Listen Stop making music with your eyes. Fancy looking interfaces, advanced analysers and colourful DAW’s can distract you from making great sounding music. Even when adjusting parameters don’t get in the habits of using a partiulcar percentage or amount; listen for how you’re really effecting the sound and set it where it feels right. Music is about feeling and no analyser can tell you what frequency shape works for situation.

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Compressor or EQ first?

Compressor or EQ first? I almost always EQ after compression but I find it very helpful to have an EQ before the compressor in the signal chain too.  Even if you’re happy with the original tone an EQ can be used as a tool to drive the compressor in different ways.  Or on the contrary if you feel the compressor is squashing a particular frequency too much, you can use the EQ to cut this area to help the compressor to work on the rest of the spectrum. Some compressors such as the FabFilter Pro-C 2 have this…

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De-esser uses

De-esser uses De-esser plugins are often used just to control sharp resonances in vocals. Try rot think of them as dynamic EQ’s instead of just a vocal tool.  You can use them to tame sibilance with all sources whether it be harsh cymbals, a peaking acid synth or even a percussion loop with some sharp tambourines for example. The benefit of this is that it can sound more natural as it only affects the tone when the harsh peak breaches a threshold rather than a constant eq cut of the harsh frequency which will make the rest of…

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Taming harshness

Taming harshness Taming harsh frequencies is a common practise for producers however i find that many tend to go straight for hi cuts rather than finding the offending frequency.  Instead of taking away top end listen a bit lower in the frequency spectrum for example between 4kHz  to 9kHz and use a bell shaped cut.  From about 9kHz upwards is detail which if taken away can make your sound feel lofi. Great for this task but for removing harshness you risk having dull sounding mixes. 

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Studio monitor basics

Studio monitor basics Studio monitors are one of the most important pieces of gear in your studio so it’s important that they are working to their full potential.Use high quality cables at the shortest length possible, isolate them off surfaces using dedicated stands or pads, position them so you’re sat within the sweet spot (listening triangle) and connect them to clean power using a power conditioner.Even high end monitors can sound bad if positioned incorrectly, without proper support and poor connections whereas average or even some budget monitors can excel if you pay attention to the way they're…

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Plugin output level

Plugin output level When processing sounds with plugins it can be easy to end up with long plugin chains with levels all over the place.  In some scenarios you can get some great sounding tones this way, however in a lot of cases you may actually be degrading the quality of the source sound or introducing artefacts such as clipping.  When processing make sure you adjust the output level of the plugin so that it matches the bypassed level.  This way you can A/B to hear if the plugin is actually making an improvement rather than just making…

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Shelving EQ

Shelving EQ Many producers are quick to add cuts or surgical style eq edits to their sounds.  Whilst, if done well, can be crucial for a great mix other curve types often get overlooked.  Sometimes working in broad strokes with a shelf EQ can sound more natural for example. Try using a low shelf cut in the lower frequencies: this in turn will help open up the top end (don’t forget to compensate with level). Or why not a broad high shelf to bring out the general upper harmonics? Some of my favourite plugins for this task are…

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Streaming headroom

Streaming headroom Streaming sites encode music at lower quality for playback. If you don’t provide enough headroom, your music may clip and sound compressed. Find out the limitations of the playback codec and provide a suitable file. Soundcloud, for example, recommends 16bit 48khz wav files with around -0.5 to -1dbFS headroom to prevent artefacts such as clipping. You can test this yourself by exporting a WAV as a low quality mp3 and you will see that you will get intersample peaks after the process (unless you are giving sufficient headroom before hand). If in any doubt I can…

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