The best production tip/ concept you learnt in 2018?


(Ledger) #1

One of those end of year threads, because it`s December and why not? :slight_smile:

The best production tip/ concept you learnt in 2018?… I finally understood the value of Mid-Side compression on buses and master bus!

I`ve had MS compressors on my hard drive for years but never really utilised them properly; just tinkering then defaulting back to stereo. However I started demoing and ended up buying Cylone Compressor after trying on the master bus and it finally clicked.

Basically If you want to add significant compression to a bus with heavy kicks and bass (content that should mostly be centred), you`re going to collapse your stereo field as the compressor pulls excessively on higher frequency stereo stuff -> frustration and misery! :mellow: :mellow: :mellow:

Use mid side compression and you can keep your stereo info in tact :walkman: …Yay Pro soundz 2019!!!

Of course it doesnt mean you should never use stereo processing on the bus, just that if you want to maintain stereo width, its worth playing with some ms processing too-- particularly if you want to do more than a couple of dB compression, as in typical SSL bus-comp style.


Some mid-side freebies (I`ve only tested HBC recently though)

Density Compressor

MS EQ COMP - which seems to require registration manager / app

Not full m/s control, but has m/s slider so you can reduce the compression happening at the sides. One of my favourite freeware compressors aswell (scroll halfway down page):
Hybrid bus Compressor-2


Cheapware: (Cyclone currently going for under $10 on sale)
Cyclone compressor


The Group Buy + Offer Thread.
(joule) #2

I haven’t learnt anything major mixing/mastering wise, but when it comes to arranging/composing I’ve learnt some things.

Something fundamental that somehow has slipped me by: All numbers above 2 are combinations of 2 and 3. It seems like most rhythm can be formalized using that fact. A simple probabilistic rhythm generator based on this fact is more useful than a euclidean generator.

Some other things… when it comes to chords/pads. Parallel voice leading (breaking “the rule”) works for chords that should stand out - like riffs. For much smoother voice leading, a very simple algo is to 1) always keep a common note between chords. If it doesn’t exist, create it by an intermediate sus chord, as an example. 2) Make sure that this common note has the same place/order as in the chord before. Done.


(Ledger) #3

I think Euclidean generators and Parallel voice leading (though not mixing and mastering), qualify you nicely for this 2018 educational thread!

#protipsforall


(James Britt / Neurogami) #4

Not sure if these are particular to 2018, but probably.

I think I’m getting better results by greater use of compression at the track/group level, avoiding squashing the whole track at the end.

Plus being more mindful of filtering/EQing tracks/groups so they aren’t stepping on each other. More rolling off lows/highs where they are not essential to avoid build-up.


(Ledger) #5

Yep, good tips there! I need to focus more on using grouping better myself. I suspect I should be using more group multiband processing too.


(Zer0 Fly) #6

seperating the dry/wet of reverb/delay by putting the 100%wet 0%dry reverb into a group or send and making sure the dry also gets to the premaster in parallel. and then process the reverb tail on its own, own eq, pre gate, chorus/phaser and exciter, post delay and compressor, stereo width, sidechain ducking…only on the wet reverb


(Ledger) #7

Yes, you can get some really nice ambiences/ fx by processing reverb + delay separately. A nice job to get lost in creatively too!

Keep em coming folks!


(Redman) #8

Using a signal follower on a kick drum track set to sweep a lowpass filter from 75hz to 20khz on a seperate track that’s playing back another sample. Everytime the kick drum triggers the filter opens and then closes as the kick signal dies down. Really fast for creating melodic stabs based on the kick pattern of the song. Whack in any sampled audio, like an old song you did or something sampled like a classical piece and you get this continually evolving series of melodic stabs. Then fucking with it further by using a key tracker on the kick drum track to reset a random lfo set that switches on and off a gainer set to -INF for varied stab selection. Then repeating the process again for randomising fx.

Sidechaining reverb gain so that it fades up in volume as the source sound fades out. Simple enough but I used to never do this and just drowned mixes in reverb which sounded awful. Silly me.

Smashing audio through a maximizer using 12 maxed out gainers to bring all audio to a constant level. Great for finding hidden sounds that are buried in the floor of audio samples. Does cool stuff to reverb to as it forces the reverb to sustain unnaturally.

Jumping backwards in time by duplicating a track and then playing it back 1/4 note behind the original and randomly switching between them. Can be useful for creating cool rhythmic effects and dj scratch type sounds. You can extend it further by having the duplicated sample reversed or having an fx chain on, etc.


(tris) #9

It’s ok to sample the crap out of your favourite tracks and create something in the same genre, you’ll always end up putting your own spin on it anyway. I always used to think of that as cheating for some reason.


(Ledger) #10

Gonna have to try some of that stuff out Redman. I like the sound of the first signal follower tip a lot!

@tris the only problem I can see there is if you release commercially on bancamp or something, particularly if the samples are recognisable. Good source for inspiration though.


(midi error) #11

focus on having three main elements at any one time, you can switch them around - but any more may be confusing for people to listen to!


(Ledger) #12

focus on having three main elements at any one time, you can switch them around - but any more may be confusing for people to listen to!

I guess you`re talking non drum/ bass elements, so something like these three on top?:

  1. Chord stabs

  2. Melody

  3. Chopped vocal


(midi error) #13

more like drums, vocal and bass… main elements in a track, if you focus on having three strong ones which hold the attention and drive the track, its better than layering up with 6 or 6 where nothing actually leads the way.

i have written lots of little things like this down, i’ll try and get a list together


(random) #14

if you play, jam around with just one instrument avoid (for first) low frequencies

Melodies, Riffs, Chords are more accessible from Mid Frequencies (Creativity)


(Zer0 Fly) #15

about mixing sounds against each other so each can be heard clearly. well I’m not sure if all this is correct. I never read about it in books or so…I just made this up doing my own research, but it seems to work™ for me.

human hearing is divided into “critical bands”, that are like bandpass filters that can move their centers a bit up and down to focus elements. Humans can only distinguish one sound per band. the bark scale seems to be easiest to use for such purposes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bark_scale

if in one critical band partials of a sound are like about 3-6bd louder than any other noise in that band, that sound will be clearly audible in the foreground. ofc you can mix a sound so it is in foreground in multiple critical bands. if other bands are shaddowed, the sound will be audible just like it would sound with only the foreground bands audible (you can check with filters/eqs).

this seems to be true for transients at the same time as for tonal sounds or atonal noise. so each band can yield both transients and some continuous tone, and all might be heard clearly.

regarding timbre of a sound, if its energies are mostly at the bottom range of a band, it will be percieved as “low/relaxed” while on the upper side of each band it will sound like “high pitched/pressed/energetic”. this is also true that a noise centered about the lower range of a higher band will sound more “relaxed” than one on the upper side of a band below.

for transients there seems to be a certain timeframe within they melt into one perceived hit, or if far away enough in time will be distinguishable. so shifting a track in time such that the attacks, especially of rhythmic sounds, are aligned in a succession in time in order of importance, can result in the attacks of the single hits becomming more clear leading to good separation of the sounds. To glue them together ofc you would have to do the opposite and align the peaks of the transients as exact as possible.

regarding the continuous tones, especially in the mids, although most often mixing two sound would result in mud, it seems sometimes possible to mix two tones with different timbre in a band, and get away with that band sustaining two instruments as the sounds blend.

another nice trick is clearing single bands for bringing up certain transients or reverb tails. for example, if my snare punches at 400hz, it might be a good idea to notch or sidechain that range away from other instruments, so that the snare punch will be strongly perceivable. or chop some out rigidly at around 7000hz without crippling timbre too much, and then eq some reverbs to be strong within that band -> suddenly space/depth can become perceivable even in a busy mix.

at some frequencies the human hearing seems to be more able to seperate muddy stuff from each other, this seems to be true around 1000hz and especially around 3400hz - here it seems to be possible to place vital info and delay tails etc. of multiple instruments.

a good idea to find problematic areas can be to have a sharp bandpass filter on the master and tune it for a single band, then toggle. sweeping, you can check your mix very well, and see where each instrument is in the foreground, and which bands consist of mud and would need some work out.

for stereo the possible info seems to be kind of partially doubled, so there is potentially extra info perceivable. but not all people will listen with headphones, so it might be a good idea to mix or consistently check for clarity in mono mode, and consider width and panning stuff as secondary qualities. this way you will have a clean mix as desired under any stereo circumstances. because it is possible, that something will sound very easily distinguishable in a good stereo field, but will collapse to mud on a badly placed home stereo.

ofc trying to mix with just this info and deaf ears is bullshit, you will generate ugly unnatural gibberish. you still need to eq sounds by ear, such that they sound well defined. but this info can help a lot in finding and fixing problems, when you just can’t get that mud weeded out and need a guideline about what and where to look for.


(lettuce) #16

@ Zero Fly : Hey thanks this is great information.

I have a question about stereo and panning after lookng at this part :

for stereo the possible info seems to be kind of partially doubled, so there is potentially extra info perceivable. but not all people will listen with headphones, so it might be a good idea to mix or consistently check for clarity in mono mode, and consider width and panning stuff as secondary qualities. this way you will have a clean mix as desired under any stereo circumstances. because it is possible, that something will sound very easily distinguishable in a good stereo field, but will collapse to mud on a badly placed home stereo.

A while back I was thinking about doubling every instrument and doing a complete symmetry panning setup, do you think it could work out nice in both ‘headphones’ and ‘mono sound system’ situations…might be able to get the best of both worlds, having a little movement in the panning as well as being mono compatible? Im not sure. Would things be cancelling each other out with ‘symettrical panning’ on every instrument in a song? any general tips on panning?

This is the post about the symettrical panning technique I was thinking of using:

https://forum.renoise.com/t/pxx-panning-command-guide/48824

another one :

https://forum.renoise.com/t/some-panning-column-techniques/48784


(Zer0 Fly) #17

@lettuce not sure how I could help you.

Unless you have a layered/fused instruments, or try doubling one for extra width, the phase when panning should mostly be unproblematic. Ofc bass and low mids can cancel and then cause problems, but this is only when the instruments are fighting over a frequency range while having the same note/fundamental.

Some people even recommend mixing mono sounds in mono, and adding the width/pan/depth afterwards so you’d never have phase or mono problems. I think such mixes can sometimes sound artificial or “hollow” though.

I like to go by feel, what is nessecary to create some stage and good positioning and “importance hierarchy”. I dislike “skewed” soundstage, so I seldom try to pan instruments l/r all the time, but this is preference.

Your symetrical panning approach is interesting, I think I should experiment a bit with it. Though because of aesthetical reasons, I don’t think it’s good to rely on trying to seperate instruments just with stereo tricks, because in suboptimal listening environments the illusion might break quickly and then the listener might be unhappy with unclear sounds.

The “3d mix” technique where you would plan/visualise your sounds in a space of left/right, hi-/low-frequency center of mass, and depth, can be very helpful to balance out things. I think it should be nice to place instruments hard l/r if they have similar energy around similar (adjecent) critical bands. the soundstage could otherwise become “skewed”, and I dislike that on headphones. If they rely on strong energy in the same bands on l and r, they might sound clear on headphones or good stereo, but muddy on mono, thus being no good mix.


(lilith) #18

All I know I learned in 2018.


(The Empty Self) #19

thee most important thing that i learned this year and the thing that allowed me to finish more songs was the incredible …subtle tip of splitting my working sessions into sound design sessions and arrangement sessions

and this is pretty simple to undersand usually when someone hits the mood to start making a tune you only have so much time before you get exhausted

specially if you try to do everything at once like

-make your own sounds

  • mix as you go

  • actually come up with chords and melody (the song itself)

-another thing that helps a lot its to have your sample library as organized as possible so you dont spent to much time looking for some weird effect sample or kick drum sample

  • another thing and this one was like a freaking revelation !!! is ok to use other people’s preset … yeah it is

its a huge time saver !!! specially if you discover a creator that you resonate with both his music and sound design

in my case the adam fielding Europa relay refill !! best 20 bucks i ever spent

in the case of structuring your working session !!

i usually start making the tune as described :

  • pick the samples im going to use (my own or from the library)

  • pick my vsts and sounds i want to use

  • start making the tune !!!

things like mixing and setting up sidechain can be done when you have all of your arrangement lay down 1st and after that you even rethink some of your sounds and change them for new ones

  • last step !! mix in a different session (a diff project file)

it really helps to split the process cause when you are mixing with stems everything becomes so much more clear (at least to me ) it even shows up things that can be corrected in the song like adding a drum fill or automate the gain or panning in diff sounds things like that !1

i would like to hear more tips like this if anyone cares to share

the process of creating the song and get into the mindset its really interesting

edit:

something i would like to add its proper gain stage and grouping make sure you route all of your main categories of sound to the specific bus like synths , bass, effects , and drums …and the drums split them in hats and snares and kicks ,it makes it much more easier to mix


(The Empty Self) #20

One of those end of year threads, because it`s December and why not? :slight_smile:

The best production tip/ concept you learnt in 2018?… I finally understood the value of Mid-Side compression on buses and master bus!

I`ve had MS compressors on my hard drive for years but never really utilised them properly; just tinkering then defaulting back to stereo. However I started demoing and ended up buying Cylone Compressor after trying on the master bus and it finally clicked.

Basically If you want to add significant compression to a bus with heavy kicks and bass (content that should mostly be centred), you`re going to collapse your stereo field as the compressor pulls excessively on higher frequency stereo stuff -> frustration and misery! :mellow: :mellow: :mellow:

can this be done using ! dedicated stereo separation features inside a multiband compressor

thats what i do in maximus i split my 3 bands and set the low band to mono usually ranges down from 120hz and i spread the mid and highs to taste usually spreading the highs even more :slight_smile: