#1
Recently I've started making music on Logic Pro X, and although the music itself isn't too bad, I'm struggling to get that 'really big, professional sound'. You know, the thing that separates an amateur from a pro. Whenever I make a song, I adjust the eq, add compression, filter, etc but the end product is never quite up to the standard of the big, well produced hits. I've tried making some electronic music recently (don't judge) and I noticed how the hits I listened to are all professional sounding. I was just wondering if anyone would care to share their tips and tricks for mixing and mastering to get that desired sound.

Oh, and another question: does it matter, when making a song, that a lot of my tracks are turned down quite a lot (like -3 to -20 dB)? I always keep the master the same, and the output level no lower than -2 to -3 dB. As you can probably guess I'm new to producing etc, so I just wanted to know whether this affects the sound quality? Should I try to keep it as close to 0 as possible?

Thanks for any replies
#2
Quote by mickel_w
I'm struggling to get that 'really big, professional sound'. You know, the thing that separates an amateur from a pro.


welcome to the club.

Quote by mickel_w

Whenever I make a song, I adjust the eq, add compression, filter, etc but the end product is never quite up to the standard of the big, well produced hits.


The answer to this is simple - a lifetime of experience + great gear + a great environment.

In more practical terms, it means learning to make the best you can with what you have. That in itself is a huge investment of time spent learning, practicing, etc. If you figure that it takes a person, say, five years to become even reasonably good at playing guitar, or carpentry, or painting, or stitching clothing, or cutting hair, or programming a computer, or cooking, or whatever, then recording is no different.

Similarly, be prepared to spend some money as your knowledge and skill require better tools - or even different tools.

In short, there is no simple answer. Start small, commit yourself to it, and build.

Quote by mickel_w

Oh, and another question: does it matter, when making a song, that a lot of my tracks are turned down quite a lot (like -3 to -20 dB)? I always keep the master the same, and the output level no lower than -2 to -3 dB. As you can probably guess I'm new to producing etc, so I just wanted to know whether this affects the sound quality? Should I try to keep it as close to 0 as possible?

Thanks for any replies


On the input levels, your ideal is actually quite low - between -12 and -20db on the input bus. This ensures that whatever equipment you are using is working within its optimum ranges, while still keeping your signal healthily above the noise floor. It used to be, in the old days (well... when working with tape), that you wanted to hit the recording medium as hard as you could. That's just not true in digital.

The faders themselves should go wherever they need to go for your mix. Keeping the master fader around zero is good practice. It will keep you from trying to hammer your mixer faders too crazy hot.

On the output, your final signal level should never clip. The actual level depends on what your intentions are.

If your intention is to make it as loud as possible (like a commercial release), then you'll want to (once the mix is otherwise done), put some compression and limiting there and just slam it. (though more typically, you would do that part in a new project, along with a collection of other songs that are intended to go together).

If your intention is to export your tracks for mastering, then in almost no circumstance should there be *any* compression or limiting on the master bus. Most mastering engineers will want your files sent to them with peaks *well* below 0db. (like in the neighbourhood of -6db). That ensures that everything is as clean as possible, so they can do what they do.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
Last edited by axemanchris at Jan 25, 2014,
#3
Read stuff.
In my opinion you don't learn new stuff unless you think really hard of it and come up with solutions, and beginners don't have enough experience to come up with most stuff on their own.

So, there are a damn lot of websites with tips and tutorials and stuff on how to do stuff -
www.theproaudiofiles.com
www.therecordingrevolution.com
www.soundonsound.com
www.recordinghacks.com
http://music.tutsplus.com
Name's Luca.

Quote by OliOsbourne
I don't know anything about this topic, but I just clicked on this thread because of your username :O
Quote by Cajundaddy
Clue: amplifiers amplify so don't turn it on if you need quiet.
Quote by chrismendiola
I guess spambots are now capable of reading minds.
#4
Quote by axemanchris


If your intention is to export your tracks for mastering, then in almost no circumstance should there be *any* compression or limiting on the master bus. Most mastering engineers will want your files sent to them with peaks *well* below 0db. (like in the neighbourhood of -6db). That ensures that everything is as clean as possible, so they can do what they do.

CT


I only add effects to individual tracks, and i want to be able to produce then mix, export and master myself up to a decent standard (all in Logic X). Thanks so much for all the tips man, really appreciate it. The thing is, whilst making the song, on some tracks I have to turn down a lot for it to have no clipping, and this results in the song being really quiet when I play it through. I'm especially having trouble keeping the output from clipping where a lot of tracks play at once, like in a build up to a bass drop or chorus. Is turning up the speakers the way to go? Should I not worry about the professional sound until I export it for mastering?

Quote by Spambot_2
Read stuff.
In my opinion you don't learn new stuff unless you think really hard of it and come up with solutions, and beginners don't have enough experience to come up with most stuff on their own.

So, there are a damn lot of websites with tips and tutorials and stuff on how to do stuff -
www.theproaudiofiles.com
www.therecordingrevolution.com
www.soundonsound.com
www.recordinghacks.com
http://music.tutsplus.com


Thanks, I'll check all those links out
Last edited by mickel_w at Jan 26, 2014,
#5
Yeah, get your levels below clipping on the master fader for sure - always. However, if you need to turn down the master fader to achieve that, then so be it.

The whole "get everything mega loud like a Nickelback mix" comes in the mastering stage. At the mix stage, just make sure it sounds great.

Another great resource I like to suggest to people is a subscription to Recording Magazine.

www.recordingmag.com

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#6
There are a bunch of great channels on Youtube where you can get general advice for this sort of thing.

Check out Recording Revolution and Pensado's Place. Neither of them are specifically for electronic music but there is a lot of information available here.
#7
I am no expert but some tricks I have learned from recording various forms of metal and rock mostly are:
- Usually the only clipping I experience is from bass. Find a bass level that is acceptable when recording. If need be you can turn it up later. Like most things in music it takes time to learn different ideas and a bit of trial and error.
- Try to pan guitars to the left and right channels and keep the drum and bass in the middle. I have found his to free up "room" in the mix when there is a lot going on.
- Are you recording WAV files or MP3s? I have found out that WAV files at a bit rate of 16 sound great on cd. MP3s work best for me at a bit rate of 32. I have figured out a way overtime to convert WAV files to MP3 using ITunes. It's actually shockingly easy to do.

Some of this might be old or common since tips (possibly even wrong) for many but it took me a couple years to figure out this much.
Best of luck and have fun.

HAIL the Biebs!
#9
I recorded using a reel to reel. Fun...(not)

I only experienced clipping from the bass when I went digital.
I used the DP-02FX by Tascam. It had different types of reverb.
Just training my ear to hear different reverb is a skill of it's own.
It allowed me to reverb single tracks or the master.
You actually don't want that much after a while.
You actually don't want too much FX.

You need good head phone to cover the full range. I had to learn that too.

Then there's the drum track. That's going effect how full or loud that master will sound.
The samething happens with the bass drum. Too much or too little.
The pitch of drums will effect it too. I know we're guitar player. We don't think a lot
about drums tuning.

I also try to leave the EQ on neutral as much as I can.
I figure that out because my GF listen to RnB, Rap or pop...Slap one of my tunes
into our car CD player in our 1500watt system. It sounded seriously funky.lol
I basically learn how to mix were it would sound good, full, loud at those EQ settings.

Being a guitar player I tend to want the treble turn on too much. Cant do that
when mixing.