Every musical instrument has the ability to manipulate (to varying degrees)  the 3 properties of sound.
  • Pitch
  • Tone
  • Volume

The way in which each instrument does this is dependant on its physical design and structure. A guitar will always sound different to a trombone due to how each is constructed and how the sound is produced within them.

Every note played on any instrument is not just a single note, but a combination of strong and weak harmonics stretched across the audio spectrum. It is these differences in harmonic structure that defines the Timbre or Tone of an instrument.

Synthesisers are a good way to break down sound into simpler components so that we can get a grasp of how it all works at a fundamental level.

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In this article we look look at the very basics of the components of a synthesiser and how they interact with sound at each point ultimately having the ability to completely hand craft and almost limitless variation of sounds.

The average synthesiser is made up of 5 stages. These are: 
  • Oscillator
  • Filter
  • Amplifier
  • LFO
  • Envelope


 
 
The term 'Equalisation' is a throwback to the days of needing filters to correct the tonal changes of audio sent along telephone wires.
These days EQ refers to any filter device that targets and manipulates specific frequencies within the audio spectrum.
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In this article we will come to terms with the basics of how to use EQ musically, and discuss a few pieces of 'Good Practice' advice.

  • Filter Types 
  • Cut vs Boost
  • Sweeping
  • Mirror EQ


 
 
Alongside EQ and Reverb, Compression is one of the 3 key tools in mixing (and recording and mastering) yet one of the most misused and misunderstood.

What a Compressor does is seemingly simple; It controls the Dynamic Range of a track by reducing the volume every time a peak passes beyond a set threshold, then 'releasing' the signal back to it's original level.
Its other main function is to alter the shape or envelope of a sound.

Understanding compression and using one with intentionality can significantly improve the clarity, consistency and punch of a mix by adding body, character and definition to a track.

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In this topic we will cover

  • What is compression
  • How it's controlled 
  • What effect its parameters have on a sound
  • A starting point to getting the sound you want



 
 
With an unimaginable quantity and scope of plugins/hardware available it is all too easy to be overwhelmed and/or fooled into thinking your mixes can never sound professional without a serious investment in this gear.

There are in fact 3 tools that you need to get great mixes and all of them come free with your DAW.
As with any tools, knowing how to use them is key.
In this post we will look at the 3 categories of effects and the basics of what they are used for:

  • Filter     -  Related to the Timbre (Tone) of the Signal. 
  • Dynamic - Related to the Amplitude (Volume) Volume of the Signal.
  • Delay     - Related to the Propagation (Space) of the Signal.

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Careful and intentional use of these 3 elements is key to getting professional sounding mixes.

Second to capturing great recordings at their source, these tools are at the heart and soul of mixing and they all come free with your DAW.

In this article we will outline the 3 main effect categories and give a brief introduction to how they are used.


 
 
Just like in the Recording Phase, taking time to get things right at setup will greatly benefit your workflow and final product.
Here are some considerations when setting up your next DAW session:

  • Naming & Location of Files
  • Sample Rate & Bit Depth
  • File Type
  • Hardware Settings & Buffer Size

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It can be tempting to just dive in, hit the record button and get that audio captured so you can get your teeth into post-production.

As we saw with the recording, time spent getting things right at the start is hugely important and will invariably save you time later on.

In this post I will go into further detail about the project checklist as well as giving some tips on setting up a simple template in Pro Tools.


 
 
Big Wins

  • Rockin' Performance & Instrument Sound
  • Get the Best Sound With Just Your Mic's
  • Get Your Phase Sorted

Even (if not especially) in this day and age of recording, the ultimate quality of your sound has heaps to do with how your raw tracks come in on tracking day.

Strong Foundations

There is a misguided tendency in the modern world of digital recording to Fix-it-in-the-Mix rather than to capture the sound well where it comes from.

'A Great Photo Needs a Great Shot'