Columns

The columns below represent the staples of our work and industry. They touch on the topics that can’t be ignored by successful musicians, but may be intimidating and overwhelming. Let our columnists simplify and share the info you need in an easily accessible manner so you can focus on your passion. Dig into specific columns in the top menu or view all of the most recent posts below.

What's the Difference Between an EP & LP Album in Music?

Updated: Careers & Marketing
what is an EP? what is an LP?

Understanding the difference between an EP and an LP in depth means digging into the history of the music industry a bit. It's really quite interesting, and we'll do that but first I'll answer the questions outright. As a fan or curious searcher, you want the quick answer. As anyone involved in the music industry, you're going to want to know the full details, because […]

Best DAW: Choosing the Digital Audio Workstation That Fits You

Updated: Studio Recording
digital audio workstation

You can ask 100 professionals which is the best DAW and get at least 10 different answers. That's not because there's a ton of equally good choices out there, but because each is created with certain industries and genres of music in mind. In the past some of these costed an arm and a leg and required a dongle proving you paid for their giant […]

The Best Free Audio Editing Software: Simple & Complex Options!

Updated: Studio Recording
free audio editors

Free audio editing software made me into the man I am today. Of course, I jest, but the truth is that if they weren't available to me when I first got started then I'd have never gotten started. There were two main reasons. First, I wasn't going to shell out big bucks for a professional-grade audio editor when I was simply curious about the process. […]

De-esser: The Guide for Sibilant-Free Vocal Recordings

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
what is a deesser

The de-esser isn't a modern tool at all. Even before it existed in its current form they were being created by using several other signal processing units in combination. They exist for a single purpose, though their use has been expanded a bit over time. When humans speak or sing, we have a tendency to create harsh bursts of high frequency sounds when pronouncing certain […]

What is a Limiter & How Do I Use Them for Audio & Music?

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
audio limiter

The most basic explanation of a limiter would be that it's a device that stops all audio (whether digital or an electrical signal) from exceeding a certain volume. Though it can operate at any volume level, it's mainly used at the maximum allowed amplitude to avoid the phenomenon of peaking. Before we dive in much further, let me lay out the game plan here. We're […]

Bass Traps: The Complete Guide for Taming Unruly Low-End

Updated: Studio Recording
what is a bass trap

Bass traps in particular, but the entirety of the acoustic treatment rabbit hole, are extremely interesting. If you look around online you'll see just how many people are completely obsessed with the topic. That was me for the longest time. The thrill is over once you finish your own build, but the benefits last forever. And let me tell you, it's impossible to over-emphasize how […]

19 Songwriting Tips for Getting Started, Breaking Writer's Block, & More

Updated: Music Theory
tips for songwriting

Without some kind of methodology, it's easy to get completely overwhelmed when you sit down to start writing a song. That's where a list of songwriting tips comes in handy. It's all about getting the gears in your head turning. "What key should I play in? What about the chord progressions? Should I have those before or after I come up with the melody? And […]

What is a Session Musician? Their Tasks, Earnings, & More

Updated: Careers & Marketing
what is a session musician

Being a session musician is still in-demand in today’s music industry. It's a common belief that the need for a stand-in studio musician in recording sessions has decreased over the last ten years, in large due to the effects of technological advancements and shift to sample-based productions. On the other hand, ​the need for session musicians in musical performances has increased, compensating for reduction in studio […]

The Benefits of Using a Scratch Track When Recording Music

Updated: Studio Recording
the benefits of using a scratch track

A scratch track, sometimes called a guide track, may seem like a waste of time to a cocky, over-confident amateur or a money-conscious renter of an expensive studio, but it provides tons of benefits you may not realize just yet. If you do like you should and surrender to the process of the studio engineer, he or she will undoubtedly first guide you through laying […]

Gated Reverb - How to Get the Big Drums of 80's Pop Music

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
gated reverb drums

Gated reverb is the sound of the 1980's. One might argue, "No, it's MIDI production or it's the synthesizer." Say what you will about the blatant and overt sounds of that time, but the trained ear hears something completely different. It's all in the drums, especially the gated snare drum. They're powerful. They punch through the mix. And they don't sound like anything ever heard […]

Reverse Reverb - How to Create This Backwards Echo Effect

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
backwards reverb

People call it different things: reverse echo, backwards reverb, reverse regeneration... but in the professional sector of the music industry we plainly call it the reverse reverb effect. And thanks to computers and lookahead algorithms it's easier than ever to create. Let's quickly define what it is for the newcomers, give a few examples of how it sounds, talk about how it was originally invented […]

Spring Reverb - Learn About & How to Use This Ever-Present Effect

Updated: Studio Recording
what is spring reverb

Spring reverb has been around for what is practically forever. Anyone who's been slightly involved in the music industry to any degree, especially guitarists, have heard of it. It's the oldest mechanical reverb around and still in use. Of all of the different types of reverb, the spring is the most common by far in terms of manufacturing and ownership, but possibly the least used […]

Plate Reverb - Learning About & Using This Influential Audio Effect

Updated: Studio Recording
what is plate reverb

Anyone that has spent even the slightest amount of time with signal processing effects, either as a guitar player, synthesizer player, music mixer, or really any role will have encountered plate reverb. It's everywhere and for good reason. Of all of the different types of reverb, none has stood the test of time and garnered more attention and love than that generated by a plate. […]

13 Types of Reverb & When to Use Them

Updated: Studio Recording
reverb types

I do agree there's only three main categories, but anyone looking to fully explain the topic can't limit the discussion to five or seven types of reverb, which is what always happens. It's unfair to the reader. If you're reading this then you probably already understand what this effect is and how it arises in nature or is created acoustically, mechanically, through electronics, or through […]

What is Reverb? All About This Beautiful Sound Effect & Its Uses

Updated: Studio Recording
reverb explanation

What is reverb? Is it different than an echo or delay? If so, what makes it different. Why is it used in music production? How is it created? This is the logical sequence of questions that arise when you start considering this natural sound effect for the first time. What people don't realize is that they know what reverb is, they just hadn't attached a […]

What is Audio Clipping: Examples, Causes, & the Easy Fix

Updated: Studio Recording
what is audio clipping

Whether during recording or playback, you've been around someone that sees the little red light go off or light up permanently who then says "Oh, dude, you're clipping." But do they even know what audio clipping is? What causes clipping? Is there anything we can do about it? Is it the same as peaking (yes)? I'm going to explain it all, tell you what it […]

Blown Speaker: Sounds, Symptoms, & Fixes (Plus Guidance)

Updated: Studio Recording
blown out speaker

No matter if you're talking about car speakers, studio speaker monitors, a guitar amplifier, or even some cheap computer or TV sound system, blown speakers are frustrating. And doubly so when you realize that if you'd caught it soon enough you could have saved it. Most of the time we want a matching stereo pair so that can mean replacing two if it's in a […]

What is Phantom Power? All the Big Questions Answered in Plain Talk

Updated: Studio Recording
phantom power

What is phantom power? How does it work? Why does it have that name? Which mics need it? Anybody who's been in this industry hears these questions a million times a year, including me, which is why I'm writing it up. Now I can just send people here and save myself the trouble. Usually what happens is a newcomer gets their first microphone and preamplifier […]

Haas Effect: Gain Depth & Width With a Slight Delay

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
haas delay

Way back in 1949, a gentleman by the name of Dr. Helmut Haas is given credit for discovering a psychoacoustic phenomenon which was subsequently named the Haas Effect after his namesake, but is also called the Precedence Effect. Psychoacoustics relate to how our minds perceive the audio our ears sense out in the world. There are a handful of these interesting cases that we've covered […]

How to Start Producing Music as a Beginner (& The Path Forward)

Updated: Beat Production
learning music production

Learning music production isn't that hard if you can cut through all of the extra, non-relevant information out there. The truth is there's very little you need to begin today and you likely already have most of it. All of that extra info comes into play later once you start progressing further down the path of making music. Below I tell you the minimum equipment […]