What is Make Music Fast?
A resource designed to help the budding EDM Producer. Our goal is to connect you with everything you need to become a proper professional EDM music producer. Best part, information on MMF is structured so all you have to do is follow the steps.
What do you mean by ‘It’s Cheaper To Pay For A Professional’?
To learn anything, it’s best to learn it from someone who already knows it. What most people don’t understand is nothing is for free. You are either paying for something with money or your time.
Think about that one . . .
Due to the nature of the music business, it’s best to learn it as fast as you can so you can start honing your own sound quicker rather than later.
Although the EDM industry is the most ‘age’ friendly industry as DJs and producers range from teens to well in their 50s (Carl Cox), it’s always a good idea to learn what you want to learn sooner rather than later.
So at the end of the day, it’s ‘cheaper’ to learn from a professional rather then wasting time and money to figure stuff out on your own. 100% True!
It’s my dream to be an EDM Music producer and DJ around the world, can you help me?
Absolutely. Although our focus is on producing music, we are well aware of the importance of getting your music out there. This site is not for the ‘hobbyist’. It’s for people who want to do something with their music or at least have the belief that they can and are willing to give it a solid shot.
Since our focus is on quality, we recommend Budi Voogt’s site. Him and his crew took San Holo to where he is at today and they can do it for you to :).
Am I too old to follow my music dream?
This is a fear that most of us have. I use to have it too. After all, how many people have ever made it starting in their 30s or later right? Although the stats seem to favor the young, there have been many cases of people breaking through int heir 3os.
Especially in EDM music. It might be challenging to be a ‘gangster’ rapper in your mid 30s (Though Rick Ross proved everyone wrong) it is possible. Do not put limits on yourself. Believe that you are a co-creator (You and the universe) and great things will happen. Go after your dreams relentlessly and in a focused manner. Something great will come out of it for sure. Our main advice though is develop your music. Work on your craft daily and like Deadmau5 said “If your music is good, people will know about it”.
Also keep in mind that being a DJ in front of millions of people isn’t the only job or career in the music industry. There’s audio engineering, mastering engineers, sound engineers, visual djs, artist development, music promoters, club promoters and the list goes on. If you grind hard and smart, you can make a career out of what you truly love doing. However, the only way to find out is to get started and see where your journey takes you.
How come you only recommend only a handful of things?
Our goal is to help you connect you with REAL information. Not with some kid on Youtube who just started using Ableton a week ago and has dreams of becoming a Youtube teacher.
We are serious about music production.
If you want to be a DJ / Music producer that travels the globe performing at massive events and parties, the sooner you get your production game tight the better. You don’t have time to waste on silly amateur information. You need to get connected with proper structured information that will take your music game to the next level and FAST!
That’s why we only connect you with the very BEST in the game.
It all depends on where you are at in your music production game.
- New to the game:
If you are new (Just making loops or really crappy sounding music):
Start with a proper music school in your city. Check out our music production school directory where we hand pick EDM music production schools. Also have a look at our Recording Connection review. They are the most affordable in the game and the QUALITY is on a whole another level. Great for first timers hands down!
If you are intermediate (Can make tracks but can’t achieve professional commercial quality) :
Most likely, your music mixing and mastering game is weak. Check out our Mixing music and Mastering music courses (Made by grammy nominated producers). Yup you read that right!
Plus every now and then you might find something fun but related on our site however, we are very picky about what we recommend.
After all, making music is a talent that not everyone is blessed with.
We need to hone it, work at it and respect it.
What is Parallel Compression?
When compressing a signal, like a bass or drums, sometimes the amount of compression needed to make the track sit in the mix right, dulls the instrument to much. Try parallel compression. Split the signal and route it to two separate tracks. If working on a daw, you can copy and paste the file to a new track.
Now with the track you have already compressed, bring up the new raw track and blend together. With the raw signal mixed with the compressed signal, you can bring back some of the dynamics, (energy or excitement) to the sound, while still not losing the lower level sounds in the track.
What is Proximity Effect?
The apparent boost in bass frequencies that directional mics have, the closer the sound source to the mic, the more apparent the bass boost. If you have a singer that likes to eat the mic, you may have to cut some lows, to increase intelligibility and decrease the “boominess”.
When close miking a guitar amp or cabinet, you may have this issue to deal with, especially with heavier music, like that played on the 7 string guitars. Choose a mic that has low proximity effect, or you can use the High Pass Filter (HPF) found on most mixing boards to cut down on the low end. If you are looking for a mic preamp, look for one that has a built in low cut filter. Just don’t over use it, you can take out to much.
How to setup a microphone to record an instrument?
Also known as ‘miking speakers, placing the mic pointing directly at the center of the cone will result in a sound with more highs, and moving the mic towards the middle and outside of the speaker cone will result in a mellower sound. I usually start with my mic pointing halfway between the center of the speaker cone and the outside edge, and then make adjustments from there. Another thing to try is angling the mic at about 45 degrees, because of the pickup and polar patterns of mics, this will also change the sound.
What is Monitoring?
Monitoring includes your room, your speakers and amps, and the position of your speakers relative to the room and the position of the speakers relative to your listening position. The quality of your speakers and room acoustics will show up in your mixes, whether it is good or bad. If you are monitoring through a boom box or small computer speakers, you are not going to hear enough of the audio spectrum to make good judgments in your recording or mixing.
Most consumer products, like home stereos and home theatre systems are not going to give you a true picture either, as most are tailored to appeal to a specific crowd. Buy a set of studio monitors that are meant for that purpose. There are a lot of brands to choose from and you can easily find something in your price range. Always remember, you get what you pay for. If you buy the cheapest monitors you can, chances are you won’t be satisfied and your mixes will not improve to your expectations.
What Should I Do Before I Record Music?
Before you record do some planning, pre-production. If you know what you are going to record, what style of music, what instruments, and the environment, you will be a step ahead.
By knowing your mics (If you are recording live instruments), you can make a better-informed decision on microphone choices, and possible isolation trouble spots. Prepare your recording area as much as possible before the session.
Know where the musicians will be setup, cable routing, and position of gobos for isolation, several mic choices, and your musicians monitoring setup. If the instruments are being isolated, you will need a way to give the musicians a headphone mix, so they can hear each other.
Go for at least a two channel feed for the musicians. This will give you the ability to pan the rhythm instruments, musicians like it, it is easier to hear themselves. If you have the ability to send two separate stereo feeds to the musicians it will be easier to deal with the more me in the phones dude, issue that always comes up. The better the musicians can hear themselves and each other, the better the performance.
How Should I ‘Tune’ My Instruments?
Every instrument should be tuned, the intonation set properly, and unwanted noises eliminated. Get a tuner. Listen for that squeaky kick pedal, loose vibrating lugs, fret buzzes, and any other unwanted noise. New strings should be put on guitars and new heads on the drums if needed. Although tuners are now inexpensive, you should still have one to reference with, they can be a little off from each other.
Can I Mix On Headphones?
Headphones can be of use in the recording process more than the mixing. It is generally not a good idea to use headphones as the only monitoring source. Headphones are great for hearing details, like listening for clicks and pops.
How should I Position my Studio monitors?
Positioning of your monitors is critical. Your head and your two monitors should make a triangle with both speakers turned slightly toward center, pointing at your ears. Since highs frequencies are more directional than low frequencies, the tweeter should be at ear height. The other critical part of monitor positioning is the position in the room.
If your mix desk is up against a wall, or even worse, situated so that one monitor is in a corner, you will have uneven frequency dispersion. In other words, bass builds up in corners, putting a speaker in a corner will boost the apparent bass content. Plus if one speaker is in the corner and the other one isn’t, you will not be able to properly judge what is going on in the mix. The ideal position would be placing them on the centerline of your room, and three or more feet, or 38 percent of the length of your room, from the wall behind the speakers. This can be difficult for most home recordists, just get as close as you can.
Speaker Location is the easiest adjustment to make. As was mentioned before, placing your monitor speakers flat up against the wall or in a corner, will not give you a true representation of what is actually coming out of your speakers.
If you can place your mix desk and monitors in the centerline of your room and more than two feet off the wall behind your speakers, you will get a truer representation of your mix. The monitors should be placed in a triangle with your head. If the left and right speakers are 5 feet apart, then it should be 5 feet from your left ear to the left speaker, and 5 feet from your right ear to the right speaker. I have been in a studio where the monitors were at least 10 feet apart, but the listening position was only 4 feet from the wall behind the speakers and mixing board. It still gave an accurate mix that translated well to other systems.
How Important Are Room Acoustics?
Room Acoustics play a very important role in how your recordings and mixes sound. The location of the monitor speakers within the room, as was mentioned above, the shape and size of the room, the surfaces in the room, the construction of the room and so many more variables effect what you actually hear in your room as opposed to what is actually coming from your monitor speakers. Following is a few problems that are frequently found and then some treatments.
What Are Standing Waves?
Standing Waves and Room Modes are easily noticeable in a 10 x 10 x 10 room. Sounds are waves of energy, much like a sine wave. When a sound hits a surface it will bounce back, and when the reflected sound meets the original sound, it will boost and cut the apparent level of a sound in different spots in a room. Listen to some music in your usual listening position. Now get up and go to the corner of your room.
You will notice the bass building up in the corners. This is true of the corners of the walls and the corners where the wall meets the ceiling. While sitting in the listening position, just move your head back a little and see if there is a difference in bass content. Having a room with the same or close dimensions, (width, length, and height) you will be fighting a lot of standing waves.
If your mix position lands in a peak or valley of a standing wave you could very well miss certain low frequencies or even eq them out because they sound to loud. Here is a good room node calculator.
Enter the dimensions of your room and it will calculate the Room Modes for you. When you become aware of these room modes, you can make a better decision on acoustical treatment of your room. Bass traps are one of the fixes for this problem. Products made by Auralex and Real Bass Traps can really tame these standing waves, which will result in better mixes.
How Do I Reduce Audio Reflections In My Home Studio
Reflections and Flutter Echo can also be troublesome. Too many reflective surfaces in your mix room, as well as a reflective surface near one speaker and not the other can cause problems in your mixes as well.
Just as bass waves can cancel and boost due to standing waves, so can high frequencies. You may get some comb filtering, where some frequencies are boosted and cut.
These may not be as noticeable as bass standing waves, but will definitely affect your mix in a negative way. I know most people have seen the egg carton wall, or blankets hung from the walls. These may just work for you; they just don’t look very professional. There are plenty of products out there for absorption and diffusion that do the job well and look good doing it.
What Is The Best Way To Soundproof My Home Studio?
Room Treatment is a very large subject. It can be as simple as adding some absorption on either side of your mix position to reduce the flutter echo and bass traps in the corners, or it could be the actual construction of the walls, floors, and ceilings.
You must first identify the problem before you can treat it. The two mentioned above are the most common problems, with solutions from hanging blankets to buying room kits from manufacturers, like these. This is money well spent. By treating the room you can eliminate a lot of the problems that plague home recordists, and this will translate into better mixes.
What is Live End and Dead End?
Live End, Dead End is a reference to a control room or mix room. The end of the room you face, sitting in your mix position, is the dead end. This end is treated for early reflections and slap back echo.
You want to hear only what is coming from the monitors, not the reflections of the surrounding walls. The end of the room behind you is the live end. Not live as in a flat hard reflective surface, just less absorption treatment and more diffusion treatment.
How Should I Use My Studio Monitors?
Know Your Monitors. Listen to them. Play music that you know well through your monitor system. Listen to the depth of bottom end, listen to the highs, and all that is going on in the midrange. Listen to your whole music collection, and listen to earlier mixes, and you will notice the changes you have made. When you have less outside influences on the sound coming from your monitors, it will translate into a better mix.
How Should I Setup Track Assignments?
Although not necessary, Track Assignments should be thought out beforehand. If you are recording on a 4-track machine you will inevitably have to do some bouncing or premixing.The more tracks you have available, the easier it will get.
You can run out of tracks quick. Two tracks for drums, one for bass, two tracks for rhythm guitars, two tracks for keyboards, and that just leaves one track left on an 8-track machine. And that does not include, lead guitar, vocals, backing vocals, harmonies, and other things you might want to record for the song. It is ideal to have one track for each mic, so when you manipulate the sound with eq, compression, or fx, you are only changing one sound source at a time.
This does not always happen in real life, so put some thought into track assignments for the recording, and for the overdubs. I have heard some really good songs with good sounds come from a 4-track cassette recorder. If you are using a DAW like most of us, then this shouldn’t be an issue at all as you can add as many tracks you like.
Should I Label My Tracks?
Yes. If you are recording into a computer, label the tracks so the files produced are named Kick, Snare, Bass, Rhythm Guitar, and so on, not track 1, track 2, track 3. If your are recording on any other medium that doesn’t automatically label tracks, make a track sheet. The more details you put on the track sheet, the easier it is to understand at mixdown. I will write the track number, the name of the sound source, the microphone used, and any other information that is relevant to the recording session and mixdown.
How Should I Go About Setting Up Instruments For Recording Music?
Drums usually take the longest to set up, and the longest to mic up. If musicians are going to have to set up, allow time for this. Get the drummer started first. If you can, schedule the musicians to arrive at different times, so you do not have a guitarist, playing while your trying to get drum sounds. When the drummer has finished setting up the kit, start placing microphones. Unless you are a drummer, most engineers do not want to have their head in front or in a kick drum trying to adjust a mic while the drummer practices his double-kick pedal. Get the drummer to take a short break or at least ask him to ease up a bit when your ears are close to a drum. You need those ears, be good to them.
Go for the bass guitar next. Bass frequencies are omni directional and are much harder to control and isolate. If you have the option, try a D.I., or direct injection box. There are many on the market now, from the inexpensive ART Tube MP series to more expensive, like the Avalon U5, GT The Brick, and others. It will take a signal straight from the bass to the mixing board, your isolation problem no longer exists.; Sometimes the amp is so much a part of the sound that direct is not good enough. Place the mic like was mentioned on the Microphone page. If you can, place the amp in a different room. If not use isolation panels.
Follow the bass with guitars. If you can put the amps in different rooms, you will have less bleed to worry about later.Â If the amp is a not a combo, you can place the speaker cabinets in a different room and still have the head close by to make any adjustments.Â Make use of isolation panels, blankets on spare mic stands to help with isolation.Â Sometimes a little microphone bleed can be a good thing, but more often it causes phase problems and harder to manipulate without effecting the other instrument/s.
Most keyboards can be routed direct, unless they use external speaker cabinets like Leslie Rotating Speaker cabs. Rotating speaker cabs have two speakers to mic, a woofer, and a tweeter. Different brands have the ports in different areas of the cabinet. Some may have two ports, opposite each other, for the same speaker. If you mic both ports, you may have to change the phase of one of the mics.
If you will be overdubbing vocals later, you can set up any decent vocal mic for a scratch track. If it will be a live vocal take, consider isolation, which direction the singer is faced could bleed into drum overhead mics and cause problems at mix down time.
Any other instruments that need to be recorded with the rhythm tracks, treat them basically the same. The right mic and isolation. I think of all the Motown hits, music that came from Abby Road, and other studios back 50 or more years ago that had the whole band in one room, just a few mics setup, and hand-built equipment. It is not what you have, but how you use it.
How Do I Record Tracks and Overdubs using Multi Track Recorders?
Before there were multi-track recorders, the whole band had to be in one room, playing the whole song, and this was sent through a mixer and to a record lathe to cut the master. Everybody had to know his or her part and perform it properly. If the lead guitarist made a mistake, do the whole song over. If the audio engineer or the lathe cutter made a mistake, well you get the idea. I think of how easy we have it now. Not only can you build a multi instrumental song, one instrument at a time, but also the musicians no longer even have to be in the same state, or country. And the ease of editing is nothing compared to having to cut a 2 inch wide tape, and piece it back together. I do not mind the small timing flaws and all the anomalies that go with less digital editing, as long as it does not distract from the feel or energy of the music.
Generally, get the rhythm tracks recorded first. This includes drums, bass, and rhythm guitar, or keyboard. This will give the vocalists and lead instruments, a little more time, and less pressure. The rhythm instruments are what carry the basis for a song, get a good performance here, and it will make overdubs more inspired. It is common to record a scratch vocal track, since some musicians use vocals cues for timing.
When it comes to overdubbing vocals, and lead instruments, take the time to get a great sound and a great performance.Vocals, and lead instruments stand out the most in a recorded piece of music, make them good. I usually will not record instruments and their fx on the same track, unless I have no choice, or the fx is an integral part of sound and timing, or the fx is light compression. I like to be able to make adjustments to fx in the mix. If you have the tracks, print the sound source on one or two tracks and the fx on one or two tracks if it is a stereo fx. At mixdown you might find you want to eq the fx different than the sound source.
Overdubs can be done anytime, but it is a good idea to do them while the song is still fresh and you can keep the musicians focused. I have done lead and vocal overdubs weeks after the basic tracks were recorded, and it was great. Here isolation should not be a problem. Concentrate on getting a great sound and a great performance. Amplified instruments can be separated from their amps.
In a situation where I have another room for the amp, I get the guitarist to listen to my monitors. I can crank it up and mic bleed is no longer a problem. With vocals, I prefer headphones. But singers do not always feel the same. There are tricks to successfully recording a singer in front of speakers. There are some excellent articles in Tape OP Magazine about the subject, and the magazine is FREE. Thanks Larry. I have not tried this yet, you reverse the phase of one of the speakers so the two signals are 180% out of phase, and theoretically cancel at the microphone. Whichever method you choose make sure the person is comfortable and relaxed.
What is the Signal Chain?
The signal chain, and the signal path mean the same thing. It is the path an audio signal follows, through several pieces of gear chained together. Signal chains can be simple like a guitar plugged into an amp. Or it could be more detailed, like the signal travels from the guitar pickup to the pickup selector switch, to the volume and tone controls, and then to the guitar output jack, through the cable plug, through the cable itself, another cable plug, the input jack to the amp, and ….. however deep you want to go.
It’s About The Order
The signal chain can also refer to the order of the devices the audio signal is traveling through. Microphone, mic cable, preamp, compressor, eq, recorder, or mic, mic cable, mixer input, pa amp, pa speakers. The more pieces of gear you chain together, the more potential problem spots you will encounter. Knowing exactly the path the signal is traveling, will help in finding any trouble spots quickly, reducing down time and keeping the flow of a session. Let’s look at a common signal chain in recording and mixing.
In recording, the goal is to get good sounds into a recorder. Sometimes to get these good sounds an engineer will put a compressor or equalizer in the signal chain/path between the microphone and recorder. There is your signal chain:
The compressor and eq could change positions, whichever sounds better. You might want the eq before the compressor to apply a low cut/high pass filter before going into the compressor, to affect the way the compressor’s detector circuit works on the signal.
Working With A Digital Interface
If you are using a digital interface, your mic preamp is also your recorder. Unless your interface has inserts on the preamps, you will have to use an external mic preamp and use the line ins on your interface. I still have an original MBox, and it has insert jacks on the back. So I could plug a mic into the xlr jack, take an insert cable, run it out to a hardware eq and compressor and back into the interface before the analog to digital conversion.
An insert cable is a Y cable, TRS/Stereo plug on one end and two TS/Mono plugs on the other end. The TRS plugs into the insert jack and of the other two plugs, one is connected to the Ring section of the stereo plug and is usually the send, this sends the signal out, it plugs into the input of the hardware. The other TS/mono cable is connected to the Tip section of the stereo plug and is the return. This plugs into the output of the hardware, and returns the signal back to the insert jack, where it is inserted back into the internal signal path of the digital interface.
Use An External Mic Preamp
If you don’t have insert jacks available, then you will have to use an external mic preamp. This will bring the mic level up to line level, which is the level most equalizers and compressors, and other outboard gear operate at. Your signal chain would look something like this:
When you hear other engineers talking about the signal chain they used to record this awesome vocal, or bass, they are usually referring to the gear they used and the order it was connected together. And the chain changes from session to session. I like a tube preamp for recording rock guitar, and I like a clean solid state preamp for acoustic instruments, so my recording chain changes depending on what I am recording.
Also, some gear seems to go together better, some preamps and compressors work better together than others. I have a tube preamp that I really like. I have a compressor that I really like. But I do not like them together when the compressor is plugged into the insert jack. Because of where, in the internal signal path of the preamp, the insert signal is injected. They just don’t sound right connected that way, to me. Maybe it is just my aural taste.
Experiment with your recording signal chain, you might find the way your equipment works the best together, you might find your signature sound.
Understanding Signal Flow in your audio recording and mixing gear is essential to setting proper gain structure or staging, and to get the most out of your equipment. Signal flow is just what it sounds like, the flow, or path of a signal. A simple description would be the small amount of electricity produced by an electric guitar pickup, flows down the cable to the input of the guitar amp. Another would be, the path a signal takes from the microphone to the mic preamp to the recorder. The more gear you add to your setup, the more complicated the signal path could become.
What Is Gain Structure?
Gain Structure is very important to understand when recording or mixing. Bad gain structure can be the cause of excessive noise, clipping, and distortion. Understanding the signal flow of your recording chain, mixing chain, mixer, and outboard processing, is the first step to being able to properly set your gain structure.
The easiest way to understand gain structure is the guitar amp. Commonly there will be a gain knob followed by a level or volume knob. If the gain knob is on 1 and the volume knob is high, 7 – 10, the sound is clean. Because the first stage in a guitar amp is the preamp, the signal is low and clean, it is not overdriving the second stage, the power amp section. If the knobs are reversed, with the gain on 10, and the volume knob low, 1 – 3, the sound will be distorted, but not loud.
This is because the preamps gain is on 10 and the signal is so strong is overdrives the next section, the power amp. The same thing can happen in your signal chain causing the unwanted noise, clipping and distortion.
Some likely culprits in the recording chain could be the gain and level settings on an outboard preamp, or between the output of the preamp and the input trim on your analog mixer, digital interface, or sound card. If the input trim knob is set low and the signal is still strong, or distorted, turn the output level down on the outboard preamp. Another problem spot is in the mixer between the track or channel faders, and group or output busses.
If the buss levels are set at +10, and all the track faders are set relatively low, you have bad gain structure. You should be seeing the pattern. This problem can happen anywhere in your signal chain, so you have to pay attention to this gain structure everywhere. This problem also pops up in auxiliary outs and the input to fx units like reverbs and multi-fx units. If you have distortion or excessive noise, check the aux out setting and the input level setting on your fx processor.
Really understanding the signal flow of your chain is the key to getting this right. When using an analog mixer to record, we would set the Master Fader at Odb, the Group Buss Faders at 0db, the Channel Fader at 0db, and the raise the input trim, until you get the right signal strength. When mixing, the Master Fader is at 0db, the Group Buss Faders are at 0db, and the Channel Faders will be raised and adjusted to get the level right for the mix.
If you are adjusting aux outs, or inputs and outputs on gear that uses the numbers 1 to 10 instead of the log scale like that used on mixer faders, use 4 – 7 as the 0 setting until you get to know that piece of gear. When a fader, that uses the log scale, is at its 0db setting, this is called unity gain. The fader is neither boosting or cutting, the signal. That is why those marks beside a fader go down to -60db and as high as +10db or more, so you have the ability to cut and boost.
Check your owners manual for diagrams or explanations of the internal signal flow of your gear, and start practicing proper gain structure. It won’t take long and this will be second nature, you won’t even think about it, but you will always know where to start looking when problems arise.