Inspiration Abounds: Three Audio Tools That Influenced Us

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They didn’t mean to turn us on. Oh wait, maybe they DID.

There are audio tools, and then there are those that truly transcend, changing the creative game for their users in some unexpected way. You never know when lightning will strike, so the key is to keep your eyes and ears open, sampling new solutions whenever you get the chance. 

We decided to take a look at the special software and hardware that has inspired us, from back in the day all the way to recent releases. What tools and trends proved to have an outsized influence on your music making? Here’s a Top Three from BB4 Studio Manager/House Engineer Kiara Mudd that proved central to her own studio evolution.

#1: The Rise of Affordable DAWs

“When I was younger, I thought music always had to be made with live instruments and analog gear, and that it had to get recorded through a console.

“But as computers got more advanced, I was able to get my hands on my first DAW,  which was FL Studio. I discovered it on the site newgrounds.com, which was known for their audio forums and Flash animations--when I asked on the forum how people made music for their games, someone  pointed me to FL Studio. I was amazed at the tools at my disposal to make music--I fell in love with the process of bringing my ideas to life. That's why I'm here at BB4, 14 years later. 

“Today it’s easier than ever with smartphones and tablets. Art is important, and it's incredible to see how the younger generation of artists and engineers has an even easier time bringing music into the world.” 

#2: Avid Cloud Collaboration

“We all know the struggles of sending sessions back and forth, and depending on how big the sessions are and your Internet speed, remote collaboration for music production can be challenging. 

“When I heard about Avid Cloud Collaboration for Pro Tools [which enables multiple collaborators to contribute to the same Pro Tools project remotely], I was immediately interested. I was skeptical at first, because I didn’t know seamless updates would be when you make a change, but in practice it works very well. It completely eliminates the need to transfer entire sessions just to make one small change, which makes collaborating with someone a much easier experience. 

“Primarily, I use Avid Cloud Collaboration to work with clients that are in the mix stage. Today, artists are much more versatile, and involved with the recording and mixing process--they know what’s going on within DAWs and how to work directly with the mixer to suggest changes. It’s a tool that makes it easier to work with remote clients, and realize their vision even better.”

#3: Slate Digital Virtual Microphone System (VMS)

“As we noted previously, we’re big fans of solutions from Slate, like the Slate Virtual Mix Rack [visit here for BB4’s tips and tricks on the VMR]. More recently I discovered the Slate Digital Virtual Microphone System--it’s a hybrid approach that puts an extremely transparent condenser microphone together with a sonically-neutral preamp and advanced digital processing to recreate the tone of classic microphones and preamps.

“To be able to have a lot of vintage microphones at your fingertips is pretty amazing. Whatever process they’re using to emulate these mics is working--I’ve heard a few of the microphones that they have in their collection, and it’s pretty hard to tell which is which when you compare.

“I think it’s extremely interesting to see how far technology has come, to the point that these out-of-production microphones can be so realistically emulated. It’s terrific that we can bring them back into the limelight. That helps to remind us why they were so well-received back in the day, and how much we love that classic sound.”

Ready to experience additional aural inspiration? Mix, master, and record at BB4!


David Weiss