Tag Archives: mixing

The Disclosures new video for The Secret to Being Rich

The Disclosures, the singing and songwriting duo of Madison-based Chad Helminak and Christopher Morris, released a new video today, for National Financial Literacy month. The video is for their song The Secret to Being Rich, from the album of the same title. This album is full of fun, upbeat and humorous songs that have a financial theme, that kids of all ages will enjoy. I’m especially proud to have had a hand in bringing these songs to fruition, having done the mixing and mastering for the collection.

This latest song is a fantastic ballad, appearing at the end of the album. And for the month of April, they are making the song FREE because it’s Financial Literacy month, and Chad and Chris are great guys who have a great message to share with any youngsters.

If you like this video, they’ve made another fun one for the song Thank My Piggy Bank.

Check out the video, grab a free copy of the song, and get a copy of the whole CD if you like what you hear.

The Secret to Being Rich by The Disclosures

The Secret to Being RichWell, the day has finally arrived: The Disclosures‘ latest project has just been released in mp3 and CD formats worldwide.

In the interest of Full Disclosure on this write-up of The Disclosures, I am the person who mixed and mastered this album. And in my role as the mix engineer, I heartily endorse this fun and creative song collection. This has been a true labor of love for me to mix and master, and I am quite thrilled with the results.

The Disclosures are the singing and songwriting duo of Christopher Morris and Chad Helminak, based in Madison, Wisconsin. During the process of mixing this CD, I was continually amazed at Chad and Chris’ conceptual, lyrical, and musical creativity. Each song is completely original, and no two songs on the CD sound alike.

There is quite a cast of characters contained inside– there’s Uncle Hank who is a very smart man with a plan, Kidd Silver, a young pirate just beginning to embark on his chosen career path, but winds up in a sorrowful situation with Loan Sharks, Dr. Greedypants who invents a high-tech ray-gun device that turns pigs into bacon, and to the rescue rides Captain Smartmoney, who shows Dr. Greedypants the error of his ways…..

This album of 10 songs is aimed at kids in the age range of kindergarten through fifth grade, and hidden inside these catchy and inventive tunes are some ideas for smart money management — but just as importantly, a whole lot of silliness that is sure to cause youngsters fits of giggles. In fact, Chad and Chris have kept their eye squarely on kids throughout this musical journey – every artistic decision made was done with the youngsters in mind first and foremost – and how to deliver songs that would be instantly appealing to them. It’s an added benefit that parents will enjoy the songs as well…. give it a few listens, and you’ll be humming “won’t you be my money buddy, yeah”, muttering ‘ARRRRRRR’ at random people walking down the street, and a whole lot more.

The release is just in time for the holiday season, so if you know someone with kids in this age range, this CD makes an outstanding gift. Currently, the mp3 format is available on iTunes and Amazon, and the physical CD is be available via CD Baby, Amazon, or bulk purchases for organizations may order via The Disclosures’ own web site.

Here is a track listing; click any song to go to a preview of it on iTunes:

  1. Money Moola Dinero Dough
  2. I Want, I Need
  3. Save!
  4. Won’t You Be My Money Buddy?
  5. The Tale of Kidd Silver, the Savviest Pirate to Ever Sail the Seas
  6. Thank My Piggy Bank (link is to YouTube video of song)
  7. Captain Smartmoney vs. Dr. Greedypants
  8. Spend, Save, Give
  9. Too Good To Be True
  10. The Secret to Being Rich

Grab this CD– you’ll be glad you did! No fuddy-duddies allowed!

The Disclosure’s CD will be released tomorrow!

Thank My Piggy Bank photoIt’s always nice when a glowing testimonial starts your day….. it has been a true pleasure to work with Chad Helminak & Christopher Morris (aka The Disclosures) on their fantastic new album, and I think I’m as excited as they are for the CD release tomorrow!

Here’s what The Disclosures said:

“We can’t thank Morriss Partee enough from Squirrel Trench Audio for his mixing and mastering prowess on our new album, which comes out tomorrow. If you or your organization ever needs some audio mixing and mastering assistance, he’s your guy!”

— The Disclosures,
Dec 9, 2013

Thanks guys!

The Disclosures – The Secret to Being Rich

The Secret to Being Rich CDs arrive

The Secret to Being Rich CDs arrive

Mixing and mastering has been completed by yours truly for the forthcoming The Disclosures CD, titled The Secret to Being Rich. This fantastic set of songs from the singing and guitar-playing duo of Chad Helminak and Christopher Morris will be hitting the stores on December 10, one week from today.

It’s been truly a pleasure to mix these incredible inventive songs, which are aimed at kids, and designed to help them grow up thinking about their finances in a smart way (all the while being quite silly and entertaining). I think this album has a lot of legs, and is highly recommended for any parents who have kids in the range of 4 to 10 years old. It could be a great asset to teachers of kindergarteners through fourth graders as well.

Adults will appreciate the catchy tunes, and kids will appreciate the entertainment, silliness, and humor of the CD.

Here’s the complete track listing:

  1. Money Moola Dinero Dough
  2. I Want, I Need
  3. Save!
  4. Won’t You Be My Money Buddy?
  5. The Tale of Kidd Silver, the Savviest Pirate to Ever Sail the Seas
  6. Thank My Piggy Bank
  7. Captain Smartmoney vs. Dr. Greedypants
  8. Spend, Save, Give
  9. Too Good To Be True
  10. The Secret to Being Rich

Follow The Disclosures on Facebook to stay informed about the latest from this fun duo.

Now that I’ve put the mixing and mastering on this album to bed, I’m looking for my next mixing project, so hit me up!

The Disclosures – Thank My Piggy Bank

Those who work with credit unions may have heard of the Madison-based musical duo of Christopher Morris and Chad Helminak, better known as The Disclosures. In addition to their busy touring schedule, they have also been recording some new songs for a forthcoming album.

It’s not too often that my primary job of EverythingCU.com intersects with my side project of music engineering, editing, and remixing, but when I heard that Chris and Chad were working on new songs, I jumped at the chance to mix their new album for them. They have been thrilled with the results.

Their first single, Thank My Piggy Bank was just released on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby yesterday, in honor of National Financial Literacy month. Here is their fun video:

And you can purchase/download it from iTunes here. For more details on the duo and the song, their blog post is here. Enjoy!

An introduction to Squirrel Trench Audio

An introduction to Squirrel Trench Audio. This video segment covers why it’s important for dance teachers and dance studio owners to edit your dance music correctly from the start!

If you are new to Squirrel Trench Audio, or music editing, here are some links to what you can find here on the web site:

How to Avoid Awkward Fade Outs

Song Ideas for: JazzLyricalTapContemporaryMusical Theater

Services offered: Song editsCustom Remixes

Let me know if you found this video worthwhile, and what music editing tips you’d like to learn about in future video segments. Your feedback is appreciated!




Summer Time is Music Time!

Summer here is here, recitals are over or nearly over, and all that is left is Nationals before summer dance camps!


Squirrel Trench Audio brings decades of music experience for one purpose: To make YOUR dance music flawless! Whether you need a song edited perfectly to routine length, a completely original remix, or all the songs for your studio’s season to be created in one place, Squirrel Trench Audio is your answer.

Samples of my work are here, here, and here. And if you are a studio owner, I would be happy to talk to you about how your studio could actually make a small profit on your music editing, give each student their very own practice CD, AND your studio winds up with professional quality music for every routine! What could be better?

Since it does take time to edit music well, the sooner you get me your songs, the better! First come, first served. If you have any questions, contact me: 413-535-0621 or Morriss@SquirrelTrenchAudio.com

And if you are stuck for song ideas, let me know what song the dancer or group used last year, and I’ll see if I can offer you some music suggestions!

Break a leg for the 2011-12 dance season!

The losers of the loudness wars

It’s been somewhat of a gradual process, but the average volume pressed on CDs has gotten louder and louder over the past 20 years. The casual listener might think this is a good thing, but it actually is not. Because people perceive something to “sound better” when played at a higher volume than the same thing played softly, commercial and other interests have driven what is called the “Loudness Wars“, i.e. the attempt to create CDs that are just a little bit louder than other CDs.

However, there is an upper ceiling to the volume of the music that is recorded to CD. Beyond this maximum level is distortion or noise. So mastering and mixing engineers employ the techniques of compression and limiting to get the perceived volume louder. But there IS a downside to compression, and that is the squishing or flattening of the music. Untrained ears can’t readily identify compression, but if you ever get the chance to go to a recording studio, or even experiment with a compressor on your home computer (through good speakers of course), you can learn to hear the effect of compression on music (a little bit or a severe amount). Listening to severely compressed music for more than a few minutes is also fatiguing on the ears. Our brains “expect” to hear sounds with dynamics.

Loudness and compression “works” for electronic styles of dance music and some other types of modern electronic music. Quality of sound is not the main concern, just a thumping bass and maximum volume.

When creating remixes for dance competition, you naturally want your songs and remixes to be as loud as all of the others. It feels awkward to have your song come onto the sound system at a volume much lower than the song before and the song after.

But you CAN take the loudness war too far in the dance competition world. My girlfriend chose a modern version of the jazz standard  “It Don’t Mean A Thing” for one of her soloists this season. The version she chose is by the Charlotte Swing Band. While this is a fantastic and exciting Big Band version of the song, this recording has been squashed to within an inch of its life in the attempt to get it as loud as possible on the CD.

Just last month, I witnessed something notable at a regional dance competition. I watched as the sound engineer reached for his volume control and TURN DOWN THE MAINS to the house sound system when this song started playing. He had not done so for any other song prior to it that day that I was aware of. Amazing to have witnessed the sound engineer do that since overall, the SPL (sound pressure level) to the house at the competition was quite high (loud) for the room.

Witnessing the sound engineer turn down the volume for this song has really stuck with me. While you want your songs to sound loud, there is a point at which trying to get it still louder will come back to bite you as it did here. I actually have since remixed this song for future competitions to bring the volume slightly lower than originally printed in the iTunes version. I also rolled off some of the very low end and some of the very high end, to try to bring it back to a more “normal” level. However, I can’t uncompress what has already been compressed. The compression level is so severe, it sounds as if it was being played through a television set. With a lot of brass, this severe compression gives the music a quality of something like what you would hear the Tonight Show band playing. Perhaps that’s what the mix and mastering engineers were going for.

Add me to the list of mix engineers who would like to see a return to lower volumes printed onto CDs (such as the K-meter system) so that the volume resides in the LISTENER’s control. If you want a song louder, don’t demand a louder CD, turn up the volume knob on YOUR system.

If you’ve got a song for dance competition that was recorded years and years ago, and you want to get it up to today’s normal loudness level, I can do that for you with professional results. Feel free to contact me for more information about that.

Here’s a great guide posted on YouTube that explains this phenomenon so that you can both hear and see what’s going on:

Clipping distortion

Most of the music at the Headliners Competition in Lowell this weekend so far has sounded really great. However, one song had quite a bit of distortion throughout the entire song. Perhaps it wasn’t enough for the judges to lower the dancer’s marks, but it was still very noticeable and distracting. This distortion sounded like a buzzing coming through the speakers. It was most likely a phenomenon known as clipping distortion.

For folks who are new to audio editing, you might be tempted to “turn it up” once you discover that you can make the song louder in your mixing/editing software than it was originally. This is almost always a BIG MISTAKE. Why? Because there is an upper limit to the volume possible to record in a computer audio file (an mp3, aiff, wav, aac, etc), or on a CD. If you try to make your song go louder than this upper limit, you are simply introducing noise and crackly distortion into your song.

Without getting too far into the technicalities of this maximum level, let’s just say that 90% of the time, raising the volume will result in nasty sounding distortion. The judges have a long enough day as it is without assaulting their ears with this noise.

Older recordings that sound soft or any music which has soft passages CAN be made to sound louder through expertly applied mastering techniques such as upward compression and judicious use of peak limiting, but this is best handled by an audio professional. Too much peak limiting (a form of compression) can result in a squashed sound, leaving your track lifeless, dull and weak; which is exactly the opposite of your intended result of creating a cranked and pounding track.

Bottom line: DO NOT INCREASE THE VOLUME of your songs and tracks when editing them on a computer, unless you are okay with a crackly distorted sound for your music. In most cases, your songs are already as loud as they can go without further professional enhancement. Once you create clipping distortion in an audio file, there is NO WAY to remove it. The only way to get rid of it is to trash the distorted version and go back to the original version.

If you’re using a song that needs its volume goosed up a bit, feel free to email me and I can likely make the track sound louder without causing any clipping distortion. This is especially true if the song is an older song, or even a modern song with passages that are too soft when played over a typical sound system that dancers perform with.

For more on the dangers of trying to get your audio tracks louder, check out: The Losers of the Loudness Wars

If you are looking to get your track louder without suffering clipping distortion, check out my mastering services.