We don’t know what we’re doing so just gonna chat about music production
Ok, so although we may come across as immaculate professionals who only ever take ourselves seriously. You’d be surprised to know that our marketing manager (Google) has told us that we need to write blog posts in order to engage the masses . Apparently doing blog posts is the elixir of life and can easily facilitate world domination (If you do it right)
Here goes erm…something (cue buzzfeed style list but with an odd number of tips because we’re so unique and quirky yeah)
FYI – We’re not experts, these are just some things we do when producing tunes, it may be right it may be wrong, but it works for us so hope it helps you too.
1) A/B your project with several other pro tunes. Constantly switch between them. Make sure that the level of the pro tracks is the same as your project’s overall level. Louder sounds are automatically more appealing to the ear, but fatigue your hearing quickly.
2) Spectrum analysers are great for certain things like finding that shitty squeally feedback resonance at 1278khz and then notching It out. But remember it’s all about what you hear. Turn your monitor off every now and again and listen. Close your eyes and make the fader adjustment, you’d be surprised at how natural it feels.
3) Hi-pass every channel, you’d be surprised at how much crap can be found in the bottom end of a hi-hat. Only hi-pass up to the point where you feel it start to bite into the sound, then take it down a bit. This isn’t sculpting; this is preparations for the surgery.
4) Phase is a bitch – We rarely layer more than 2 snares. We use linear phase EQ and then EQ one snare for low end and punch and one snare for hi-end and snap. Linear phase gives a much cleaner response with less artefacts. Try to isolate each snare so the frequency overlaps are minimal to none. Takes time, but damn it’s worth it.
5) Compression all adds up. Think about it, you have a snare with a compressor on it at 3:1, then you have that running to a drum bus at 2:1, this is a total of 3:1 x 2:1 of gain reduction (possibly already too much) then the drum bus is running to the master which will have further compression/limiting. If you’re mix is sounding to flat or squashed, often taking down the ratio down at each stage can help relieve that over-compressed sound.
6) Gain structure – It’s important. Setting your drums to peak at about -10dB is a good basis to balance all your other channels against. It will also leave you with headroom to turn the whole mix up consistently afterwards.
7) Try to keep an ear open for harsh zones (1200khz to 3500khz) it all adds up, so instead of removing all the presence from one channel, try to duck a little bit out of each channel that has a lot of presence on it, it gives a more balanced sound overall.
8) We make dubstep – dubstep has base, so much bass, but having too much bass can suck the headroom out of your track. Another reason why A/B’ing your tracks can help you get a balanced sound. Remember room acoustics play a big part in what you hear, so often bass can be subject to standing waves (it sounds louder or quieter than it actually is at certain frequency ranges) Learn how your room sounds and compensate for it.
9) Loud music is fun, but can smash your ears in quickly. Some wacky scientists actually say your ears have a natural compressor in them. If it’s too loud your ears will start compressing. This is why you get ringing in your ears after listening to loud music for too long. Listening at a reasonable volume will allow you to spend much more time on the beats before your ears are fried and everything starts to sound like a pool of audio vomit.
We’re complete nerds and love nothing more than to drink tea and discuss the merits of parallel compression and additive synthesis, so this post is more of a brain dump than anything else. Hope it helps.
If you do any of this, or something else that gets results then let us know in the comments then we can stroke our beards and look at compression ratios all day togther.
Keep it dwarby – Danny & Matt