Increase loudness with soft clippers

Incresase loudness with soft clippers Compression isn’t the only way to tame transients and increase overall perceived loudness. You can also use saturation or soft clippers. I find this technique can sound more lively and less processed if done in a subtle way. To do this, I like to add level/amount until the sound character begins to change,  back off slightly and compensate the output level. You will find that you’ve reduced dynamic range and increased perceived loudness without it sounding squashed or heavily processed. One of my favourite tools for this is FabFilter Saturn 2 with its…

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Clean filters

Clean filters Many filter plugins can add character to a track. Whilst this can add a nice vibe you may also risk adding too much colour if all you want to do is perform a clean filter task. You can also use EQ’s with automation for more transparent results, for example. Another benefit is you can work with multiple bands and slopes. If you want really clean results you can also use plugins which enable linear phase mode to minimise distortion.

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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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The importance of a signature sound

The importance of a signature sound A lot of artists tend to either follow the crowd or craft their own identity. Whilst it’s a great feeling producing music simular to your favourite artists it will only take you so far. Sure you can get short term opportunities as you provide something that already works but if you take the risk and do something unique and stick to it the potential reward is worth it. Clients pay higher fees to people who excel in their field or creative space. If you haven’t created your own space you will either…

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Creating transition effects

Creating transition effects Most electronic music has transition effects such as impacts or sweeps. Browsing sample packs can be a long process; sometimes it’s quicker to just make your own. Doing so will also help give you develop more of a signature sound too.  I like to use percussive elements or synth patches with a big wash of reverb, export to audio and then process it with further effects, reverse it and/or splice up for gated effects for example. Sometimes simple works best too for example taking the snare from your groove and exporting it with reverb can…

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Matching kick and bass level

Matching kick and bass level It can be tricky to accurately hear bottom end in near field environments. Whilst transients are clear they can often be misleading as to what’s really going on. Whilst it’s always good to use your ears and go with feeling it doesn’t hurt to use meters to help guide you. In this instance I would recommend using RMS to balance the levels in conjunction with a scope to view the waveform in realtime. This way you can visually match the body of the kick drum with the bass line. Measuring in RMS also…

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Micro modulation

Micro modulation If we are exposed to repetitive tones for a length of time our brain will tend to filter it out of our focus, for example an air conditioner or the sound of cars passing outside. The same effect can happen with music: if it’s too clinical and repetitive it may not keep our ears intrigued.  This doesn’t mean you have to constantly keep your music evolving however you may want try some subtle movement. One of my favourite examples of this is programming hi hats: by introducing a random sample and hold LFO on sample start,…

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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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Mono building blocks with stereo enhancement

Mono building blocks with stereo enhancement To get a strong foundation of your track try to make the backbone elements such as bass, kick and snare in mono and then later you can add stereo layers for character and a wider sound stage. For example for a bass why not use a mono sine wave for the very lows and then a wide synth layer for the mid to high frequencies. You can also apply the same idea for drums: use a weighty analogue snare in mono and then add a wide clap for vibe and width.

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Music reduction

Music reduction It’s exciting to add lots of layers during the writing process but there comes a point where the track may be sonically full but lacks direction or a focal point. Never underestimate the power of creating space in your music. Reduction rather than production can often be the key to helping elements shine and expressing an idea. I like to listen through the track and mute anything which doesn’t contribute and you’ll find that the track gains focus again. This especially works well for transition points where a change in dynamics is welcome.

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