Is it possible to make a professional mix at home?

If you read the question above, you probably have one of two reactions.

First, you may look at that, roll your eyes, and say, “No way it’s possible. You’ve got acoustical issues, inferior equipment, noise…it just won’t work.”

Or…you may look at that question and say, “Heck yeah it’s possible!”

Which category do you fall into? Seriously. It makes a huge difference. Your mindset can make or break your next project. I tend to fall firmly into the second category. (more…)

Steak

As is my custom, I was listening to the Home Recording Show the other day. They mentioned a comment left on Episode 121 that I thought was awesome.

Here’s the comment, by Edward Mowinckel:

I used the steak analogy. You can burn a steak, but after you burn it, it’s burnt. You can cool it off, but it’s still burnt. If you cook it medium, you can still cook it more, or just enjoy a medium steak!

He was referring to the process of recording with levels too hot. Some people think you have to peg the meters to get a good recording. His point was that, when setting levels for recording, you don’t have to go in NEARLY as hot as you had to in the analog days.
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FREE EQ That Works Better than Anything I’ve Tried

Do you use a LOT of EQ when you mix? Do your EQ curves look something like the picture to the right?

If they do, it’s okay. But what if there was a free EQ that worked much better than any plug-in ever could? Would you use it? Of course you would.

What is this free EQ? I’ll tell you.

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Unhappy With Your Mixes?

STOP BLAMING PLUG-INS.

That’s right, I said it. I’ve heard too many people tell me that they aren’t happy with their mixes, and the next words out of their mouth are “I need to buy another…” — plug-in bundle or another microphone, or another pre-amp or another piece of software.

Unfortunately, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but that’s not going to solve your problem.

You see, the issue is much simpler than that. If your mixes aren’t sounding good, I’m almost 100% certain that your plug-ins are not the main issue. The problem most of us run into when our mixes don’t sound how we want them to sound is that the tracks themselves don’t sound how we want them to sound.

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Do you save plug-in presets?

This is one of those things that I’ve never done very well, but I think I’m shooting myself in the foot.

What am I talking about? Plug-in presets.

Now, if you’re starting out with recording, and you’ve never really messed around with an EQ or a compressor or a reverb, plug-in presets are your best friend.

Any plug-in that you get (any plug-in worth anything at least) will come with a fair  number of presets that you can use. This is wonderful because you may not know which frequency bands to be boosting or cutting or how long your reverb tail should be, and using plug-in presets allows you to pull up an entire setting without you having to know necessarily how each little knob in that plug-in works.

It’s a really helpful thing.

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Compression: When You Should Use Fast Attack Times

In the last article I talked about why you should use slow attack times on your compressor. Slow attack times let the transients through, which keeps the music dynamic.

Slow attack times are especially important when you’re doing buss compression.

Of course, there are times to use fast attack times, too. Whenever the transients of a given signal are too loud or need to be “tamed” a bit, you should try using a faster attack time.

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Compression: Why You Should Use Slow Attack Times

When you first started using a compressor, you were happy to just have a basic understanding of what the threshold and ratio do, right?

At some point, though, you need to learn how to deal with the attack setting. I’ll give you a starting point today.

The attack setting simply tells the compressor how quickly it should compress the signal once it crosses the threshold. (Don’t confuse attack with ratio. Ratio tells the compressor how much to compress once it crosses the threshold.)

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