PRO TIPS

Computer Music - - Make Music Now / Studio Startegies -

TRUST YOUR EARS

Many plugins fea­ture some kind of me­ter or graph­i­cal dis­play to help you vi­su­alise what you’re hear­ing – eg, the spec­trum anal­y­sers built into many EQs. Yes, these al­low you to view prob­lem­atic fre­quen­cies and over­all tonal bal­ance, and there are def­i­nitely times when you might need to con­firm what you’re hear­ing – to help iden­tify low fre­quen­cies, say, when work­ing in a less-than-ideal stu­dio en­vi­ron­ment – but it’s all too easy to be­come over-re­liant on your eyes. A sound may con­tain res­o­nant peaks when viewed in a fre­quency anal­yser, but those peaks might be what gives the sound its in­her­ent char­ac­ter, and re­mov­ing them could kill the vibe that you liked in the first place.

That’s why I try to steer away from anal­y­sers and vis­ual aids when pro­duc­ing and mix­ing. Train your ears and go with what sounds good to you!

SAM­PLE SWAPSIES

Mix­ing drums can be a drawn-out process, es­pe­cially when you’re jug­gling lots of in­di­vid­ual tracks. I’ve worked on count­less projects where I just couldn’t seem to get the kick or snare to work in the mix. Even af­ter hours of EQ and com­pres­sion, I’ve still ended up with tracks that sound sloppy, muddy and am­a­teur­ish.

Af­ter learn­ing the hard way, I now bite the bul­let and swap out drum hits as soon as I re­alise they’re not work­ing – search­ing through my sam­ple li­brary and choos­ing a dif­fer­ent sound will prob­a­bly give the track that ex­tra punch it needs.

That’s why I’ve stopped pro­gram­ming au­dio on the time­line, es­pe­cially dur­ing the early stages of com­po­si­tion – it’s much trick­ier to switch out sounds in con­text this way. Us­ing MIDI sam­plers for drum se­quenc­ing, on the other hand, al­lows me to keep the same MIDI notes in place but quickly scan through new sounds on the fly.

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