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Welcome to the official website of Jungle Audio Engineering. We are one of the best recording studios in Chicago, and we are very proud of it. We do not just help independent artists record music. We help each and every artist, across all genres, catapult their careers. We have a diverse staff of musicians, producers, and engineers that can help you achieve optimum sound, but we also aim to help you succeed. Chicago is a rich music city and there are many Chicago recording studios. However, Jungle AE is not just a recording studio within Chicago, Jungle Audio Engineering is a movement that has a mission of re-establishing the Chicago music industry through genuine and quality productions. We combine major label quality with a creative and comforting atmosphere! Our family of engineers exists to help spread your light, your love, and tell your story.
Loudness war could be hurting your song and taking away what’s special about your song.
The loudness war is the bane of every audio engineer’s existence. In short, the loudness war is the efforts of one song needing to be as loud as the loudest pop song out currently. As explained in the video by famous engineer of Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons, the perception is that the louder the overall volume is of the song, the more chance the song has to stand out. To contrast, as every engineer will tell you, that the methods of making a song loud involves compression which essentially affects the dynamics of the song. Dynamics is the low to high points of volumes in a song. The best examples of this is in EDM where the build up to the drop is a low point in dynamics, and the drop and onwards is the high. If the build up is just as loud as the drop, then it takes away from the excitement and importance of the drop. The drop wouldn’t feel as cool anymore. The technique of heavy limiting and compression to make the song loud would destroy the difference between the build up and drop.
Often times, all engineers are pressured to mix your music to super loud volumes just as Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Melissa Etheridge) and Richard Dodd (Kings of Leon, Dixie Chicks) recant. I’ll tell you right now, I dislike having to compress things and make things loud for the sake of being loud. I enjoy mixing by the feel of the song. If that particular song or part in the song is meant to sound loud and tiring because that’s the message the artist wants to convey, then hey, let’s do it! Most of the times though, a lot of my client’s songs have meaning and depth. You can reflect that depth by maintaining the dynamics and asking your mixing engineer to not sacrifice dynamics and motion in order to do battle in the ‘Loudness War’.
There are ways though to make songs sound loud but still have amazing dynamics, especially in Hip Hop, just take a listen to all songs produced or mixed by Dr. Dre!
A famous mastering engineer, Bob Katz, once asked me what my goal was as an audio engineer (this was about 10 years ago), and I told him I wanted to help Hip Hop sound music and be more respected as a music genre. He told me, “good luck, can you also jump building to building?”. Challenge accepted! Artists, I need you to trust us and know that we will take care of your vision! I also need you to push us as your engineers so we can take risks whether it’s to push a song’s loudness or allow it to be softer. Just remember that it’s dynamics that makes a song exciting whether it’s musically or lyrically, dynamics represents depth! Just like life, if your life is dynamic then you live a life of depth. Music is reflection of reality, let’s reflect that depth with dynamics!
Written by Cruz, chief engineer of Jungle AE studios.
Waves L1 Ultramaximizer is another one of those workhouse plug-ins in my collection. This goes on at the end of my master fader chain. I only use this plug-in on mixes that I know aren’t being sent to Carson Ritz for mastering. I call final mixes with the L1 limiter baby masters. If I know this final mix is being sent to mastering, then I’ll take of the L1. The L1 is a great way to give a client a mix but with a ‘mastered’ feel. I leave the out ceiling at -0.1, and the threshold lower enough to where L1 attenuates occasionally between 0 and -6 dB. This should create about 6dB dynamics in your mix, you’ll be able to see that in your out ceiling meter. If the out ceiling meter only shows 1-2 dB of dynamics, then you’ll end up with a squashed finished product. What you don’t want is to create a brick wall of sound by lowering the threshold so low. I use the L1 specifically just to make the rough mix or final mix have that loud “master” feel so the clients have an idea of what the mastered version will sound like. For quantize settings, I’ll set it to 16 bits since I bounce down to 16 bit 44.1 khz (we run our recording sessions at 24bit 48khz). For dither and shaping, I’ll cycle through the settings for whatever feels right for the song. You won’t really hear a difference, but you should be able to feel the difference when you change the dither and shaping settings, it’s a very minute difference, but it is a difference. This is a super useful plug-in that is packaged with the Waves Gold Plug-In Bundle. It’s a good bang for buck if you buy the bundle.
For more info on Waves L1 Ultramaximizer, click below!
Written by Cruz, chief engineer of Jungle AE studios.
Waves TrueVerb is by far my most used and favorite reverb plug-in of all time. It is a workhorse. It’s NY Plate setting offers a classic EMT sound while not taking up a lot of processing power. I’ll add this plug-in on background vocal tracks. It’s reverb sound sends the vocals far enough back in space without having that overbearing effect most reverbs have. You may not even notice the reverb on the vocals while the music is playing, but it’s subtle enough to separate it from the main vocals so the main vocals take focus over the background vocals. For Hip Hop, I’ll use the TrueVerb on adlibs of thought-provoking songs. It helps to add the element of that your conscious is speaking to you from within your own head. I’ll adjust the amount of reverb I want to hear by lowering the direct sound fader. The less direct sound, then the more reverb you hear. It’s like a wet/dry but it works in opposite fashion as most reverb plug-ins, with lowering the fader being more wet as opposed to dry. Now this reverb isn’t always the best for singers to record with, that’s why I don’t have it as part of my recording template. It’s not as flexible in terms of type of sounds you get when used on vocals, but it is very helpful on instruments. This is my go to when you just need a slight touch of reverb on any sound source. The cathedral or large concert setting works great on synths and strings. People have often wondered how I’ve gotten synths to sound like real strings, well one of the plug-ins I use is the TrueVerb. The Large Concert setting really helps to create that atmosphere of an orchestral hall. The TrueVerb is a workhorse reverb as the SM57 is a workhorse microphone. I highly suggest this plug-in for reverbs as it’s one of the few reverbs that is subtle enough to not consciously notice but effects enough to create space in your mix.