HOW TO SPICE UP YOUR PRODUCTIONS Small

How To Spice Up Your Productions

HOW TO SPICE UP YOUR PRODUCTIONS Large

How To Spice Up Your Productions

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Every successful producer out there has its own secret weapon for spicing up their productions. My secret weapon is always percussions. I buy every little squeaking toy, every wooden soundbox and every two pieces of metal that make a cool sound when you bang them together. I’m obsessed with making new sounds out of everything. I once sampled myself hitting vegetables with a drumstick and made drums sample pack. I will give you guys a download link when I find it. I took the idea from some cool and talented producer who connected midi triggers to vegetables that triggers cool sample when you touch them.

Almost in every production, there’s a little place for some percussions. A good example for a producer that use a lot of percussion sounds is Timbaland. He’s one of the more interesting producers out there. He always sounds like himself and it doesn’t matter what year it is. He never swims with the rest of the salmons.

Do You

This is what makes you who you are. You don’t have to be the most talented producer in the world for creating interesting and artistic stuff. If you have a vision, and if you have courage, you can make it. I always say that the production of a song is an adventure. You know where to start but you don’t always know where you’ll end up. I personally love this feeling of unknowingness. If you try to force the song to be something you have in your vision without letting it flow out of you and actually happen by itself, it’ll sound like you tried too hard and you won’t like the result. Every one of us has a producer or an artist or a band that we look up to and try to sound like them. This is a bit dangerous because it makes us lose our own identity. Eventually, if you do you, people will come work with you for your style and not your ability to sound like someone else.

Every once in a while a client asks me how is his song going to sound at the end, almost every time I say “Dude, I honestly don’t know” It is an adventure, let it happen to you too.

Sample Everything With Your Phone

One of my favorite thing to do is sample stuff with my iPhone and then heavily manipulate it to create freaky stuff to use on my productions. A lot of people don’t know but the microphone you have on your cell phones is a very good condenser microphone that you can actually use for a lot of things.

I wrote this article about recording professional sounding vocals with an iPhone! Give it a try. So every once in a while you’ll come across an interesting sound or a weird instrument that you can sample with your phone. I’ll give you an example. My neighbor has a dog who has the weirdest bark ever, I recorded it with my phone and used it in one of my productions as the second lair for a snare drum. It was freaking awesome! If you have a static sample that repeats itself over and over again and you don’t want it to sound machine-like you can always throw a phase morphing plugin like a Phaser, Flanger or a Chorus on the track, tune it to the minimal setting and it will come to life. Even though it’s not a thing you can really hear beneath the other production elements, our subconscious mind can pick up on things like that.

In Reverse

One of the things I like to do is to start productions with a reversed chord progression. Meaning, I play something on a synth or guitar and then I drown it in reverb and more weird effects and then I bounce it to make an audio file that I then reverse. In most cases, it turns out to be very interesting and I end up building an entire production over this weird little trick. You can hear this on a few of Drake’s songs, His producer Noah ‘40’ Shebib does this a lot.

Background Noise / Room Tone

This is a nice trick you can use in minimal productions, If you have a song that has little instrumentation, say drums, bass, vocals, something to hold the harmony and mostly air (big gaps between the notes). It can be very cool to add some kind of a room tone underneath it all. I have a small library of room tones and background noises like Humming machines, a quiet street, pink noise (with a high frequency roll off), or any room tone you record with your iPhone. You can also try to cut the high frequencies out of any room tone so it won’t interrupt the other elements on the song. You can nearly hear this in the song but when you mute it, something very crucial is missing from the overall. It’s like a sound of the air around your head, moving and morphing. It feels natural and nice and also, It takes away the urge to add more elements to the production. I found out that when you have a little instrumentation in the mix, all of the cool quiet magic that sits below the track is coming up in the mastering stage. I used this song as an example in another article but it fits just right in here also. 


I just found this nice singer on Facebook, downloaded a video of her singing to a camera with her guitar and it’s filled with background magic. I tried to keep the production at a minimum so this little magic will easily come out.

Toys you must have!

I’m a big believer in adding soul to your productions by recording live weird percussion instruments, and I’m gonna say it now, I don’t care what genre you’re into, you have to have a Cabasa!

No, I’m just kidding, but I’m also kinda not 🙂

I LOVE adding little weird percussion sounds to my productions. Shakers, tambourines, bells, rain sticks, wooden percussions, metal percussions, and weird noisemakers. These can really make your productions come alive and give your sound a quirky and unique character, just get crazy and see what you get. I’m sure you’re going to be surprised.

My List

Today’s sound is very wild, even in the most conservative productions you can find a weird and quirky instrument that fits right in. So in this list, I give you a bunch of cool stuff that you just have to have in your studio.

Cabasa

So let’s start with the wonderful Cabasa. You can add it to whatever production you have, you can play it the traditional way, and you can also find new ways to make interesting sounds with it that will be cool in your rhythm section. I really love how Tyler The Creator uses the Cabasa in his Tiny Desk Concert show (min 1:30). It’s a small rhythm part that has a big place in the groove section. Cabasa on Amazon

Egg Shaker

Plastic Egg Shaker
Wooden Egg Shaker

I find myself adding an egg shaker to my productions from time to time. If you’ve never used it, this is your chance to try. It’s made of plastic. It is so cheap that I don’t see a reason to not have it. Such a small sound with such a big impact.


Tambourine

The “tambourine man” is an old and important companion to any rock, folk or acoustic style productions. But you can definitely go crazy with it and add it to a pop production, or even electronic style production, who knows what you will get, it might just turn your song into something a bit more special. Tambourine on amazon.


Bongos

This also is a no brainer, it’s small, it’s not expensive and you have no reason to not have it. As a matter of fact, when you use the Bongos the right way and you play the right groove it can be the one special ingredient that makes your body move. Bongos I like on Amazon.


Cajon

This one is special, the Cajon can sound like a cool percussion element, and if you mic it the right way it can sound like a whole drum set. It is a beautiful instrument. You can take it with you anywhere and it serves as a whole rhythm section. I love it! Choose the Cajon you like.

Finger Castanets

It’s always the little things that make the most difference. When I hear those I can’t help but think about Timbaland’s productions. He has a tendency to use those and a lot of other little percussion instruments in his productions. Finger Castanets.


Xylophone

The Xylophone belongs to the same family together with the Marimba, Balafon, Semantron, Pixiphone Metallophone and the Glockenspiel. It is a tonal instrument so you can play real notes on a real musical scale. This instrument adds a lot of emotions to the production, even a little musical part can make a big difference. You can find it in wood and in metal. Try it. Xylophone.


Chimes

We all know it, yes it’s a little corny but I still love it. Especially for ballad songs, special effects, movie scores or just retro stuff. Gotta have it. Chimes


Claves

The Clave is the wooden knock sound that you hear a lot in Latin music. It is a very simple instrument with a lot of character that you can use in a lot of genres if you’re ballsy enough. Claves

Kalimba

Every one that goes to India comes back with one of those. I love this sweet instrument. I used it in one or two productions and it added a lot of sweet magic. Can’t recommend it enough. Kalimba

More Cool Instruments that you just gotta have and find on Amazon.
Wrist Bell | Bell Sticks

Kids Percussions Pack

I’m not kidding, this pack of kids percussions toys has so much production value. Just go for it.
Kids Percussions Pack

I’ll add more tricks and tips in the future. The main thing about this post is don’t be afraid to break the rules, do crazy stuff even if it’s not natural to your genre. If you have a crazy idea just go for it and if you have nothing you can always turn off the computer, take a day off and start over tomorrow. We are artists, it’s ok to not be brilliant every day.

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MIXING

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MASTERING

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production

plugins & instruments

Best Drum Plugin

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Best Amp Simulator

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27 Mixing Tips That 113 Engineers Wish They Would’ve Learned Sooner

27 Mixing Tips That 113 Engineers Wish They Would’ve Learned Sooner

Hi everybody, Avi here. 

I went and researched in Facebook groups about the best mixing tips that sound engineers wish they would’ve learned sooner. I was expecting the same old regular things, but I was very surprised to find out how helpful their tips actually were! So this is the list I’ve made for you.

1. Learning About Crest Factor

The Crest Factor is defined as the ratio of the peak to RMS value of the signal.

In simple words, it is the distance between the highest RMS and the highest peak of the signal. When you have a high Crest Factor value, it means that the signal is more dynamic. When you have a low Crest Factor value, it means that the signal is more squashed or compressed. It affects the way we perceive loudness. Keeping a good RMS to Peak ratio might help you get higher levels while still keeping the dynamics intact.

For example, in low frequencies like bass, a high crest factor value won’t mean you have more level or more energy, in fact, when you have high-level low frequencies you might lose some of the overall perceived loudness. But low RMS to Peak value in the mid-range will increase the overall perceived loudness. A well-balanced Crest Factor across the mix will give you the best results. It takes some time and practice but in the end, you will nail it. This will allow you to get clear and loud mixes without sounding squashed and lifeless.

2. Don’t Mix In High Levels

Most of the time, we want to crank up the volume to enjoy the music while we mix. This will probably be a bad idea, and here is why:

* You get tired very soon without noticing, a great recipe for a bad mix. 

* The music gets compressed just by the physical limitations of your speakers so you don’t really hear the actual source.

* Room acoustics problems and unwanted resonances become very significant and distort your perception, leading you to wrong judgment and eventually bad mix.

* Protect your ears by mixing in low levels. Over the years you will lose big parts of your hearing that will never come back. So you better delay it by not exposing yourself to high levels daily.

3. Bus processing and Groups

This will not only save you a load of mixing time and CPU but it also makes things a lot simpler. For example, If you’ve got multiple “background vocal” tracks, for instance. Route them all to a bus and do your processing (EQ, compression, etc) on the buses instead of the individual channels, same with ad-libs, harmonies, doubles, etc.

Of course, you can always do SOME processing on the individual channels, but you won’t end up with 7 plugins on each channel and this will save you a lot of CPU and a lot of headache.

4. Gain Staging

This is something we all have a tendency to forget. Every plugin, and every outboard equipment is built to have a “Unity Gain” or a “sweet spot”. This is the spot where this particular device will sound the best. This means that if a certain device has an input, you want it to be set high enough and away from the noise floor to give a healthy signal but not too high in order to keep it far enough from distortion. This “sweet spot” usually sits between 60% to 90% gain.

Even plugins and DAW’s have these “level sweet spots”. when it comes to inputs in general, you want your signal to also live between 60% to 90%.

With outputs it’s a little different, you can even get it to 10% and still be ok. 

So when you’re mixing, it’s important to build a good gain structure and make sure every device or plugin on your chain will work at its sweet spot. This builds up along the mixing process, giving you clarity, punch, and overall more professional sound.

5. Mixing Templates

Basically, the idea is to have a template with all your routings, plugins, sends, aux’s and groups already laid out for you, so you won’t have to spend the time to create them from scratch with every mix you start. Don’t be lazy and do it on your next project. Start with a list of what you use every mix, open a new project on your DAW and start building your first mixing template.

6. Subtractive EQing

I believe that this is the right way to work with an EQ for at least 80% of the time. The idea is to listen to a source and start with taking out the frequencies you don’t like instead adding frequencies that you do like. The thing is when you subtract some frequencies from a source the things you do like about it are almost automatically come out without you having to boost them. This leaves you with a more natural sound overall. Subtractive EQ may also help create more space and room for other things in your mix.

7. Less is More

Just because you have tons of plugins doesn’t mean you have to use them. Some mix engineers feel the need to use tens of plugins to finish a mix, this can’t be further from the truth. Most of the time we can use one or two EQs, and two or three compressors and one delay and one reverb and this is more than enough as our bred and butter. It works the same for almost everything in the music production and mixing world. You don’t have to EQ or compress everything, you don’t have to emphasize any little channel in your mix, it’s ok. This is what I’m saying to my OCD self every time I start a new mix.

8. Multiband Processing

Think about it, you can do multiband distortion, multiband saturation, multiband compression, multiband delay… you can pretty much divide any source to multiple bands and shape each and every one of them separately. If this is not the ultimate control, then I don’t know what is. Back in the old days when we were using mostly hardware, it wasn’t the easiest thing to achieve, but today, when everything is virtualized, the possibilities are literally endless. even though I’m a minimalist, I can use a cool ninja trick here and there every once in a while.

9. Mid/Side EQing

The Mid/Side EQ is the mastering engineer’s best friend. Most of the applications I can think about with this method are mastering related but there are things you can use it in mixing. Let’s say you have a stereo piano channel. This piano is playing a part that is very midrange biased and it happened to clash with the vocals a little bit. Of course, we can just poke a hole in its frequency spectrum with a regular EQ and make a lot of room for the vocal. But we can also do it only on the center channel and leave the stereo’s midrange “open”. This will make room for the vocals while leaving the stereo’s midrange untouched. If this is not having our cake and eat it too, then I don’t know what is, I love cake!

10. Mixing In Mono

I refused to do this for such a long time, didn’t see the point in that. If everybody is already listening in stereo why would I care about how will it sound in mono?? Well my friends, as musicians we have to keep our minds wide open. In your next mix, try to switch the master channel to mono from time to time and stay there for a while. After a few minutes, you’d start to hear what is missing in your mix. I’ll let Graham do the rest, watch his great video.

11. Stop Overthinking

Just go with your guts, let the universe mix for you, I’m completely serious. I have hours and hours of obsessing and feeling bad about my mixing abilities and we all have that. Especially when you compare yourself to grammy-winning, world-renown mixing engineers. Don’t do that! Just mix. Use your intuition and your instincts to quickly find the right place for all the elements in your mix, it is totally possible.

Some of the best engineers I know are not even tech guys, they are using there intuition and gut feeling more than everything. Of course, you have to have a lot of experience to get to this point but trust me, if you practice enough you’ll get there in no time.

12. Invest In Good Equipment

Yeah I know, we always hear how equipment is not the most important thing and it’s true, but when you get to that high enough level you’d be able to actually understand the difference between the cheap stuff and quality gear. This is why I always suggest not to start your music-making journey with high-end equipment. If you work with cheap and even bad equipment, after a while you start to feel like it’s not enough for your needs anymore. This point in your mixing evolution is priceless! The minute you decide to buy a new preamp, or new monitors, or a new microphone, or even better cables, and developed the ability to actually hear the differences… this is exactly why we enjoy and appreciate quality gear. Some of us can’t stop the obsession and become collectors of quality gear and I know at least 4 guys that are crazy like that 🙂

13. Make a List

It seems very simple and you would think that just listening to the mix over and over again would be enough for you to remember exactly what to fix. It may be right but I promise you that writing down some things will save you a lot of precious time. So this is how I do it, I keep a pen and paper on my studio desk and making a list listening only to my exported files. You can do it with a text file opened in the background and just make a list there. This might seem like a small thing but it’ll greatly improve your workflow.

14. Keeping The Rough Mix As Reference

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Sometimes there’s a certain magic in the first mixdown we do. It’ll be a smart move to keep the rough mix, and not just the mixdown file but the whole project. That way, if you lost your way during mixing you would always have an older basic version to roll back to. Just like time machine backup for your mix.

15. A Good Input Will Grant You With Good Output

Well, it’s kind of obvious but it’s something we need to remind ourselves from time to time. Our output quality can only be as good as the input. Making sure you check all this list will help keeping you in the safe zone.

* A good room acoustics

* Good microphone, DI or pickup.

* High-quality cables.

* High-quality connectors.

* Healthy input level into the preamp.

* Good input level into the audio interface.

* Keeping a good gain structure throughout the whole signal path.

16. Always Keep Your Sub Bass Information In Mono

The very low frequencies are nondirectional, meaning, you can’t easily detect where the sound is coming from, left speaker or right speaker. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep this information in stereo. Usually if you focus your sub 100hz information to the center channel (mono), it’ll help you get a more solid low range. better kicks, more focused bass sounds and equal distribution of energy across the stereo field.

17. Use Automation To Boost Specific Things

This is one of the best things you can do to emphasize emotions in your song. As a music producer, you create a lot of small ear candies inside the production that help increase the emotional impact of the song. These things are often get hidden behind the big and basic things. For example, a pop song is composed of drums, bass, harmony element and a melody element. This is practically what holds the song and makes it what it is, the pillar elements as I like to call them. With these basic channels, you add a lot of little things that are adding a lot of value and even magic to the song. It can be samples, percussion sounds, background vocals and add-ons, small melody parts like guitars, synths and even a cool riff in the bass channel. All these sweet things are making our song a lot more interesting and fun to listen to. With automation, you can boost these things and bring them to the front of your mix to enhance the listener’s experience and make it richer.

18. Solo Things Less

Sometimes when we mix we have a tendency to obsess over one random channel. we try to make it perfect as we listen to it in solo mode. But after a while it might lose its place inside the mix, it might clash with other elements or just get out of context. A lot of mix engineers believe that if you use the solo button less you will never lose your way inside the big picture. I like this tip because it’s not that obvious and it might have a big impact on the end result.

19. 10-20Hz Is Useless For Music When Trying To Go Louder

Ok, let’s tell the absolute truth about it, no one can hear these frequencies but the system itself. There is no benefit in keeping them, they’re only a waste of important energy that can be invested in more audible frequencies that are actually valuable to the production. To be honest, when I’m working on a master I just cut everything under 25hz without even thinking about it. And if I want to go louder I cut even more. That’s just me.

20. Listen To Your Mix OUTSIDE of Your Studio

Yeah, I’m not just saying listen to your mix on more speakers or more headphones, this is too obvious. When you get to the final stage of your mix try taking it out of your studio. Listen to it in your car stereo, try different headphones, try a friend’s studio, try your mom’s car, your girlfriend’s phone speaker, and try every possible system you have available around you. Also try to listen in different locations. It’s all about human perception. The human mind is very complicated and you always find new things when you change the viewing angle. Make sure to make a list of everything you find and want to change or fix, this alone might drastically improve your mix.

21. Good Usage Of Panning

Panning can not only create width but also consequently creates focus in the sum image. Try to create the stereo feeling with high-frequency content channels. Things you can throw to the sides are percussions, high guitars, high strings and high-frequency channels in general. 

With the lower frequency channels you should be more careful and not drift too far to the sides, this might create a “too much weight on one side of the boat” effect and throw your mix off balance.

Tip: Try to pan things to the sides based on energy. That means that low-frequency content channels won’t go too far away from the center unless you have another channel that is similar in content to pan over to the other side. This will make sure the your mix will stay well balanced.

22. Master Bus Processing

Most mix and mastering engineers will tell you to not touch the master channel and they won’t be wrong. But when you reach a certain level as a mix engineer you can allow yourself to do that with confidence and be sure your mix will sound better. If I feel like doing some master bus processing I make it very subtle. Usually, I only use a special compressor that fits my mix in character and style. And even then you can hardly see the reduction needle moving. Sometimes I might use a nice EQ to gently boost some nice high frequencies, just for the extra added color and “glue”. Remember, all master bus processing is done very lightly.

23. Parallel Compression

These days we don’t have to fiddle with complicated routing to get a parallel compression, almost every compressor has a Dry\Wet button. Life is GOOD! Parallel compression is not an obvious effect, it takes a lot of practice to actually be able to hear the differences. I remember my first time doing it, I expected a lot more. But after an hour of testing I started to really notice the differences and learned to create it the right way. The idea is to “compress very hard without compressing at all” I know this makes zero sense but it’s exactly what it is. In simple words, you create a mix between very compressed and very dynamic versions of the same signal. Somewhere in the mix, you’ll find a magic sweet spot that will allow you to enjoy both worlds, simply put, you’d have a super compressed channel with nice dynamic properties. It’s so freaking cool!

24. Range Allocation

This is a fancy name for a very simple thing. Range Allocation is one of the most basic concepts behind mixing music. The idea is to find the right place for each instrument on the frequency spectrum. I’ll let this great video explain this for me.

25. Saturation

Something very interesting and unique happens when the signal passes through a good saturation plugin. In my ears, the light distortion effect brings out some hidden qualities in the signal that you didn’t even know were there. Sometimes you’d like the effect and sometimes you won’t but you should try regardless. Some plugins are not even designed to saturate but they have this feature just because it’s a part of their overall sound. Plugins like analog emulations of old hardware EQs and compressors. There are a few dedicated saturation plugins that give you a range of different colors to choose from. You should try them and go with what you like best. Remember, we don’t have to saturate everything, if everything is special then nothing is. Use it wisely.

26. Pushing The Bass Notes Forward

Putting the bass notes forward, slightly off the grid. That helps to make room for the kick transient helping it cut through the mix a lot easier. The very short delay on the bass channel is not noticeable and that way, it doesn’t clash with the kick. You don’t have to do it on any bass part, only on the parts which the bass and the kick are playing notes at the same time.

27. Don’t Over Quantize!

When we start making music it’s so easy to hit that “Q” button and have “perfect timing”. In some cases, this is exactly what we are going for, but in most cases, especially when it’s a real player, playing a real musical part with real human groove, the quantize feature might suck out the life out of the piece. If you didn’t play tight enough, just do another take but try to get it as good as you naturally can. It makes all the difference. 



Tip: You can also use under 100% quantization. It means that when you hit that Q button it won’t stick the notes to the grid but give them a little wiggle room. So you can make it 70% accurate, or 80% or however you like it. It’s a great feature that helps you tighten up a part without completely sticking it to the grid.

That’s it my friends, happy mixing! 

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Best Amp Simulator

Best Amp Simulator

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I get so excited when I find a good guitar amp plugin, it’s so much fun!
Back in the early 2000’s when I started recording guitars, I used real amps, real microphones, real rooms, and made real noise to my real neighbors. It made them real angry… Today’s guitar amp plugins are a dream come true for us producers.
Hi everybody, I’m Avi and these are my personal favorite Guitar Amp plugins:

First off, I highly recommend that you use a good preamp or a good DI box or a quality Instrument input and a quality cable.
I personally assembled my own cable: I ordered a good quality short cable (2 meters max) with quality plugs and made sure that I did a good job welding them together. This made my input sound quality at least 10% better. That’s a lot! Trust me.
Now, this article is not going too deep on the features and functions of the plugins. I’m just giving you my 2 cents as an avid Amp simulators user so here it is!

Waves CLA

This is a full rig simulator developed by Waves, an amazing company located in Israel, which is where I’m from.
This plugin is my automatic go-to amp simulator for everything. When I start working on a song or recording few electric guitar channels I don’t have the time to tweak and look for the perfect preset and sound. This plugin allows me to just plug my guitar, choose one of the presets I’ve built for myself, and just go with it. It’s built very simple. It has 3 main amp modes: Clean | Crunch | Heavy. There’s a switch for Re-Amplify and all the rest are just simple slides to control different parameters. This plugin has the same audio engine as in Waves GTR so you get the same quality only less control. Perfect for starting things without wasting precious creative time on tweaking the presets.

Softube Amp Room

 

Softube Vintage Amp Room
Softube Metal Amp Room
Softube Bass Amp Room

I absolutely love the visual design of this one. It is simple, easy to use, sounds good, and my favorite feature, it looks like the real thing. This plugin is a native one but they also did a UAD version which is cool. The amps on the plugin are not named as the original amps that they are modeled after to avoid being sued by the brands but it’s not hard to tell which is which. What I like the most about this plugin is that in order to change amps, you just drag the amps right or left and you switch between them. The same goes for the microphone setup. You hold the microphone stand with the mouse and just locate it in front of the amp until you get your preferred sound. The main controls of the plugin are also pretty easy and straight forward. They’ve created 3 versions of this plugin, 2 guitar rigs, and one bass rig.
I must say that the bass rig is much more impressive than the guitar ones. This plugin sounds good, but it is not the best one on my list.

Amplitude 4

Now, this one is huge! It has so many options and cool features; it looks good, it sounds good, and IT IS good!
Most of the amp models sounds amazing in my opinion, but naturally only few suit my taste. I usually use Amplitube for cool clean sounds and a little bit of drive. It has tons of options, virtual effect racks, pedals, plenty of amps and cabinets, and of course, the thing that I like the most, the ability to change the microphones placement in front of the cabinet. Those who come from the real world of amp recording will appreciate that.
Check out the new version, they added a lot of cool features.

Guitar Rig

This amp simulator from Native Instruments is very cool for distortion sounds.
Somehow, I find it more realistic than the others and it does not have those painful digital high frequencies in the distortion presets. It is very round and nice sounding, in my opinion. I love the way it’s built. It has a drag and drop system where you can drag modules one on top of the other and build your own cool signal chain. Also, there is a rating system where you can rate your favorite presets with up to 5 stars. My ADHD brain needs it badly. It has a good market where you can purchase more models and effects to add to your rig. I’ve never felt the need to buy them, but it’s nice to have.

ReValver

OK, this one is a beast! I used this plugin in a lot of my productions and demos.
It is FAT, RICH, WARM, and every non-musical term you can possibly find to describe a good sandwich in the middle of the winter in the woods at night (yeah, don’t ask…)
It also has a rack building system of your favorite modules, which is sweet.
I like to practice with this plugin. It sounds amazing by itself, but I personally find it a little harder to mix it inside a song. I, somehow, always choose another plugin for that purpose. But it is probably just because I’m already used to the sound of the next plugin on this list.

Waves GTR3

This one is my go-to Amp Simulator Plugin. I use this on 80% of my productions.
It just sounds amazing inside a mix; it cuts right through when you need it to, and you can also bury it under layers of other elements, and it won’t clash with them. Of course, it is a mix thing, but I find this plugin to be the easiest to mix. It has a great selection of good and usable amps and cabinets. The people who built this plugin knew exactly what producers really need. It is not the newest modeled amp simulator but definitely works in today’s highest standards. I usually like to use my outboard pedals, especially distortions. But the distortions I get only from these amps without using a pedal simulation is just amazing! It also has a great range of clean sounds that I use a lot.
Of all the pedals emulations inside this plugin, I like the small EQ the most. It has an amazing ability to boost the lows in a very aggressive and yet natural way.
I really suggest you give it a try. Listen to the chords part in this video. This is one of the great things about this plugin, you can actually hear every note inside the chords. So this is, in my opinion, the best guitar vst plugin.

There are many more cool and interesting amp simulators out there, but these are the ones I personally use. Thanks for reading.

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Top 5 Musician Earplugs on the Market 2020

Top 5 Musician Earplugs on the Market

If you’re a musician making a living playing an instrument or using your voice, congratulations! A music career is rewarding, exciting and fun! There is one small problem however that, while preventable, many musicians still fail to address; hearing damage. 

The fact is, thousands of musicians have ignored the health risks associated with being exposed to continuous, extremely loud music, playing for years and even decades without proper ear protection. Brian Johnson of AC/DC is a prime example, being forced to give up touring because of the damage done to his ears over years of playing with no protection. 

Scientifically speaking, loud noise, including music will degrade your hearing ability slowly but surely, causing tinnitus as well as hearing loss. Even worse, once your ears are damaged and your hearing impaired, there’s no cure to get it back.

What that means is that, if you’re a musician looking to sing (or play) for your supper as a career, finding a well-made, comfortable set of earplugs is imperative. (Also, if you’re an avid concertgoer, you need earplugs too!) 

To that end, we’ve put together a list of the Top 5 earplugs for musicians, below, that will help you, as well as 3 Key Features that they must have in order to provide the best protection for one of your most precious 5 senses, your hearing.

Key Feature #1 - They Must Reduce Noise Sufficiently

The main reason to purchase a set of earplugs is to reduce the amount of noise that reaches your inner-ear and prevent damage. This amount changes from model to model and should be based on the type and location of music you’re playing. 

Playing hard rock or heavy metal at a nightclub? Then you’ll want earplugs that substantially lower the volume coming through. On the other hand, if you’re jazzing it up with a small group of friends in your garage, earplugs that let more volume through should be fine. 

Note that the average sound reduction on most brands of earplugs falls between 15 to 30 dBs and, with this in mind, choose the best earplugs for your musical situation.

Key Feature #2 - They Must Provide Excellent Sound Quality

Truth is, most musicians don’t use earplugs because, well, they ruin the music. It’s tough to know if something you’re playing sounds ‘right’ if you can’t hear it well and, if you have a low-quality set of earplugs, it can turn a joyous experience into something just plain awful. 

The good news is that there are several earplug models (as you’ll see below) that allow you to protect your ears but still hear your music well, providing a flat response that attenuates equally all the frequencies coming through. In short, they give you the ability to turn down the volume but still hear the musical nuances, protecting your ears while the music shines through.

Key Feature #3 - The Best Earplugs Must Be Comfortable to Wear

Let’s be honest, if the earplugs in your ear are causing you pain and discomfort, you’re going to take them out, defeating their purpose immediately. That’s why any pair of earplugs you buy must fit well and provide a good seal inside your ear. 

Knowing this, it’s a good idea to try on several models of earplugs so that you purchase a set that provides a good seal, reduces noise sufficiently, provides excellent sound quality and feels good when worn for hours, days or weeks at a time.

The Top 5 Earplugs for Musicians (in no particular order)

Etymotic ER20xs - The Best Musician Earplugs for Excellent Sound Quality

A highly acclaimed audio company, Etymotic is known as one of the best earplug makers in the industry, and one of their standouts is the ER20xs. 

Firstly, their flat response is excellent, allowing all frequency ranges to come through without lowering any one more than another. Wearing them allows you to turn down the volume without shutting out the true sound. Even better, they feel like there’s almost nothing in your ears. 

The ER20xs also does a very good job of blocking volume at 20 dBs, enough for a raucous band rehearsal or even a concert. They provide plenty of ear protection but allow you to still hear the music well. 

One drawback the ER20xs does have, however, is that they only come in sizes regular and large so, if you’ve got a particularly small set of ears, they may not be the best fit for you. 

Take a look or purchase them today on Amazon.

DeciBullz - The Best Musician Earplugs for Sufficiently Lowering Volume

At 31 dbs of volume reduction, the DeciBullz earplugs take the volume way down, even at the loudest of concerts. One of the reasons they’re so good at this is that, unlike other models, DeciBullz can be self-customized to fit your ears perfectly.

To do this you simply pour or dunk them in very hot water for a few seconds, which makes them softer and more pliable. While hot (but not too hot) you then place them in your ears, where they’ll mold to them like a cat molds to your lap. 

Voila! You now have earplugs that fit your ears perfectly although, truth be told, they do get a little harder once cooled and so might not conform to your comfort level. Plus, while better than most average plugs for hearing protection, the DeciBullz aren’t exactly the king of sound quality. 

In any case, if sheer volume reducing power is your goal, the DeciBullz fit the bill to a ‘T’. 

You can take a look or purchase them on Amazon, today.

LiveMusic HearSafe - The Best All Around Musician Earplugs

With 2 filters and an impressive 29 dBs of sound reduction, the LiveMusic HearSafe earplugs are the most well-rounded, and affordable, earplugs we’ve reviewed. 

They come in 2 sizes so you can pick the size that fits you best, deliver a relatively flat response so you can still hear all your music in high-def, and they’re excellent concert earplugs as well, letting great sound in while keeping your ears safe and sound (no pun intended). 

Another bonus of the LiveMusic HearSafe plugs is that, since they’re made from non-toxic, hypoallergenic silicone, most users won’t have any type of allergic reaction to them. In other words, they won’t itch while you twitch (to the music). 

All of this and a great price make the LiveMusic HearSafe earplugs our pick for best all-around. 

Take a look at them on Amazon to see for yourself.

Alpine MusicSafe Classic and Pro Earplugs - The Best Musician Earplugs for Fit and Comfort

Created using a softer, more malleable material, the Alpine MusicSafe Classic and Pro Earplugs collapse inward upon insertion, expanding into your ear canal to give you a snug, comfortable fit. They do this using a special insertion tool that, while a bit awkward, allows you to place them deeper than most other models, creating an excellent seal that lowers sound leakage considerably. 

The main difference between the Alpine MusicSafe Classic Earplugs and the Pro Earplugs is that the Classic comes with 2 sets of filters while the Pro comes with 3 sets. The Classic attenuates up to 22 dBs of volume while, with 3 filters, the Pro attenuates up to 27 dBs, both of which give you much more control over the amount of sound that gets into your ears. 

On the downside, both Classic and Pro models tend to cut high and low ranges more than mid, giving the impression of a louder midrange, something many musicians find annoying. 

But if fit is your most pressing concern the Alpine MusicSafe Classic and Pro Earplugs are a great choice.

Check them both out on Amazon to see if they’re the choice for you.

Custom Made Earplugs - The Very Best Musician Earplugs, No Hold Barred

Above you’ll find 4 sets of earplugs that, as you’ve seen, are very high quality and deliver excellent hearing protection. That being said, if protecting your ears like Fort Knox while getting the ultimate in sound is your goal, a pair of Custom Made Earplugs is what you need. 

To get them means seeing an audiologist, simply because they are the only people capable of creating the ear molds needed to get custom earplugs made. It also means your earplugs will cost upwards of $350.00, give or take a few bucks, so it’s a relatively large investment. 

That investment, however, will deliver protection and audio quality beyond most off-the-rack earplugs, because the seal will be perfect. With no leakage you’ll get true high-definition, with minimal change to the music that’s entering your ear plus customizable filters that allow you to raise or lower volume to your perfect level. 

If you’re a working musician, or you want to get the best concert experience while making sure your ears stay healthy, custom earplugs are your best choice, even if they are a little bit pricey. To get them, we suggest Googling ‘audiologist’ and seeing one close to your location.

Enjoy your music longer by protecting your ears with one of these excellent earplugs 

Music, whether playing it yourself or simply listening, is one of life’s greatest joys. To make sure you can listen as many years as possible, do your ears a favor and purchase one of the best earplugs for musicians, above. 

With any of them in your ears you’ll get the protection you need and still be able to hear all of that wonderful, soul-soothing sound, so pick up a pair today!

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Best Programs For Music Production

Best Programs For Music Production

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DAW – Digital Audio Workstation
As a producer, the DAW is your main instrument. This is what you play, this is what you practice on and this is what you get good at. A DAW is a direct extension of your creative mind. Choosing the Best Programs For Music Production for you can be a complicated task and it may take some time and patience in order to be 100% sure in your decision. Let’s find out what are the options, what are the main differences between them and what’s right for you.

Hi everybody, Avi here. I’m a music producer since the late 90’s and I’ve tried almost every program for music production out there and I can help you find the right DAW for you.
These are a few very important questions you have to ask yourself before choosing your best program for music production. Disclaimer, This article is based only on my personal preference and knowledge. Let’s start with the first question.

1. What is my main genre?

2. Do I have to record and edit live instruments?

3. Am I planning to use third party plugins or only use the built-in ones?

4. Am I going to share projects with other musicians?

 

1. What is my main genre?

Every DAW is designed a little different. Some are built for fast creation, and some are built more like a recording tape machine. These days almost all the DAW’s have the same features and same abilities. The only thing that is different is the design orientation for specific genres. If your music is going to be live instruments based it is best for you to choose the ones that are built more like tape machines.

• Protools
• Cubase / Nuendo
• Logic Pro
• Studio One
• Digital Performer

These are the programs I personally used in the past for recording and general creation.
Over the years I’ve learned to like Logic Pro and used it as my main DAW for everything I’ll tell you why later on this article.
There are a lot of famous EDM producers that uses big DAW’s as there main creation tool.
For example
Cubase Users: Zedd, Infected Mushroom and many that I don’t remember right now.
Logic Users: Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, Kygo and many more.

If you’re more into electronic music creation that is synth plugins and sample-based, these are the DAW’s that are more suitable for you.

• Ableton Live
• FL Studio
• Reason

It is important to say that every DAW can be used for any genre. From the big ones I really prefer Logic and Cubase over Protools for example. What’s nice about programs like Ableton Live and FL Studio is that everything that is electronic music related can be performed very fast.
Also, it is full of interesting built-in plugins and features that allow you to create all the nice production “shticks” that you hear in today’s electronic productions.
Ableton Live users: Skrillex, Deadmou5, Diplo and more.
FL Studio: Martin Garrix, Avici (RIP), Aerojack and more.

I must say, I have a warm place in my heart for Propellerhead Reason. when it first arrived in the early 2000’s it looked like how I always wanted music programs to look. Just like an amazing equipment rig that every good producer should own. Back then everything was so expensive and the idea of a rack full of cool synths, samplers, and amazing compressors and EQ’s was just jaw-dropping. Nothing was that sexy back then and even today, it is considered to be one of the most impressive music applications out there.

2. Do I have to record and edit live instruments?

The more traditional producers that are recording live instruments like guitars, drums, and vocals use programs like Protools, Cubase and Logic. These are the three big ones.

Protools (PC | MAC)
Of course, it is pointing out the obvious but most big studios in the world use Avid Protools. It is built for studio and for big recordings, it has the largest and most diverse collection of outboard that is built by Avid specifically for it. Protools has a very easy and convenient wiring system, mixer, automation, and general working area.

Cubase (PC | MAC)

You can say the same things about Steinberg Cubase/Nuendo.
Although it comes with less outboard controllers it has the same features as Protools and still has an impressive collection of outboard gear that you can use with it or any other DAW system. Cubase was my main tool for 12 years and I love it! As far as audio recording and editing, no one does it better than the Germans. Everything is very accurate, Almost not bugs and overall stability. In the MIDI department, it is PERFECT as far as I can say. There is nothing you can’t do and the midi automation system is very convenient.
Just listen to the amazing and complicated stuff that Infected Mushroom are doing with it. It is practically limitless. The only thing I left Cubase for is the audio engine. At a certain point, it just didn’t sound good enough for my standards.

Logic Pro (MAC Only)
So after trying to get to “That Sound” I wanted and was always hitting a barrier with Cubase I finally listened to Logic. I first started with version 8 and it was an amazing eye-opener, or should I say “Ear opener”. I could finally hear the 3D depth in my sound. Reverbs sounded deeper, Kicks sounded fuller, lower and well defined. My sound drastically improved literally overnight. I was in love with every demo I made right from the beginning.
I didn’t like Logic coming from Cubase. Logic 8/9 was full of bugs and a lot of weird shit happened in my system. I called it ghosts in my machine. In time Apple released few major updates that made Logic much more stable and easy to work with.
One of the best Logic’s features is the audio comping option. It totally changed the way I used to edit vocals. You can read more about it here. In time Logic became my main tool and it is still my favorite DAW to this day, it is just full of creative energy in my perspective. I strongly recommend you to give Logic more time, it will pay off I promise. Of course Logic is for Apple systems only.

3. Am I planning to use third party plugins or only use the built-in ones?

This is a big one. Third-party plugins and instruments are a very big part of the music production culture. Some even have so many fans around the world that whole genres are based on them. A good example of such a synth plugin would be Sylenth1. A lot of EDM genres are based purely on this one synth and it literally has limitless presets and sounds.
So if you are going to buy all your third-party plugins it does not really matter which DAW to use. You just have to make sure the plugins company make a version of their plugin for your preferable music program.

And if you are not going to buy more then just the DAW, again I strongly suggest you go for Logic. You can basically create a full production in any genre that will sound amazing and up to date. It’s kinda the same with Cubase and Logic.

4. Am I going to share projects with other musicians?

A big factor is sharing projects between friends and other producers. If you are not working alone and want to send a certain project to a friend or another music producer or even to an arranger or mix engineer just do a little check what the most used DAW around you. Although I would not base my decision only on that. Choosing your DAW is still a very personal preference. I used to work with a partner and we always moved projects from my system to his and vice versa. Trust me you don’t want that export party every time you need to work with another musician on another system.

Free DAW’s
I wanted to mention this because not all of us would want to spend the money on an expensive DAW. So exactly for this, we have this sweet list of tools you need to take a look at.

• Reaper
• MU.Lab
• Studio One 3 Prime
• Ardour
• Zynewave Podium Free

You can read and hear more about these programs and more on that website. This is a short showcase video for Reaper

So to wrap this up I want to leave you with a sticky generic message, what’s important at the end is which DAW feels most like home for you and make it easier for you to create your art. It is your sound, your taste, your tools and your workflow that will make you the musician you will become.

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Music Inspiration

11 Great Tips! For Finding Musical Inspiration

Music Inspiration

11 great Tips For Finding Musical Inspiration

One of the most important things for any songwriter is finding musical inspiration. The inside of our minds can appear to be overflowing with inspiration. All it takes is a few minutes to be able to come up with a brilliant new idea.

However, sometimes that inspiration seems to ebb away, and no matter what you do in order to come up with new ideas for a song, everything remains blank. If you need help to keep that creativity flowing, I have written these tips to help find musical inspiration. 

To be inspired is so important for any creative person. This inspiration urges us to discover new ideas and keep our passion for our work.

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

I would like to first talk about what inspiration is before we talk about how to become inspired. Inspiration is this elusive mystery factor that always comes before any great piece of art. As if it’s something that appears from nothing. It comes upon us when we least expect it and suddenly everything becomes clear to us. 

It might begin with a new idea for a beat or even just one element out of a whole production. You may find yourself with it circling your mind right the way up to a crazy hit. Inspiration is and the beginning of something good in your studio will keep you up till very late hours or completely make you lose track of time. This is one of the most interesting phenomenons in the creative person’s mind. 

The problem is that our minds aren’t always prepared to think in a different way. We are so committed to our existing routines and habits of thinking. This makes it more difficult to find inspiration surrounding new experiences that cause our minds to think in a new way. I have put together some of my favorite techniques for creating inspiration for yourself in order that you can more quickly and easily write better songs.

1. Try A New Town

In order to find inspiration, you must break your mental habits and many of these habits can be tied up within the place that you live. 

Moving away from your regular surroundings can work wonders for the creative process. You change your location, you change the energy around you, and your luck is changing too. I’m sure there is a research on the subject somewhere, if you found it, let me know 🙂

There is no need to feel that you must go on a grand adventure. Heading to a new town isn’t about following a dream or excitement but more about moving away from what you have been used to.

Taking a trip to a town or city that you are not overly familiar with can give you the freedom to think more actively than you usually would.

New thoughts are sure to enter your mind such as where you might eat, if you aren’t familiar with any of the local restaurants, you’ll be sure that you are taking a gamble in any event.

You will have the opportunity to see new things and this will, in turn, create new thoughts. For example, seeing new faces around you, the way people dress, or just seeing a weird building that has a unique shape and wondering what it might be like to live there.

The great thing is that you don’t have to choose a town or city, it can be any new place that takes your fancy, a beach, the mountains, wherever you please. The point of the exercise is to remove you from your usual surroundings in any way at all.

This always reminds me of the great movie “Into The Wild”, where the guy just left everything behind in search of a new life.

Another idea is to spend some time in a part of your town that you wouldn’t usually frequent. Perhaps there’s an unusual café that you have never visited. Pop over there for a little while and see if any new lyrics spring into your mind.

To break your mental habits, you don’t necessarily have to do anything that is extreme or wild, the simple act of going to a new place that you aren’t used to will definitely make you think in a different way than you normally would.

2. Head Out For A Walk

I often find that going for a walk is one of the most effective methods for getting creatively unstuck. Something in the movement of the body, the increasing heartbeat, together with breathing new air and getting the blood flow going can be the only thing that separates me from my next great idea. It happens all the time. 

And I am not alone in this, a team of researchers discovered that the creative output of a person rises by up to 60% whilst out for a walk. Pretty amazing! I find, in my own experience that I feel less stressed about what I want to write while I am out walking. I’m, by no stretch of the imagination, a scientist or a researcher, but I would say that you become distracted by the physical activity just enough that it stops you from focusing too much on your work. Perhaps there is a nice local park if so, get out there and go for a walk!

I had some of my most proud songs come to me while out on a walk. It could sometimes be as though the wind were singing a beautiful, poetic melody into my mind as I walk. But sometimes it is not. I once wrote a folk song because I had that  thought, “What would it be like if my house was painted blue?” Have a go at wandering around your local area or a park. Ask yourself, whilst looking at houses, trees or the sky, what these things might sound like.

You don’t need to work overly hard at this. Sometimes you will find that nothing comes to your mind. But other times a song will come to you, inspired by your surroundings.

3. Educate Yourself More In Music Theory

So often, music theory can feel like the mind-numbing cousin of songwriting who you unintentionally began conversing with at a party. Music theory can actually be highly useful when looking for inspiration, despite sometimes being a bit dry. For example, if you have just been learning about Lydian mode, challenging yourself to use this to write something new will encourage you to create music that is totally different than what you would normally write. 

You might find that you don’t like what you write in Lydian mode and that your first try with music theory is not all you thought it would be. 

Having said that, there is a chance that you will discover something like a new chord change that you absolutely fall in love with. Then that new chord change may end up providing the inspiration for a whole new song. If you have an interest in learning more music theory, I would recommend trying Rick Beato. 

Rick Beato is an expert in music theory and he does an incredible job of turning complicated music lessons into ones that are easy to understand and easy to engage with. His focus is more towards scoring than songwriting but his lessons can be a valuable learning tool for all musicians.

4. Try Collaborating With A Friend

Being an introvert who is forgetful, I have to relearn this lesson at least every month. Being a creator doesn’t mean you have to work alone. Most of the time I do my work totally alone, in my room and most of the time that works well for me. Spending time with friends and making the effort to be sociable really is invaluable to someone doing creative work.

If you want to really expand your musical horizons then working alongside a friend can be an excellent way of doing that. 

Working with a friend means bringing different styles of music forward, this will challenge you into moving outside of your creative comfort zone. And, with the minds of two people adding to the message that the song brings, you may find that you will work on a subject that you wouldn’t normally give a lot of thought to. 

If you don’t have any musical friends then that is alright, you may find that the experience is something you will enjoy all the same. I have a very close friend who doesn’t know very much about music at all, but he is one of my favorite people to write with because he comes up with new ideas that I would never come up with on my own.

You might find that you and your friend don’t actually end up getting much work done, but it will still be a good use of your time because it is important to spend time with people that mean a lot to us. 

It is a great thing if you and your friend end up writing a hit piece of music, but even if you simply spend the time catching up with one another and hanging out, you will find that you are more likely to be happier than if you did all of your work by yourself, all the time.

5. Write With An Instrument That Is Not Your Usual One

A little lack of experience or getting out of your creative comfort zone can be very helpful for your music. Do you usually write on the guitar?

By trying a new instrument, perhaps the piano, or some exotic instrument like my favorite Kalimba, and switching up the way you write can be a refreshing change from using your usual instrument. Especially because it will be something that you aren’t as familiar with.

I wrote on the piano for the longest time. Until one day my brother gave me his old acoustic guitar and taught me how to play 3 chords. This has added a whole universe of music creation potential to my arsenal. Every new instrument you put your hands on, opens you to a world of new possibilities.

The guitar was totally free to me, there were no rules and no limits to what I could do. Each time I spread my fingers and made a random “chord”, things sounded so crazy to me, especially the random open chords I’ve mistakenly constructed. I didn’t know the names of the chords, I hardly knew the roots, but man did it sound beautiful… 

And coming from the very well organized piano, it took some time for me to wrap my head around the whole concept of the guitar, but once it happened, I knew that this relationship is going to last for a long time. 

22 years later and we are still going strong!

I was challenged to completely think outside the box due to the fact that I had no idea to play what I usually would on the piano. I forced myself to think outside the box. The habits that I had developed with the piano were totally thrown out and I was free to try out new sounds, that was completely exciting to me.

I would also like to point out that there are things that may be very easy on one instrument and almost impossible on another. If I had stuck to writing on the piano, I would never have discovered so many playing techniques that led to so many good songs.

Of course, I’ve never left the piano, it remains one of my favorite instruments to play. However, when you write with an instrument that you are not as familiar with, it can create a whole new lease of life on your music. You may find yourself doing it on a regular basis and getting cool results almost every time.

6. Write Music Based Around Fictional Characters

From the very beginnings of music and poetry, songwriters have been writing their pieces from the perspective of a fictional character. songwriting doesn’t always have to be based on your own experience or opinions. 

If you are struggling to think of something that has happened to you and incorporate it into your music, you could write a story.

You simply need to come up with a fictional setting that you would be keen to live in. Think about ideas, is the setting rural or urban? Is it day or night? Perhaps include politics or sports or some form of visual art. What is the setting known for? 

Next, you need to think about a character who is living there. Ask yourself questions about them. What do they do in their life? What is their life like?

Now that you have a good idea of who the character is and how they interact with their world, you are ready to make an attempt at writing a song about it. 

It may start off feeling less than sincere, but as you create the story, you will notice that it starts to really show your personality, after all, you are the one who has written it.

7. Laugh

This is not really a tip but more of a “life hack”. when we get stuck our minds are bound to a certain state. But when we start laughing our brain releases certain chemicals that help untie us from this state. Too me it’s a bit like adding oil to a dry engine. 

Things are starting to move much more easily and you find yourself in the creative process without even noticing that.

My favorite method is just to make a cup of coffee and watch standup comedy from my favorite comedians. After half an hour of laughing my ass off, the stress is just gone. I then go back to making music and things are just flowing. It works like magic.

8. 30 Push-Ups

Not kidding, this weird hack has proven itself to be very effective. This always gets my creative juices flowing. Do it without even thinking about is, just get and do 30 push-ups! Let me know if it works for you.

9. Meditation

If for some reason, going outside or doing some exercise or laughing doesn’t do the job for you, you can try meditation for 10 or 30 minutes. Some people have a very deep inner world and they can just dive inside their minds to change the channel on their consciousness. 

Or do real meditation by not thinking about anything. I find that after 30 minutes of deep meditation I’m almost a different kind of person with different creative forces. It’s super interesting.

10. Leave It For Tomorrow

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that creating artistic stuff is not on-demand and not always available to us. Sometimes today is just not your day and the only thing you can do is just turn off the lights in your studio and come back tomorrow.

11. Take Time To Reflect And Relax

Always open yourself up to inspiration. Your attitude plays the most important part of finding inspiration. you might be a little more prepared to think creatively.

If you are stressed out the entire time whilst on a walk, the walk will not prove particularly useful. There is no need to get continually frustrated with yourself over your NEED to find inspiration RIGHT NOW.

The practices that I have described can all help but there is no guarantee that they will work all the time. It is important to make peace with the fact that inspiration will not come each and every time you head out for a hike. This makes it all the more important to try to make time to do these activities on a regular basis.

If no inspiration is found when you take your next walk, you can hopefully, at the very least, give yourself some inner peace and a happier mental state. The time after that, you can prepare yourself to think in a more creative fashion.

It is also worth thinking about the fact that different people find that inspiration works differently for them. The ideas that I have talked about above may help a lot of people but they are certainly not the only things that will work to help you find inspiration.

It is a good idea to look back and remember the times that you felt excited about doing work on a particular project and try to draw inspiration from that as well.

Ask yourself the following questions;

Where were you at the time?

What activity were you doing?

Were you with other people or were you on your own?

If you can find answers to these questions, you will be able to find out from where your inspiration comes and what situations cause you to be more creative.

What should I do if inspiration for a song disappears?

Inspiration may be an integral part of music writing, however it isn’t a permanent thing.

The spark of excitement that happens within us is often the cause of inspiration to begin a new project. But you are going to need more than this to finish writing a song. Sooner or later that initial excitement that comes with the beginnings of a project, will fade away.

When this happens, it is easy to start doubting. You might start to think about the idea you had in the first place and whether it was ever any good. You must remain dedicated and have faith in what you can achieve in order to be able to finish the project.

It is perfectly normal and ok to wonder how good your work really is. But it is important that you push through these feelings and finish what you started. If you don’t do this, you will be stopping yourself from improving and you will never find out how good your work is.

If you are unhappy with the end result, that doesn’t mean that you have failed. Even if a song doesn’t turn out the way you had imagined, you will have learned something from writing it in the first instance.

Conclusion:

How to find musical inspiration?

Inspiration is all about changing your mental habits. Try these tips every time you get stuck and there is a very big chance they’ll help you find a way back to your creative state. Other than that, time heals everything, just give it more time. I believe in you.

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Music Producer Requirements

Music Producer Requirements

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So you wanna be a real music producer ah? Ok this is what I think.
First you need to have the ability to learn stuff online and learn on your own. You must have patience because when you’re developing your production skills things are moving extra slow. You have to be able to objectively critique yourself and always compare your “sound” to other’s and be able to tell if you made any progress. You have to be able to absorb many music genres, even those you don’t naturally like (Trust me). And of course, you must have TALENT. Music production is not a thing you can do without great musical talent. Let’s start.

Hi everybody, Avi here. I’m a music producer and I’m making music for a living for 15 years now. It was a very interesting ride for me so far. A lot of ups and downs as in most things in life.
In this article, I’m going to share with you everything I think about being a music producer, what kind if music producers we have today and what it takes to be one. First let me tell you something, to earn my first dollar from music production took a few years for me. but I started back in the late 90’s so these days are totally different. Today we have more tools we pay less money, we have access to an endless amount of knowledge online and more than enough role models and potential mentors. These days it seams like everybody’s making music which is a good thing in my opinion.

How I Started

I have a whole article about myself and how I started making music. Read here.
This was a different time and it was a different story for me. It’ll make you feel good to know that today it is much much easier to start producing music professionally. If you’re good and fast you can produce amazing stuff within your first two years. Still, the music producer requirements are the same.

Types Of Producers

For me there are 3 main types of producers. The most common one it the “Laptop Producers”.
First I’ll tell you that most famous producers today are Laptop Producers.
They make all of their productions in the box without physical instruments or tools.
There’s nothing wrong with that of course, this is how the EDM genre work for example, you don’t need more then a laptop. And it becomes this way in a lot of other genres.

The second type is the more traditional type of producers, they are living in studios most of the time. They’re working with studio musicians, engineers, and artists. These are the old world producers that still exists today in the more classic genres like Rock, Pop, Country, Jazz, Classical, music for movies and such.

The 3rd type is what I like to call “Hybrid”. These are guys like me who are sitting in their own personal studio, recording real live instruments (Guitars, Bass, Drums, Keyboards etc) mixed with virtual instruments, soft synths and sample based plugins.
Many of them are working with studio musicians that are coming in to record their parts in the production. Few special producers are playing all the instruments by themselves. This is my favourite type, this is me.
It takes years to master an instrument, or at least get to a high enough level of playing that allows you to record professional sounding tracks. Let alone doing it on multiple instruments. In my case, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums.

Laptop Producers

First, you have to decide which out of the three types of producers I’ve mentioned above do you want to be. These days most people are drawn into being laptop producers, and it’s great. it is definitely the easiest to start out of the three types but it is without a doubt the most complicated.

It is not easy to make a good EDM or any electronic production, mostly because of all the options and tools you have at your disposal. There are so many styles and genres and you have to find your own sound inside all of these. Sure you can be a copy cat and sound like many others and also find success but it is much more rewarding to find your own “sound” and let others copy you.

To be a good laptop producer you must get very familiar with your chosen DAW and your synths and samples. You must already have the experience, the talent and enough “air time” on your music spaceship. I can’t tell you exactly when it is going to happen, but you know when you’ll get there.
It is recommended to have a strong enough laptop because music inside the box is very CPU demanding. Get the most capable system you can get.

Also, I recommend you to get the gear that makes you feel like making music. Yes, there is such a thing. For example, I started using Cubase years ago and I was fast as hell on it! I could create a full 3 minutes good piece of music in 30 minutes.
But when I finally started working with Logic my music have gotten a lot better in a matter of weeks.
Also, it sounded much better but this is another subject. You have to love your tools. Whether it is your DAW, your MIDI keyboard, your audio interface, and even your plugins. Remember it all starts with pure love and passion for what we’re doing.

Classic Producer

If you want to be a classic music producer it is important to sharpen your people skills.
Most of the classic producers I’ve known were very skilled in the personal domain.
You have to know how to talk to people, how to express yourself and get people to do what you want them to do without hurting their egos. You also have to learn how to get musicians to play what you need them to play. Most of the practical work of a producer in a studio is to deal with the artist which is not an easy task. A lot of times I found myself making verbal figure eight loops just to get my point thru and make the artist understand my artistic decisions. At the end of the day, you are working with a client and he or she has to understand and live in piece with the idea of working with you.

Play an instrument and learn most of the characteristics of as many instruments as you can.
I always recommend to start with an instrument that can show you every possible option below your fingers, of course it is most likely to be keyboards. Learn to play the keyboards even if your main instrument is guitar or bass or even drums. Always listen to music from a technical point of view.
They say that once you understand what you’re listening to, you can’t avoid the details and sometimes lose your ability to simply enjoy listening to music with an average consumer’s ear. It is true. In my opinion, you don’t lose your ability to enjoy music, you just enjoy the more advanced stuff. it’s very cool 🙂

Hybrid producer

Hybrid producers are in an interesting sweet spot. They don’t have to work with too many people because they are doing most of the artistic heavy lifting themselves. They are considered by the artist to be a complete wizard. Yes, we are the “Gandalfs” of the music production in our own “middle earth” 🙂
To avoid any unwanted artistic clashes the artist must listen to the previous productions you’ve made, and has to love and relate to them.
You also have to sit with the artist before you start working on a basic demo for them and listen to all kinds of references together so it’ll be easier for the both of you to get locked on a specific direction for the song.

It is always a good idea to ask the artists which artists and genres they like and what he or she are listening to these days. This info will give you a few cool hacking cheats into those artists souls.
As a hybrid producer you have to have good instruments. Say you play guitars, keyboards, bass and drums, If you have the money it’s ok, buy great quality instruments. But if you’re just starting and you need to spread your budget across few instruments not including the rest of the studio equipment I recommend not buying the best of the best, you just don’t need it, trust me. Unless you have the money to spend of course.

The only good instruments you should have is your main instrument and the once who are “naked sounding” like acoustic guitars. I found out that you can’t run away or manipulate a bad sounding acoustic instrument into a good sounding one. just buy a good one and get cheap on the other ones.

For years I’ve recorded bass tracks with a cheap bass guitar that cost around 300$. I just went to the store, played on and listen to few guitars in different price ranges and picked to best one of the low range bass guitars. trust me, I couldn’t tell the difference in quality in the store, it was all down to personal taste. The point is that you don’t have to have the best of every instrument to get a good result.
You have to remember in “living” instruments as I call them, You can have two of the same guitar, same company with the same price and the sound is totally different. So sometimes it comes down to a personal preference. I could swear that my 300$ bass guitar sounded better than these other bass guitars that cost three times as much.

I must add that this does not work on electric guitar. You should have a good electric guitar if you want good clean sounds. of course, if your genre is death metal and all you do id heavy distortion you can go with an OK electric guitar. But in most cases, you would want a guitar that will give you a wide range of good sounds so you won’t have to buy 4 different electric guitars.

The rest of your budget you’ll spend on your studio equipment. In general, I recommend that you don’t get too cheap on the microphones you use. Get one good dynamic microphone and one very good condenser microphone. Of course, if you’re going big and planning on recording drums then you need to have a much bigger budget to work with, not just on microphones but on the right rooms and wiring. The right console or preamps box, the right acoustics and more. Personally, I don’t recommend that you record drums on your own and do what most producers are doing. We just go to a big studio with our drummer and a guide track, record everything we need for the song and return back to our studio to continue from there.

Lyrics

If you really want to be a producer I strongly recommend to you find yourself a couple of heroes. We are all looking up to someone and you should too. If you’re going to work with artists that are writing lyrics always consider the lyrics to be the most important part of the song and this is the absolute truth.
If you can work with an artist and make his lyrics better in some way do it! Trust me, you can have the most amazing production under the most weak ass lyric content and it will all go to waste.

Don’t Work With Everybody!

OK, PEOPLE! I can’t stress this enough, if you work with talentless artists just to make money they will delay and even prevent you from succeeding. I mean it. When you work with talentless artists your endless production hours just go to waste. Nobody will like the song, nobody will look for its producer, nobody will remember your name if you put it on low-quality art. SIMPLE AS THAT.
If you can’t afford not working with artists that you know that will not give you anything just find a side job and invest your time, skills and talent in your own creation. In my world, people always remembered the songs I’ve written for myself and for other artists.

Find New People To Work With

Sometimes you need to make sure new people find out about you. This is one of the most important things in this music business. Sometimes we forget that this is a business and treat it like a hobby for years. This is not how you succeed in the music business.
First you need to work with social media, get creative, post cool stuff you did in the past on a continuous basis, Send personal messages to artists, introduce yourself, put links to your productions, Build a good representing website for your online music persona and even build paid campaigns on social media an search engines.
If you don’t know how to do it yourself, pay for someone to do it for you. Also, work on SEO for your website. You must rank high for your preferred keywords in search engines. This is a whole bible by itself but never dismiss it. You’ll regret it trust me.

Constant Learning

Read and learn something every day. Look for new stuff to learn, listen to the latest playlists and radio stations in your chosen genre, search for cool new tools or plugins that you might like. Always stay on top of things and get updated continuously. music production is an ever changing field and if you are not changing and evolving with it you would stay behind.

My Personal Lessons After 15 Years Of Being A Music Producer
Build your assets. I mean always write songs if you also a song writer. I have songs I’ve written a few years ago that still are making me passive income in royalties every year. Try to get your songs and productions to known artists and always be trying to get closer to them and their people.
This is what we call “The right connections”. Always try to help people and maybe one day they will do something for you that will change your life forever.
ALWAYS BE GOOD TO PEOPLE.

Good Luck 🙂

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How To Make Your Voice Sound Better When Recording

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How to Make Your Voice Sound Better When Recording

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Hi everybody, here are some basic things you need to know for getting good vocal recordings. Since I’ve been a teenager I’m recording myself playing and singing. My friends and I had a rock band in high school and since then I’m making music every day for myself and for others. That passion and drive for making great recordings led me to be what I am today at age 37, a music producer and sound engineer. As in every article I write, I’m giving you all this knowledge based only on my own experience.

The human voice is one of the most complicated “instruments” to record.
It is very rich in terms of tone, wave shape, dynamics, and overall sonic qualities.
Luckily there are few basic rules that will help you achieve great vocal sound in most real-world situations. In this article I’m going to teach you a few things:

1. How to prepare yourself for a good sounding vocal recording.

2. Basic technical rules for getting a good recording.

3. What microphone and accessories to use in different situations.

4. How and what to process on the computer after you finish recording.

Most of the process is not rocket science. You place the microphone in front of you, hit record and go. And you will probably get good enough results. But here are the things you can and should do in order to make it even better. So let’s start with number one.

1. How to prepare yourself for a good sounding vocal recording.
If the vocal recording you are about to do is important to you, I suggest a vocal warmup.
Just like before going to the gym, there are a few things you can do before you start recording to get your vocal cords in the best shape for the task.

It’s important to know that climate control is a critical factor for a good performance.
I suggest you set the AC to a neutral temperature for your body. with most people, it is about 26 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sometimes it is a personal preference. If you’re about to do a vocal recording session of a few hours you might change the temperature according to your stress level. Simple as that.
Make sure to not set it to be too cold or your vocal cords will get affected by it and the session will be over sooner than planned.

It’ll be a good idea to put a glass of water in the room temperature next to you and drink a little during the session. Not only for your body but also for your mouth moisture. If your mouth is dry it’ll be hard to move it and sing flawlessly.

Before we start singing there are a few vocal exercises we can do to make the session a lot easier.
It’s a little hard to give you an example in writing so here’s a good starting point video.

how to make your voice sound better when recording.

2. Basic technical rules for getting a good recording.
I won’t get into room acoustics on this article because this is an article subject all by itself. So assuming you have the right environment for the recording we go on from here. Should I sit or stand when I record my vocal? This is a very good question that is brought up every once in a while.

My personal opinion on that subject is simple. If you sing an energetic song it will be much easier to sing while standing up. But in my experience, most of the best vocal recordings I’ve ever done was when I was sitting down in front of the microphone. I find it easier to let the body loose and work only the singing muscles. Basically concentrate on the muscles that are working the hardest. Most of them are located in the centre of your body, throat and mouth.
I found out that sitting down gets me a little less stressed about the performance and allows me to last longer while recording.

https://www.maxpixel.net/Equipments-Audio-Condenser-Microphone-Close-up-1839126

Always use a pop filter.
Even when singing to a dynamic microphone it is highly suggested to use a pop filter.
It gives a more controlled signal in terms of dynamics in the high and low frequencies and I use it all the time.
Never the less if you are using a condenser microphone.
I’m also all about shock mounts, it’s very important to use one.

When standing or sitting close to the mic stand’s legs, make sure to turn the legs away from your legs as far as you can. this might sound weird and not important but I promise you, you will kick the mic stand while recording your best take! it happened to me so many times 🙂
With that, of course, put your phone on silent mode and get it far enough from unbalanced cables in your system because your mom WILL call you at the most critical moment in the session and you WILL get that funny cellular noise in your recording that no plugin will ever take out.

3. What microphone and accessories to use in different situations.
This can probably come down to a personal preference. I personally like to use a good condenser microphone for 95% of the time, but sometimes I will want to use a dynamic microphone such as Shure SM 57\58, SM7B or similar.

Every time I use a dynamic microphone I get something interesting in terms of some kind of magic in the sound. It works best on loud male vocals, hip hop, rock etc.
Sometimes a less known microphone from a good company can surprise you very much.
For example, I had this dynamic microphone lying around for ages, and never actually used it because I had an SM 58 for every time I needed a dynamic mic.

One day I’ve decided to give it a try and recorded a whole song with it. It was amazing! dare I say better than the SM 58? YES! I love it and use it to this day.
This was the JTS NX8

IMG_E7696-nvpt1gu56vv2h4kt62ptlpcwv5inyjgjn2em6gq7js

What external gear do I need more than that? Of course an audio interface and a preamp.
In most cases, you will have a mic pre on most audio interfaces. You can have nice quality even without a 3000$ preamp, altho that would have been nice to use one.

And last, a good cable can make a real difference in your recording.
I remember when I started recording I used whatever cables I’ve had lying around at that time.
One day I a friend gave me a very expansive cable to try out and I could really hear a difference in sound quality. it was not a huge difference but meaningful enough to get me out and to the store and buy the most expansive XLR mic cable out there 🙂 This was a good investment no doubt.

4. How and what to process on the computer after you finish recording.
There is some sort of magic in the moment you stop recording and start editing your materials.

I also love the raw sound that you get straight from the microphone, the cable, the preamp, and audio interface.
After I finish recording I first make a backup of the whole library and files I’ve just recorded.
And then I take a big break of a few hours or even a whole day to let my mind and ears rest a little bit. It is very important to start editing and shaping the end result with “new ears”.

Basics
Choosing the right takes for each part of the song can take a lot of time and can be a very tiring job.
Eventually, it’s over and you start “mixing” the vocal into the playback.
Usually, I start with an EQ, automatically creating a low cut and a high cut.
At what frequencies? it depends on the source material. But with male vocals, cut at 60hz and 17khz. With female vocals, it’s about the same only the low cut point is a little higher, depends on the singer.

After the EQ I use a compressor to control the dynamics, I’m a sucker for controlled levels.
I don’t like it when things are too “loose”, after the compressor I can use whatever I like to shape the vocal sound. De-esser (If needed) Exciters, Multiband compressors, Analog emulations for coloration and more. I will have another article and video expending about this subject.

EQ & Dynamics are the two most important factors for a good sounding vocal.
If you’re new to this I suggest you get good at those first before you do any other manipulation on the signal. You can do almost everything just with EQ and Compressor, I promise.

Final output levels
After you finish shaping the vocal sound you should get the overall levels to a nice place in terms of levels. There is nothing more frustrating than to hear something in a low level, it requires you to turn up your levels too high and forget you did that. After you finished listening to whatever that was, your system gets kicked by crazy sudden volume from the next track on the playlist. Please, guys, get your levels up, it’s easy, just use any simple limiter. I’m not even calling in mastering.

So this is a very simple and basic article for dealing with vocal recordings.
I hope you got even one good tip out of it. Have a good day and enjoy your recordings guys 🙂

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Use iPhone as a Microphone

Use iPhone as a Microphone

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You can definitely record a professional sounding vocal with today’s iPhones. I did it myself! It’s important to note, I’m not talking about recording ON your iPhone but using it as a microphone to record on a computer or any other recording device. Of course, you can record a good vocal using an App, but this is not today’s topic. All you really need to do is to download an app that lets you monitor your output in real time and a cable to connect your iPhone to your Input on your recording device. In this case, your computer. I used a MacBook with Logic Pro X on it and the built-in input jack. You need the right cable for that. iPhone’s output to your laptop or any audio interface. So let’s start!

Can you believe it? Use iPhone As a Microphone and Record a professional sounding vocal?? no way… Yes, Way!
Hello to all my readers, Avi here, audio engineer and music producer for more than 15 years.

Not long ago I found myself away from my studio equipped only with my laptop with logic, small per of in-ear headphones, a cable and my trusty iPhone 6s.
I had a song I really needed to record a vocal for. I thought about recording on my iPhone just like I’m recording my little demos and immediately dropped the idea.
Later that day I thought to myself “why the hell not? I hooked up my iPhone with a small PL cable to the input on my MacBook, downloaded a small free app called “iTalk” that allowed me to use the iPhone mic with real-time monitoring and started recording the first takes.

I was blown away and so surprised by the results that I immediately decided to send audio samples to all my producer friends and asked them what mic it is in their opinion.
All of them told me that it sounds like a legit condenser microphone from a good company. This was really amazing.

I then continued my recordings and finished a whole song. This wasn’t in a studio or in an acoustically treated room. Of course, my mom called 3 times during this session and then I realized I need to put my phone on flight mode 🙂 At this point, I still can’t believe I can Use an iPhone as a microphone.

Eventually, I finished the session and started comping and editing.
During the whole session, I had a weird feeling that I can’t really trust it and it is going straight to the trash. But the deeper I got into the editing session the stronger was the feeling that I’m on to something really interesting here.

Finally, I had a finished lead vocal for my song. I was so excited by this that I finished working on the production mix and half of the mastering on that specific day. So this song eventually meets the finish line and I felt like a true hero.

I think that this experiment proves a few simple stuff:

1. You don’t have to break your bank to have a good sounding microphone, It might be in your pocket.

2. Never underestimate your gear, whether it is cheap or not.

3. Apple proved themselves again as the greatest company ever! Just kidding don’t kill me for being an Apple boy 🙂

I did not use a pop filter and a microphone stand, I just stood in the middle of a small bedroom and sang to my phone.
I held the phone with the microphone on the bottom of the device pointing to my mouth from the side so I won’t be needing a pop filter.

Because this is an omnidirectional microphone, meaning it picks up audio signals from all directions, I had to close all the windows, turn off the AC and record only between noises of passing cars outside the window. I remind you it was a non-isolated or acoustically treated room.

Final conclusion

I liked this setup so much that I’m looking for stupid reasons to get out of the studio and record demos on the beach, in the field near my home, in my car, in vacations and in every opportunity I have to use my lovely iPhone as a microphone again.
But I have to be honest, of course, I won’t record my clients with an iPhone. It was a nice adventure and a really good thing to learn. I still use my Audio-Technica and Neuman mics.

Here’s another article I wrote filled with tips on how to make your voice sound better when recording.

Thanks for reading

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How To Record Vocals In Logic Pro X

How To Record Vocals In Logic Pro X

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Hey everybody, In this article I’m going to give you my take on vocal recordings in Logic Pro X. More specifically vocal recording for a typical pop song.
Logic is known for its amazing midi capabilities but it also offers a few cool features when it comes to audio recording and editing. Comping in logic is one of the coolest features. I seriously can’t go back to edit any other way.

Quick video guide, keep reading for more info

So this is how I do it.

1. Creating a great basis for a vocal recording session.
2. Choosing the best takes using comping.
3. Fixing the timing.
4. Pitch correction.
5. Work with B vocals, doubles, and harmonies.
6. Importing all the vocal channels back into the main project.

So let’s start

1. Creating a great basis for a vocal recording session.

First I open a project specifically for the vocal recording session. I usually prefer to have the vocals recorded on a clean project and not on the song’s main project. It gives me a clear view of what I do and it also helps the computer work more flawlessly and glitch free.

Then I create the setup for a full vocal session. It means that I open all the needed tracks with most of the plugins already on them. The tracks are as follows:

A. Lead Vocal
B. Lead Left (Double)
C. Lead right (Double)
D. B Vocal Left
E. B Vocal Right
F. Monitoring channel
G. Playback Channel (Stereo bounce of the playback)

After that, I choose the main basic plugins I want to use for the recording session.
Usually, the plugins are EQ & Compressor. During the recordings, I use the plugins with the shortest delay time because I need them to react to a real-time signal.
>> Best EQ Plugins For Vocals
>> How To Use A Compressor On Vocals

In 90% of the times, I like using Logic’s own EQ & Compressor for that.
The signal is being recorded on the engaged channels but played thru the Monitoring Channel.
This way I can use the same plugins and have the same sound for all the recording session.
When I playback the recordings I hear the recorded signal going thru the plugins that are open on each of the channels. I also add a reverb & delay sends if needed.
>> These are my favorite Delay plugins

That’s it, we have all the takes we need for the lead vocal and a few takes to choose from on each of the other channels. Now we are ready for my favorite part, THE COFFEE!


You must let your ears and brain rest for a while to regain your strength and your ability to concentrate.
Sometimes I even save the post-recording stage for the day after.
Note: after I finish recording, I make a backup of the whole project to another hard drive.
DO IT BEFORE THE COFFEE and thank me later.

2. Choosing the best takes using comping.

In this stage, I start with listening and working only on the lead vocal while all the other channels are muted. The reason for dealing with the lead vocal first is because this channel is our guide for all the other vocal channels. Yeah, this is common sense but I guess I still feel the need to point out the obvious.

When the lead vocal will be ready, all the rest of the channels will sync to it in terms of take selection, timing, and pitch. So that way we can get one strong and accurate vocals wall pushing the front row of the song.
This is a general rule of thumb for a lot of pop genres.

So, I like to divide the song and work on each part separately. I start with the first verse in most cases even if the song starts with a chorus. This gives me a sense of a fresh and new beginning.


I start with listening to the whole verse and then I listen to the first sentence on all of the takes and choose the one that sounds and feels best to me. After that, I listen to the second sentence and then the third and so on.
That’s basically the whole process of choosing the right takes for each part. Before I “Flatten” the whole track I always open a new channel and copy the whole open comp on it and then hide it. You can never know when you’d want to go back to it.

3. Fixing the timing.

This is the part where you want to get rid of all the takes you didn’t use and leave only the chosen once. On logic this option is called “Flatten” and it is located inside the comp’s menu.

Now you are left only with the regions you’ve chosen. This is the right time to start tightening the timing.
I usually turn on the click for this part and listen to each separate region by itself to make sure it is exactly synced to the playback and click. 

I love this part because I have a huge thing with vocals sitting on the beat with perfect timing. On this opportunity of working on the separate regions, I make sure that there are crossfades between them, placed on silent parts only. It is very important not to cut breathing noises and little natural sounds in the human voice.

After I have the whole channel done I consolidate it or how it’s called in Logic, “Bounce in place”.
This will take all the regions and export them to one long file. Before you do that make sure to place a small region part on the exact point where the song begins on the grid. That way after you’ll have the lead vocal file no matter if it moved by mistake, it’s starting point will always be on the grid and in sync with the song.

4. Pitch correction.

Ok, in terms of tuning and having everything right on the money I consider myself a complete FREAK. I like everything to be in perfect pitch but still sounding very natural and human. This is a very demanding task. Of course, I can just throw an Autotune plugin on the channel which I commonly do but this is only for the online tuning part of the vocal. Some of the heavy lifting are done with offline tuning before the signal even goes to the Autotune.

In Logic Pro X there’s a feature called Flex Pitch. This is very similar to Melodyne in nature but is embedded in Logic’s audio engine so it is much more flexible then Melodyne in my opinion. I must add the as for this version, Melodyne’s algorithm still sounds a little bit better than Logic’s Flex Pitch. So you can choose whatever is best for you. I find that if using lightly, Flex Pitch sounds just as good as Melodyne so it’s good enough for me.

Remember, the offline tuning must come before the online tuning in the signal chain.
But I always do the offline tuning while the Autotune is working on the channel in a relatively slow response time and every once in a while I turn of the Autotune to get a sense for what is going on with the signal just with Flex Pitch activated.
This allows me to find the perfect sweet spot between offline and online tuning.

After I finish with the tuning and pitch correction, I bounce the track to a clean channel once more to print all the process I did with Flex Pitch on the offline tuning. This way I can turn off the Flex Pitch option and save my ass from possible glitches in the future.

So what do we have now? We have a PERFECT VOCAL TRACK ready for the mix.

5. Work with B vocals, doubles, and harmonies.

This part is usually like the second born child, this is much less stressful for me. Now all I have to do is to make sure I choose the right takes out of all the doubles and harmonies in relation to the lead vocal.

I do it pretty fast and it always comes out perfect. every once in a while I need to fix the timing for specific parts but it’s not a big deal. On these channels, I only use online tuning. One Autotune plugin for each channel with the right settings and it works like magic.

All the extra vocals are going to one bus channel on the mixer so that way I can control it’s levels and automations in one strip.
Of course, I also do ‘bounce in place” to all the B vocals to have them organized in single files and not have every channel scattered across multiple files. So that way I have one final vocal file for each channel.

6. Importing all the vocal channels back into the main project.

Now that we have all the vocal channels, tunes, timing perfected and organized we can import them back into the production’s main project and continue to mix the song.

We do it by opening the main production project and importing the vocal channels from the vocal recording project. Easy.

THAT’S IT.
Thank you for reading.

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