Tip 4.) Stop. Go for a walk. Go for a run. Call a loved one. Take a break.🎚 🎛 ❤️
Tip 3.) Cut down on nasty/harsh ringing in the 3-4KHz area - it can/will make your tracks sound sharp and amateurish. Learn to work with an EQ band set to a super narrow Q (Q = EQ bandwidth) to hulk smash horrible frequencies; it works great on drums (video ex.1: drum room mics), guitars (video ex: 2) and especially lead vocals (video ex. 3).
Obviously you could automate on/off on certain sections, or adjust the gain/amount of cut on certain sections (e.g. the singer sounds fine until they start belting it out). The EQ curve might ‘look wrong’ but it often sounds fantastic, especially if you have a frequency hunter EQ like PSP Neon (used in the below example) or FabFilter’s Pro-Q; experiment with Linear Phase EQs, too. I’ll dip out 20dB on a lead vocal, no problem - I'm fearless, like a tiger. Try it. Don’t be scared homie. 🎚 🎛 ❤️
Tip 2.) De-ess vocals the grown up way: manually zoom in on the waveform and chop out the ssssibilant parts (they’re easy to recognise, as you can see from the GIF below) and reduce the clip gain on that region - around 6-8dB is usually a good starting point. You might need to apply a little crossfade to address any clicks/pops when overlapping the normal region. A little more time consuming, but by far the best method. You can probably get a whole track done in 10-15 minutes once you become proficient - rap vox may take a little longer. Don’t be lazy.
Of course, this will be ‘pre-inserts’ (i.e. before your plugin chain), so if you’re using a lot of compression and/or distortion, go right ahead and try a de-esser plugin near the end of your chain, too.
Finally, be sure to check the sibilance once a ton of compression has been applied to the lead vox, as well as on the master bus. Once the song compressed and limited, it will become a lot more apparent.
Tip 1.) Side chaining: not just for crazy electro kids with the UNF UNF UNF UNF and the donks. Use it to knock a couple of dBs off your bass line when the kick hits, helping it cut through and keep your master bus from exploding. Used subtly it won’t really be noticeable, and you could even use it so that you can make your track louder overall - but I am hoping that you use these tips for good and not evil.
It doesn't have to be much:
A little while back I started jotting down a bunch of short mixing/mastering/song-writing and production tips that I’ve learned over the past few years. I thought it might be a nice idea to share these, one or two a day, until the end of time. Perhaps I'll even post them all in one post, one day.
I know that there are tons of other accounts (Twitter, blogs, etc) that do this and I’m not trying to suddenly pretend to be some sort of sage on music creation. Some people aren't following me to try to learn how to make music, and yes, social media is gross. But if one of them help anyone, then hopefully it's useful. I do hope that's OK with you?
Really, I created these as reminders for myself - I still look at them all the time when I’m struggling - but perhaps they’d be useful for anyone that makes music and cares to read them. They’re might be a specific piece of direct advice/suggestion, or it could be an Eno-esque Oblique Strategies style snippet, to encourage a bit of thought and intentionally left open to interpretation. Context is not required/lack of context is encouraged.
I do hope you find these useful - if you’d like me to expand on any of them (I'll go as in depth as you like, and post it here, with examples), just get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have fun and make great music ❤️
Every time my brother goes to to the states, he seems to come back with a Strat. This time was no different. The new one is a Limited Edtion Custom Shop, 'Wildwood 10' in shell pink, with a light relic. It's got a humbucker in the bridge position, which I think needs to go, but otherwise it might just be my dream guitar.
I was asked to record some guitar for Kidkanevil's project with Sadler's Wells. He liked slide and some old school blues/roots music, so I did some slide, as well as a whole bunch of odd stuff which will probably weird him out. He'll be sampling it and turning it into tracks for the dancers.
Richie Hayes is one of the talented guys I know. I don't really know if he's 'mainly' a drummer, a keyboard player, a guitarist, a singer or songwriter. He plays the bass too, of course, but nobody wants to be 'mainly a bass player'.
A while back, I helped him with a rekkid. He came to me with a few songs - the drums, bass, organ and guitars already recorded in a suitably lo-fi manner. We tracked the vocals, a horn section, vibraphone, a little guitar and a few other bits and pieces. I mixed what we had and mastered the digital and vinyl versions, including the flip side of the record.
The other side of the EP featured three tracks from Noonday Underground (DJ Simon Dine & singer Daisy Martey. Dine had previously been a member of Adventures in Stereo. Martey was for a time the singer in Morcheeba.) It was released on 12" Vinyl by Art Gallery Records.
The record is brilliant (well, Richie's side is, anyway). What's scary is that I know that his future music is gonna sound even better.
I love how the songs sound - I do know that, 2-3 years later, I would have mixed things differently, as is the usual way. We have plans to work on more songs in 2017. Cannae wait.
You can listen to the record by clicking the big red album cover below. You can buy the record from the following places... or just click on the big red picture to stream for freeeeeee... :