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Production, Mixing, Mastering Tutorials
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author Production, Mixing, Mastering Tutorials
555x555
After producing a truly awful mix, I've been scraping the web for various start-with-the-basics tutorials. Turns out, 90% of things are in the form of one-off "tips" that apply to maybe one song, if they're even relevant to electronic music at all. But there are a few more directed expositions. I figured, why work only for myself, so here's what I found, if it helps anyone else. I'm sure there are many others I missed, of course. Probably even whole categories I left out.

Probably start here:

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=29283

Monitoring setup, digital and analog levels, and metering, post-loudness wars:

https://www.digido.com/portfolio-item/level-practices-part-1/
https://www.digido.com/portfolio-item/level-practices-part-2/
https://www.digido.com/portfolio-item/subwoofers/
https://www.recordingrevolution.com/gain-staging-your-daw-with-trim-pl ugins-video/
https://www.justmastering.com/article-checking-mixes-in-the-car.php

And a great free metering plugin:

http://www.voxengo.com/product/spanplus/

(Switch it to dbFS+3 for standard RMS levels. I'm not totally sure why that is, but this is what I read somewhere.)

These are good tutorials for the basic toolset -- EQ and Compression. A little basic at times, especially for someone who is used to thinking about modulars, but I still found them pretty useful:

https://www.recordingrevolution.com/the-simple-guide-to-eq/
https://www.recordingrevolution.com/the-simple-guide-to-compression/

Dealing with stereo:

https://www.recordingrevolution.com/dont-crowd-the-mix-box-part-1-vide o/
https://www.recordingrevolution.com/dont-crowd-the-mix-box-part-2-vide o/
https://www.justmastering.com/article-stereo-width.php
https://www.justmastering.com/article-mixing-with-reverb.php

Getting to the final digital format. I.e. the part of mastering that isn't checking and improving your mixes:

https://www.justmastering.com/article-mixingformp3.php
https://www.justmastering.com/article-masteredforitunes.php
https://help.apple.com/itc/musicstyleguide/en.lproj/static.html
https://bandcamp.com/help/uploading
tross
Now there is a shitlots of material on Youtube for this topic. In my opinion one of the best is this guy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0zzmN5qzSBt1GxHQ6N1_mg
sonnobadger
Love this, thank you.
flo
Check this epic thread, one of the best things to ever happen on the Internet: https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=29283

Let me also recommend the UBK Happy Funtime Hour podcast hihi applause

Finally, experience. Do lots of mixes. Re-mix if you're not happy. Just keep doing it and the results will evolve by themselves.
cretaceousear
There's a free course on Coursera - it's not bad but a bit basic - doesn't cover mastering for instance.
555x555
flo wrote:
Check this epic thread, one of the best things to ever happen on the Internet: https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=29283


OMG, "one of the best things to ever happen on the Internet" is not even overselling it. Adding that to the first post.

cretaceousear wrote:
There's a free course on Coursera - it's not bad but a bit basic - doesn't cover mastering for instance


Where? A quick google brought up some Berklee classes, but idk about free. Never used Coursera before...
cretaceousear
Well I think it was Coursera - looks like this is the instructor:
https://www.coursera.org/learn/technology-of-music-production

But I see Berklee only give 7 days free now - maybe it changed.

TBH I'd done plenty of reading up and using sound gear as an amateur for too long - so the course didn't have much above what YouTube has.
If you go YouTube it's good if you follow one person's method while you figure it out. Different people do things in different ways.

I'm better at doing mixes now but still struggle with compression.
A reasonable pair of monitors helps a lot and always do playbacks on different systems.

If you're totally in the box and not using external analog gear for effects you don't need to worry too much about the levels of individual tracks - it's only when you render out a final file you need to ensure you are at -3 db. Do conversions to mp3 as a separate process, from a finished wav at the end.
I'm no expert.
tross
It al depends on what you are actually searching for. Production technics or mixing. I thing the best way is to divide this two approaches even though they are now connected more then ever.

Anyway creativelive.com have very nice courses as well .
dogoftears
my suggestions:

-treat your room. 1st reflections and corner trapping a MUST. ceiling doesn't hurt either. place your gear and speakers in a sensible part of the room, avoid compromises such as facing the long side or using a smaller room for whatever reason (spouse and kids, step aside please). you can either learn to do it from the internet and DIY everything, or you can hire an acoustician. i paid $1200 for a used kit of acoustic panels, resonator traps, and an incredible diffusion panel that fit *perfectly* in my room, and another $600 to a couple of my friends who came over with all the pieces, measured the room with a mic, and helped me make decisions about placement of everything. found the kit on craigs list. whole thing cost less than my first rack of Bugbrand modules.

this will remove so much doubt, you can just mix for things to "sound good" instead of pissing into a windy dark night now... i really think treatment is the #1 thing that prevents folks from making good sounding mixes and recordings.

and then:
-get full range, 3-way speakers. this is expensive. but worth it. if you don't want to splurge on 3-way speakers, then at least make sure to get nearfields which are NOT ported. there are not very many 2 way designs without ports, and the ones that aren't ported tend to have not-so-much low end response. this is ok, detail in the midrange is actually what matters. however, the bass trapping from step 1 will really make it seem like there is less low end in your studio, so it helps after acoustic treatment to get some nice big full range speakers. there are affordable options from Neumann, Barefoot, et al.

could also discuss converters, but that topic tends to be more controversial, so i won't go there. if you have a treated room and accurate speakers you've got a good head start, and chances are you will notice on your own the kind of effect your converter has on the chain, since this now becomes likely the "weakest link."

i am really blown away when i look through the modular pic threads, see these incredible studios with 10s of thousands of dollars worth of gear, all huddled into some corner of an untreated room at a weird angle, with tiny little 2 way speakers placed way too close together and at the wrong height and possibly with some gear obscuring the throw of one of them. i don't think folks understand just how exciting it is to have an accurate room. you will want to spend way more time in there, and get more done, and feel more confident about your work and decisions.
cretaceousear
I found this page useful to print out for hints and tips on EQ frequencies - the table headed "Recommended frequencies"

http://www.menet.umn.edu/~kgeisler/EQ/primer.htm

There's charts showing instrument ranges alongside piano - like this one, but it's very densely packed.
http://www.independentrecording.net/irn/resources/freqchart/main_displ ay.htm

A chart showing pitches and EQ against a piano keyboard :
555x555
dogoftears wrote:
my suggestions:
-treat your room.
and then:
-get full range, 3-way speakers.


Obviously it's not what you get for $1500, but a few of these seem to be doing a pretty decent job for me:

https://www.harborfreight.com/72-inch-x-80-inch-movers-blanket-66537.h tml

The room is simply quieter by like 8db or so. Monitoring close to the speakers at low volumes also helps. And ported speakers are the devil. This has a lot of gory details: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/yamaha-ns10-story

No matter how you do modular, it's expensive; but what "expensive" means to different people varies quite a lot. Priorities are valid for any budget, though.

I'm actually mixing most of the time through Q701 headphones (yeah, yeah, I know). These need a very strong driver, but once they have enough juice they are pretty flat from 20Hz up to like 3k or so. Over 3k, the response is good but there are 7 or 8 peaks; 3 before 12k or so, 3-4 in that little 12k-20k window. Patience, an EQ, and a good sweep tone, however, can get them pretty damn flat. Since so many people are listening through headphones these days, possibly as their primary experience, I feel like this is what we really need: proper "studio monitor" headphones. Of course, from what I hear there are technical difficulties in making such a thing, so speakers are still pretty key. But I can't see not at least checking both pretty carefully these days. There's a plugin that levels headphones and has profiles of a few headphones, but it's not a bad exercise to do it yourself.

tross wrote:
It all depends on what you are actually searching for. Production technics or mixing. I thing the best way is to divide this two approaches even though they are now connected more then ever.


Yeah, idk. I see a lot of advice about separating things, like just write the song when you're writing, just record when you're recording, then just "pre-mix" i.e. fix levels and obvious problems on individual tracks, then mix, then master, etc., etc. On the one hand, I get it; if you're constantly thinking one step ahead you aren't thinking of the step you're on. On the other hand, if you're writing dubstep, for example, and you're determined that your master will fit firmly in the genre of huge bassdrops and squealing 303s+rats, you're maybe going to use a multiband compressor to duck things and make room for the boom and squeal (these are doubtless bad examples; remember: I'm still doing pretty shitty at this stage). But of course, it would probably be better if instead of doing that, you put some sidechain compression on the mix to duck whole instruments instead of frequency bands. But then, instead of doing that, you might ask what notes and/or instruments are getting in the way of you booming and squealing to your heart's content. And you might find that you've written too thick or two sparse of an arrangement, maybe you need to syncopate something to get it out of the way by changing its time, maybe you need to play something an octave higher or lower, maybe you used a saw which is bleeding all over your frequency spectrum when a triangle would do, etc. This is especially true of electronic music where sound design is automatically pushed back before performance, if not before composition. Anyway, I'm still making shitty mixes, so what do I know, but this is the impression I get from what I'm reading/hearing/thinking about.

cretaceousear wrote:
I found this page useful to print out for hints and tips on EQ frequencies.


Well I have a little knob on my bass drum that can most definitely make that 50Hz thing wrong, so I'm a little skeptical. But one of the most useful things I came across was this:

https://www.justmastering.com/article-working-the-mids-part-2.php

Which has a chart that gives the "feel" of certain frequency ranges and what getting them right and wrong in various ways sounds like in a very generalized sense. That was one of my "aha!" moments.
baxoutthebox
Pensado's Place on YT is loaded with incredible information.

The episodes with Jaycen Joshua are truly revelatory
cretaceousear
Yeah it doesn't help that most guides are for rock or all purpose pop.

The profiling tools look to be a clever solution but you need a calibrated mic - too many variables otherwise.
mcgold
Here's one of my favorite youtube channels for advanced production and mixing techniques in Ableton Live: https://www.youtube.com/user/QuantizeCourses

He's an ableton certified trainer so he shows you some really clever tricks using stock plugins in short, concise videos that take your production to the next level if you're already pretty strong. He cover's a lot of hot topics like "fatter bass" and "more natural percussion" and stuff like that and it's all for more underground techno/deep house/tech house genres which is a welcome change from much of the youtube tutorial space.

He also has paid video courses on his website as well as a paid mentorship program with some pretty great testimonials.
rishin
Kadenze has great courses on new musical methods as well..(I think there's one wholly dedicated to sound design in video game context).
noisejockey
cretaceousear wrote:
Yeah it doesn't help that most guides are for rock or all purpose pop.


I agree, and it sucks that there isn't a better alternative for modern production (is there a market for that? if we think so, that gives me ideas). But that stuff can still be useful if you've got the right mindset.

"I crush the overheads hard with a compressor" = crush the reverb send for your synthesized drums

"I put the vocals dead center in the mix" = Arrange your track so whatever the most important melody is sits in the same frequency range (1-3kHz or so) and have it be mono

"I have to watch out for poor phase correlation between my room/ambience mics" = Narrow the width, or lessen the wet levels, of your reverbs to avoid bad stereo phase issues

What's more, yes, we are all in a post-studio era where composing, arrangement, mixing and performance are all blended. But jazz is a little like that, too, and one can STILL patch a modular with a sense of arrangement, and improvise live to two-track with a sense of composition, and can multi-track a piece with a solid sense of performance. These fundamentals still matter, even if now they're sub-processes as opposed to really separate and discrete phases of a process.
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