Production game changers!

Discuss everything related to production, recording, composition, etc.

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clapclap
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Production game changers!

Post by clapclap » Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:12 pm

Let's talk about gear that has just flat out made you just flat out more productive in your studio. This could be a VST, synth, DAW, effect or just anything that has made you into an efficient producer. Instead of focusing on just the gear that you envy for aesthetic purposes or just overall sound I want to start a discussion on gear that makes your work come together as opposed to making you feel less focused on say the end goal of completing a song.

I'll start off with throwing out what is flowing with me at the moment. First of all I picked up an Ableton Push and it is upping my drum game for sure. Working in Ableton to just knock out the drum transitions really makes my newest songs work dynamically. I hate to add a bit of gear envy already but it makes me wanna go for the Push 2 for the nicer pads.

Additionally I found out by actually selling some synths, creating some space in my studio, and organizing my studio has given myself a better mental space to work on my music. I would love to hear what works for y'allllll.

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Soy Sos
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Post by Soy Sos » Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:37 pm

Last week I had to abruptly swap out my monitor pair in the studio
from the Mackies I've been using for years to a mid priced 8" JBL pair.
The JBL's felt less low and so I added a Mackie sub this weekend
that's rated down to 20hz. Setting the crossover to 60hz and
playing with levels, i've found a setting that gives me a better sense
of the subharmonics. I've been doing a lot of listening to commercial
source material and cross checking old mixes.
I've got a very well treated and custom built room and it's sounding even more balanced!

Feeling very pleased!

calaveras
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Post by calaveras » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:03 pm

I used to be all about trying to have a studio that has all the same pieces that a 'real studio' has.
So I had to have a mixer, patchbay, outboard effects and a bunch of patch cables. You know, so you have maximum routing flexibility, for all those late night incredibly sophisticated things you are surely going to do. :lol:

I later on figured out that I work faster and better just having a couple good preamps plugged into ch1 and ch2. I'm not re-patching things a lot unless I just bought something new, and then it just gets patched to my overflow audio interface.
The patch bay and mixer were useful for very specific uses, but were simply adding complexity to my setup that I wasn't exploiting beyond 'oh look a master volume fader'.

I never really got around to multing a signal so I could use it to key a dynamics processor. Or using the inserts on the mixer to pre-process a signal before it goes through the rest of the mixer.

I think especially when you are working as an individual, it's helpful to have that engineering side simplified and buttoned down. So that you can just flick a switch and record. Not have to plug a cable in beyond picking up a guitar or a synth.
(oops I forget to wrap up my train of thought).
So I have a UA LA610 MKII and a Summit 2BA221. Each pre has a distinct tone. And both have a number of little things that distinguish them for different roles. I prefer one for guitar, the other for bass. Neither for my voice :despair:
Last edited by calaveras on Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dubonaire
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Post by dubonaire » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:17 pm

Two piece of hardware really made a different for me: a Soundcraft MTK22 mixing desk, and a Cirklon.

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Post by xparis001 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:29 pm

for me, it was adding a Burl Vancouver summing amp to my setup. it sounds amazing, especially when the track count is getting igh. i honestly wanted to believe it wasnt true, and summing amps didnt matter, but as soon as I heard it, I knew. I brought others in, just to make sure I wasnt crazy, and 3 people, one untrained ear, one bedroom producer, and one pro all could blindly pick the better sounding mix, and each time it was the vancouver.
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The Goob
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Post by The Goob » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:01 pm

Neumann KH 120 monitors have made a big difference in being able to get things sounding good quickly

Using Ableton for sequencing makes it so easy to work in a non-linear way and try different musical ideas out

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Ranxerox
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Post by Ranxerox » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:50 pm

I wouldn't say a game changer exactly, but I acquired a set of Lucid 88192 AD/DA converters earlier in the year, which opened up my sound a bit and made it easier to send stuff in and out of my DAW for processing.

Image

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Gribs
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Post by Gribs » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:18 pm

RME Fireface 800 (have had it a long time)
Presonus Central Station (also a long time friend)
Patch bays
Jettisoning a workstation keyboard and getting just an 88 key controller instead.
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Post by DiscoDevil » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:56 pm

Pioneer SP-16
Zaquencer

Those two pieces changed everything for me.

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clapclap
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Post by clapclap » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:36 pm

calaveras - that same approach worked for me as well. I was trying to do what you described minus the patch bay although I considered one for some time. I even have a 4 track tape machine that doesn't get much use sitting there. I keep convincing myself I'm gonna bounce more tracks down to tape from ableton or just record some drums to achieve that nice tape compression for some samples but I rarely do.

Simplifying typically works better for me.

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Post by memes_33 » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:58 pm

no single piece of gear has really changed things substantially in my setup, other than general "modular" gear has made it so i don't ever finish any "productions".

one concept that has accelerated my biggest challenge (final mixing) is ill gates' "128s" strategy. the strategy itself is specific to ableton live, where you capture sounds you like/create into a library of 128 samples, and allows you to scroll through sounds on-the-fly to find things that work well together sonically. the idea is that if you build tracks based on sounds that already work well together, your time mixing is greatly reduced.

this concept is difficult to apply to modular for obvious reasons, but the larger concept of dedicating time to designing sounds and building libraries vs. actual arrangement/production time can be somewhat applied. if you have some spare time, or are just not in a creatively inspired mood, put that time into making it easier when you are inspired. the easier/quicker it is for you to access useful tools when you are in that creative space ends up paying off.

this concept is probably most useful for beat-oriented music (for me, its most useful on drum sounds)

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Post by thisoldmike » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:19 pm

I picked up an Elektron Digitakt when they first came out, and over the last few months I've been incredibly productive with it. I'm impressed with how it allows me to quickly and easily put together the bones of a song, drive the modular rig (via a CV.OCD), and simultaneously sequence my Micromonsta and Korg MS2000. It's remarkably intuitive and just a blast to play with.

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Muzone
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Post by Muzone » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:48 am

calaveras wrote:I used to be all about trying to have a studio that has all the same pieces that a 'real studio' has......
Takes a while to realise this, but then it's biscuits and gravy all the way :)

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Post by spinach_pizza » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:20 am

thisoldmike wrote:I picked up an Elektron Digitakt when they first came out, and over the last few months I've been incredibly productive with it. I'm impressed with how it allows me to quickly and easily put together the bones of a song, drive the modular rig (via a CV.OCD), and simultaneously sequence my Micromonsta and Korg MS2000. It's remarkably intuitive and just a blast to play with.
:tu:

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Post by tron23 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:25 am

dubonaire wrote:Two piece of hardware really made a different for me: a Soundcraft MTK22 mixing desk, and a Cirklon.
This. Proper mixer and a good sequencer! :guinness:

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Post by RadioTelefonik » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:10 pm

My workflow slowed right the hell down in recent years, but the minute I booted up a Casio RZ-1, I started pumping out tracks like mad. They were all lofi house tools, but the immediacy of the machine really got me back into enjoying music production again. That and the decreased pressure of making things sound 'polished'. It was just fun to make tunes again.

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Post by SB-SIX » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:22 pm

The real game changers for me were ableton back in the days and now bitwig. Without them, music making would still feel like work instead of fun. And of course eurorack.
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Post by rod_zero » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:35 pm

Ableton Live, I tried Reaper and cubase before and din't get with them.

Ableton Push, really put the fun back in to making music with software.

RME Fireface UC, unrivaled quality and stability, it is invaluable to have a "problem free" set up.

Syntorial, really helped me learning synthesis like never before.

Melodics, using this to improve my chops, even if I hate the majority of the music used it is good for having structured practicing schedules.

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Post by noisejockey » Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:18 pm

In order:

RME Fireface
Eurorack
Crane Song HEDD
Buchla
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Post by slumberjack » Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:11 am

six years ago: as soon as i found out how to work with a hardware sequencer my workflow changed (had no clue before about midi other than plug a microControl into ableton) - since the cirklon arrived two years later everything is different.

last year: as soon as i switched from ableton to reaper my mixes instantly sounded way more clear. i use ableton rewired for specific needs now.

now: my guts says i should overthink my 40ch mixingdesk for multi tracking.

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Post by MarcelP » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:11 am

dubonaire wrote:Two piece of hardware really made a different for me: a Soundcraft MTK22 mixing desk, and a Cirklon.
I second the MTK22 - streamlined workflow and sonic clarity straight out of the box. Excellent for working with Modular.

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Post by Carrousel » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:09 am

dubonaire wrote:Two piece of hardware really made a different for me: a Soundcraft MTK22 mixing desk, and a Cirklon.
Yep Cirklon definitely for me. I like to record everything at once and I was never able to create complex multi-part synchronised changes in a satisfactory way before (struggling with only 2 hands and also latency). Cirklon has allowed me to create entire songs live before hitting record and capturing it all in one.

I guess the mixer is the other part of it too, being able to 'dub mix' the recording as the cirklon sequences it out. So yeah, I agree with Dubonaire (although I haven't used a soundcraft). I use a Mixwizard and a pair of MOTUs.
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Post by giugno » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:17 pm

Using Logic has helped me expand my horizons a lot. Being able to easily add soft synths to recordings made with hardware allows me to do a lot that i couldnt before. Ableton never really clicked with me.

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Post by BikerDude » Mon Feb 05, 2018 2:41 pm

Most people are way more technical than I am.
I just try to get things recorded with the levels being close to right.
So my big biggest additions are pretty basic.
Once I started putting everything through a mixing board to my digital multitrack that saved me tweaking everything on the recorder which is a pain on the little tiny screen. And also adding a vocal processor helped me not need to mess around in the recorder.

I prefer to have everything that I need to tweak outside the recorder.
I like physical dials and sliders. Turn it up. Turn it down. Click on an effect and adjust the level. Much better than clicking through screens.

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Post by Michael O. » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:41 pm

A large-format board with an integral patchbay (16 rows of 48 TT jacks) increased my productivity and efficiency in a huge way. Having all the routing, eq settings, in/out levels, aux, etc. in an easy to comprehend and visually organized format is a major game changer.

A proper pathbay benefits productions of any size. Not having to climb behind racks to alter signal chains saves time and therefore money.

Synth-wise, ditching pc and Mac for Atari ST’s running Notator/Creator has made composing, arranging, and recording with midi-equipped instruments a breeze. Not having to deal with bloated contemporary sequencers that seemed to always end up crashing at the worst time avoids tons of frustration. Plus the timing is incomparably tighter.

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