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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BPM Key relationship

BPM Key relationship Producing with a variation of BPM and key can help bring out the best of a musical idea.  Despite this issues may arise when it comes to DJ’ing as in most cases the track will be played at a different speed than originally produced. As a general rule of thumb I find that if you produce a track in a low key, choose a BPM at the lower end of the scale. If the track is in a high key choose a BPM at the higher end of the scale. This way if a DJ…

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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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Mixdown headroom

Mixing headroom When learning how to mix it can be tricky to manage levels of various tracks without clipping the master output. Instead of using limiters or bringing the master fader down , set your loudest track to -12db, such as a kick drum if dance music or a vocal in other genres for example, and work around that. By the time you finish your mix you should find that you will have around -6db headroom, which is ideal for mastering. Another technique to achieve this is to use an analyser, such as Voxengo Span, and change the…

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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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Fast work flow

Fast work flow One of my top tips for a fast work flow is to map out the arrangement early on. Build your key section, such as the groove (normally 8, 16 or 32 bars), and then map out your entire track. Working from left to right can be time consuming having to restart the track every time to hear if things work. By doing the arrangement early on you can focus on creativity, and work down instead, building lots of layers and having fun with sounds. After this stage it's fairly straight forward to palce the newly…

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