the shame, the ruin. I quickly glance through the part of the return and open armed embrace the son and Father share upon their reunion and don’t relish in that positive side of the story. Why is it like this? Am I just so tuned in to trajedy and negative drama that I often overlook the positive successes?

It’s amazing what you can learn from your children. They reveal the simple truths time and time again. “We had a party!!! The prodical son came home!!!” needs to be our attitude. Joy and thankfulness. Positive and jubuliant attitude. Maybe this is part of sanctification (growing to become more like Christ) as I know it is not natural for me to be this way. I really do want to be thought of as a positive person. I truly am grateful for all the mercy that has been extended to me and all the steak parties the Father has thrown in my honor.

Friday night we had the opportunity to attend a concert here in Tyler. Traci and I love concerts and have since the beginnings of our relationship. The band we went to see has a popular song on Christian radio now called “Come Home”. The band is Luminate and they live on our street. :) [Side note: I really want to take them cookies and introduce myself but I think that might be considered creepy.] Anyways, I wanted to share this video and song with you from Friday’s concert (thanks to the camera phone videographer) to maybe encourage you that that Father is always forgiving, always compassionate, always pleading with us to “come home”.  No matter where you’ve been or where you are now, He is right there waiting patiently for us to reach out to Him. Waiting to throw a party! Rejoice!

It’s not about how I feel.

Ever have one of those days where you just aren’t in the best of moods and you let the whole day slip away being cranky? Um, I have. Guilty as charged. Maybe you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, your kids were extra whiney as you got them ready, your coffee got cold, your hair was frizzy, or whatever the case may be. I’ve been there many a day. Its hard to shake. Today was one of those days for me. I woke up and still felt tired. Life has been busy this week. I feel like I’ve only seen Ryan in passing and our calendar is filled to the brim. Something every single night and extremely busy days. So, I was just not really feeling up to…well, being happy today. So, I dropped the girls off at school and drove out to the lake, to check in on things at work. I’m driving along, content in my poutiness and I hear this song by Seven Places…

Um, hello? Wake up Traci!!! Stop having a pity party and get with the program. Duh. Its not about me. Why oh why do I continually have to remind myself of this? I thanked the Lord for this reminder and prayed for a better attitude the rest of the day. Got some work done and headed back to Tyler, threw on my running clothes and hit the trails for 5 miles before picking the girls back up. I needed the swift kick in the pants! Gosh, we humans can be so selfish at times. We are so blessed to have each and every day and to simply let it slip away because of silly things – what a waste! Each day is an opportunity, an adventure…God has something planned for today. Embrace it! After all, it’s not about how I feel – I exist for HIM.

Mental Custody. LIVE.

2 Fridays ago, I was privileged to be able to record Mental Custody LIVE at KE Cellars here in Tyler, a favorite place of the Dixons. Here is a pic my friend Cyndi Cossota took while I was in my element. With live recordings, all the pressure is getting everything mic’d, wired and begin recording. From there it’s chill mode ’til the set is over then tear down.

Within the next couple weeks we hope to mix the live session material and compile a full demo including both some studio and live tracks. T’will be good!

So Thankful…

… that I am not the conductor of my own life. It’d be sloppy and ear-plugging at best. I am forever grateful for Divine and mercy drenched orchestration. Life’s circumstances, whether characterized as either good or bad by outside observation; doesn’t matter. My heart beats to His cadence and His symphony is soothing to my soul.

Higher Trails Band- Update

Congratulations to my friends at Higher Trails as they have been nominated to yet another great award. I was blessed to be able to produce their live CD, Higher Trails Live. These guys are great and I hope for them the best. Stay tuned to their website for updates.

Higher Trails is pleased to announce that we have been nominated for 2011 Christian Country Artist of the Year by the United States Association of Gospel Entertainers and Musicians (USAGEM).  The 2011 Awards Show will be held November 12-13 in Nashville, TN and we will be performing on the awards show.

Mental Custody Session.

Here are some pics our good friend Cyndi took the other night while recording Mental Custody. They were the recipients of the 4 free hours of studio time and it has been a blessing to work with them. We tracked electric and acoustic guitars, a small drum kit and djembe as well as vocals. Fun stuff! I love “working” with good musicians!

FREE Studio Time!

Yes. I feel led to give 4 hours (3 hours of recording and 1 hour of edit and mix) of studio time for a Tyler area musician or small band. This is typically enough time to record 1 to 2 well rehearsed songs for a solo artist or acoustic duo/trio. The only stipulation is no grandma of a cousin of a guy who plays in a band kind of thing; actual musician or group please. Leave a comment explaining why you want to record and I’ll be in touch. Please post here at ryanmarcdixon.com. All submissions must be received by Friday 16th. The time will be awarded to 1 participant determined by my lovely assistant. No strings attached. Peace.

Lead Me

I love great music. I can get lost for hours in a new or favorite album. Yesterday was one of those days where music seriously played a big part of my day. “Lead Me” by Sanctus Real really spoke to me. I have loved Sanctus for about 10 years now. This song on their latest album is an anthem to believing husbands and fathers. Deeply motivating. I had to share. Beautiful and inspiring.

Click here to listen > Sanctus Real: Lead Me