I can’t overstate how helpful Chocolate Puma’s Studio section is over on their blog! Even though they only have a handful of articles, they are extremely helpful. This Match EQ Tutorial was particularly helpful, though I’ll warn you that sidechaining your bass to the kick drum for Template Learn/Match purposes (see their step by step instrux) really takes the wind out of the bass, even at a low Apply Percentage like 17%. This means you’ll definitely have to add 1 or 2 additional bass layers to pack enough oomph in there. Well worth what it does to carving out problem frequencies, though!
Say you got a fat kick drum and on top of that a fat bass line. They both sound great if you solo them, but tend to clash when you play them both at the same time.
There are a few tricks to separate them. Most of the time you decide which one of the two is covering the sub frequencies, and which one is covering the higher bass frequencies. So say your kick has the most energy at 60hz and your bass line the most energy at 100hz, then you can be sure that you’re quite safe.
But what if you have trouble separating the two with just using your regular EQ? And what if you want to have a really low subby kick AND a really low subby bass line? Of course you could sidechain the bass line with a compressor. Or program your bass line, so that it doesn’t play at the same time as your kick drum.
But there’s another way: For example in our remix for ‘Mike Dunn’s Gitcho House On‘ we wanted to have both a low kick AND a sub bass line, the bass line played at the same time as the kick, and sidechaining wasn’t sufficient.
Bring on Logic’s Match EQ:
1. Put Match EQ on your bass line channel.
2. Go to the upper right hand side and choose your kick drum channel at the Side Chain dropdown menu.
3. Click ‘Template Learn’, press play and let Match EQ learn the characteristics of your kick.
4. Press stop, set your Side Chain to ‘None’.
5. Click ‘Current Learn’, press play and let Match EQ learn the characteristics of your bass line.
6. Click ‘Material Match’.
7. Set ‘Phase’ to ‘Minimal’ (especially with low frequencies this is important, if you use it to separate higher sounds, use ‘Linear’)
8. Slide ‘Apply’ to a minimal value (say -20% or something).
9. Use ‘Smoothing’ to fine tune.
10. Use Fade Extremes to cancel out frequencies you don’t want to be affected (click the triangle in the lower left hand corner to unfold).
Presto, you just separated your bass line from your kick drum!
Now you can also use this method to separate strings from a vocal. Or if you use a positive value at step 8, to match one sound to another sound.
Batch Inserting Inserts to Save Time in Logic Pro
Got a simple tip for you guys, something I did by accident yesterday (should have read the manual ages ago, but that’s a lost case) that will save you time: in Logic Pro, you can add the same insert to a bunch of audio channels simultaneously through the Mixer. For example, I use Voxengo’s free and awesome spectrum analyzer ‘SPAN' on all my inserts audio channels, instrument channels, aux channels, and, of course, the Master channel. Before, I had to insert the insert into one of the channels, and option-command-drag to each channel one by one. Tedious as all hell. The easy way:
PDF: Mix Preparation Guidelines via Telegraph Audio Mastering
I read this 3-page PDF some time ago and found it helpful, as it covers a bunch of topics like serial compression on vocals; applying high-pass filters to reduce muddiness; avoiding plug-ins on the final mix bus; file formats and sample rates; headroom; and the importance of preserving song dynamics instead of sacrificing them to loudness. The PDF was put together by Adam of Telegraph Audio Mastering and is available here. However, there’s something funky going on with the fonts in that version, so I’ve uploaded my copy of the PDF, which you can download here.
Parallel Compression: A Lethal Secret Weapon
This is one of the sweetest production techniques out there. First, here’s some background: according to The Producer’s Manual, parallel, “in terms of signal flow, means connecting two or more circuits together so that their inputs are fed from a common source and their outputs are then mixed together.” Compression is “signal process[ing] designed to reduce the dynamic range of audio signals. The usual mode of operation is that signals exceeding [a] threshold set by the user are reduced in level.” Together, you get parallel compression: a technique that, when used with restraint, can really amp up your mixes.
Mixing a song with small amounts of a heavily compressed (or even distorted) version of itself can make the original one sound larger than life, punchier, denser, or clearer. It’s a bit counterintuitive: by itself, the heavily compressed version sounds like crap, but when you add a small amount of it back into the original, the two combine very nicely to yield a superior mix. This technique can be applied to a whole song or to each instrument in it. Pages 173-177 of The Producer’s Manual are devoted to this.
Binaural Audio Heightens the Realism of Stereo Recording
So I’ve been reading a lot about mics lately, and one of the techniques used in the studio to record in stereo is to record with two microphones some distance from the sound source; options include using an X/Y coincident pair, a Mid and Side (MS) pair, a traditional spaced pair pointed at the sound, or even a ORTF spaced pair angled towards the sound source. Depending on what you need, any of these techniques will lead to a convincing stereo recording.
But QSound Labs took stereo recording to a new frontier in 1996 with their recording of binaural audio—using two mics placed exactly where the two human ears are located. This makes for an immersive and extremely realistic audio experience, an optical illusion for the eardrum. In the case of this video, Virtual Barber Shop, you will feel like you are literally in the barber shop yourself.
So plug in some headphones, close your eyes, and be amazed by your brain’s ability to process stereo!
From the Youtube clip:
You’ll need headphones for this to work. Make sure there is no noise around, close your eyes, turn the volume up a little bit, hold and press headphone on your ears for better hearing, play it and enjoy this impressive audio work ( illusion ). Not a screamer not a prank!
Mysterious Flange Solved
One of the basics of sound on sound is that when two identical pieces of music are played at exact the same time, but with one of them delayed ever so slightly, you get the famous flanging effect (a type of phasing effect). At the waveform level, flanging comes from the sweeping comb filter effect caused by that tiny delay between the two pieces, but it’s not supposed to happen if the two sounds line up exactly.
And yet, a few moments ago, I ran into a mysterious flanging in Logic Pro (in which I make my tunes) when overlaying the two yellow tracks above. As you can see, the two match up exactly within the cycle region (that green bar up top), so there shouldn’t have been any phasing whatsoever (I confirmed their alignment by zooming in as far as Logic would let me).
Next, I muted the Aux Send altogether. Still flanging, so it wasn’t the Aux at all.
I even tried muting the Stereo Delay on both tracks; not that it should have mattered, since it’s not a Flanger unit, but this, too, yielded no change. Failing all of this, I solo’ed just the two tracks and kept starting & stopping the cycle loop—and I finally found a clue: sometimes the flanging happened; sometimes it didn’t. That’s when I isolated the culprit.
In Logic, when a cycle starts, if there is active audio right before the cycle region, a little bit of that audio is activated during playback. In my case, a millisecond of audio from the leftmost audio region was spilling (Stereo Delay and all) into the actual cycle region—and that one millisecond of extra audio is all it took to cause flanging, perhaps abetted by the Stereo Delay effect. After I muted the yellow piece in red, the flanging went away. Yay!
So, the moral of the story? Watch out for adjacent audio regions, even they’re outside the cycle region, and beware of flanging if you have two identical audio regions playing simultaneously!
The Producer’s Vocab #1
"Because half the battle in understanding… is the language that we use."
Phonautograph (pictured): "A mechanical device, invented in 1857 by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, able to record sound via a mechanical pen recorder that traced sound vibrations collected via a diaphragm at the end of a horn onto a paper roll." -TPM
Phonograph: A more successful version of the phonautograph, created by Thomas Edison in the late 1800s. It “again used a mechanical horn and diaphragm to collect the sound…experimented with metal foil, lead, and wax as a recording media, but…suffered significant degradation when replayed.” -TPM
Gramophone: Created by Emile Berliner, and “tackled the problem of degradation using the familiar flat [Berliner] disk with its familiar spiral groove…the discs were much easier to duplicate—allowing the pressing of records on a mass scale for the first time.” -TPM
Now we partly know where Gramophonedzie gets his name from!
The kick drum is arguably the single most important element in House Music—a weak kick can break an otherwise great track—and this new video tutorial from Quantize Courses addresses all thinks kick. Although I don’t use Ableton Live, the fundamentals of kick drum production are fairly consistent from DAW to DAW. Enjoy!
I just got this via e-mail and figured I’d share the love, since these are two amazing, must-have books for House Music producers out there. I already have SHMP and have been meaning to buy TPM. Both are $10 off today due to Cyber Monday; this is a total steal (the code gets applied automatically, says the e-mail). Enjoy!
Secrets of House Music Production
The Producer’s Manual
From that e-mail:
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