The Mikeification of Peter Hammill

Well, I dun finished messin with those Peter Hammill CDs I bought.  I now have his solo albums from 1971 to 1988.  Eventually I’ll get the 90s stuff, then the 00s.  He’s got over 30 freakin albums, people.  I need time to digest this music.

And before I even listen to it, I go and alter it.  But what I do to it isn’t like remixing or mashing-up or anything like that.  I mainly just adjust volume, remove background noise, and EQ it.

I use Cool Edit for this, and I was gonna make some screenshots of the process to get a little how-to going.  I forgot.  Sorry.

I have a few other tricks in my bag, but I’ll go into detail about those when I actually DO get around to making my Mikeification tutorial.  I suppose I could call that process “editing”, but that seems to describe the act of removing parts of songs or switching them around – which I do not do.

The things I do do….. heh heh… doo doo…. heh…. sorry…. let me start this paragraph again.

My goal is to make the song sound better.  Since “what sounds good” is such a subjective thing, I’ll explain a little further.  I want to hear every note played by every instrument as clearly as I can.  The removal of tape hiss and other background (usually electronic) noise is where the most drastic change can happen.

The software I use works this way, basically.  I select a portion of the audio file that consists of only tape hiss.  Then I tell the software that “This is the noise”.  That’s done by generating a noise profile, a fancy term for clicking the right button.  The software scans the noise and finds out all the frequencies and other levels of which it is comprised.

Then I tell the software to “remove that noise”, and I set differing levels for things.  The process can be very complicated, but it boils down to removing all the noise and keeping all the parts of the sound that are produced by the instruments.  It takes practice to get it right, and I can hear a huge difference in music I Mikeified long ago compared with stuff I just did.  I’ve redone some of that older stuff too.

Once the noise is gone, I can EQ the track.  This again takes practice, as adding or subtracting too much of certain frequencies just makes it sound like it’s been EQ’d badly.  When it’s done right, it can REALLY bring the music to life.  All the high frequencies sound crisp, and the bass becomes strong.  Every track is different, and some need the mid ranges brought up.

What surprises me about the way I do this is that I use a really shitty set of headphones, and because I’m used to the way they sound, I can still give the track the right levels of bass, midrange, treble or whatever.

So anyway, details will come with the tutorial.  I was really busy, and I still have lots to do.

But those 9 CDs, one a double CD, are now Mikeified.  8 hours, 7 minutes and 45 seconds of tunage.  And I must say they sound fucking awesome.  I shall listen to them on my way to and from work next week.