We’ve made some tips & tricks for music production that would be helpful for beginners.
Let’s check it out!
1. How To Stereo Width
Imagine you have 50% of your track done, and when you open your stereo analyzer, you notice that it is not balanced, and the correlation is jumping from one side to the other.
The thing that can cause stereo correlation issues is low-end, especially sub-bass and kick. Sub Bass has the most significant impact, and weight so be careful when creating low-end focused sounds, especially those you randomly generate. Those can cause phasing stereo issues.
To avoid that, use the free stereo imager like iZotope Imager 2 to see the possible phasing issues and reduce the stereo width on your lowest frequencies. Also, the second problem would be the Balance stereo issues. This happens when your bass/sub-bass plays more on the left or right side or simply rotating from left to right. To fix both problems, 150hz Side Low-Cut would be a sweet spot to remove stereo information from the low end. If the issue still persists, set the edgier low-end slope to 72dB/oct.
The best advice for you would be – work with the best sounds from the beginning that don’t cause any issues of this kind. Ultimately, you can avoid fixing the problem then. Even though it can be tempting to use sounds that make a great first impression on you, those are just the sounds that can sound great at first glance, but that’s the fake impression. Don’t make it too wide if you can not afford it.
Tip: Using an analyzer from the get-go would help you avoid this common issue. Put it to your master bus, so you don’t need to put it in every single channel. Then, solo your track, and you will hear the audio signal of a specific instrument.
Stereo Width Cheat Sheet
- Keep sub-bass mono at all costs; this is the easiest tweak you can do right now and avoid serious stereo correlation issues.
- Bass can be mono, but it’s always better to create nice stereo width – always make sure it’s the only bass where you add the stereo width and doesn’t include sub frequencies as it would cause issues as well.
- For a kick drum, it’s the same as with the bass. You can keep it mono, or split into mono and stereo part. Always make sure the sub kick is more dominant and has more weight in the mix. Another good trick how to approach kick is to use reverb on the non-sub region. This can add the ambience and natural sound width to your kick.
- When it comes to pads, you can make them really wide as pads don’t have much weight when compared to subbass. Pads are usually mid/high frequency focused sounds, so it would not hurt your mix at all. But be sure to always play your song and check the stereo analyzer on the master bus by playing all instruments together. Always inspect it as a whole because if you check the spectrum analyzer in the single bus for the pad, it won’t provide much value.
- Percussions can be wide as well. As with everything, it depends on which freq. spectrum it occupies. Also, feel free to put percs on the left or right channel as it can bring life and variety to your mix.
2. Mix Subbass & Bass As A Whole
A popular trick, especially in Drum & Bass, is to mix subbass and bass as a whole. This creates a nice and consistent sound and can sound more compatible than mixing bass and subbass separately. This also makes people think as if subbass played in the stereo. There are so many possibilities for which plugins you can put there and in which order. The most important thing is to preserve the fundamental harmonics in your low end, and second, keep your stereo width at good levels.
3. Mixing The Kick
Did you ever wonder what’s missing to your kick?
- It would be because your kick sounds too much digital. Try to mix electronic & acoustic kick together to bring that balance to it.
- The second approach is to find two kinds of kicks – one as a starter that has a short length as a “transient kick” and the second as a body kick that adds the character to it.
- The third approach is to put your kick into three layers – low/mid/high, which can help you customize your kick more.
4. Stick To Only a Few Tools/Plugins
For a beginner, it can be so overwhelming which plugins to buy when there are so many of them. From the beginning, all you need is just a few that you will use on a daily basis. It can even be only DAW built-in plugins. Because in the end, it’s not a plugin that will result in unique and original production but the production itself.
5. Consider Using Free Plugins
Don’t be too worried about using free VSTs. Nowadays, many excellent, free plugins rival the paid ones in the market, and sometimes, they are better.
Here are some of the best freebies:
Voxengo SPAN (Spectrum Analyzer)
Izotope Imager 2 (Stereo Imager)
Rough Rider 3 (Compressor)
TDR Nova (Equalizer)
Caelum Audio Tape Cassette 2 (Saturation)
Tritik Krush (Distortion)
Also, feel free to check the best free plugins on our website.
Or just check this video!
6. Create Sample Library That You Will Use Later
If you are feeling stuck and cannot continue creating new sounds, clean your head and open a new project to create a new sample library. Also, it doesn’t need to be a sample. You could hunt for new sounds in your VST and then save the patch and use it later. It keeps you from getting overwhelmed by too many actions because now you are focusing only on creating new sounds.
Then, once you feel out of ideas, you can simply choose the sounds that you made previously with one click (whether it’s sample or synth preset).
7. Compare Your Actual Sound With Others
Comparing your music with others to gauge your growth isn’t a bad thing. The critical thing to remember is that you should never copy them. Instead, strive to be original and create sounds that are distinct to your brand.
8. Stick To One Audio Source And Don’t Upgrade It
Stick to certain headphones or monitors for a long time. Not cheapest, not most expensive, simply find which ones work for you. The idea behind it is that you’ll begin adapting to the sound and produce coherent mixes and create matching for your ears, so you will be able to recognize even smaller details or issues and make a more subtle mix.
9. It Isn’t About The Expensive Analog Gear
As a beginner, you can make professional music with software, a mouse, a keyboard/guitar, and a pair of headphones. It’s not the analog gear that makes the big difference. Yes, it makes a difference, but from the beginning, it’s negligible. First, you want to grow; once you can afford it, buy it.
10. Be Consistent While Producing
This is more a general tip than a production tip, but we think this deserves a place in this list. Don’t try to implement multiple things at the same time. Stick to a certain style for some time. Keeping this up is the best way to gain fans and exposure.
11. Ask Other For The Feedback
It’s generally good to know what your skill level is. If you are very self-critical, it’s not hard for you to hear the absolute truth compared to your idols. But what if not? You need to know the truth before you continue. The best you can do is to ask someone you don’t know so he can provide you most honest feedback.
12. Avoid Unwanted Distortion Early On
Minor distortions in the early stages can escalate to become significant issues in the mastering stage as it will boost everything up, and it’s hard to make it clean once it’s already distorted. Rather than that, make subtle tweaks instead, and you won’t need to worry about distorting issues later on.
13. Create The Outline First, Then Details
Try to create the main outline as soon as you can to start layering new sounds. Again – You can start from the intro, but it could also be from the drop. Whatever you like and where you feel comfortable, practical, and productive is the right way.
With this attitude, you will be able to determine the character and energy of your track. Also, when you have a solid structure, it’s way more effective to start adding new effects across the whole project on different passages than just being stuck in one place. You’ll found very quickly what’s the direction of your track.
14. Work Only When You Feel Creative
Do you know that? You can do whatever you want; you are not moving forward with your project. But on the flip side, when you feel creative, don’t stop working on your project. The reason is simple – you cannot force yourself to be creative, and when you are, it means that you have that great moment that will only take some time. Don’t interrupt it when possible.
15. Don’t Start New Project Until You Finish Current one
Many people start their projects, and once they don’t like something there, they simply start a new track from scratch. If you do that once, it’s a high chance you will do that over again and then repeat it. This will decrease the chance that you will ever get back to your old project. Because you will start judging which project is better and those that are not good, you won’t continue on them.
When you start something, finish it. You will feel great. And in case you finish the track after you have few other tunes in progress, it will make you think to go back to finish them as well. So – if you have any in progress, finish it all right now!
When producing music, remember that you have to change a lot of things to create a great song. Don’t stick into a mode where you won’t be opened to change or even remove things. You can easily save your project and go back if you don’t like the actual changes!
17. Be Yourself
People are bored with those same tunes that sound almost identical. Yes, it’s hard to create and bring something new and unique, but if you can figure it out, you will win in the long term as people will want to hear your new stuff!
Music blog focused on health advice, audio advice, how-to, tips & tricks, best plugins, comparison reviews, and more.