“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
The music production tips you’ll discover below contain a mix of practical and psychological suggestions to help you advance your music production.
1. The Producer, Not The Gear, Makes The Music
A producer who doesn’t know what he’s doing cannot produce golden sound, even with the best gear on the planet. Give a great producer even just decent gear and he’ll still manage to produce quality results.
The point? New gear won’t make you better. Work on your super-ninja production skillz first! Learn how to use the gear you have, learn and use different mic techniques, study the basics of acoustics, computer recording and mixing. Apply this knowledge and refine it as you go along.
2. Crapola In, Crapola Out
You’ve probably heard of the fix-it-in-the-mix mentality by now and you also know you should avoid that line from ever entering your mind. Heaping on the effects or compressing the living life out of a track during the mixing stage won’t give you the fat sound you lust after.
A low-level recorded or weak signal will be much closer to your noise-floor. Adding compression to this weak signal during mixing will pull up the noise along with the signal.
The same goes for out-of-time-or-out-of-rhythm instrumentalists. Headache to fix in the mix.
The point? Always aim to get the best possible signal down while recording. Don’t settle for less-than-great takes unless you’re absolutely pressured to do so.
3. Monkey See, Monkey Do
You learn the most valuable things by watching and talking to other producers.
Advancement through osmosis!
Manuals and text-books are good maps, though they don’t always show you the actual territory of the production process. This is where seeing producers at work can pay huge dividends for your own music production progress.
Luckily, you can now also watch other producers, even some of the pros, provide music production tips on YouTube and other video sites. Music production forums also give you the opportunity to connect with other producers.
The point? Connect with other producers and talk craft. This is always where you’ll get the best music production tips. Watch how others do it and learn faster. Easy.
4. S.O.S (Save Obsessively Silly!)
Computer music production is great, no doubt. Computers and software however like to sometimes crash.
It sucks to get a mix just right, crash and then realize the last half-hour of your work has vanished into the abyss where all non-saved work dwells.
The point? Develop the save often habit into a compulsion. You may find yourself hitting the save shortcut (Ctrl+S) even while browsing the web! That’s fine. At least your work will be captured. This is one of those music production tips you don’t want to learn from experience.
5. Close Your Eyes To Open Your Ears
The visual sense takes priority with most of us which means that while your eyes are open the ears are pushed to second place.
The visual aspect of computer-based DAWs makes music production much more of a visual activity, often at the expense of good sound.
The point? Close your eyes to make your ears into the top priority sense. Trust your ears when hunting for a good sound. If it sounds good to you, it probably is good.
6. Record Dry, Add Effects Later
This one’s simple: You can add all the effects you want in post-production. Removing effects is much harder.
The point? Keep your recordings clean on the way in and the mixing stage will offer many more possibilities for creative work.
7. Order Is Freedom
As an artist you may draw inspiration from chaotic environments. This changes the moment you put on your producer cap.
Tidiness, whether it be in your studio, your computer file-system or your DAW session, will allow you to be creative.
The point? Keep things tidy so you won’t get overwhelmed or bogged-down with technical issues or searching for files when you want to be creative or productive.
8. Inspiration Comes While You Work
Pros sit their behinds down every day and work. This is what makes them pro. They don’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike.
What you focus on grows. So, when you focus on music production the inspiration will arise in that area. Ideas will flow and things will happen.
The point? Work your craft daily and the Muse will visit you often. Waiting for inspiration is a fool’s game.
9. Give Me a Break!
Your ears and brain need a little R&R or they cross over a threshold where they start to shut out incoming signals. No, I’ve not scientifically verified this. I’m sure the papers must be out there in some academic journal. 😉
The point? Take regular breaks every 15 to 20 minutes to avoid brain-fry and cloth-ears, especially when mixing. This will save your ears, give you more perspective and boost your output.
10. The Many Paths To The Grail
A great final mix is all that matters to a good music producer. It’s what you work towards at every step of the music production process. How you get to the holy grail is up to you.
The point? Rules are for robots. You’ll develop your own techniques and work-flow. Use what you have to produce an excellent track and it won’t matter how you did it. What matters is only what it sounds like when you press play.
11. The Hump Turns Into A Snowball
You’ll reach stages where you’ll feel stuck and like you’re making no progress. You’ll see other producers make it look easy and doubt your own ability to ever do it well.
This is natural. Most producers go through this process. The ones who make it are the ones who ignore their doubts and fears and push on.
The point? Persist. You will reach a point where you can produce like a pro. The hump you’re pushing up against will reach a peak and start to go down, causing a snowball of good results. Keep growing, pay your dues and soon you’ll be the one who makes it look easy.
contributed by RenegadeProducer.com.
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1. Learn About Compression Techniques
A common mistake that prevents amateurs from getting a full sound is not filling the “box” that is volume, panning, and frequency. The typical dilemma is this: as more sounds are layered together, the audio may start to clip. And so you turn the gain down on the each channel of the mixer. But then it sounds quiet. In order to fix this, you need to learn about compression and mixing. If used properly, compression reduces the variations between one audio channel’s highest and lowest gain levels throughout the track, which allows you to turn the volume up without clipping. If you want to learn more about compressors go here.
2. Reduce Muddy Sound With EQ
Removing the frequency below say 30-40Hz on your track’s elements is a good idea. This frequency range essentially offers nothing to your mix other than a low-end rumble which will quickly clog up your mix as you add more and more elements within this frequency range. By using an EQ to “roll off” this range on each element in your track you’ll end up with much more space and clarity.
When too many frequencies are overlapping in a mix, the result is also “muddy”. To prevent mud, you must consciously keep in mind what range of frequencies you are adding with each new part. Inevitably, frequencies will overlap, no matter what instruments you choose. For example, two bassy sounds on top of each other will interfere, resulting in weird phasing issues. If you want to use two instruments that use up the same frequency spectrum, you’ll want to carve out the highs on one and carve out the lows on the other (through the use of EQ, you will eliminate too many overlapping frequencies and clear up your mix). The end result should consist of many different parts that all cover different ranges of frequencies, which all add up to a full, clear sound.
Learning to “roll off” where necessary and “notch out” space in the mix for each element is something that takes time, and it’s a good idea to learn the process with the help of a Spectrum Analyser. By adding one to each channel of your mix, you’ll see where things need to be rolled off, and where that specific element is most prominent in the frequency spectrum. Then you can EQ out the other elements in that range, allowing it to breathe in the mix. By doing this for each mix element, you’ll end up with a cleaner mix.
Most DAWS come with adequate spectrum analysers, but many plugin companies also make their own which often offer improved visual feedback and other features. You can check out the range of free, value and premium Spectral Analysers at Plugin Boutique.
3. Beware Of Stacking Big Phat Presets
Presets are a great place to start and some of them are ready to slot right into a track with great results. However, many VST instrument plugins have presets that are designed to sound fantastic on their own, but can create problems when thrown together with other big phat sounding presets.
This is because many of these presets fill up much of the low and high end as well as often unnaturally filling the stereo field (for example, big wide bass sounds). Unless you carefully carve out the clashing frequencies in these big phat sounds using EQ, you may get a muffled, muddy sound when throwing these types of heavily processed presets together. Alternatively, you may get an unnatural sounding stereo spread.
As a result, it’s also useful to learn to modify the presets by taking the time to learn how to program a synth. I find myself dividing music-making time into at least two different tasks: patch programming and sequencing. Programming can consist of long hours in front of a synth, twisting knobs (or virtual ones) and fine-tuning the sound to perfection. It may seem boring to some people, but one of the keys to succeeding in your music is to be original and find your own sound. Taking the time to create your sounds from scratch (or at least modifying presets to suit your track) can make all the difference.
4. Don’t End Up Awash In Reverb
A common mistake amongst novice producers is to use too much processing and overload on the effects. While this can yield creative results when done methodically, slapping on the effects heavy-style can eventually lead to a muddled and hectic sound.
Reverb is a very commonly abused effect. If you do use reverb, a good general rule is to tone it down so you can’t really notice it’s there. The key to knowing if you’ve got it right is when your average listener WILL notice when you take the reverb away, but they won’t notice it’s presence until you do. Tracks that are drenched in cheap reverb almost always sound amateurish.
5. Be Aware Of Over-Limiting
While limiting is a valuable tool, it’s often something that the novice will abuse. This has become even more of a problem with the “loudness wars”, where everyone is fighting to get the loudest track out there. The result of over-limiting a track is that the bounce ends up in a file that looks like a brick wall, with no peaks and troughs and very little dynamic range. It may be loud, but to the brain, it sounds unnatural. Learning to achieve a balance between loudness and dynamic range is important.
6. Learn Home Mastering Basics
The opposite of over-limiting is a weak and low-volume track, another sign that the track is not properly mastered. A weak sounding track is going to struggle to excite the listener so it’s important to get a grip on the basics of making your track relatively loud and punchy.
These days, a lot of producers are mastering their own music with software such as Wave Arts PowerSuite, izotope Ozone, PSP Vintage Warmer, Waves MaxxVolume, Sony’s Wave Hammer, etc. These plugins can really improve the overall loudness of your track and when used properly can deliver professional sounding results.
7. Tighten Up Your Timing
If you aren’t the tightest at banging out beats, basslines and the like, you’ll probably end up with slightly loose rhythm parts. This problem is amplified if the latency on your audio interface adds a delay from when you hit a pad or key to when the sound is generated. In this case, it’s probably a good idea to turn to your friend “Quantize” and also a good idea to look into the best way to minimize and account for latency in your set-up. Each DAW will have a section on this in your manual, and while it might be a little boring, getting this sorted out in your auto-load template will save you plenty of trouble down the line.
Regarding quantization – I’m not saying that you should quantize everything unless you are going for a mechanical, computerized drum track. In order to retain the human feel, many people only quantize to 75%-90% and you should be able to find how to set the quantize value fairly quickly in your DAW’s manual.
Also, sometimes you may need to quantize certain groups of midi notes on their own, apart from the whole drum truck. You’ll need to do this when you have triplet notes, for example. Some quantize menus will have “1/16 + 1/16 T”, which means it will quantize to the nearest 16th note or the nearest 16th triplet note. If you have this option, you can apply quantization to the whole track.
8. Don’t Get Stuck In The Loop
Loops have become an integral part of modern music, and there’s no doubt that some of the most memorable tracks in the past few decades have been the result of that oh-so-addictive loop!
However, the repetitive overuse of loops in your tracks can lead to a stale, uninteresting track if the loops aren’t used properly. If you want to use the same sample over and over, consider looking into ways to transform it, modulate it or shape it somehow so to get some variation and keep things interesting for the listener. Slice it, dice it, pitch it, reverse it, flange it, phase it, you name it. Another creative way of getting more from your samples is to create interesting variations of the same loop with follow actions.
9. Treat Your Room
One of the most common problems for bedroom producers is a room that lacks any acoustic treatment and includes things like bass traps. It’s something we’ll all deal with to some extent if you’re making music out of your home and not in a top end studio. However, there’s plenty of information online about how to improve the acoustics of your room with simple and cost-effective acoustic treatment. You’d be surprised what a few carefully placed rugs, hanging blankets etc. can do to help you get the best mix out of your space.
10. Master What You Have First
We live in a world of abundance when it comes to audio production tools and software, but sometimes the choice can be paralyzing. Part of becoming a better producer is mastering your kit – and that’s nearly impossible to do if you are constantly moving on to the next big thing. Learn to use your gear inside and out and when you do you’ll realize what you actually need to take it to the next level. Consider starting out with some of the great free software out there to learn processes, and then as you improve your knowledge consider moving on to more premium versions with a strong foundation of knowledge.
This also includes styles of music. By all means, experiment and keep an open mind – but if you’re making X this month because it’s the next big thing, by the time you figure out your own sound there, you’ll likely be compelled to move on the next trend. Be yourself!
Tips provided by loopmasters.com
What is music? Music is the melody… The song sang by your heart, the notes playing in your mind, the melody created by love… Music is proof that in everything you can find a beauty… You can find a song….
Imagine having an exciting and rewarding career as a recording artist. When you become a recording artist you can touch people’s lives through your music, while making money doing what you love.
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Music expresses that which cannot be said, and of that which it is impossible to be silent.